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Dec 14, 2015 ktar.com
Are private prisons good or bad for Arizona?
PHOENIX — The state of Arizona is now taking bids for another 2,000 prison beds, allowing the state’s prison population to get closer to a 45,000 inmate capacity — it’s at over 42,000 now. With the state’s capacity close to being reached, the question must be asked: Are private prisons good or bad for Arizona? “They are not good, [well] at least they are not providing the things that they `have promised to the state of Arizona,” Caroline Isaacs with the American Friends Service Committee said. “There’s no evidence that they’re saving us money, there’s no evidence that they are performing their duties, and rehabilitating people and making our communities safer,” Isaacs said. Leonard Gilroy director of government reform with the Reason Foundation said private prisons are neither good nor bad, they are a tool. “Basically governments hire the private prison companies to replicate what is the public sector,” Gilroy said. “Operate a prison just like we do, just do it at a lower cost.”
But the profit motive, Isaacs said, is fundamentally at odds with what most of believe is the purpose of corrections — correcting behavior. “Taking folks from a life of crime and making them into law-abiding citizens, reducing recividism, reducing future crime, and preventing more victims from happening,” Isaacs said is what the Department of Corrections is supposed to be doing. “Unfortunately their bottom line is enhanced by people coming back.” That means recidivism is good for business, she said. However, government run prisons, said Gilroy, have economic incentives just like private prisons. “The argument of economic incentives is one that I think that you flip on its head by literally changing the incentive in the contract,” Gilroy said. “Instead of making contracts dependent on how many people are in beds, how many people are we not bringing back to fill those beds.” Private prisons aren’t the problem, said Gilroy. The real question is how can we get better results out of our prison system overall, specifically with recidivism. This could present an opportunity for private prisons in the future, he said. “How can we put the private sector to work in the business of serving the public interest,” Gilroy suggests, “with regard to successfully reintegrating people and reducing recidivism?” They both agree that overall we’re putting too many people in prison, and we’re not doing enough while they’re there, to keep them from coming back. Not building any more prisons, is a good first step, Isaacs suggests. Unfortunately for the 2,000 new prison beds seemingly imminent for Arizona, Isaacs said the public has no vote. “No, no the public does not get a say in this at all, accept for not electing these guys that keep building prisons,” Isaacs said. “But other than if all of those people call their representatives and say ‘don’t you dare fund this,’ there’s no vote on this,” she said.

New Hampshire
September 6, 2012 Nashua Telegraph
As New Hampshire corrections and administrative personnel continue working with a consulting firm being paid $171,000 to evaluate proposals and weigh the pros and cons of privatizing a majority of the state’s prison system, a national expert on the subject is warning politicians and residents to step carefully and warily if the state goes down that path. Arizona resident Caroline Isaacs, program director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Tucson office, brought her expertise and thoughts on the subject to Nashua’s Unitarian Universalist Church on Wednesday night as part of her three-day, statewide speaking tour. Her extensive research and extensive writings culminated in “Private Prisons, the Public’s Problem: A Quality Assessment of Arizona’s Private Prisons.” “There’s a general belief that corporate privatization is more efficient and cost-effective,” Isaacs told about two dozen listeners. “But when you take a bureaucracy and put a for-profit corporation on top of it, it’s not the case at all.” Isaacs’ expertise is especially relevant in New Hampshire, as three of the four for-profit prison entities that submitted bids have built and are operating prisons in her home state. Though the contents of the bids haven’t become public, the corporations – Corrections Corporations of America, The GEO Group and Management and Training Corp. – fared poorly in Isaacs’ comprehensive analyses. The consensus found “a widespread and persistent problems in private facilities around safety, lack of accountability, and cost,” Isaacs wrote in her account, which was published in February – the same week the N.H. Executive Council voted 5-0 to hire Texas-based consultant MGT of America. Former Executive Councilor Debora Pignatelli, of Nashua, who is running for the District 5 seat she lost in 2010, said that if the state goes the way of privatization, it had better make sure it has air-tight agreements with the corporations. “The contracts need to be very, very clear that if (the firms) don’t live up to the terms, they can be held accountable,” Pignatelli said. To view Isaacs’ report, visit www.afsc.org /resource/arizona-prison-report.

September 4, 2012 Arizona Republic
A nurse for the new medical provider for Arizona prisons may have exposed 103 inmates at the Buckeye state prison to hepatitis C by contaminating the prison's insulin supply, and state and local health officials were not alerted for more than a week. Officials with the state and Maricopa County health departments, who confirmed to The Arizona Republic on Tuesday that they had not been informed by Wexford Health Sources Inc. of the problem, said they will launch investigations into the incident. Official notification of the Aug. 27 error only came late Tuesday afternoon, hours after an inmate's family member had told 12 News of the potential health risk. State rules require health-care providers and correctional facilities to notify health departments within five business days of a hepatitis C diagnosis, treatment or detection. Wexford said it suspended the nurse on Aug. 27, immediately after learning the person "had violated basic infection-control protocols while administering medication that day." "In talking with the Department of Health Services, they believe it should have been reported first to the county," Corrections Director Charles Ryan said late Tuesday. "That is a question we will have of Wexford -- as to the lack of notification or an explanation as to why that did not occur. "The department has concerns about this issue, and we will be having further discussions with Wexford in terms of this requirement and some other issues as well." Ryan said the incident occurred when a diabetic inmate who also has hepatitis C was administered a routine dose of insulin by the nurse on Aug. 27. The needle used on that inmate was inserted into another vial to draw more insulin for the same inmate. Ryan said the contaminated needle was inserted into a vial which was then put back among other vials in the prison's medication refrigerator. It got mixed up with other vials used throughout that day to administer insulin injections to more than 100 other diabetic inmates. Later that day, Ryan said, officials realized that the vial that potentially had been tainted with hepatitis C may have been used to dose other inmates. At that point, the nurse in question was suspended and prison officials sought to determine how many inmates may have been exposed. All the vials of medicine were destroyed after the discovery. Wexford spokesman Larry Pike on Tuesday minimized the potential exposure of other inmates. He said that the company acted "expeditiously" to identify those who were potentially affected and that the company believes the potential for their exposure was small. Though corrections officials and Wexford declined to name the nurse, the Arizona State Board of Nursing identified her as Nwadiuto Jane Nwaohia. She has been under state investigation since June 2012 for unsafe practice or substandard care, but the board would not provide additional information on the nature of the previous problem. Corrections officials first acknowledged the matter Tuesday morning after 12 News asked about the incident at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis, which houses 5,382 inmates in minimum- to maximum-security facilities. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants and causes liver cancer. Seventy-five to 85 percent of people with hepatitis C develop a chronic infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shoana Anderson, head of the state Office of Infectious Disease Services, said one of the biggest dangers for those infected with hepatitis C is "it sits in the liver quietly, and 20 years later, a person can develop severe liver disease." Anderson and Jeanene Fowler, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, said Wexford should have notified them of the issue. "It's extremely disturbing that something like this could happen. It calls for a thorough investigation to determine all of the surrounding causes of the mistake or the negligence," said Don Specter of the Prison Law Office, a prison watchdog group based in Berkeley, Calif. Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Working Group in Tallahassee, Fla., called the incident "scary" and said it shows a lack of oversight by corrections officials. "This is a problem with privatization," Kopczynski said. "They are just accepting who Wexford will hire." Wexford, which has previously lost contracts for poor service in other jurisdictions, this spring won a $349 million, three-year contract to provide health care for Arizona inmates. The company began providing services for nearly 40,000 Arizona inmates on July 1. In a written statement, the Pittsburgh-based company said it suspended the nurse immediately upon learning she "may have compromised a vial of medication by placing it in contact with a previously used syringe." Wexford, in its statement, said a local staffing agency assigned the nurse to the prison complex. The company said that at no time was the same syringe and needle used on more than one patient and that no staff members were exposed. Wexford said it reported the nurse to the state nursing board for investigation, but that did not occur until late Tuesday afternoon, after the news had been reported. The company also banned the nurse from working under any of its contracts in the future. Wexford provides health-care services nationwide to roughly 124,000 inmates and other residents at more than 100 institutions. The state said inmates exposed were notified and are being screened for infectious diseases. An independent laboratory under contract with Wexford will provide continuing medical monitoring and testing of the potentially exposed inmates over the next several months, the state said. All patients will be informed of their results, though Ryan noted that some inmates may previously have been exposed to hepatitis C.

New Hampshire
September 5, 2012 Concord Monitor
If New Hampshire privatizes its prisons, it will spend more, not less, and risk losing control of corrections for good, according to activist Caroline Isaacs, who's in the state this week lobbying against private prisons. Isaacs, program director for the American Friends Service Committee in Tucson, Ariz., issued a blistering report in February about Arizona's several private prisons. Isaacs found security in private prisons lacking, staff poorly trained and the cost of housing an inmate higher at private prisons than at state-run prisons, according to her report. And, none of the private companies are measuring recidivism, according to her report. Aware that New Hampshire is considering hiring one of the three private prison companies operating in Arizona, Isaacs accepted an invitation from the New Hampshire chapter of the American Friends Service Committee to visit the state. "New Hampshire is at a critical juncture," Isaacs told a group of about 40 people yesterday at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. "You have not stepped off the cliff like we have in Arizona. This is the time when you and your elected officials need to be asking questions." The Rev. Alice Roberts, an Episcopal priest in Newport, had one yesterday: How can she get lawmakers' attention when private prison companies have well-paid lobbyists at the State House? Roberts is a member of the prison concern committee of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, and intends to ask all the state's Episcopalians to join the committee in opposing private prisons. Isaacs's answer? Begin with the money argument, not the morality argument. It costs $48.42 a day to house an inmate at a state-run prison in Arizona, according to the state's own estimates. It costs $53.02 a day to provide the same security and services at one of the private prisons. Why then, UNH Law professor Erin Corcoran asked, do states still pursue privatization? "The facts fly in the face of what most people assume is true," said Isaacs. "They have always been told that private enterprise does everything better. "Even when you write 100 pages showing that is not happening," Isaacs added, referring to her February report. New Hampshire began contemplating privatizing prisons last year at the direction of the Legislature and Gov. John Lynch. Four for-profit prison companies have submitted bids to build a men's-only prison and a hybrid prison that would house men and women on the same campus. The state has not committed to privatizing prisons. Instead, the request for bids has been billed as an information-gathering exercise to determine whether the state would save money if a private company took over corrections. It's possible, state officials have said, the state will conclude it's cheaper to continue running corrections itself. That's increasingly possible given the upcoming gubernatorial election. The three Democratic candidates, Jackie Cilley, Maggie Hassan and Bill Kennedy, and Republican Ovide Lamontagne have said they oppose privatizing prisons. Republican Kevin Smith has not endorsed the idea but has said he'll take a wait-and-see approach. In looking at Arizona's private prisons, Isaacs found consistent problems with staffing, accountability and security, she said. • Following the escape of three inmates from one private prison, it was discovered that the prison's security system had been malfunctioning for two years. The company knew about the problem but never fixed it, Isaacs said. • Private prison companies don't include the costs of treating, educating or transporting inmates in their contract costs, she said. States that don't write contracts insisting those costs be covered will end up paying those expense separately. • Wages are lower at private prisons, she said. In Arizona, correctional officers were earning between $18 and $20 an hour at state-run prisons. At the private prisons, they were making between $10 and $12 an hour, she said. • The consequence of low wages has been high turnover, Isaacs said. As a result, a high percentage of private prison staff are inexperienced because they are new. And private companies cut costs by skimping on training, she said. So the staff are not only new, but also poorly trained. • Accountability is a problem at private prisons, especially when it comes to medical treatment and counseling. She gave an example of an inmate who complained to his family that he was not getting his medications. When the family called the prison, staff told them to call state corrections officials. The state directed the family back to the private prison. • States can find it difficult to get out of a bad contract. Isaacs said even if a state can break a contract without a heavy financial penalty, it's still stuck because it has nowhere else to house the inmates. The private companies operating in Arizona - the GEO Group; Management & Training Corp. and Corrections Corp. of America - are each seeking contracts in New Hampshire. Isaacs was asked whether her report could be fairly applied outside of Arizona. "It's a cautionary tale," she said.

August 31, 2012 Arizona Republic
The state Department of Corrections on Friday evening awarded a multimillion-dollar private-prison contract to Corrections Corporation of America, which has employed lobbyists close to Gov Jan. Brewer in its effort to win the bid. CCA, of Nashville, will operate a 1,000-bed medium-security private prison in Eloy, with the option to run another 1,000 beds if the inmate population for serious offenders increases. CCA, a publicly held company that reported $162.5million in profits last year, was one of five bidders for the contract. The firm is politically connected to Brewer, who has pushed for the prison expansion. Until mid-July, CCA employed Chuck Coughlin, an influential lobbyist who is a close friend and an adviser to Brewer. And, state lobbying records show CCA also employs Policy Development Group, a lobbying firm that includes Paul Senseman, Brewer's former spokesman. "If you place two of your lobbyists at the right and left hand of the governor of the state and she has the final say and oversight of the Department of Corrections, I would say that's a pretty smart business strategy," said Caroline Isaacs of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group and opponent of Arizona's private-prison expansion. Steve Owen, a CCA spokesman, said the company won the bid through a rigorous procurement process, and he credited the support of Eloy and others in Pinal County for helping CCA win.

VIDEO: The Increasing Use of Private, For-Profit Prisons Written by: Kaukab Jhumra Smith on Aug 31, 2012 inShare. JJIE caught up with Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News, to talk about the increasing use of private prisons by local, state and federal government. Relying on private institutions to provide extra capacity discourages progress on real reforms to reduce the prison population, while putting profits first can adversely impact prison conditions, Friedmann argues. “It’s not an issue a lot of people know or care about unless they’re personally impacted by it,” Friedmann said, who spent years incarcerated in both private and public prisons. He sat down with JJIE after speaking on a panel on the same topic at a conference in Ohio last month. http://jjie.org/video-increasing-use-of-private-forprofit-prisons/93106

August 28, 2012 Arizona Republic
In a last-ditch effort, private-prison opponents called on Gov. Jan Brewer on Tuesday to scuttle a contract that is expected to be awarded Friday for 1,000 medium-security beds for men. A coalition of elected officials, educators and faith leaders sent an open letter to Brewer, saying the beds are costly and unnecessary. They also contend the five out-of-state companies bidding to run a new prison facility have histories of questionable management practices and safety problems. "We know this is an uphill battle, but it's still well worth fighting," said Caroline Isaacs, program director for the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group and watchdog organization. "I know we are the underdog." Brewer, who was at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, could not be reached for comment. But Matthew Benson, her spokesman, said sufficient correctional facilities are a critical component of public safety. "Gov. Brewer supported these additional prison facilities because she recognizes the state faces a shortage of medium- and high-security beds in the near-term, a situation that would place the safety of both inmates and correctional staff in jeopardy," Benson wrote in an e-mail to The Arizona Republic. At the end of this week, the Arizona Department of Corrections is slated to award the bid. The contract calls for up to 2,000 medium-security beds if the prison population increases. The first 500 beds would come online in 2014, while 500 more would be added the following year. There's no timetable for the potential 1,000 remaining beds. Sites being considered are in Coolidge, Eloy, Florence, San Luis and Winslow. The contract comes even though the state's overall prison population is expected to remain flat the next two years and increase only slightly thereafter. State records also show it's more costly for taxpayers to have private businesses run prisons. State Corrections Director Charles Ryan has acknowledged that the state has an overall surplus of roughly 2,000 beds. But he also has said that Arizona has a shortage of permanent medium-security beds and that the problem is expected to get worse in 2016. The Department of Corrections on Tuesday declined to comment on the letter. The letter sent to Brewer has more than 50 signatures, including current and former state legislators as well as a Pima County supervisor, Tucson's mayor and a few Tucson City Council members. Nearly all the officials are Democrats. Other private-prison opponents include the Arizona Civil Liberties Union, clergy and religious groups. In addition to questioning the cost of new private-prison beds, the letter says state records show all five of Arizona's privately managed facilities had higher staff turnover and lower scores for guards on core competency tests compared with public-prison correctional officers. "There is ample evidence to suggest that for-profit corporations are not accountable to the citizens and taxpayers of Arizona," the letter states. "As private companies, they are not subject to the same transparency requirements or checks and balances as the Department of Corrections, despite the fact that they are performing the same functions and are paid with taxpayer dollars."

Correctional Corporation of America Accreditation Report Misses Stark Reality: August 1, 2012, Truth Out. Headline says it all.

July 5, 2012 Nashville Scene
As the state of California continues to move forward with its plan to "recall" nearly 9,500 prisoners from out-of-state private correctional facilities, it appears the process doesn't bode well for Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America's bottom line. According to an analysis conducted by the Private Corrections Institute, the move represents a significant loss of revenue for the nation's largest private prison company. Here's an excerpt from the release, authored by Alex Friedmann, longtime CCA critic and president of the PCI (emphasis Pith's): CCA failed to mention that the reduction in contract beds coincided with the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s realignment plan which intends to phase out all 9,588 out- of-state beds within 4 years. According to a CDCR report released last April, the realignment plan will “eliminate the use of all out-of-state contract facilities by 2015-16.” The CDCR report noted that returning all California prisoners from out-of-state CCA facilities would “result in a reduction of $318 million” from the state’s general fund. The report specified that California’s out-of-state prisoner population will be reduced to 9,038 by 2012-13 – which has already occurred according to CCA’s recent press release – then to 4,969 by 2013-14; to 1,864 by 2014-15; and to 531 by 2015-16, with a complete phase out by the end of 2016. According to CCA’s 2011 annual report, California accounted for 13% of the company’s total revenue last year; thus, the loss of 9,588 contract beds to house California state prisoners will represent a significant decrease in revenue for the company. As noted in CCA’s annual report, “The return of the California inmates to the state of California would have a significant adverse impact on our financial position, results of operations, and cash flows.” This piggy-backs on a report by Daily Finance that questions the conventional wisdom of purchasing stock in private prisons, which have historically acted as dividend-generating machines for those shareholders who can stomach the nature of CCA's "product." Citing increased media scrutiny and declining prison populations, the Daily Finance report offers an insight into the company's potential transformation into a real estate investment trust, aka REIT. Since REITs are required by law to funnel 90 percent of their taxable income to investors, it could be now is a good time to take the money and run far away from an industry facing decline for the first time in its history. Corrections Corporation of America (NYS: CXW) and GEO Group (NYS: GEO) hold half of all prison contracts and collectively pulled in $3.3 billion in revenue for fiscal year 2011. In an industry that lives by economies of scale, CCA enjoys a net profit margin of 9% — nearly double that of GEO Group. However, both companies have seen decreases in net profit margins over the last four years, even as revenue has consistently risen. This is due in large part to decreases in prison occupancy rates. Like for Superman, less crime means less business for these companies. As public outcry continues to grow, contracts have already begun to flutter away. More than a third of CCA's contracts and approximately half of GEO's contracts expire in 2012, creating even more opportunities for governments to make their great escape. With no growth and no competitive advantage, it's only a matter of time until financial markets follow suit. Private prisons make neither sense nor cents, so make your break today.

New Hampshire
June 23, 2012 Concord Monitor
While political attention is focused on the end of a contentious legislative session and the beginning of a busy election season, a momentous decision is being considered behind closed doors in the Department of Administrative Services. There, Administrative Services and Department of Corrections staff are reviewing piles of documents from four corporations interested in taking over the state's prison system and running it for profit. If a contract with one of the private firms emerges in late summer or early fall, only then will policy-makers and citizens get to know the details of a deal with profound implications for public safety, the state budget, job quality and the constitutional obligation to support the rehabilitation of offenders. The private prison experiment in other states has gone poorly. For example, a detailed report released by the American Friends Service Committee in February on Arizona's experience revealed "widespread and persistent problems in private facilities around safety, lack of accountability, and cost." AFSC reviewed state data showing that private prisons under contract with the state cost more than equivalent units operated by the state Department of Corrections, and that all private prisons for which security assessment data was available had serious security flaws. "While no prison can be entirely safe or problem-free, private prisons demonstrate clear, long-standing patterns of prisoner unrest including riots, staffing and management issues, escapes, and other serious safety problems," said Caroline Isaacs, the report's author. All three of the private firms running prisons in Arizona have submitted bids for the opportunity to do the same here. One firm, MTC, operated the private prison in Kingman, Ariz., from which three people escaped last summer, kidnapping and murdering two campers and burning their bodies in their trailer. A review showed that tower lights were burned out, the perimeter was unwatched, and the alarm sounded so many false alarms nobody listened to it. Elaine Rizzo, a professor of criminal justice at Saint Anselm College, reviewed the record of prison privatization for the Citizens Advisory Board of the New Hampshire State Prison for Women. Her paper, co-authored with Margaret Hayes of Regis College and released at the end of January, reviewed issues of cost, public safety, and correctional policy and reached a stark conclusion: "Of greatest concern is the indisputable fact that private prisons exist to make a profit. It is in their economic interests to reduce costs by maintaining full facilities, reducing staff wages and benefits, reducing institutional expenses associated with safety and sanitation, and reducing critical care services and programming. These cost-saving measures come at the expense of institutional and public safety, and hold the potential for negative publicity and more costly lawsuits." Official financial documents from the private prison companies openly acknowledge that their business model depends on high rates of incarceration at a time when policy makers are looking for ways to lower costs and reduce recidivism. Despite growing evidence of problems in other states - riots, escapes, high levels of staff turnover - the prison companies are serious about moving into New Hampshire. The Corrections Corp. of America, the industry leader, has approached local officials in Lancaster and Hinsdale about real estate it thinks would be suitable for a large, new prison. Management and Training Corp., another bidder in the state process, has expressed interest in property on Hackett Hill Road in Manchester. The GEO Group and LaSalle/Hunt, the other two bidders, may be scouting for real estate as well. CCA, GEO and MTC have hired local lobbyists to represent their interests. Oddly, a decision to award a lucrative contract to a private prison operator could be made by the governor and Executive Council without any legislation directing them to do so and without much public discussion of whether privatization is in the state's interest. That should not be allowed to happen. The public deserves a full and open airing of the privatization issue, not a rush job slipped through the Executive Council while the eyes of voters and lawmakers are focused on other matters. (Arnie Alpert is New Hampshire program coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization devoted to social justice and peace.)

MDOC Sticks with Private Prisons: Jackson Free Press, June 13, 2012. MDOC chooses MTC to take over where GEO failed. What are they smoking?

June 7, 2012 WTOK
MTC will officially take over operation at East Mississippi Correctional Facility on July 9th. The company got its start working with young people outside the corrections system. The Vice President of Corrections at MTC explained the company's history via a video news release. "We started 30 years ago by providing training for young adults to succeed in life," says Odie Washington, "we've taken that and applied it to our corrections division. "All you are going to see is a change in the name over the door," that's the opinion of Frank Smith, a private prison watchdog, "it's not going to be a change in operations." Smith works as a consultant for Private Corrections Working Group. "The problem is there is such turnover that there is no mentoring process so everybody is just kind of new on the job, and they don't know what to do when the problems arise." MTC officials say they plan on providing EMCF with all the resources it needs to operate effectively. "We'll provide each facility the resources necessary for them to operate safely and effectively," says Washington, and we look forward to applying these high standards to our new Mississippi facilities as well." Only time will tell whether MTC will have a successful run in the Magnolia State.

June 5, 2012 AZPM
Arizona’s 2012 state budget directs $50 million in the next two years toward construction of 1,000 private prison beds and 500 new state-run maximum-security beds. But there is disagreement over the need to spend the money, especially in private prisons. Caroline Isaacs, program director of the American Friends Service Committee Arizona Office, contends the funding is unnecessary because statistics indicate crime is down. Gov. Jan Brewer and other state officials have argued that while overall crime is down and the number of state prisoners has fallen, the number of those needing maximum-security housing has gone up. That, they have said, defines the need for the funding and the construction, which they have said will be for maximum-security inmates. “Our prison population is declining,” Isaacs says. “We have had negative growth, and we have actually had a decrease in the number of people that are in our state prisons.” Isaacs points to statistics provided by the Department of Corrections and the governor’s budget report that indicate crime is down and at an “all-time low.” State officials say private prisons cost less, something Isaacs disputes. The Department of Corrections itself reports that there is no savings from privatization. “The DOC has been doing these cost assessments since 2005,” Isaacs says. “We looked at their numbers and basically calculated that from 2008 to 2010 we overspent by $10 million on the private prisons that we have in this state.” Isaacs questions whether corporations that are operating for-profit should operate the penal system. “The profit motive is basically at odds with what we think of as the purpose of a correctional institution, which is to correct behavior – ‘correct’ meaning correct crime, reduce recidivism and ensure that people do not return.”

May 21, 2012 AP
As many as 300 inmates, some of them armed with makeshift weapons such as broomsticks, rioted at a privately run prison for illegal immigrants, beating a guard to death and injuring 19 people, a sheriff said Monday. More than two dozen officers were held hostage at some point during the hours-long spate of violence Sunday, including a group of 15 who had to be rescued by special response teams, Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said. A gang fight set off the violence, the sheriff said. The guard was killed on the roof of one of the prison buildings. Sixteen prison employees were treated for various injuries and released from a hospital. Three inmates were hurt, officials said. The Adams County Correctional Facility holds nearly 2,500 illegal immigrants, with most serving time for coming back to the United States after being deported, said Emilee Beach, a prison spokeswoman. Some of the inmates have also been convicted of other crimes. The guard killed was identified as Catlin Carithers, who joined Corrections Corporation of America in 2009 and was a senior correctional officer, the Nashville, Tenn.-based company said on its website. CCA is one of the largest private prison companies in the country. Carithers' cousin, Jason Clark, said the slain guard was engaged and was excited about a recent promotion that took him off the weekend shifts. He had been trained in recent years as part of the prison's special response team and was called into work Sunday to help with the uprising. "He liked protecting people," Clark said, adding that his cousin had worked as a volunteer firefighter. It wasn't immediately clear if the gang fight started between members of the same gang or rival groups, but the situation escalated quickly and spread throughout the prison, Mayfield said. "They had makeshift weapons, broom handles, mop handles, anything they could pull apart, trashcan lids for shields, anything they could grab," Mayfield said. At one point, the inmates set a fire in the prison yard. Frank Smith, who runs the online prison watchdog group Private Corrections Working Group, said riots are usually caused by poor conditions, but the sheriff said that was not the case. "The big problem is CCA tries to cut corners in every possible way. They short-staff, the don't fix equipment, and things just get more and more out of control, and that's what leads to these riots. It's just about maximizing short-term profits," he said.

An activist fights to make CCA more transparent — by joining the ranks of its stockholders: May 17, 2012, Nashville Scene, by Jonathan Meador. Piece on Alex Friedmann's efforts to get rape resolution passed by CCA.

How the private detention industry courted Crete: May 16, 2012, by Siddhartha Mahanta, American Independent. Exposé on how CCA works small communities

May 10, 2012 Tennessean
The debate over private prisons spilled into Corrections Corporation of America’s annual shareholder meeting on Thursday, with critics urging greater transparency by the Nashville-based prison owner and operator. The company rebuffed the parallel efforts, one led by the American Civil Liberties Union and the other by an activist shareholder. Stockholders rejected a proposal that would have required CCA to file twice-annual reports on the number of rapes and sexual assaults occurring within its facilities, and show steps the company was taking to combat the problem. The proposal was filed by Alex Friedmann, a former prisoner who now leads the Private Corrections Institute, an advocacy group that opposes prison privatization. He served part of a 10-year sentence in the 1990s for attempted murder and armed robbery in a CCA prison in Clifton, Tenn. The company fought the proposal, asking the Securities and Exchange Commission to kill it. The company argued it already planned to make such information available annually and that Friedmann’s proposal was part of a personal vendetta. The SEC declined to strike the resolution, so the company included a lengthy rebuttal in proxy materials urging shareholders to vote against it. CCA prefers to wait until industry-wide reporting standards are set, spokesman Steve Owen said. “Our company is deeply committed to the prevention of inmate sexual abuse, and we take a forward-looking, best-practice approach to ensuring prisoner safety in this critical area,” Owen said. Also, the ACLU delivered a letter to CCA asking Damon Hininger, the company’s chief executive officer, to a public debate on the merits of privatizing prisons. “We believe that the taxpayers who finance private prisons; the families whose mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters are incarcerated in these facilities; and the communities where for-profit prisons are situated deserve more than sound bites,” the ACLU’s letter to Hininger reads. “They deserve a full, fair and public examination of for-profit incarceration.” The letter was the latest salvo in the group’s broader push against for-profit prisons. It released a report last year that said CCA and other private prison companies used extensive lobbying, large campaign contributions and information-control methods to win more prison contracts without any real benefits to the public.

Ex-Con Shareholder Goes After World's Biggest Prison Corporation: May 10, 2012, Mother Jones piece on Alex Friedmann's shareholder's resolution on rape.

April 30, 2012 The Washington Times
Virginia is considering privatizing its sole facility fully devoted to treating sexually violent predators, but the two companies in the running have a history of multimillion-dollar legal settlements and illicit behavior that includes a charge of "deliberate indifference" to sexual misconduct between staff and youths at a facility. The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is evaluating proposals from private prison-operating companies GEO Care Inc. and Liberty Healthcare Corp. to take over the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Burkeville because of an increase in the number of offenders and concerns about costs. GEO, a subsidiary of the Boca Raton, Fla.-based GEO Group Inc., last year sent the state an unsolicited proposal to consider privatization of the center, a psychiatric treatment facility for sex offenders who have served their prison sentences. Liberty, based in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., submitted one after the state began reviewing the GEO proposal. Meghan McGuire, a spokeswoman with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, said Virginia is "taking a comprehensive look at the private companies who proposed to run [the rehabilitation center] as we determine whether privatization of the program is the right fit for Virginia." Despite a long history of operating such facilities, the two companies have dubious records in other states. The U.S. Department of Justice in March released a scathing report after an inquiry into the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi, previously run by GEO. The state recently announced that it is seeking new management for Walnut Grove, as well as two other private prisons run by GEO. The Justice Department report concluded that the state was violating the rights of the youths incarcerated in the facility and found "deliberate indifference" to high incidences of sexual misconduct between youths and staff. A consent decree entered in March removed everyone younger than 17 from the facility and stipulated that no youths could be placed in solitary confinement in the state. Pablo Paez, a spokesman for GEO, declined to comment on the investigation into the facility but pointed out that GEO did not assume management of it until late 2010 and has since made "significant improvements." Mental health and medical staffs at the facility are employed by contract and are not GEO or state employees. Troubled histories -- GEO settled for $3 million in 2010 after a class-action lawsuit was filed in 2008 alleging unconstitutional strip searches at a Pennsylvania jail. The family of an inmate beaten to death at a GEO-run facility in Texas sued in 2006, and was awarded about $50 million by a jury, though the case ultimately was settled out of court. "They understaff, they underpay, there's high turnover," said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Working Group, which serves to provide information about problems of prison privatization. "It's a business model - they expect a certain amount of suits, they expect a certain amount of fines." GEO operates Virginia's one private prison - the 1,500-bed Lawrenceville Correctional Center. Liberty has had ignominious incidents of its own. A massive investigation and report from Florida's Department of Children and Families office of inspector general uncovered an incident at the Florida Civil Commitment Center - then run by Liberty - in 2004. A whistleblower investigation found that the facility's safety director and safety manager erased or destroyed video evidence after a resident - placed in solitary confinement after threatening to burn a female worker - was then inexplicably allowed to roam the building, after which he climbed onto the roof and jumped off. In 2006, Florida chose GEO to take the reins away from Liberty, and the company opened a 720-bed facility in 2009. But the state has consistently had to subsidize the company because the number of residents hasn't increased as quickly as projected because of changes in the state's civil commitment process. Officials with GEO Group and Liberty said it was not their policy to comment on ongoing procurement processes or proposals they submit before they become a matter of public record. All told, between 2004 and 2010, GEO contributed more than $100,000 to state politicians and groups in Virginia, including more than $30,000 to Gov. Bob McDonnell's gubernatorial and attorney general campaigns. Liberty contributed a total of $5,500 to various politicians in 2002. Ms. McGuire said the department is examining the pluses and minuses of the two companies. "We are looking into their successes and problems in other states as well as scrutinizing their responses to the very thorough request for submission we developed," she said. Mixed bag -- Despite their issues, the companies are still accredited, and may be able to help Virginia ameliorate its looming overcrowding issues. Savings for the state from fully privatizing the facility, if any, are yet to be determined, Ms. McGuire said, adding that the agency cannot comment on the proposals until negotiations are finished. Both companies claim they can double the 300-bed capacity at the facility at no additional capital cost to the state. The population at the center, currently around 280, is expected to hit 450 by 2014, and it costs the state about $91,000 per prisoner a year. Florida staff has reported that privatizing the facility has made its program more cost-effective. It costs the state about $38,300 per patient annually at the GEO-run facility. Virginia expects its cost per patient to decline to about $62,000 by 2015 as its population jumps as a result of a plan to house two occupants instead of one to a room, called double-bunking. The Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation is retrofitting the facility to prepare for potential double-bunking. Some residents have sent letters to Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II saying they will sue the state if they are double-bunked. GEO has delivered sex-offender treatment consistent with Practice Standards and Guidelines for the Treatment of Adult Male Sexual Abusers of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, according to the unsolicited proposal it sent to Virginia. Liberty told Virginia officials in its proposal that it is planning to partner with Gilbane Development Co. and the McLean-based Davis Carter Scott architectural firm to improve the facility. Gilbane developed the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation, and Davis Carter Scott designed it. But any potential gaps, loopholes or cost increases when housing the most violent of sexual predators is a tough sell to the public, Mr. Kopczynski said. "It's a standard business model - you get away with what you can get away with," he said. "They're there to make a profit. John and Jane Q. Public don't care about inmates."

April 27, 2012 Nashville Post
The two most prominent firms advising investors on how to vote their shares have issued different recommendations on a call for Corrections Corp. of America to step up its reporting of sexual abuse at its facilities. Activist Alex Friedman wants Nashville-based CCA to report twice annually on its efforts to prevent sexual abuse. The company says it is doing what it needs to now and is waiting on final reporting standards from the Department of Justice. In a letter to shareholders, CCA General Counsel Steve Groom outlines the company's reasoning and says advisory firm Glass Lewis agrees with its opposition to Friedman's proposal. ISS, on the other hand, has told shareholders to side with Friedman.

April 24, 2012 AP
After a sex scandal at a privately run prison in rural Kentucky, the state cut off the institution's funding and now it's shutting down — and that worries town officials in an impoverished Appalachian community where incarceration meant jobs and economic survival. With Otter Creek Correctional Center set to close in the coming months, Mike Goeing, who runs Family Drugs of Wheelwright, sees pain ahead for his store and the other few remaining businesses in the town of about 1,200. "It's definitely going to hurt," he said. The prison, run by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, is set to close by this summer as Kentucky pulls its inmates out of the facility that was at the center of a sex scandal. It broke in 2009 when inmates accused prison staff of forcing them to trade sexual favors for privileges. The prison became a casualty of budget cuts and a renewed effort by the state to push more non-violent drug offenders into rehabilitation instead of incarceration. Kentucky paid CCA $21 million in fiscal 2010 to operate Otter Creek, along with the Marion Adjustment Center, which has roughly 800 Kentucky inmates and Lee Adjustment Center, which no longer houses Kentucky inmates. Kentucky opted not to renew its contract with CCA as part of an ambitious plan to cut costs, reduce the number of small-time, non-violent drug offenders in prison and refocus efforts on rehabilitation. The men currently held at Otter Creek are being moved to Northpoint Training Center in Burgin. People in Wheelwright are hoping for word that another state will step in with a new batch of inmates, reopen the facility and rehire the employees. "There aren't a large number of businesses here anyway," Goeing told The Associated Press. Initially, the local jobs came from coal. Elk Horn Coal Company founded the city in 1916 about 150 miles southeast of Lexington near the Kentucky-Virginia border, and named it for the company's then-president, Jere H. Wheelwright. As coal production slowed, the area's economy went with it. Businesses closed or struggled to stay open. The prison brought nearly 200 jobs to one of the poorest regions in the South when it opened in 1981. CCA paid employees $8.25 an hour — low pay by prison standards but welcome cash for the area. "It helped the few businesses that remain here," said Goeing, who used to deliver medications to the prison. Without the prison jobs, Wheelwright Mayor Andy Akers says people will lose their steady income and stop spending money in the area. "It's going to hurt the grocery stores, the restaurants — just everything where they guards are used to spending their money," Akers said. The prison once housed women from Hawaii and Kentucky. In January 2010, after the scandal broke, Gov. Steve Beshear ordered the women removed from Otter Creek. The state transferred 400 female inmates to Western Kentucky Correctional Complex in Fredonia and moved men into Otter Creek. Hawaii removed 168 female inmates in 2009, sending them to a prison in Arizona. Multiple lawsuits were filed over the sex accusations. Most were dismissed. None of that slowed CCA down. In the last five years, the company announced contracts to build new private prisons or expand existing state and federal facilities in more than a half-dozen places ranging from Mississippi to Nevada. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the company, through Otter Creek and other private prisons, "drives economic growth in any community where it operates." Alex Friedmann, a convicted armed robber turned inmate advocate, spent six of his 10 years in prison at CCA facilities. He said the closing of Otter Creek is part of a shift by some states to lower incarceration rates and save money on prison costs. Friedmann noted that CCA recently closed a facility in Appleton, Minn., and hasn't found a new client for it. He said they also stopped building a prison in Tennessee for want of a client. "The only thing interesting to CCA is can they generate a profit because they are a for-profit company," said Friedmann, who now lives in Old Hickory, Tenn. "There's a social cost ... when you have communities dependent on incarceration as a business model. That's a very dangerous thing."

April 24, 2012 Seven Days
An editor at the Brattleboro-based Prison Legal News (PLN) is using his position as a Corrections Corporation of America shareholder to shine a light on a pervasive problem: sexual assault in America's private, for-profit prisons. Alex Friedmann has brought a shareholder resolution to the board of CCA with the goal of forcing the nation's largest owner and operator of for-profit prisons to release statistics on how often sexual assaults occur within its walls and what efforts it's making to reduce their incidence. CCA owns and operates more than 60 facilities in 19 states, with capacity of more than 85,000 beds, according to its website. The Vermont Department of Corrections currently houses 470 inmates in two out-of-state CCA prisons: the Lee Adjustment Center, in Beattyville, Kentucky; and the Florence Correctional Center, in Florence, Arizona. Prior to joining PLN, Friedmann served 10 years of a 20-year sentence — including six years in a CCA prison in Clifton, Tennessee — for armed robbery, assault, attempt to commit murder and attempted aggravated robbery, all crimes he committed in the late 1980s and early '90s. He is also president of the Private Corrections Institute, a Tallahassee, Florida-based nonprofit watchdog group that opposes private prisons. "So, I have an obvious bias in this regard," admits Friedmann, who is 42. In the years since his release, Friedmann has worked to reform the private prison industry. Several years ago, Friedmann bought a single share of CCA stock so he could attend CCA shareholder meetings. Today, he owns 191 shares, enough to permit him to introduce his first shareholder initiative. The proxy measure, which comes up for a vote on May 10 at CCA's shareholder meeting in Nashville, would require the company to issue twice-a-year reports on its efforts to reduce prisoner rape and sexual abuse within its facilities, and include statistical data on those incidents. Reached by phone from Nashville, Tenn., this week, Friedmann emphasizes that he never personally experienced or witnessed rape while in prison, though he heard plenty of rumors and talk over the years. "It's one of those taboo topics in prison," he says. "You don’t sit around discussing how many people got raped the other night." How common is rape and sexual abuse in public prisons versus private ones? According to Friedmann, the only study that compared the two found that private prisons actually have a lower incidence of sexual abuse than state prisons, but a higher incidence than federal prisons. That said, other research indicates that sex crimes are a bigger problem in the private prison industry than is normally reported. As Friedmann explains, there are two types of data on the pervasiveness of sexual assault behind bars: surveys of inmates that ask whether they've been sexually assaulted and if so by whom, how often, etc. The second set of data is reported by state and federal correctional authorities themselves. As Friedmann points out, official stats on reported rapes that occur behind bars are similar to crime reports in free world. Obviously, not all crimes are reported to authorities, especially in prison. Friedmann goes on to explain that one 2008 U.S. Bureau of Justice report found that the highest incidence of sexual abuse nationally occurred in a private CCA prison: the Torrance County Correctional Facility, in Estancia, N.M., where the rate of sexual victimization was four times the average of the 282 jails the government surveyed. Friedmann's policy brief in support of his shareholder measure highlights several lawsuits brought against CCA for failure to address rape and sexual misconduct in its facilities. "My resolution with CCA is simply to recognize that this is a problem in the industry, particularly the private prison industry, and to address it," Friedmann says. For obvious reasons, Friedmann puts the likelihood of his resolution passing at "exceedingly slim." Although he'll introduce the motion at next month's shareholder meeting, the move will be largely pro forma, as most shareholders will have already voted beforehand. Based on his research, the vast majority of shareholders (78 percent) are large investment firms, institutional investors and public employee retirement funds. Friedmann says he's been contacting any CCA stockholders that own more than 200,000 shares in an effort to get them to vote yes on his measure. How's he done so far? Generally, institutional investors don't reveal their stance on shareholder initiatives, Friedmann points out. In fact, companies with such large holdings typically don't even vote their own proxies but farm those decisions out to proxy-voting services. Friedmann says that only one company has agreed to a conference call with him to discuss his anti-rape measure with its analyst. "Unfortunately, that company is not based in the United States," he laments, "which gives you an idea of the U.S corporate mindset when it comes to public policy issues like this. It's simply not on their radar. They just don’t care." Indeed, the CCA board of directors attempted to block Friedmann's efforts by filing an objection with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. But with the help of pro bono lawyers, Friedman fought the board and in February, got the SEC to rule in his favor. Still, the CCA board of directors has unanimously recommended that shareholders vote against this resolution. In its opposition statement, the board argues that it is already undertaking efforts to reduce the incidence of rape and sexual abuse, making the measure unnecessary. "CCA takes a 'zero tolerance' approach to prisoner sexual abuse," the company writes in a four-page response to Friedmann's shareholder initiative. "Since the creation of proposed national standards to eliminate prison sexual assaults, CCA has taken a leadership position on this important public policy issue. Even though the proposed standards have not yet been mandated and remain under consideration by the Department of Justice, CCA has proactively adopted – and in some cases exceeded - many of the national PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act) standards and best practices." That said, Friedmann's measure has garnered support from more than a dozen national organizations, including the National Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence, the National Organization for Women, the National Lawyers Guild and the Human Rights Defense Center. Interestingly, Friedmann notes that CCA's stock has "gone through the roof recently," putting the value of his CCA holdings at more than $4000. He says he plans to donate any proceeds from the eventual sale of his stock to organizations that address human rights abuses behind bars.

March 7, 2012 Chicago Now
The Village of Crete, Ill., is surprisingly small for a community that sits just 30 minutes south of Chicago’s bustling Loop. The Will County village has fewer than 9,000 residents and a small, but solid, middle-class majority--the median household income is $70,074, according to the 2010 Census. For those residents, a prison that brings an influx of jobs might not seem like a bad idea. But will Crete residents, and their neighbors in surrounding villages, realize the windfall of jobs and tax revenue that's being promised in exchange for their support? David Shapiro, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union Prison Project, told National Public Radio last fall that the economic boom communities expect from private prisons are often overstated. In a long-term assessment called The Prison Industry, researchers from Washington State University and Ohio State University studied the effects that prison construction has had on counties across America dating back to 1960. They found that, through 1990, there was no evidence that prisons stimulated economic growth. In most cases, prisons only contributed to a small spike in the employment of a low-skilled labor force. The Corrections Corporation of America, which appears to be the frontrunner in the bid to operate a new facility in Crete, says that it draws 70 to 80 percent of its workforce from the towns where its current prisons operate. On the Tennesse-based company's website, there are 235 jobs available. Of these, the most common positions are correctional officer and detention officer, neither of which require more than a high school diploma or GED. For a village like Crete, where 37.4 percent of its residents are in managerial and professional positions and 26.5 percent are in sales and office management, according to census data, the private facility might not provide a lot of new jobs. Even when the jobs come, they aren’t always great ones. In a list of about 537 lawsuits filed against the Corrections Corporation of America between 1998 and 2004 collected by the Private Corrections Working Group, about 119 suits were for wage disputes, wrongful terminations, employee sexual harassment or employee discrimination suits. It doesn’t seem like taxpayers will get much from the building of the private prison either. The cost of building the prison, and paying to house each inmate, will fall to the county and the federal government, respectively. And though the Corrections Corporation of America is assumed to run the prison at a lower cost than the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on its own would, an audit by Arizona's auditor general found this wasn’t the case for private prison-heavy Arizona. In addition, for each prisoner kept in a Corrections Corporation of America detention center, the company is paid a flat amount, and any costs they can cut down from there go toward their profit. But the cost of finding immigrants to detain and transporting them to the center, as well as processing them through the court system, is held by public agencies. It seems like, as with private prisons in other states, the economic windfall may actually go to the Corrections Corporation of America, not taxpayers or job seekers in the area.

March 1, 2012 Nashville Scene
The Presbyterian Church is taking a hard line against the nation's largest for-profit private prison company. Under the banner of the Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network, a coalition of the faithful will hand deliver letters of reproach to more than a dozen state governors to protest their states' contracts with Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America. In a statement, the Presbyterian Health, Education & Welfare Association Executive Director Rev. Trina Zelle admonished the privitization of the country's prisons as being "immoral." "We believe that privatizing prisons,and thereby incarcerating people for the purpose of generating corporate profit, is immoral and contrary to the faith teachings of the Presbyterian Church," Zelle wrote. "Through this letter we urge the governors to reject the notion that justice is for sale to the lowest corporate bidder." The move is part of a broader effort, in conjunction with more than 60 other groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, to turn a critical moral eye on the company's raison d'etre. In a letter sent to governors in every state, the ACLU and 26 other organizations said a recent offer by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) to buy prisons currently run by state officials is a backdoor invitation to take on additional debt while increasing CCA’s profits and impeding the serious criminal justice reforms needed to combat the nation’s mass incarceration crisis. Two similar letters are also being sent today by religious coalitions to governors. One of the letters, sent by 32 faith groups including the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, the United Church of Christ/Justice and Witness Ministries, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness, says there is a moral imperative in reducing incarceration through evidence-based alternatives to imprisonment and re-entry policies that ease the transition of prisoners back into society. A third letter, from the Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network, argues that the principles of mercy, forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation are largely absent from the private prison industry. “Selling off prisons to CCA would be a tragic mistake for your state,” the ACLU’s letter reads. “[CCA’s] proposal is an invitation to fiscal irresponsibility, prisoner abuse and decreased public safety. It should be promptly declined.” Today’s letters come in response to a letter sent last month by CCA to officials in 48 states announcing what it is calling a “corrections investment initiative,” in which CCA is offering to purchase prisons from states so long as they contain at least 1,000 beds and the states agree to pay CCA to operate the prisons for at least 20 years and keep the prisons at least 90 percent full. CCA has come under recent scrutiny for its plan to "bail out" cash-strapped states by buying up public prisons. Alex Friedmann, a longtime CCA critic and associate editor for Prison Legal News, served as a consultant to the Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network. He tells Pith that he expects to hand deliver a copy of the letter to Gov. Bill Haslam some time today. As of publication time, the Scene had not received a response from CCA. UPDATE: CCA public affairs manager Mike Machak responds: "This is a stale rehash of recycled attacks against public-private partnerships that save taxpayers money while providing safe, high-quality corrections services. The fact is, governments and taxpayers don't need attacks. They need partners who will provide solutions to the very serious and complex challenges facing our country's corrections systems. That's what CCA provides. ...[Nowhere] in these letters is a single, concrete solution to issues such as increasing corrections costs and prison overcrowding. ... "We believe that other states should have the opportunity to choose whether to partner with CCA and have the benefit of this initiative. We also believe that our efforts to offer solutions that work should be analyzed fairly and objectively without inflammatory political rhetoric."

March 1, 2012 The Guardian
Alex Friedmann, the associate editor of the monthly magazine Prison Legal News, once served six years at a private prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the country's largest for-profit prison company. Friedmann now owns 191 shares of CCA stock, just enough to allow him to introduce a stockholder resolution. His recent proposal that the CCA's board of directors provide biannual reports to their stockholders about the company's efforts to reduce incidents of rape and sexual abuse in their facilities was greeted with outright horror by the CCA, which immediately wrote to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asking to be allowed to omit the proposal from their proxy materials. The CCA's objections to the proposal were threefold: first, because "it related to ordinary business operations of the company; second, because "the proposal relates to the redress of a personal claim or grievance against the company; and third, because the proposal has "already been substantially implemented by the company". In a major victory for Friedmann, the SEC did not concur with any of the CCA's arguments. And so, the CCA has no choice but to include the proposal in their proxy materials. They made it clear in a letter to Friedmann, however, that they intend to include a lengthy rebuttal and will recommend voting against it. In the same letter, they claim to "take a zero tolerance approach to prisoner sexual abuse". They also claim to have taken "a leadership position on eliminating prisoner sexual abuse". So it seems somewhat bizarre that a company that is so adamant about its excellent record on rape prevention would not wholeheartedly support a proposal to let their shareholders know all the great things they have been doing about it. About that record. In 2007, a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found that the CCA facility in Torrance, New Mexico had one of the highest levels of sexual victimization of any prison in the country. In 2009, the state of Hawaii withdrew all 168 of its female inmates from the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Kentucky, another CCA-run facility, because of charges of sexual abuse by guards. Not long after, the state of Kentucky withdrew all its female prisoners from the facility also. Losing inmates on the scale that occurred at Otter Creek is no different than a private company losing a major account. I imagine the amount of money the CCA has paid out in settlements to many of the women who have since sued the company should also be of concern to shareholders. Even if you make the bold assumption that majority of people who buy stock in a company that runs prisons for profit do not do so for humanitarian reasons, you'd imagine they'd still want to know how these cumulative incidents of sexual assault affect their bottom line. Shareholders should also want to be kept in the loop about the lawsuit filed last October by the ACLU of Texas seeking class action damages on behalf of three immigrant women who (along with numerous others) have made allegations of sexual assault at the T Don Hutto Family Residential Center, another CCA facility. According to Mark Whitburn, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU, one of the reasons they brought the case as a class action was because the CCA was contractually bound to adhere to the policy of transporting women to the facility with same-sex guards, yet this policy was violated by numerous individuals employed by the company. One would think that a company that prides itself on having taken a "leadership position on eliminating prisoner sexual abuse" would insist on its staff adhering to such a simple assault prevention policy. The shareholders may not be too finicky about the CCA's actual record on protecting inmates from being raped or sexually violated: Friedmann told me if he sold his 191 shares today, they would be worth around $4,750. That's over $24 per share. He intends to hold on to his shares for the time being, so that he can continue to introduce resolutions he believes will make the CCA a better company. However much of a thorn he may be in the CCA's side, his fellow shareholders may ultimately be indebted to him.

February 17, 2012 Westword
A former prisoner, now a shareholder in the country's largest for-profit prison operator, has won a battle with company management over his campaign to hold the Corrections Corporation of America accountable for reducing sexual abuse at its facilities. The Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled that the shareholder resolution, calling attention to the issue of prison rape, can be included in proxy materials sent to CCA investors in advance of the company's annual meeting. Alex Freidmann, who served time at a CCA-operated facility in the 1990s and has since actively investigated prisoner rights abuses as an associate editor of Prison Legal News, introduced the resolution, which calls for biannual reports on the company's efforts to reduce the number of incidents of sexual misconduct at more than sixty prisons it operates across the country, housing 75,000 offenders. Despite the passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003, sexual assaults in public and private corrections facilities remain greatly under-reported, including in Colorado's state system -- see last year's feature "The Devil's Playground," which recounts the ordeal of inmate Scott Howard and drew international attention to the issue. A Bureau of Justice Statistics report estimates that more than 200,000 adult prisoners endured some form of sexual abuse in 2008, roughly one out of twelve. A supporting statement to Friedmann's resolution notes that some CCA facilities have been singled out in federal surveys as having exceptionally high rates of sexual victimization. Kentucky and Hawaii have removed female prisoners from one CCA lockup after a sex scandal involving six employees, and an ACLU lawsuit alleges sexual assaults against immigration detainees by a CCA employee in Texas. CCA objected to the resolution, characterizing it as a "personal claim or grievance" by an activist shareholder who was formerly incarcerated in one of its hoosegows. "I have no 'personal claim' or 'grievance' in wanting to reduce rape and sexual abuse at CCA facilities," Friedmann replied, "other than the concern that all people should share in wanting to reduce such incidents -- a concern that apparently is not shared by CCA." Several national organizations have expressed support for the resolution, including the National Organization for Women, Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants and the Justice Policy Institute. The most crucial support, though, has come from the SEC, which rejected CCA's objections and determined that shareholders should be allowed to consider the measure.

January 31, 2012 The Sun-Sentinel
A coalition of 17 groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Private Corrections Institute and several human rights and religious organizations sent a four-page public letter to Senate President Mike Haridopolos today stating its opposition to a controversial prison privatization proposal. The full Senate today will take up a major prison privatization plan when it meets at 2 p.m. At noon, Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and the AFL-CIO are hosting a press conference to protest the privatization plan. The proposal will privatize 29 prisons and other correctional facilities in South Florida. The group wrote: No other state has initiated such an ambitious experiment as the one proposed in this legislation. Consequently, the proposal to greatly increase the number of prisons under private contract raises several issues of concern including the dubious cost saving claims, efficiency in correctional management, and the impact on public safety. Successful efforts to contain correctional costs have been achieved in a number of states in recent years through other criminal justice policy initiatives that have reduced demand for scarce correctional resources. The groups are: ACLU of Florida, Advocare, Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), Critical Resistance, Florida Justice Institute, Human Rights Defense Center, In the Public Interest, Justice Strategies, National African American Drug Policy Coalition, Inc., Ohio Justice Policy Center, Private Corrections Institute, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, The Sentencing Project, Southern Center for Human Rights, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, United Church of Christ/ Justice and Witness Ministries, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society.

January 26, 2012 Nashville Scene
Yesterday, Corrections Corporation of America filed its latest appeal to block an open records request filed years ago by a nonprofit media organization. On Jan. 25, CCA filed a notice of appeal in Davidson County Chancery Court in what amounts to its third appeal in a four-year-old battle with Prison Legal News, whose associate editor, Alex Friedmann, has been trying to get the private corrections company to release documents concerning its operations and potential legal snafus since 2008. "Thus, after four years, CCA is still fighting hard to avoid producing the records I requested, which would have to be produced if I requested them from any public agency," Friedmann tells Pith via email. "This is a perfect example of the lack of transparency and lack of public accountability in the private prison industry." Of course, it's no surprise why CCA is stalling. Considering CCA's reputation for poor treatment of immigrant detainees, allegations of fraudulent reporting practices, and practically writing Arizona's SB 1070 bill for the legislature, Friedmann's original records request could very well puncture even more holes in CCA's veil of secrecy. A request for comment from CCA has not been returned. At the heart of the battle is whether CCA, a private company, can be compelled to release information even though it contracts with governments and performs what has been traditionally a public service. So far, Chancery Court and the Tennessee Court of Appeals side with Friedmann, but the state Supreme Court declined to hear the case. In December, Chancery Court again ruled in Friedmann's favor on remand, which led to CCA's recent notice of appeal. If Friedmann succeeds, CCA will be ordered to release documents detailing legal complaints in which CCA has paid out in excess of $500 to complainants; "state, county and municipal government reports, audits and investigations" of CCA; "court rulings issuing injunctive or declaratory judgments against CCA, including sanctions and contempt orders"; and "spreadsheets, summaries or similar databases showing all litigation concluded against CCA in Tennessee which resulted in the payment of money damages, settlements, sanctions, claims and/or attorney fees."

January 18, 2012 The Florida Independent
In a state Senate rules committee hearing today, groups showed up to voice their opposition to two bills that would make it easier for the state to privatize prisons — and other government agency functions. Both committee bills, which moved forward today, received resounding opposition. The bills were introduced, but have yet to be referred to the appropriate committees. A labor group has already called the bills “union busting” efforts and said they would “eliminate any transparency from the process, allowing Legislative leaders to auction off Florida with no deliberation, cost benefit analysis or public input.” Senate Bill 7172 would privatize correctional facilities and Senate Bill 7170 would allow the privatization of state functions to go through more secretively. According to its summary, Senate Bill 7170 would provide “that certain information relating to the outsourcing or privatization of an agency function that is expressly required by law is not required to be included in the agency’s legislative budget request until after the contract for such functions is executed; providing that procurements for outsourcing or privatizing agency functions that are expressly required by law are exempt from the requirement that they be evaluated for feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency, etc.” State Sen. J.D. Alexander said the bills were addressing a ruling made when a judge struck down the Legislature’s attempt to privatize prisons last year. In September 2011, Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford ruled that the process by which the Florida Legislature pushed through its plans in 18 counties was unconstitutional. Fulford wrote that the Department of Corrections “proceeded without statutory authority and contrary to statutory authority” by implementing the plan. Today, the rules committee introduced bills that would set statutory authority to move forward with last session’s plans. State Sens. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, and Chris Smith, D-West Palm Beach, both objected to the committee bills, which were voted forward today. Margolis said the exemptions included in the bills for contractors represented “a disturbing scenario.” Smith said the bills would “codify the ability to privatize” state functions and “goes further” than any other previous privatization effort. There were 10 speakers scheduled to testify at the committee meeting. One of them was a representative from the Police Benevolent Association, the union representing corrections officers and prison guards that successfully filed the lawsuit against the state’s plans last year. The group’s representative took issue with the committee’s attempt to change the rules for private prisons. He said, “We need to keep this process in place.” The representative for a group representing retired officers said prison privatization would “open the door to corruption” and would “jeopardize public safety.” Judith Green, an independent policy researcher, told committee members that their plans “raises more than one issue of concern” — among them, she explained, were costs, employment practices and public safety.

January 17, 2012 Sunshine State News
The Private Corrections Institute, a Florida-based nonprofit watchdog organization that actually opposes the privatization of correctional services, has -- as would be expected -- “sharply condemned” the latest state effort to privatize correctional facilities in 18 South Florida counties. “While private prison companies will profit from expanded prison privatization contracts, should the Legislature prevail in its mass prison privatization plan the loser will be Florida’s taxpayers, as public funds will be diverted from the state into the coffers of for-profit prison firms with no discernible benefit to the public,” Private Corrections Institute stated in a release. The Senate has proposed, this time as a stand-alone bill, an effort to privatize correctional facilities located in 18 South Florida counties. Last September, Leon County Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford sided with Florida Police Benevolent Association attorneys who argued that lawmakers should have put the potential privatization of the prisons in South Florida into a separate bill, rather than as a proviso to the budget. Attorney General Pam Bondi has contested the ruling to the 1st District Court of Appeal. The bill, SPB 7172, titled Privatization of Correctional Facilities, is scheduled to appear before the Rules Committee on Wednesday. The facilities are located in: Manatee, Hardee, Indian River, Okeechobee, Highlands, St. Lucie, DeSoto, Sarasota, Charlotte, Glades, Martin, Palm Beach, Hendry, Lee, Collier, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties. The Legislature has projected the privatization would save $11 million in the current fiscal year. Under the proposed bill, the state is seeking at least 7 percent savings by having the facilities run privately.

Private Corrections Institute Opposes Prison Privatization Effort: January 17, 2012, Sunshine State News. PCI issues statement against prison privatization.

December 1, 2011 AP
A Nashville judge ruled Thursday that private prison company Corrections Corporation of America must turn over more documents to a magazine that advocates for the rights of prisoners. CCA had argued that the settlement documents sought by the plaintiff were confidential and handled by the prison's general counsel, which operates independently and isn't connected in any way to the state. But Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman ruled once again that CCA is subject to Tennessee's open records law because it is the equivalent of a government agency, and that no government entity can enter into a confidential settlement. Alex Friedmann, a former prisoner who is now an editor at Prison Legal News, sent a letter to CCA in April 2007 asking for information on settlements, judgments and complaints against the company. He sued CCA when the company refused to turn over the information, claiming it wasn't subject to the state's open records law. Bonnyman also heard the case in 2008, siding with Friedmann and ordering the company to turn over most of the records. CCA appealed, arguing once again that it wasn't subject to the law. The Tennessee Court of Appeals later upheld Bonnyman's ruling that CCA is the equivalent of a government agency by running state prisons, and is subject to the open records law. The prison turned over some documents, such as contracts. But Friedmann is still seeking verdicts against the company and settlement agreements with prisoners. In her ruling Thursday, Bonnyman said the magazine won't be able to get the documents until an appeal is resolved, and CCA's attorneys have indicated they will likely appeal. However, Friedmann said he doesn't mind waiting because he views the judge's latest ruling as a victory that sends a message once again that "CCA is considered a public agency when operating prisons and jails, and must comply with the Public Records Act." "This ruling provides some much needed transparency to CCA's operations in Tennessee," he said. "CCA has fought hard to avoid releasing records that would be public if sought from any government agency that runs prisons or jails." The ruling only applies to Tennessee prisons, not federal prisons or other facilities in other states that CCA runs.

November 29, 2011 Christian Post Reporter
A controversial private prison corporation that has been accused of creating poor conditions for inmates while raking in $1.5 billion in profits annually is donating prison labor to a Christian organization that provides prosthetic limbs to amputees in developing countries as part of a voluntary, faith-based program. Although the program itself is praised for what it does, critics of the prison corporation worry that the program is being used as a PR gimmick to help the prison corporation, while doing very little for the prisoners doing all of the work. Standing with Hope (SWH) is an evangelical Christian outreach that provides artificial limbs to amputees in developing countries "as a means of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ," according to its website. With a compelling story, starting with Gracie Rosenberger, who had to have her legs amputated after a brutal car accident in 1983, she co-founded SWH with husband Peter and has become an author, speaker and an inspiration for other amputees. Rosenberger also became the first disabled woman to perform at a major political party convention, when she sang the national anthem at the 2004 Republican National Convention. On Nov. 16, SWH announced a partnership with the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest builder and operator of for-profit prisons, with over 75,000 inmates in 60 federal, state and local prisons, in order to create a work program for inmates to disassemble used prosthetic limbs for amputees in other countries, including Ghana. The program is expected to make SWH's work more effective in its goal of providing limbs for amputees. "We regularly purchase a great deal of new supplies in order to make the custom fit, carbon-fiber sockets for each patients, but recycling specific components from used limbs is critical to our program, and that's why CCA's help is so important to this work," said SWH president, Peter Rosenberger, in a press release. The work program is also expected to be beneficial for inmates, according to Dennis Bradby, Vice-President of Inmate Programs for CCA. "Positive work programs such as this one are key to rehabilitation efforts for inmates. Not only do we share enthusiasm in this new initiative, but the CCA family is deeply moved knowing that amputees in developing countries will be equipped to walk as a direct result of this program," Bradby said in the same statement. Like us on Facebook The announcement of the partnership came three days after "Occupy Nashville" protesters held a mock "human auction" outside of CCA's Nashville headquarters and chanted "people, not profits," according to Nashville's News Channel 5. Over the past three years alone, CCA has taken in $5 billion in profit off of taxpayer-funded, government contracts, according to financial statements, while also being severely criticized for neglecting and abusing prisoners, as well as exploiting costs for even bigger profits. In 2010, The Associated Press released a video taken from inside the Idaho Corrections Center (ICC), a CCA-run facility, of an inmate being beaten mercilessly by another inmate for 30 minutes as guards stood by and watched. The beating victim suffered brain damage as a result of the attack. Between 2006 and 2008, several inmate deaths occurred at a CCA-run immigrantion detention center in Arizona, including an inmate with testicular cancer that went untreated for at least two months, according to The New York Times. More recently, CCA has come under fire from prisoner rights advocates for its decision to charge inmates at its Lumpkin, Ga., facility $5 a minute for phone calls, creating a host of problems for inmates needing to contact their families, as well as their lawyers. When asked if he had any misgivings about entering into a partnership with a company accused of such actions, Rosenberger told The Christian Post he stands behind CCA without hesitation. "I love the concept of the CCA and our relationship is extraordinarily positive," he said, adding that he personally knows several CCA employees and goes to church with many of them. As for the possibility of an ethical conflict for a Christian organization to partner with a company that has allegedly abused and neglected inmates, Rosenberger said he was unaware of any specific allegations, but reiterated that the important thing for him is the goal of SWH. "I'm just here to put legs on people," he said, adding that he was also hoping to spread the gospel. "If I were to look for a partner where I agree with 100% of what they do, I wouldn't be able to work with anybody." Rosenberger added that despite what people may think of the CCA, the important thing is the actual work SWH does, both in a physical sense for the recipients of the prosthetic limbs, as well as the spiritual sense for the inmates doing the work. "I looked at the lives of those inmates yesterday and I saw the emotion in their faces, I saw the tears in their eyes," Rosenberger said. "And I don't know what's gonna happen when those guys get out, but I'm gonna try to make the best impact as I can right now so that when they do get out, they never have to come back to a prison. So, my outreach is for people with missing limbs and my other outreach is with these guys, and if this can get them to share my faith and my passion and my heart, and not repeat what they did to get there in the first place." Mike Tartaglia, a CCA critic who runs a blog aptly titled Why I Hate the CCA, said it was a good thing for inmates to be able to participate in a voluntary work program, but that he was uncomfortable with the possibility that inmate labor was being used to generate free PR for the private prison corporation. "This is a nice bit of PR for them. This is something they will probably promote on their PR page and in their press releases and say what a great corporate citizen CCA is being," Tartaglia told CP, adding that even when prisoners do get paid for work, CCA pays them an average of $1 a day, while charging them $5 a minute for phone calls. "I don't know if CCA is justified in offering its prisoners' labor when they do that," he said. Steve Owen, CCA's Director of Public Affairs, told CP confirmed that inmates will not be paid for the work, although participation in the newly-implemented program is strictly voluntary. Owen also said that the "logistics" of the program, including the amount of work inmates will do, when they will do it, and how many limbs will be created, are still being worked out. Alex Friedmann is an associate editor of prisoner rights newspaper and website Prison Legal News. Friedmann, a former inmate who served 10 years in Tennessee prisons who now advocates for prisoners' rights, pointed out that work programs such as SWH's are important for inmates to have, but he also worries about the possibility of the program usurping more beneficial vocational programs for prisoners at the cost of an alleged PR gimmick for CCA that is ultimately paid for by taxpayers. "It's always good to see prisoners who are contributing back to society while they're still incarcerated. Society barely appreciates those efforts, but in fact the prisoners do that," Friedmann told CP. However, he added, "All these prisoners will be released one day and it's important they have the skills needed to be successful and stay out. If CCA is providing these types of non-profit programs in lieu of job training, vocational training that prisoners need when they get out, I think that's a bad thing, because they need those skills." According to Friedmann, it is important that the SWH program does not get mistaken for a work program that teaches real-world job skills. "I don't think any prisoner in this program is gonna get out of jail and go to work for a company that will pay them for making prosthetic limbs...so it's very important to make that distinction," he said. Rosenberger told CP that he would offer to employ inmates who worked in the SWH program while in prison, if he has the budget when that time comes. But even without the possibility of job skills being learned from the program, Rosenberger asked a simple question: "Would you rather see CCA not operate anything like this and not make it available to inmates if they want to do it?" he said. "You should have seen the look in their eyes. Some of them came in there and said 'this is important work and I'm so grateful to have it,'" he added. Neither Friedmann nor Tartaglia dismissed the many benefits of inmates being able to participate in a voluntary, faith-based program where amputees in developing countries are able to get new limbs. However, because CCA is a for-profit company that makes billions of dollars from the incarceration of people in a country that has the highest incarceration rate in the world, critics say it is understandable why there would be speculation about CCA possibly using the SWH program to boost its public image, especially since the publicly traded prison corporation has been accused by many people around the country of not providing adequate services for prisoners. To Friedmann, however, the main problem is not so much about PR gimmicks, but how inmate labor programs like this can make the more important issues get buried when they are used. "People are in prison for a reason," Friedmann said. "And the vast majority is substance abuse or alcohol abuse or things of that nature. Prisoners need to have those needs addressed, so they when they get out, they don't come back, in addition to whatever good, non-profit things that they do while incarcerated." In addition, Friedmann said, it is important that "the credit goes to the prisoners participating in the program – not the corporate executives. The prisoners are the ones doing the work. They deserve to get the credit," he said.

November 14, 2011 News Channel 5
Occupy Nashville protesters left their camp on Legislative Plaza Monday and traveled to the Green Hills headquarters of CCA, Corrections Corporation of America. The group says the company highlights the reason they are protesting. "This is another example of what we're talking about, corporate greed and politicians being bought by the corporations," said Occupy protester Ron White. More than 30 people gathered on the sidewalk outside CCA's Burton Hills Drive headquarters. They shouted to the workers inside, who watched from their windows. "People, not profits," the group chanted. CCA is the nation's largest operator of for-profit prisons. "CCA's contracts are all with public money. That's my money, your money, all of your audiences money," explained protester Alex Friedmann. The Occupiers claim CCA is essentially bidding on prisoners for profit. They wanted CCA employees to get the message they feel that practice is not ethical. "And hopefully that will not be lost on the people inside that building, who work for CCA, who are profiting off of other people's imprisonment," Friedmann said. Late Monday afternoon CCA released a statement in response to the protest. "We're mystified why these protesters would want to occupy a company that has created over 17,000 jobs and counting, saves taxpayers millions, helps keep communities safe and rehabilitates thousands of inmates every year," said public affairs manager Mike Machack. At the end of its protest the Occupy group held a mock "human auction" to signify how they feel CCA buys prisoners for profit. Protesters took on the personas of CCA managers and bid on other protesters to dramatize their point. CCA had one security guard watching the group as it protested. Metro Nashville officers did ride by as the protest started. Occupy Nashville has been protesting since October 7th with a camp on Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville.

Incident Rates at CCA-run Prisons Higher than at Public Prisons in Tennessee: October 18, 2011, Private Corrections Institute. According to an analysis of incidents involving assaults and disturbances at publicly-operated and privately-managed prisons in Tennessee from January 2009 to June 2011, incident rates were consistently higher at the state’s three private prisons.

September 15, 2011 Arizona Daily Sun
A judge refused Wednesday to block the state from awarding new contracts to put inmates in private prisons. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson said members of the Quaker organization who filed suit earlier this week had not shown their interests would be "irreparably harmed" if he refused to issue an emergency order. That made the challengers legally ineligible for immediate relief. But the ruling does not end the dispute. Anderson scheduled a hearing for next week when he wants to hear from both the American Friends Service Committee as well as the Department of Corrections. He could at that time, after hearing evidence, then bar the state from proceeding with the additional private prisons. That presumes, however, it is not too late. The law directing the Department of Corrections to contract out for 5,000 private prison beds allows the agency to award the bid as early as this Friday. And agency spokesman Barrett Marson would not commit to holding off until after next week's hearing. About 6,500 of the state's approximately 40,000 inmates already are in private prisons. The lawsuit is based on the contention by the group that privately run prisons are both more costly and less secure than those operated by the state. What gives the group ammunition is that a 1987 state law requires a study to determine whether private companies can not only do the job at a lower cost but that the private companies meet the same standards on everything from security to food. That law was ignored until Gov. Jan Brewer directed a study be done. That study, however, will not be completed before the end of the year. The group wants Anderson to preclude new contracts until that happens. Anderson, however, said he cannot act now -- before the Department of Corrections gets a chance to respond -- absent some showing of irreparable harm. Carolyn Isaacs, the group's Arizona program manager, said there is such proof. "Certainly, the taxpayers are harmed by wasting $650 million," she said. Isaacs also noted that other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include a couple whose son in locked up in a private prison in Kingman. They allege that guards in that facility have allowed attacks to occur on African-American inmates. "There is irreparable harm happening daily in these facilities, or at least the potential for it," Isaacs said. She also pointed to the review done by the state of the operation of that Kingman facility after three dangerous inmates escaped last year. One of the escapees and an accomplice have been charged in connection with the murder of an Oklahoma couple. "At any minute, another Kingman (incident) could possibly happen," Isaacs said.

September 13, 2011 Arizona Republic
A group opposed to privatizing prisons filed suit Monday seeking to block, at least temporarily, state plans to contract for 5,000 new private-prison beds as early as Friday. The state "should not be allowed to hand over another cent of taxpayers' money until the Department (of Corrections) can prove to us that these prisons are safe, that the corporations are doing the job we're paying them to do, and that the state is capable of holding them accountable," said Caroline Isaacs, director of the Tucson office of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group that monitors prisons. Besides requesting a temporary restraining order, the suit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court accuses Arizona's Department of Corrections of failing to follow two state statutes: - State law requires that any private-prison contract either save money or provide better services for the same cost as state-run prisons. Cost comparisons done by Corrections every year since 2005 consistently show that private prisons are more expensive, the suit noted. - Corrections has failed for decades to carry out biannual studies, required by law, comparing the performance of private vs. state prisons on security, safety, how inmates are managed, programs and services, and many other issues. The Corrections Department declined to comment on the suit. Corrections officials previously have admitted that the biannual studies have not been done. Corrections Director Charles Ryan has said the department expects to complete its first such study by January. The department had said it would announce the award of one or more contracts on or after Friday. Four companies are finalists to build or provide prisons at five possible sites. The committee was joined in the suit by Oralee and Joyce Clayton, parents of an inmate at the privately run Kingman state prison who say they're concerned for their son's safety. The group asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order stopping Corrections from awarding any contract, at least until it completes its first biannual cost-benefit comparison study. The suit also asks the court to force the department to disclose the details of all of its current contracts with private-prison operators.

August 10, 2011 Arizona Republic
Private prisons are already a familiar sight in Eloy. Residents, many of them employees of Corrections Corporation of America, expressed their support for the company at a public hearing Tuesday night. "This is what CCA does to the community," said Eloy resident and CCA employee Lt. Charlie Payne in front of the crowd. "We become winners." "We truly, truly need this," said resident Linda Gibson, also a CCA employee, when it was her turn to speak. Residents at the hearing wanted the state to award CCA an agreement to manage 4500 Arizona inmates. The inmates would be housed at Red Rock and La Palma correctional facilities. "We're certainly very proud of the fact we already employ 2700 people in Pinal County alone and to the extent that the state needs to additional services, the scope of the services will determine how many more jobs that might entail," said Steven Owen, director of public affairs for CCA. "You can see that there are a lot of folks here that currently work in these facilities," said American Friends Service Committee program director Caroline Isaacs as she stood outside of the public hearing at Curiel Annex School. "I think the jobs argument is one they've been selling to small, economically-strapped rural towns for decades." Opponents ranging from American Friends Service Committee to the American Civil Liberties Union said that private prisons don't really offer savings and are not accountable to taxpayers like the state department of corrections. They questioned whether the new contract would bring more jobs since current facilities will be used and suggested that if current inmates are transported from state facilities to private ones, state corrections jobs could be at stake. "Which current Arizona facilities will be affected?" asked private prison critic Susan Maurer as she stood in front of the hearing audience. "Will there be closures there and how many jobs from those facilities would be lost?" "I cannot discuss informational content in relationship to a vendor's proposal until we complete the public hearing process at five sites," answered Charles Ryan, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Security records mixed for private prison firms: August 6, 2011 By Tom Beyerlein and Laura A. Bischoff, Daytona Daily News

June 3, 2011 Mother Jones
Less than a month after retiring from his post as Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Harley G. Lappin has been hired to a top position at the nation's largest private, for-profit prison contractor, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). In a move that has gone virtually unnoticed by the press except on the business pages, Lappin, who had run the BOP since 2003, has been named CCA's Executive VP and Chief Corrections Officer. According to a company press release, his responsibilities will include "the oversight of facility operations, health services, inmate rehabilitation programs, [and] purchasing." Lappin announced his retirement in March, a few days before making public his arrest, the previous month, on DUI charges in Maryland. In a memo apologizing to BOP employees, Lappin admitted to a "lapse in my judgment...giving rise to potential embarrassment to the agency," but he refused to acknowledge a direct link between his arrest and his retirement. The announcement of his appointment to a leadership position at CCA came just over three weeks after his effective retirement date of May 7. Taking advantage of two concurrent 30-year trends--toward mass incarceration and toward privatization of government services--CCA has grown to a $1.6 billion company that operates 66 facilities in 20 states, with approximately 90,000 beds. It has become notorious for its poor treatment of prisoners, and for numerous preventable injuries and deaths in its prisons and immigrant detention centers. About 40 percent of CCA's business comes from the federal government, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as the Bureau of Prisons. As BOP director, Lappin would have overseen government contracts with CCA worth tens of millions of dollars. CCA spends approximately $1 million annually on lobbying on the federal level alone. A press release from the invaluable Private Corrections Working Group notes that Lappin's quick trip through the government-to-industry revolving door is hardly unique in the Bureau of Prisons' history: "Lappin joins another former BOP director already employed with CCA, J. Michael Quinlan, who was hired by the company in 1993. He retired as director of the BOP in 1992, several months after settling a lawsuit that accused him of sexually harassing a male BOP employee. While settling the suit, Quinlan denied allegations that he made sexual advances to the employee in a hotel room." Advertise on MotherJones.com In addition, there's the case of the recently appointed head of the U.S. Marshals Service, Stacia Hylton, who until 2010 was the Federal Detention Trustee. In between serving in these two high-ranking government positions, Hylton worked as a consultant for the GEO Group, the nation's second largest private prison contractor. During Hylton's tenure, the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee gave several contracts to GEO; and the U.S. Marshals Service, like ICE and the BOP, houses federal detainees in privately owned prisons, including some run by GEO. "Federal ethics rules do not prohibit former high-ranking employees such as Lappin and Hylton from working for private companies, even when those companies contract with the same federal agencies where those former officials were employed," the Private Corrections Working Group points out. "An Executive Order issued by President Obama restricts appointees from taking official actions that directly and substantially affect immediate former clients and employers; however, that ethics rule was not applied to Hylton and it has been waived for over two dozen other federal officials, according to a report by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics."

May 29, 2011 Fog City Journal
On May 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Plata, affirmed lower court rulings that ordered California to reduce its prison population to 137.5 percent, or to 109,805 from 143,436 prisoners within two years. (California’s prisons are designed to house a population of just under 80,000.) The decision was based on evidence that prisoners were being deprived of basic medical care caused by overcrowding. The Court noted, for example, that there were high vacancy rates for medical care (20 percent for surgeons) and medical health care (54.1 percent for psychiatrists). And the state had not budgeted for sufficient staff and, even if vacant staff positions were filled, there is not enough space for them. The Supreme Court ruled that the state had violated the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments.” Governor Jerry Brown’s response to prison overcrowding is to shift low-risk inmates from state-run prisons to counties as set forth in Assembly Bill 109 signed into law last month. But, of course, the legislature and counties must find the money to move inmates to county facilities, many of which are already overcrowded, to comply with the Supreme Court decision without putting criminals back on the street. AB 109 will be at best a short-term solution to California’s overcrowded prison system. Why is the prison system overcrowded? California’s tough-on-crime policies have led to the passage of hundreds of laws that increased prison terms. One of the most significant was the 1977 policy mandating that every prisoner leaving the system get paroled resulting in thousands of ex-convicts being sent back to jail each year for minor parole violations. Last year’s change in parole laws, which allows some non-violent offenders to avoid parole and others to avoid getting sent back to jail for minor violations, was a step in the right direction. In 1994, California passed the three-strikes law, which requires those convicted of any three felonies be sentenced to 25 years to life. There is also a two-strike provision, as well, which requires hose convicted of a second felony to receive a doubled sentence. As the 25-year-to-life inmates increase, California will be housing a disproportionate share of elderly inmates. California has a 70 percent recidivism rate. What is needed is a support network for inmates reentering society. Unfortunately, rehabilitation and drug treatment are severely underfunded. In 2000, Proposition 36 was passed by the voters that permanently changed state law to allow qualifying defendants convicted of non-violent drug possession offenses to receive a probationary sentence in lieu of incarceration. As a condition of probation defendants are required to participate in and complete a licensed and/or certified community drug treatment program. If the defendant fails to complete this program or violates any other term or condition of their probation, then probation can be revoked and the defendant may be required to serve an additional sentence which may include incarceration. Proposition 36 is not retroactive, meaning that defendants who had to attend unlicensed drug rehabs prior to Prop 36 are not afforded the opportunity to have their cases reheard in court. One UCLA study found that convicted drug users had become more likely to be arrested on new drug charges since the proposition took effect. AB 900, passed in 2000, provides authorization to build up to 40,000 state prison beds and up to 13,000 local jail beds in two phases. Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange, the chairman of a state Assembly committee overseeing the state’s prison construction efforts remarked about AB 900: “The department is a shambles. They couldn’t build their way out of a paper bag. Everyone has a reason to be skeptical. Everyone is holding their breath, hoping that this time they’re successful.” Clearly, AB 900 was not the answer to prison reform. Otherwise, California would not have been a defendant in Brown v. Plata. Prison overcrowding has been a problem for years but the California legislature has lacked the political will to implement necessary reforms. Will California be forced to turn to private, for-profit prisons to help solve its overcrowding prison problem? Many believe that government programs — social security for example — would run more efficiently and cheaply by the private sector. This may or may not be true. However, recent research by the Arizona Department of Corrections indicates that this is not necessarily so for private, for-profit prisons. This research based on Arizona’s own facts and figures shows that privately-operated prisons can cost more than state-run prisons, even though they often do not accept the sickest, costliest inmates. Arizona law stipulates that private prisons must create “cost savings,” but the research shows that inmates in private prisons cost as much as $1,600 more per year, while many cost about the same as they do in state-run prisons. Similarly, a University of Utah team reviewed years of research and concluded in a 2007 report that “cost savings from privatizing prisons are not guaranteed and appear minimal.” For many years, private prisons have been a hot issue in California. While Texas and Florida have embraced privatization as a supplement to state-run institutions, California has resisted. In 2002, former Governor Gray Davis ended California’s experiment with privately operated prisons, fulfilling his promise to the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCOA) that spent $2.3 million to help elect him to his first term. Davis’ budget proposed closing five of California’s nine private prisons almost immediately and phasing out the rest as their operating contracts expire. He cited budget concerns, saying that the state could save about $5 million by closing the minimum-security facilities. Prisons run by private companies was finally discontinued in 2007 after continued lobbying by the CCOA. California does use private, for-profit facilities for community corrections facilities (seven are in operation today) and various contracted services, including education, vocational training, and substance abuse treatment. Private prisons are making a subtle comeback in California. For example, as the prisons’ population swelled to an all-time high in 2006, former Governor.Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a public safety emergency and then used his emergency powers to begin transferring more than 10,000 inmates to private prisons in other states. California now contracts with for-profit private prison companies to house up to 10,468 inmates in out-of-state facilities. Shortly after Schwarzenegger’s declaration of a public safety emergency, the Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles-based libertarian think-tank that promotes the privatization of government services, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association issued the so called “Reason-HJTA Report,” which advocated sending 25,000 California inmates to out-of-state for-profit prisons, claiming that would save the state up to $1.8 billion over a five-year period. The Report purports to offer a solution to California’s prison overcrowding crisis. The cost savings touted in this Report were severely criticized by the Private Corrections Institute, a non-profit citizen watchdog group that opposes prison privatization: “The joint Reason-HJTA report is based on sources that are so plagued with conflicts of interest that the results would be laughable if they weren’t masquerading as credible research.” I believe that California will turn to private, for-profit prisons as the long-term solution to prison overcrowding and not necessarily for any purported cost savings, but because California may have no other choice. California cannot build new prisons and/or remodel/expand existing prisons fast enough to keep up with new inmates. Lacking the political will, California will likely take the easy way out by shipping the prisoners to private prisons.

May 23, 2011 DBA Press
Private Corrections Working Group Field Organizer Frank Smith discussed issues surrounding the for-profit prison industry with Premier Radio Networks’ Randi Rhodes, May 19, 2011. Frank Smith on Randi Rhodes -- Smith, who has been fighting private prison development nationwide for the better part of the past decade, expounded on prison privatization failings and corruption, ranging from the Luzerne County juvenile judges scandal to the infamous Idaho CCA ‘Gladiator School.’ Rhodes, a Florida-based broadcaster, has turned her attention to the private prison industry in the wake of Florida Governor Rick Scott’s broad privatization agenda, which calls for the privatization of thousands of prison ‘beds’ in the southern portion of the state. This DBA Press audio is an excerpt of the full segment. To listen to the full segment (on the Rhodes site), click here: http://www.randirhodes.com/pages/rrnews.html?feed=393046&article=8604496

Florida rolls dice on private prisons May 21, 2011, Tallahassee Democrat: Bill Cotterell challenges alleged cost savings

Effort to privatize Florida prisons raises questions of cost April 23, 2011, Miami Herald: Scott Hiaasen's great analysis of the for-profit prison industry.

April 3, 2011 Herald-Tribune
Thousands of state jobs for key services — ranging from caring for state mental health hospital patients to keeping some of Florida's most dangerous criminals behind bars — are set to be turned over to private companies this year. Florida lawmakers hope the plan to "privatize" more state services than ever before will save millions of dollars, helping to plug a nearly $4 billion gap in the state budget. The move builds on state efforts to shift state jobs from the public payroll to private contractors that began in the 1990s and blossomed under former Gov. Jeb Bush, who backed the privatization of an array of state programs, from personnel services to accounting and child welfare programs. But it is reigniting the debate over whether private companies can deliver on their financial promises to the state. Florida government has had a sketchy history with private vendors, including previous failed efforts to let for-profit companies provide food to state prisoners and to handle medical care for a portion of the state prison system. Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, chairman of the Senate budget subcommittee on criminal justice spending who opposed the prison privatization move, called this year's effort unprecedented in scope. "That is a huge policy change," Fasano said about a plan that could result in about a quarter of Florida's prisoners ending up in private facilities and about a third of the state's probationers being supervised by for-profit companies. "Nowhere else in the United States have they gone to that extreme of privatizing prisons," Fasano said. "Nowhere else in the United States have they gone even close to that extreme of privatizing probation officers. We're now talking about a criminal who is out on the streets who is being watched by a private company that is in the business of making money." Nonetheless, Florida government has already embraced the privatization trend, including services as diverse as toll roads, adoption services, personnel management and information technology. The move has helped came the state payroll relatively flat over the past decade. For-profit companies now run seven state prisons and four state mental health facilities. With backing from Gov. Rick Scott and top Republican legislators, who have expressed skepticism over the government's ability to provide services efficiently, the use of private companies is expected to expand in coming years. "We are looking at ways to save money," said Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island. "I don't want to cut money out of education — that's the last thing I want to cut. If I can reduce spending on prisons, I'm going to do that first." Under a Senate proposal, lawmakers want to turn over all Department of Corrections facilities to private companies in an 18-county region that includes Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. The House has a less ambitious expansion that would only encompass correctional facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. The private prisons are expected to yield at least a 7 percent savings on a regional budget of about $390 million. Additionally, the plan would also look at moving the supervision of prisoners on probation in that region to private companies as well. It would require lawmakers to rewrite the state law that now specifically prohibits the use of private companies for probation services — a measure put in place after a scandal involving a private probation company in Palm Beach County in the early 1990s. The privatization effort threatens the jobs of thousands of state workers — although most will be given an opportunity to be rehired by the private companies. Some lawmakers and unions representing the state workers are fighting the moves, questioning how well the private companies can deliver the services and the amount of savings. One advantage private companies have is the ability to pay lower salaries and offer fewer benefits than the state. But critics say that can lead to poorer performances by the private workers — a critical issue when it comes to supervising prisoners. "This is a very scary maneuver," said Ken Kopczynski, a lobbyist for the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the largest union for law enforcement, correctional and probation officers. "You're putting tens of thousands of seriously violent people under a for-profit company, and the reason they make money is that they don't pay their employees" as much as the state, he said, "and they don't give them the benefits." Kopczynski said the privatization move represents a dramatic shift in state policy and could involve some 18,000 prisoners as well as 50,000 prisoners on probation. It would also impact more than 4,000 correctional officers. Currently, about 10 percent of Florida's 102,000 inmates are serving their time in private prisons. Senate and House budget proposals will also likely include a plan to turn over medical, dental and mental health services for the entire state prison system to private companies. A Senate analysis says the move could save the state $75 million a year. Lawmakers are not going as far as Scott requested in his budget in proposing to turn over three state mental health hospitals, which are now run by the Department of Children and Families, to private companies. But lawmakers are pushing ahead to privatize the Northeast Florida State Hospital in Macclenny near Jacksonville, which provides some 633 beds for Floridians who suffer from severe mental illnesses in roughly half of the state's 67 counties. The privatization move could impact some 1,253 state workers at the facility, Baker County's largest employer. The hospital privatization, as well as letting private companies provide medical care to prisoners, is opposed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest state worker union. The prison medical services privatization could impact 2,497 state workers, including prisons in Charlotte County (38 workers), DeSoto (28) and Polk (28). Doug Martin, an AFSCME lobbyist, questioned whether the private companies could provide significant savings given the state's past problems with similar contracts and the history of lawsuits in the prison system over health care issues. The state DOC previously had to abandon a contract with private companies to run health care services in Region 4 — the 18-county region that runs south from Manatee County to Miami and the Florida Keys — after a series of contract disputes with the vendors. Martin also noted the state had to walk away from another private contract — in excess of $70 million a year — that provided food to state prisoners when questions arose about the savings and the quality of the service.

January 27, 2011 Reuters
“Release is not the only option there in California. There is capacity elsewhere,” said James F. Blumstein, director of the Health Policy Center at Vanderbilt University, who has researched private prisons. They may also get an additional boost if California’s leaders lower prison spending from the level proposed by Governor Jerry Brown in his state budget plan. “If I’m a public manager looking to build a prison why should I use scarce public capital resources when I can have a five-year contract with a private company?” Blumstein said. Your analysis quotes James F. Blumstein, director of the Health Policy Center at Vanderbilt University,” who has researched private prisons.” Mr. Blumstein was paid by CCA for research. I don’t think Mr. Blumstein is a disinterested party in this issue any more than I am (on the other side). Ken Kopczynski Private Correction Working Group You raise a valid point. While this person is only mentioned twice – once with a plain fact and the other with a fairly obvious argument – any connection such as the one you suggest should have been made clear in the story. This serves as a cautionary tale for all of our journalists in seeking sources: GBU Editor

December 23, 2010 Washington Post
The Senate has confirmed President Obama's pick for U.S. marshal despite opposition from criminal justice and watchdog groups upset about the nominee's ties to the private prison industry. Retiring U.S. Marshal John F. Clark said he welcomed Justice Department veteran Stacia M. Hylton's appointment late Wednesday and called her a "dedicated public servant with 29 years of law enforcement in the Department of Justice." "In addition to serving as our nation's federal detention trustee, she was a deputy U.S. marshal for 24 years and served in a variety of assignments, which gave her profound insight into the service's operations," he said in a statement after the confirmation by unanimous consent. But Ms. Hylton ran into sharp opposition from watchdog groups who said her consulting work this year for the GEO Group, one of the nation's largest private prison companies, posed a conflict of interest. The GEO Group has held tens of millions of dollars in contracts with the Marshals Service. "The opposition coalition is disappointed, of course, that the Obama administration nominated Hylton despite her obvious conflicts of interest involving the private prison industry, which she will be overseeing as director of the U.S. Marshals and in contradiction to the president's own ethics guidelines," said Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News, one of the groups opposing the nomination. "We continue to hope for change, but see only the same revolving door and conflicts of interest between public officials and private industry that benefits from federal contracts under the Obama administration," he said. Others critical of the Hylton nomination included the 1.6-million-member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the Alliance for Justice; the National Lawyers Guild; the Detention Watch Network; Grassroots Leadership; the Human Rights Defense Center; International CURE; the Justice Policy Institute; Public Citizen; and the Private Corrections Working Group. Ms. Hylton was backed by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the National Sheriffs' Association. During her confirmation hearing, Ms. Hylton said she had recused herself from conversations about the private prison industry and that federal ethics officials had cleared her recent consulting work for the GEO Group. "I did follow all ethics requirements and regulations and worked closely with the ethics office," she said.

December 2, 2010 Fox 12
Surveillance video of the beating of an Idaho Correctional Center inmate, while guards look on has gotten national attention. Now one man says this isn't the first time something like this has happened. The President of the Private Corrections Institute, a non profit that opposes private prisons, Alex Friedmann, says the prison's operator, Corrections Corporation of America, is not only the largest private prison company, they're the most sued. In fact back in the early 1990's he was a prisoner at a Corrections Corporation prison, not located here Idaho. He says he too was mistreated and endangered while held by them. "I was retaliated against by CCA officials and took them to court and obtained a federal jury award against a former CCA Unit Manager for threatening to have other prisoners assault me for filing complaints against CCA," explained Friedmann. Friedmann has since turned his life around and has even testified before congress on the issue of private prisons. When CCA issued a statement calling the surveillance video an unnecessary security risk to staff and inmates, he felt he had to speak out. "I've watched the video myself and the only unnecessary risk it poses is to CCA's liability in prisoner assault cases and the notion CCA's employees are corrections professionals." The beating has prompted a federal class-action lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and now the Department of Justice is looking into the conduct of CCA prison staff.

November 30, 2010 San Francisco Chronicle
California, under pressure to reduce the number of inmates in its crowded prisons, has steadily increased the number of convicts it sends to private institutions outside the state since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger began the program in 2006. The latest deal will ship another 5,800 inmates to private prisons across state lines, bringing the total to more than 15,000. The transfers will begin in May under a contract that runs through June 2013 - nearly halfway through the term of Gov.-elect Jerry Brown. California has a prison population of about 164,000 people, but its corrections facilities are only equipped to house around 100,000. The state is under court order to reduce the inmate population by 40,000 though state officials are challenging the order, and the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case today. Critics of moving prisoners to out-of-state facilities say it does little to relieve the underlying problems that have caused crowded conditions and questioned the timing of the new, no-bid contracts with two private companies. One of the companies houses nearly 10,000 California prisoners. "This is the governor doing what he wants to in the last minutes of his administration," said state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. "It is a way he can, on his watch, knock another 5,000 from the official numbers." When California first signed contracts to ship prisoners over state lines four years ago, it began with 2,260 inmates at a cost of $51 million annually. Now, it is set to pay the companies $360 million a year to house 15,424 prisoners, and spend more than $636 million annually once administrative costs are factored in. The prisons remain woefully crowded: There are 8,200 inmates in "nontraditional" beds such as the gymnasium at San Quentin State Prison. Prison officials hope that, with the new agreements and other efforts, the number could drop to zero. "This has always been viewed as a temporary remedy while we await other fixes, including legislative reform and building additional (prison) capacity," said Scott Kernan, undersecretary for operations at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Consult next governor Critics of California's private prison deals, however, question the timing of the new contracts and whether the state should be using private lockups at all. Don Specter of the Prison Law Office, which filed the crowding lawsuit against the state, said Brown "should be consulted on this important policy development before any long-term decisions are made." It was unclear whether the governor-elect weighed in on the new contracts. A spokesman for Brown declined comment. Kernan, however, said that while the "timing might seem unusual," the state has been in the process of negotiating the new contracts for months. About half of the new inmates - 2,580 - will go to a Michigan facility owned by GEO Group Inc., which signed a new contract with the state earlier this month. The other half are to go to prisons in Colorado and Minnesota, though the state is still negotiating with the owner of those facilities, Corrections Corp. of America. The corrections company already houses 9,941 California inmates and is the nation's largest private prison company. Corrections Corp. of America also was the subject of a recent National Public Radio investigation that alleged that it and other prison companies helped draft and pass a controversial Arizona immigration bill approved earlier this year - a law that could increase inmate population numbers and therefore benefit the private prison industry's bottom line. Corrections Corp. of America denies any involvement, saying in a written statement that the company had "absolutely no involvement whatsoever in drafting or writing the legislation." Alarming practice Still, critics argue that the very practice of making profit-driven companies part of the criminal justice system is alarming. "If you can get over the civil libertarian issue and morality of putting people in prison for profit ... you end up with a market that needs to be fed, which is pretty scary," said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the national Private Corrections Working Group, which advocates against the private prison industry. State lawmakers have also raised questions about safety at the private facilities. According to the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee, which held a hearing on the out-of-state transfer program in January, California prison officials temporarily stationed a staff member at a Mississippi facility, "due to several incidents there including the death of an asthmatic prisoner in 2007 and an incident in October 2009 that left two correctional officers hospitalized, including one with 22 stab wounds." Kernan said a person is no longer stationed full time at the prison, but that teams of state employees travel to all of the facilities almost weekly to monitor conditions. State emergency In 2006, Schwarzenegger issued an emergency proclamation stating that immediate action was needed to prevent "death and harm caused by severe overcrowding." By declaring a state emergency, the governor was able to waive a law that prohibits sending inmates out of state without their consent. The first, three-year contract with Corrections Corp. of America to house about 2,200 inmates was announced just 16 days after the proclamation was signed. At first, state officials said they would only be sending volunteer prisoners over state lines, but within months announced they would begin involuntary out-of-state transfers. Since then, California has systematically increased the number of inmates incarcerated in private facilities. The state employs 199 people at a cost of $276 million a year to oversee the program. Lawmakers approved some out-of-state transfers under AB900, a bill passed in 2007 to provide $7.7 billion in prison construction funds to add 53,000 prison and jail beds around the state. The measure also allowed a limited number of out-of-state transfers without an inmate's consent through July 1, 2011. Since 2007, however, the Legislature has not commented on the program, except in informational oversight hearings and as part of the state budget. Kernan characterized the program as "cost neutral," and stressed that the ultimate goal is to tackle crowding. Sen. Leno said it might "look good" to reduce the inmate population, but there are other factors the government should be considering, such as how to decrease the state's 70 percent recidivism rate. Specter and Leno are also concerned about shipping inmates away from their families and friends. "One documented way to reduce recidivism is with the presence of a supportive family," Leno said. "Sending prisoners across country is what we shouldn't be doing if we want successful re-entry programs." Kernan, however, said that even inmates who remain in California are unlikely to be close to the communities where they will eventually be released.

November 10, 2010 Washington Times
Eight prominent human rights and prison industry watchdog groups Tuesday announced their opposition to U.S. Marshal nominee Stacia Hylton, a longtime Justice Department veteran who recently worked as a consultant to one of the nation's largest private prison companies. The organizations raised conflict of interest charges concerning Ms. Hylton's consulting work earlier this year for the Florida-based GEO Group, which has held of millions of dollars in contracts with the Marshals Service. "It is extremely worrisome that Ms. Hylton is nominated for a position where she would be directly involved in overseeing contracts with private prison companies to house federal detainees, given her cozy relationship with the private prison industry and her acceptance of funding from the GEO Group through her consulting work," said Ken Kopczynski, director of the Private Corrections Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog group. Citing a report last month by The Washington Times, the groups pointed out Ms. Hylton's acceptance of $112,500 in consulting fees from the GEO Group after leaving her post earlier this year as federal detention trustee. "This is a prime example of the revolving door between the public and for-profit private sectors turning full circle," said Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center that reports on criminal justice issues. "After cashing in on her experience in public law enforcement by taking a consulting job with GEO Group, Ms. Hylton has now been nominated for a high-level federal position where she will oversee detention services for the U.S. marshals, including services provided by private prison firms such as GEO," he said. The organizations plan to discuss their concerns with the White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee. They said neither the White House nor the GEO Group responded to their questions about Ms. Hylton's relationship with the company. Among the organizations opposing the nomination are the Alliance for Justice, the National Lawyers Guild, International Cure, the Detention Watch Network, Grassroots Leadership and the Justice Policy Institute. Last month, a White House official said Ms. Hylton would not require a waiver from Mr. Obama's ethics rules, which bar appointees for two years from working on matters involving recent clients. So far, more than two dozen high-level appointees have been given full or partial waivers. "After review, it was determined ... she could easily be recused from participating in particular matters in which that client was a party," said the official. "This recusal, along with the Obama administration's ethics pledge and other ethics restrictions, will ensure that she can serve ably and effectively as director of the U.S. Marshals Service." Ms. Hylton wasn't working as an employee of the company, but provided services to GEO Group through her consulting company, Virginia-based Hylton Kirk & Associates. GEO Group was the only client on her financial disclosure form, for whom she said she did "consulting services for detention matters, federal relations and acquisitions and mergers" from March through July of this year. Marshals Service contracts generate an important source of revenue for the GEO Group. Ms. Hylton has supporters, including the National Sheriff's Association, which told the Judiciary Committee of her "extraordinary qualifications, experience and expertise." Ms. Hylton said if she is confirmed, her consulting firm would remain dormant except to comply with any legal and tax requirements while it's inactive. She also said $105,000 in annual retirement pay would end upon her appointment.

September 2, 2010 Press Release
A federal judge today rebuked the federal Bureau of Prisons’ refusal to disclose basic information about immigrant detention centers operated by private contractors. The ruling arose in a lawsuit brought by recent law school graduate Stephen Raher, who had requested documents from the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) in 2008 pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). The documents, which Raher requested as part of a law school research project, pertain to a series of contracts that BOP has issued for privately-operated immigrant detention facilities. BOP has refused to release the documents, which specify the work private prison companies must perform and how much the government pays them in return, citing FOIA’s protections for confidential business information. In response to the BOP’s argument that it could not disclose how much it pays the private prison companies, the court concluded that BOP’s “categorical and conclusory assertions do not provide the particularized explanation necessary to show that disclosure of a specific document or part of a document would damage the interest in private competition protected by” FOIA’s commercial information provision. During the course of the lawsuit, BOP has advanced many arguments justifying its protection of contractor secrecy. The court rejected most of the arguments, repeatedly calling the government’s allegations conclusory and unsupported by the evidence. In response to the BOP’s claims that some documents contained sensitive security information, the court agreed that FOIA does protect bona fide security details, but noted that BOP’s “conclusory statements that a security risk exists categorically for all information related to staffing, computers, security, and operations does not provide the specificity needed to satisfy the agency’s burden of proof under FOIA.” Today’s ruling by Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart gives the BOP 60 days to provide precise descriptions of the documents and legal justifications for withholding them. “The case is far from over, but this ruling is important,” said Raher, who graduated from Lewis & Clark Law School in May 2009. “Immigrant detention is a lucrative business that negatively impacts thousands of families, but for too long BOP has refused to release basic information on the companies that profit from our nation’s disruptive immigration policy. Today’s ruling reiterates that the government cannot withhold information simply because private contractors would rather not be exposed to public scrutiny.”

August 25, 2010 Private Corrections Working Group
Today, the Private Corrections Working Group (PCWG), a not-for-profit organization that exposes the problems of and educates the public about for-profit private corrections, called for overhaul of the Arizona Department of Corrections’ (ADOC) oversight of the for-profit prison industry, including: • An immediate halt to all bidding processes involving private prison operators and a moratorium on new private prison beds • Hold public hearings during the special session to address the problems with for-profit prisons in Arizona • Enact other cost-cutting measures that not only save money but enhance public safety, like earned release credits, amending truth in sentencing, and restoring judicial discretion. This action came about after the ADOC released a security audit on August 19th concerning the July 30 escape of three dangerous prisoners from a private prison in Kingman operated by Management and Training Corp. (MTC) (Coincidentally, that same day the last escapee and an accomplice, John McCluskey and Casslyn Mae Welch, were captured without incident at a campground in eastern Arizona. The other two escaped prisoners, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick, had been caught previously in Wyoming and Colorado). Ken Kopczynski, executive director of PCWG, condemned MTC for the numerous security failures that led to the July 30 escape. “If MTC had properly staffed the facility, properly trained their employees and properly maintained security at the Kingman prison, this escape would not have occurred. But because MTC is a private company that needs to generate profit, and therefore cut costs related to staffing, training and security, three dangerous inmates were able to escape and at least two innocent victims are dead as a result,” Kopczynski observed. “That is part of the cost of prison privatization that MTC and other private prison firms don’t want to talk about.” The murders of an Oklahoma couple, Gary and Linda Hass, whose burned bodies were found in New Mexico on August 4, were tied to McCluskey, Welch and Province. While MTC said it took responsibility for the escape, vice-president Odie Washington acknowledged the company could not prevent future escapes. “Escapes occur at both public and private” prisons, he stated, ignoring the fact that most secure facilities do not experience any escapes – particularly escapes as preventable as the one at MTC’s Kingman prison. According to the ADOC security audit, the prison’s perimeter fence registered 89 alarms over a 16-hour period on the day the escape occurred, most of them false. MTC staff failed to promptly check the alarms – sometimes taking over an hour to respond – and light bulbs on a control panel that showed the status of the perimeter fence were burned out. “The system was not maintained or calibrated,” said ADOC Director Charles Ryan. Further, a perimeter patrol post was not staffed by MTC, and according to a news report from the Arizona Daily Star, “a door to a dormitory that was supposed to be locked had been propped open with a rock, helping the inmates escape.” Additionally, MTC officials did not promptly notify state corrections officials following the escape and high staff turnover at the facility had resulted in inexperienced employees who were ill-equipped to detect and prevent the break-out. According to MTC warden Lori Lieder, 80 percent of staff at the Kingman prison were new or newly promoted. Although the ADOC was supposed to be monitoring its contract with MTC to house state prisoners, the security flaws cited in the audit went undetected for years. Ryan faulted human error and “serious security lapses” at the private prison. Arizona corrections officials removed 148 state prisoners from the MTC facility after the escape due to security concerns. “I lacked confidence in this company’s ability,” said ADOC Director Ryan. Although it’s a small corporation, since 1995 over a dozen prisoners have escaped from MTC facilities in Utah, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Eagle Mountain, California –where two inmates were murdered during a riot in 2003.

August 18, 2010 AP
Past audits of the Arizona state prison where three inmates escaped last month gave the facility high marks and revealed few issues with security or staff training, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The escape on July 30 has put corrections officials and the operator of the privately run prison under intense scrutiny in recent weeks. But if there was an indication of any widespread security problems at the facility that houses minimum- and medium-security inmates, it doesn't show in the internal audits. On security issues, the audits showed overall compliance rates of 98.8 percent in 2007, 99.9 percent in 2009 and 99.5 percent in 2010. Nearly 2,870 areas of security were audited over the three years and 37 were marked as noncompliant. One security issue was tagged in 2006. No audits were done in 2005 or 2008 because of fiscal constraints, said Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Barrett Marson. No independent audits of the Kingman prison have been done. The audits instead are conducted by a team of about 15 made up of staff at the corrections department and the prison who are considered subject matter experts. The audit team evaluates areas of the prison that include security, training, medical, food service and business for compliance with the state contract and other orders. A yearly schedule of audits is available in July, giving prisons advance notice, Marson said. Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Working Group, said it's difficult to tell whether the audits are a true reflection of the operations at the prison without attached documentation to support the findings. The group advocates against private prisons he said typically overwork, underpay and don't properly train the staff. "Audits are used a lot of times to make things look like they're OK," he said. "Maybe they are OK. I doubt it." Corrections Director Charles Ryan has said the prison operator would correct the security deficiencies that contributed to the escape of John McCluskey, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick. Criminal and administrative investigations into the escape are ongoing. McCluskey's fiancee and cousin, Casslyn Welch, is accused of throwing wire cutters over a perimeter fence that the men used to slice their way out and flee. Welch's visitation privileges at the prison were terminated after a random search in June during a visit to McCluskey turned up what was believed to be heroin. Welch told investigators that she was paid by members or associates of a white supremacist group to smuggle the drug into the prison but didn't say who it was intended for. State legislators have urged corrections officials and Gov. Jan Brewer's office to release the results of a security review done following the escape. Corrections officials said the report still is being written and should be released this week.

July 8, 2010 PR Wire services
CCA Pays Over $22,000 to American Correctional Association to Claim “Stamp of Approval” at Five Private Prisons   On July 9, private prison firm Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) announced that five of the company’s prisons had been recommended for re-accreditation by the American Correctional Association (ACA), which CCA described as a “stamp of approval.” CCA did not mention that it had paid over $22,000 for those five accreditations, that CCA employees serve as ACA auditors, that CCA is a major sponsor of ACA events, or that ACA-accredited CCA facilities have experienced major security problems.   Nashville, TN (PRWEB) July 9, 2010 -- On July 9, private prison firm Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) announced that five of the company’s prisons had been recommended for re-accreditation by the American Correctional Association (ACA), which CCA described as a “stamp of approval.”   The ACA, a private non-governmental organization composed of current and former corrections employees, offers voluntary accreditation of detention facilities based on the ACA’s self-created standards. There is no oversight or regulation of the organization beyond its own staff.  It is disingenuous for CCA to describe ACA accreditation as a ‘stamp of approval’ when the ACA, a private organization that sets its own standards, accepts payments and donations from CCA. The ACA’s president-elect, Davidson County, Tennessee Sheriff Daron Hall, is a former CCA program director, and at least two CCA employees serve as ACA auditors – CCA warden Todd Thomas and company vice president Dennis Bradby. The ACA provides accreditation services to correctional agencies, both public and private, for a fee. As stated by the ACA, facilities that seek accreditation must “pay an accreditation fee.” The organization relies heavily on such fees. For example, in 2008 the ACA reported receiving more than $3.83 million in accreditation fees – over 40% of the organization’s total revenue for that year. Facilities that fail accreditation can re-apply, and the ACA provides waivers for failure to meet certain accreditation standards.   According to a letter posted on the ACA’s website, effective as of January 1, 2009, the cost of accreditation is “$3,000 per day, plus $1,500 for each auditor on the audit team regardless of the size or type of facility.” Thus, at a minimum, CCA paid $22,500 to the ACA in order to obtain re-accreditation at five of the company’s prisons as announced in CCA’s July 9 press release. Last year, CCA paid at least $63,000 to have 13 of its facilities accredited.  ACA accreditation is based largely on documentation provided by the correctional agency being examined, and whether it has certain policies in place – not necessarily whether it follows those policies in practice. Thus, some ACA-accredited CCA facilities have experienced significant problems despite being accredited. For example, earlier this year two prisoners were murdered at CCA’s Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, which is ACA accredited; CCA’s ACA-accredited Idaho Correctional Center is presently the subject of an ACLU class-action lawsuit that describes systemic violence condoned by CCA staff; and both Hawaii and Kentucky prison officials removed their female prisoners from the CCA-operated Otter Creek Correctional Center in Kentucky, which is also ACA accredited, following a sex abuse scandal in which six CCA employees were charged with sexually abusing or raping prisoners. One former CCA employee, Donna Como, who served as an accreditation manager, candidly admitted that she helped falsify documents for an ACA audit. “I was the person who doctored the ACA accreditation reports for this company," she stated in December 2008, referring to her employment at the CCA-operated Southern Nevada Women’s Correctional Facility.  In addition to the tens of thousands of dollars that CCA pays to the ACA for accreditation, CCA is also a major sponsor of the ACA’s biannual conferences. In August 2009, CCA sponsored the main banquet at the ACA’s 139th Congress of Corrections held in Nashville, Tennessee – where CCA is headquartered – and has been a major financial supporter of other ACA events.  “CCA proclaims ACA accreditation of the company’s private, for-profit facilities as a badge of honor and an indication of the quality of CCA’s services,” said Alex Friedmann, president of the Private Corrections Institute and a former CCA prisoner. “Yet CCA basically buys accreditations by paying tens of thousands of dollars in fees, CCA employees serve as ACA auditors, and CCA is a major financial sponsor of the ACA’s conferences. It is disingenuous for CCA to describe ACA accreditation as a ‘stamp of approval’ when the ACA, a private organization that sets its own standards, accepts payments and donations from CCA. That is simply a stamp of CCA getting what it has paid for.” The Private Corrections Institute had a paid booth at the ACA convention in August 2009, where PCI members distributed literature opposing prison privatization.   The Private Corrections Institute (PCI), www.privateci.org, is a non-profit citizen watchdog group that educates the public about the significant dangers and pitfalls associated with the privatization of correctional services. PCI maintains an online collection of news reports and other resources related to the private prison industry, and holds the position that for-profit prisons have no place in a free and democratic society.  For further information, please contact: Ken Kopczynski, Executive Director  Private Corrections Institute         1114 Brandt Drive Tallahassee, FL 32308  (850) 980-0887 Alex Friedmann, President Private Corrections Institute 5331 Mt. View Road #130 Antioch, TN 37013 (615) 495-6568   ###

June 28, 2010 Hawaii Reporter
I am the associate editor of Prison Legal News, a non-profit publication that reports on criminal justice issues, and I am contacting Hawaii lawmakers in reference to HB 415, which was recently vetoed by Governor Lingle. HB 415 would, among other provisions, require that the State Auditor conduct an audit of Hawaii’s contract to house over 2,000 prisoners in mainland facilities operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). I ask that you vote to override the governor’s veto, to ensure that an audit is conducted into the state’s $60 million annual contract with CCA to house Hawaii inmates on the mainland. As you are likely aware, last year the State of Hawaii withdrew its female inmates from CCA’s Otter Creek Correctional Facility in Kentucky following a sex scandal in which at least six CCA employees were charged with sexual abuse or rape, including the prison’s chaplain. I was quoted in the New York Times concerning that egregious situation; a copy of the article is enclosed. You are also likely aware that two Hawaii inmates recently were murdered at the CCA-operated Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona – Clifford Medina was strangled to death on June 8, while Bronson Nunuha was stabbed to death on February 18, 2010. Two homicides within a four-month period is unusual in any prison system and is indicative of major problems. Most importantly, an audit of the State’s contract with CCA is necessary because CCA can not be relied upon to assess itself. Although CCA conducts its own internal audits, according to a March 13, 2008 TIME magazine article based on the reports of a corporate CCA whistleblower, the company produces two types of internal audit reports: A general audit report is provided to contracting government agencies, while an audit with specific comments and notations by the CCA auditors is retained for in-house use only. A copy of the TIME article is enclosed. In fact, the company’s then-General Counsel Gus Puryear admitted, in response to questions by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, that CCA “did not make customers aware of these documents,” and specifically said CCA does not share “the separate commentary made by auditors.” An excerpt from Mr. Puryear’s written responses is attached; the full document is too large to fax but can be accessed at the following web link or I can email you a copy upon request: www.privateci.org/private_pics/Puryear%20Sen%20Feinstein%202.pdf Based on the sex abuse scandal at CCA’s Otter Creek facility, in which a number of Hawaii inmates were sexually abused, as well as the recent murders of two Hawaii prisoners at CCA’s Saguaro facility, and CCA’s admission that it does not share all of its internal audit documents with its customers, I ask that you vote to override Governor Lingle’s veto of HB 415. An audit of the State’s $60 million contract with CCA is necessary to ensure that Hawaii taxpayers are getting the value they are paying for when housing inmates in mainland private prisons. For full disclosure purposes, I also serve as president of the Private Corrections Institute, which opposes prison privatization, and am a former prisoner who served six years at a CCA-operated facility in the 1990s. Since my release in 1999 I have extensively researched private prisons, and have testified before legislative committees in two states and the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security in regard to that topic. Thank you for your time and attention. Alex Friedmann is the Associate Editor of PLN

June 25, 2010 Tennessean
Eight Corrections Corporation of America detention centers that house asylum seekers and immigrants awaiting deportation may be line for makeovers to create a less prison-like feel. The move by Nashville-based CCA to spruce up eight facilities – half of them in California and Texas – drew sharp reactions from both sides of the debate over U.S. immigration policies. “We’re coddling lawbreakers,” said Theresa Harmon, co-founder of the advocacy group Tennesseans for Responsible Immigration Policies. “We have no teeth in our enforcement and that’s the reason this whole problem continues.” Plants, flower baskets, fresh colors of paint on prison walls, and more framed pictures were proposed by private prison operator CCA to soften the look of several detention centers as part of reform initiatives within the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE is evaluating the changes, said agency spokeswoman Gillian Brigham. Changes suggested by CCA wouldn’t apply to any detainees with criminal backgrounds or those considered a threat. Low-risk detainees would be allowed extended visiting hours up to 12 hours a day, movie and bingo nights, exercise classes, self-serve continental breakfast on holidays and weekends, better access to legal resources, free Internet-based phone service and the right to wear their own clothes. Advocates of better treatment think the proposed changes are cosmetic and superficial, avoiding the real problems within federal immigration centers. Judy Greene, criminal justice policy analyst for the New York-based policy research group Justice Strategies, remains skeptical. “Bingo nights is one thing, but still having personnel that can’t figure out how to comport themselves around women detainees or women in state custody shows that (CCA) doesn’t learn from its mistakes,” Greene said. The federal immigration agency is CCA’s fourth-largest customer after the federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service and the state of California prison system. On a typical day, there are 30,000 people in immigration confinement at 256 detention centers run by the federal government, private firms such as CCA and local jailers. Today, CCA houses roughly 6,400 detainees for ICE. Nearly a year ago, ICE announced plans to implement revised policies and standards to make the immigration detention system less penal and more humane.

June 9, 2010 Arizona Silver Belt
At two consecutive city council meetings in April, the Globe council members heard from a group of men representing three corporations: Emerald Correctional Management, Corplan and Cuny Corporation. These men addressed the council regarding their desire to put in a bid with the Arizona Department of Corrections to construct a private, 1,000-bed prison in the City of Globe. The men presented estimates of economic growth that sounded almost too good to be true. According to Mike Moore of Emerald Corrections, “the city could get a monthly revenue check per inmate per month but it would depend on the monthly per diem that the state pays. It does pay and it’s a sizable number.” The group of business men went on to say the entire project would be $60 to $100 million in construction, and the goal would be to hire local workforce for 70 percent of the construction. They also promised to help the city with expansion of the sewer infrastructure. The city council took two hours to reach a decision, but in the end, a 4-2 vote in favor of supporting Emerald Corrections’ bid to build the prison was approved. A deal too good to be true? Well, there might be more than meets the eye. Case Study: Hardin, Mon. In 2004, Mr. James Parkey of Corplan - the same James Parkey who spoke to the Globe city council - proposed the construction of a private prison in Hardin, Mon., a small rural city suffering from economic stalemate. A team of experts spoke to the city officials, selling them hope of economic prosperity through the private prison business. The 450-bed prison was supposed to generate 150 secure jobs and at least $100,000 in annual per-prisoner revenue. The companies involved, Corplan as the developer, Cuny Corporation as the civil engineer of the project, and Civigenics as the prison operators, promised to realize the project from start to finish. To pay for the prison, the city of Hardin would have to conduct a bond sale. Prior to the construction, Parkey promised the city officials an economic feasibility study, which was carried out by Howard Geisler, a consultant specializing in prisons, and who had worked together with Parkey in a number of other cities. The study presented facts and figures that a Montana state auditor later described as providing “little methodology” and lacking “historical data to support anticipated prisoner counts.” The auditor went on the say the report made “a number of assumptions made related to financial viability that appear to be unfounded.” The prison was built, and the three companies involved received their payments and Hardin prepared itself for its first prisoners. In this case, however, they built it, but no one came. Hardin became so desperate to get prisoners in their prison, that they requested taking sex-offenders and later even Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Since the prison had been built for less high profile inmates, with 24-bed cells, Hardin’s requests were turned down. Hardin’s detention center never received the expected prisoners and the city has been in bond default for the last two years. A post on the detention center’s website reads, “any person or parties interested in operating or leasing space in the Hardin Detention Facility should contact...” “Do a lot of research” -- The pain is still throbbing in Hardin, Mon. After contacting the executive director of economic development and the mayor, the only comment given was “do a lot of research.” Hardin, Mon. is one of the most prominent cases, where Corplan and its partners have left a city with an empty prison. Corplan’s website lists a number of sample prisons that they have built that are surviving. However, it does not list Hardin. Neither are a number of other cases, where things ‘went wrong,’ including facilities in LaSalle County, Texas, Pioche, Nev., Lindsay, Okla., McLennan County, Texas, Las Cruses, N.M., and St. Luis, Ariz. In Willacy County, three county commissioners who were working very closely together with Corplan were indicted on bribery charges. Parkey’s and Corplan’s actions have caught attention in the media. Dan Rather reported on a few cases, especially the prison in LaSalle, Texas. Frank Smith, of the non-profit organization Private Corrections Working Group, has been following Parkey and Corplan over the years. Smith warned that the economic feasibility report must be read very closely and to expect that there may be exaggerations or left out aspects. The economic feasibility study “sells” the project more than examines it in some cases. When asked why nothing has been done legally against Corplan, Smith named a number of small factors that may be reasons why is some cases nothing was done. In Globe’s case, Corplan, Emerald Corrections, and Cuny Corporation have asked for support for a bid in response to a request for proposals put out by the Arizona DOC. In Hardin, the three partner corporations told the city that the prison operator, Civigenics, would provide the service of having prisoners housed in the facility. This could be a major difference in the success or failure of the proposed Globe project. The Arizona DOC will be awarding the contracts for the prisons by June 30, 2010.

May 23, 2010  Tennessean
A 52-year-old Davidson County inmate who suffered from inflammation in his stomach and an untreated ulcer died last year from lack of medical care, claims a federal lawsuit filed Friday. With a bloated stomach, Roy Glenn Hall Jr. was feeling ill while he sat in jail on May 24. Hall was found unresponsive on the floor of his cell at the Criminal Justice Center on Second Avenue. He was not treated while he was in Davidson County Sheriff's Office custody, even though medical staff was aware of his illness, the lawsuit states. Lawyers for Hall's estate are suing Metro, Davidson County, the Sheriff's Office, Correct Care Solutions, which has the contract for medical care, the sheriff's officers involved and the nurses individually. The sheriff's office declined to comment. Efforts to reach representatives of Correct Care Solutions were unsuccessful. Records show the sheriff's office conducted its own investigation and disciplined an officer for ignoring security precautions. That report also shows that Hall, who also had diabetes and hepatitis, complained of pain and was taken to medical staff, which sent him to his cell. Hall had been arrested on May 19 on misdemeanor warrants and was screened by medical staff, who were made aware that he was a diabetic who had liver disease and hepatitis, according to the lawsuit. Six days later, Hall was found shaking, gasping for air, saying he was going to die. He wasn't given medical treatment. He died hours later, the lawsuit states. Video image described Lawyer David Randolph Smith has also notified the parties of his intent to file a medical malpractice suit against the state. He said the case highlights the conditions in jail. Smith represented two inmates who died in Metro jail. Estelle Richardson was found dead in 2004 after a confrontation with guards and Terry Battle died of pneumonia. Hall's estate is also represented by the Human Rights Defense Center, the parent company of Prison Legal News, a magazine that advocates for inmates' rights. Alex Friedmann, associate editor of the publication, conducted his own investigation into Hall's death. Video shows Hall's bloated stomach, Friedmann said. "His stomach was obviously grossly distended," Friedmann said. "I've watched the video, and he looked nine months pregnant. "They had a dead man who had a treatable condition. Correct Care Solutions, the sheriff's office has a responsibility to keep him safe and secure." An autopsy report shows Hall had three quarts of liquid drained from his body after death. The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages.

May 4, 2010 Tallahassee Democrat
An influential state senator who is running for governor called for an explanation Tuesday of how the Blackwater River prison privatization project was handled in the state budget. Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, wrote to the Department of Corrections and Department of Management Services regarding the Santa Rosa County prison. She said the Legislature appropriated $87 million for it as a 2,000-bed privately operated prison in 2008, intending that it house medium- to close-security inmates. In the closing days of the session that adjourned last week, the budget adopted by the House and Senate added 224 prisoners to the institution's capacity -- potentially worth $2 million a year, or more, for GEO Group, the company negotiating with DMS to run the prison. The appropriation was also changed to specify that the prison will "primarily house special-needs inmates," such as those with mental or physical health problems, and that it would be in Santa Rosa County, she said. Dockery, who chairs the Senate criminal justice committee, asked DOC and DMS if either department had requested the appropriation. She also asked for a summary of responses from companies competing for the state's business, what other locations were considered for the institution and why it was designated for "inmates who require chronic medical and mental health treatment." "She's asking all the right questions," said Ken Kopczynski, a lobbyist for the Police Benevolent Association, which represents security officers in state-run prisons. The PBA opposes prison privatization, which has been a highly controversial endeavor at six corporate-run prisons in Florida. Spokeswomen for DMS and DOC said the agencies are gathering information to respond to Dockery later this week or next week.

April 25, 2010 Tampa Tribune
House and Senate budget chiefs agreed Saturday to open a private prison and pour $61 million into the University of South Florida's Lakeland campus, but remained at odds over a variety of cuts and competing proposals. The Legislature, in its 2008 budget, approved the construction of the private Blackwater River Correctional Institution, responding to predictions that the state's prison population would jump more sharply than it has. The state-of-the-art facility now stands empty. Saturday, the House agreed to Senate budget chief JD Alexander's plan to cut state prison beds and eliminate more than 300 positions, mostly vacant, in the state Department of Corrections to fill 2,224 Blackwater prison beds. That's 224 more beds than the facility was designed to hold, raising concerns about crowding. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, said the state can avoid that problem by "double-bunking" dormitory space. Ken Kopczynski, political affairs assistant for the Florida Police Benevolent Association, questioned whether it is ethical to turn incarceration of prisoners into a profit-making industry. With 4,000 beds or more available in the state's public prisons, Kopczynski said, there's no reason to open a private one. Alexander disagreed. "I just couldn't, in all conscience, sit there with a brand-new, $120 million facility and not find a way to use it; it just doesn't make sense to me. I think this is a reasonable compromise."

April 24, 2010 Tampa Tribune
House and Senate budget chiefs agreed Friday on money for Florida Forever and a range of other issues, but will spend the weekend haggling over items ranging from crisis pregnancy counseling to trading state-run prison beds for private ones. The popular-but-pricey Florida Forever program won $15 million Friday after losing in budget negotiations last year. When the House refused in 2009 to provide new money for the land conservation program, its line item, to the alarm of environmentalists, vanished from the budget. This year, the House initially left the program out of its budget plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Janet Bowman of the Nature Conservancy said environmentalists are grateful for the $15 million "bridge" funding. The proposed cash infusion, she said, will pay for land appraisals and allow the state to negotiate with land owners. Other issues on which Senate and House budget chiefs agreed during the past several days: •Spending $10 million on Everglades restoration. •Repealing a shoreline fishing fee lawmakers passed in 2009. •Cutting state payment rates to nursing homes by 7 percent. •Spending $200,000 on a new Innocence Commission to study why innocent people have wound up in prison and prevent future cases. •Spending $11.7 million on aid to libraries, less than the full $21 million funding the Senate proposed earlier. All decisions on the budget remain unofficial until the end of conferencing. The nursing home rate reduction is among a handful of recent agreements considered tentative, given concerns in both chambers about potential harm to nursing home residents. House and Senate budget chiefs will likely wrap up their negotiations on Sunday, at which point they forward any remaining sticking points to House Speaker Larry Cretul and Senate President Jeff Atwater for final decisions. Public versus private -- Among the issues still at play this weekend: How to handle the opening of Blackwater River Corrections Institution, a private prison in Santa Rosa County. The Legislature authorized construction of the low-cost, highly efficient prison in response to predictions that the prison population would jump more sharply than it has. The Senate is proposing to shutter less efficient state facilities and eliminate more than 300 vacant positions in the Department of Corrections to open 2,224 beds at Blackwater. That is 224 more beds than facility was designed to hold. Carter Goble Lee, the Atlanta-based firm contracted as Blackwater's project manager, warned the state Department of Management Services in an April 2 letter that the extra beds would place the state at risk of litigation by violating an industry standard of "25 square feet of unencumbered space per inmate." Senate budget chief JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, said Friday the state can avoid overcrowding by "double-bunking" dormitory space for lower-risk inmates. "It's typical of the kind of structure that we have in our publicly operated prisons, so we felt like that was a good, efficient move to contain costs." The Senate proposes more than $24 million in cuts to the state corrections budget to offset the cost of opening Blackwater. Meanwhile, the state has 4,000 to 5,000 vacant beds available in the existing state system, said Ken Kopczynski, political affairs assistant for the Florida Police Benevolent Association. "There's no need for this prison," Kopczynski said. "They should let it sit until they need it." Alexander said that's not acceptable. "I believe it will save us money," he said. "It's unconscionable to me to have a $120 million facility sitting empty - the newest, most state-of-the-art facility. I don't know how I would tell the taxpayers that that's OK." The House has agreed to the corresponding reduction in prison staff vacancies, but not the extra 224 beds.

April 16, 2010 St Petersburg Times
Let me see if I understand this: Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent tours the county jail managed by Corrections Corporation of America and discovers the need for millions of dollars of repairs. The contract with CCA requires it to maintain the facility other than "major" repairs. One has to wonder what category the problems discovered by the sheriff fall under. Commissioners are shocked, absolutely shocked. Well, where have you all been? It appears that Hernando facility managers had not been to the jail in over a decade. Huh? CCA is in this business for a profit. If it's going to cost money and affect the bottom line for its shareholders, then it is going to think twice before expending money. Now the irony of all this is that the Hernando County Jail is ACA (American Correctional Association) accredited. One has to wonder if the ACA actually toured this jail or if ACA accreditation has nothing to do with running a jail. I wonder how much CCA paid the ACA for this? Ken Kopczynski, Private Corrections Working Group, Tallahassee

April 2, 2010 St Petersburg Times
CCA is desperately trying to keep the contract to run the jail, since Hernando Sheriff Nugent has decided that the jail should be run by his office and staff. Does CCA truly believe that the citizens of Hernando County have forgotten the sad history of CCA's mismanagement of their jail? In case they have, here are some examples: Just this last month a CCA guard was caught "doctor shopping" for narcotics and an inmate was caught with drugs hidden in his fat folds. In July 2009 a CCA guard pleaded guilty to promising to bring drugs into the jail, another faced two rape charges and one of sex with a 16-year-old, and the county fought CCA over $422,000 the county said CCA owed it. In January 2008, the Times reported on the filing of a wrongful death by the family of Edward Duritsky and a sexual harassment suit filed by a former female CCA guard. A November 2008 story involves a suit over injuries suffered during a "melee" at the jail. What about the suicides that happened or inmates who were abused in 2007? Remember the fingerprinting and photographing of inmates issue? How about the fines or high-profile controversies, an escaped prisoner and the arrest of an employee suspected of stealing inmates' money during the booking process? These articles can be found on our Web page: privateci.org/florida.htm. This isn't just about who can run the jail cheapest. It's about the quality of service and the safety of the community. Ken Kopczynski, Executive Director, Private Corrections Working Group, Tallahassee

March 5, 2010 St Petersburg Times
We all know that when the real estate bubble burst a few years ago, it cost us all. When the incarceration bubble bursts — as may be happening — it should save us money. Because it's sure been expensive to blow it up. In 1988, when Hernando County hired Corrections Corporation of America to run its jail, it paid the company $1.7 million to house 160 inmates; in recent years, the number of inmates, averaged over the course of a year, crested at 591 a day in 2007, and the annual cost of running the jail is now $11.4 million. Sure, Hernando County's overall population has almost doubled in that time, and inflation did its usual dirty work. But the main reason for the increased costs here and across the country is that we are locking up a higher percentage of our residents. "In the past decade, we've more than doubled our jail population, and consequently costs have gone up,'' said county purchasing director Jim Gantt. What else has changed? Well, 22 years ago, privatization seemed a new and promising approach to handling a growing inmate population at a reasonable cost. Now, a lot of people think private jails and prisons waste taxpayer money, not save it. And I'm not just talking about union-funded activists. I'm talking about one of Hernando's most middle-of-the-road politicians, Sheriff Richard Nugent. "The difference between us doing it and CCA doing it is, we don't have to carry the corporate load,'' said Nugent, who this week said he wants his department to reassume control of the jail. "We don't have to support all the staff (at company headquarters) in Nashville. We don't have to show a profit margin for shareholders.'' CCA has a reputation for cutting costs to the bone, so I'm not sure Nugent really can save much money. But we'd come out ahead even if he just keeps the costs level. The guards would be better paid and better qualified, judging from CCA's historic pay rates and turnover levels. And all the money spent on the jail would stay in the county. Nugent has talked about a lot of potential savings. One big one is that, unlike CCA, he has a motivation to cut the jail population. Big picture, the growth of CCA, from its founding in 1983 to a company that today supervises facilities with 80,000 beds, has coincided with the explosion of the nation's prison population. The company isn't the main cause of this increase, of course. Twenty years ago, as crime rates climbed and prisons were filled to bursting, even violent criminals in Florida could get credit for three years of their sentence for every year they served. People had a right to be mad, and to demand longer sentences and to elect tougher judges. But also consider this: CCA has contributed millions of dollars to the campaigns of politicians who backed longer sentences, said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of Private Corrections Working Group, who is one of those aforementioned union-funded activists. And remember those laws that required prisoners to serve 85 percent of their sentences or, for many repeat offenders, a lifetime behind bars? They were written by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Counsel at a time when CCA was helping steer its criminal justice policy, said Byron Price, author of Merchandising Prisons, a book about the private corrections industry. This advocacy makes sense. The more people who are behind bars, the more CCA profits. Locally, Nugent says, the company likes to stretch the booking of inmates out to at least six hours, even if money is available for bail. CCA also has no motivation to explore alternatives to jail time, such as ankle bracelets that could allow the Sheriff's Office to track the movement of people charged with nonviolent crimes. There would seem to be plenty of candidates for such a program. A county study showed that in April of last year, 48 percent of the inmates were in jail for probation violations. Another 30 percent were in for traffic offenses (not including driving under the influence) or for either possessing or selling marijuana. Counties and states are looking to cut inmate populations to save money all over the country, said Steve Owen, a CCA spokesman, but that doesn't mean the idea of private corrections is a thing of the past. CCA is growing fast in some states, including California, where he expects CCA will supervise about 10,000 prison beds before the end of the year. But the Private Corrections Working Group issued a statement in February stating that CCA had lost 7,594 beds in the previous 16 months, including the termination of its long-standing contract to run the Bay County jail in the Florida Panhandle. If Hernando follows Bay's lead, it could leave Citrus as the only county in the state with a CCA-run jail. You can almost hear the air going out of the bubble.

February 15, 2010 AP
State Sen. Johnny Ellis took to the Senate floor Monday morning to recognize the behind-the-scenes work of a former state legislative aide who died last year. Dee Hubbard became a confidential source to the FBI back in 2003 as it began to investigate influence peddling in the state Legislature. Most people think of the federal corruption investigation in Alaska as a probe of bribery associated with oil taxes, but it began as "Operation Polar Pen" -- a private prison investigation. And Hubbard was a crusader against private prisons. "She is the person who very quietly with no fanfare remained anonymous throughout the FBI investigation, the Veco scandal, the private prison scandal," said Ellis, an Anchorage Democrat. She explained how the legislative process worked to FBI agents and told them "who's who," Ellis said. "She was just a person there who was interested in, as she always said, 'cleaning up Alaska politics,'" Ellis said. "She was motivated by the right kinds of factors." If prosecutors later made mistakes in pursuing cases, "it wasn't because of Dee," Ellis said. She gave impeccable advice, he said. Hubbard was diagnosed with liver and kidney failure in March and died in August. Her husband, Charlie, and two grown sons are still struggling to cope with her death, Ellis said. Her contributions may not be fully revealed for years, the senator said.

February 12, 2010 KQNA
The prison facility issue does not appear to be dead in Prescott Valley. Despite being pulled from last night's agenda, Frank Smith from the Private Corrections Working Group was in attendance at the voting session. Smith told Council why he felt it was important to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting: Developer Bill Fain also spoke during the public comment period and explained why the community wants to see resolution on this issue: Brad Wiggins, Senior Director of Site Acquisition with Corrections Corporation of America has indicated the Corporation is terminating site selection activities for a prison in Prescott Valley. Developer Brad Fain told Council they will be seeking an annexation and rezone of the proposed prison site.

January 26, 2010 Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Proposed legislation that would apply existing public records laws to all prisons housing federal inmates was discussed during a congressional briefing on Monday. The bill, H.R. 2450, was crafted to extend the Freedom of Information Act to private prisons that contract with government agencies. If the bill is passed, publicly financed private prisons, which house more than 100,000 federal inmates, would be subject to the same reporting standards as the Bureau of Prisons. The companies that run private prisons say they are not required to disclose basic information about the facilities or the inmates -- except for reports issued upon an inmate's death -- under existing FOIA law because while they receive taxpayer money, they are not public agencies. A panel of specialists at the briefing spoke about the need for more transparency. "If they do answer the requests, all the documents are redacted and they cite 'trade secrets' as the reason they can't disclose," said Tom Barry, senior analyst at the Center for International Policy, of his experiences getting information about inmates in private facilities from the Bureau of Prisons. David Shapiro, an attorney for the National Prison Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, put the scope of the issue in perspective, noting "over 70 percent of the prisoners we represent are in for-profit prisons."

January 8, 2010 Courier-Journal
Gov. Steve Beshear announced Friday that the state will move more than 400 women prisoners out of the privately run Otter Creek Correctional Center, amid allegations of sexual misconduct by male workers there. The women prisoners will be transferred to the state-run Western Kentucky Correctional Complex in Fredonia this summer — and the nearly 700 male inmates there will be moved to Otter Creek in Eastern Kentucky, which has 656 beds, and other prisons in the state, he said. At least six workers at Otter Creek have been criminally charged with sex-related crimes involving inmates at the facility, run by Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America. Kentucky State Police spokesman Mike Goble said Friday that state police expect to present another case to a Floyd County grand jury next month. “There is no place for this kind of behavior in our system,” Beshear said Friday. He said the move would save taxpayers “millions of dollars” a year because the state would pay CCA less per day for males than females. But Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown acknowledged the private company that operates Otter Creek could end up making more money off the deal, because the state would likely house more male prisoners at Otter Creek than it had female prisoners. Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute, a Florida-based anti-privatization group, said he believes the deal rewards Otter Creek for failing to protect female inmates from alleged sexual abuse. He said the state should've sanctioned Corrections Corp. of America for not being able to meet the terms of the contract struck last fall, which included minimum staffing levels and female worker ratios. The state's contract with CCA allows the state to fine the company up to $5,000 a day, but it has never imposed any staffing-level sanctions. “It's an abdication of the state's responsibility first off to hold the vendors to the contract and then to reward them for bad performance,” Kopczynski said. Corrections Corp. of America has been under fire since last summer after multiple inmates at Otter Creek made allegations that they were sexual assaulted by corrections officers and other workers there. A Department of Corrections investigation found that authorities at the prison failed to investigate seven alleged incidents of sexual contact between workers and inmates since 2007. In four of those cases, the workers involved were fired. But investigations, required under the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, were not conducted. The state of Hawaii moved its nearly 200 women prisoners out of Otter Creek, in part because of the incidents. Kentucky officials, however, extended its contract with CCA for one year last fall. Brown said officials are in the process of renegotiating its contract under the new arrangement. He said he hopes to have the contract in place by July 1, the start of next fiscal year. Beshear attributed some of the problems at Otter Creek to the lack of female corrections officers and said that because the state pays more than CCA, it would have an easier time recruiting female corrections officers to work at the Western Kentucky prison. However Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson said she doesn't expect to hire additional officers and would instead transfer female workers from nearby prisons if necessary. “We think this change will pay off in better management for inmates,” Beshear said. When the state extended the Otter Creek contract with CCA in the fall, it said it was requiring CCA to raise its ratio of female workers. Brown did not answer when asked whether CCA was having difficulty meeting the new requirement. “All I can say is we presented CCA what our intent was and asked them to partner with us,” he said. “They are very much on board in that effort, I can tell you that.” CCA issued a statement Friday applauding the new arrangement. “CCA welcomes the opportunity to continue meeting Kentucky's correctional needs at Otter Creek,” said Steve Conry, a vice president of operations.

Freedom Forum CEO Tied to For-Profit Prisons An advocate for--and against--freedom of information


December 18, 2009 Nashville Business Journal
When Damon Hininger took over as president and CEO of Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America in October, it capped a 17-year journey from his first job with the company as a correctional officer in his hometown of Leavenworth, Kan. Hininger now presides over a corporation that many believe could make a similarly meteoric rise out the recession — and one that continually confronts skepticism and critics’ philosophical opposition to what the company does. CCA (NYSE: CXW) is the nation’s largest private prison company and the fifth-largest prison manager in the country behind the federal government and three states. The company has nearly 87,000 prison beds in the United States. Its closest competitor, The GEO Group (NYSE: GEO), has 53,000 beds in the United States and 60,000 worldwide. CCA’s revenue was $1.6 billion in 2008, up $500 million since 2004. Corrections Corp. manages 65 facilities in 19 states and the District of Columbia, 44 of which the company also owns. Managed facilities in Tennessee include the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility in Nashville and five other prisons. In a recent interview with the Nashville Business Journal, Hininger said the company offers its customers the best of both worlds: the oversight and accountability of government, and the innovation and cost effectiveness of business. Critics, however, worry about the dangers of introducing a profit motive into the penal system, fearing it may lead to cost-saving measures that put inmates and the public at risk. Most people see prisons when they think about CCA. Bill Ackman saw a high-quality real estate business with credit-worthy tenants (governments), low maintenance costs and competitive advantages. His investment firm, Pershing Square Capital Management, has recently purchased 10.9 million shares of the company, a 9.5 percent ownership stake, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In a recent presentation at the Value Investing Congress, Ackman noted several things he likes about the company including its national footprint, balance sheet and ability to both capture incremental growth in prisoner populations and also relieve existing overcrowding in federal and state prisons. T.C. Robillard, an analyst with Signal Hill Capital Group in Baltimore, is similarly impressed with the company. “They’ve got a real solid balance sheet and a strong management team,” he said, noting that only 8 percent of the nation’s prisons are privately managed. “There’s clearly a lot of runway in terms of growth …” But while Ackman sees CCA as a bargain investment, Robillard believes the company’s value is appropriately built into its share price of about $25. He has a hold rating on the company and believes competitors GEO and Cornell Cos. are better investments. Anticipating growth CCA has adopted a strategy of increasing its bed capacity faster than it adds inmates, so that it can quickly meet customers’ needs. “We have learned … that when a state agency or federal government wants to make a purchase, they make a decision at the very last minute with overpopulation and budget constraints,” he said. “They want the beds as soon as possible.” CCA more than doubled its capacity of beds through the third quarter of this year. While its average population grew 4.5 percent, its average available beds jumped 9.2 percent. CCA has weathered the recession well — revenue is at $1.2 billion through the third quarter of this year, up about $70 million — but Hininger said the prison business is impacted by states’ budget deficits. To confront budget woes, some states, including Tennessee, have looked at releasing prisoners early. This month, CCA announced it will close a Minnesota facility because the two states that house prisoners there have been reducing their populations. Still, Hininger believes the company’s mid- to long-term prospects are favorable. “You will have some states where, even with tough budgets, they will have to expand due to overcrowding,” Hininger said. “And states have little money to build new facilities themselves.” Hininger said CCA can build a prison in a fraction of the time and for half the cost of government by taking advantage of market conditions. For example, he said the company recently built a prison for its largest state customer, California, in Arizona to take advantage of lower construction, labor and real estate prices in that state. Profit concerns Hearing incarceration discussed in such cut-and-dry business terms grates on the ears of those who fear the profit motive could lead to negative consequences in the penal system. “Freedom is a core right of the American people and only government should have the right to take it away,” said Amy Fettig, staff counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project in Washington. Fettig said private prison companies achieve lower costs through cutbacks in training, rehabilitation services, medical care and compensation. CCA denies such allegations. Louise Grant, CCA’s vice president of marketing and communication, and Hininger argued that it is precisely because they are under such a microscope that their facilities are safe. “We have more incentive to operate even more safely and securely because there is such a demand for accountability by the government partners,” said Grant, who said a government “contract monitor” works in each CCA facility. Overall research on the quality and cost of private versus public prisons is inconclusive and often biased. Studies in support of private prisons include those funded by Corrections Corp. or authored by pro-privatization think tanks. Critical reports often come from sources such as Nashvillian Alex Friedmann, a convicted felon and former prisoner in a CCA prison, associate editor of Prison Legal News and vice president of the Private Corrections Institute. Some critics contend there is a fundamental problem with prisons being run by for-profit entities that have no financial interest in seeing prisoners rehabilitated. Hininger acknowledges that the company is paid on a per-inmate basis, but forcefully denies allegations that it lobbies for stricter sentencing, against early release or tries to influence prisoner populations. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, CCA has spent $770,000 lobbying at the federal level this year and has spent as much as $3.4 million in one year, 2005. Grant said “anybody who provides services to government uses lobbyists” and that CCA is no exception. She said the company may use lobbyists to fight bans on While most of the negative publicity about private prisons has been focused on immigration prisons in the Southwest, CCA also has been dragged into the spotlight locally, most notably when inmate Estelle Richardson died in CCA’s Nashville facility in 2004. The death was ruled a homicide, but charges against four CCA officers were ultimately dropped.

December 9, 2009 Wickenburg Sun
At least 40 individuals from the Forepaugh area attended a Town Council meeting earlier this week to express their concerns regarding a proposed prison project in their neighborhood. Three people were chosen by the group to speak to the council about its opposition during the call to the public portion of the meeting, including Elbert Bicknell, Jane Nash and Frank Smith of Private Corrections Institute, an out-of-state organization that works against the private prison industry. Bicknell spoke about his concerns regarding overall prison safety, rate of pay private prison guards receive, lack of background checks on private prison employees, drugs coming through town and abuse and violence at the prison. Nash told the council that she has lived in the Wickenburg area for the past 30 years and through most of those years she has promoted tourism in Wickenburg. “One point I would like to make is that I think tourism would be adversely affected by a prison in our community,” Nash said. “Every city with a prison becomes known as a prison town.” Nash also said she wanted to address the problem with resources in the area, such as water and fire protection. “We implore you to listen to us,” Nash said “This is not a complete representation here this evening, and there are many more people concerned about these problems, and we hope at some point to have a hearing with you folks and the CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) people.” Smith, who referred to himself as the “outside agitator” from Kansas, said he has been studying private prisons for years and that he comes to communities who ask for his help. “Rather than being an asset to communities, these prisons end up a serious economic drain,” Smith said. “This prison will hurt the community of Forepaugh and adjoining communities. It won’t hurt Wickenburg so much, but it won’t do much for Wickenburg either.” Then speaking in favor of the prison project was Alan Abare and Rome Glover of the Wickenburg Economic Development Partnership. “I work in Wickenburg and live in Congress, and the economic partnership believes it is important to note that it is appropriate for people to have concerns,” Abare said. “Anytime there is a new large employer, especially a prison, there is a concern. We are concerned too, and we don’t want to bring anything into the community that will hurt it.” Abare said most communities that house prisons don’t even know the prisons are there, and that CCA would be starting its prison guards at $15-$16 an hour. Mayor Kelly Blunt was not in attendance at the meeting, but Vice Mayor John Cook told the contingent that it would get an opportunity to have a meeting with the council at the Community Center at a later date.

November 25, 2009 Millen News
Dear Editor: I am honored that Correction Corporation of American’s (CCA) spokeswoman Louise Grant thinks our tiny organization, the Private Corrections Institute (PCI), might exert a powerful influence in the Millen community (Letters, Nov. 4, 2009). In fact, CCA with $1.5 billion in annual revenues uses its power to drown out a great deal of factual public discourse regarding their operations. PCI’s single purpose is to educate the public on the issues arising from for-profit corrections. CCA’s only purpose is to profit off the imprisonment of human beings. We think they’re doing that in a way that endangers their employees, the public and inmates and detainees. CCA would have the public believe that it’s the answer to all Jenkins County ’s economic woes. A substantial body of long term, peer-reviewed, university and think tank research has demonstrated the opposite is the case. The presence of their prisons typically represents drains on community resources and promotes economic stagnation. CCA claims to offer “well-paying, stable” jobs. If a person is willing to work under dangerous conditions for fast-food wages with expensive benefits, and is comfortable with 50+ percent annual turnover rates, an unstable job might be waiting for them. Ms. Grant resorts to calling PCI names because she knows that the facts are on not on CCA’s side. If CCA wants Millen residents to believe it is so wonderful, the corporation should publicly release turnover rates for all their facilities, details of all the lawsuits against them and the number of escapes from and details of the violent incidents at their prisons and detention centers. With accurate information the public can actually make an informed decision versus one driven by false promises, economic desperation and job uncertainties. Ms. Grant is well aware that anytime any CCA representative wants to publicly debate this issue in Millen or elsewhere, PCI will be eager to oblige. For more information go to our webpage: www.privateci.org Sincerely, Ken Kopczynski, Tallahassee , Fla

November 4, 2009 Millen News
Dear Editor: I was honored to recently speak to 350 Jenkins County residents about the many benefits of a new partnership prison coming to Millen, should Georgia award CCA a contract to design, build and manage the facility. During our public meeting, the community highly supported what a CCA prison would bring to the County: 200 well-paying, stable jobs; needed taxes to improve schools, roads and hospitals; and active community participation by our staff. Citizens heard me talk about our accountability to government and taxpayers in operating very safe, very cost-efficient prisons that are held to the strictest correctional standards. I shared with the crowd that opposition groups often enter into communities that are considering hosting a CCA-operated prison, trying to create fear and uncertainty. Well, to no surprise, one such group has come to Millen - the labor-funded Private Corrections Institute (PCI), which is run out of Florida and led by a /paid union organizer. /Union activists don't like public-private partnerships, because most prisons operated by corrections management providers aren't unionized. One of this group's head activists actually posted an online message encouraging their national supporters to vote NO on /The Millen News' /recent poll about a prison coming to Jenkins. These outsiders - who don't live in Jenkins or Georgia - skewed the poll results so that it made it appear that the people of Jenkins don't support the prison. This group also ran an ad in this paper to raise false fears about a prison in your community. To the hundreds of residents I've already met and the others reading this letter, I want you to know that CCA is a trusted government partner. If we weren't, then Georgia and the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement wouldn't do business with us in this state, and we wouldn't be employing 1,500 Georgians state-wide. If we are fortunate to be awarded a Georgia contract, CCA will be a long-term partner to Jenkins County. Our jobs, our taxes, our community support will benefit you - the local community. We'll be here - to stay - in your community. PCI, on the other hand, will go back home and simply seek to stir up another community. I'm proud of the early partnership you in Jenkins County have created with CCA. We won't disappoint you. Sincerely, Louise Grant, Vice President of Communications, Corrections Corporation of America

October 12, 2009 TPM Muckraker
With the unraveling of the deal for the shadowy American Private Police Force to take over and populate an empty jail in Hardin, Montana, it's pretty clear that the small city got played by an ex-con and his (supposed) private security firm. But an investigation by TPMmuckraker into how Hardin ended up with the 92,000 square foot facility in the first place suggests that, long before "low-level card shark" Michael Hilton ever came to town, Hardin officials had already been taken for a ride by a far more powerful set of players: a well-organized consortium of private companies headquartered around the country, which specializes in pitching speculative and risky prison projects to local governments desperate for jobs. The projects have generated multi-million dollar profits for the companies involved, but often haven't created the anticipated payoff for the communities, and have left a string of failed or failing prisons in their wake. "They look for an impoverished town that's desperate," says Frank Smith of the Private Corrections Institute, a Florida-based group that opposes prison privatization. "They come in looking very impressive, saying, 'We'll make money rain from the skies.' In fact, they don't care whether it works or not." The Pitch -- In June 2004, James Parkey, a Texas-based prison developer and architect, met at the Las Vegas airport with Judy Martz, who at the time was the Republican governor of Montana. Described by the Texas Observer as a "polished salesman" for the booming private prison industry, Parkey presents himself on his Web site as a beneficent savior for local communities hit hard by the decline of the manufacturing sector. Parkey, who runs a company called Corplan Corrections, was seeking to sell Martz on a prison project for her state. His method is to promise a full-service team to handle the entire project from soup to nuts -- what one source described as a "turn-key system." That team includes a construction firm to build the prison, a prison operator to work with local officials to find prisoners, then run the facility, underwriters to sell the bonds, and even a consultant to do an economic feasibility study. "They walk into a municipality and say, you don't have to do a thing, we'll take care of everything," Christopher "Kit" Taylor, a municipal bond expert who has followed Parkey's operation, told TPMmuckraker. State officials eventually referred Parkey to the city of Billlings. From there, he was directed 50 miles east, to rural Hardin -- where he found a receptive audience. Parkey promised the town's brass that his team would take care of everything. The project would generate 150 solid jobs. The prison operator in Parkey's team pledged to pay the town a business license fee and at least $100,000 in annual per-prisoner fees. To officials in a county whose poverty rate is double the national average, that seemed like too good an opportunity to turn down. Big Pay Day -- For Parkey and his crew, the deal soon paid off. The prison's designer and builder, Hale-Mills Construction of Houston, was guaranteed a maximum price of $19.88 million, according to the official bond statement obtained by TPMmuckraker. The exact amount the firm ultimately received isn't known. And Hardin's $27 million municipal bond sale, conducted in 2006, netted the underwriters -- a pair of companies called Herbert J. Sims, of Connecticut, and Municipal Capital Markets Group (MCM), of Dallas -- a total of $1.62 million. Other players recruited by Parkey -- lawyers, surveyors, and the North Carolina-based consultant who conducted the feasibility study -- reaped $169,750. It's not known how big a cut Parkey took, and he didn't respond to calls for comment. Hardin itself didn't make out nearly so well. Not a single inmate has ever slept in the jail, and the town hasn't seen a cent of revenue from the project. The bonds, which were to be paid back through the anticipated -- but non-existent -- revenue, have gone into default. The prison "was built on spec," says Taylor, the muni bond expert, who has looked at the Hardin deal. "[The consortium's] whole premise was hell, we don't care what happens to the bonds." That's left Hardin with an empty jail that it so desperately wanted to fill that it begged first for sex offenders from the state, then for Gitmo inmates from the Feds, and, finally, for some kind of salvation from the American Private Police Force. A Compromised Consultant? -- Central to Hardin official's expectations for the deal was the feasibility study that Parkey's team conducted, which concluded that the project was all but certain to pay off. But that study appears to have been not only deeply flawed, but essentially rigged from the start. A Montana state auditor found in a 2007 memo that the study -- carried out by Howard Geisler, a North Carolina feasibility consultant specializing in prisons -- was racked with problems. It provides "little methodology" regarding its estimates of potential prisoners for the jail. It lacks "historical data to support anticipated prisoner counts." And it makes "a number of assumptions made related to financial viability that appear to be unfounded," including "potential improvements to local aviation facilities." In addition, Geisler's study failed to mention that bringing in out-of-state prisoners is potentially illegal under Montana law -- even though that idea was held up as a key method for recruiting prisoners. The state's attorney general challenged Hardin over the provision, and though a judge ultimately sided with the town, it was only after a year of legal wrangling. Perhaps those flaws aren't surprising. The study was paid for by one of the underwriters, MCM, which had worked frequently with Geisler in the past. A truly independent feasibility study, says Taylor, the muni bond expert, would involve multiple firms making bids to do the job for the city. Geisler was clearly aware while writing the study of the conflict of interest inherent in the set-up. On one page, he notes in bolded text that, "to assure independence," his fee "is not contingent upon the sale of the Bonds." But Taylor calls that "a smokescreen." "[The passage] is trying to give a sense of legitimacy to the deal, when that's not the case at all," he told TPMmuckraker. Indeed, the study was in fact the third such report produced on the subject -- and the second by Geisler -- over a two-year period, according to a Montana source close to the process. The first two studies -- the other of which was done internally by Hardin -- came to ambiguous conclusions as to whether the project would succeed. After the first two reports, says the source, "the MCM people had [Geisler] come back and do another. That's when they decided it made sense to go forward." To this day, some local officials defend the study, arguing that it's easy to criticize with the benefit of hindsight. Dan Kern, Hardin's economic development director in late 2005 and early 2006, told TPMmuckraker he's not sure why support for the project evaporated after the jail was built. "Everybody told me that this was a great project and there was a need for it," he said. But Taylor says if the official bond statement, which includes the feasibility study, was false or misleading, the bond players have legal liability. Beyond Hardin -- It looks like Hardin isn't the only place where the the lavish promises of Parkey's consortium failed to pan out. The Montana state auditor's memo notes that, in three separate jail deals with Texas counties, pushed through by Parkey's team, "current revenues are insufficient to cover operating and debt expenses." And in 2005, three Texas county commissioners were convicted on bribery charges in connection to one of those Parkey-led projects. As in Hardin, MCM acted as the underwriter, and Hale-Mills handled construction. All of the companies in the consortium either declined to comment for this story or did not return calls and e-mails.

October 2, 2009 AP
A California company’s bid to take over an empty jail in rural Montana appears to be unraveling, with an attorney involved in the project cutting ties Friday and a second company, once named as a subcontractor, denying any involvement. Those moves followed revelations earlier in the week that Michael Hilton — the lead figure of the company, American Police Force — is a convicted felon with a history of fraud and failed business dealings in California. “We met with him and he asked us if we can support him,” said Edward Angelino with Allied Defense Systems, an Irvine, Calif.-based defense contractor. “We checked his background, we checked his company. He’s not an adequate person to do business with.” Hilton had said he had a contract with Allied Defense Systems to provide uniforms. Santa Ana attorney Maziar Mafi had served as the legal affairs director for American Police Force. Mafi said he wanted to see the project begin to move forward before he could continue his involvement. “For the time I’m pulling out,” Mafi said Friday. “I need to see more concrete action before I can be involved.” American Police Force reached a deal last month with officials in Hardin, Mont., to operate the city’s jail, which never has held an inmate since its 2007 completion. Hilton has said he would bring more than 200 new jobs to the struggling community, through the jail and a military and law-enforcement training center he pledged to build. A spokeswoman for the company, Becky Shay, indicated the project remained on track. She said a job fair for prospective jail employees still will be held during the week of Oct. 12. Shay said she was unaware of the move by Allied Defense Systems. As for Mafi, she said she hadn’t spoken with him directly but was told he felt there was a conflict of interest. Shay, who quit her job with the Billings Gazette to work for Hilton, said she remained confident in American Police Force. She said Hilton told her when she was hired about his criminal record and several civil judgments against him totaling more than $1.1 million. Those judgments remain outstanding. “A lot of people that know me, know about me have asked me if I’ve been duped,” she said. “No.” Hilton, who returned to California after spending several days in Hardin, intends to return for the job fair, Shay said. The contract on the jail agreed to by some city officials and the company, but never ratified by US Bank, which has a stake as trustee for $27 million in construction bonds used to pay for the 464-bed facility. No money has changed hands between Hardin and American Police Force. Hardin Mayor Ron Adams said Friday that despite his reservations about the project, he would still like to see it go forward so the city can fill its jail. Mafi’s involvement began last month, when Hilton brought him on about the same time he reached an agreement with Hardin’s Two Rivers Authority, which owns the jail. Alex Friedmann with the Private Corrections Institute — a group that long has been critical of Hardin for building a jail that would be privately run — suggested Mafi’s departure was a sign the project is doomed to failure. “He sees the ship is going down and he wants to not be on that ship when it sinks,” Friedmann said. Hilton, who claims an extensive military background and calls himself “captain,” initially described Mafi as a “major” in American Police Force. He later said Mafi was the company’s president — although Mafi denied the role and said he had no military or security background.

September 30, 2009 AP
Michael Hilton pitched himself to officials in Hardin, Mont. as a military veteran turned private sector entrepreneur, a California defense contractor with extensive government contracts who promised to turn the rural city's empty jail into a cash cow. Hardin's leaders were desperate to fill the $27 million jail, which has sat empty since its 2007 completion. So when Hilton came to town last week — wearing a military-style uniform and offering three Mercedes SUVs for use by local law enforcement — he was greeted with hugs by some grateful residents. The promise of more than 200 new jobs for a community struggling long before the recession hit had won them over. But public documents and interviews with Hilton's associates and legal adversaries offer a different picture, that of a convicted felon with a number of aliases, a string of legal judgments against him, two bankruptcies and a decades-long reputation for deals gone bad. American Police Force is the company Hilton formed in March to take over the Hardin jail. "Such schemes you cannot believe," said Joseph Carella, an Orange County, Calif. doctor and co-defendant with Hilton in a real estate fraud case that resulted in a civil judgment against Hilton and several others. "The guy's brilliant. If he had been able to do honest work, he probably would have been a gazillionaire," Carella said. Court documents show Hilton has outstanding judgments against him in three civil cases totaling more than $1.1 million. As for Hilton's military expertise, including his claim to have advised forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, those interviewed knew of no such feats. Instead, Hilton was described alternately by those who know him as an arts dealer, cook, restaurant owner, land developer, loan broker and car salesman — always with a moneymaking scheme in the works. Hilton did not return several calls seeking comment. American Police Force attorney Maziar Mafi referred questions to company spokeswoman Becky Shay. When asked about court records detailing Hilton's past, Shay replied, "The documents speak for themselves. If anyone has found public documents, the documents are what they are." Shay declined comment on Hilton's military experience. Al Peterson, vice president of Hardin's Two Rivers Authority, which built the jail, declined to comment on Hilton's legal troubles. He refused to say if he knew about Hilton's past when the authority reached a 10-year agreement with American Police Force last month. The deal is worth more than $2.6 million a year, according to city leaders. Hilton has also pledged to build a $17 million military and law enforcement training center. And he's promised to dispatch security to patrol Hardin's streets, build an animal shelter and a homeless shelter and offer free health care to city resident's out of the jail's clinic. Those additional promises were not included in the jail agreement, which remains in limbo because US Bank has so far declined to sign off on the contract. The bank is the trustee for the bonds used to fund the jail. A US Bank spokeswoman declined to comment, but Peterson was adamant the deal would be approved. "It's a solid deal. That's all I'll say," he said. But a representative of a corrections advocacy group that has been critical of Hardin's jail and has investigated Hilton's past said city leaders dropped the ball. "I'm amazed that city officials didn't do basic research that would have raised significant questions about American Private Police Force and Mr. Hilton's background," said Alex Friedmann, vice president of the Private Corrections Institute. Hilton, 55, uses the title "captain" when introducing himself and on his business cards. But he acknowledged it was not a military rank. He said he is naturalized U.S. citizen and native of Montenegro. Aliases for Hilton that appear in court documents include Miodrag Dokovich, Michael Hamilton, Hristian Djokich and Michael Djokovich. One attorney who dealt with Hilton in a fraud lawsuit referred to him as a "chameleon" and he has a reputation for winning people over with his charm. His criminal record goes back to at least 1988, when Hilton was arrested in Santa Ana, Calif. for writing bad checks. Beginning in 1993, Hilton spent six years in prison in California on a dozen counts of grand theft and other charges including illegal diversion of construction funds. The charges included stealing $20,000 in a real estate swindle in which Hilton convinced an associate to give him a deed on property in Long Beach, Calif., ostensibly as collateral on a loan. Hilton turned around and sold the property to another party but was caught when the buyer contacted the original owner. After his release, he got entangled in at least three civil lawsuits alleging fraud or misrepresentation. Those included luring investors to sink money into gold and silver collectible coins; posing as a fine arts dealer in Utah in order to convince a couple to give him a $100,000 silver statue; and, in the case involving co-defendant Carella, seeking investors for an assisted living complex in Southern California that was never built. Carella said he was duped into becoming a partner in the development project and that Hilton used Carella's status as a physician to lure others into the scheme. He was described in court testimony as a "pawn" used by Hilton to lure investors. Those involved with Hilton say he is an accomplished cook with a flair for the extravagant — wining and dining potential partners, showing up at the Utah couple's house to negotiate for the silver statue in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes. "This is the way we got taken," said Carolyn Call of Provo, Utah, who said she gave Hilton her family's silver statue to sell on the open market. According to court documents, Hilton turned around and gave the statue to an attorney to pay for his services. Two California attorneys said Wednesday that after learning of Hilton's latest activities they planned to follow him to Montana to seek payment on the outstanding judgments against him. "Once I know that there is an asset or some sort of funds to go after, we'll go after it," said Call's attorney, Roger Naghash.

September 22, 2009 KULR 8
Less than two weeks after Hardin officials announced an agreement with American Police Force to house prisoners and stimulate the Hardin economy the questions and controversy continue. APF officials want to build an animal shelter and police training center, but private prison expert Frank Smith, who's spent the last 13 years researching private jails, says the plan doesn't seem legitimate. "It doesn't make any sense at all. They come on like Mother Theresa in camo," said Smith about the APF. The jail expert claims the first problem American Police Force will have in trying to meet its end of the bargain is filling the jail. "APF doesn't have any juice in this fight. It's a fight for contracts where they'd be up against mammoth corporations," said Smith who claims there are thousands of beds already available in the private jail sector. The Hardin facility only adds to that problem. "They're talking about closing a prison in Oklahoma because there's no prison they've closed one in Michigan," said Smith. The private jail experts also fear that the 10 year agreement will force the city of Hardin into a financial meltdown, something he's seen happen first hand at private jails in Coke County, Texas and Tallulah, Louisiana. "They go bad often," said Smith. "They don't virtually ever produce the economic benefits they are touted to produce." A lot of mystery still surrounds the facility and Hardin officials hope to clear that up when they release the contract to the public. Officials claim to have done their homework and believe APF is a justifiable group that has every intention to fill the jail and help the residents of Hardin for the next decade.

August 25, 2009 New York Times
Hawaii prison officials said Tuesday that all of the state’s 168 female inmates at a privately run Kentucky prison will be removed by the end of September because of charges of sexual abuse by guards. Forty inmates were returned to Hawaii on Aug. 17. This month, officials from the Hawaii Department of Public Safety traveled to Kentucky to investigate accusations that inmates at the prison, the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, including seven from Hawaii, had been sexually assaulted by the prison staff. Otter Creek is run by the Corrections Corporation of America and is one of a spate of private, for-profit prisons, mainly in the South, that have been the focus of investigations over issues like abusive conditions and wrongful deaths. Because Eastern Kentucky is one of the poorest rural regions in the country, the prison was welcomed by local residents desperate for jobs. Hawaii sent inmates to Kentucky to save money. Housing an inmate at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua, Hawaii, costs $86 a day, compared with $58.46 a day at the Kentucky prison, not including air travel. Hawaii investigators found that at least five corrections officials at the prison, including a chaplain, had been charged with having sex with inmates in the last three years, and four were convicted. Three rape cases involving guards and Hawaii inmates were recently turned over to law enforcement authorities. The Kentucky State Police said another sexual assault case would go to a grand jury soon. Kentucky is one of only a handful of states where it is a misdemeanor rather than a felony for a prison guard to have sex with an inmate, according to the National Institute of Corrections, a policy arm of the Justice Department. A bill to increase the penalties for such sexual misconduct failed to pass in the Kentucky legislature this year. The private prison industry has generated extensive controversy, with critics arguing that incarceration should not be contracted to for-profit companies. Several reports have found contract violations at private prisons, safety and security concerns, questionable cost savings and higher rates of inmate recidivism. “Privately operated prisons appear to have systemic problems in maintaining secure facilities,” a 2001 study by the Federal Bureau of Prisons concluded. Those views are shared by Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News, a nonprofit group based in Seattle that has a monthly magazine and does litigation on behalf of inmates’ rights. “Private prisons such as Otter Creek raise serious concerns about transparency and public accountability, and there have been incidents of sexual misconduct at that facility for many years,” Mr. Friedmann said. But proponents say privately run prisons provide needed beds at lower cost. About 8 percent of state and federal inmates are held in such prisons, according to the Justice Department. “We are reviewing every allegation, regardless of the disposition,” said Lisa Lamb, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Corrections, which she said was investigating 23 accusations of sexual assault at Otter Creek going back to 2006. The move by Hawaii authorities is just the latest problem for Kentucky prison officials. On Saturday, a riot at another Kentucky prison, the Northpoint Training Center at Burgin, forced officials to move about 700 prisoners out of the facility, which is 30 miles south of Lexington. State investigators said Tuesday that they were questioning prisoners and staff members and reviewing security cameras at the Burgin prison to see whether racial tensions may have led to the riot that injured 16 people and left the lockup in ruins. A lockdown after a fight between white and Hispanic inmates had been eased to allow inmates access to the prison yard on Friday, the day before the riot. Prisoners started fires in trash cans that spread. Several buildings were badly damaged. While the riot was an unusual event — the last one at a Kentucky state prison was in 1983 — reports of sexual abuse at Otter Creek are not new. “The number of reported sexual assaults at Otter Creek in 2007 was four times higher than at the state-run Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women,” Mr. Friedmann said. In July, Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii, a Republican, said that bringing prisoners home would cost hundreds of millions of dollars that the state did not have, but that she was willing to do so because of the security concerns. Prison overcrowding led to federal oversight in Hawaii from 1985 to 1999. The state now houses one-third of its prison population in mainland facilities. The pay at the Otter Creek prison is low, even by local standards. A federal prison in Kentucky pays workers with no experience at least $18 an hour, nearby state-run prisons pay $11.22 and Otter Creek pays $8.25. Mr. Friedmann said lower wages at private prisons lead to higher employee turnover and less experienced staff. Tommy Johnson, deputy director of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, said he found that 81 percent of the Otter Creek workers were men and 19 percent were women, the reverse of what he said the ratio should be for a women’s prison. Mr. Johnson asked the company to hire more women, and it began a bonus program in June to do so.

August 22, 2009 Texas Civil Rights Review
The family of imprisoned asylum seeker Rrustem Neza tells the Texas Civil Rights Review that he was visited Friday by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Lufkin). The visit comes as welcome news for Rrustem's brother Xhemal (pronounced Jehmal) Neza who was shocked by the way Rrustem looked during a visit on Thursday. After seeing his brother Rrustem at the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Louisiana on Thursday evening, Xhemal drove to Dallas Friday morning to swear out an affidavit of his impressions. "When I saw him he was wasted," says Xhemal about Rrustem in the affidavit provided by attorney John Wheat Gibson of Dallas. "He was wearing the same clothes he had on when he was arrested two weeks ago. His face looked as if he were dead. It made me very weak to see his face." The affidavit alleges that since his arrest on Aug. 5 Rrustem has been kept in "a hole" or solitary confinement in a room of about three feet by six feet with a slit on the door but no window to the outside. "I believe Congressman Gohmert saved Rrustem's life by his intervention," says Friday's affidavit. Xhemal says he approached the facility two times prior to Thursday seeking to visit his brother, but it was only after Rep. Gohmert's office stepped in that a successful visit was completed. The Neza brothers applied for asylum in the USA after they fled Albania following a political assassination. Xhemal's asylum was granted, but Rrustem's was denied. The family believes the difference in treatment can be explained chiefly by the difference in attorneys handling the cases. Rrustem and his brothers fear that a forced return to Albania would endanger his life. The LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Louisiana is operated by the GEO Group, Inc. under a "perpetual" contract between the LaSalle Economic Development District (LEDD) of LaSalle Parish and the federal bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A recent $30 million dollar expansion of the former juvenile facility has increased the capacity of the center from 416 beds to 1,160, according to news clips archived online at privateci.org. "The contract is expected to generate approximately $23.5 million in annualized operating revenues for GEO at full occupancy," stated a Business Wire press release of July, 2007. The Texas Civil Rights Review will continuing to monitor developments in this case.

August 7, 2009 Tennessean
Prisons run by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America perform a government function and must follow public records laws, the Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled. The prison giant appealed the ruling issued last year by Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman, who ruled that the corporation was the functional equivalent of government and that its administrators must turn over all records requested by prison reform advocate Alex Friedmann. Friedmann, the associate editor of the monthly publication Prison Legal News, sued for access to several types of records, including CCA's government contracts, legal settlements and cases where CCA was sanctioned or fined. "With all due respect to CCA, this court is at a loss as to how operating a prison could be considered anything less than a governmental function," Judge D. Michael Swiney wrote in the opinion. But the court also reversed Bonnyman's order that the company produce all the records, though, saying that the Private Prison Contracting Act limits the records the country's largest private prison corporation must make public. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in an e-mail that the company is still "reviewing the decision to determine its full impact." Friedmann said he is pleased with the ruling, although it's mixed. "The main issue we did prevail on, and that CCA argued very hard at, was whether CCA was the functional equivalent of a state agency," Friedmann said. "Their argument against that was blatantly frivolous." He said he has not consulted yet with his attorney but plans to submit another public records request to the company in light of the ruling. They are considering whether to challenge parts of the decision.

July 24, 2009 Santa Rosa Press-Gazette
It doesn’t appear that some tensions have died down since Monday’s meeting of the Santa Rosa County Commissioners where Chairman Don Salter entered into the minutes he “as chairman feared for the safety of certain individuals involved with economic development” based on the comments he quoted of Alan Isaacson. Since then, the feelings are still there. “I have a right to petition my government and asked them to take action based on the contract I drafted with them,” said Isaacson. “Then to have someone who accuses you of potential murder. “I was hurt, but I was also concerned about the fact that in the past two months I found 11 instances of items being withheld by TEAM. And that violates the agreement with the county according to paragraph 14.” Paragraph 14 section b in the Funding Program Agreement between TEAM and the Santa Rosa County Commission states, “TEAM shall, subject to and comply with the provisions of Chapter 119, Florida Statutes, and other relevant laws, permit public access to all documents or other materials prepared, developed or received by it in connection with the performance of its obligations or the exercise of its rights under this Agreement, unless exempted or confidential by law. This Agreement may be terminated by (the) County pursuant to paragraph 17 if TEAM fails to allow such public access.” Isaacson, who is now a witness into the State Attorney’s investigation into matters involving TEAM and government entities, is wondering why the contract is not being followed. “In 2007 the state attorney’s office told us TEAM was crystal clear on the regulations, but in Oct. of 2008 they form a committee to study what they need to do to be in compliance with the Sunshine Law,” said Isaacson. “Then in Jan. of 2009 they are still studying it and are basically forced to follow the law.” Most of the recent contention to arise this past week focused on an e-mail that came to light when John Myslak, who is a TEAM Board Member, addressed charges against him to members of the Santa Rosa County Commission as Myslak was awarded a contract involving the GEO Prison Project in East Milton. Other names were noted in the e-mail included TEAM members John Griffing, Pete Gandy, and Dick Hohorst may have or are all being paid by taxpayer funds even through the meetings leading up to these payouts which were held outside of the sunshine. He also questioned the $70,000 grant/contract Jeff Helms, with PBS&J, just finished with the Whiting Aviation Park. Since the e-mail was sent it has been learned Helms was awarded the contract prior to joining the board of TEAM Santa Rosa. Helms pointed out the contract he was awarded was based on a request for proposals and we went through a process and was fortunate enough to get part of the work. But questions involving the board and recent action still remain. Ken Kopczynski, with the Florida Police Benevolent Association, has been going through a battle to get documents involving an open records request since Sept. 2008 as they were looking into the matter with GEO Prisons. “We have had a long dialogue between the PBA and the County,” said Kopczynski. “One of our guys heard about this private prison on the agenda one Monday and they vote on the letter of support the following Thursday. “Our member raised questions on how this prison came about.” When the association sent their letter, TEAM replied their records were exempt. “We also asked for correspondence between Management Training Corporation and John Vanyur,” said Kopczynski. “They told us there was no documents regarding MTC. “Yet we learn about an e-mail dated in April 2008 from Vanyur to TEAM Santa Rosa.” Since this time the Florida PBA, one of the state’s largest unions, contacted Roy Andrews who on July 14 stated he was not the custodian of the public records for TEAM, but that he has “given the staff my opinion that all their records are public with the exception of those exemptions specifically set forth in Florida Statute 288.075 for the applicable time periods.” This is causing a great deal of concern to those like Isaacson, who have been championing open records and meetings for a long time. “If one of the largest unions in the state can’t get the information, what makes you think an individual like me can,” said Isaacson. When asked about if he has ever taken the time to talk to Isaacson about these questions and concerns Salter stated they had talked some six months ago. “I talked to Alan about six months ago for three hours to explain my position on economic development and base protection and we agreed to disagree,” said Salter. “My big point is for two years they have been saying their allegations on local radio and everywhere they can that we are guilty and the allegations they have. “If you have a problem and feel something is wrong then file the proper complaint and let the legal system work through it; don’t convict in the media.” “I want to say just as a reminder when you do stuff like this personalities do arise,” said Isaacson. “But I do not apologize for what I am doing because these items need to be done out in the open. “I have a fiduciary responsibility to check on what is questionable and in my opinion in Oct. of last year your own attorney agreed.”

June 25, 2009 The Tennessean
Whether Nashville’s Corrections Corporation of America, a private company that runs state prisons, is equivalent to a governmental entity and should turn over records is in the hands of the State’s Court of Appeals. Appellate judges heard arguments this morning from CCA’s attorney, Joe Welborn, and civil rights lawyer Andy Clarke, who is representing Alex Friedmann, the prison reform activist requesting the records. CCA appealed a Chancery Court judge’s ruling last year that stated the for-profit prison operator must follow public records law and open its files for viewing. From the start, CCA’s argument has been that allowing access to some of their records will set a bad precedent with other private companies who contract with the state. Welborn says CCA does only 10 percent of its business in Tennessee and the company is not a state agency. In the lawsuit, Friedmann, a former inmate with CCA, is requesting records of audits by state and local agencies, every lawsuit, claim and legal action taken against them, settlement agreements, judgments, databases showing all litigation against CCA and contracts between the state and the company. “This will tell us how they operate these facilities that are all funded by taxpayer dollars,” says Friedmann.

June 10, 2009 AP
People sentenced for a Florida crime could someday do their time thousands of miles away. It's not likely to happen soon; state prisons officials oppose the idea and so does a union that represents corrections officers. But a law signed by Gov. Charlie Crist in late May would give Florida the option, for the first time, of sending its inmates to out-of-state prisons. "Out-of-state inmate management is a logical option," said Louise Grant, a spokeswoman for the nation's largest private operator, Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, which operates three of Florida's six in-state private prisons. Out-of-state housing can be an emergency measure for states that don't plan for growth and can relieve a state from having to build an expensive new prison, she said. Eight states currently have contracts with CCA to house over 9,000 inmates outside their home state. Another eight have had the company temporarily house prisoners out of state because of overcrowding. Florida's prison population topped 100,000 for the first time late last year, making it only the third state in the nation with a six-figure prison population. But the system currently has more prison beds than it has prisoners. Besides CCA, Florida's only other private prison contractor is The GEO Group Inc., based in Boca Raton. A lobbyist for the company, Damon Smith, said The GEO Group did not lobby for the out-of-state housing measure but could be interested if Florida ever uses the option. A spokesman for the company, Pablo Paez, said in an e-mail the company does not currently have any out-of-state contracts. The Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Walter McNeil, however, said in an e-mail statement that he has no plans to move inmates. Moves could take inmates them farther away from their families, and family and community ties make a person less likely to return to prison, according to the department. The new law requires the department "consider, to the extent possible" the distance the inmate would be from his or her family before moving, but it doesn't offer any guarantees. The department likes another part of the law (SB 1722) that would let officials keep prisoners in extra space in city and county jails because it could help keep inmates closer to their families, department spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said. Crist said during a visit to Miami earlier this week that he thought it was "probably better" to house inmates in Florida, but the state should have the option of moving inmates if the prison population continues to grow. Florida currently has beds for about 106,000 inmates but plans to add space for some 13,900 more over the next five years. The prison population is expected to top 124,000 by 2014. Lawmakers this year didn't set aside money for any new prison construction projects. One group opposed to any future moves is the Florida Police Benevolent Association, a union that represents law enforcement and corrections officers. Ken Kopczynski, who handles legislative issues for the PBA, said moving inmates to other states sends away jobs and money and can be complicated because Florida inmates housed elsewhere are still subject to Florida law. Kopczynski pointed to a 2004 riot at a CCA prison in Colorado where inmates from Colorado, Washington and Wyoming were being held. An investigation later found that inmates were angry in part because the various states paid inmates differently for similar work. Grant, the CCA spokeswoman, said despite the incident all three states have continued their relationship with CCA and that the company continues to improve its out-of-state management.

May 28, 2009 Tuscaloosa News
Authorities believe that two men who escaped from a private prison in Perry County early Monday morning had outside help. Joshua Southwick, 26, and Ashton Mink, 22, escaped the Perry County Detention Center in Uniontown after someone helped them cut through three fences. Southwick is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty in a 2003 murder-for-hire case in Limestone County. Mink, 22, was serving time for an attempted murder conviction in Madison County in 2005. The U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Task Force, which includes members of several law enforcement agencies and five members of the Department of Corrections, are still looking for the men. Prison Warden Tommy Buford did not answer phone calls from a Tuscaloosa News reporter Tuesday or Wednesday. A prison employee referred calls to Dick Harbison, the vice-president of Lafayette, La.-based LCS Corrections Services, which owns and operates the prison. Harbison did not return a call placed to his cell phone Wednesday afternoon. The 734-bed facility houses prisoners from Alabama and other states in addition to federal prisoners. The state’s Department of Corrections does not have oversight of the company’s management or security practices at the prison because it is a private corporation. The Department of Corrections pays the company $32 a day to house 249 state inmates, less than the $41.71 it costs to house them in a state facility, spokesman Brian Corbett said. He said that the department has not had problems with the Uniontown facility or the company, which housed Alabama inmates in Louisiana because of prison overcrowding between 2003 and 2006. Until last month, the prison also housed around 80 prisoners from Vermont, but the Vermont Department of Corrections removed those inmates after an investigation into prisoner complaints that they had been injured in fights with other inmates, said Seth Lipshutz, the supervising attorney in Vermont’s Prisoners’ Rights Office. The prisoners complained to the Prisoners’ Rights Office, a branch of the state’s Office of the Defender General. Lipshutz said that an investigator with his office conducted an investigation followed by an independent investigation from the state’s Department of Corrections. “They were letting the inmates run the asylum,” he said. The staff and management did not pay adequate attention to security, he said, which resulted in inmate-on-inmate violence and the smuggling of items such as drugs and cell phones into the facility. “Drugs get into a lot of prisons, but cell phones don’t get into many,” Lipshutz said. “It doesn’t take long to figure out why this would be a problem.” He said that inmates complained that an assistant warden boasted that he was drunk while driving the bus from Vermont to Uniontown and behaved unprofessionally when he threatened to shoot them if they tried to escape during a dinner stop at a fast-food restaurant. Lipshutz said that Vermont, one of the country’s smallest and least-populated states, sends around 700 of its 2,200 prisoners to out-of-state facilities because it costs roughly $140 per day to house them in in-state prisons. Prices in Vermont are high for several reasons, he said, including union wages, small prisons and snowy weather that makes transportation between facilities difficult. Many of the state’s prisoners are housed in detention centers owned by Corrections Corp. of America, the first company to open private prisons more than 25 years ago. “I’m not too keen on the privatization of prisons. This is an example of how things go wrong,” Lipshutz said. Ken Kopczynski is the executive director of Private Corrections Institute, a private prison watchdog group based in Tallahassee, Fla. The organization’s mission is to provide information and assistance to citizens, policy makers and journalists about what they consider the dangers of privatizing correctional institutions and service. Kopczynski said no records are kept on the number of escapes from private prisons. The last records kept, he said, were in 2002 and indicated that escape rates are higher at private institutions. The institute compiles media reports of incidents at private facilities on its Web site. According to their information, an inmate who had been on suicide watch died at a LCS facility in Texas in January. At least 15 escapes were reported at some of the company’s prisons in Texas and Louisiana since 2002, according to the institute. The Texas Prison Board conducted a review of the Eastern Hidalgo Detention Center in 2006 after six inmates escaped. The review found that the prison employed too few guards, added an unauthorized number of bunks and kept unlicensed guards and guards without adequate training on payroll, according to a news story from The Monitor, a newspaper in the area. The company president said at the time that those problems were later corrected. The six inmates escaped, company officials said, after someone tampered with a control box for the electrical fence surrounding the prison. Perry County prison guards noticed that Southwick and Mink were not in bed during a 5:20 a.m. bed check. After inspecting the perimeter, they noticed that the fences had been cut.

May 22, 2009 FOXNews
What if you gave it a name like "Shining Sands" or "Ocean Breeze" instead of ... Gitmo? The prison center at Guantanamo Bay is destined to be closed down in January because "the name itself is a condemnation" of U.S. anti-terrorism strategy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday. But while it has become a "taint" on America's reputation, according to Gates, the prison facility in Cuba is at the same time "probably one of the finest prisons in the world today," he said Friday on NBC's "Today" show. So could Gitmo be saved with a drastic rebranding effort? If you give it a new name and increased transparency, some marketing and public relations experts say yes. "If there were serious changes made that were dramatic and communicated in a direct way to the American public, I do think that you could get past the baggage, because the issue is more approach than geography," said Adam Hanft, CEO of Hanft Raboy and Partners, a marketing firm. Making the prison more transparent would be the first hurdle, Hanft said. He suggested enabling prisoners to blog about their experience at Guantanamo, or to "literally put Web cams" in some cells. "If the government is so forthright that nothing inappropriate is going on, let everybody virtually inside and we'll see for ourselves," Hanft said. "What are they wearing? What are they being fed? I personally don't see any security risk in revealing that." Hanft said independent, third-party inspectors would also go a long way in repairing -- and perhaps reshaping -- the prison's image. Allowing visitors would help, too, he said. "They need to let people down there to visit, and those people can come back and report what's going on," he said. "It's not really rebranding; it's a reinvention of what's going on there." John Tantillo, a marketing and branding consultant, told FOXNews.com that if he were hired to rebrand the prison, his first step would undoubtedly be to change its name -- perhaps to a generic term like "Offshore Holding Facility," he said. "Secondly, what you'd want to do is show the American public something concrete that you're doing, so maybe a bipartisan commission that deals with renaming the facility and somehow doing the right thing," Tantillo said. "You want to communicate that you're trying to do the right thing without compromising America's safety." Tantillo suggested other changes -- like a visitors' center for relatives of inmates and a "progressive" warden. And then there should be a marketing blitz, including town hall-style meetings across the country to tout the improvements, he said. "You would do a whole promotional campaign, advertising, public relations, Internet, direct mail, e-mail," Tantillo continued. "From a marketing point of view, that's exactly the kinds of things you'd want to do." Other marketing professionals contacted by FOXNews.com were less optimistic that Gitmo can be rebranded. "It's so heavily damaged now as a brand and it's so widely declared a bad visual symbol for America that my sense is that it's over," said Jack Trout, president of marketing strategy firm Trout & Partners. "I just don't see any real hope. There's too much damage." Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute, a prison watchdog group, agrees. "It's too notorious," he said of the prison base. "I don't think it can happen. "You might find it in the dictionary soon. 'Gitmo: see abuse, see waterboarding.'"

January 23, 2009 Pahrump Valley Times
A film crew from Dan Rather Reports, a program aired on HD Net, a subscriber network available on high-definition TV, was on hand to tape about 80 opponents of the Corrections Corporation of America project crammed into a strategy meeting in a back room at the Pahrump Community Library last Thursday night. Cameraman Derek Reich is from Park City, Utah. Reporter Kim Balin is based in New York. Balin said she didn't want to be quoted but said for publication they were researching how prisons affect towns on a national level. There is no guarantee the excerpt will be aired on Dan Rather's show, she said. Opponents of the proposed 1,500-bed facility for inmates awaiting trial in federal court or deportation, however, made their presence visible during a hearing in federal court Wednesday and plan to bring the fight to state district court and hearings before the Public Utilities Commission on water and sewer service. "We're going to continue to fight this thing. We're going to fight it in state court. We're going to fight it in the Public Utilities Commission. It isn't a done deal. Don't get discouraged," Jeff Wiest told the crowd at the library. Field organizer Frank Smith, from the Private Corrections Institute, which opposes the privatization of prisons, said Utilities Inc. of Central Nevada has yet to receive permission to annex the site into their service area. Smith urged the crowd to "raise holy heck" at PUC meetings. He suggested they find out the addresses of PUC members and write letters to newspapers in their home towns. The PUC "isn't four or five stiffs that live in Pahrump or Tonopah," he said. Smith said each inmate needs 150 gallons of water per day. He appealed to fears over the sinking water table adding, "CCA is going to be sucking that with the biggest straw you've ever seen ... They've come here and sold this proposal to a county commission that doesn't know any better, that should know better. "They came to a little town like Pahrump and they said, 'We're going to bring development to you, we're going to bring jobs to you, money will rain from the sky.'" Smith said the plans were originally for a facility with 350 beds, then 500 beds, then 1,072 beds, now 1,500 beds. He claimed CCA actually wants to house 3,000 prisoners here. Smith also claimed there aren't enough federal prisoners from Nevada to fill the detention center. He added, the purpose of the facility will change from just housing federal inmates. Smith exhorted the crowd with an impassioned speech. "They are going to fill this up with gangbangers from California because California has three people to a cell. They have them sleeping in gymnasiums. They don't know what to do with them all and CCA is looking at that market. This federal detention center is just BS. It's a pretense. It's a charade, and if the county commissioners didn't know that, they deserve to be recalled for stupidity if nothing else." Smith repeated accusations CCA will buy their products nationally, not from local vendors. When CCA Marketing Manager Louise Grant told Storey County Commissioners in Virginia City last week there were only a few residents in Pahrump opposed to their project, Smith jokingly remarked she was using "new math." Smith said 1,500 people signed a petition against the project in Pahrump. Smith charged Pahrump residents were kept in the dark about the project until CCA "had all their ducks in a row" with county commissioners, the planning department and others in approval. In fact, discussions with CCA were outlined in some detail in the PVT. Hector Velarde, one of four residents who showed up to protest the rezoning of the East Mesquite Avenue property in front of the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission in July 2007, said he was one of only two people who received notice of the proposed zone change.

January 16, 2009 Tallahassee Democrat
I read with interest Laura Bedard's letter ("Privatized prisons have their purpose," Jan 14). Ms. Bedard should know better than to state that she was "the only person in the state of Florida with both an inside and outside perspective of the prisons system." There are a number of public correctional officers working part-time in private prisons. She states for-profit private prisons provide comprehensive programs with the goal to reduce recidivism. But then she writes that, because of budget cuts, the for-profits can't provide "contractually mandated" rehab programs. Well, which is it? Ms. Bedard should also know that there is no difference in recidivism rates at public and private facilities; she was part of an analysis released in 2003 reporting those results. I take exception to Bedard's position that privatization's "purpose" is to serve a "niche" inmate population. For-profit private prisons serve only one purpose: To enrich shareholders and corporate executives. KEN KOPCZYNSKI, Executive director, Private Corrections Institute

January 10, 2009 KMBC
Some Independence residents are voicing concerns about a private jail that may be built near their homes. Scores of people gathered on Saturday to learn more about the proposal to move the Metropolitan Detention Center to a site north of 23rd Street and Blue Ridge Boulevard. While the $7 million project would bring a strong tax base to the area, neighbors are worried about safety. Frank Smith, of the Private Corrections Institute, said he drove 200 miles to voice his opposition. "People think they're going to get jobs out of this, construction or guard jobs," he said. "The construction is almost never there. They say they're going to make all of the purchases locally, but that's almost never true. Then, they say they're going to hire the guards locally, but people could work at Wendy's and get the same kind of money." Supporters of the idea counted Smith's arguments and said the project would bring construction and guard jobs. The Independence Planning Commission will take up the issue on Tuesday evening at City Hall.

January 8, 2009 Nevada Appeal
An industrial park in Storey County is preparing land and paperwork for a private prison. The Tahoe Reno Industrial Center will seek a zoning change on about 550 acres of the park, according to its broker, Lance Gilman. Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the country, has said the 107,000-acre industrial park that takes up over half of Storey County is one the places it is considering for a new private prison. It would hold up to 3,000 inmates and employ about 600 workers, according to the company. The Storey County Planning Commission will not consider a permit for a private prison at its Jan. 15 meeting as was tentatively scheduled, according to the planning department. The item was taken off the agenda because an application for the permit was not finished. Gilman said the industrial park is a great place for a private prison. It is home to large distribution centers for Walmart and others and has an open 160 square miles. “Don’t you think I can find a really nice canyon or meadow that won’t interfere with anyone?” he said. “Hell, yes, I can.” Gilman said he can’t say anything about Corrections Corp. under an agreement with the company, but the industrial park will be ready for a private prison as soon as possible. The Corrections Corp. prison would be built in two phases on the southeast side of the industrial park near the corner of Portofino and Malta drives, according to paperwork filed with Storey County by the industrial park. The buildings will be less than 35 feet tall and “similar in scale and appearance to a light industrial park or secondary school,” according to the county records. A minimum 100-foot buffer zone would surround the patrolled prison along with double 12-foot security fences, records say. Corrections Corp. would get inmates through a state or federal contract, said Louise Grant, a company representative. The company has no contract and no definite schedule to start building the prison, however, she said. Corrections Corp. managed the Southern Nevada Women’s Correctional Facility in North Las Vegas from 1997 to 2004. It was the first private company to manage a Nevada prison. The company did not renew a contract to continue managing the prison, saying medical care and other costs made it too expensive. Nye County in December approved a federal detention center that the company will build and run in Pahrump. Some residents and the Florida-based Private Corrections Institute criticized the plan during the company’s two-year negotiations with the county. Frank Smith of the institute said in an e-mail that the detention center will lack oversight and hurt Nye County. But the project is supported by the county government and the “vast majority” of residents, according to Grant. She said the institute rallied a few people to spread “misinformation” about the company.

December 22, 2008 Philadelphia Enquirer
AT ONE END of Delaware County's rekindled debate over prison privatization, you'll find Wally Nunn, a tough-talking fiscal hawk and former county councilman. At the other, Fay Kallenbach, a bereaved mother. The George W. Hill Correctional Facility is ground zero. Nunn led the 1995 effort to privatize the county jail, outsourcing its operation to the GEO Group, a multinational corrections corporation. He stands by his decision today, saying the move cut government waste and saved taxpayers millions of dollars – including the more than $30 million the county saved by hiring GEO, then called Wackenhut Corrections Corp., to build the current prison in 1998. "It's a success right there, by definition," Nunn said. Fay Kallenbach has a different perspective. She says privatizing the prison has put inmates in the care of a money-hungry "machine" that cuts corners anywhere it can. Her son, comedian Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, died in April of complications from cystic fibrosis while in prison custody. She says he didn't receive the crucial treatment that had kept him alive for 39 years. "They definitely killed my son," she said of Florida-based GEO. The deep philosophical divide between Kallenbach and Nunn is typical when it comes to prison privatization, a love-it-or-hate-it concept that pits labor unions against politicians and corporate leaders against inmate-advocacy groups. Regardless, if Nunn is considered Delaware County's "father of privatization," his first born remains an only child in Pennsylvania – and there have been some growing pains lately. In the 12 years since the county handed the jailhouse keys to GEO, no other county in the state has followed its lead. Now, the company is terminating its $40-million-a-year contract there, ridden out of town by an onslaught of lawsuits and inadequate profits. A new firm takes over on New Year's Day. All about the $$$ -- Prison Superintendent John Reilly Jr. oversees GEO's performance at the 1,883-bed lockup in Thornton, and he doesn't shy away from discussing the good, the bad and the ugly. There has been plenty of each, from huge cost savings and indemnification from civil-rights lawsuits, to filthy showers and dead inmates. The cost of operating the prison - nearly $45 million when you factor in the superintendent and his staff – is the single largest expenditure of county tax dollars in the budget. It is expected to eat up 15 percent of the $303 million budget next year. But GEO has run the prison cheaper than the county ever could, Reilly said. And outsourcing still saves the government an estimated $3.2 million a year, according to Delaware County Executive Director Marianne Grace. By having Reilly and his staff on the premises, the county's version of privatization is ideal because the government is able to keep an eye on GEO and implement hefty fines - more than $700,000 this year - when the jail is understaffed. "Our security, maintenance and food service is similar to, and in some instances maybe better, than when the county ran it," Reilly said. Proponents of privatization say profit-driven companies can eliminate patronage jobs, play hardball with the labor unions and find new efficiencies without a substantial drop-off in services. Government officials "tend to hire people that have worked on their campaigns or political-patronage people," Nunn said. "Corporations tend to hire people that are competent and capable. They can manage more effectively than a public entity can." Critics say the profit incentive is a double-edged sword, and that the industry makes its money on the backs of inmates and guards by reducing personnel costs and cutting back on inmate care. "I don't trust them as far as I can throw them," said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute and a lobbyist for the Florida Police Benevolent Association, a union that represents police and correctional officers. "All those millions of dollars they are making that are going into corporate executives' pockets should have been put into inmates services," he said. Delaware County officials say they are generally satisfied with GEO's performance here since 1996, with one large caveat: The medical services in the prison have, at times, fallen woefully short. Employee turnover in that department has been extremely high in recent years, Reilly said, and the company has gone through eight health-services administrators since 2004. As a result, the daily "pill call" for inmates, for example, is sometimes run by nurses who are incompetent or overworked, he said, and the backlog of prisoners waiting for medical attention can exceed 400 cases. "The medical department has underperformed here," Reilly concedes. GEO has spent an inordinate amount of time and money fending off federal lawsuits, including wrongful-death cases. The frequent litigation is one of the main reasons the company is bailing out on its contract next week. In 2006, the company agreed to pay $100,000 to the family of Rosalyn Atkinson, a 25-year-old mother of two who died from a toxic dose of a blood-pressure drug while in prison custody. In October, GEO agreed to an undisclosed settlement in the case of Cassandra Morgan, 38, who died in 2006 of complications from an untreated thyroid condition while jailed on a shoplifting charge. GEO also paid $125,000 in 2005 to the family of a prisoner who hung himself with his bootlaces and agreed to a $300,000 settlement in 2000 involving another suicide. Fay Kallenbach and her attorney are awaiting more medical information before deciding whether to move forward with a lawsuit on behalf of her son, a longtime member of Howard Stern's "Wack Pack." Prison officials say they are not at fault in his death. While the Delaware County prison was far from a utopia when it was run by the county - seven guards were convicted of federal charges stemming from inmate beatings in 1994 - GEO's correctional officers have compiled a lengthy rap sheet since the jail was privatized. This year a K-9 officer pleaded guilty to having sex with an inmate in his pickup truck, and a guard admitted to sending a forged letter to the state parole board so her boyfriend - a convicted murderer - could move in with her. In 2006 the jail's former work-release supervisor, who is now registered under Megan's Law as a sex offender, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting an inmate, and a guard pleaded guilty in federal court last year to conspiracy to commit bank robbery. Two other guards were convicted of participating in a 2002 attack on an inmate who claimed that he was handcuffed and pummeled with a basketball and that his pants were pulled down. That inmate's attorney, Jon Auritt, has said the incident reminded him of "Abu Ghraib, except without the dogs." GEO later paid an undisclosed settlement in that case, though. Prison staff incorrectly released three inmates between 2002 and 2004, and in 2006, GEO agreed to pay a settlement to an innocent man who sued the company because he was imprisoned for more than 40 days. It was a case of mistaken identity. GEO officials declined to be interviewed for this story, as did state Rep. John Perzel, R-Phila., a paid member of its board of directors. The company did not admit any wrongdoing in the lawsuits it settled. Pa. counties unreceptive -- In 1998, the state Supreme Court approved the privatization of the Delaware County prison, ruling against the prison guards' union, which had filed suit to block the outsourcing. At the time, labor leaders fretted that the ruling would pave the way for other counties to hire firms to run their own jails. That never happened. While privatization has taken off in other states, particularly Texas, the George W. Hill Correctional Facility remains the only privately-run county prison in Pennsylvania, largely due to strong union resistance, according to Richard Culp, a prison privatization expert and professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. "It's a matter of labor costs, pure and simple," said Culp, who has worked as a consultant for the Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors. Beaver County tried to privatize its prison in 2006, but was bombarded by union opposition. The county lost a ruling by an arbitrator, which was upheld in Common Pleas Court, according to county Commissioner Charles Camp. Beaver County officials decided not to appeal the case because the legal bills were getting so high, he said. "We had everyone coming at us," Camp said of the unions that fought the privatization proposal. "It would have saved us a million bucks a year," he said, adding that the county is now facing a $2 million budget deficit and is planning layoffs. Large corrections companies increasingly are looking to the federal government for their profits, and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and other federal agencies have been expanding their use of private companies in recent years, Culp said. While Culp recommended that counties and other government agencies keep a short leash on those firms – as Delaware County does – he said the industry has become more "professional" since the mid-1990s. "I think the market has shaken out a lot of the underperformers and poor performers and people that got into it to make a fast buck," Culp said. The future is CEC -- Community Education Centers (CEC), a smaller, privately-held company that specializes in inmate re-entry services, will replace the GEO Group on Jan. 1 at the Delaware County prison. Based in West Caldwell, N.J., CEC operates county prisons in Texas, Arizona and Ohio, as well as treatment centers within publicly-run prisons. In Philadelphia, it runs Hoffman Hall, a residential re-entry center for city inmates that opened in July, and Coleman Hall, which runs a work-release program for state inmates. William Palatucci, a CEC senior vice president, said the Delaware County prison will become the largest county jail in the company's network. Most of the existing GEO guards will keep their jobs, and county officials say that guards that once worked for GEO are interested in coming back now that the company is leaving. CEC made headlines in 2004 when a Coleman Hall resident was shot to death in his room, and the company is being sued by the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project on behalf of several inmates who said they were denied adequate medical care there. Palatucci declined to comment on the litigation, but said the company planned to bring to the Delaware County prison a "renewed commitment to quality operations." "I think competition is good for everybody. It keeps the public sector and private sector on their toes," he said. "At the end of the day, that's good for the taxpayer." Robert Eskind, spokesman for the Philadelphia Prison System, said the city is "pleased so far" with CEC's performance at Hoffman Hall. County officials say CEC could be a better fit than GEO at their jail, particularly because the company has experience in reducing recidivism. Overcrowding has long been a problem there. John Hosier, chairman of the county Board of Prison Inspectors, is optimistic about the changing of the guard, but warned against unrealistic expectations. "We can hope for the best," Hosier said, "but it is a jail."

December 12, 2008 Pahrump Valley News
Corrections Corporation of America officials hope Nye County commissioners will approve a development agreement for the federal detention center after a public hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, at the Bob Ruud Community Center. "We have been very, very diligently working with all of the parties in regard to the development agreement and certainly our anticipation is that we will end the meeting with an approved development agreement so we can move forward and relay that information to our customer, who is eager as well to have that finalized," CCA Vice-President of Marketing and Communications Louise Grant said. "That customer" is the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee which has given CCA 18 months to have the detention center constructed and ready to begin accepting inmates. "We have been told time and again by our customer, the expectation is we are still on the same time frame," Grant said. Natasha Metcalf, who manages CCA contract negotiations, has been in frequent discussions with Nye County representatives since the Sept. 16 tabling of the agreement, Grant said. "We want it to be a positive win-win," she said. When asked whether her company came to agreement on some points raised by Nye County consultant Ira Cotler back in September, she said, "I believe there has been a lot of resolution." Frank Smith, a field organizer for the Private Corrections Institute, a group opposed to the privatization of correctional facilities, said he will arrive in the area on Saturday. He has arranged to have Donna Como visit Pahrump. She was in charge of determining American Correctional Association accreditation for CCA when the company had a contract to operate the state women's prison. During the 8:30 a.m. session commissioners will consider approving 20 contracts totaling $2.9 million to support the county Yucca Mountain oversight program, under the consent agenda in which numerous items can be approved with one motion. A $42,950 change order in the contract with Mills Construction for the abatement of asbestos pipes in the demolition of the Calvada Eye building is up for approval and an asbestos monitoring agreement with SCS Engineers. Owners of Paddy's Pub are scheduled to reappear before the Nye County licensing and liquor board at 9 a.m. on a show cause hearing over their liquor license, in a case continued from Feb. 5.

October 24, 2008 Bloomberg
GEO Group Inc., the Florida-based prison operator, was charged with murder in Texas for allowing prisoners to kill another inmate who was days away from completing a six-month sentence, a nonprofit group said. Willacy County District Attorney Juan Guerra in Texas filed a three-count indictment against GEO Group for allegedly allowing inmates in 2001 to use padlocks in socks to bludgeon to death Gregorio De La Rosa, who was serving time for a drug offense, said Alex Friedmann, a spokesman for the Private Corrections Institute watchdog group. "Most District Attorneys wouldn't pursue these kinds of charges,'' Friedmann said today in a phone interview. The case is likely the ``first time a prison company has ever faced criminal charges as a result of a prisoner death in custody,'' he said. ``There might be another one out there, but if so, we're not familiar with it.'' GEO Group employees allowed ``beatings and fights between inmates for money, and a tradition of payback, whereby prisoners were beaten just before their release,'' Guerra said in a PCI statement, citing a civil lawsuit filed by De La Rosa's family. In 2006, a Willacy County jury awarded $47.5 million in the wrongful-death case filed against GEO Group, according to the statement. Guerra said killings in private prisons are ``more than civil matters'' and that GEO Group should be held "criminally responsible for the death of this particular inmate,'' according to the statement. Friedmann said he didn't know the status of the civil suit. Pablo Paez, a spokesman for Boca Raton, Florida-based GEO Group, didn't immediately return a call and e-mail seeking comment after business hours. Guerra and Terry Flores, a clerk at Willacy County court, couldn't be reached for comment.

October 24, 2008 Pahrump Valley Times
Action on a proposed development agreement with Corrections Corporation of America for a federal detention center was postponed another two months until Dec. 16 by Nye County commissioners Tuesday. A crowd of bystanders showed up anyway to voice comments about the project, though it was reported there wouldn't be any action taken. That delays a vote on the agreement until well after the election. CCA Senior Director of Site Acquisition and Development Brad Wiggins, said when the project was tabled last month commissioners made a critical timeline even more critical. Consultant Ira Cotler, managing director of Correctional Finance and Consulting Solutions, just gave his comments on the development agreement back to CCA officials Monday. The two sides are said to be far apart on the conditions. Cotler, who was given a $50,000 contract by county commissioners to work on the development agreement, said he drafted an outline with all the issues that were raised in the past. "We've had two meetings with CCA, going through that outline in very general terms, just to throw out the topics on the table," Cotler told commissioners. Cotler also gave his input to Mark White, the attorney who represents Nye County on the drafting of development agreements, for inclusion in the agreement. More meetings between Cotler and CCA were scheduled Wednesday. "Our goal has been to expand the original development agreement to more than just a development agreement to any other style of project and address the thoughts and concerns associated with a correctional facility," Cotler said. Nye County Commission Chairman Joni Eastley said commissioners didn't have a copy of the revised development agreement as CCA hasn't had time to reply to Cotler's remarks. She proposed tabling the discussion until Dec. 16, as there will only be one regular commission meeting in November due to the election and the Thanksgiving holiday. Nye County Manager Rick Osborne asked about scheduling a special meeting. Eastley said her schedule was totally booked the rest of this month and the first week or two in November. She said a second public hearing would have to be scheduled during a regular commission meeting with adequate public notice. When Judith Holmgren asked for a copy of the revised development agreement, Osborne replied, "It's all confidential negotiations at this point until we get a draft that we feel is suitable to present to the board, and at that point it becomes a public document." The crowd booed. Asked for a comment after the delay was announced, Louise Grant, CCA's vice-president of marketing, said, "CCA is disappointed that the development agreement is not yet finalized. Assuredly, our government partners are eager for us to have that last component of the plan final and secure so we can move forward with this exciting project. We trust that the commission will work to help us make final arrangements by the date they'd just indicated. CCA will continue to operate in good faith to move forward this very important agreement." Eastley ran a tightly-controlled public comment period, with two minutes allowed for each speaker. They were restricted to commenting on suggestions to be included in the development agreement, not whether they liked the project or not. Eastley indicated her exhaustion at being bombarded with comments about the detention center, asking speakers not to talk about things like a "60 Minutes" news special on CCA or similar topics. The crowd spilled into Room B, where a television monitor was installed. Frank Smith, representing the Private Corrections Institute, was cut short after two minutes. "Nobody did the most basic research on this," Smith said. "The development agreement is predicated on certain premises. One is that somehow this would be an economic benefit to the community. We found no evidence the prison has stimulated growth. In fact, we found evidence the prison has impeded economic growth." County commission candidate Harley Kulkin wanted a public hearing where the public isn't limited to two minutes. Jeff Wiiest asked commissioners to table action until January, so the new board can take responsibility for their actions. Numerous suggestions were made by Pahrump residents.

October 22, 2008 Pahrump Valley Times
A crowd of more than 50 people, energized by a "60 Minutes" video blasting Corrections Corporation of America's operation of a private prison in Youngstown, Ohio, had finished two hours of heated rhetoric against the proposed federal detention center in Pahrump at the Hafen Elementary School multipurpose room Saturday afternoon. It had escalated into an atmosphere of cries to vote all the incumbent politicians out of office when Nye County District 4 Commissioner Butch Borasky walked in. "I just spent two and a half days with a couple of other folks in Eloy and Florence," he said of two communities in Arizona where CCA runs prisons. "We visited eight facilities. I talked to as many people as I could in those communities. I'll tell you right now, I didn't get one negative comment from anybody." That comment drew boos from the crowd. Former Nye County sheriff's candidate Ted Holmes remarked about his fear gang members and possible drug cartel members would be housed at the proposed center. Holmes said he wouldn't have any concerns if the detention center was at Cold Creek, where the present Indian Springs state prison is located, just over Wheeler Pass from Pahrump. But he said with the proposed location on 2250 E. Mesquite Ave., "the quickest house is less than six minutes walking distance." Holmes then remarked he was so mad he wanted to punch a politician about it. Borasky then walked up to Holmes, where they stood nose-to-nose before Holmes backed down on his threat and Borasky walked out of the room. It was probably the climax of a crescendo of angry comments directed at the federal detention center by people who complained they weren't aware of the project. Judith Holmgren read transcripts from a public hearing on the detention center by the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee in June 2007 in which Borasky, commenting as a private citizen, said "I wholeheartedly support the idea of bringing the detention center here." The 60 Minutes excerpt concerned a prison break in Youngstown that the mayor said could've been the country's largest prison break. Show co-host, the late Ed Bradley, announced hard-core inmates were transferred from Washington, D.C., into what was supposed to be a medium-security prison. Frank Smith, of the anti-privatization Private Corrections Institute, who hosted the informational meeting, noted other prison breaks, including one in Oklahoma that involved two elderly women hostages, invoking the worst case nightmare. He told about prison riots, like one at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs, Colo. Smith charged CCA would use out-of-town labor to build the facility, as evidenced by his conversation with roofers at a restaurant in Olney Springs, Colo., who admitted they had worked on a detention center in California City, Calif. "No matter what the chamber of commerce may want to believe, they don't leave money in town, they don't leave a penny more than they have to," he said. Smith said the presence of detention facilities, even where there are good paying jobs, chases away other industries and residents. "They go to towns that are desperate, that are easily convinced they are going to be some kind of godsend, there's going to be money raining from the sky," Smith said. Steve Holbo, a retired California correctional officer, said the majority of correctional officers initially will probably be imported from other states as a job promotion. "You cannot open your facility with 240 green people trying to work at the facility. The probability of the fact is that the Pahrump area is only going to see possibly 10 correctional officers hired initially out of the valley during the first year of operation," Holbo said. He said being this close to California could be a temptation for CCA to house some of its 5,000 inmates in that state in the Nevada Southern Detention Center. Kenny Bent said he was a general engineering contractor for over 21 years, putting in treatment plants and pump stations. He claimed the project, which would use 130,000 gallons per day, would drop water levels in wells. Pat Kerby said the development agreement should require CCA to dig wells deeper, if it impacts the water supply. "We need to pressure the county commission to alter this development agreement so it's more favorable to Pahrump and make the decision before the election," Kerby said. An angry Butch Clendenen, who recently bought a home on nearby Kitty Hawk Drive, went a step further. "You can vote in this election, and the incumbents have to be voted out now. That's the only way this agreement isn't going to happen. Face it, they had 17 supposed meetings where they notified the public that nobody knew about," Clendenen said. County commission candidate Harley Kulkin said the development agreement was spearheaded by outgoing County Manager Ron Williams behind closed doors. "We need to push so that the public is part of this development agreement and then we need to come up with some ideas of how we can make this development agreement fair to protect a community, and then I believe CCA will back out of the agreement and go somewhere else," Kulkin said. "They're only here for one reason, they want to house prisoners and the cheapest place to do business, and they found this is the most naive place and they'll get away with plenty here." Town board candidate Mike Darby said he has a history in the construction industry as a heavy equipment operator. "The agreements that I've read that they have put out there, I would love to have that agreement because it basically gives you a wide open contract to do anything and everything you want," Darby said. Jeff Bobeck, who ran unsuccessfully for Nye County Commission District 1, said he's a flight instructor at Calvada Airpark, located near the detention center site. Bobeck said he requested an opinion from the Federal Aviation Administration about including the private airport in the development agreement. "If I were going to try to escape from this prison -- and we have learned it is possible -- I would be headed straight for there," Bobeck said. "Within 100 feet of each airplane is the owner with keys who knows how to fly it and many of them also have enough fuel to make it to Mexico." Robert Smith, no relation to Frank Smith, asked for a recall "on all the corrupt politicians in this town." Bent criticized an alleged e-mail from Commissioner Joni Eastley in which he quoted the commissioner as saying, "This is a done deal there's no turning back, there's nothing left but signing the development agreement." "It could be easily stopped right there, right now," Bent said. Robin Lloyd urged attendees to flood commissioners with e-mails, phone calls and letters. She urged them to sign a petition asking commissioners to reinstate the 9.5 mile minimum distance to correctional facilities in the county code.

October 15, 2008 Pahrump Valley Times
Officials from Corrections Corporation of America don't plan to be in attendance when the Private Corrections Institute hosts a meeting on the pros and cons of a federal detention center in Pahrump at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hafen Elementary School Auditorium. Frank Smith, field organizer for the Private Corrections Institute will be the featured speaker. He invited prominent local opponents of the project to join him on a panel. A biography on the Private Corrections Institute Web site states Smith has been a social justice activist for four decades, involved in criminal justice research, worked on a medical marijuana initiative in Alaska, labor organization, moratoriums on prison construction, restoring civl rights, alternatives to incarceration and programs offering substance abuse treatment. If his resume looks as if he's committed to finding alternatives to incarceration, that's a correct assumption. "That makes sense to the taxpayer," Smith said in a telephone interview. "We have way too many people in jail for way too long." During comments at the public hearing on the development agreement for the federal detention center at the Nye County Commission meeting Sept. 16, Smith said the new president inaugurated Jan. 20, 2009, could change the country's immigration policy. The CCA facility would house prisoners awaiting a hearing in federal court and illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. "There will be an enormous surplus of beds which the (private prison) industry tends to ignore," Smith predicted. Smith said he has dealt with CCA, the nation's largest private prison operator, for 12 years and warned, "A deal is never a deal." "If you look at a town like Shelby, Mont., you'll find out how many times a deal gets negotiated in CCA's favor," he said at the public hearing. Smith said CCA uses a central purchasing system, which means they don't spend as much money in town. Smith and CCA Vice-President of Marketing and Communications Louise Grant exchanged words at the conclusion of the public hearing. Grant said the Private Corrections Institute was founded by the Florida Police Benevolent Association, a union representing prison workers. "They're completely opposed to privatization because unions are (opposed)," Grant said. She charged the organization receives funding from the American Federation of State, Federal, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). "They are paid or they volunteered to come into communities specifically to go against privatization. That's their sole purpose," Grant said. Smith, who is from Love City, Kan., denied Grant's accusations. He said the Private Corrections Institute was formed by several people active in the area of private prisons. He downplayed executive director Ken Kopczynski's role with the Florida Police Benevolent Association, though his resume on the institute's Web site states Kopczynski has been a legislative and political affairs assistant for the FPBA since 1993, the largest collective bargaining agent for law enforcement, correctional and probation officers in Florida. "I can assure you that we won't be there," Grant said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "We have stated publicly what the agenda of the Private Corrections Institute is, and certainly our relationship is with the county and we are continuing to very proactively work on the development agreement. That's where our focus is today." Grant said the company has held numerous public hearings, spoke at length at two recent town hall type meetings, posted information on its Web site and had community officials visit their facilities in other communities. Smith will provide extensive data regarding the harmful consequences for host communities of detention centers, the advertisement states. He will discuss media, political and legal strategies to keep Pahrump from being victimized by CCA.

September 29, 2008
The link below will direct you to Boston Legal’s Season Premiere. The episode is about a court battle between a young girl who was raped by a private prison guard and the private prison industry’s high paid attorney. To view this episode, agree to the End User License Agreement from ABC and follow their instructions to install the free player. After the player is installed select the play triangle in the center of the screen to play the episode. If you encounter trouble viewing the video, back-out of the program and then reload. http://fep.abc.go.com/fep/player?src=abccomjs&show=135787&pn=index Noteworthy: The Private Corrections Institute provided background information to the Boston Legal’s producers for this Season Premiere.

September 24, 2008 Nashville Scene
Yesterday, Lamar Alexander, the lead water-carrier for judicial nominee Gus Puryear, read the campaign its last rites. Alexander's statements are the last nail in the coffin for Puryear, lead counsel for private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America. They're also an unofficial acknowledgment of the power of the one-man campaign. No matter where your loyalties lie, it's tough to argue that anyone deserves more of the credit (or blame) for Puryear's failed nomination than Alex Friedmann. Getting the locals to care about who swings a gavel in Middle Tennessee is one thing. Getting pub from national outlets is another. Now with the campaign over, Friedmann is a stick without a spoke. He says he'll continue working on the humdrum elements of vigilanteism and may even aim his scope at larger targets. "There's always Palin," he jokes. We here at Pith, however, think Friedmann's bandwagon should be steered elsewhere. Trudging through the muck of rancorous politics during this election season has left us exhausted. It's time all of Nashville had a cause worth championing. Something fun and family-friendly that makes us forget about the world while alternately making us worry about the cleanliness of our undergarments.

September 24, 2008 Tennessean
Nominations of two Tennesseans — Gus Puryear of Nashville to be a federal judge and Susan Williams of Knoxville to be a TVA board member — have been derailed by political squabbles. Several prison rights and civil rights groups have objected to the nomination of Puryear, general counsel for Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison giant based in Nashville. CCA had been hammered by allegations of underplaying serious incidents in its jails and misrepresenting the circumstances of in-custody deaths. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, said Tuesday that neither nomination would be approved before the end of the year. That means the nomination process for both slots will begin again after a new president takes office in January. "That's another example of the Democratic Congress not approving a qualified nominee," Alexander said of Puryear's choice by President Bush to be a judge in the Middle District of Tennessee. Democrats opposed both -- Puryear was caught in an election-year political fight. Republicans have tried to gain approval for as many of Bush's nominees as possible before the end of his term. Reasons cited by opponents as to why Puryear should not be confirmed include: a lack of trial and judicial experience, his role as chief lawyer for the country's largest private prison company, and the company's handling of the 2004 death of Estelle Richardson while she was in the Metro Detention Facility in Nashville. Democrats, who control the Senate, say they have treated the president's nominees as well as Republicans did near the end of Bill Clinton's presidency. But they have slowed the process, hoping they will be able to fill the vacancies if their nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, wins the presidency. Williams' nomination to the TVA board was a casualty of a battle between Alexander and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Reid held up her nomination and that of Bishop William Graves of Memphis because he wants a Democratic representative on the TVA board. In June, Reid let Graves' nomination go through after Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker blocked a nomination Reid wanted. In response to Alexander's comments, Puryear released a written statement through CCA. "I was honored to be nominated and understand fully how election-year politics works in Washington. I am very happy in my current job and look forward to continuing to work with my friends in Nashville to make our city and state a better place." Alex Friedmann, vice president of Private Corrections Institute, coordinated much of the opposition to the Puryear nomination, which Bush made in June 2007. "Mr. Puryear was an unqualified, inexperienced, conflicted and controversial nominee for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. The citizens of Middle Tennessee deserve better and hopefully will receive a more qualified candidate during the next administration," Friedmann said in a statement.

September 19, 2008 Pahrump Valley Times
When Nye County commissioners postponed consideration of a development agreement for the proposed federal detention center until Oct. 21, they put Corrections Corporation of America in a tight spot. County commissioners heard almost two hours of testimony on the proposed development agreement Tuesday, which mostly involved listening to the public air their opinions. Commissioners didn't get into negotiating specific items of the agreement with the company. "A critical time line has just become even more critical," Brad Wiggins, CCA's site acquisition manager, said. The development agreement was made a condition of the rezoning before CCA can obtain the building permit to begin construction. The company also expects a biological opinion today on what mitigation measures should be taken to protect the desert tortoise, which isn't expected to be a deal-breaker. CCA is expected to have the detention center ready within a number of months after the biological opinion, Wiggins said. The record of decision issued in May, identifying the site at 2250 E. Mesquite Ave. as the preferred location, stated development of the proposed detention facility is expected to be accomplished within approximately 12 to 15 months following the award of the contract. Louise Grant, CCA vice-president of marketing and communications, said, "The federal government has not changed its expectations for when we would accept the first prisoners." Grant said the turnout and reaction from many Pahrump residents was typical of the reaction in other communities unfamiliar with private correctional facilities. Wiggins said Pahrump opponents may think CCA isn't being honest. But Wiggins, a former Federal Bureau of Prisons official, added, "They don't know after all those hundreds of thousands of hours of working in those facilities, I have to go to sleep at night knowing that I haven't said anything that's not true." Grant said groups that oppose privatization of prisons in general, like the Private Corrections Institute, had "their hired guns" at the hearing. She said the corrections institute was founded by prison union workers from Florida. Frank Smith, of Love City, Kan., representing the Private Corrections Institute, cautioned commissioners that after 12 years of dealing with CCA, he has found that "a deal is never a deal.' Steve Holbo, a retired lieutenant with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said. "It's really difficult for me to believe you have to accept the fact the federal government is going to put a federal pen right in the middle of your town. This is just not happening in California when we build state pens." Holbo said two prisons were built 20 miles outside of Blythe, Calif. He previously had promoted research prepared by the American Correctional Officer Intelligence Network critical of private prisons.

September 7, 2008 Murfreesboro Post
Look, can we get this out of the way right here? When a teenager, Alex Friedmann pulled an armed robbery, got into a shoot out, was wounded, tried, convicted then spent 10 years in the pen. Unlike the rest of us, he made some mistakes when he was a teenager. “I can’t provide any reasonable explanation. I was stupid. I was greedy. In addition, I was a terrible criminal and was caught right away.” That was in ’87. “I was young, but there are a lot of young people out there who don’t get in trouble.” He’s aware of maybe a debt he still owes. “I’ve tried to make amends. The experience led me to become interested in criminal justice issues,” he said from his Nashville office where he is associate editor of Prison Legal News (www.prisonlegalnews.org). He’s also vice president of the non-profit Private Corrections Institute. Friedmann, who spent the usual college years—18-26 – behind bars, is an articulate spokesman for prison reform. “Look, we have 2.3 million locked up now and the number’s going up, and 95 percent of them will be released back into society. They’ll be given 50 bucks and shoved out the gate. They’ll go back, most of them, to their old neighborhoods that probably are crime infested. They’ll have trouble getting a job. Sixty percent of them will be back in prison sooner or later.” “We’re not preparing prisoners to be released. Drugs are a problem, OK, but many crimes are the result of alcohol.” Friedmann, a graduate of both types of prison, is solidly against privatization of prisons. “I have moral and philosophical objections to the privatization of prisons. Now, I want to be very careful not to imply that our public prisons are great. They aren’t. “But the privately run prisons are operated for one reason: profits. That’s a poor excuse to be in the prison business.” He points out that our “corrections system” fails to correct. “And I have a big gripe that we think institutionalizing is the only punishment. Most of the nation’s prisoners are not murderers or bank robbers. They are into drugs, drinking, fights, stealing, fraud, and they can be punished by drug and alcohol courts, fines, community work service, weekend incarceration, electronic monitoring, counseling, treatment. All this is cheaper than prison and will increase the chances of bringing about corrections in behavior.” Friedmann likes drug, alcohol and mental treatment courts. “Most of our citizens want less crime, less victimization. These measures will generate some correctional behavior.” Friedmann drew regional attention in mid-August when he led a fight to derail a federal court nominee.

August 31, 2008 Murfreesboro Post
Four years ago, Estelle Richardson, 34, was murdered in a Nashville jail run by Corrections Corporation of America. That's a tangential issue in the legal career of Gustavus A. Puryear IV, just one of the things that has caught the attention of Alex Friedmann, an ex-con gone good and now an editor of Prison Legal News, an organization devoted to digging out mistreatment and maltreatment of prisoners. Charges were filed against four guards who were accused of beating Richardson to death. But their conviction foundered on a technical matter involving time of death. It is one of the things that troubles Friedmann (once a convict himself) about Puryear's nomination for a lifetime appointment to the federal district court in Middle Tennessee. Puryear is chief lawyer of Corrections Corporation of America that is headquartered in Nashville. "CCA is the defendant in scores and scores of lawsuits each year. It is difficult to see how Puryear could ever serve as presiding judge in a trial involving his old bosses." The nomination---presented before the Senate Judiciary Committee by Republican Senators Corker and Alexander---came about the way most do: Puryear has been a worker in the vineyards for Tennessee and national Republicans. He gave important money to Corker and Alexander and coached up Dick Cheney for the '00 vice presidential debates. He worked for Fred Thompson. He's been named a "Republican heavyweight" by a Nashville newspaper. Unhappily, his qualifications for a federal judgeship are wanting. Friedmann says Puryear has been personally involved in only five federal cases and two trials over his entire legal career, and lost one of those. "He has not served as a practicing attorney for years," Friedmann says. Republicans answer that Puryear has been rated as "qualified" by the American Bar Association. "Well," Friedmann says, deconstructing the classification methodology. "ABA rates lawyers Qualified, Unqualified, or Well Qualified. Seventy-five percent of all lawyers get the Well Qualified classification. Puryear, therefore, is in the bottom 25 percent." But Friedmann's great objection to Puryear's appointment remains his conflicted position. He's a CCA man and has been their chief lawyer for years. He says he'll recuse himself from their cases for five years. "Well, CCA's in the courts all the time. And what about after five years? He doesn't say what he'll do after that." In typical Republican fashion of the past seven years, Puryear's record was great from a political standpoint but wanting for professional creds. Today, the nomination is being held up in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which indicates it failed to get pro forma approval, a bad indicator for the state's Republican senators and party. There is a chance that Puryear won't be approved in the Senate committee. This would, in effect, kill the nomination.

August 20, 2008 The City Paper
Bedeviled this year by negative publicity on several fronts, Corrections Corp. of America late last week launched a public relations push to counter what it says are biased reports. The Nashville-based company has been under the microscope since its general counsel, Gus Puryear, was nominated for the federal judgeship of the Tennessee Middle district in February. At the same time, activists have stepped up their work against the company, seeking the company’s contracts and other papers under public-record laws. CCA’s response includes an advertising campaign pointing people to a new Web site that promises an “unfiltered, full, 360-degree view of CCA.” The company has bought advertising on NashvillePost.com and the Web site of its sister publication, The City Paper. The company also published an open letter in The City Paper’s Monday print edition. The campaign, designed by local firm MMA Creative, accuses "a local daily paper" of ideological bias that CCA spokeswoman Louise Grant says has produced a media smear campaign. “It’s completely baffling,” Grant said. “We definitely think there’s a bias that’s been there for years and years.” Grant said the company was particularly stung by a recent Tennessean article that drew renewed attention to the unanswered questions surrounding the death of CCA inmate Estelle Richardson. “There was no new news in it," she said. "It was a very editorialized article." The article reiterated the details leading to Richardson’s death, featuring the comments of fellow inmate and friend Sharron Peterman, who called for the cold case to be solved. The Web site, called The CCA 360, responded by dissecting the article line by line, linking to evidence Grant says the company believes has been withheld from public consumption. She says accusations leveled against four prison guards were dropped because medical experts hired by both the prosecution and the defense found that Richardson sustained her injuries before the accused guards were in contact with her. The site also claims The Tennessean printed allegations against CCA without publishing the company’s accompanying denials. Grant also said that the paper ignored the medical evidence and focused only on the negative side of the story. “We have achieved excellence on American Correctional Association audits and our customers hold us in high regard,” Grant said. “That wasn’t a fair and balanced viewpoint.” Grant also said Tennessean editors have told CCA representatives that they oppose private correctional facilities from an editorial standpoint. Tennessean Editor Mark Silverman would only say that the paper stands by its article. But Alex Friedmann, a prison reform activist and associate editor of Prison Legal News, dispute the Web site’s claim to a 360-degree view of the issue. “They’re a corporation — their only responsibility is to their shareholders,” he said. “They’re interested in this incident because it causes problems with their stock price and shareholder confidence.” Shares of CCA (Ticker: CXW) are down about 6 percent in 2008 and are up almost 10 percent from a year ago. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has dropped more than 11 percent since last summer. Friedmann believes that, for the Web site to be considered balanced, it should have included a sheriff’s report excoriating CCA practices as well as an initial autopsy that conflicts with those conducted by the examiners during the trial. Friedmann’s credibility is also questioned on the Web site, which points to his lack of academic expertise and refers to him as a “former inmate.” Friedmann says everyone has an agenda and freely admits to his own. “Obviously, I have a bias. I have been an inmate at a CCA prison,” he said. “But CCA, they’re a private, for-profit organization. They have a $1.45 billion bias.”

August 13, 2008 Tennessean
Alex Friedmann doesn't think people can see past his conviction, so he's the first one to bring it up. He spent 10 years in a cell — six of them at a Corrections Corporation of America prison in Tennessee — for armed robbery and attempted murder. "I was absolutely not cut out for a life of crime," Friedmann, 39, says. "And I was quite incompetent at it. I deserved the punishment. But punishment, technically, ends at some point. Society says it doesn't, and that lasts for the rest of your life. It follows you around like a legacy." Now, years removed from prison, Friedmann is engaged in an ardent struggle against Nashville-based CCA, the nation's largest for-profit prison company. He is a self-described underdog, battling the multibillion-dollar corporation that has drawn nationwide criticism for its treatment of prisoners. He didn't like the way he was treated while he was incarcerated, and he has questioned whether CCA gave prompt medical attention to a friend who died while in CCA custody many years ago. CCA, in turn, paints him as a less-than-credible advocate for prison reform and a pawn of unions that oppose privatized prisons like those run by CCA, which has 17,000 employees nationwide and holds more than 75,000 inmates. "He is a former inmate convicted of armed robbery at Green Hills," said Louise Grant, a spokeswoman for CCA. "The fact that he shot at a father and a son is lost. He now works for a union-funded company.'' Still, Friedmann says prison reform is what defines his life. "I admire people who devote their lives to causes — to saving whales, the environment, child abuse," he said. "This cause gives meaning to my life." He's a CCA shareholder -- In that role, Friedmann has single-handedly taken CCA to task over the years — even at the shareholder meetings. Friedmann owns one share of CCA stock, giving him the right to attend and ask questions at the meetings. "What I'm saying is that CCA is for-profit and it colors their decision," he said. "It's their business model." He is seeking access to CCA records. He won that access, albeit briefly, when a judge said that because the for-profit prison operates similar to a government entity, it should make its records open to the public, but CCA is appealing the judge's ruling. Friedmann is vice president of Private Corrections Institute, which is against the privatization of correctional institutions and is supported by unions. He says he does not collect a paycheck in his role with Private Corrections Institute. The company has paid for his travel and he has been reimbursed for expenses. He also is associate editor of Prison Legal News, working 60 hours a week reading and editing dozens of stories for the monthly publication, which looks at the nation's penal system. Then he leaves his desk to hand out fliers asking for more information regarding the death of a CCA inmate. He went to Congress to testify against the federal judgeship nomination of Gus Puryear, CCA's general counsel, a battle he is even keener about. He double-checked every answer Puryear gave to the Senate Judicial Committee. He investigated the general counsel's commission meetings and memberships in a country club, and he challenged a contradictory statement regarding the death of an inmate. He started a Web site, againstpuryear.com. His was 'a harsh crime' -- Friedmann considers himself a private person despite the public battles he has waged against CCA. During a lunch interview, he does not want to talk in any depth about his family, his personal life or religious affiliations. He is succinct. His father's family was Jewish, his mother a Southern Baptist. Friedmann was born outside of Boston and left for Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, with his parents as a 1-year-old only child. His father worked for Aramco, the Arabian American Oil Co. "I did not have to share my toys," he said jokingly as he eats a salad and waits for his pizza to cool down. They lived in a compound with people from around the world. Years later, with extended family in Tennessee, Friedmann returned to the U.S. as a teen. It was the 1980s and he was not accustomed to American society, he said. Caught in a downward spiral of greed, stupidity and his personal struggle to assimilate back to American life after being raised in Dhahran, the 18-year-old Friedmann armed himself with a gun and robbed a Green Hills store. During the robbery he got into a gunfight with the store owner, who shot Friedmann in his left hand. "It was a harsh introduction to the system, but I committed a harsh crime," he said. Friedmann says he was able to get probation but still fouled up. His probation was revoked and he had to serve 10 years after he was busted for shoplifting. In prison he read a number of books, including the classics and a couple that sparked his interest in activism: Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a story based on a character who served 10 years in prison in Stalin's gulag. He began writing and learning how to do research. He admired the in-depth investigative pieces produced by reporters. Today, he worries it's not done enough. He has no social life, he says. His downtime consists of zipping around in his restored 1982 Corvette and working on computer systems. But he sees himself as a reporter and an activist.

August 14, 2008 AP
Had this been like most nominations for federal judgeships, the chief lawyer with Corrections Corporation of America might have been packing up his office and heading for the courthouse by now. But a determined opponent — a former prisoner at a Corrections Corporation of America facility in Clifton, Tenn. — has worked tirelessly to see that would not happen. And he may have succeeded. More than a year after President Bush nominated Gustavus A. Puryear IV to become a U.S. district judge in Nashville, the 40-year-old's appointment appears to be in serious trouble, thanks in no small part to Alex Friedmann, a convicted armed robber turned inmate advocate. Friedmann, 39, contends Puryear is unqualified because he lacks experience in federal courts — he's been involved in only two federal trials — and might have a potential conflict of interest in hearing cases that involve CCA. On his Web site, http://www.againstpuryear.org, Friedmann also has detailed Puryear's ties to powerful Republicans like Dick Cheney, whom he helped prep for a 2000 debate, and portrayed Puryear as someone who got the nomination because of his connections rather than his qualifications. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Puryear's nomination in February but has yet to vote on whether to send his name to the full Senate. Erica Chabot, the press secretary for committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, said Puryear is one of only three people who have been nominated for district judgeships since January 2007 and have had hearings before the committee but have not had their nominations voted on. Leahy, D-Vt., has said the panel will not consider any more nominees this session without the consent of leaders from both parties. "I understand they have put Puryear in the 'controversial' category," said Brian Fitzpatrick, who once worked for Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas defending Bush's Supreme Court nominees and is now an assistant law professor at Vanderbilt University. "It's very rare for a district court nominee to become controversial. Usually they just fly through." The Senate typically defers heavily to the senators from the nominee's home state, and Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee solidly support Puryear. But the opposition has been unusually committed. Multiple organizations, including the left-leaning Alliance for Justice and the National Lawyer's Guild, have challenged Puryear's nomination, all of them using research that originated with Friedmann, occasionally quoting it verbatim. Friedmann says he learned of the nomination because he keeps track of Nashville-based CCA, which manages 66 facilities around the country. He looked through dockets and court cases, contacted former co-workers and made Freedom of Information Act requests. To get the word out, he relied on the nonprofit Private Corrections Institute, for which he serves as vice president, and a group he formed called Tennesseans Against Puryear. Puryear did not return calls from The Associated Press for this story. White House spokesman Blair Jones said the White House suggests that nominees not speak to the media, prior to confirmation, out of respect for the deliberative process of the Senate. "Groups can attack a nominee, but you'll never see (the nominee) respond to anything except at hearings," said Puryear's friend Ed Haden, an attorney in Birmingham, Ala. Haden said the obstacles to Puryear's nomination are political, and don't mean he is not qualified for the job. "As far as his qualifications go, he was at the top of his class in law school, he clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals, he has legislative experience in the U.S. Senate, he manages litigation for a big Fortune 500 company, and the ABA (American Bar Association) rated him as qualified," Haden said. "Gus realizes this is a lame duck year in politics," he added. "It's true for all nominees — whether you're in the deal or not is beyond your control." Puryear's nomination remains active until Congress adjourns, and he could still be confirmed. The most likely scenario for that would be a deal struck between senators. "At the end of the session, it's, 'Who wants a bridge in Vermont?'" said Haden, who has worked with two U.S. senators on judicial nominations. Meanwhile, Friedmann is continuing his opposition campaign in the hopes of making a last-minute deal less likely. "I'm glad the Judiciary Committee is taking a closer look at Mr. Puryear as a candidate because the issues we raised are legitimate issues," he said. "But," he added, "I'm definitely not claiming victory."

July 30, 2008 Tennessean
Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America must follow public records law and open its files for viewing, a Chancery Court judge ruled Tuesday, a decision that could lead to more transparency in a historically hidden industry. Alex Friedmann, an ex-offender and vice president of advocacy group Private Corrections Institute, had filed suit after CCA denied his request for records about prison operations and lawsuits they were part of. CCA, which operates the Metro Davidson County Detention Facility and six other detention facilities across Tennessee, maintained the company did not have to comply with public records requests because it is private. Access to prison records could accomplish two main goals, said Michele Deitch, an expert on private prison issues and adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin: shedding light on the operation of the private facilities and showing taxpayers how much money is spent on settlements with those who claim mistreatment. "When the private sector says, 'We can do this cheaper and better,' people don't think about what happens if things go wrong," Deitch said. "Who pays for that? In fact, it does come back to the taxpayers and the government. We need that information for a fuller picture of the true cost of these prisons." CCA plans to appeal the ruling, according to attorney Joe Welborn, who represented the company. Public-private line blurs - It's too soon to say whether there will be national implications to the decision, said Gene Policinski, vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center. But as more governmental functions are turned over to private industry, he said, the issue of what documents remain public can get muddied. "These issues will be litigated more and more," Policinski said. "Where does public responsibility and public visibility end, and a private institution's own records begin, when performing public functions and accepting public money?" Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman ruled that CCA was a "functional equivalent" to a governmental entity, because the operations of jails and prisons are essential governmental functions, and most of their revenues are taxpayer-funded. She ordered the company to make all of its records available, except those sealed by a court order. Andrew Clarke, attorney for Friedmann, said he kept his arguments simple because he felt the facts supported his client's assertion that CCA performs a governmental function. "Sometimes it just is what it is," Clarke said. 'A layer of secrecy' The chancellor has not yet ruled on whether to award attorney's fees to Friedmann. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the company is reserving comment until a final order has been issued. CCA has been hammered in recent months by allegations of underplaying serious incidents in its jails and misrepresenting the circumstances of in-custody deaths. Much of the heat came after CCA's general counsel, Gus Puryear, was nominated to a federal judgeship. The company's treatment of mentally ill inmates locally also was questioned after it was reported that an inmate hadn't left his cell or showered for nine months. Friedmann's organization recently offered reward money for anyone who could shed light on the death of Estelle Richardson, who died in the Metro jail in 2004. CCA officials said that, because of a malfunction, there was no tape of the incident that led to Richardson's fatal injuries. Friedmann served six years in a CCA-run facility before his release in 1999. "This important ruling strips away a layer of secrecy that CCA has misused to conceal embarrassing and negative information from the public," Friedmann said.

July 9, 2008 News Channel 5
Medical records are supposed to be private. But one watchdog group said they found 50 pages of sensitive patient information out in the open in a trash bin outside a methadone clinic. State and federal investigators are now trying to figure out what happened. The information ended up in the hands of the Private Corrections Institute, a watchdog group that plans to turn the documents over to authorities. But it could have been much worse if they ended up in the wrong hands. As far as privacy goes few places require it as much as the Middle Tennessee Treatment Center, a methadone clinic that helps patients with substance abuse problems. "As we understand it, a group of records was found in a Dumpster near the clinic," said Bruce Emery, who leads the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental. Some documents containing the private information of more than 40 clients ended up a large unlocked trash bin. The documents contained telephone and Social Security numbers as well as accounts of medicine use and drug history. State and federal agencies launched investigations to find out how the information got into the open. "I was as upset as any of us would be that such personal, private information would be compromised like that," Emery said. "We will absolutely get to the bottom of this," he said. "We take it as seriously as any client does. This is an important issue for us." "This is information that is very personal and private," said Vanderbilt University professor Josh Perry. He said cases such as this are especially important when dealing with substance abuse patients, who often worry their private information will be exposed and used against them. "I think whenever you're dealing with a vulnerable population, individuals who are seeking treatment in a methadone clinic, they are particularly vulnerable, I think, to discrimination," he said. Perry said that information mishaps can lead to trust issues between the medical community and the larger population. "Having strict regulations and policies regarding sensitive health information is important factor to promote that sense of public trust," he said. State officials said patient information is supposed to be kept on site for five to 10 years before documents are shredded and disposed. Debbie Crowley, the center's chief operating officer, said the center is doing everything it can to prevent future mistakes. She said her staff takes client privacy very seriously. It is unclear how the documents were disposed the way they were. State officials said their investigation will likely be completed sometime next week. They said those responsible could face penalties and fines.

July 9, 2008 Tennessean
Nashville's methadone clinic is being accused of throwing away patient records without shredding them, jeopardizing clients' privacy and putting them at risk for identity theft. Alex Friedmann, an ex-offender and vice president of Private Corrections Institute, a watchdog group that opposes prison privatization, says he has obtained roughly 50 pages of patients' information that came from Middle Tennessee Treatment Center's unlocked Dumpster. These documents include private information such as the names, Social Security numbers, addresses and phone numbers of patients who receive methadone, a synthetic opiate medication that eliminates the severe withdrawal symptoms of heroin. "This is incredibly improper. These are confidential records," Friedmann said. "There is a stigma attached to people undergoing methadone treatment. If this information got in the wrong hands, it could jeopardize people's jobs and their standing in the community." Debbie Crowley, the center's chief operating officer, said patient information is never thrown in the garbage without being shredded. She said she suspected that the documents were somehow taken from the center and promised that a full investigation would be conducted. "Maintaining the confidentiality of our clients is paramount," Crowley said. "This is not how we do business." Friedmann said the records were taken from the Dumpster on June 28 but wouldn't say who brought them to him. Crowley did not learn about the unshredded documents until Tuesday. She said she planned to contact the patients who are identified in the records to inform them of the situation. "As far as I'm concerned, these documents were obtained illegally," Crowley said. Friedmann fears that the clinic's actions could place patients at risk of having their identities stolen. Forty-three patient names and seven of their Social Security numbers can be found in the tossed records, which include notes from counseling sessions that contain details of patients' personal lives. State will look into clinic Friedmann — who served 10 years in prisons and jail after being convicted of assault with intent to commit murder, armed robbery and attempted aggravated robbery — said his only plans for the records are to turn them over to regulatory agencies. Jill Hudson, a Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities spokeswoman, said the state is looking into the allegations. She said methadone clinics are required to hold on to patient records for 10 years and they must be destroyed before they are thrown away. Clinics that violate these practices face fines ranging from $500 to $5,000, Hudson said. Also, a complaint against the methadone clinic has been filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights, which enforces patient privacy laws. The civil rights office can't discuss complaints that are under investigation. But in general, once a complaint is filed the agency investigates, and if the complaint is founded, the agency will work with the provider to correct the problems. If the problems continue, the agency has the option to levy fines. Friedmann said it's especially egregious that the clinic failed to protect patient privacy because there is no other methadone clinic in this area. "Where else are they going to go?" Friedmann asked. "There is no other game in town." The building that houses the Middle Tennessee Treatment Center is co-owned by Gus Puryear IV, the Corrections Corporation of America's general counsel and a federal judicial nominee. Puryear has been accused by a former CCA employee of overseeing a practice that produced misleading reports about safety incidents at the company's prisons. The Private Corrections Institute has been an outspoken critic of Puryear's nomination.

June 26, 2008 Nashville Scene
Regarding the Scene’s cover story on CCA, “Locked and Loaded” (June 19), when it comes to prisons—particularly private prisons—the devil’s in the details. While the article was informative and wide-ranging, it missed some important details, including these: It wasn’t clear that there was a cover up of the assault on inmate James Ingram at CCA’s Hardeman County facility. The assault by Warden Turner occurred on May 17, 2007, but the Tennessee Department of Correction wasn’t notified until July 19—two months later. Nor were they notified by CCA; they learned about the incident from Ingram’s attorney. CCA staff had tried to hide the incident from state officials. CCA employees apparently have problems following the law. From February 2003 to April 2008, at least 55 CCA employees at three prisons in Tennessee (Hardeman County, Whiteville and South Central) were charged with criminal offenses—or an average of one a month. That doesn’t include arrests of CCA staff members at the company’s 62 other facilities. Gerald Townsend, the inmate at the CCA-Metro facility who was beaten to death by his cellmate in January, was the brother of Judy Townsend—who, ironically, was present at the same CCA-run facility in July 2004 when Estelle Richardson was found “unresponsive” in her segregation cell and later died. Four CCA guards were indicted in connection with her death, but the charges were later dropped. A $35,000 reward has been offered for information related to Estelle’s murder: See whokilledestelle.org. Alex Friedmann Vice President, Private Corrections Institute (and former CCA prisoner)

June 17, 2008 AlterNet
Gustavus "Gus" Puryear, head legal honcho for the nation's largest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), isn't the kind of guy who's accustomed to sitting in the hot seat, much less showing visible signs of discomfort. The kind of discomfort, say, that Puryear might have felt when he heard that up to $35,000 in cash reward money had been announced for information leading to the conviction of Estelle Richardson's murderer(s). Ten thousand dollars will go to anyone who can recover "missing" cell extraction video footage from within the CCA-operated Nashville prison where Estelle was found dead in her solitary confinement cell. The cash reward announcement came a couple of weeks after AlterNet ran the two-part investigative feature I wrote about the Estelle Richardson, and what any of the events surrounding her life and death has to do with Puryear's bid for federal judgeship. This money's quite real, and the offer is quite legitimate, although the actual donor has chosen to remain anonymous. Check it out for yourself at WhoKilledEstelle.org. The grassroots organizing front has picked up steam, as well, especially after Amy Goodman took interest in the story and brought me on Democracy Now! to discuss some of the particulars. Many readers and viewers have followed up by going to AgainstPuryear.org, run by a man named Alex Friedmann. [T]he judicial nomination of CCA general counsel Gus Puryear is largely in the toilet," Friedmann wrote to me in a recent e-mail, referring to an article from The Tennessean. Wow. When President Bush nominated him to a lifetime federal judicial appointment last year, it seemed to most people paying attention that he'd be confirmed without much fanfare or fuss. Puryear had always been a staunch GOP loyalist, but he wasn't the kind to rock the boat with public, proclamations about controversial issues. Instead, he proved himself to be the behind-the-scenes guy; the kind of guy, for example, who got a kick out of prepping Dick Cheney for the 2000 and 2004 vice-presidential debates. By the time he was nominated for the U.S. District Court judgeship. Puryear also proved himself to be a relentlessly corporate litigator whose loyalty to CCA's bottom line had been (and still is) handsomely rewarded. If it weren't for the fact that CCA brought in a corporate commando in 2001 by the name of John Ferguson (and that Ferguson decided to bring Puryear in to create a new, formidable legal fortress), CCA's scandal-ridden, stock-price-tanking, shareholder-suing mess would have surely have brought the entire company crashing to the ground. (Yes, CCA scandals are now more prevalent than ever, but so are the number people cycling in and out of prison. Where federal and state governments have run out of options, CCA and other prison privatizers have made in their business to make themselves indispensable.) With a net worth of $13 million (and climbing), the 39-yr-old Puryear didn't just show up with an old-money pedigree and a seemingly skeleton-free closet; he was able to turn it up a few notches as a quick-witted, nattily-attired, blue-eyed whippersnapper eager to play his part to freshen up a stale party image. And what better way to do so than to slip on a nice, roomy judge's robe and decide on the fate of people's lives? He was riding in the slipstream of the most reprehensible driver of the American prison machine, Sure, he hit a few small speed bumps along the way, and Estelle Richardson was one of those. I'm grateful that Friedmann wasn't willing to let her memory fade away. "But the fight isn't over yet," he cautions. "Puryear can still be confirmed anytime from now until January 2009. Since his nomination is presently on the ropes, it's time for a knock-out blow. If you or your organization haven't already done so, now is the time to contact the Senate Judiciary Committee and object to Puryear's pending nomination. I'll second that. www.againstpuryear.org. Estelle, I hope that you can rest in peace.

June 13, 2008 Tennessean
A year ago today, Gustavus "Gus" Puryear IV was nominated for a federal judgeship in Nashville and appeared headed to an easy confirmation. Now Puryear's confirmation seems unlikely. In addition to questions raised about his qualifications and actions as general counsel for Corrections Corporation of America, Puryear's fate is now caught in intense election-year battles between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate over lifetime judicial appointments. Senate Democrats are looking to approve as few of Republican President Bush's appointments as they can before his term expires, hoping Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois wins the presidency. Republicans did the same during the final months of the Democratic Clinton administration. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., a longtime member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which vets nominees, said at a committee hearing Thursday that this practice is simply the "fact of the matter." "It is legitimate," Biden said. "These are lifetime appointments." Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., said at the end of the hearing, which included approval of three judicial nominees, that no more judges would be confirmed unless there is agreement among him and ranking committee Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate. Even Tennessee's two Republican senators, who signed off on Puryear's nomination, acknowledge his confirmation is in trouble. "Gus Puryear is a qualified nominee who deserves an up-or-down vote in the Senate, and we're continuing to pursue every option to that end," Sen. Bob Corker said in a written statement. "The current atmosphere in the Senate makes his confirmation more difficult — not impossible, just increasingly more difficult as we approach the fall elections." Sen. Lamar Alexander said he was still hopeful. "But the Democrats have slowed confirmation of President Bush's nominees to a ridiculous extent," Alexander said in a recent interview. CCA spokesman Steve Owen, responding to a request for Puryear to comment, said the company has "no way of knowing what the outcome of the confirmation process will be. We continue to believe that Mr. Puryear would make an excellent federal judge. He has served the company admirably and with great integrity as general counsel." The Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Puryear's nomination in February but has not scheduled a vote on whether to send his name to the full Senate for a vote. Reasons cited by opponents as to why Puryear should not be confirmed include: a lack of trial and judicial experience, his role as chief lawyer for the country's largest private prison company, and the company's handling of the 2004 death of Estelle Richardson while she was in the Metro Detention Facility in Nashville. Among those opposing Puryear's confirmation are: The Alliance for Justice, an umbrella group of national civil rights and other organizations, Private Corrections Institute Inc., which opposes prison privatization and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

May 3, 2008 Tennessean
Several recent editorials, including an April 13 opinion piece by former Sen. Bill Frist, have expressed support for the federal judicial nomination of Gustavus A. Puryear IV, general counsel for Corrections Corp. of America (CCA). Mr. Frist decried political bickering over Mr. Puryear's nomination, and, indeed, it would be laudable if politics played no part in judicial selections. But as former Sen. Frist knows from his own partisan positions on judicial nominees, the process is rife with politics. In addition to having worked for Mr. Frist, Mr. Puryear was employed by Sen. Fred Thompson during an investigation into Democrat campaign finances. He also served as a debate adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, and has been described as a "Republican heavyweight." According to a 2004 report, 96 percent of the campaign contributions made by CCA, Mr. Puryear's employer, went to Republican candidates. So how is Mr. Puryear's nomination not political in nature? In fact, political payback is a reasonable explanation for why Mr. Puryear is now a judicial nominee. It certainly wasn't his trial or courtroom experience. By his own admission, Mr. Puryear has been personally involved in only four or five federal cases and has taken only two cases to trial over his entire legal career. He has never handled a federal appeal, and he has not personally litigated a case in the past decade. An April 28 article in the National Law Journal described Mr. Puryear's nomination as one of only two that have "vocal opposition." Where is that opposition coming from? Not from just one group, but from the National Lawyers Guild, the National Organization for Women, the National Council of Women's Organizations, AFSCME (one of the nation's largest labor unions, which represents public employees), the Alliance for Justice and other civil rights organizations. These varied groups would not take positions against Mr. Puryear's nomination if they did not have serious concerns as to whether he should serve on the federal bench. On the flip side, Mr. Puryear's supporters note that he received a "qualified" rating by the American Bar Association. However, during this Congressional term the ABA has rated 75 percent of judicial nominees as "well qualified"; thus, Mr. Puryear ranks in the bottom 25 percent. Further, almost all of Mr. Puryear's supporters have financial or business ties to his employer, CCA, either through stock ownership or client relationships. A CCA spokesperson has criticized opposition to Mr. Puryear's nomination as being part of a larger campaign against for-profit prisons. While his employment with CCA is one of many factors, the bottom line is that Mr. Puryear lacks the experience and qualifications necessary to serve as a federal judge, whether he works for CCA or any other company. In terms of politics, Mr. Puryear would be unqualified whether he was a Democrat or a Republican, or whether he was nominated by President Bush or former President Clinton. For more information about Mr. Puryear's contested judicial nomination, please visit www.againstpuryear.org. Alex Friedmann is vice president of the Private Corrections Institute, a nonprofit group that opposes prison privatization. He is also a former prisoner who served six years at a CCA-run facility in Tennessee before being released in 1999.

March 31, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
State lawmakers today will consider ordering an audit of two Corrections Corporation of America facilities in the wake of national media accounts alleging that the huge private prison company misrepresented statistical data to make it appear that CCA facilities had fewer violent acts and other problems than was actually the case. Hawai'i pays CCA more than $50 million a year to house more than 2,000 men and women convicts in CCA prisons in Arizona and Kentucky. Senate Bill 2342 calls for the State Auditor to conduct performance audits of two of the three Mainland prisons that house Hawai'i inmates, including reviews of the food, medical, drug treatment, vocational and other services provided to Hawai'i inmates. The audit also would scrutinize the way the state Department of Public Safety oversees the private prisons and enforces the terms of the state's contracts with CCA. According to the bill, "there has never been an audit of the private Mainland prisons that Hawai'i has contracted with to house the state's inmates, despite the fact that deaths and serious injuries have occurred at several of the contract prisons on the Mainland." Clayton Frank, director of the state Department of Public Safety, testified against the proposed audits in Senate hearings last month, calling the audits "unnecessary and repetitive" because his department already conducts quarterly audits to make sure CCA is complying with its contracts with the state. Frank also suggested his department was being singled out, arguing that if lawmakers want performance audits to provide more accountability and transparency to the public, "then it should apply to all state contracts and not be limited to just the Department of Public Safety." Critics of the Mainland prison contracts contend the audits are needed because the private prisons are for-profit ventures designed to keep costs as low as possible. During the decade that Hawai'i has housed inmates on the Mainland, the state itself has criticized private prison operators when the companies failed to provide Hawai'i inmates with programs that were required under the contract. Now, supporters of the audit bill say an independent review is necessary to scrutinize what is one of the state's largest ongoing contracts of any kind with a private vendor. "Are we getting what we pay for? We'd like to know," testified Jeanne Y. Ohta, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai'i. The audit would cover the 1,896-bed Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., which houses only male prisoners from Hawai'i, and the 656-bed Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., which holds about 175 Hawai'i women inmates. The House Finance Committee hearing on the bill today comes in the wake of Mainland media reports citing a former CCA manager who said he was required to produce misleading reports about incidents in CCA prisons. The company operates about 65 prisons with about 75,000 inmates. Time magazine interviewed former CCA senior quality assurance manager Ronald T. Jones, who said CCA General Counsel Gus Puryear IV ordered staff to classify sometimes violent incidents such as inmate disturbances, escapes and sexual assaults as if they were less serious events to make the company performance appear to be better than it was. Jones said more detailed reports about the prison incidents were prepared for internal CCA use, and were not released to clients. CCA denied the allegations, which Time published as Puryear is being considered for a post as a federal judge. The Private Corrections Institute Inc., an organization opposed to private prisons, wrote to Hawai'i prison officials urging them to investigate CCA's reporting procedures in the wake of the Time report. Alex Friedmann, vice president of the institute, said most state monitors who are overseeing CCA prisons "largely rely on information and data provided by CCA; further, the accuracy of incident reports is entirely dependent on whether those incidents are documented by the company's employees." Hawai'i Public Safety officials did not respond to requests for comment on the allegations in the Time article.

March 26, 2008 Tennessean
Add women’s rights groups to the list opposing the federal judicial nomination of Gus Puryear IV, the embattled general counsel for the Corrections Corporation of America. Puryear’s membership to Nashville’s Belle Meade County Club is under fire by the women’s rights organization who say women are unable to vote or hold office at the private golf club. National Organization of Women, the National Council for Women’s Organizations and the Women’s Equal rights Legal Defense and Education Fund have sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Puryear’s nomination ignited a debate whether the general counsel of CCA, the for-profit prison giant, is suited for the bench in light of allegations that he encouraged misleading incident reports. Private Corrections Institute, an advocacy group that opposes prison privatization, has been an outspoken critic of Puryear's nomination. The Alliance for Justice and the National Lawyers Guild are among the opposition. There’s also a website, www.againstpuryear.org, is part of the opposition campaign. The hearings were held last month and the committee has not voted on his nomination. President Bush nominated Puryear last June to serve as a federal judge for the Middle District of Tennessee.

March 20, 2008 Nashville Scene
The Scene’s article on Gus Puryear’s federal judicial nomination covered many of the bases but missed one important detail (“Elephant in the Room,” March 6). If people want to learn more about this inexperienced, less-than-qualified, conflicted and controversial Bush-nominated judicial candidate—and perhaps want to do something about it—they should visit the website againstpuryear.org. Otherwise the Scene did a great job. The issues related to the death of Estelle Richardson, Mr. Puryear’s lack of experience and conflicts of interest, his membership in the overwhelmingly white Belle Meade Country Club, which does not afford voting rights to women members, and Mr. Puryear’s employment with CCA (the nation’s largest for-profit prison firm) go far beyond partisan politics. Mr. Puryear would be unqualified whether he was a Democrat or a Republican, whether Bush or Clinton nominated him. He’s not qualified and not the right man for the job, which transcends politics (or at least should). For those who know Mr. Puryear, they may not know he is a man of contradictions. Contradictions between what he says and does and between the whole and entire truth. That isn’t a quality we want or need in a federal judge. The residents of Middle Tennessee deserve better, but they won’t get it unless they make their voices heard. ALEX FRIEDMANN VICE PRESIDENT, PRIVATE CORRECTIONS INSTITUTE

March 14, 2008 Nashville Scene
Once thought to be a sure thing, Gus Puryear's nomination to the federal bench is now in serious trouble. A devastating story published on Time magazine's website yesterday alleged that the young attorney whitewashed company reports in his role as corporate counsel for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). The story revolves around Ronald T. Jones, a former CCA prison manager described as a loyal Republican like the judicial nominee himself. Jones claims Puryear oversaw a reporting system in which the company basically lied to its public-sector clients, minimizing outbreaks of prison disturbances in the jails it operates. In theory at least, CCA is supposed to provide thorough and objective reports to the government agencies who have outsourced the management of its jails to the private company. But Jones says his ex-boss Puryear masked or omitted details that could result in litigation, fines or bad press. That aside, he behaved admirably. “When Puryear felt there was highly sensitive or potentially damaging information to CCA, I would then be directed to remove that information from an audit report,” Jones told Time.com. Today, The Tennessean published a well-reported front-page story that included additional details, including how in 2005 a CCA official once had the temerity to issue a memo with potentially damaging information about a prison incident. That led to a change in company policy—in which any reports to be made public had to be cleared by the office of the general counsel. The Private Corrections Institute, which has led the charge against Puryear, issued a press release calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to summon the nominee back to Washington for yet another hearing. The group may well get its wish. It's been a dismal week for Puryear—right as he tries to explain his membership in the historically discriminatory Belle Meade Country Club, he now will likely have to defend himself against serious charges of turning CCA’s cold, hard facts into creative fiction. It's still possible for Puryear to survive this latest onslaught of bad press and go on to become a good judge. But considering how much trouble he's had so far convincing people he's up for the job, couldn't the Bush administration have just plucked someone else? There are plenty of intelligent Republican attorneys in Nashville. How many of them have Puryear's baggage?

March 14, 2008 Tennessean
A former Corrections Corporation of America manager is accusing the company's general counsel and federal judicial nominee Gus Puryear IV of overseeing a practice that produced misleading reports about safety incidents at its prisons. Ronald T. Jones, who until last year worked as a senior manager in quality assurance at the Nashville-based prison operator, said that Puryear directed him and other staff to classify incidents such as escapes, unnatural deaths and disturbances as less serious to make its performance look better in reports to government agency clients. Reports prepared for internal use, meanwhile, included more details about the specific incidents, Jones said. Private Corrections Institute, an advocacy group that opposes prison privatization and has been an outspoken critic of Puryear's nomination, Thursday urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold another round of hearings at which Jones could testify and Puryear be asked more questions about his actions. "Alternatively, we support the position of not bringing Mr. Puryear's judicial nomination forward for a committee vote," said Alex Friedmann, a former inmate at a CCA prison and the group's vice president. At a Feb. 12 hearing before the Judiciary Committee, Puryear faced tough questions on the 2004 death of a woman at the Metro Detention Facility, possible conflict of interest with cases involving CCA and its executives that are often filed in Middle Tennessee District, where he would serve, and his membership in the exclusive Belle Meade Country Club. In response, Puryear said that he would recuse himself for at least five years from all cases involving CCA and its executives: said there were disagreements among medical experts about what happened in the death of Estelle Richardson at the detention facility; and promised to resign from Belle Meade if he found its membership policies violated the code of judicial ethics. Committee staff said any action on Puryear's nomination is unlikely until April at the earliest. The committee has no more business meetings this week and Congress is on Easter break for the next two weeks. The Judiciary Committee usually does not hold additional hearings with the nominee and other witnesses. Instead, the senators rely on written responses to questions and the transcript of the original hearing when discussing and voting on a nominee. Puryear couldn't be reached last night for comment. CCA denies allegations -- Louise Grant, a CCA spokeswoman, called Jones' allegations inaccurate and added that it paints a false picture of CCA's quality assurance process and of Puryear's role. "We question the motives of this former employee, who was not in a leadership position in quality assurance and resigned in lieu of termination," Grant added. "If our interest was in under-reporting or not finding quality issues, we simply would not have created this (quality assurance) department or its programs in the first place." Jones denies that he faced termination at CCA. He now lives in Detroit and said he left CCA to pursue a legal career. He said in his job he was responsible for tracking information on events such as unusual deaths, disturbances and audit findings and that the misleading practices began in early 2005, when the quality assurance department was put under Puryear as general counsel. A CCA staff member in 2005 provided a report containing potentially damaging information about an incident at a prison to a government client without corporate approval, Jones said. That incident, according to Jones, led to a new policy in which any reports that could be made public needed to be cleared by the office of the general counsel. "Mr. Puryear then directed me, and other quality assurance department staff who process audit report finding, to create two reports for distribution of audit findings," Jones wrote in a statement sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I would prepare one report with all of the audit findings and auditor comments in it for "internal purposes only" and a separate more generic report that contained only general information about audit results as a whole." In a separate interview with The Tennessean, Jones added that the more information that could potentially damage the company if it was released publicly, the more that its operations and financial status could be affected. In the corrections industry, the number of incidents such as prison escapes, riots, and sexual assaults are among variables often used to determine bonuses for employees from wardens to chief executives, industry observers said. If a prison contract provides for a bonus, such incidents also would be taken into account by a client government agency in determining the award. CCA is required to file reports with the state on incidents such as inmate-on-inmate assaults or inmate-on-staff assaults, disturbances and a daily census of inmates at its prisons that house state inmates, said Dorinda Carter, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Corrections. The department has onsite contract monitors and other designated employees at the prisons that report daily on incidents and another division that conducts annual audits of the CCA prisons, she said. "We feel pretty sure that we're finding out about incidents as they happen," Carter said. She added that CCA is required to follow the same policies as the 13 prisons run by the state and that officials are confident in their monitoring of the company.

March 7, 2008 Tennessean
Long list of problems exists in use of CCA By ALEX FRIEDMANN Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest for-profit prison firm, has a history in Tennessee that dates back to 1983. It hasn't always been a proud history, though. Last May, the warden of CCA's Hardeman County facility assaulted an inmate who was in restraints. The warden resigned, was prosecuted and pled guilty. The prison's internal affairs officer was charged with an unrelated assault. On July 30, 2007, a riot occurred at CCA's South Central Correctional Center in Wayne County. The company's tactical officers responded; however, there was a delay when they tried to enter the housing units because no one had the gate keys. On Jan. 14, 2008, an inmate at the CCA-run Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility was beaten to death by his cellmate. Also, a prisoner escaped from CCA's Metro jail. CCA initially didn't know he had absconded on Feb. 16. Those are just the latest in a long line of assaults, escapes, inmate and employee deaths, and riots at CCA facilities in Tennessee. Most people don't care because they don't have a private prison in their backyard. That will soon change for residents of Trousdale County, where CCA plans to build a 2,040-bed detention center. Type of jobs an issue  -- Proponents cite the estimated 350 jobs the prison will bring. But what kind of jobs? According to internal CCA documents, as recently as October 2007, guards at the Hardeman County prison were paid a starting wage of $9.41 an hour; after two years, they were earning less than $10.25. An administrative clerk at the prison was hired at $7.67 per hour. CCA's supporters also point to taxes and fees the company will pay. Those payments are partially offset by other costs, such as $6 million in water and sewage upgrades that Trousdale County will make in preparation for the prison. In at least two cases, in Ohio and Texas, CCA was sued over tax breaks and failure to pay taxes owed. In another case, CCA sued the state of New Mexico in an attempt to recover $2.5 million in tax payments. A 2003 report titled, "Big Prisons, Small Towns," found that incarceration is a poor form of economic development. Once a city becomes a "prison town" other industries are less likely to move in, making the community dependent on the facility for income — and in the case of a private prison, at the mercy of the company that owns it. Last month, CCA threatened to remove inmates from one of the company's prisons in Colorado if the state didn't increase its payments. After a for-profit facility is filled, the contracting government agencies can be held captive to rate increases or other demands, as they have nowhere else to put their prisoners. The residents of Trousdale County may be stuck with a private prison despite the objections of concerned community members whose repeated requests for a public hearing were denied. Those who favor the CCA facility will deserve exactly what they get.

March 5, 2008 Tennessean
The accuracy of testimony by Gustavus "Gus'' Puryear IV at his confirmation hearing to be a federal judge is being questioned by four Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Puryear is general counsel of Nashville-based private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America and was nominated by Republican President Bush. After the February hearing, he provided written answers to additional questions about the company's handling of the death of an inmate at a company-run facility in Nashville, potential conflicts of interest he would face as a judge and his membership in the Belle Meade Country Club. The sometimes-pointed questions and Puryear's responses again raise the stakes in his confirmation. Once thought to be routine, Puryear's nomination is being fought by a coalition of civil rights, labor and other groups spearheaded by the Private Corrections Institute, which opposes prison privatization. Puryear's responses were released Thursday. Inmate death testimony -- Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, along with Sens. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Dianne Feinstein of California and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin questioned the testimony Puryear gave last month about the 2004 death of Estelle Richardson. Richardson died at the Metro Detention Facility after she was forcibly removed from her solitary confinement cell by four guards. She had a fractured skull, broken ribs and liver damage. The state's medical examiner ruled the death a homicide and the four guards were charged, but the indictments eventually were dropped. Later, a civil suit brought by Richardson's family was settled out of court when experts representing the family and the CCA concluded the skull fracture occurred before she was extracted from her cell. At his Feb. 12 hearing, Puryear testified it was not clear how Richardson received her head injuries and that they could have been self-inflicted. He said CPR done in an attempt to revive Richardson could have caused her broken ribs and liver damage. All four senators questioned that testimony, citing a letter sent to the committee from Dr. Bruce Levy, Tennessee's chief medical examiner, who conducted the autopsy on Richardson. He reiterated that the death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma that was not self-inflicted. Levy called "misleading at best'' Puryear's comment about CPR causing injuries. Puryear responded by citing a letter to the committee from David Smith, attorney for the Richardson family, who wrote that the "the circumstances and causes of Ms. Richardson's tragic death were complex and debated ... our own experts attributed the death to a seizure.'' "There were also issues on whether CPR may have caused the liver and rib injuries,'' Smith wrote. Puryear said the company's expert, Dr. William McCormick, former deputy chief medical examiner for Tennessee, wrote that the rib and liver injuries were "almost certainly'' caused by CPR and cited medical research to back his claim. Promises made -- Puryear expanded on a promise made during testimony that he would recuse himself for at least five years from CCA cases and would also not take on personal cases involving company executives. He said at the hearing he also would sell all of his CCA stock. Puryear also wrote that he would resign from the Belle Meade Country Club if he discovered that the club's membership practices violated the judicial code of conduct. Kennedy wrote that the club did not allow blacks to join until 1994 and does not give women the right to vote on club business. Puryear said there are no women who are "resident members,'' the class allowed to vote, but that he knows of no policy that restricts women from being recommended for that category. "I am not aware ... that any woman has been proposed or has sought to be proposed as a 'resident member,' " he said. Judiciary Committee spokesman Erica Chabot said the committee would likely not deal with the nomination until April at the earliest because members may want to ask follow-up questions and Congress is out of session the last two weeks of March. The full Senate must confirm the nomination once it is out of committee.

February 21, 2008 AP
A private prison company executive nominated to become a federal judge has run into a determined opponent — a former inmate. President Bush in June nominated Gustavus A. Puryear IV, chief lawyer with Corrections Corporation of America, to become a U.S. district judge in Nashville. That led Alex Friedmann, who spent six years at the company's prison in Clifton, Tenn., to investigate Puryear's qualifications. He looked up every case where Puryear was listed on the docket as counsel. The prisoner-turned-inmate advocate found only five instances where Puryear was the attorney of record. By his count and Puryear's, the judicial nominee has been involved in only two federal court trials during his career. That's just one more case than Friedmann himself has handled in federal court. Convinced that the well-connected Puryear was unqualified to be a federal judge and might face a conflict of interest overseeing litigation involving his former employer, Friedmann began a public relations campaign against the nomination that led all the way to the Senate. He formed the group Tennesseans Against Puryear and enlisted the help of the liberal Washington-based Alliance for Justice and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, both of which sent letters opposing the appointment. Puryear, a 1993 graduate of the University of North Carolina law school, didn't respond to several phone and e-mail requests left at his home and office for an interview with The Associated Press. At a Feb. 12 hearing of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., questioned Puryear about several issues originally raised by Friedmann and the nonprofit Private Corrections Institute, a group opposing private prisons that Friedmann helps run. Puryear told the Senate committee he already was selling off his stock in the company, according to reports in The Tennessean newspaper. He owned CCA shares valued at just under $1.3 million as of Feb. 1, according to Lionshares.com, an online database of stock ownership. He also pledged to recuse himself from cases involving CCA even after he no longer holds a financial interest. The committee also questioned Puryear about whether the volume of lawsuits against Nashville-based CCA — the nation's largest for-profit private prison company — would burden other judges who would have to hear the cases when Puryear recused himself. Puryear said it would not be a significant burden. Friedmann's campaign against Puryear continues. He plans to send a letter to the Committee on the Judiciary pointing out what he contends are inaccuracies in Puryear's answers. The two men have never met. Although Friedmann learned of the nomination because he keeps tabs on CCA, he insists his crusade is based on Puryear's lack of qualification and not because he's a CCA executive. Friedmann sued CCA and several employees in 1996 while incarcerated for six years for armed robbery. Serving as his own lawyer, Friedmann eventually won a $6,000 judgment against a former prison unit manager for a civil rights violation. Puryear's legal resume includes significant political work — serving as counsel to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and junior counsel during the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs Committee investigation of campaign finance abuse led by former Sen. Fred Thompson. He also was a debate adviser for Dick Cheney in 2000. Stefanie Lindquist, an associate professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, said courtroom experience is good but not essential for federal judge nominees. She sees more significance in the American Bar Association rating of Puryear as "qualified," instead of "well qualified" to be a judge. "A 'qualified' rating is relatively weak. That's going to hurt him," Lindquist said. Lindquist said Friedmann's efforts are unusual for even temporarily disrupting what should be a routine confirmation. There are about 180 Bush nominations pending as the administration and Democratic-controlled Senate tangle over some sharply contested nominees. Of the Puryear nomination, Lindquist said: "If there are other, more controversial nominees, this might slide through as a compromise."

February 20, 2008 Mother Jones
In October 2000, Dick Cheney faced off for a debate with Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman. The 60-year-old Cheney appeared comfortable discussing the ins and outs of policy and made good-natured jokes about Lieberman's singing abilities, or lack thereof. Cheney's smooth performance reflected his many years in public service. But the aspiring vice president also had a strong debate-preparation team made up of longtime friends and GOP loyalists. Among them was Gustavus Adolphus Puryear IV, a legislative director for Tennessee senator Bill Frist, who was on contract with the Bush/Cheney campaign. Puryear apparently did such a good job prepping Cheney that he was called in again in 2004 to help him gear up for his debate with Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards. Puryear's efforts on behalf of the Bush administration paid off last June when the president nominated him to be a federal trial court judge for the Middle District of Tennessee. Puryear certainly isn't the first judicial nominee selected primarily for his political service, but still, his resume is remarkably thin on the practice of law, a basic prerequisite even for the best-connected political hacks. Puryear got his start in politics in the mid-1990s working as counsel to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, then chaired by Fred Thompson, as it investigated the Clinton fundraising scandals. From there he went to work for Frist. Beyond a brief stint in private practice for a corporate law firm when he was fresh out of law school, Puryear has spent more time inside an executive suite than a courtroom. And it's that corporate work that makes him an especially questionable candidate for the federal bench. Puryear was in Washington last week for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Senators Arlen Specter (D.-Pa,) and Dianne Feinstein (D.-Ca.) both put his resume under a microscope, noting his conspicuous lack of trial experience. At one point Specter asked him point blank, "How many cases have you actually tried?" To which Puryear answered: Two. Indeed, according to his written questionnaire for the committee, of the two cases he has tried in the entirety of his legal career, he was lead counsel on one of them. The last time he litigated a case in federal court was more than a decade ago. Puryear has spent the bulk of his legal career at the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest private prison company. As its general counsel since 2001, Puryear has made millions of dollars working for a company that profits from the country's incarceration boom, particularly through his recent sale of more than $3 million worth of the company's stock. (His financial disclosure form shows a net worth of more than $13 million.) His employer creates enormous conflicts for Puryear as a potential federal judge, as the CCA gets sued all the time, often in the very district where he hopes to preside as judge. Since 2000, roughly 260 cases have been filed in that court against the CCA, its officers, and subsidiaries. In addition, Puryear's current job involves overseeing the CCA's defense against inmate litigation, a prison staple that he has publicly dismissed as a nuisance, even though such litigation has led to significant verdicts and settlements against the company. For instance, in 2000, a South Carolina jury hit the CCA with a $3 million verdict for abusing juveniles. Other successful suits have alleged that the company's employees abused inmates and provided negligent medical care. Yet in a quote he no doubt now regrets, in 2004 Puryear said that, "Litigation is an outlet for inmates. It's something they can do in their spare time." Inmate lawsuits typically account for more than 10 percent of the docket in Tennessee's Middle District, meaning that Puryear will see his share of them if he gets confirmed. During his confirmation hearing last week, Puryear told the committee that he would recuse himself from any cases involving the CCA—at least, he said, for some time after he's divested all of his stock in the company. He dismissed concerns about his conflict of interest by noting that the CCA cases make up a small part of the court's workload and that his recusals would not create problems for the other judges. But his promises to recuse still don't get to the heart of a fundamental conflict: To the CCA, inmates are a revenue stream warehoused at the cheapest price. This not exactly the view of the criminal justice system you want from a judge if you are a defendant. A trial court judge in Tennessee's Middle District can expect to handle more than 60 criminal cases a year. Every person Puryear sends to prison is a potential money-maker for his former employer, which contracts with the federal government to manage 15 detention facilities, and also holds federal prisoners in other CCA institutions that house state and local prisoners when the need arises, according to Steve Owen, the company's director of marketing and communications. The number of inmates coming from Tennessee may be relatively small, but still, it seems fair to ask whether Puryear's conflict of interest runs so deep that he might have to recuse himself from criminal cases entirely. Thus far, Puryear has largely escaped media scrutiny, as the activist groups that monitor the federal courts tend to focus mostly on appellate courts and the occasional Supreme Court battle rather than on trial court nominees. Puryear's CV also doesn't signal fights on many of the hot-button social issues that usually set off a confirmation battle. He doesn't sound—or look—like Robert Bork. He's young, patrician, a model member of the exclusive Belle Meade Country Club, and director of the Antiques & Garden Show of Nashville. But for his deep voice he could be Niles on "Frasier." Nonetheless, Puryear might be in for an unexpected fight, due in part to his decision to publicly dis jailhouse lawyers. Alex Friedmann was one of those jailhouse lawyers. He spent six years inside one of the CCA's prisons in Tennessee for attempted murder and armed robbery. Friedmann actually sued the CCA while incarcerated for retaliating against him for his comments to a reporter for The Nation. Representing himself, he took another case all the way to a jury trial, where he mostly lost, though he won a default judgment against a former unit manager. He also appealed a different case against the state, over censorship, that went all the way to the Sixth Circuit court of appeals where he won. "In that regard, I'm more qualified than [Puryear] is," he observes, noting that Puryear isn't even admitted to practice in the Sixth Circuit. Now out of prison nine years, Friedmann is an editor for Prison Legal News, which is how he first learned about Puryear's nomination. After doing a little checking on him, Friedmann ran across Puryear's quote about inmate litigation, which didn't sit too well with him, and he set out to torpedo Puryear's nomination. As a former CCA inmate and a board member of a Florida nonprofit group that opposes prison privatization, Friedmann readily admits that he's not a disinterested party in the nomination battle. Nonetheless, his political instincts are sound. He is cobbling together a coalition to oppose Puryear's nomination, including the American Federal State and Municipal Employees Union, which opposes private prisons for their anti-labor positions. Friedmann's currently at work trying to enlist the real powerhouse of liberal judicial activists to join the coalition: women's groups. Friedmann has compiled stats from the federal court docket on the CCA's lawsuit history in order to highlight the potential conflicts of interest Puryear might face, and he picked apart Puryear's resume and his responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questions last week. For instance, when pressed on his view of criminal defendants and prison inmates, Puryear pointed to his service as a commissioner on the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. Skeptical, Friedmann checked out Puryear's attendance record with the commission. He says the commission held eight public hearings between 2005 and 2007—and Puryear missed at least four of them. "If the gentleman does have a genuine concern about inmates, why did he miss half the meetings?" he asks. Friedmann is also raising significant questions about Puryear's response to questions about the death of a female inmate at the CCA's facility in Nashville. The medical examiner ruled that 34-year-old Estelle Richardson was beaten to death while in the company's custody. She suffered a skull fracture, broken ribs, and liver damage. Prosecutors indicted four CCA guards in 2005, but later dropped the charges after being unable to determine the time of death. So far, no one has been held responsible for Richardson's death, although the CCA settled a private lawsuit filed by her family. When Sen. Feinstein asked Puryear about the case, Puryear disputed the medical examiner's findings and claimed that Richardson's death might not have been a homicide at all. He suggested that the broken ribs and liver injury may have been caused by CPR. It's "common" for people to suffer such injuries from CPR, Puryear said, to which a dumbfounded Feinstein exclaimed, "Common?" Apparently not satisfied with Puryear's answers, Feinstein asked him to provide the committee with further written information about the case. Meanwhile, after the hearing, Friedmann called the Tennessee medical examiner who worked the case, who he says reaffirmed the original finding that Robinson's death was a homicide and that there was nothing to suggest her injuries were caused by resuscitation efforts. Friedmann also spoke with the lawyers who represented Richardson's family and he says that they told him that the CCA never raised CPR injuries as a defense in the litigation. Puryear's comments to the committee, says Freidmann, are "not supported by the medical record," which makes him skeptical about Puryear's judgment as a lawyer—and his credibility. Friedmann seems to recognize that prison inmates are not the stuff of judicial confirmation fights, so he has also homed in on another issue that might provide more traction, not to mention the interest of powerful women's groups: Puryear's country club. The tony Belle Meade Country Club in Nashville is so exclusive that you have to be a member just to access its website. It didn’t admit a single black member until 1994, a racist history so potent that even Puryear's mentor, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, quit the club in 1993 when he first ran for office. While Belle Meade admits women, Friedmann has heard that it still won't give "lady members" voting rights. (Troy Cunningham, the controller of the club for the past 17 years, wouldn’t respond to questions about women's voting rights, saying that "all questions flow through the members," meaning that someone will have to put the question to Puryear himself.) But if Friedmann can stir up controversy over Puryear's country club membership, he might actually have a shot at scuttling his nomination.

February 19, 2008 Muskogee Phoenix
Warner County, Oklahoma CCA February 19, 2008 Muskogee Phoenix Numerous university studies from Washington State and Ohio State, Iowa State, Kentucky and Kentucky State, and from the Sentencing Project think tank conclude otherwise. Studies include Susan E. Blankenship and Ernest J. Yanarella, “Prison Recruitment as a Policy Tool of Local Economic Development: A Critical Evaluation;” Ryan Scott King, Marc Mauer and Tracy Huling, “An Analysis of the Economics of Prison Siting in Rural Communities;” Terry L. Besser and Margaret M. Hanson, “The Development of Last Resort: The Impact of New State Prisons on Small Town Economies” (www.privateci.org/private_pics/Prison%20Impact%20Report.doc). For-profits pay shameful wages and have staggering employee turnover, 52 percent annually at last admission. Last month a Texas for-profit prison manager told me they pay new guards $7 an hour. (In 2006, the Corrections Corporation of America CEO made $22.5 million.) Due to contractual difficulties, private prisons at Hinton and Sayre were closed from months to years with massive layoffs, leaving hosting communities reeling. An annual California survey indicates for-profits have 30 times the escape rate of public prisons. Tulsa World files recount 19 escapes and mistaken releases between 2000 and 2005, when local facilities were finally taken back from for-profit operators. A 1998 Hinton escape caused Oklahoma’s DOC to fine Cornell Corrections $304,000. In 2007, Hinton escapees kidnapped a 71-year-old local woman hostage, taking a second elderly woman hostage 50 miles away in Oklahoma City, apparently before the fleeing convicts were even missed. They were captured in Tulsa. Riots in CCA Oklahoma prisons in 2003, 2004 and 2005 included murder. CCA had massive riots in other states during the four months following the 2003 Watonga riot. Hardin, Mont., officials are seeking relief after hosting a $27 million speculative prison development without prospects of it ever holding a single prisoner. Bonds payments are rapidly coming due. Corporate music men may sing sweet songs, but Warner really needs to turn a deaf ear upon them. Frank Smith, national field organizer, Private Corrections Institute www.privateci.org Bluff City, Kan.

December 16, 2007 Star-Banner
Thoughts of suicide began to form in James Johnson's mind. He felt nauseous. He couldn't sleep. He was confused. "Please give me my Paxil," he begged the jail's corrections officers. Johnson, 50, had been booked into the Marion County Jail in March on a charge of driving with a suspended driver's license. It wasn't his first time. This time, though, he was charged as a habitual offender and held without bail. He admits he was at fault. What he didn't understand then - or now - is why the jail's medical staff refused to give him the legally prescribed medications he had taken for years for his clinical depression, including the anti-depressant Paxil, an anti-psychotic called Seroquel and the sedative Trazodone. "The psych nurse came to me and said, 'You're not going to get this medication,'" Johnson said in a recent interview. "I said I'd get violently ill." And so he did. He began throwing up. He grew increasingly agitated. Nurses wrote in his medical records, day after day, that he was asking for his medication; that Johnson was "doubled over in anguish evidenced by facial expressions"; that he was making suicidal statements. His father, James Johnson Sr, called the jail to share his fears that his son was "very suicidal." He was taken in and out of a suicide prevention cell. At one point, he sat on the floor and began to pray with his cellmates. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters. Johnson's son, Jordan, said an off-duty corrections officer called and pleaded with him to do something. "She was in tears and she said I need to get my dad out and get him a lawyer. She said they were torturing him," Jordan recalled. As Johnson's pleas for help went unanswered, he became more desperate. By the seventh day, he was wailing and flinging himself headlong into the concrete walls hoping to either lose consciousness or alert the guards to the depth of his agony. "He started going crazy in front of my eyes," said Kyle Morrill, one of his cellmates. "I woke up in the middle of the night and he was running from one side of the cell and banging his head on the other side." Johnson's frightened cellmates begged officers to do something - anything - to relieve his suffering. But nothing changed. So when officers opened Johnson's cell on the 10th day after his arrest, he bolted up a nearby stairway and leapt off the balcony, crashing onto the hard floor 14 feet below and shattering his right leg. That jump earned him a trip to the hospital, where a psychiatrist put him back on an anti-depressant and painkillers and sent him back to jail. Johnson eventually was released after 90 days on the same combination of medication he was on before he was incarcerated: an anti-depressant, an anti-psychotic and a sedative. His son said Johnson looked like a zombie the day he walked out of the jail. And Johnson says for the first time he's dealing with a new manifestation of his illness - paranoia. A SICK HEALTH SYSTEM? Johnson's harrowing story isn't unique to the Marion County Jail, or for that matter, to many jails across the country. Correctional health care is complex, costly and politicized. And many times it is outsourced to large private companies. Critics say the profit motive that drives these companies leads them to cut corners on inmate care to save money and keep their investors happy. Prison Health Services, Inc., a Brentwood, Tennessee-based private company, has been providing medical care at the Marion County Jail for the past two years. As one of the largest providers of correctional health care in the nation, PHS is a frequent target of complaints about the quality of the care it provides. Just last week the company was sued by a Volusia County family accusing PHS of failing to provide suitable medical cSince PHS has been at the Marion County Jail, many inmates and their families say injuries often go untreated, serious medical conditions go undiagnosed and inmates are routinely denied necessary medications, even with a legal prescription. During a seven-month inquiry, the Star-Banner spoke to nearly a dozen inmates, reviewed hundreds of pages of medical records and invited medical experts not affiliated with the jail to review the policies and procedures of PHS. The newspaper found: * PHS is often reluctant to prescribe medication to mentally ill inmates. Some, like Johnson, arrive with legally prescribed medications, but are taken off of them. PHS officials say that's a part of "evaluation and observation during a period of abstinence from illicit drugs and alcohol." Some medical and legal critics call the practice irresponsible or even unethical, and say it's more about saving money on prescription medications than about performing a sound medical evaluation. PHS says the allegations aren't true, and that like all health care providers, including public and private hospital systems, it works to improve efficiencies and manage costs to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. * Twenty-five inmates have died while in the jail's custody in the past five years, including six who took their own lives. By comparison, Orange, Palm Beach and Pinellas counties, all of which have populations at least three times that of Marion County, have similar jail death figures. During the period from 2000 through 2005, the Orange County Jail reported 21 deaths, Palm Beach reported 25 deaths, and Pinellas reported 28 deaths, while Marion had 20 deaths in that same period, according the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County reported 89 deaths, and Broward reported 49 deaths. Sheriff Ed Dean attributes the deaths here to the graying of the jail population and the fact that many people who come to jail have life-threatening illnesses. "Any death in jail is one too many," he said. "What we need to do is do anything possible to extend life, but only the giver of life knows when their time comes." No formal link has been shown between the deaths in Marion County and the care provided by PHS. Herman Tucker's death, however, is one that his family blames on the lack of appropriate treatment provided by PHS. Tucker was arrested at a local mental health facility in 2002 for attacking a doctor. At the Marion County Jail, he received a cocktail of drugs to subdue him, but no treatment. Deputies shocked Tucker with a Taser, pepper-sprayed him and bound him to a chair. Thirty-six days after his arrest, they found him unresponsive on the floor of his jail cell, his esophagus filled with half-chewed food. He was pronounced dead a short while later. The cause of death was asphyxiation. His family is now suing PHS, jail staff and Sheriff Ed Dean for what it says is criminalization of mental illness. * Many of the jail's medical staff and guards are skeptical of inmates' medical complaints, because some inmates fake symptoms for a variety of reasons. As a result, though, legitimate health complaints sometimes are overlooked or ignored. Anita Lesner, who was jailed in April 2007 for fraud charges, began showing symptoms of a debilitating neurological disease and lost her ability to walk. Jail staffers called her a faker and put her in suicide prevention when she wouldn't stop crying. Shortly after her release, she was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a severe nerve disorder. * PHS has been the subject of numerous lawsuits. Private Corrections Institute, a Florida-based nonprofit devoted to highlighting the pitfalls of privatization of correctional institutions, keeps rap sheets on companies like PHS, documenting allegations and lawsuits from around the nation, ranging from Alabama to Florida to Maryland. And the attorney general waged an unsuccessful campaign to keep PHS from working in New York State. * No state health agency oversees the medical operation of jails, mainly due to budget cuts. Although there are a variety of accreditations and standards that spell out minimum requirements for medical operations, critics say most of them are just paperwork and policy standards, not performance audits for care. The sheriff says he knew of the PHS checkered track record when he agreed to a contract with the company two years ago and said he added two extra layers of oversight: an independent contract monitor, and a medical doctor to go over PHS operations regularly. PILLS AND PROFITS The sheriff decided not to renew that contract earlier this year because he could only offer a 2.6 percent increase in the health care budget for next year and PHS was seeking a 6 percent increase. Dean insists the decision to part ways with PHS was a strictly financial one and that inmate care was not an issue. And both Dean and PHS insist that ailing inmates receive adequate care and dismiss allegations of poor medical treatment. PHS officials, however, would not agree to be interviewed for this story. The company would only respond to questions submitted in writing. Dean said in a recent interview that PHS provided community standards of care, and he had in place several layers of oversight. "Perfect health care does not exist," Dean said. "With 16,000 inmates going through MCJ [each year], you'll have issue where someone missed a diagnosis." Neither PHS nor the sheriff would answer questions about individual inmates' medical care. For example, why would an inmate like James Johnson with a medically diagnosed mental illness be denied prescribed medication? Critics say the answer is as simple as dollars and cents. "The biggest problem is that often the profit motive gets in the way of providing medical care," said Randall Berg Jr., executive director of Florida Justice Institute in Miami. Berg's experience with PHS began more than two decades ago, when the company was one of the first private correctional medical providers to come to Florida. "My first experience dealt with [PHS's] refusal to provide medication to an indigent inmate ... since then I've sued them a number of times for failing to provide needed care," Berg said. Johnson's attorney, David Kerce of Daytona Beach, is also suing PHS, alleging the company failed to administer psychotropic medication. Kerce represented eight inmates in Volusia County in a class-action lawsuit, alleging they, too, were denied their psychotropic medication. A federal judge dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning it could be refiled, but Kerce doubts the families involved could afford to hire an expert or a doctor to examine their cases individually. He said he will pursue Johnson's case because Johnson suffered a physical injury. "Pulling patients off medication is not acceptable and Hager has a history of it," Kerce said of Dr. David Hager, a psychiatrist who serves the Marion County Jail and also the Volusia County Branch Jail. "From my understanding, it's just not safe. You've got to step them down." Johnson, for instance, was told by the jail's medical staff that he had to go through a "30-day wash" period and that's why he was taken off of his medication. PHS says the term is not accurate. And there is no documentation of it in Johnson's records. Two independent psychiatrists, one of whom reviewed Johnson's records, said cutting patients off of their psychotropic medications is not common practice. "Most commonly, antidepressants are discontinued in a step-wise fashion so as to avoid 'withdrawal' symptoms, such as increased anxiety, depression, etc.," wrote Dr. Louis W. Solomon, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida in an e-mail. He did not review Johnson's records. He added that a psychiatric examination is used to determine whether medications should be changed. Johnson never received such an examination at the time he was booked and taken off of his medication. Dr. Hager, who agreed to respond to the Star-Banner's questions via e-mail, wrote: "The '30-day washout period' has become an overused and misunderstood catchphrase. It refers to the process of evaluation and observation during a period of abstinence from illicit drugs and alcohol. It is not a rigid 30 days. It may be more or less depending on each patient's situation and does not apply to every patient referred to the mental health team. The determination to apply a washout period is fully dependent upon gathering reliable information and observations, including our ability to obtain outside medical and pharmacy records." Hager referred to the American Psychiatric Association's Practice Guidelines and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th. Edition, or DSM-IV, which requires that patients be clean of drug addiction so that the provider can make accurate diagnoses of major psychiatric syndromes such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. Johnson's records do not show that he was using illicit drugs. Dr. Don Sherry, a psychiatrist who practices here, said he doesn't suddenly cut off his patients' medication. He said even if Johnson had been taking illicit drugs, he could have been kept on his psychotropic medication. "This is [Hager's] standard of practice, and it's fine, as long as he doesn't hurt people," Sherry said. "[As a doctor] you have authority, but you also have the responsibility ... this jail psychiatrist is hurting people by doing things his way." NO SIMPLE CURE Even critics of PHS and other private correctional services say there is no simple solution to the problem of providing adequate medical care to inmates. Sherry has a motto: "Cheap ain't good; good ain't cheap." "When you start putting profit motive ahead of medical care, medical care becomes bad," he said. But with tight budgets, counties don't have many good options for jail health care. "You've got people who haven't taken care of themselves and have to be taken care of, and you just can't let them die. And they're a burden for the taxpayer," said Ken Kopczynski of Private Corrections Institute, a Florida-based nonprofit organization that opposes the for-profit private corrections industry. "The county commission looks and sees it getting expensive, so they go to private groups, because their price is lower. But not only do they have to look at care, but also profit for shareholders. And that's no way to operate the jail." While health care is an inmate's legal right, most people in jails and prisons are poor, lack education, have high rates of mental illness and chronic illness and are frequently substance abusers or addicts. Many are uninsured and have not seen a doctor or dentist for years. "Rarely you find someone who has one illness. Providing service to these individuals is complex and costly, because they haven't received quality health care. And it's expensive, outside and inside the prison," said Dr. Melvin Delgado, author of the 2006 book Health and Healthcare in Prison. In addition, prescribing medication to inmates is not a quick process, because inmates are not allowed to use the medication they bring in to the jail. "[Jail staff] don't know what the medication is. They didn't hand it to the person, so its puts them in a Catch-22. They should have the doctor to say 'yes, they are psychotic and need XYZ,'" said Kopczynski. Meanwhile, many people have little sympathy for those behind bars. "Inmates don't have a very large advocacy group, or lobbying group. Nobody is clamoring at the sheriff's door to provide better care to inmates," said Paul Sheehan, chief operating officer of Community-Oriented Correctional Health Services, a nonprofit group whose mission is to help correctional facilities use local resources for providing medical care. The U.S. adult correctional population - incarcerated or on some form of community control - reached 7.2 million, increasing by 159,500 this year, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics announced earlier this month. About 3.2 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 1 in every 31 adults, was in prison or jail or on probation or parole at the end of 2006. Another report by the Justice Department shows the inmate population in jails increased by 306 percent, from 184,000 in 1980 to 748,000 in 2005. The spike in the number of people behind bars is largely a result of sentencing and correctional policy changes over the past 30 years involving tougher sentences for a variety of crimes, and particularly for drug-related offenses. COSTLY, COMPLICATED ... AND NECESSARY While privatized correctional health care might control costs in the short run, cases such as Johnson's show that in the long run, it potentially can pose a higher cost to taxpayers and the community, inmate advocates say. Even if inmates who sue over alleged poor care lose their case, the county still must pay to defend against those lawsuits. And sick inmates who go untreated in jail can endanger public health when they're released back into the community. Taxpayers also share the burden if those inmates land in a publicly-funded hospital. Medical care at jails is costly and complicated, "but it's necessary and required," said Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News, an independent monthly magazine that provides a review and analysis of prisoner rights, court rulings and news about prison issues. "Once you remove a person's freedom, you're required to provide that medical care for them. "People in jail are people, they're neighbors, brothers, daughters. Ninety-five percent of them get out," Friedmann said. "When people think of jail, they think of rapists and murderers, but that's not representative of the jail population." With the pending departure of PHS, Sheriff Dean is about to launch a community-collaborative nonprofit group, called Ocala Community Care, that will take over medical care at the jail. "I concluded that the future of inmate health care needed a change," he said. "We needed to embrace the community and figure out how $5 million of taxpayers money could be better utilized for delivery of care to inmates." His initiative is uncommon and it remains to be seen if it will help people like James Johnson. Editor's note: Since his release, James Johnson has been living in motels, trying to hold down a job. He told the Star-Banner he didn't want his picture printed, because he was afraid he would lose his job. But he said he wanted people to hear his story.

December 11, 2007 News-Press
A company that runs three prisons for the state has agreed to pay more than $1.5 million — about 42 cents on the disputed dollar — to settle a long-running controversy over staffing levels and equipment purchases. Department of Management Services Secretary Linda South said she was satisfied that the settlement with Corrections Corp. of America avoids a costly court fight that might not net the state all of the $3.6 million the agency sought. But a lobbyist for the Police Benevolent Association, which has long been critical of privately run prisons, said the state let the prison company off too lightly. CCA spokesman Steven Owen in Nashville said the company was glad to get the case settled. "I certainly would have preferred to have captured all those things we knew the state was entitled to, from our perspective," said South. "But CCA had its own perspective and this is the agreement we came to. The fact is, you weigh the cost of litigation against the risk of success in these things." A 2005 audit report by the DMS inspector general, conducted shortly after the old Corrections Privatization Commission was abolished and DMS took over contract admission, said the state overpaid nearly $13 million to two companies — CCA and GEO Group of Boca Raton — that have contracts for private prisons across Florida. Auditors alleged that the state paid for non-existent employees and that companies overfilled for maintenance and operations expenses. GEO agreed to pay $402,501 late last year and to cover half of the legal fees to defend against challenges by local governments that disputed the tax-exempt status of corporate-run prison facilities. The agreement with CCA provides for the company to pay the state $660,000 for maintenance work that was not performed, $430,000 for service and program payments that were already under contract, $207,722 for failing to deduct staff vacancies from billings to the state and $138,803 in legal fees. There was also another $120,000 to reimburse the state for waivers of staffing levels in nursing and teaching positions in the prisons, which were allowed by the Corrections Privatization Commission but not permitted by DMS. "They were given informal waiver for staffing of nursing and teachers," said South. "This goes back to the old CPC. It was not formalized or memorialized in contract and we disagreed with it, so they had to return money paid for staffing in those two areas." CCA operates prisons under state contract in Gadsden County, Bay County and Lake City. Ken Kopczynski is a long-time lobbyist for the PBA, which represents officers in state-run prisons, and he has followed privatization issues closely in the Legislature for many years. He said DMS let GEO off too lightly last year and didn't do much better with CCA. "It's nice that DMS got better than 10 cents on the dollar this time but almost half is better then nothing," said Kopczynski. "It's a shame that CCA and GEO are so entrenched with state government that they can get away with this." He recalled that the DMS audit in 2005 showed $12.7 million in overpayments to prison companies. "If you or I had gone to the bank and the teller gave us $12.7 million by mistake, you would expect to pay all of this back," he said. "Now, if you're a well connected private prison company and the state overpays you $12.7 million, you only have to pay back less then $2 million total between CCA and GEO — not a bad return for your investment in lobbyists, no?" Owen, CCA's director of marketing and communication, said it was "a good faith settlement" for both sides. "We're glad to get the matter resolved," said Owen. "We look forward to a continued successful partnership with DMS."

November 26, 2007 The McGill Daily
At Macdonald campus’s Centennial Centre cafeteria, students can purchase a classic two-egg breakfast all day for just $4.20, taxes included. Though the cafeteria is a relatively small operation, it is run by Sodexho Inc., a massive multinational food services company that also operates private, for-profit prisons and detention centres. Sodexho’s presence at McGill is minimal compared to that of well-known food-service giant Chartwells, but with revenues exceeding $17.6-billion in 2005-2006, Sodexho is one of the largest food-provision companies in the world. Last year, “Correctional Services” accounted for two per cent of its total revenue. In an interview with Vancouver-based Stark Raven radio last month, Alex Friedmann, Associate Editor of the magazine Prison Legal News, explained that the nature of for-profit detention centres facilitates poor-quality meals and services for inmates. “[Companies’ that run private prisons] sole interest is to bolster their bottom line and to make profit for their shareholders,” Friedmann said. “If you have to do that by cutting corners, or by reducing benefits and wages paid to your staff…or by skimping on food portions or quality, then that’s what you do.” Sodexho has faced student boycotts since 2000, and recent reports reveal overcrowding and hunger strikes at its Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in London, England. Friedmann said that professional corrections officials, like guards and wardens, understand the importance of food in prisons and the consequences it has on prison life, but that food-service companies like Sodexho – which make huge profits from corrections facilities – are not interested in the public good. “Their interest is not in the welfare or benefit of the public, the prisoners, or even their employees, really,” he said. Incidentally, the 2006 Corporate Responsibility Report from Sodexho’s U.K. and Ireland faction stated that just 54 per cent of its employees actually enjoy going to work. Similar reports from the last two years are filled with idyllic pictures, quotes from various executives championing Sodexho’s efforts toward sustainability and a greater diversity of employees, including affirmative actions plans. In April of 2005, however, Sodexho paid out an $80-million settlement after thousands of its African-American employees sued the company on charges of racial discrimination, citing the company’s utter lack of African Americans in high-ranking management positions. Boycott Sodexho -- Two years ago, students at Laval University started a “Boycott Sodexho” campaign in protest of the school’s decision to award a large food contract to the company instead of accepting the student union’s offer. Boycott Sodexho is still active, although according to member Fadi Maalouf, it now focuses on encouraging students to frequent the 14 student-run coffee shops as opposed to one of the eight larger Sodexho-run cafeterias. Maalouf explained that students were against the multinational corporation for reasons ranging from its high prices for mediocre food to its involvement in the U.S. military. “When the campaign was on campus, we were just giving information about Sodexho’s involvement in the [Iraq] warzone, and that was frustrating for students to learn,” Maalouf said. “They make millions of dollars and they cannot offer a good service to students?” In 2000-2002, students from 60 campuses across the United States and Canada formed the “Not With Our Money” campaign. They succeeded in prompting Sodexho to divest its eight per cent stock holdings from Correctional Corporations of America, which runs private prisons in the U.S. But Sodexho still owns private for-profit prisons, primarily in the U.K. – recent announcements on its web site boasts 20 and 25-year contracts to run prisons in Chile and Scotland, respectively – and it provides food and ancillary services for prisons around the world, including more than 450 in the United States alone, according to Friedmann. Prison atmosphere -- Rebecca Godderis, a PhD student at the University of Calgary who interviewed 16 prisoners as part of her research on food in prisons, echoed Friedmann’s comment about the significance of food, which can calm or excite inmates. She explained that food has a large impact on a prison’s atmosphere. “Food is a constant reminder of the lack of control that these prisoners have over their lives,” Godderis said, adding that one participant told her simply, “If the guys are well-fed, they’re more manageable.” Godderis did not comment about any specific corporations who run private prisons, but she maintained that because prisoners have very little recourse to take on mechanisms that control them, the general public should be concerned about what goes on inside the institutions. “[Prisoners] are very marginalized, very controlled, and that means we should be more attentive to them,” Godderis said. Representatives from Sodexho Inc. declined to comment for this piece.

November 11, 2007 Tennessean
They are some of the most powerful people in the state, but you rarely hear about them. They make decisions that address hot-button topics ranging from abortion and political corruption to religious freedom and the death penalty. They can put you in prison or they can vindicate your civil rights. Who am I talking about? Federal judges. The legal decisions rendered by U.S. district court judges seldom make the news unless they deal with issues of public importance, such as Judge Aleta Trauger's ruling last month that suspended executions in Tennessee. Federal judges, who are appointed for life, wield an enormous amount of power. Thus, it stands to reason that only highly qualified candidates would be nominated for federal judicial positions. Considering the nomination of Gustavus A. Puryear IV for the district court in Middle Tennessee, however, that apparently isn't the case. You've probably never heard of Mr. Puryear, but you may know his employer, Corrections Corporation of America — the nation's largest private-prison company. Mr. Puryear serves as CCA's general counsel. He received a salary of $237,308 plus $602,957 in other compensation last year, and since November 2006 has cashed in $2.64 million in CCA stock. This presumably means he would have a conflict of interest should he preside over cases involving CCA ... and more than 400 federal cases naming CCA or CCA employees have been filed in Middle Tennessee. While Mr. Puryear may be wealthy in terms of cash and stock, whether he is equally rich in legal experience is debatable. He spent just three years at a Nashville law firm. He has been named as counsel in 130 federal cases in Tennessee, mostly after hiring on with CCA in 2001. However, 85 of those cases were dismissed by the court, with no action taken by Mr. Puryear. In 39 of the cases, other attorneys handled the actual litigation. Mr. Puryear sent a letter to the court in one case and was actively involved in five others — most recently in 1998. According to court records, only one case in which he was personally involved went to trial, and he has never litigated a case on his own. So what makes Mr. Puryear qualified for appointment as a federal judge? He has strong political connections. He worked under former Sens. Bill Frist and Fred Thompson, and served as an adviser to Dick Cheney during the 2000 debates. He has donated more than $13,000 to Republican candidates since 2001 — including to Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, who have endorsed his nomination. But lifetime federal judicial appointments should not be based on political payback; only the most experienced and qualified candidates should be appointed to the federal bench. Sadly, this does not seem to be the case in regard to Mr. Puryear's nomination, which ill-serves all Middle Tennessee residents. Last week, the Alliance for Justice submitted a formal letter to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, opposing Mr. Puryear's nomination. For more information on Mr. Puryear's judicial nomination, please visit: www.privateci.org/puryear2.htm. By ALEX FRIEDMANN

November 8, 2007 The Tennessean
On Oct. 31, John Ferguson, CEO of Corrections Corp. of America, wrote that his private prison company saves the state money despite charging higher rates than those paid to county jails that house state prisoners. Most studies that have been conducted on private prison costs have found uncertain or minimal savings — including a study by the Tennessee Legislative Fiscal Review Committee that compared expenses at two state prisons, and the CCA-run South Central Correctional Center. Regardless, I don’t doubt Ferguson’s statement that CCA has lower per-diem rates than state prisons. But he didn’t explain why, so I will. CCA doesn’t operate any maximum-security prisons in Tennessee, does not house death-row prisoners and doesn’t operate women’s facilities. All of those prison populations have much higher incarceration costs that CCA doesn’t have to pay. The state must also cover all medical costs for prisoners. CCA’s medical expenses are capped at a certain amount ($5,000 the last time I checked); after that, the state has to pick up the tab. Further, CCA has cherry-picked prisoners at South Central, such as transferring prisoners who are HIV-positive — and more expensive to house — to state facilities. So, yes, CCA might have lower per-diem costs than state prisons, but only if you compare public apples with privately-managed oranges. Alex Friedmann, Antioch 37013

October 31, 2007 The Daily Texan
Texas will continue to house immigrants in prison-like facilities despite ongoing opposition and warnings of possible legal ramifications. A panel of four Williamson County commissioners and the county judge voted 5-0 Tuesday to keep the operation agreement between the Corrections Corporation of America and Williamson County. The corporation owns and operates the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility in Taylor, Texas, about 40 miles north of Austin. "It has been a good day, a really good day," said Evelyn Hernandez, a Hutto facility administrator. "The efforts of our staff and what the commissioners witnessed in the facility was proved today." As part of Tuesday's decision, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be required to communicate directly with the corporation on matters relating to the Hutto facility. The facility houses "other-than-Mexican" immigrants and their children as they await the outcome of their immigration hearings. These immigrants were picked up crossing the border or in residential and factory raids. Immigration and Customs Enforcement pays the corporation $2.8 million a month, about $5,471 per prisoner. Williamson County receives $1 per prisoner per day from Immigration Customs and Enforcement. The facility is full with 512 prisoners. Hernandez touted the efforts of her employees during her address to the commission. She said the staff does everything it can to keep the children occupied and to distract them from thinking about their cases, which are handled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "We're preparing for Halloween right now, and the kids have made beautiful piñatas for the haunted house," Hernandez said. "You can see the dedication from the people working here." Hernandez said she is so impressed by the commitment the employees have to the residents that she wishes she could bring her 4-year-old daughter to Hutto every day for day care. Eight activists appeared before the commission demanding Hutto be closed down because they said it is inhumane to detain children - especially children who have not broken the law - and because imprisoning asylum seekers violates their liberties. Scott Medlock, an attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project, warned the commission of the legal issues and liability the facility creates. "The fundamental problem is that it is hard to run a prison without incurring liability that violates prisoner's civil rights and provides poor health care," he said. "The county doesn't seem to be taking my arguments seriously though." Medlock said he understood the decision to require the corporation to pay $5,000 a month for the county monitor to come out and inspect the Hutto facility and report back to Williamson County officials. He said he does not think $5,000 is enough money to pay for serious monitoring, plus the salary will be paid by the Correction Corporation of America. A corporation employee had inappropriate contact with a Hutto resident in May, which is not in compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention standards, according to a contracting officer for the agency. As a result, Williamson County was required to provide a plan correcting the center's deficiencies. Inmates in the corporation prisons have filed five different sexual assault and harassment claims against the corporation since 2006, according to the Private Corrections Institute, a group which seeks to provide information on and inform the public of problems with privatization of correctional institutions. A poster at the back of the courtroom displayed letters in both English and Spanish from former residents decorated with pictures of smiling corporation employees and detained children. One letter written in English thanked the corporation, saying "Thank you but you shouldn't have." "The resident is the best for family," "I love you" and "I had a great time," said other letters. Asma Salam, an active philanthropist from Dallas, held up a sign in the courtroom demanding the Hutto facility be closed. She traveled from Dallas to Taylor twice since Sunday to participate in a 24-mile walk from the Hutto facility to the Williamson County Commissioner's Court. "I am a proud Muslim-American and America is the most lovable, and most proud country in the world," she said to the commissioners. "Do not let [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] destroy this image of our beautiful country. Please wake up and shut Hutto down." Salam did not agree with the decision made but said her two trips to Taylor, the walk from the facility and her demonstrations, were not a waste of time. "I will not be silent and I will not be discouraged," Salam said. "This is my message: I will do anything to protect rights and freedom."

September 12, 2007 Boise Weekly
There's little to no distinction in the world of private prisons, a place where capitalism meets public service. It's an industry based on keeping people locked up, and doing it as efficiently as possible. It's also an industry that generates lots of controversy. While some argue that privately owned and operated prisons allow government agencies to deal with increasingly overcrowded prison systems and dwindling budgets, others say that introducing the element of profit into the management of incarcerated people leads to corruption, mismanagement and mistreatment of prisoners. "You shouldn't introduce a profit margin and a profit motive into a prison," said Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. "The industry as a whole shouldn't exist." But it's an industry that may be expanding into Idaho if some state leaders get their way. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has asked lawmakers to begin drafting legislation that would allow privately owned and operated prisons to go to work in Idaho. There are currently no private facilities in the state, although the Idaho Correctional Center in Kuna is managed by the Correction Corporation of America of Tennessee. CCA is the largest private prison business in the country, ranking just behind the federal prison system. The company owns 41 prisons nationwide, and manages another 24 facilities in 19 states and Washington, D.C., for a combined total of roughly 75,000 beds. To pave the way for their Idaho entry, a work group made up of lawmakers, Idaho Department of Corrections officials and industry representatives are in the early stages of drafting legislation that will be introduced in the next legislative session. "[It would] set the stage for a private firm to come into the state of Idaho and create a facility that the firm would own and operate," said Brent Reinke, director of the Idaho Department of Corrections. "Truly, Gov. Otter is very insistent in this area and has been very, very outspoken and there's no doubt at all the way he wants to proceed," Reinke said. "We have a critical need right now to do something immediately to address the [prison] population crisis that we're seeing," said Jon Hanian, Otter's press secretary. "When you're talking about a private prison vs. a state-run one, building one, you're talking about up to four years on the state-run side vs. 18 to 24 months. The private side is going to be a more immediate impact." Hanian said Otter's priority was to get prisoners now housed in out-of-state facilities back in the state. Until Idaho has more room, Hanian said, "our hands are tied on that." Otter has vowed that any agreement reached with a private company would include stipulations that the state has a first right of refusal on any beds, and could bump any out-of-state inmates if the space is needed. It's not so cut and dried for opponents of the industry, though. "The bottom line for the private prison industry is to make a profit," said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute, a Florida-based group that opposes the private prison industry. "They give you a snow job about rules and training. They have to provide a profit, and they actually turn quite a profit for quite a few years. "They do a very good P.R. job," he said. A key part of that public relations campaign is to make inroads with politicians in states targeted by the industry as likely locations for expansion. Opponents of private prisons are full of stories of corrupt officials and lobbyists serving as advisers for the state, including a college professor in Florida who served as a state adviser on the private prison industry while that industry funded his professional research. There's also Manny Aragon, former president of the New Mexico Senate, who was indicted by a jury in April for an alleged kickback scheme. "There's going to be more of it when it's [in Idaho]," said Kopczynski. "They're not stupid. Most of these folks [private corrections company leaders] come out of government anyways." The industry has already made its first foray into the wallets of Idaho politicians. According to campaign finance reports filed with the state, both CCA and GEO Group, the two largest private prison operators, donated $5,000 to Otter's 2006 campaign for governor. But Hanian said there is no impropriety in Otter's interest in private prisons. "There is no quid pro quo when it comes to any campaign contribution the governor has received and the establishment of state policy. None," Hanian said. "He bases every decision solely on its merits." Reinke said he doesn't feel there's any undue influence within the state government. "It's very important that we have the system in place so that it is competitive, and everything is done in the light of day. That's a challenge we're faced with," he said. The Texas Connection -- Idaho has already had experience with the industry. Some 750 of Idaho's roughly 7,300 inmates are housed in private prisons in Texas and Oklahoma, and plans call for another 240 to be moved by the end of the year, according to Reinke. Another 500 are being housed in county facilities. "Our needs are very significant," Reinke said. Idaho's prison population has been growing by roughly 6.5 percent annually, and Reinke estimates it will take an additional 2,000 to 3,000 beds to meet the state's short-term needs. "What I'm concerned with right now is bed capacity," Reinke said. "This is not a new need." If the prison population continues to increase at the same rate, Reinke said the state will need several new facilities within the next 10 years. "We need to do what we can to meet the need of Idahoans within the state of Idaho," he said. "The longer we wait on this, the longer the inmates are going to be out of state." Currently, Idaho has eight prisons, four community work centers and 22 probation and parole district satellite offices. The state corrections agency employs roughly 1,500 people. While moving inmates to out-of-state facilities with extra room seems to offer some relief for Idaho prison managers, the practice hasn't been without its problems. Idaho's troubles with private prisons began when they shipped 302 prisoners to a private prison in Minnesota in October 2005. After space ran out at the Minnesota prison in August 2006, the Idaho inmates were sent to two facilities in Texas, one of which was the Dickens County Correctional Facility in Spur, Texas, a private prison owned by GEO Group. In March, according to news reports, Idaho inmate Scot Noble Payne committed suicide. In letters to family, he placed the blame for his depression on the unsanitary conditions at the prison and the poor treatment by staff. While Idaho officials plan to move the 56 inmates remaining at the Dickens County facility by the end of the year, they will be transferred to another Texas facility owned by the same company. It's just the latest of the state's problems stemming from housing prisoners out of state—a list that includes riots and escapes at a private prison in Louisiana in 1997. Those who oppose private prisons say these sort of problems are indicative of the industry as a whole. "Why does your governor think having a private prison in Idaho is going to be any different than the mess they had in Texas?" Kopczynski said. Among his and Donner's chief concerns is the hiring of untrained correctional officers, who they say are paid wages below that of their public sector counterparts. This, coupled with poor training, leads to prisoner abuses, poor conditions, high employee turnover and an unwillingness to respond in the face of a dangerous situation, they believe. "The problems we have had in Colorado are around some of the tactics of private prisons use to make money: smaller staff, fewer programs, lower pay," said Donner. "If you want a riot, that's a great strategy." "There's no institutional knowledge," said Kopczynski. "You don't know your elbow from a hole in the ground when it comes to correctional work." Industry representatives vehemently disagree. "That's completely baseless," said Steven Owen, director of marketing for CCA. "It's absolutely, categorically false." Owen argues that all employees of CCA meet the training standards of the American Correctional Association, the largest correctional trade association in the world, and because of contractual agreements with the states they serve, must have as much training as correctional officers in public facilities. When it comes to wages, Owen said it's a philosophical difference. "Generally, in a state correctional system, it's a one-size-fits-all starting salary for a correctional officer," he said. "CCA prices salary and wages by the facility. We compete with the labor pool in the area around the facility. "Critics like to focus in on wages," Owen said. "We are competitive in the locations where we operate." He added that wages for mid-management positions are typically much higher than in the public sector. A 2003 report published by Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First and Prison Privatization Report International—both corporate watchdog groups—stated that CCA has managed to stem the tide of negative publicity. But the report didn't have a favorable overview of the company. "CCA has built a reputation marred by numerous instances of scandal, mismanagement, alleged mistreatment of prisoners and its own employees, attempted manipulation of public policy and a proliferation of questionable research. Its record is a clear example of how the pursuit of profit stands in the way of carrying out a core public function such as corrections. CCA has succeeded in staying in business for two decades, but it has not succeeded in demonstrating that prison privatization makes sense," the report reads. From CCA's perspective though, the advantages are clear and numerous. "We try to operate as well as, or better than, our public counterparts," Owen said. "We don't have some of the bureaucracy that can sometimes get in the way of government processes." It's the company's size that Owen said gives it an advantage, not only with purchasing power for goods, but with the ability to get a new facility up and running quickly. "It takes three to five years for the state to have to go through the legislative process," Owen said. "We can bring a new facility on line in 12 to 18 months." He said a privately owned prison also saves taxpayers the cost of the capital investment. Typically, the states pay CCA on a per-prisoner, per-day basis depending on the level of programs required by the state contract, as well as the level of security needed. "It's the capacity that we bring on line that relieves overcrowded systems," he said. "It helps existing systems to become safer and more efficient." Since the company typically hires much of its workforce from the local community, Owen said there's a strong economic impact. "We want to do business in places where we're wanted," he said. Apparently, Idaho ranks among those places. Owen said CCA has had a good partnership with the state since the Idaho Correctional Center opened in 2000. He said if the law should change, the company would be interested in building a facility in the state. Problems Behind the Bars -- One of the biggest issues for critics of the private prison system is the practice of moving prisoners out of state. For many, separating inmates from their families and familiar environments only leads to more problems and creates an unending cycle of prisoners returning to jail. "They're doomed to re-offend," said Frank Smith, national field coordinator for the Private Corrections Institute. "They're estranged from their families and support systems. It's a futile effort. It's life on the installment plan. It drains tax money, and they're never rehabilitated." If prisoners from other states are involved in conflicts, there are jurisdictional issues, Donner said. "If prisoners from other states have problems, it's in your jurisdiction," she said. "Now they have to be under your cost." Owen said CCA does extensive work assimilating prisoners brought from out of state. Including sending staff to their home state to learn about the habits and cultural practices of the inmates. "It's worked well for us," he said. But that doesn't always seem to be enough. In 2004, one of the largest prison riots in recent Colorado history took place at the Crowley County Correctional Facility, a prison owned by CCA. Apparently, the incident was touched off by tensions between a group of inmates from Washington state and prison staff. A general feeling of unrest spread through the prison, and more than 1,000 inmates rioted. In the end, 13 prisoners were injured. Following the incident, a state investigation placed the blame on staff shortages and inexperience. Additionally, the final report stated that the prison's emergency plan was not effective and that basic security measures weren't followed. CCA also took flak because the company's incident commander refused an order from state officials to use gas to quell the riot, until he had approval from the parent company. CCA was recently fined by the state of Colorado for continued understaffing. Fines totaled $23,000 for leaving 157 shifts unfilled at the Crowley facility, $103,743 for 701 unfilled shifts at the Kit Carson Correctional Center and $2,651 for 18 shifts at the Bent County Correctional Facility.

August 25, 2007 Narco Sphere
The Wackenhut Corporation, whose buses wait along the border to be filled with migrants for deportation, is actually owned by a foreign corporation. Wackenhut is a subsidiary of the Danish security corporation G4S (Group Securicor) in the Netherlands. Privatizing the deportation of migrants, Wackenhut/G4S took over these duties from the U.S. Border Patrol. The executive director of the watchdog group Private Corrections Institute, Ken Kopczynski, exposed the privatization of the migrant deportation at the US/Mexico border. Meanwhile, another corporation, GEO Group, Inc., is building migrant prisons for profit. In the year 2007 alone, GEO Group won contracts for a prison in Eagle Pass, Texas; an immigration detention facility in Jena, La. and a detention facility for U.S. Marshals service in Laredo, Tex. After the Jena, La., immigration detention facility reaches full occupancy with 1,160 inmates in 2008, GEO expects $23.5 million annually in revenues.

August 24, 2007 Narco Sphere
Another industry has been privatized in the United States by the Bush administration. This time it is the transportation of migrants for deportation. The Wackenhut Corporation, whose buses wait along the border to be filled with migrants for deportation, is actually owned by a Danish Corporation, Group 4/Securicor. It is known as G4S. Some border residents are concerned that a foreign-owned corporation, and not a U.S.-owned corporation, is handling security and deportations at the border and profiting from it. Wackenhut/G4S took over these duties from the U.S. Border Patrol. The executive director of the watchdog group Private Corrections Institute, Ken Kopczynski, wrote to the Censored Blog: "Great piece on the Minutemen and immigration but Wackenhut is not connected to GEO Group. Group 4 bought out Wackenhut Corporation a number of years ago and sold off the corrections unit to George Zoley and friends. Part of the agreement was that they could no longer use the name Wackenhut which currently is a subsidiary of Group 4/Securicor. Hope this helps and keep at 'em, Sincerely, Ken Kopczynski, executive director, Private Corrections Institute. Imprisoning migrants -- George Zoley is chairman of GEO Group, Inc., which operates privatized prisons across the nation, including prisons in Florence, Arizona. Building prisons for immigrants has been profitable for the GEO Group. In 2007, Geo Group won contracts for a prison in Eagle, Pass, Texas; an immigration detention facility in Jena, La. and a detention facility for U.S. Marshals service in Laredo, Tex., according to its news releases. Headquarted in Boca Raton, Fla., GEO Group, announced in January that it received a new U.S., 10-year contract, for the detention of 2,407 "criminal aliens" at the Reeves County Detention Complex in Texas. GEO took over the county's contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Reeves County is located in southwest Texas, with its county seat at Pecos. GEO said it believes that the facility is the largest privately-operated prison in the world. In Taylor, Texas, another for-profit company, Corrections Corporation of America, imprisons migrant and refugee children at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center. Recently, a prison guard exposed maggots in the food there.

August 1, 2007 Idaho Mountain Express
The Idaho Mountain Express has precisely gone to the heart of the problems with for-profit prisons. It's that profit is at the basis of all decision making. Doing a bad job increases those profits in the absence of effective oversight. The Idaho Department of Corrections has long been on notice that this situation has been out of control, but it appears to have hoped by virtue of the physical distance they wouldn't be noticed. This represents a complete failure of will and responsibility. This is hardly a single-state failure. I've examined monitoring and oversight all around the country, including Idaho and Texas. Even in the few states where there has been a genuine attempt to assure the efficacy of services, billion-dollar corporations such as GEO and its competitor CCA have frustrated the efforts of those attempting to represent the interests of taxpayers and insure humane conditions. No state is very good at performing this function. Most are simply terrible. The politicians who have been entrusted with the interest of the public have been easily and thoroughly distracted by floods of campaign contributions, ideological dogmatism represented by the mantra "private is better," and in some provable instances, outright bribes. Worst of all, the for-profits have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, increasing the numbers of prisoners by helping craft ever more draconian legislation, pushing for "more market and more market share." Only public outcry can staunch this flow of corruption. Only the press can guide citizens to action. Frank Smith, Private Corrections Institute, Bluff City, Kans.

June 6, 2007 KC Community News
Legal hurdles and Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning's opposition surfaced in a Johnson County Commission discussion May 31 of private jails. Denning said he opposed private jails on principle. “I am opposed to any private organization imprisoning people,” Denning said. “I believe the best institutions are ones with government oversight and government transparency.” Denning also said a state statute prohibits him from using private jails for state inmates. The statute would have to be amended to allow him to house inmates in a private jail, he said. Commissioner John Segale disputed the sheriff's opinion. County Chief Counsel Don Jarrett said the county could contract with a private jail. “The county has the authority to contract or use jail space in public and private facilities,” Jarrett said. “The sheriff does not have to agree to the contract. The sheriff is in charge of designating where prisoners go. So you can buy space, but if the sheriff doesn't choose to put people in that space, you're going to have empty spaces.” The discussion followed a pitch by Corrections Corp. of America, Nashville, Tenn., one of the country's biggest private jailers, for county business. The county paid about $6 million in 2006 to farm out more than 300 inmates daily to county jails as far away as Ottawa. The Gardner jail's 416-bed expansion is expected to be full upon opening in late 2009. Commissioner Ed Peterson said he invited CCA so commissioners could learn what a private jail offered. Ray Hodge, CCA senior director of business development, told commissioners of plans to expand the company's maximum security 802-bed Leavenworth Detention Center by another 320 beds. CCA anticipates more beds would be required in the next few years and plans to build another jail in Leavenworth County, Hodge said. If CCA secured sufficient contracts from customers, including Johnson County, the company would expedite construction of the jail. Federal, state and county governments have contracts with CCA's 64 accredited jails, Hodge said. The company has a 52 percent share of the national private jail market, he said. Contract renewal rates are 95 percent. Hodge listed benefits for the county from using CCA: capital meant for jail construction could be freed up for other needs; first rights to beds; inmate consolidation in one nearby jail, making access easier for families; transportation cost savings; and insulation from lawsuits. Hodge said costs would depend on services. The U.S. Marshals Service, which uses the Leavenworth jail, pays CCA $81 per day per inmate. That fee includes services the county would not require, Hodge said, bringing costs closer to $50 per inmate per day. Denning said he expects research on his business plan, which he intends to submit to commissioners in six months, will show that he can run a jail cheaper than private jail companies. Frank Smith, of nonprofit research company Private Corrections Institute, said private jails keep costs down by paying employees low wages and benefits and providing little training. Smith, who drove more than 200 miles to speak to commissioners, said problems plague the private jail industry, including low professionalism, high employee turnover and the practice of mixing inmates from different states, leading to tension and riots in several jails. Smith said his information came from publicly available reports, visits to private jails and “a vast network” of whistleblowers. Most commissioners favored studying private jails as an alternative to building more jails. “An individual may have different feelings about the question of public or private (jail) facilities … but all of us need to keep in mind the bottom line, which is the taxpayer's pocket,” Commissioner Ed Eilert said. “Our objective should be to provide the most efficient, appropriate incarceration services at the most effective price. If that involves … changing an attitude, we need to do that,” Eilert said. “If this is in fact an economical way of providing equal services and coverage for our inmates, we owe it to our taxpayers to take a hard look,” Peterson said. “I think they make a persuasive case as to how a private entity can operate a prison for less than government can and be just as accountable,” Segale said. Chairwoman Annabeth Surbaugh said the county should wait for the sheriff's plan before considering private jails.

June 5,  2007 Southern Illinoisan
A weekend riot involving one-fifth of Tri-County Justice and Detention Center's inmates may have been contained in less than an hour, but the incident is not over as far as area law enforcement officials are concerned. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department, along with the Illinois State Police, is conducting an investigation into the incident, which began on Friday evening when 46 inmates at the Ullin facility barricaded themselves in a room and began setting fire to mattresses and books. "We're investigating why it happened, how it happened and we're going to get down to who needs to be charged," Sheriff Randy Kern said. Kern said there is a strong possibility that criminal charges will come out of the incident. Pulaski County owns the Tri-County building, and the jail's management is contracted to the GEO Group headquartered in Florida. Kern also serves as warden for the 226-bed facility. Responding to the scene about 8:30 p.m., law enforcement agencies brought the riot under control by firing tear gas into the area where inmates were barricaded about 30 minutes after the riot was reported. GEO Group spokesman Pablo Paez said the company is assisting local law enforcement in the investigation. "We will be fully cooperating with local law enforcement in any charges they decide to bring," Paez said. It is the second time in just more than a month that the company has had to deal with the aftermath of a riot. An Indiana state prison managed by GEO Group reported nine people who were injured in a riot on April 24 at New Castle Correctional Facility. The Indiana riot occurred just a week after the facility gained an additional 630 inmates from Arizona. A report on the incident by the Indiana Department of Correction states factors such as "too many unseasoned staff on duty and a lack of veteran staff in key positions" as contributing to the riot. Other factors listed include too much offender idleness, a breakdown in communications and failure to impose consistent sanctions for offender misbehavior. Paez said both state and private prisons have similar incidents sporadically. He said the GEO Group was pleased with how quickly the Ullin incident was contained. "These unfortunate incidents happen from time to time in both public and private institutions," Paez said. "We do have policies and protocol in place. We fully followed those procedures and got the incident under control in less than 30 minutes." Kern said he too was pleased with how quickly responding agencies were able to defuse the situation. "We took control of it quickly and efficiently," Kern said. Even so, Ken Kopczynski of the Private Corrections Institute said the incident is further evidence supporting his organization's mission. The Private Corrections Institute advocates abolishing for-profit prisons throughout the country. "If you get over the moral issue of incarcerating people for profit, I think you can see they don't do a good job," Kopczynski said. He added that the percentage of incidents in private prisons is higher than in state- and federally-operated prisons. "If you take the GEO Group as a whole and look at their incidents, riots and escapes and compare to a comparable facility in the state of Florida Department of Corrections, it's higher in terms of their escape and abuse," Kopczynski said. "Public facilities have the same problems, but the percentage of what they have is not as bad."

May 30, 2007 Kansas City Star
Searching for a way to ease jail crowding and save money, Johnson County commissioners are considering striking a deal with a private, for-profit corrections facility in Leavenworth. Officials with Corrections Corp. of America, one of the nation’s largest private penal firms, will meet with commissioners today to consider how the two could work together to meet the county’s growing need for jail space. Sheriff Frank Denning says the problem has been ignored for nearly a decade, but opposes the idea of private jails. In 2005, a consultant’s report showed that a proposed 416-bed jail expansion would be full immediately if it opened in 2009 and an additional 752 beds were recommended to be opened a year later, said Joe Waters, the county’s director of facilities. “Somewhere this is going to overtake us where we’re doing nothing more than running jails,” Commissioner Doug Wood of Olathe said. “We’ve got to get a handle on this.” Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corp. wants to expand its operation on the western bluff of the Missouri River to build more beds for federal prisoners. That would open space at the 802-bed Leavenworth Detention Center, a maximum-security facility that the firm wants to expand to 1,122 beds for offenders from across the region and beyond. For Johnson County, that could forestall the costly construction and operating expenses of new county jails. Supporters say it also could free up county money for such other needs as a juvenile detention center, courthouse or even the research triangle proposed by area universities. Supporters of for-profit jails say the private sector can do the job more efficiently and save taxpayers up to half the cost of inmate boarding. Critics contend bottom-line law enforcement is a risk to public safety that is not worth taking. It is an idea that has been kicked around for decades in Johnson County with four sheriffs and has gone nowhere. “We’re not here to grow the sheriff’s office, but I’m trying to blow this myth that somebody else can do this a whole lot cheaper than we can,” Denning recently told commissioners. Denning said the county’s two detention centers were safe, secure and cost-effective. The last escape was 24 years ago, and the last inmate killed in custody was 29 years ago. Most county commissioners, however, were unconvinced that the sheriff had explored all his options to building more jails or backed up his plan with hard numbers. “I don’t think the public is willing to pay the price,” Commissioner Ed Peterson said. “We’ve got to find some other options.” Private jails are not the answer, Denning said. “There aren’t very many success stories out there,” he told commissioners. “And there should not be any profit in people.” Denning said that some private jails have staffing ratios of one jailer for every 35 inmates. In Johnson County, the ratio is closer to one deputy for every six inmates. “We know what we’re doing,” Denning said. Ken Kopczynski of Private Corrections Institute Inc., a nonprofit group that opposes private prisons, said for-profit firms are notoriously understaffed and have turnover rates as high as 50 percent. Deputies in Johnson County have a 6 percent turnover rate. “You get what you pay for,” Kopczynski said. Sheriff’s spokesman Tom Erickson was more blunt. For-profit jailers are salesmen, he said. “They’re going to tell you whatever … you want to hear to get you to purchase their product, which is bed space. “They can promise you everything in the world … but we have enough documentation to prove that they are a really bad idea.” Not so fast, said Ray Hodge, Corrections Corp.’s senior director of business development. “What we’re offering is a chance for the county to consolidate its farmed-out prisoners in an accredited facility … at a fairly reasonable price, certainly far cheaper than the county can do it,” Hodge said.

May 25, 2007 Indianapolis Star
No additional Arizona inmates will be transferred to Indiana until conditions that contributed to an April 24 riot at the New Castle Correctional Facility are resolved, officials in both states said Thursday. Those problems include: an inexperienced staff at the privately run prison; inadequate orientation of inmates who lost privileges, such as smoking and use of personal TVs, that they enjoyed in Arizona; and a schedule that forced Arizona inmates to eat and have recreation at odd hours, such as midnight basketball games. The findings were in a report released Thursday by the Indiana Department of Correction. J. David Donahue, commissioner of the department, said he accepts responsibility for the hurried speed of the transfer of inmates from Arizona, which doesn't have room to house all its prisoners, to New Castle, a facility that had sat more than half-empty. The agreement between Arizona and Indiana was concluded March 9. Three days later, inmates began arriving. By April 17, 630 Arizona inmates had been transferred to New Castle. Some staff had less than two months' experience, the report notes, with a large number having less than a year of experience. "The speed by which I allowed inmates to come in, I take responsibility for that," Donahue said. "Looking back on that, that was a decision I should have reflected on," he said. "We could have done better, and I could have done better." The state's contract calls for 1,260 inmates from Arizona to be sent to New Castle. Donahue said Indiana "wants to make sure that we meet (Arizona's need for prison space) if we can, and we're prepared to do that. "But I am not advocating that we're going to be bringing additional offenders in tomorrow or any time in the immediate future until all of the (report) recommendations" have been addressed, he said. Katie Decker, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Corrections, said Arizona would not send any more inmates to Indiana until the "issues that are addressed in the report are resolved." After those conditions are met, Arizona "will evaluate how to proceed," she said. Decker said Arizona took part in the investigation, but corrections officials there generated their own report and version of events. Decker said that report would not be made public. "This is Indiana's version of the report," she said. "But we believe the underlying factors have been addressed." Costs for repairing the facility -- including better doors and getting nonflammable mattresses -- will be paid by The GEO Group, the Florida-based firm the state hired in September 2005 to manage the prison, Donahue said. Whether anyone will be fired or demoted for the problems that led to the two-hour riot remains to be seen. "I just got this report yesterday (Wednesday)," Donahue said. "I'll be assessing this and, where we see that there's accountability, we obviously hold not only staff accountable, we'll hold offenders accountable." He said the Indiana State Police delivered information to the Henry County prosecutor Wednesday that could lead to charges against 26 inmates, 25 of whom are from Arizona. Craig Hanks, the warden of the prison and an employee of The GEO Group, said he expects to remain in charge. "That's my plan," he said. Problems with the transfer were apparent almost immediately. On the day before the riot, April 23, Arizona officials had halted additional transfer of inmates, citing inadequate and inexperienced staff. At 12:40 p.m. the next day, the riot began after 30 to 40 Arizona inmates wearing white T-shirts ignored staff orders to return to their cells and don their green smocks. That clothing issue had been simmering for days, the report says. But on that day, the dispute erupted into a riot, with doors and windows smashed, mattresses set on fire and at least two correction officers beaten. Twenty-seven prisoners also required medical treatment, with none of the injuries or ailments serious. Donahue and Hanks said they were aware of transition problems, including schedules that had Arizona and Indiana inmates having recreation and eating at different times and frustration over rules that hadn't existed in Arizona, such as a ban on pornography, personal TVs and smoking. But neither official anticipated the blow-up. "I was briefed literally the day before the event," Donahue said. "Did I think it was going to rise to the level of this type of event? Absolutely not." Family members of inmates, though, said the riot was exactly what they had feared, even before the transfer of the Arizona inmates. Christian J. Losch, an Elkhart anesthesiologist whose mentally ill son has served part of a murder sentence at New Castle, said he wasn't surprised by the findings in the report, or that a riot broke out. Losch said his son was most recently held at New Castle from August 2006 to February. During about a half-dozen visits to New Castle, Losch said, he noticed that the "staff, in general, seemed to be inexperienced and very young." He said a security door near the visitors' area was sometimes inoperable, forcing visitors to take a circuitous route to see the inmates. The lockers used by visitors to stow personal belongings often were broken. "It just felt like the place wasn't being maintained, just with what you could see as a casual observer," Losch said. "I can only presume that the problems had to do with the running of the institution." Prison reform advocates have criticized Indiana, Arizona and The GEO Group for entering into the transfer deal. "There needs to be someone who throws this back at the administration and the decision-makers, because that's where the problem lies," said Donna Leone Hamm, founder and executive director of Middle Ground Prison Reform, a nonprofit inmate advocacy group based in Arizona. "In the narrowest terms, of course, the inmates are to blame," she said. "But you have to treat the symptoms and not just the disease. And that means taking a look at the administration and the people who negotiated this contract." Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the watchdog Private Corrections Institute based in Tallahassee, Fla., said all of the forces at work -- an inexperienced staff, unhappy inmates and a facility with substandard security doors and windows -- should have sent up red flags. "You've got inexperienced staff manipulated by the inmates," Kopczynski said. "You've got a private company trying to turn a profit. And you've got inmates from different places who are comparing themselves (and their treatment and benefits) to each other. It all sounds like a recipe for disaster." Jody Kent, public policy expert with the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, commended Indiana for "taking this issue seriously, doing an investigation and acknowledging that their policies are flawed." That said, she criticized both Indiana and Arizona for carrying out a deal that should not be considered a long-term fix for prison overcrowding. "Upon reflection, these transfers were done too hastily. They were done irresponsibly," she said. "And, as a result, the safety of prisoners and guards were put at risk."

May 15, 2007 Journal-Gazette
For-profit prisons not good for state: I want to thank The Journal Gazette for raising important questions regarding the recent riot by Arizona inmates at GEO’s New Castle correctional facility in the editorial, “Prisons and Privatization,” (April 28). What Hoosiers are coming to realize is that prisons-for-profit are just that: They’re profits makers for shareholders and corporate execs. While all the editorial’s questions are on point, I predict nothing will be done because this issue is pure politics (let’s see, your Department of Correction chief is a former executive for U.S. Corrections Corp.). GEO and the other for-profit private prison companies depend on low wages, no benefits, high turnover and political contributions so that corporate executives can bring in the big bucks (GEO’s George Zoley lives in an $8 million mansion with a 150-foot dock for his yacht). All of this corporate profit should have been reinvested into the criminal justice system to maybe have a positive influence on the system. But hey, they’re just smart businessmen – they know that nothing will be done to cancel the contract. The fix is in, folks; you bought the con (no pun intended). KEN KOPCZYNSKI, Executive Director, Private Corrections Institute, Tallahassee, Fla.

May 3, 2007 St Petersburg Times
Three months after Gov. Charlie Crist ordered an investigation of some $4.5-million in overpayments to two companies that operate private prisons for the state, those same companies will be the only ones permitted to bid on expanding and building another facility. The state's budget calls for 384 new beds to be housed in a medium security private prison, estimated to cost between $15-million and $20-million, and has limited the bidding for those beds to the two companies that currently contract with the state. Those companies are GEO Group of Boca Raton and Corrections Corp. of America of Nashville. Two state audits have indicated the state had paid GEO Group and CCA more than $4.5-million for vacant jobs and other questionable expenses. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is now investigating. Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, a member of the Senate committee that funds jails and prisons, and who first called for the investigation into GEO and CCA, said that a tight budget year meant that the state had to change the way it thought about providing more beds. "It would be nice to have options for new vendors that may not be in the process, because that provides for better competition, " Crist said. "But toward the end of the budgeting process, when money was very tight, we decided to go ahead and just award new beds to existing sites because it's cheaper." Sen. Crist said he's confident that Gov. Charlie Crist and Corrections Secretary Jim McDonough will keep a close eye on the projects. "We have a new governor and he has an interest in this subject area, " Crist said. The budget is an up or down vote on the entire $72-billion document. Gov. Charlie Crist does have the ability to veto certain line items, but to veto the language limiting the bids would mean vetoing an $84-million pot of money for all private prison operations. Both Gov. Crist and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink have criticized the handling of contracts with GEO and CCA. The Department of Management Services, which inherited the contracts from the now defunct Correctional Privatization Commission, recently reached a $402, 501 settlement with GEO but is still negotiating with CCA. Heather Smith, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said the investigation is ongoing. "They've got issues with these vendors and concerns with some of the things done in the past, and yet they're giving them more beds, " said Ken Kopczynski, lobbyist for the Florida Police Benevolent Association, which represents public corrections officers. CCA marketing director Steve Owen said that the investigation concentrates on events before 2005 and that CCA has since shown the state an ability to meet its needs. "We do think we have a good record for bringing beds online quickly, " Owen said. The budget also says that private prison contractors, including those under investigation, can compete to build three additional "work camp" prisons, each with 432 beds - a total of 1, 296 beds. These facilities would each cost about $9-million to build, according to Department of Corrections estimates. The work camps are a new idea that Secretary McDonough recently pitched to help reduce recidivism. The work camps are for those sentenced to fewer than 12 months in prison who would spend much of their time digging ditches and doing other types of manual labor. Some would also get drug treatment. While the work camps will be competitively bid, several in the prison industry acknowledged that existing private prisons will have a competitive advantage in winning such contracts. That's because they can offer to put them next to existing jails or prisons facilities, which, again, is cheaper than building them from the ground up. McDonough, who was at the state Capitol on Wednesday, said he is concerned about the GEO and CCA contracts, but he plans to keep an eye on these prisons and the money to build them, no matter who is running them. "I'm always keeping an eye on the inmates, because I see them as my inmates, by law, " McDonough said.

April 29, 2007 The Tribune-Star
Like license plates, shivs and pruno, there’s money to be made in prison. Just ask investors in GEO Group (GEO), who’ve seen their stakes in the private jailer more than triple in value in the past year. — SmartMoney.com, Feb. 26. Among the seven specific “risks and uncertainties that could materially affect” future earnings estimates, The GEO Group Inc. does not mention “prison riots” in its online 2007 Financial Guidance Update. Apparently, incidents such as Tuesday’s uprising by hundreds of inmates in the GEO-operated New Castle Correctional Facility fall under risk-and-uncertainty No. 8 — “other factors.” Those are outlined in the Florida company’s annual Securities and Exchange Commission filings. This relegation to the small print of GEO’s big international world sums up what is — and is not — of importance to GEO and Wall Street. Indeed, within two days of what New Castle’s mayor proclaimed “a full-scale riot,” GEO Group’s stock had regained most of the 2.2-percent loss caused by the destructive protests. By week’s end, GEO had more than rebounded, closing at $51.20 — a healthy $1.30 over its pre-riot price. The United States may account for less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but we have more than 25 percent of the globe’s prisoners. You’d think that fact would give pause to those who boast incessantly of this nation’s Christian values, but that seems not to be the case. Incarceration in America is a major growth industry. About 2.2 million men and women are locked up in U.S. correctional institutions — compared to 500,000 in 1980 — with another 4.8 million on parole or probation. Industry projections call for a 13-percent increase in our prison population within the next four years. Only 6 to 7 percent of U.S. prisons are operated by private-sector companies like the GEO Group, but it isn’t because public officials are hesitant to hand over the reins. Demand simply outstrips supply. Competition among states for contracts is fierce, which spells a rosy future for corporations. In other words, it will take more than a few burned mattresses and seven minor injuries in one short-lived rebellion to derail the privatized prison express. Especially in Indiana. In 2005, Gov. Mitch Daniels awarded a four-year, $53-million contract for New Castle prison to the GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest prison management company. Listed on the NYSE since 1996, GEO operates 58 prisons in the United States, Australia and South Africa and is building some of its own. The company also runs a few mental-health facilities, including the Florida Civil Commitment Center, where sex offenders who have served out their prison sentences are kept locked up, ostensibly to receive rehabilitative treatment mandated by Florida law. Last year, Daniels began to try to snag some of the millions of bucks floating around the prison industry and get them back into Indiana’s coffers. A deal to house California inmates, where correctional institutions are bursting at the seams, went south in December, but the governor then struck a one-year agreement with Arizona: $6.1 million to house about 1,200 of its inmates at New Castle. As we now know, thanks to the uprising, about a week before the free-for-all, Dora Schriro, Arizona’s prisons chief, came to Indiana to see how things were progressing for the first 630 transferees. The number of New Castle guards and the inexperience of some inspired her to delay moving any more Arizona inmates here. Katie Decker, a spokeswoman for Schriro, explained to the Associated Press: “They were pulling staff from other areas around the state to put them into these [security] positions, and we needed to be sure there was a permanent professional crew on site. It wasn’t just a quantity issue, it also was quality and the level of experience.” Tuesday’s violent protest, primarily by the medium-security Arizona inmates who’d had no say-so in their hasty 1,500-mile move to Indiana, confirmed Schriro’s worries. In the aftermath, when some folks criticized Gov. Daniels for busing in hundreds of seething Arizona prisoners before New Castle had an adequately trained staff to handle them, he said his intentions were for the welfare of Indiana workers. “We were looking for a way to get some Hoosiers hired at New Castle,” he told the Indianapolis Star. Also, it was a chance to “have them well-trained on somebody else’s nickel.” Of the uprising, Daniels assumed his characteristic corporate executive stance and reminded everyone that “corrections is a high-risk business managing high-risk offenders.” True, and the return is also very high. SmartMoney.com’s bullish story on the GEO Group noted that expected increases in the prison population mean “construction of new prison beds will cost as much as $12.5 billion. That kind of burden will likely force states and the federal government to outsource even more.” Patrick Swindle, a Tennessee investment analyst, told SmartMoney that states build prison beds for $75,000 to $80,000 per bed and the federal government “at north of $100,000 per bed.” Meanwhile, the private sector does it for about $60,000 per bed. That sort of economizing comes at a cost — to someone. Indy Star staff writer Erika D. Smith interviewed Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute, a non-profit organization that researches and reports on the problems of privatized prisons. According to Kopczynski, the employee turnover rate in privately run prisons is about 50 percent. In public correctional institutions it’s in the 15-percent range. “They answer to the shareholders so they make cuts whenever possible,” he said. The off-set, of course, is the dependability of the consumer base for prison services; the “customers” just keep on coming. Plus, they’re recession-proof. As Jamie Cuellar, a manager of the Brazos Micro Cap fund, explained to SmartMoney.com: “When times are bad, more people tend to go to jail. It’s awful but true.” And if those people don’t like the accommodations, what are they going to do? They can take their business elsewhere, but the only way to do that is to bust up the joint, shove some security guards around, set some mattresses on fire and get thrown into a place that’s even worse.

April 25, 2007 The Star Press
More than $37 billion is spent on incarcerating inmates in the country's jails and prisons each year, and critics of the private prison industry said Tuesday that riots like the one at the New Castle Correctional Facility are often sparked by cost-cutting measures. "You get what you pay for," said Kent Kopczynski, director of the Private Corrections Institute, a group critical of the private prison industry and the privatization of prisons. Peter Wagner of the Prison Policy Initiative agreed. "As a general matter, private prisons cut corners," Wagner said. "Private prisons cost as much as public prisons, so the only way they can make a profit is to cut corners." Inmates at the New Castle facility rioted Tuesday, causing injuries to two guards and damage to the facility. The prison is run by the GEO Group. Under the name Wackenhut, the company considered locating a facility in Delaware County in the late 1990s. When guards call in sick, services or recreation programs can be cut, Wagner noted, causing unrest among inmates. Officials on Tuesday cited the role of inmates from Arizona in the riot. More than 600 Arizona inmates -- housed at New Castle after an arrangement among the two states and GEO Group, which operates the privatized state facility -- were housed at the facility this week. As many as 1,260 Arizona inmates were to have been housed in the prison, which has a capacity of 2,400 beds. The prison also housed 1,050 Indiana inmates as of Tuesday. Kopczynski said importing inmates from another state -- such as the Arizona inmates at the New Castle prison -- can also increase the possibility of disturbances. "It's run like a hotel," he said. "They've got to fill the beds. If they can't fill the beds with Indiana natives, they've got to bring them in from elsewhere. You bring in inmates from out of state, and you have a blow-up between inmates." The prison industry in the United States is a big one. CNNMoney reported in March that $37 billion is spent on corrections each year in an effort to keep more than 2 million inmates incarcerated. Kopczynski said the problem of "understaffed and underpaid employees" was common in private prisons. "In a public facility, the staff is reasonably paid, you have health insurance, retirement," he said. "The privateers don't have that. At one GEO facility when the company was still Wackenhut, less than 10 percent of employees participated in the retirement plan because the company paid so much less than they did."

April 25, 2007 Indianapolis Star
GEO Group, the Florida-based company that runs New Castle Correctional Facility, is one of the oldest private prison operators in North America. Led by industry veteran George C. Zoley, considered by some to be a "grandfather" in the industry, the publicly traded company has operations around the world in industries that include prison management, health care and government services. "They have a very strong track record of working with a number of states and other countries," said Geoff Segal, a prison-privatization expert and director of government reform for the Libertarian think tank The Reason Foundation. In the United States alone, GEO Group runs or owns about 50 prisons, mostly in the South. The company said Monday it signed a contract to open a 1,500-bed facility in Laredo, Texas. GEO Group is growing fast -- just like the industry. The company, which is second only to Corrections Corp. of America in the number of prisons and prisoners it oversees, had an average two-year net revenue growth of about 22 percent. Business is so good, in fact, that prison riots don't necessarily hurt a company financially, analysts say. Not in the long run, anyway. "It's not the case that if you have a riot, you're going to lose a contract," said Anton Hie, an analyst with Jefferies. GEO Group's stock price did take a hit Tuesday, though. It fell $1.12, or 2.2 percent, to close at $48.78. Pablo Paez, a spokesman for the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company, said little about the New Castle riot, saying employees hadn't assessed the situation. "We have policies and procedures in place," he said. "At this point, the focus is to bring the situation under control." Privately run prisons account for about 6 percent of the U. S. prison population -- and that population is expected to grow over the next decade. The industry is highly consolidated, and its reach is growing. At the same time, the federal government has stopped building prisons, and states such as Arizona are discovering it's cheaper to ship their prisoners elsewhere than to build prisons of their own. Also, states such as Indiana are starting to see private prisons as a moneymaker because demand is so high and the supply of beds is not, said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the watchdog Private Corrections Institute. "The market is so tight that there's a bidding war going on," he said. GEO Group has started building more of its own facilities, in addition to managing them, as it does in New Castle. "You can't be evicted from your own facility," He said. However, Kopczynski said GEO Group faces the same problems as the rest of the industry. Turnover at private prison companies is about 50 percent, compared with about 15 percent at public prisons, he said. "They answer to the shareholders," he said, "so they make cuts whenever possible."

April 24, 2007 Indianapolis Star
State officials will temporarily halt the transfer of Arizona prisoners to the New Castle Correctional Facility after a riot Tuesday that prompted calls for an end to housing another state's inmates in Indiana. Department of Correction officials said nine people -- two prison employees and seven inmates -- suffered minor injuries in separate disturbances involving Arizona and Indiana prisoners during a two-hour period Tuesday afternoon at the facility 50 miles east of Indianapolis. Commissioner J. David Donahue said the Arizona prisoners may have been upset because Indiana prisons have different rules, including a ban on smoking and limits on personal items inmates can have in their cells. The Arizona prisoners are kept separate from Indiana inmates. Tuesday's disturbance is the latest example of riots led by prisoners shipped to other states for incarceration. At least two other uprisings since 2003 involved Arizona inmates held in out-of-state prisons. The riot also prompted a key legislative leader to call for the state to cancel the Arizona deal. "The idea of bringing in people from another state who bring along their gangs, allegiances and different alliances immediately was a mixture that was bound to bring trouble," said House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend. Gov. Mitch Daniels said Tuesday night the inmates specifically involved in the incident "need to go home" and that he will review the entire out-of-state arrangement today with Donahue. But even before Tuesday's riot, Arizona officials had decided to stop sending inmates to the New Castle prison because a recent visit raised "serious security concerns." Dora Schriro, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, visited the New Castle Correctional Facility on Thursday and found insufficient staffing for her state's 630 inmates, said Katie Decker, a spokeswoman with the department. Schriro also was concerned about where officers were stationed. "She advised the operators of that prison that she was going to halt the transfer of inmates until these issues were resolved," Decker said. "There were serious security concerns." Decker said only 37 correctional officers were assigned to the Arizona inmates Thursday. She could not say what that number should have been but said 131 officers would have been required if all 1,260 Arizona inmates had already been transferred. She declined to comment on whether those staffing levels could have contributed to the riot. Arizona is paying Indiana $6.1 million to house its inmates. Daniels and others supported the deal in part because the prison was only about half full. The New Castle prison is state-owned, but Indiana contracts with GEO Group of Florida to operate it. The first 104 prisoners arrived March 12. Decker, the Arizona corrections spokeswoman, said Arizona would prefer to keep its prisoners in-state but can't accommodate the growing inmate population. Arizona also sends some inmates to a prison in Oklahoma. It had sent about 1,500 to private prisons in Texas, but those contracts were canceled late last year. Decker said the future of the contract with Indiana is in question. "Is the facility going to be capable of housing the inmates we have there? Are the things that caused this going to be addressed? " While the riot raised concerns about the deal with Arizona, it also prompted questions about the state's contract with a private firm to manage the facility. The state signed a contract with GEO Group in September 2005 to run the prison for four years with an option for three two-year extensions. Officials with the company declined comment Tuesday. Daniels said the fact that the prison is privately managed did not have anything to do with the riot, and his office released a history of disturbances at Indiana correctional facilities to help support his point. "In fact, the management there responded beautifully, as did the public authorities," said Daniels, who has sought to privatize parts of state government. But Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker disagreed and said privatization of the prison likely contributed. "What happened today is a tragedy. I think it all ties back to the fact that (the governor) has privatized essential government services," Parker said. House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, cautioned people not to rush to judgment. "It's too early to make any rash judgments about what happened in New Castle," he said. "I think we need to find out exactly what happened, who is responsible and how prison officials reacted. This is not the first prison riot in national history, nor is it the last." Tuesday's trouble began about 2 p.m. as a group of Arizona inmates became defiant as they were being moved from a dining hall to their cellblocks, said Donahue, the DOC commissioner. Donahue said many of the inmates began removing their shirts, apparently in a show of solidarity for the "noncompliance," and one guard was either knocked or pushed to the ground. A group of Indiana inmates -- who do not mingle with the Arizona prisoners and are kept separate by fences -- became aware of the disturbance, and about 500 of the prison's 1,668 inmates became involved, he said. Rioters broke scores of windows and set several fires in outdoor recreation areas before guards used a chemical agent to quell the disturbance after about two hours. Guards first isolated the areas of disruption, giving inmates time to decide who was going to participate and who was going to be bystanders rather than rushing in, Donahue said. "We don't rush to judgment," he said. "We don't want to put additional folks at risk. We didn't have anyone in harm's way." It's not unusual for tensions to flare up at a prison that's privately run and has prisoners from different states, said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the watchdog Private Corrections Institute. For one, prisoners often end up far away from their relatives and friends, making visits difficult. "How do you expect the family to stay in touch," he said, "when they're in Arizona and they have to fly all the way to Indiana?" In addition, companies such as GEO Group subject prisoners to different rules, based on the contracts they have with different states. For example, prisoners from one state can have food more times per day or access to reading materials or better medical care than prisoners from another state. Guards did keep the prison populations apart, as all management companies are required to do, but that rarely stops the flow of information, Kopczynski said. Once one group finds out the guards are treating another group better, prisoners can become resentful, angry and violent. That kind of unequal treatment doesn't usually happen in public prisons, because the prisoners are from the same state. But transferring prisoners from state to state is becoming more and more common as states run out of beds and decide it's cheaper to ship prisoners to other states, rather than build a prison of their own. Prisoners' rights' advocates said that the arrangement is a recipe for disaster from the start. Donna Leone Hamm, director of Middle Ground Prison Reform, an Arizona-based nonprofit inmate advocacy group, said she is not surprised that violence broke out at the prison. She said her organization has been contacted by inmates and their family members who said prisoners were shipped off to Indiana against their will and with little notice, including some who said they were roused from their beds in the middle of the night and told to pack. Because Arizona transports prisoners deemed least likely to cause trouble, well-behaved inmates felt they were being punished for playing by the rules, Hamm said. In addition, some couldn't bring along personal property, including televisions, she said.

April 9, 2007 San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Paris Hilton's simple life might soon become slightly more simple if she becomes an inmate in one of the area's several "pay-to-stay" city jails. On Thursday, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office announced it had sufficient evidence that Hilton violated the terms of her DUI probation. Prosecutors want her to serve at least 90 days in jail. A hearing for Hilton is scheduled April 17. Fortunately for Hilton, 26, several local cities offer jail accommodations that might be considered a cut above the standard accommodations available in the Los Angeles County women's lockup. In Pasadena for example, Hilton can spend $127 a night for three hot meals and a cot, and live in a dorm that's separate from the housing offered to inmates awaiting arraignment, or those sleeping it off in the drunk tank. "We ask that our inmates pay in advance with a money order or cashier's check," Pasadena police Cmdr. John Perez said. "It's safe here. We won't take people with a history of violence or medical problems." The appeal of a jail like Pasadena's comes from its size, Perez said. "It's kind of like a hotel," he said. "This is just a more controlled environment." Besides Pasadena, Montebello, Alhambra and La Verne offer "pay-to-stay" programs. Orange County, Seal Beach and Fullerton offer similar facilities. Fullerton's jail even allows inmates access to personal laptops and cell phones. While the Pasadena and La Verne jails are city-run operations, the Montebello and Alhambra pay-to-stay facilities are run by Correctional System Inc., an Anaheim-based company. Frank Mateljan, spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, said Hilton would have to file a request with the judge in her case if she wanted to choose to do time in a city jail instead of the county lockup. "At that point, it would be up to the discretion of the judge," Mateljan said. If Hilton is sentenced to jail time and chooses to stay in a pay facility, she won't be the first celebrity to take advantage of the special accommodations. Actor Christian Slater served a 59-day sentence in La Verne in 1998. Former Orange County Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo is currently serving a one-year sentence in Montebello after pleading no contest to felony charges of perjury and misuse of public funds. Pasadena has had its share of celebrity inmates too, Perez said. "In years past we've had some," Perez recalled. "Who was the last? I don't remember." As for revenue the city might earn from the program, Perez said it isn't much of a money maker, but it does pay for itself. Steve Lechuga, an employee of Correctional System Inc. and the supervisor for both the Alhambra and Montebello jails, said inmates are required to participate in menial chores like mopping, doing laundry, cleaning cells and taking out the trash. But, there is also the opportunity to see visitors and take part in some recreation. The Montebello jail has two cells devoted to its paying inmates. One cell houses 10 men; the other holds two. A night's stay costs $75, he said. Alhambra's jail has a similar layout, but also accommodates women inmates. "It's all the same price," he said. "And what you get is all about the availability." There are two classes of inmates who typically participate in pay-to-stay programs: Those serving terms of a year or less and those on work furlough, who can serve their sentences on the weekends while living at home and going to work during the week, Lechuga and Perez said. Importantly, those who pay for their jail stays are separated from the general population. "They are all separated from the regular arrestees off the street," Lechuga said. "But, they can still interact with each other." Not everyone thinks pay-to-stay programs are just - or fair. "Their whole purpose is to make a profit," said Ken Kopezynski, head of the Florida-based Private Corrections Institute, which opposes the establishment of private prisons and jails throughout the United States. "These places sound too much like hotels," Kopezynski said. "This really smacks of some sort of checkbook justice. It's kind of like the Middle Ages - kind of like buying indulgences to earn your way into heaven."

January 27, 2007 Tallahassee Democrat
The first definition of "oversight" involves supervision, as in the oversight of a contract by a state agency; the second involves a careless mistake or omission, as in, "Sorry for my oversight. I'll straighten it out right away." The problem with a settlement between the state and a private prison contractor that was one of two firms that were overpaid $4.5 million is that it's not at all clear which kind of oversight was in play. But if it's the first, the Department of Management Services' agreement with a Boca Raton company called GEO Group was highly questionable and very possibly a lousy deal for Florida taxpayers. DMS' agreement with the company calls for the collection by the state of $402,501 to settle previous claims. That comes to about 10 cents on your dollar that the state decided was a sensible arrangement - although the state is still negotiating with a second contractor, Corrections Corporation of America, which also received overpayments. It's no wonder that Sen. Victor Crist, R-Temple Terrace, was taken aback this week, saying the settlement "almost seems criminal." He asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. That's a reasonable request. If there's more here than meets the eye, taxpayers would love to know. If the rest of the story smells just as fishy, taxpayers should know that, too. There's little question that politics and past mismanagement are helping to cloud the picture. The original contract was handled by the now-defunct Correctional Privatization Commission, an agency created to oversee prisons in the state that are run by private companies. That board was legislated out of existence in 2004 and the commission's oversight responsibilities transferred to DMS. Given the performance of the Correctional Privatization Commission, that was a smart move. But the news about the DMS agreement with GEO now raises real questions about that agency's ability to effectively manage contracts with private prison companies. "It was not an honest mistake," Ken Kopczynski, a lobbyist for the Police Benevolent Association who's been tracking private prison contracts for more than 10 years, said of GEO. "I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to know that if a bank teller gives you $100 more than you are legally liable to receive, you need to give the money back." The politically influential PBA, which represents state corrections officers, has been the most consistent opponent of prison privatization. It maintained for years that the defunct commission had inappropriately cozy ties to the industry it was supposed to regulate - a charge that Mr. Crist, the Senate justice appropriations chairman, echoed last week. Mr. Kopczynski said he asked FDLE to investigate last year, but without success. But an investitgation is still appropriate - before any more bad deals are cut on taxpayers' behalf.

January 25, 2007 Tallahassee Democrat
The head of a Senate budget committee today called for a criminal investigation of overpayments to two companies running private prisons for the state. Sen. Victor Crist, R-Temple Terrace, said he is not satisfied with a $402,501 settlement negotiated by the Department of Management Services this month with GEO Group, a Boca Raton-based company that runs prisons for the state in South Bay and Moore Haven. The state is still negotiating reimbursement of overpayments with Corrections Corp. of America, the Nashville company that runs prisons at Quincy, Lake City and Panama City. "This almost seems criminal," Crist told his Senate Justice Appropriations Committee. He said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement should investigate how the overpayments occurred. After DMS assumed oversight from the old Correctional Privatization Commission, the department's inspector general did an audit that questioned some $13 million in payments to the two private prison operators. The audit said the companies were overpaid $4.5 million for unfilled positions. Crist said he was not blaming DMS because the overpayments occurred under the defunct commission, but that "we'd like an extra set of eyes to take a closer look at" the settlement with GEO and past payments to both companies. "If it was an honest mistake and $4.5 million was overpaid, they ought to write a check and clear it up," he said after the meeting of his committee. "They (CCA and GEO) took more than $4 million for positions that didn't exist and it just sticks in my craw that we would be getting $400,000 for it." The settlement includes $111,000 for partial reimbursement of legal fees incurred by the state in court challenges to the property-tax exemption of the state-owned, privately operated prisons. Those fees were unrelated to the overpayment. Roz Ingram, director of specialized services for DMS, said almost $5 million in overpayments occurred under "competitive area differential" provisions carried forward from the old contracts between the CPC and the companies. She said the differentials were killed by DMS when renegotiating contracts. "We used this a as a tool to go in and try to revamp the system and we've put a lot of different things in place," Ingram said of the audit. Ken Kopczynski, a lobbyist for the Police Benevolent Association, cheered Crist's action. The PBA, which represents correctional officers in state prisons, has been a vocal critic of privatization. "God bless 'em. It's about time," said Kopczynski.

January 24, 2007 Tallahassee Democrat
The state has reached a $402,000 agreement with one of the two companies that run private prisons in Florida. Department of Management Services Secretary Linda South said Tuesday night she was satisfied with the settlement with The GEO Group Inc., which operates prisons in South Bay and Moore Haven. GEO also has a contract for the Graceville prison opening in September. South said DMS is negotiating terms with Corrections Corporation of America, the company that runs three other privatized prisons. She declined to discuss those talks. After the Correctional Privatization Commission was abolished and oversight of the five private prisons was shifted to DMS in 2004, the DMS inspector general did an audit that cited numerous discrepancies. The GEO Group settlement involved $357,520.94 in overpayments. Under the agreement, signed by previous DMS Secretary Tom Lewis, GEO agreed to pay $290,952.43. The company separately agreed to pay $111,549.27 of the state's legal fees in a court fight over disputed property-tax bills for the prison facilities. The agreement said DMS has paid $446,197.08 defending the sovereign immunity of the state-owned prisons. Ken Kopczynski, a lobbyist for the Florida Police Benevolent Association, said the state "let them off easy." The PBA, which represents correctional officers in state-run institutions, has been highly critical of privatization. South said "this is good news for DMS" and that the audits ended "some really critical lack of internal controls" under the defunct Correctional Privatization Commission. She added, "The $400,000 is a lot higher than zero."

January 5, 2007 Tulsa World
Angel Green has no health insurance and works two jobs to make do, so talk of industry in her small Mayes County town of Spavinaw -- even if that industry is a private prison -- excites her. "A lot of people here are retirees," Green said of residents who are lured here by the community's scenic waterside setting on Spavinaw Lake. "What they don't understand is that there is a younger generation here that is living at the poverty level or below." A standing-room only crowd of least 130 people turned out Thursday evening for a town meeting to discuss whether the community will embrace a private prison. Leaders of the Florida-based GEO Group Inc. told the audience that the company is considering expanding its for-profit facilities. Although it is looking at several sites, the company has proposed erecting a 1,000-bed prison in Spavinaw, a move that GEO claims would generate 200 jobs. State Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, said Thursday that a prison in Spavinaw could boost the economy in the town of 600 people. "I view this as an industry that doesn't pollute the water, doesn't pollute the ground, doesn't cause the air to smell," he said. Cox said more than 25 percent of residents in his legislative district receive food stamps and that at least 50 percent have no health insurance. Don Houston, senior vice president of the GEO Group, told the crowd that if the prison is located in Spavinaw, it would generate jobs that average $10 an hour and that one-third of the employees wouldn't be corrections officers. "We're 18 months away if they said go tonight," Houston said. "We're at the point of just talking to you." Frank Smith is a national field organizer for Private Corrections Institute, a nonprofit watchdog group that speaks out against private prisons. The Kansan said the Mayes County town isn't large enough to support a correctional facility. "They will manipulate anybody they can to get what they want," he said. "They are interested in a profit. They are not interested in the community."

December 24, 2006 The Daily Sentinel
Regarding The Daily Sentinel’s story about exporting of 240 prisoners to Sayre, Oklahoma, this “crisis” is the direct result of malfeasance by Colorado legislators and officials. A lack of nerve plus pandering to the fears of the public have resulted in increased sentences for Colorado prisoners and backward parole policies that keep many minor, non-dangerous offenders in prison for so long. Along with TABOR, a deficit of DOC ethics and professionalism have kept Colorado from building its own prisons and the failure to properly monitor the performance of the for-profit lockups that were built in their place. I predicted a riot would occur at the Crowley private prison months before it exploded in flames on July 20, 2004. Colorado officials blithely looked the other way, ignoring the same whistleblowers to which I’d been speaking for a year. That riot cost taxpayers over $700,000, less than half of which the DOC recovered after it was finally forced to assess damages. It was the second such Crowley riot. The first required intervention of law enforcement from four states. Recently, the Pueblo Chieftain editorialized, “Private prison plans for Pueblo have been declared dead as the result of a scathing state audit and other serious questions involving the proposed operator, Florida-based GEO Group. We say good riddance.” State Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo requested the audit, which found that a former state director of prisons, for $1 million, “was helping GEO to get a contract for a private prison in Weld County while he still was employed by the state.” The Crowley warden went to Sayre, Okla., the destination of the Colorado inmates. It was closed for years after Wisconsin withdrew its prisoners because they were deprived family contact. FRANK SMITH, National Field Director Private Corrections Institute Bluff City, Kan.

New Mexico
December 20, 2006 Santa Fe Reporter
It’s been a long, turbulent year for Wexford Health Sources, the private prison company that administers health care in New Mexico’s state prisons. It’s been even harder for the 6,000-plus inmates that the Pittsburgh-based company treats or, as a growing number of critics would argue, doesn’t treat. Over the last five months, SFR has written 11 stories on Wexford and the litany of serious problems the company has experienced in New Mexico [Cover story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?”]. Those who have raised concerns about Wexford include the company’s former regional medical director, the former medical director of Lea County Correctional Facility (LCCF) in Hobbs and numerous former and current Wexford medical employees. Their allegations are all hauntingly similar: Wexford refuses to fill critical medical positions. Wexford refuses to grant off-site visits for seriously ill inmates. Wexford refuses to renew critical prescription medicine for inmates. According to Manu Patel, the Legislative Finance Committee’s deputy director of audits, the LFC expects to issue a report on the Corrections Department by June 2007, as per a review that is currently under way. That report will include extensive information on Wexford’s role as a prison health care provider. And, according to those who worked for the company, and some who still do, the company’s insistence on the bottom line over the care of its charges causes inmates to suffer, sometimes with lasting, even fatal, results. Amid a growing chorus of critics, Gov. Bill Richardson decided Wexford needed an overhaul. On Dec. 8, prompted by SFR’s reporting, Richardson ordered the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) and the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department (with whom Wexford also holds a contract) to find a new medical provider [Outtakes, Dec. 13: “Wexford Under Fire”]. According to Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos, details regarding Wexford’s departure are still being worked out, but both agencies will be using a different company to provide health care very soon. “First we had Addus. Now we have Wexford. It seems like every time the state brings in another private health care company, things just get worse,” Dr. Gayla Herbel, former regional medical director for Wexford in New Mexico and a chief critic of the company, says. Even before Richardson took action, SFR’s series, which also has documented Wexford’s past problems in other states, lawsuits in this one and a state nursing board investigation into alleged record falsifying, spilled over into the state Legislature. On Oct. 20, the Legislature’s Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee held a hearing on Wexford in Hobbs. In addition to listening to testimony, legislators toured LCCF and heard firsthand from inmates about Wexford’s failures at the facility. As a result, committee members unanimously voted to recommend that the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) conduct an independent audit of Wexford [Outtakes, Oct. 25: “Medical Test”]. “We heard a great deal from the inmates about the problems with medical care,” State Rep. Joseph Cervantes, D-Doña Ana, says. “The result was the request for the LFC audit. I’m pleased that NMCD is now placing the scrutiny on Wexford that is deserved.” The LFC has since moved fast; the audit is already in the works and will continue even though Wexford is on its way out. “We want to establish good quality controls with any future company we contract with,” LFC’s Deputy Director of Audits Manu Patel says. Ken Kopczynski, director of the Private Corrections Institute, a Florida-based watchdog group, has kept an eye on Wexford’s New Mexico operations. He’s called publicly for the US Justice Department to intervene and says the state shouldn’t be surprised at what has happened. “It’s great to hear that the governor is moving forward on this. But I’m hoping the state doesn’t drop the ball in terms of recouping liquidated damages regarding Wexford not carrying out the contract, if that’s what happened,” he says. “With a for-profit company like Wexford, you get what you pay for. Not only do they have to provide health care to the inmates, but they need to make a profit margin for their shareholders.”

November 2, 2006 Counter Punch
Lazaro Perez (not his real name), a poor Tzotzil Indian farmer from San Juan Chamula Chiapas, caught the old bus out of the state capital Tuxtla Gutierrez for the three-day journey to the northern border. Lazaro was determined to cross the brutal desert that separated him from the American dream - a cousin in Phoenix Arizona where there is a growing Chamulan community had written that there was plenty of work there. Disembarking in El Altar, Sonora on the lip of the desert, Lazaro and a handful of fellow Chamulans with whom he had hopped the bus in Tuxtla contracted a "guia" (guide) for $1000 a head to get them across the foreboding badlands where more than 200 have perished each year for a decade. But "the corridor of death" as this wedge of the border west of Yuma is called is not such an easy place to die in these days. The beefed-up "Migra" (Border Patrol or Immigration Customs Enforcement as Homeland Security now calls it) aided and abetted by National Guard "scouts" brought in to back up the ICE under Operation Jumpstart as one facet of the Bush administration's politically motivated immigration crackdown, is corralling record numbers of undocumented travelers in this sector and Lazaro and his pals were taken into custody not an hour into their trek across the desert. Out a $1000 he had borrowed from relatives, penniless, and in detention in a strange land, Lazaro wished he had never left Chiapas. The Chamulan's bad luck is shared by thousands of new would-be "indocumentados" these days all along the 3000-kilometer border between Mexico and Fortress America as immigration detentions skyrocket. But Lazaro Perez's misfortune is making a fortune for one of the fastest-growing industries in the border region ­ private immigration detention centers operated by such titans of the euphemistically-named "corrections industry" as GEO (formerly Wackenhut) of Boca Raton, Florida and the billion buck Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) out of Nashville. For the privatizers, managing the detention centers requires minimal investment compared to criminal incarceration facilities ­ the no-frills lock-ups do not require legally mandated recreation, educational, or law library components that must be made available to common criminals. Although the U.S. prison population ­ 1.5 million inmates ­ remains the most voluminous on Planet Earth, incarceration rates are slowing to a little over 1%a year increase while the detention side is running 21% annual growth. As the detention market balloons so do the fortunes of the corrections titans ­ CCA's detention facilities turned a $95 million profit last year and its stock is up to $53 a share according to this morning's Wall Street Journal. Similarly, GEO stock has boomed 68% in the past year. "The detention market should grow by $200 to $250,000 in the next two years" figured Patrick Swindle of Avondale LLC in an instructive July 27th New York Times business page piece. "What's great is that this industry promises steadily growing profits," offered an upbeat Anton High of Jefferies & Company brokers (ibid.) The detention market needs tough enforcement laws to fly and the corrections industry contracts high-powered Washington lobbyists to grease the wheels of Congress, prison activists like Kansas-based Frank Smith contend ­ although Smith says the bucks are hard to track. Reluctant to advertise how they profit on the migrants' misery, the big guns sneak in under the radar, masquerading as PACs to bulk up the war chests of such immigration hawks as San Diego's Duncan Hunter, Colorado's Tom Tancredo, and the venerable Sensenbrenner.

October 21, 2006 Sacramental Bee
The first transfers of California inmates to private, out-of-state prisons are scheduled to take place next month under two no-bid contracts the overstuffed Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation signed Friday. Under the deals worked out with the GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, the state will move 2,260 inmates out of its jampacked prisons over the next 120 days to private institutions in Indiana, Arizona, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Corrections officials say the separate deals will help stem its emergency overcrowding crisis, but union officials opposed to the transfers contend they will undermine public accountability and shift responsibility for the tough business of prison administration to profit-driven corporate boardrooms. Newspaper reports compiled on a Web site run by the Private Corrections Institute in Florida paint a different picture of the CCA prisons, however. The stories cited riots and inmate drug dealing at Diamondback, more violence and drug issues at Florence, inmate complaints over phone rates at North Fork and the unexplained death of a prisoner at West Tennessee.

New Mexico
October 18, 2006 Santa Fe Reporter
Current prison health workers say they fear retaliation if they speak out. Just days before state legislators convene a hearing on correctional health care in New Mexico, a group of medical employees in the state prison system have come to SFR with allegations about how inmates are treated. All four requested anonymity because they say they fear retaliation from Wexford Health Sources—the private company that administers health care in the prisons—if their identities are revealed. The employees currently work at Central New Mexico Correctional Facility. They allege, among other things, that chronically ill inmates are forced to lie in their own feces for hours, are taken off vital medicine to save money and often wait months before receiving treatment for urgent medical conditions. Moreover, the employees say conditions at the facility are unsanitary. “In my entire career, I’ve never seen this sort of stuff happening,” one employee says. “These inmates are not being treated humanely. They don’t live in sanitary conditions. They live in pain.” Wexford Vice President Elaine Gedman denies all the employees’ allegations in an e-mail response to SFR. Corrections spokeswoman Tia Bland says the department is unaware of these allegations and that “none of these issues have surfaced during our regular auditing process.” The employees’ allegations come on the heels of a series of stories by SFR, in which several former Wexford employees have publicly come forward with similar charges [Cover Story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?”]. As a result of the stories, the state Legislature’s Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee will hold a hearing on Oct. 20 in Hobbs to discuss the matter [Outtakes, Sept. 13: “Checkup”]. Wexford and the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD), which oversees the Pennsylvania-based company, have categorically denied charges that inmates are being denied proper health care. These latest allegations are the first to come from current employees of Wexford. The employees describe an environment where medical staff must purchase their own wipes for incontinent patients because they say Wexford administrators say there’s no money for supplies. They say there’s a shortage of oxygen tanks and nebulizer machines (for asthma patients) and also scant protective equipment for those staff treating infectious diseases. Gedman says, “Wexford is unaware of any shortage in medical supplies. Extra oxygen bottles and nebulizers are always on hand and ready for any emergency use. The oxygen bottles are inventoried daily as part of our emergency response requirement.” The employees also allege that chronically ill inmates sometimes wait what they say is too long to be taken off-site for specialty care. Gedman says this also is false and that Wexford “strongly encourages all of our providers to refer patients for necessary evaluation and treatment, off-site when necessary, as soon as problems are identified that need specialty referral.” All four employees say their complaints to Wexford administrators about the lack of supplies and treatment of inmates have been ignored, and all believe coming forward publicly will cost them their jobs. Gedman says this concern is unfounded because “Wexford encourages an open-door policy for all employees to bring issues to the attention of management so that they can be investigated and acted upon as appropriate.” Bland says Corrections staff are “visible and accessible in the prisons. If any of Wexford’s staff would like to speak with us concerning these allegations, we welcome the information and will certainly look into the matter.” As for the legislative hearing, State Rep. Joseph Cervantes, R-Doña Ana, co-chairman of the Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee, says he hopes some of these Wexford critics will show up in Hobbs. And he says further hearings are a possibility. “I hope there is a full airing of the issues. I would like to learn that the Corrections Department is working to resolve all of this, but if they haven’t, I expect to make deadlines for them so we can expect adequate progress,” Cervantes says. “We’d still like to protect the anonymity and bring to light any allegations and complaints.” Cervantes also says he wants to introduce legislation during the next session to protect whistle-blowers. Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute watchdog group in Florida, says the Legislature must do everything it can to safeguard current Wexford employees against retaliation. “The Legislature is the ultimate authority, and they need to put pressure on the Corrections Department to find out what the hell is going on. They also need to protect these employees so they can come forward and testify about their specific experiences,” Kopczynski says. “And if there are allegations of civil rights abuse, which is what it sounds like, then the Justice Department needs to come in.”

October 6, 2006 Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent declaration of an emergency in state prisons will mean two new possibilities for inmates at the California Institution for Men and other prisons: doing time at private prisons and doing time in other states. Special Section: Criminal Neglect Schwarzenegger's proclamation makes it possible for California to contract for prison beds with private operators in other states - a proposal the governor had sought earlier this year but was rebuffed by the Legislature. "Our prisons are now beyond maximum capacity, and we must act immediately and aggressively to resolve this issue," he said Wednesday. But experts questioned the wisdom of the move, noting that placing prisoners in out-of-state facilities has in the past led to violence. "There's been lots of problems with inmates being shipped out, in particular if they're put into a facility with multijurisdictional inmates," said Ken Kopczynski, of the Florida-based Private Corrections Institute. "California inmates are under California law. If they have Oklahoma inmates, or Texas inmates, they all have to be handled separately." Disparity in treatment of prisoners from several states was one cause identified in a 2004 riot where inmates alternately smashed, flooded and torched a private institution in Colorado, Kopczynski noted. In that incident, prisoners from different states -Colorado, Washington and Wyoming - felt they were being treated unfairly, since each state paid different wages for inmate labor. Other problems can arise when inmates from different states get together to form their own gangs, or when the distance from their families and support networks is too great, making rehabilitation less likely. Kopczynski also said the private corrections industry has racked up a less-than-stellar record in the past, mostly due to cost-saving efforts such as using low-wage guards and cutting corners on security.

New Mexico
October 4, 2006 Santa Fe Reporter
Medical personnel at a New Mexico state prison don’t have protective gear to treat inmates with infectious diseases. Nurses at the same prison lack sanitary wipes for sick inmates who have soiled themselves. Inmates regularly miss doses of critical medicine because their prescriptions are not renewed properly. These are just some of the allegations made by Norbert Sanchez, a nurse for Wexford Health Sources, the private company that administers health care in New Mexico’s state prisons. Sanchez asserts that Wexford suspended him on Sept. 6 from his post at the Long Term Care Unit (LTCU) at Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in retaliation for continually raising concerns about Wexford’s operations at the facility. But he recently spoke with SFR in an exclusive interview. His account follows a series of stories by SFR in which a wide range of former Wexford employees have raised similarly serious concerns regarding Wexford’s treatment of inmates [Cover Story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?”]. “There were no guidelines, no policies from Wexford. It was unsafe for the inmates and the employees,” Sanchez, a 20-year veteran nurse, says. Sanchez says he began to work for Wexford in April and quickly noticed problems. Incoming nurses received only scant safety training from Wexford and were immediately thrown into intense treatment settings to plug staffing shortages, he alleges. More disturbingly, Sanchez says that there weren’t protective gowns and masks for medical staff who needed to treat inmates with infectious diseases, dangerous for staff, inmates and the general public. There also was a shortage of linens and sanitary wipes, which are particularly critical for chronically ill inmates. Wexford Vice President Elaine Gedman responded in a lengthy Oct. 2 e-mail to SFR. She would not comment on the details of Sanchez’s suspension but denies he was disciplined for complaining. SFR also queried New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) spokeswoman Tia Bland on Sanchez’ allegation of retaliation and his issues with Wexford’s health care. Bland says NMCD has no information on Sanchez’ employment status and is unaware of a shortage of medical supplies or protective gear, as well as prescription drug lapses, but that the Department is looking into it. As for Sanchez’s assertions about dirty linens, Bland says: “The linens are our responsibility. We have gotten a little behind with linen laundry in LTCU because of some electrical problems. We’ve ordered new linens, and we’re working on fixing the problem.” Regarding the staffing shortages Sanchez and other ex-Wexford employees have complained of, Bland says: “We’ve always acknowledged staffing challenges. We are happy to say the vacancy rate is the lowest it’s been in months. We applaud Wexford’s efforts and encourage them to keep it up.” Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute watchdog group in Florida, says that aside from the hearing, NMCD should consider liquidating damages or fining Wexford if it refuses to live up to its contractual obligations. NMCD hired Wexford in July 2004; last fall, a $35,000 agreement was reached between NMCD and Wexford over the state’s concern that Wexford didn’t provide enough work hours for its full-time employees, particularly psychiatrists. “You’re only as good as your contract. And if there are systematic problems here, than the state might need to hit Wexford where it hurts,” Kopczynski says. Ultimately, though, Kopczynski maintains that it is up to the Legislature and Corrections Secretary Joe Williams to ensure that Wexford upholds humane standards of care. “Somebody needs to be enforcing that contract. And it should be up to the Legislature to hold the secretary’s feet to the fire,” he says. “And if the secretary chooses not to, then they need to get rid of him.” Meanwhile, Sanchez says he plans on speaking at the forthcoming hearing in Hobbs. “Wexford doesn’t care about its employees,” he says. “And they don’t care about the inmates.”

September 30, 2006 Ledger-Enquirer
There is something morally repugnant about making a profit on someone else's brokenness. It's not that the prisons in the state of Georgia don't do that, but there is some incentive for the state not to fill every prison bed, said John Cole Vodicka, director of the Prison & Jail Project, a watchdog organization in Americus, Ga. But when you have a company operating a prison that needs to fill up every cell in order to turn a profit that meets their shareholders expectations, there is absolutely no incentive to reduce that population or to figure out ways to get people out of that prison, said Cole Vodicka. Jim Wetherington, former commissioner of the Department of Corrections, said the state opted for private prisons because it's cheaper, but he also has reasons for not favoring for-profit facilities. "I never was in favor of private prisons because they don't offer the services we offer in state prisons. They don't go in depth on the rehabilitation as the state does, and they have fewer guards," said Wetherington, who is a candidate for mayor of Columbus, and the city's former police chief. Cole Vodicka said he understands officials' desperate need for jobs and to bring their county up and out of poverty. "Stewart County is one of the poorest counties in the state -- one of the poorest counties in the Deep South," he said. "At the same time, I think they are being sold a bill of goods. I think ultimately what's going to happen is that a lot of the jobs at the prison will be filled by people who do not live in Stewart County right now, and won't choose to live there once they get jobs at the prison," Cole Vodicka said. Failing public? Frank Smith agreed. Smith, who is national field organizer for Private Corrections Institute, contacted me after reading "For profit prisons fail public." It was Tuesday's column about the Corrections Corporation of America's upcoming job fair. CCA runs for-profit corrections facilities. "People call this the Prison Industrial Complex. They recruit guys who are wardens in state penitentiaries. The corporations bring in the big shots. And pay the guards low wages," said Smith, who said he got involved with for-profit prisons about 15 years ago in Alaska. At that time, he said, Alaska wanted to send 320 prisoners to Texas. Smith referenced a 1970s study in which researchers looked at prisoners who, in the last year of incarceration, had zero, one, two or three visitors. They found that the people who had no visitors had a recidivism rate six times that of people who had three or more visitors. Researchers defined visitors as different people. One person who visited a prisoner three times counted as one visitor, said Smith, a social worker, who had contracted with Alaska department of corrections to provide substance abuse treatment. Smith also recalled an incident in which a for-profit prison in Oklahoma was emptied because Wisconsin officials removed the prisoners. "Wisconsin insisted on a deal so that prisoners didn't lose contact with their families back home. The prison couldn't negotiate for a reasonable phone rate, so Wisconsin pulled all the prisoners. And the prison sat empty for about three years," he said. Cole Vodicka said most of the prisoners in the Stewart County facility are going to be those who either haven't been in the country very long or are in this country illegally: "This means folks working there will encounter folks not like themselves. Different culture. Different language. That immediately raises some concerns about how well trained these prison employees will be." Prison employees will live in Columbus. They'll live in Albany. And they'll live in Alabama. But they are not going to choose to live in Stewart County, which needs a lot more help with its infrastructure than they are going to get from the Corrections Corporation of America, Cole Vodicka said. "There may be a gas station or a restaurant that will get a few dollars because the prison is there," he said. "And maybe a few people will choose to live in Lumpkin. But by and large, Lumpkin will be known as a prison town. The prison is a mile from the courthouse square." Contact Kaffie Sledge at 706-571-8585 or ksledge@ledger-enquirer.com

September 12, 2006 Kansas City Star
If Phill Kline had legitimate credentials, he wouldn’t need to pad his résumé. He alleges he “worked to get ‘Jessica’s Law’ passed this year, increasing sentences for four types of sex crimes against children” (9/7, Local, “Kline cites record on water rights, sex predators”). Jessica’s Law was a terrible bill, but one that only our bravest state senators had the guts to oppose. Whether Kline was for, against or indifferent to it would not have made one whit of difference. Legislators were stampeded into voting for it, as they would be for mom, apple pie and the American flag. The bill will raise our state prison population by 1,000 prisoners, which will cost well over the average of $22,000 for each in today’s correctional dollars. That’s 22 million bucks a year, for typical prisoners, not high-cost, geriatric sex offenders, plus another $50 million for bed space to house them. The bill was bundled by Sen. Derek Schmidt, champion of the for-profit prison GEO Group, in his effort to actually import rapists, pedophiles and murderers to Kansas. Not much to take credit for, is it, even if it were deserved? Frank Smith, Bluff City, Kan.

August 31, 2006 Daily News
The Lake County community is one step closer to reopening the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility thanks to a bill passed Wednesday by the House of Representatives in a 72-31 vote. The bill heads to the governor’s desk for approval, and she has said she will sign it. House Bill 5800, sponsored by Rep. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, would allow GEO Group, the prison’s owner, to contract with out-of-state vendors to house inmates in the Baldwin facility. Current state law mandates the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility can only be used to house Michigan youth offenders. “We are supportive and the governor expects to sign the bill,” said Liz Boyd, spokeswoman for the governor’s office. “It’s up to lawmakers how quickly they move it to us.” Once the bill arrives on the governor’s desk, she will have 14 days to sign it into law. The approved Senate amendment removed the state from oversight in the facility. “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute, a Tallahassee, Fla., based not-for-profit watchdog organization that opposes the concept of for-profit prisons. “I’m sure the citizens of Michigan are proud to know their Legislature is looking after their public safety. The state is responsible for inmates in the facility. The courts have ruled on that. You can’t contract away liability. Michigan has the ultimate responsibility of regulating prisons and jails in the state. They’re ultimately responsible for the conditions.” Kopczynski has documented on his Web site more than 30 pages of lawsuits against GEO. “The whole idea they can take over a government service and do it cheaper (is false),” Kopczynski said. “They don’t pay wages, they don’t have the benefits, and they have high turnover which leads to abuse and escapes. They say they’re in it for public safety — that’s BS. They’re in it for the money.”

September 3, 2006 Killeen Daily Herald
An organization opposing private prisons has contacted Coryell County officials, warning them of potential risks involved with building such a facility. The move came after the commissioners' court retained Waco lawyer Herb Bristow in August to represent the county in looking into contracting with a private prison group to handle inmate overflow from the near-capacity Coryell County Jail. Bob Libal of Grassroots Leadership, a 25-year-old Charlotte, N.C.-based organization with a field office in Austin, said he sent a letter and information packet to commissioners Jack Wall, Cliff Price, Don Jones and Kyle Pruitt as well as Sheriff Johnny Burks and County Attorney Brandon Belt. Overcrowding in the current facility and the anticipation of population growth and a rise in crime that may come with it have prompted county officials to look into the issue, but Libal says privatization is not the way to go. "I think there are a lot of dangers when you start turning over control of your county jail to a private prison company. The private prison industry is notorious for higher rates of violence in their facilities, for poor conditions and for paying the people who work for them less," Libal said. "They do all of this because they make a profit. They cut corners on all the things that are necessary." Libal said a report compiled by his organization found disturbing incidents that have occurred in several private facilities in the state. "One such jail is the Val Verde County Jail, which is operated by The GEO Group, and was financed by county revenue bonds," Libal said. "That facility, along with the county, has been subjected to two well-documented lawsuits. In one suit, an employee claimed racial discrimination after a superior displayed a hangman's noose in his office and took pictures in KKK garb while posing in a GEO Group uniform." Liability is another concern, Libal pointed out, because counties, such as Val Verde, can be named in lawsuits. "Correlating with that is sometimes counties think they decrease their liability by privatizing the jails. We've seen lawsuits where individual county officials have been named. The county does not avoid liability," he said. When asked about the concern for higher rates of violence and abuse allegations in private facilities, Burks said that is part of the criminal justice environment. "What I say is anytime you get into an environment like that, you are going to be having those problems. Even in our facility here, we get the same type of complaints," he said. "They have them out here in the prison system in Gatesville. That is just something you are going to run into in a jail environment." Burks, Wall and Jones agreed that the county is only researching the possibility of a private jail and is not obligated to anything. "We're just in the process of looking into this. We don't have anything in stone. That's why we have hired a guy that is going to help us go through this," Burks said. "If anytime they say the county is going to be liable, we are going to stand back and look into it before the county jumps into something." The sheriff said that the county is going to have to address the overcrowding issue soon. "Whether it costs us this way or we have to build a facility, eventually jail standards is going to force us to carry inmates to other facilities or we are going to have to add on to our current facility to accommodate the inmates we are going to get," Burks said. He said privatization is just one option the county can investigate to avoid spending $8 million or $9 million to build a new facility. Jones had similar comments, noting that he had looked over the packet from Grassroots Leadership briefly. "That is an alternative. We are going to have to do something with the overcrowding," he said. "That is going to be a pretty big undertaking for the county. We are going to have to sit down and study it a lot more than we have. I haven't made a decision either way, but I sure want to know the pros and cons on it. It would be crazy not to." Libal and his organization say counties can be left holding the bag if contracts to house state or federal prisoners fall through. "I think basically it is a scheme in Texas. Public facilities corporations that are basically quasi-government organizations are started by a county commission. They issue revenue bonds that don't have to be voted on because the idea is that the revenue coming in is suppose to pay back the debt," Libal said. "A lot of times these counties borrow money on the idea that they will be fine, but if they don't get a contract, the county is stuck with these debt payments." Libal said just such a thing occurred recently in Willacy County. "They didn't get the federal detainees they were hoping for so they are having to pay on their debt because they owe for their bonds." He said when this happens, a county's credit is affected. "Their credit rating has shriveled up. That hurts the county's ability to borrow. Bond rating companies don't differentiate between a public facility corporation and a county when it comes to rating a bond," Libal said. "They will devalue a bond for the county if the public facility corporation is unable to make that payment." Frank Smith with Private Corrections Institute, another organization monitoring the industry, said contracts with for-profit prison companies are only bandages for overcrowding issues. There is also the ethical dilemma presented by for-profit prisons, Libal said, noting that some faith traditions view incarceration for profit as an unethical act. Bristow told commissioners in August he would begin preparing requests for qualifications and requests for proposals to send out to potential vendors. He did not return phone calls seeking comment.

September 1, 2006 Sun Herald
The No. 1 purpose of a private prison is profits. We must sympathize with the efforts of Harrison County Sheriff George Payne to temper the rush to privatize the county jail. The privates have chronically demonstrated they have no loyalty to anything but profits. They have continuously jeopardized the safety of inmates, staff and the public alike. A California annual survey shows they have 30 times the escape rate of public facilities. A recent study conducted for the state of Arizona shows they are 8.5 to 13.5 percent more costly than public prisons. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the county had to take back its facility after a series of for-profit operators grossly bungled the job in their efforts to increase profit margins. FRANK SMITH, The Private Corrections Institute, Bluff City, Kansas

New Mexico
August 30, 2006 Santa Fe Reporter
A Santa Fe dentist and his assistant say they quit their jobs at the Penitentiary of New Mexico in 2004 because of concerns that state inmates were not receiving adequate dental care. Dr. Norton Bicoll and Sharon Daily left their employment at Wexford Health Sources, which handles health care in nine New Mexico correctional facilities, because the company ordered them to cut their hours for inmates in half, they say. Bicoll and Daily’s problems with Wexford follow a number of serious allegations levied by six ex-Wexford employees that also question the level of health care inmates are receiving [Cover story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?”]. Last week, SFR also reported that two Albuquerque psychiatrists have sued Lovelace Health Systems for firing them after they refused to participate in a proposed contract with Wexford. The contract would have called for the psychiatrists to provide substandard treatment to state inmates, the lawsuit alleges [Outtakes, Aug. 23: “Unhealthy Proposal”]. These latest assertions about Wexford appear to be part of a growing chorus of criticism of the company and its treatment of inmates. Wexford Vice President Elaine Gedman, who has responded previously to questions regarding the company, did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story. But Bicoll and Daily’s issues with Wexford relate to the company’s staffing shortages in New Mexico, one of the company’s most pervasive problems, according to ex-employees. While both NMCD and Wexford have consistently played down such shortages, according to Wexford’s own Web site, there are currently 47 vacancies for medical personnel in New Mexico. That number comprises close to half of the 117 total positions Wexford, the nation’s third largest private correctional health care company, is currently advertising for. Such vacancies not only include a range of nursing positions but also critical, high ranking administrative posts. According to the Web site, Wexford is looking to hire a director of nursing and medical director at the New Mexico Women’s Correctional Facility in Grants. The medical director position is also open at Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Las Cruces and Lea County Correctional Facility in Hobbs. The Penitentiary of New Mexico needs a director of nursing. Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute watchdog group in Florida, says charges of compromised prison health care in New Mexico warrant federal involvement. “It would be good to get the Department of Justice involved if there are allegations of lack of care on behalf of the inmates,” he says. “The New Mexico Corrections Department and the Legislature can’t hide their heads in the sand and say they didn’t know about these problems if there’s ever a lawsuit. The inmates are ultimately the responsibility of the state, and you can’t contract that away.”

August 25, 2006 The Mirror
Not enough staff at Central North Correctional Centre led to the murder of inmate Minh Tu on May 5, 2004, charges a Penetanguishene woman. Richard Quansah was found guilty of first-degree murder and recently sentenced to life in prison without parole for 25 years for killing Minh Tu, after an argument over a board game while the two were inmates at the Penetanguishene prison operated by Management and Training Corporation (MTC). Sharon Dion, chairperson of Citizens Against Private Prisons, told The Mirror she is surprised more violence has not occurred at the privately-operated jail because of ongoing problems and lack of staff to deal with them properly. Dion is known locally and internationally for her knowledge about privatized prisons, and has lent her expertise to the Ontario government, as well as correctional organizations throughout Canada and the United States. She says she was contacted by several upset correctional officers after the May 2004 stabbing who told her that a CO was given a note from an inmate that said there was a knife in the unit and a 'killing' would take place. However, a lockdown and search failed to locate the weapon so inmates were allowed out of their cells. Tu was murdered soon after. "Management was warned that this was going to happen," said Dion. "They shouldn't have allowed inmates to come out of their cells until something was found or more investigation was done. And, of course, because of the outcome, that proves the theory."

August 5, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
Re: " Prisons chief questions merits of privatization," (news story, Aug. 2). Kudos to Department of Corrections Secretary Jim McDonough for having the backbone to take on the politically connected for-profit private prison industry. Private-prison flacks would have you believe that because their facilities exceed American Correctional Association (ACA) standards, private prisons are safely run. Here are two things readers need to know: According to a report prepared for the National Institute for Justice (Sept. 15, 2003), "Achieving ACA accreditation is not an outcomes-based performance goal. Rather, ACA standards primarily prescribe procedures.” In other words, ACA standards have nothing to do with whether a prison is run well. Second, when a CCA facility in Mississippi was trying to cut costs, the warden decided to cut ACA accreditation. His comment: "You can have a good jail and still not be accredited" (Sept. 7, 2005, Greenwood Commonwealth). Which is it, CCA? KEN KOPCZYNSKI, Executive director, Private Corrections Institute

June 28, 2006 Greeley Tribune
The state Department of Corrections on Tuesday made a decision that could alter the face of the small Weld County town of Ault. By granting Florida-based Geo Group Inc. the right to build a 1,500-bed medium security men's prison southeast of town in the next two years, the state paved the way for prisoners to outnumber residents. Negotiations between the town and Geo will begin next week on infrastructure costs and impact fees. If residents of Ault need development and economic vitality, the last place they should look at is a prison, warns a long-time private prison opponent. Frank Smith, 67, co-founder of the Private Corrections Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to monitoring private prisons, cites study after study and incident after incident pointing to the ills of private prisons. Several studies have been conducted to test markets where private prisons locate, and most conclude that prisons do not stimulate an economy any more than the regular cycles of growth that would come without the parade of orange jumpsuits. "They don't pay for themselves, they chase away safer and better industry," said Smith, who began fighting the private prison movement in Alaska in 2000 and now fights them nationwide from his home in Bluff City, Kan. "You foreclose your possibility of getting a really remunerative industry that would actually compensate people so they can make a living." While pointing out the numerous riots that have occurred in private prisons for years -- the problems that come with corporate, for-profit prison building -- Smith cites one insidious problem that has a domino effect on economic activity: Pay. Geo Group noted in discussions with Ault officials that prison employees would start at $25,000, about $3,000 less than Ault police officers. The pay is no accident, Smith said. "The biggest problems are that they cut corners and pay people so poorly they can't get trainable staff, and they wind up with a bunch of fast-food workers," Smith said. "They move to where they can pay the least." The private prison movement has sprawled across rural America in the past decade, according to Terry Besser and Margaret Hanson in a 2003 study entitled, "The Development of Last Resort: The Impact of New State Prisons on Small Town Economies." The pair studied 10 years of prisons in rural America, a time when 69 percent of the 274 new state prisons were opened in towns of 10,000 or less in population in 1990. In that time, they found the unemployment rate differed very little in small towns with prisons, versus their non-prison counterparts, but poverty levels in prison towns did decrease. "In all other economic indicators, however, the new prison towns fared worse than the non-prison towns," the study found. "The rate of increase in the number of new businesses, non-agricultural employment, average household wages, retail sales, median value of owner occupied housing and total number of housing units is substantially less in new prison vs. non-prison towns." The study showed that turnover rate in private prisons was three times higher than public prisons due to low wages and a lower level of employee training, creating employee safety concerns. The study also found that rural towns, lured by the potential development opportunities, will frequently give tax abatements and breaks, which are not commensurate with the supposed vitality a prison would bring to a community. In Ault, for example, a state contract for the men's prison could be a $28 million annual contract for Geo, which has promised just $250,000 a year to the town as an impact fee. Ault Police Chief Tracey McCoy, who sought the prison, said that's a number that will have to increase. Ault resident Ed Lesh worries about the reputation being a prison town could mean in the long run. "I don't think we've gleaned the good and bad about the facility," Lesh said. "There are some points I think should be considered. ... I don't think having the handle of being a prison town is a plus. If I were going to start a business, I don't know that I would go to Cañon City." Ault resident John Dudley believes growth will come as a result of a prison, but said the town would not see fit to make sure growth pays its own way, his chief concern when it comes to any growth that might increase town coffers in the short term. "It would be nice and wonderful if everyone could assure me it's going to be controlled growth," said Dudley, a local school board member who was on the town board when a prison in the area was proposed, then shot down in the mid 1980s. "It's not just going to soak the city, it will soak everyone in Colorado," Dudley continued. "It's going to end up where you're going to have impacts on highways and we'll have to find more money to pay for highways, and all the sudden, it will impact state patrol, and we'll have to find more people (to hire)." "I feel pity for our board because they have this tough decision to make," he said. "Do we give away things to get this, or do we just kiss more opportunity goodbye? It's a tough choice."

June 19, 2006 News Herald
About half of the Bay County jail system’s correctional officers left in 2004 and 28 percent quit last year, making effective and safe operations tough to achieve, county officials say. High turnover has been a primary concern of Commissioner Jerry Girvin, a retired captain with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, which ran the jail until the county awarded the original Corrections Corporation of America contract in 1985. Girvin said the constant hiring of new guards unfamiliar with Bay County’s jails jeopardizes security. “An experienced correctional officer can sense the need and circumvent a situation from occurring or minimize the effect,” he said. Jason Bradley Sims, a 30-year-old who recently was detained at the main jail on Harmon Avenue for violating his probation for a battery charge, said fighting among inmates is frequent, partly because there aren’t enough guards. “I’ve been in at least a dozen fights in the last two years,” said Sims, who has spent the majority of his life locked up in Bay County jails and in correctional institutions elsewhere in the state. Assistant Warden Richard Thore said understaffing is not leading to more inmates beating one another. “They’re going to fight whether guards are there or not,” he said. For an attorney representing an inmate at first appearance, new correctional guards are sometimes a source of frustration for mistakes made or delays in bringing inmates to the hearings. Occasionally, Deputy Public Defender Walter Smith said, guards show up with the wrong inmate because of similarities in names. Frequent turnover of jail guards, he said, contributes to complications in the firstappearance process. “They always have new people coming in,” he said of CCA. New jail guards and the company they work for are not solely responsible for difficulties during a first appearance, he added. “It’s not all CCA’s fault. It’s the warrants division; it’s correctional guards calling in sick. …” Turnover problems locally also rise to the top. The past two wardens of the Bay County Jail have stayed on the job only six and eight months, respectively. Kevin Watson took the post in December 2004, relieving Denny Durbin, who was warden for 19 years. Watson requested a transfer in August 2005, citing personal reasons. Mark Henry came in as the replacement, but he departed in March, also citing personal reasons. Durbin is back as the interim warden until a new warden is found. Former wardens could not be reached for comment, but Jennifer Taylor, senior director of business development for CCA, said Watson is still with the company in Indianapolis. Her explanation for Henry’s departure was that the job “was a lot more demanding than he thought going into it.” Some of the reasons for the difficulty in drawing people into corrections work also account for the frequent departures. Starting salary currently for guards at Bay County’s jails is $27,296, and some of them decide several months or a year into the job that they can’t continue to support themselves or their families with that pay, Thore said. Quitting after a few months or a year on the job, Durbin said, is not always a symptom of dissatisfaction with the employer; it may have more to do with the general evolution of their careers. “Corrections officers are very mobile and want to try new things,” he said, noting that many former Bay County guards have ventured to Washington Correctional Institute in Washington County and other state-operated prisons. Thore said he believes that the appeal of working for state prisons, which pay more and are continually being built as Florida’s inmate population grows, is the main culprit of local turnover. “The state has given (jail guards) at least two raises in the last year-and-a-half, and that makes it extra difficult for us to compete,” he said. There are young people looking for their first job who pick a jail guard position for lack of decisiveness, Thore said. “The reality of the job hits when we’re booking 16,000 inmates a year. Sometimes, that creates a little turnover.” Of the 48 correctional guards in 2005 whose employment at Bay County’s jails was severed, 21 were voluntary and involved no misconduct. But jail guards testing positive for drug use, having unprofessional relationships with inmates and smuggling contraband into the jail also were to blame for high turnover. The guards committing these and other offenses — which totaled nine — were fired in 2005 for violating state moral character standards or violating CCA and county policies, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records. Ken Kopczynski, a legislative affairs assistant for of the Florida Police Benevolent Association and vocal CCA opponent, called Bay County’s turnover outrageous. “How can you properly run a facility when half of the people don’t have any experience” at that facility? said Kopczynksi, who is also executive director of Private Corrections Institute Inc., an organization that opposes privately run correctional facilities. While the turnover rate at Bay County’s jails is high, it is tame compared to the departures at some other CCA facilities in Florida. Hernando County jails, for instance, had a turnover rate of 82 percent in 2003, 75 percent in 2004 and 69 percent in 2005. Other CCA-run facilities in Florida had the following turnover rates in 2005: Gadsden Correctional Institution, 48 percent; Lake City Correctional Facility in Columbia County, 57 percent; and Citrus County Detention Facility, 28 percent. Turnover at Bay Correctional Institute, the CCA-operated state prison on Bayline Drive off U.S. 231, was 19 percent. In 2004, turnover was 36.7 percent. Taylor said the company’s jail staff is “down some everywhere” at its 63 U.S. facilities, but it is not at a critical point. “If it was at a critical point, we’d pull people in from other facilities. “It’s hard to find people to work in a jail,” she added. “We have to do extra things to attract employees and keep them there.” The company recently started posting help wanted messages on billboards in various locations, including Bay County, Taylor said. One on Tyndall Parkway aimed at military men and women reads: “From Camouflage to Corrections.” “We’ve found that people coming out of the military make very good correctional officers,” she said. Targeting military personnel is not a new focus of CCA’s, but there has been a stronger emphasis on attaining that demographic in the past year, she added. CCA also has been filling some vacancies in Bay County with part-time correctional officers, said CCA spokesman Steve Owen. Until it gets closer to full staff, the company is operating with mandatory overtime for all correctional guards, Thore said. Thore said 10 to 15 more guards are needed to be at normal levels. Currently, about 30 non-certified officers and 147 certified officers man the two county jails. While jail guard pay is mid-range compared to what guards at other Florida CCA facilities make, it’s far from the six digit incomes corporate bigwigs bring home. The highest-paid executive for CCA, John Ferguson, has a 2006 salary of $700,000 plus a $677,727 bonus, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But Owen defended the salaries for jail guards as competitive, especially since about two months ago the company started paying people attending the three month certification school the salary of uncertified officers. Certified jail-guard pay at the Bay County jail and annex has risen almost $2,000 in the past two years, up from $25,475 in 2004. Jackson County Correctional Facility, which is county-operated, has not approved a higher pay grade for its new certified guards since 2004; the salary stands at $23,947. The $20,500 salary at Gadsden County Jail hasn’t changed since 2003. The sheriff’s office there runs the facility. Escambia County currently offers certified correctional guards $30,400 at its two detention facilities, and Franklin County Jail jumped its pay by $3,000 over last year and is now $27,500. The sheriff’s offices in all three counties run the jails. CCA-run Hernando County Jail upped its pay for certified guards this year from $28,000 to $32,000.

June 16, 2006 News Herald
Former Bay County Manager Jon Mantay joined a former county attorney and the current assistant county manager Thursday in defending themselves against an ethics complaint before an administrative law judge in Panama City. Two attorneys representing Mantay, former County Attorney Nevin Zimmerman and Assistant County Attorney Bob Majka sparred with an attorney for the Florida Commission on Ethics over the legality of a February 2000 trip the three men took to view a Corrections Corporation of America jail facility in Tennessee and a publicly run facility in Arizona. CCA, based in Tennessee, paid for the airfare and lodging of the three men and two former county commissioners. CCA has operated Bay County’s jails for 20 years, and the county was negotiating a new contract with the company during the time of the trip. The Florida Police Benevolent Association initiated the ethics complaints in July 2003, and the ethics commission in September 2004 found probable cause that Mantay, Zimmerman and Majka may have violated gift laws. Much of the attention during Thursday’s hearing before Judge Harry Hooper focused on Zimmerman and his declaration to county officials that the trip and payment arrangements were legal. Zimmerman said it was reasonable and beneficial to taxpayers for a third party, such as CCA, to pay for “fact-finding” trips that county officials take. “That (logic) is reflected in our ordinances and regulations — to have developers pay for permitting based on the time it takes county staff to process the permits,” he said. The Bay County officials that went to Tennessee and Arizona, he said, needed to see in person how other facilities were handling overcrowding and recidivism, which are problems here. There is local precedent for allowing a company to pay for such trips, Zimmerman said. In 1997, several county officials traveled to Vancouver, Canada, and Long Island, N.Y., to view facilities now run by Montenay Bay LLC. Westinghouse Corp., which wanted another company to run the Bay County waste-to energy incinerator, paid for that trip. Ethics commission attorney Linzie Bogan challenged Zimmerman’s interpretation of Florida statutes on gift laws, and he tried to discredit Zimmerman for not reviewing ethics cases between 1997 and 2000 related to acceptance of gifts. “It’s not a gift if it’s an expense related to your employment,” Zimmerman said. Bogan insisted the definition of gift was clear, but Hooper said the entire statute governing acceptance of gifts (112.312) is not clear to him. “First you have to determine if it was to their benefit. … Do people benefit from looking at a bunch of prisoners?” Hooper said. Majka said during his testimony that he was unaware CCA paid for his airfare for the trip until records were being collected at county offices three years later in connection to the ethics complaint. But he said he learned the company paid for his lodging while at the hotel. In 2000, Majka was the emergency services chief and shared responsibility with other officials in jail oversight. Hooper said not knowing CCA paid for the trip does not produce a “complete defense” for Majka. The ethics commission, however, dropped the allegations against former County Commissioners Carol Atkinson and Danny Sparks because they had no knowledge CCA covered the expenses. Sparks and former County Commissioner Richard Stewart have admitted and paid fines for violating gift laws by accepting a round of golf paid by county financial adviser Gary Askers. Majka faces the same allegation, but his attorney, Albert Gimbel, said Thursday that he didn’t know how Majka would plead to that issue. Majka declined to comment. After Hooper has had sufficient time to review the facts of the case, he will issue a recommended finding for the ethics commission to consider. Tallahassee attorney Gary Early, representing the Bay County officials, said it would be at least two months for Hooper has a recommendation.

June 11, 2006 Anchorage Daily News
The response of Paul Doucette, the executive director of the Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations, complaining about the building of a state prison in Mat-Su is somewhat ironic. For seven years, Cornell Corrections, which had Mr. Doucette as its vice president, labored mightily to stop the state from building a state-operated prison in Mat-Su as it tried to foist off its own low-paying, dangerous Rent-a-Pen proposals in Wrangell, Sitka, Ketchikan, Kenai, Delta Junction, Nome, Houston, Sutton and finally Whittier. Democrats and good-government Republicans defeated their immensely expensive lobbying efforts year after year, despite the dough Cornell shoveled toward its efforts. This is all a matter of extensive record. Now Doucette is complaining about the state closing one of Cornell's halfway houses in Anchorage. The Department of Corrections is exploring far less expensive options such as ankle bracelets to track those released conditionally or those less dangerous who are diverted from prison in the first place. Doucette and APCTO are little more than the public-relations arm of the for-profit prison industry, and their bleatings and Tobacco Institute-type research should be given the credibility they deserve: zero.  --- Frank Smith, Private Corrections Institute, Bluff City, Kan.

May 24, 2006 Midland Free Press
Small and quiet, with dark hair and eyes, eight-year-old Sharon Desjardins never asked for much. What she wanted, she worked hard to get - and she wanted that baby squirrel more than anything. A boy in her class had raided its nest and was showing off the tiny black rodent in the schoolyard. The young girl was known for stepping in and protecting weaker students when they were being picked on, because it was the right thing to do. This was another one of the poor souls she was out to save. She promised him a dollar if she could have it. It was the mid-60s and a dollar was hard to come by. Desjardins begged and borrowed what she could, counting up her pennies and pleading with her mom to part with spare change until she had enough to save the pet she would later name 'Chipper.' She lets out a hearty laugh as she tells the story. "It was house trained, I'm not kidding you. I have pictures of it sitting on our hands, on our shoulders ... It would scratch to get in the door and scratch to get out to the bathroom," she said. "My mother was wonderful; she let me have pretty well any animal that I wanted." More than 40 years later, Desjardins' married name is Dion and Chipper is long gone; but there is still a small bowl of shelled peanuts sitting on her kitchen counter. If there is anyone with the patience and tenacity to train a squirrel, it's this woman who has fought tirelessly to see Canada's first and only privatized adult jail brought into public hands. Her kitchen is larger and brighter than the one in the small Water Street house in Penetanguishene that she grew up in, as the youngest of three children to Bernice and Gordon Desjardins. That house, full of troubled memories of an alcoholic father and a childhood spent in poverty, is markedly different than the stylish and welcoming home she has created for herself and her family. Some of the happiest times of Dion's life have been in this room, with family and friends gathered on barstools, comfortable leather furniture or around the large dining room table. This is what means the most to her, she confides, looking around the room at framed pictures of herself and her husband of 30 years, Ray, their two children and grandchildren. Her posture is relaxed, her smile warm and her brown eyes have lost their intense look of defiance that marked seven long years of battling the provincial government and corporate America. It's over; Central North Correctional Centre is going back into the public fold. While it looks like she can rest in Canada - for now, at least - she has accepted several invitations to speak throughout the U.S. She admits the last several days since she received the call from Queen's Park that the province would not renew its contract with Utah-based Management and Training Corporation have been emotionally exhausting. "It's elation ... something I just can't explain and at times I'm afraid I'm going to fall when it's done ... Of course you don't do it for the accolades, but I guess it just feels so good and I'm just so pleased that the right decision was made by the Liberal government." Though she admits, sometimes, even family took a backseat to the fight. "My convictions were so strong that I couldn't let anyone away with the nonsense that was happening," she said. The scrappy Metis woman has been called tenacious, a defender of the defenceless, passionate, and some names that aren't exactly flattering by those who oppose her. But by all accounts, she brushes off these labels. She says she is simply a woman who cares about the small community she was born and raised in, and the people who live there. She flashes a wide smile showing off straight, polished teeth surrounded by her trademark pink lips, and is unapologetic when she explains why she continues standing up for what she believes is right. "What I would like to see is money spent on social programs. Getting children in high-risk families help so they don't go through that revolving door. Prison privatization will just enhance that because that's what they want; that's how they make money. I just couldn't stand for our Canadian standards and values to be harmed in that way." She credits her tough childhood for making her survivor. "I guess I've always stood up for myself and I guess that's the one credit I can give to my father; that life made me want to survive. Nothing's been given to me. "So, I go for what I feel I want to have. It's a good thing," she says, adding, "I look at my (past) life as a positive not something negative." Beyond the back gate of her yard is Fuller Avenue, a road that has gotten much busier in the past seven years; a road that leads to Canada's first-ever private prison - a five-year pilot project of the former Conservative government that failed. When the leaves have fallen from her neighbours' trees that shroud her backyard, Dion can see the edge of the prison property from her kitchen window. She has never been against CNCC's location or the jobs it brought to Penetanguishene. Ray is a psychiatric nurse at Oak Ridge, Ontario's only maximum-security forensic program located at the Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene, right beside the prison, and she knows having incarcerated people in local facilities can work. The fight against privatization took her to the United States, where she is a member of the Private Corrections Institute, to Queen's Park, where she passed on information she had about private prisons and Management and Training Corporation, and to countless meetings and rallies where she eloquently spoke about prison privatization. "What I love about Sharon is she always comes prepared," Liberal MPP Dave Levac recently told The Mirror. "She's factual. She's not emotional about it. She brings passion to the situation, but I have to tell you that she's probably one of the most prepared people I've ever dealt with and worked with." At times, feeling left out of the evaluation process between Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay and CNCC, she didn't stop calling politicians until she was heard. Towards the end of the process, they even started calling her. The last four-and-a-half years that the jail has been open have been marked by inmate deaths (Jeffrey Elliott and Lorne Thaw), stabbings, beatings of inmates and correctional officers, low staffing levels, and numerous security issues, she says. Although it's acknowledged that these incidents also happen in publicly-run jails throughout Ontario, Dion didn't want to accept it as the status quo. She continually asked the ministry tough questions and worked hard to keep the issues in the public eye. It wasn't always easy, but she admits to only a handful of times when she felt like it was a lost cause. There were even times, she confides, to feeling like she was in over her head, as a woman from small-town Ontario. Those thoughts never lasted long. "Of course I felt that way, but because of the knowledge that I had, I had the courage to do what I'm doing," she says, drawing herself up higher on the sofa. "It's the truth. I don't get paid for this. I'm not making it up because I have documentation and that's the power. It's simple. Anybody else could have done it." But no one else took the lead. Dion was one person amongst dozens at a public meeting in 1996. At the time, the Conservative government hadn't even decided that Penetanguishene would host one of two 'super jails' the province was proposing, but a rumour about privatization was brought up. Dion didn't know anything about prison privatization and began to research the issue. What she discovered she didn't like. It pushed her to dig deeper and talk to more people in the United States that had experience in the private prison system. In 1999, when the government announced Penetanguishene's jail would be run by a private company, she began her crusade against privatization and started Citizens Against Private Prisons. "I have extremely strong convictions, when I know the issue and I've taken the time to educate myself on them. There's no way I would ever let anyone tell me different, because I know the truth," she says, her voice indignant. "Every time I would ask questions of the past government, I would basically know the answer and I'd know I was lied to and that just (gave) me more determination." Although she has often been at the forefront of the cause, she notes that there were always people she could count on to help, specifically her mother and Ray, Midland resident Dawn Marie Horn, friends and colleagues at the Private Corrections Institute, members of OPSEU and Brant MPP Levac. Of course, there were also the employees who had the courage to speak to her. Although she was sometimes a sounding board for inmates and their families, she has never professed to be an inmate advocate. When would she find the time? When she wasn't writing letters, organizing rallies or public forums and publicly speaking against privatization, Dion operated her own used clothing business (she has since retired), volunteers in Aboriginal Services at the Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene and is a competitive a capella four-part harmony singer with the Barrie Chorus, where she is also the assistant director. Two years ago, she also completed five university credits towards a degree in Aboriginal Education. Still, she took countless calls from inmates, wives and hysterical mothers with sons inside the walls of CNCC, and helped the father of Jeffery Elliott - the inmate who died in hospital in 2003, after receiving a cut to his left ring finger while at CNCC - throughout the inquest into his horrific death. They will not forget what she has done, nor will some employees at CNCC who disagreed with the way the prison was operated. Her phone has been ringing incessantly since April 27, when the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services announced the jail would be publicly run as of Nov. 10. Many CNCC employees, politicians, residents and union officials have left messages - among them, a heartfelt message from a former inmate, thanking her for her unwavering determination and for giving a voice to inmates like him. She can't seem to erase this one. As she re-plays the emotional recording, her eyes tear up. Then she smiles. It's a very good day.

May 10, 2006 In These Times
It has been an arduous, surreal journey for eight Hawaiian female prisoners sent to do their time on the mainland. The plight of this group of women housed, most recently, in a prison in the small eastern Kentucky town of Wheelwright, would have escaped unnoticed, had it not been for the death of 43-year-old Sarah Ah Mau, on New Year's Eve 2005. Mau, serving a life sentence for second-degree murder, had been incarcerated since 1993 and had a shot at parole eligibility in August 2008. She never got that chance. Instead she died of as-yet-unexplained "natural causes" after two days in critical condition--and a month after first complaining of severe gastrointestinal distress. Family members and fellow prisoners say that Ah Mau's pleas for medical care were ridiculed, downplayed or ignored by prison employees. As her stomach distended--and other body parts began to swell visibly--prisoners say that Ah Mau was fed castor oil and told to stop complaining unless she wanted to face disciplinary action. What was Hawaiian resident Ah Mau doing in Kentucky in the first place? She was a commodity in an increasingly common practice: interstate prison transfers. Prison transfers, while not unusual, have a profound effect on inmates and family members alike. Children and spouses of "shipped" prisoners have little, if any, opportunity to see their loved ones. And due to special contracts with phone companies, telephone calls are prohibitively expensive. Prisoners themselves are sent to culturally unfamiliar facilities where they are supposed to be treated according to the laws and regulations granted by their home states--but rarely are. Home state law and prison regulation books are rarely available, making the prisoners' appeals or grievance requests even more difficult to file. Most of the prisoners transferred out of their home states (which include but are not limited to Alabama, Colorado, North Dakota, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming) end up in privately run facilities in rural communities. Many of the guards hired for such prisons are under-trained, ill-prepared for their stressful work environments, and are paid "fast-food restaurant wages," according to Ken Kopczynski, executive director of Private Corrections Institute (PCI), a prison watchdog group. "This is a major issue," says Kopczynski. "The private prison companies have found a real niche for themselves." (click here for complete article)

May 3, 2006 The Mirror
Opponents of private prisons throughout the world are heralding the provincial Liberal government's decision to bring Central North Correctional Centre into the public fold. "This is a very large victory, not only in Canada, but across the world," said Brian Dawe, executive director of Corrections USA, a non-profit coalition of corrections professionals from Canada and the U.S. "This is the very first time, anywhere in the world, that any governmental agency has undertaken an actual apples-to-apples comparison of the two public and private prisons. No one has ever, anywhere else, designed two identical prisons for the sole purpose of determining whether or not the private industry should be involved in corrections or it should remain a public function." The Liberal government announced its decision to transfer the operation from the Utah-based Management and Training Corporation to the public sector on April 27, after a five-year study compared the privately-run prison with its publicly-run twin in Lindsay, Central East Correctional Centre. During that time, Dawe said a world spotlight has been on Penetanguishene. He noted this precedent-setting move will catch the attention of governments in the rest of Canada, the U.S., and beyond. Dawe gives a lot of credit to Penetanguishene resident Sharon Dion, who has been fighting privatization of the jail since 1999, when the former Conservative government under Mike Harris announced CNCC could be privatized. "She deserves an incredible amount of credit for her dogged perseverance on behalf of all of the people in, not only her neck of the woods, but across Canada and around the world," he said.

May 1, 2006 Lawrence Journal-World
For-profit prisons aren’t likely to pop up across the Kansas plains overnight if, as expected, the Legislature approves a law this week allowing the prisons to be built here. In fact, the law wouldn’t necessarily mean that private prisons would ever be used to house existing Kansas prisoners. But it would allow for the industry to set up shop and begin housing out-of-state prisoners in any Kansas county where voters approve the idea. In Frank Smith’s view, it’s a slippery slope. Smith, a critic of private prisons who lives in Bluff City, believes that Kansas is “buying a lemon” by opening the door to a business he claims is fundamentally flawed. “I don’t believe you can have an efficacious private prison because the profit motive rules everything,” he said. “I don’t think there are any legitimate protections in this bill. They can build anywhere they can convince the locals — the rubes and hicks — that it’s not such a bad thing.” Smith, a retired social worker, argues that private prisons are chronically understaffed and don’t pay enough to keep good employees. He said there’s no hard evidence that there are more disturbances inside private prisons, but that the mingling of out-of-state inmate populations — who often have unequal treatment because of differences in their states’ respective contracts — is an inherent problem. On July 20, 2004, inmates at the privately run Crowley County Correctional Facility near Pueblo, Colo., demanded to speak to a warden about grievances. One problem was that a group of recently imported inmates from Washington state were earning $60 a month for work assignments, compared with $18.60 for Colorado inmates. The inmates were denied an audience, and they grew hostile. The staff was inexperienced and had not had enough training for an emergency, according to a report by the Colorado Department of Corrections. So the staff evacuated. Inmates started fires, broke into the management offices, and broke water pipes, sinks and toilets, causing cells to flood with contaminated water. A pending lawsuit filed by inmates alleges that when a special-operations team came in with backup to reclaim the prison, guards brutalized inmates — forcing them to lie face-down in contaminated water and dragging people from their cells by their ankles. As the night went on, inmates were forced to urinate and defecate in their pants because they weren’t allowed to go to the restroom, the suit alleges.

April 29, 2006 Hutchinson News
Thanks to distortion of our legislative procedures, a bill clearly against the interests of public safety and protection of Kansas taxpayers may soon win passage. Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, has inserted special interest, for-profit prison language into a veto-proof sexual offender bill. For three years, Schmidt's bills were unable to win passage on their own merits. Were it not for the valiant efforts of Rep. Jan Pauls, D-Hutchinson, and the misgivings about the process held by Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, this bill would likely have made it to the governor's desk. At a time when the attention of the public has been focused on deal-making in Washington , D.C., by exposure of scandals such as the crimes of Jack Abramoff and ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, as well as the budget earmarks that led to the $230 million "Bridge to Nowhere," this legislative bundling tactic is particularly brazen. The bill's existing provisions don't truly protect Kansas. Instead it encourages wholesale importation and private transport of out-of-state robbers, rapists, and murderers. Annual surveys show for-profits have 30 to 45 times more escapes than public facilities. Closed facilities, frequently shuttered following rapes and grotesque maltreatment by staff, litter the national landscape. Imported convicts regularly riot in a half dozen states. Poorly paid workers often flee, leaving state employees to suppress disturbances. For-profit staff turnover averages more than three times that of public prisons. Although the Kansas measure has a provision allowing a state takeover of failed private pens, the bill does not adequately address "real world" problems. It is difficult to imagine how a private operator would provide adequate insurance for its operations. Examples of potential exposure include situations like the murder of a Montana prisoner by Hawaiian convicts at the BRG prison in Texas. Hawaiians twice torched that facility. The Kansas Department of Corrections already has difficulty filling employee vacancies. The notion that it could immediately provide hundreds of trained officers and support staff to operate a remote for-profit where workers had resigned en masse or went on strike is simply ludicrous. The department lacks the authority to incarcerate other states' prisoners, but a private pen in Kansas would house many hundreds of such convicts. For-profit salesmen testifying before legislative committees claimed staff from other states could fill in, but they often are already unable to meet contractual staffing level requirements in those distant locations. After summer 2004 riots by out-of-state prisoners at the Corrections Corporation of America facilities at Crowley, Colo., and Beattyville, Ky., scores of employees immediately quit their jobs. Hutchinson already has experienced some perils of privatization, witness the jailing of former Reno County Sheriff Larry Leslie for accepting $284,000 in payments from a private firm that used to operate a jail annex. Kansas would be wise to heed the call for a moratorium on construction of these "Rent-a-pens" by denominations ranging from Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and the United Church of Christ. Frank Smith, Bluff City

April 23, 2006 Topeka Capital-Journal
A bill clearly against the interests of public safety and protection of Kansas taxpayers may soon win passage. Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt has inserted special interest, for-profit prison language into a veto-proof sexual offender bill, HB2576. For years, Schmidt's similar bills were unable to win passage on their own merits. The bill is presently in conference committee to be considered when legislators return from adjournment. This legislative "bundling" tactic is particularly brazen. Through dozens of substantial contributions from the for-profit GEO Group and its lobbyists, Schmidt and his colleagues have been amply rewarded for ignoring the public interest. The bill encourages wholesale importation and private transport of out-of-state robbers, rapists, and murderers. Annual surveys show for-profits have 30-45 times more escapes than public facilities. Imported convicts regularly riot in a half dozen states. Poorly paid workers often flee, leaving distant state employees to suppress disturbances. The Kansas's Department of Corrections already has substantial difficulty recruiting employees. At year's end, 121 uniformed positions were vacant. It couldn't immediately provide hundreds of trained officers and support staff at a remote for-profit where workers struck or resigned en masse. For-profit salesmen testified that staff from faraway states could fill in, but they often are already unable to meet their own contractual staffing requirements. After 2004 riots by out-of-state prisoners at facilities in Colorado and Kentucky, scores of low-paid employees immediately quit their jobs. Kansas would be wise to heed the call for a moratorium on construction or outright abolition of these "Rent-a-pens" by denominations including Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and the United Church of Christ. FRANK SMITH, Private Corrections Institute, Bluff City

April 28, 2006 The Mirror
Canada's only privately-operated jail will return to the public sector in the fall. Although cost was a factor in the decision of whether or not to keep Penetanguishene's prison privately run, in the end, lower costs offered through Management & Training Corporation (MTC) of Utah wasn't enough to maintain its role as the operator of the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC). Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister, Monte Kwinter announced yesterday that the jail will be transferred into the public sector when the contract expires Nov. 10, 2006. "Our concern was to make sure we were providing a facility that was adequately looking after the people that we have responsibility for, the inmates, that we make sure their health-care provisions are provided for; that we make sure their recidivism rates (are minimized)," Kwinter said in a telephone interview with The Mirror shortly after the decision was announced. "We want to make sure that there is integration back into the community and there is adequate facilities to do that, and adequate personnel resources to do that," he said. "When we took a look at it, we just found we were getting better results (at Central East Correctional Centre). Mind you, it's going to cost us more money - but everything is a trade off. Overall, we felt the citizens of Ontario would be better served with this facility being back in public hands." Although the decision is disappointing for MTC, public relations director Peter Mount says the private operator will continue to work with the ministry. "We're going to work and continue to work very closely with our partners at the ministry, especially during this transition period," Mount said. "Our responsibility is and always will be the safety of the public, the staff and the inmates. That's going to continue during the transitional period." For local resident Sharon Dion, who has campaigned against the privatization of the prison since it was announced in 1999, the decision came as a welcomed surprise. "It's such a triumphant day for Canada," said Dion, who received a call from Queen's Park shortly after the decision was made. "I'm really praising the Liberal government for making the right decision."

April 28, 2006 Midland Free Press
Canada’s first privately operated adult prison is being turned over to the province. Central North Correctional Centre, which opened in 2001 and has been run by Management and Training Corporation since, will be operated by the provincial government, effective Nov. 10, 2006, when MTC's five-year contract expires. The Ministry of Community Safety and Corrections made the announcement Thursday after completing a report comparing CNCC with its physical twin in Kawartha Lakes, which is publicly run. A decision on the prison's future was needed six months prior to the current contract expiring. "On just a cost basis the (private operation) was more economical," corrections minister Monte Kwinter told Osprey News Thursday afternoon, "but that reflected on the outcome. "Management and Training Corporation was in material compliance with the (existing) contract, but there's no question that health care was delivered better at the Kawartha Lakes facility and that integration was better at the Kawartha Lakes facility," Kwinter said. "We have a responsibility to make sure we provide adequate resources, and while there's no question there were some benefits from this exercise that we could learn from," he said. "The evidence clearly indicates that the public facility produced better results." The province opened CNCC under a private-public partnership after a Conservative overhaul of Ontario's prison system in the 1990s. CECC opened soon after with the idea of comparing the facilities based on cost effectiveness and performance. Price Waterhouse Coopers, a consulting firm, conducted a comparison review on CNCC and CECC for the province over an extended timeframe. Part of that review shows the public prison rated higher than CNCC in eight of 10 performance categories, including security and community impact. CNCC spokesperson Peter Mount said he was surprised by the decision of the government not to renew the company's contract and called it “disappointing." “We will begin the process of talking to staff right away,” said Mount, adding the U.S.-based company intends to continue working with the province until its contract expires. "We have a responsibility and we will continue to live up to that responsibility," he said. "We will work closely with the government to ensure safety is looked after." Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop, who has been a proponent of the private jail and who's also the Conservative corrections critic, wasn’t thrilled by Thursday's announcement. “The Liberals are in power and they have the ability to do this," he said. "I’m going to live with the decision, but I just hope they’ll provide us with the numbers.” In September of 2004, Dunlop estimated that having the jail run by a private operator saved taxpayers more than $20 million annually, according to financial figures he had seen at the time. "I think there was a substantial savings there. I'd like them to show me in black and white, without fudging the numbers, what it actually was," he said. "That should be something that's available. What's to hide?" For Penetanguishene resident Sharon Dion, an opponent of privatized prisons, was pleased by the government's decision to go public. "It's an enormous victory. I couldn't be more pleased. It's a great day for all Canadians," said Dion, of Citizens Against Privatized Prisons. "I was a little concerned at times about this review, but I think the consultation was done in an honest manner on the government's part." Kwinter said details still need to be ironed out, but the province plans to provide 91 additional staff at the Penetanguishene prison when it takes over in November.

April 19, 2006 Chanute Tribune
Op-Ed By: Frank Smith Private Corrections Institute. Thanks to distortion of our legislative procedures a bill clearly against the interests of public safety and protection of Kansas taxpayers may soon win passage. Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt from Independence has inserted special interest, for-profit prison language into a veto-proof sexual offender bill, HB2576. For three years, Schmidt's similar bills were unable to win passage on their own merits. The bill is presently in conference committee and will be considered when the Legislature returns from adjournment. At a time when the attention of the public has been focused on deal-making in Washington by the exposure of scandals such as the crimes of Jack Abramoff and ex-Representative "Duke" Cunningham, as well as the budget "earmarks" that led to passage of the $230 million Alaska "Bridge to Nowhere," this legislative "bundling" tactic is particularly brazen. Through dozens of substantial contributions from the for-profit GEO Group and its lobbyists, Schmidt's colleagues and leadership committees have been amply rewarded for ignoring the public interest. Woodson County and Yates Center were led to believe a private prison would provide an economic boon. Quite the opposite is the case. Peer reviewed national studies from six universities, in Washington, Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina and Kentucky and research from a D.C. think tank indicate that even public prisons, where staff are often paid twice as much as in the privates, don't help the economy. Communities within a 50-mile radius of Yates Center lack the available workforce to staff such a facility. Guards would require clean criminal and domestic violence records, a GED or high school diploma, and need to be young enough to physically handle the extremely stressful and dangerous shift-work environment. The for-profits endure a 52 percent annual staff turnover, more than thrice that of better-paying public facilities. Guard make $8 hourly, or less commonly, work two jobs depriving them of the alertness necessary to protect themselves and other staff, inmates and the public alike. For-profits regularly contest assessments and overcharge taxpayers for millions of dollars. 79 percent of Corrections Corporation of American and 69 percent of GEO's facilities have received tax abatement and infrastructure incentives leaving municipalities with little to show for their investments. If GEO somehow actually decided to build in Woodson, it expects free land with utilities already in place. The bill's existing provisions don't truly protect Kansas. Instead it encourages wholesale importation and private transport of out-of-state robbers, rapists, and murderers. Annual surveys show for-profits have 30-45 times more escapes than public facilities. Closed facilities, frequently shuttered following rapes and grotesque maltreatment by poorly screened staff, litter the national landscape. Imported convicts regularly riot in a half dozen states. Poorly paid workers often flee, leaving distant state employees to suppress disturbances. Although the measure has a provision allowing a Kansas state takeover of failed private pens, the bill does not adequately address "real world" problems. For instance, it's difficult to imagine how a GEO could provide adequate insurance for its operations. Examples of potential exposure include situations like the murder of a Montana prisoner by Hawaiian convicts at BRG's Texas prison. Hawaiians twice torched that facility. The Kansas Department of Corrections already has substantial difficulty filling employee vacancies. The notion that it could immediately provide hundreds of trained officers and support staff to operate a remote for-profit where workers had resigned en masse or went on strike is simply ludicrous. The Department lacks the authority to incarcerate other states' prisoners, but a private pen in Kansas would house many hundreds of such convicts. For-profit salesmen testifying before legislative committees claimed staff from other states could fill in, but they often are already unable to meet contractual staffing level requirements in those distant locations. After summer 2004 riots by out-of-state prisoners at the Corrections Corporation of America facilities at Crowley, Colorado and Beattyville, Kentucky, scores of low-paid employees immediately quit their jobs. Kansas has already experienced some perils of privatization; witness the imprisonment of Reno County Sheriff Larry Leslie for accepting and laundering $284,000 in bribes for privatizing his jail. Kansas would be wise to heed the call for a moratorium on construction or outright abolition of these "Rent-a-pens" by denominations ranging from Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and the United Church of Christ. *** Frank Smith has been a researcher and provider in criminal justice and corrections for 35 years and is considered to be a leading expert on for-profit prisons. He resides in Bluff City.

April 10, 2006 Lawrence Journal-World
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said she’s willing to accept private prisons to get a bill that increases penalties for sex offenders. “There are a lot of protections in place,” Sebelius said of the measure that would authorize the state to enter into a contract for a private prison. The prison proposal is contained in a bill that would increase prison sentences for sex offenders. While there is nearly unanimous support in the Legislature for the sex offender portion of the bill, there is less support for changing policy to allow private prisons. The provision would give the corrections secretary authority over the construction, licensing and oversight of a private prison. In addition, under the measure, no private prison could be operated in a county without approval of the county commissioners and a vote of county residents. But Frank Smith of Bluff City, an outspoken critic of private prisons, said the private prison industry has been plagued with problems such as prison riots, low wages for employees and substandard conditions for inmates. “Other states have had terrible experiences with legislation such as this, which when passed seemed to provide certain guarantees,” Smith said.

March 24, 2006 Wichita Eagle
With an appalling display of lobbyist strength, special interest legislation meant to solely enrich the out-of-state for-profit prison industry was recently forced through a Kansas House committee. Then Wednesday, a bill authorizing privately owned and operated prisons cleared the full Senate. The ostensible rationale for bringing nonliving wages to Kansas corrections is alleged taxpayer savings. But repeated legitimate research fails to demonstrate any such thrift. And there's no guarantee the proposed private prisons would ever hold a single Kansas inmate. For-profit operator GEO Group enlisted economically depressed Woodson County in eastern Kansas to strengthen its ploy to enable proliferation of its "Rent-a-Pens." Studies conducted by professors from five universities and an independent think tank, however, conclusively demonstrate that even public prisons, where wages are sometimes twice as high, do not improve faltering rural economies. Prisons dissuade safer and better-paying industries from locating in host counties. No economic feasibility assessment has ever been done in Woodson County, which simply couldn't recruit sufficient low-paid employees. A survey comparing similar-sized populations of a public prison system with national for-profits indicated the privates had 30 times as many escapes. Liability damage language has rarely protected any hosting state. And might for-profits bring corruption? Prosecutors accused former Reno County Sheriff Larry Leslie of taking $284,000 to privatize his jail. To test the efficacy of the services provided, look no further than the GEO Group's Jena, La., prison and the Cornell Companies' New Morgan Academy in Morgantown, Pa. Both have been closed for years after horrendous abuse of scores of juveniles. Management and Training Corp. closed its prison in Eagle Mountain, Calif., after rioting and murders. I've visited Corrections Corporation of America prisons in Kentucky, Colorado and Arizona following such riots. It took law enforcement from four states to quell the previous riot at the Crowley County, Colo., prison. After extensive study, numerous denominations -- including Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and the Church of Christ -- condemned this industry. Kansas would do well to heed their call. Frank Smith lives in Bluff City.

March 10, 2006 Nashville City Paper
If I understand correctly, the General Assembly is voting on a bill that would make things more "efficient" for Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) by eliminating the Select Oversight Committee on Corrections performance review of the company’s privately-managed prisons (“CCA bill moving through Senate,” March 8, p. 14). How can our elected representatives seriously consider ethics reform on one hand while passing special-interest legislation like this with the other? Isn’t CCA the company that runs the Metro Detention Facility where a female prisoner, Estelle Richardson, was beaten to death by four CCA guards who have since been indicted? Isn’t this the company that operates South Central Correctional Facility in Wayne County, where there was a quadruple escape? Doesn’t CCA refuse to comply with open records laws even though it operates public prisons and jails? This bill would remove the legislative performance review, which includes evaluation of management, security and safety issues at CCA-operated prisons. It’s likely a coincidence that CCA employs a number of former Tennessee state officials, has donated generously to the election campaigns of state lawmakers, and was formerly represented by a lobbyist married to House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh. This is blatant political pandering to a private for-profit corporation at the expense of public oversight and accountability. Don’t like it? Contact your state senator now, as the bill, S.B. 1283, will be considered by the Senate soon. Alex Friedmann

March 2, 2006 Birmingham News
In the recent letter "Partnerships can ease overcrowding," the executive director of the Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations resorts to smoke and mirrors in promoting privatization as the answer to Alabama's overcrowded prisons. He relies on dubious studies, some of which were paid for by his boss - the for-profit private prison industry. The Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations advocates nothing more than a throwback to the convict lease system of the late 1800s, which was ended in the early 1900s. Privatization has resulted in a "race to the bottom." You get what you pay for, folks. For more information about this industry, visit our Web site: www.PrivateCI.org. We don't make this stuff up. Ken Kopczynski, Executive director, Private Corrections Institute

February 28, 2006 St Petersburg Times
Re: Inmate went days without medical help, Feb. 26 Times: In your excellent story about the tragic death of James T. Wells, the Times put a human face on Corrections Corporation of America's maltreatment of prisoners. Instances of the neglect leading to his death abound in the for-profit prison industry. When a reporter was finally allowed to interview fellow Hawaiian inmates of a woman who died in their Kentucky prison, they were forbidden to speak without the presence of a CCA monitor. They were not allowed to share the circumstances of her demise. Like Mr. Wells, she had complained of her condition long before her unfortunate and presumably preventable death. Why does this happen? I testified on a panel with CCA's recently hired vice president for operations. I informed the Commission on Safety and Inmate Abuse in America's prisons that CCA was paying poorly trained guards $7.61 hourly in Kentucky, while the vice president was making $270,000 with two-thirds of a million in stock awards. A commissioner asked him, "What kind of people do you get for seven dollars and 61 cents?" The VP responded, "Well, let me say I'm not sure what facility in Kentucky you're referencing." The answer he avoided giving was, "Bottom of the barrel, commissioner." As for "what facility," the truth would have been, "pick any." -- Frank Smith, Bluff City, KS

February 4, 2006 Hernando Today
Corrections Corporation of America, which has a $10 million contract with the county to run the Hernando County Jail, has come under fire recently after three inmate suicides and other problems called CCA's performance into question. It's not the first time CCA, the country's largest private prison operator, has been in this position. Records show CCA has a record of trouble in facilities across the nation. In Hernando County, part of the problem is a high turnover rate. And with so much turnover, it's hard to keep experienced, qualified corrections officers on staff. According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records, 70 employees left the Hernando County Jail in 2005. Some were fired and one died. But most of them, 45 to be exact, resigned on their own. Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute, or PCI, said the jail's high turnover rate is because of low wages. And people making low wages aren't likely to be as conscientious in performing their duties. CCA spokesman Chris Howard said certified corrections officers start at $13.46 an hour and non-certified at $10.02 per hour. "If you're making that, are you going to put your life in jeopardy?" Kopczynski asked. Kopczynski said CCA is going to have to pay for wage increases to remedy the situation, but that goes against the company's ultimate goal of making money. "They'll have to pay for training and pay proper wages in order to keep good people," he said. "You can't do it on the cheap." Kopczynski's organization was established to inform the public of the troubles and dangers of privatized jails and prisons, he said. "There's a number of people, including myself, that believe law enforcement and corrections are a core function of government," he said. "When you put the private and profit motives in there, it's likely to be abused...I call it the black hole of prison privatization. Most of the private jail and prison issues are lack of oversight issues." Some people are calling for the termination of CCA's contract in the wake of the recent suicides. Sheriff Richard Nugent has said he doesn't want to take over the jail's operations. The county is now looking at other private companies to run the 730-bed facility, but cost is a concern. Kopczynski said there's no doubt such a change will cost more money, but he said the commissioners aren't left with many choices. "The county is ultimately responsible for the well-being of the inmates. That's a core function of county government," he said. "And it's going to cost money. Let's face it, you get what you pay for." "The commissioners need to get some spine and pony up," he said. "What's it going to take to for the county to hold (CCA's) feet to the fire?" CCA is no stranger to controversy and criticism. A 2003 study commissioned by the nonprofit Grassroots Leadership concludes that CCA's pursuit of profit undermines the government's core function of providing a safe environment for prisoners. The 81-page study reflects on CCA's first 20 years. CCA was founded in 1983 by Thomas Beasley, former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party. The study cites dozens of incidents at CCA facilities across the country, including several at the Hernando County Jail. Until the recent string of suicides, most of the jail's public embarrassments related to inmate escapes. In January 1990, four prisoners escaped the facility, which had just been built for $8 million. A state investigator found that the escape was due to a combination of infrequent cell security checks, defective cell doors and ineffective security grating behind a light fixture. One of the guards on duty during the escape was later fired, but he alleged that he was ordered to falsify records by jail administrators. He claimed that the jail had not been complying with the requirement that prisoners who are known escape risks be checked every 15 minutes. His falsified records were an attempt at covering up the jail's error, the study states. In two of the three recent suicides, the jail was found to have the same problem. The inmates weren't checked on every 30 minutes as required. One went more than two hours and the other nearly three hours between checks. In late 1990, another Hernando County Jail inmate escaped by removing a stainless steel plate in a shower stall. Then in July 2001, inmate John Devane escaped from the Hernando County Jail after removing his identification bracelet and replacing it with another bracelet he got from the trash. Devane had a cleaning job in the facility and found the bracelet, which was for lower-security inmates. The bracelet enabled Devane to join a work detail that was emptying trash outside the facility. He took that opportunity to escape. He was captured a few weeks later when a former cellmate spotted him in a supermarket and called authorities. "For a company that set out to improve upon what the public sector can offer, it has had to spend an inordinate amount of time defending its own performance," the study states. "...CCA continues to be the subject of enough local scandals and court cases to keep its lawyers and public relations people quite busy." The study concludes that its time federal, state and local governments take back the operation of prisons and jails in their jurisdiction. It states, "While CCA celebrates the past 20 years and looks forward to many more, we believe the time has come to put an end to the misguided experiment of prison privatization." Reporter Christi Stevens can be contacted at (352) 544-5271.

February 1, 2006 The Mirror
A petition will soon be delivered to Queen's Park asking that Premier Dalton McGuinty publicly promise to not renew the Management and Training Corporation (MTC) contract at the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) in Penetanguishene. Sharon Dion, chairperson of Citizens Against Private Prisons, has created a petition that cites alleged issues at the jail, including lack of food, clothing and medical care, insufficient staffing levels; and MTC's exemption from paying the Town of Penetanguishene business taxes. She expects about 15,000 signatures once the petition becomes available electronically. She plans to give the petition to Brant Liberal MPP Dave Levac - a vocal opponent of private prisons - in March so he can present it in the Ontario Legislature. McGuinty made promise not to renew jail contract at Penetanguishene Council. When then-Opposition leader McGuinty visited Penetanguishene Council with Levac, before the jail was open, he promised that a Liberal government would not renew the contract with Utah-based MTC. "We are trying to draw the attention of the Liberal government so that they keep their promise," Dion said. "That's the ultimate goal." Dion says she has received calls of support from correctional officers at the Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Lindsay and the Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton which are publicly-operated. "Also, what's not included in the per diem rate is all of the hidden costs of prison privatization, like ambulance and hospital costs, escorts, and lawsuits that some inmates and their families have against MTC, First Correctional Medical and the Province of Ontario, in the case of Jeffrey Elliott's death."

January 30, 2006 Hernando Today
What will it take for the county to realize their lawful responsibility and return the Hernando County Jail to public management? Does the administration really believe that another for-profit company will run the jail any better than CCA? I encourage everyone, including county commissioners, staff, the sheriff and the public, to visit the Private Corrections Institute's Webpage (www.PrivateCI.org) to read for themselves how these companies operate. CCA's Hernando County Jail had a correctional officer turnover rate of 75 percent in 2004 and 82 percent in 2003 (source: FDLE 2004 Criminal Justice Agency Profile). No wonder CCA is having problems. Will it cost more for the public the run the jail? Yes it will because the officers will be paid more and have more benefits but the jail will be run professionally. The county needs to realize that for-profit private corrections company have one interest: profits. Ken Kopczynski Executive Director Private Corrections Institute


December 16, 2005 The Mirror
A local woman has taken her fight to Queen's Park to have Central North Correctional Centre publicly operated. Sharon Dion of Citizens Against Private Prisons met with MPP Liz Sandals, parliamentary assistant to Monte Kwinter, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, on Monday to discuss her concerns about Management and Training Corporation. She also met with Brant MPP Dave Levac in a separate meeting. Levac was the Liberal Opposition Critic for Corrections when the Tories were in power and was a vocal opponent of the privatization of the super jail in Penetanguishene. "My goal was to remind the Liberal party of their promise to end the private prison culture in Ontario," Dion told The Mirror. "I provided Ms. Sandals with paperwork to enlighten her of the patterns and practices of the documented mismanagement of MTC, both here and in the U.S." There is one year left of the province's current five-year contract with MTC but, as per contract stipulations, the government must decide by May 2006 whether to extend the contract for another year; extend the contract up to five years, based on an agreement of financial terms; re-tender the contract; or return the prison to the public service. During the meeting with Sandals, Dion talked about inmate deaths, violence and staff issues at the privately-run facility. "We talked about the inadequate health care that caused the death of Jeffrey Elliot, the stabbings, the murder, riot, staff safety, low staff levels and high staff turnover, and (correctional officer) Dwight Stoneman's brutal beating," she noted. Levac praised Dion for her preparedness. "Sharon has been tenacious as always. What I love about Sharon is she always comes prepared," he said, noting he's hopeful the jail will become publicly operated. "She's factual. She's not emotional about it. She brings passion to the situation but I have to tell you that she's probably one of the most prepared people I've ever dealt with and worked with."

November 2, 2005 Delco Times
Lying on his stomach and propped up by his elbows, a middle-aged man stares through a window with a slightly curious, but otherwise blank, expression. The window doesn't lead outside, but to a secluded hallway where a prison guard is staring back. It is the guard's sole responsibility to prevent that inmate from becoming another Michael Rafferty, the accused triple-murderer who died in August after slamming himself into a prison wall. The guard, an employee of the private corrections firm GEO Group Inc., has been assigned to one-on-one suicide watch, the most intense form of observation practiced at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. While this particular inmate is isolated in a small room, he is one of hundreds of mentally ill inmates living at the overcrowded county prison on Cheyney Road. Like other prisons around the country, it has become a repository for some of society's most unstable citizens. "Prisons are housing more and more mentally ill people because we have no other place to put them," said Jessica Raymond, a member of the Pennsylvania Prison Society who monitors conditions at the county prison. The society advocates for better living conditions for inmates. Last year, the county prison expanded its medical unit to 53 beds, more than twice the size of the previous unit. During a recent visit, it was packed with inmates, some wearing "suicide gowns" that will rip if used as a noose. Frank Green, an assistant superintendent employed by the county to monitor GEO's management of the prison, said that volume is not unusual. "It's double the workload," he said. "It makes everything tougher." The increasing workload, combined with high turnover and low wages, prompted 15 registered nurses, physician's assistants and nurse practitioners to unionize in September, voting unanimously to join the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. In March, about 80 other GEO employees - including all the licensed practical nurses -- unionized through Teamsters Local 312. "If you have substandard salary and benefits, you simply cannot recruit and retain the kind of quality professionals you need to do the job," said April Smith, director of organizing for PASNAP. Nurses at the prison, for example, receive no paid vacation during their first year on the job, according to Smith. Temple University Hospital, she said, gives new nurses three weeks paid vacation. Delaware County's jail is the only privately run county prison in the state. Reducing labor costs is one of the ways GEO and other private corrections firms are able to run prisons more cheaply than the government that hires them. With privatization comes a tradeoff in the level of services, said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute, a group that opposes privately run prisons. He said private corrections companies are prone to "cut corners" - including in the administration of medical services - in order to maintain their profitability. "Why is it better for the county to do it? Public officials are accountable to the public. The board of directors for GEO is accountable to whom, the public? Hell, no. They're accountable to the shareholders," Kopczynski said. "And what are the shareholders interested in? The profit. They have to turn a profit." "Guess what, that's bad criminal justice policy," he said.

November 16, 2005 The Mirror
The province will have to decide whether or not Management Training Corporation (MTC) is meeting its service contract responsibilities, and if it wants the Utah-based company to continue to run the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC), by May. There is one year left of the current, five-year contract but as per contract stipulations, only six months for the government to decide whether to extend the contract for another year; extend the contract up to five years, based on an agreement of financial terms; re-tender the contract; or return the prison to the public service. According to Brian Low, Executive Lead, Alternative Service Delivery with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the contract decision-making process has begun and will continue into the new year. Consultants from Price Waterhouse Coopers will interview people from key groups to ensure the information the government has is accurate. While members of Council, chamber of commerce, board of monitors at the jail, and Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services will be interviewed, members of community groups, like Citizens Against Private Prisons, will not be included. "It's disappointing they're not coming to speak to me because I have been doing private prison research for five years and it's important that this new government knows the character of the company they're working with," said Sharon Dion, chairperson of Citizens Against Private Prisons. "I have scathing reports about Management and Training Corporation in the United States. This government needs to know there are major problems with MTC in the United States and First Correctional Medical who (also) runs our medical unit." Low says the government already has information from Dion and others who have made their views clear. Dion has been involved in the debate for five years - even before the decision was made to run the jail privately - and remembers a public promise made in 2001 by then-Opposition leader, Dalton McGuinty, when he paid a visit to Penetanguishene Council. "I want to make sure they uphold their promise, that it's going back into public hands (if the Liberals come into power)," she said, noting that she will soon meet with the parliamentary assistant to Monte Kwinter, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, to discuss her findings, at Queen's Park. When considering whether to extend the MTC contract, Dion wants the government to take into consideration the deaths, violence, and one instance where the wrong inmate was released, over the past four years. But Low cautions that the incidents must be put in perspective.

August 3, 2005 The Mirror
A Penetanguishene resident says she believes members of municipal council should be apprised of the procedures and policies that will be involved in securing the Central North Correctional Facility, in the event of a strike by OPSEU correctional officers on Aug. 11. Sharon Dion, the Canadian liaison for The Private Corrections Institute in Florida and chairperson of Citizens Against Private Prisons, has expressed her concerns about the safety of the community in a letter to council, dated July 26. "There seems to be many unanswered questions regarding who will be securing the facility in the event of a strike. The ministry's office advised me the issue would be dealt with between (Management and Training Corporation) and the union. On the contrary, union representatives have stated that no public service workers will be utilized during a strike," wrote Dion. Although he expresses similar concerns, Deputy Mayor Randy Robbins said he is not sure what council can do. "Sure, we are (concerned about the possible strike)," Robbins told The Mirror, before he had an opportunity to read the letter. "We've been through a few strikes with OPSEU with the mental health centre and it's always a concern. Not knowing the contingency plan heightens that concern. We'll have to see. It's not as if we can send our people up there. What can we do?"
But Dion wants assurances the plan will be implemented properly. "I do understand the importance of not making public staffing numbers for security reasons, but due to the fact that this American company does not have other institutions in Canada to draw upon, (it) could jeopardize the safety of our community."

July 27, 2005 St Petersburg Times
TALLAHASSEE - A harsh new state audit discloses that Florida overpaid nearly $13-million to two private prison vendors in the past eight years.  Among the findings were that the state paid for unfilled jobs and a vendor received money for facility maintenance that was never spent.  Nonetheless, the two companies that run the state's five private prisons remain on the job.  The disclosures come a year after state lawmakers disbanded a controversial citizen board that had overseen the state's private prisons.  The audit paints a mutually beneficial relationship between the defunct Correctional Privatization Commission and the two vendors that have run the private prisons for a decade: Corrections Corp. of American of Nashville and The GEO Group of Boca Raton.  "The CPC failed to adequately safeguard the state's interest. . . . The CPC consistently made questionable contract concessions to vendors," according to the audit, released Tuesday by the inspector general of the Department of Management Services.  Among the audit's findings, based on records dating from 1997:  The state paid vendors $4.5-million for jobs that were vacant, in part because it failed to require vendors to report the vacancies.  The commission authorized $5-million in cost-of-living salary adjustments at GEO's South Bay Correctional facility. Auditors say the money wasn't fully passed on to employees as required.  At Gadsden Correctional facility in Quincy, Corrections Corp. received $2.9-million more for facility maintenance than it spent.  The commission, without clear legislative authority, staved off any impact from $263,489 in budget cuts in November 2001 by requiring vendors to return the same amount of money from a recent hike in their compensation.  DMS Secretary Tom Lewis said his general counsel is investigating whether the state can recoup any of the overpaid money. "I was surprised we would have a commission that would be that lax in their oversight role," said Lewis. His predecessor, Bill Simon, ordered the audit last fall after assuming responsibility for the prison contracts. "To the Legislature's credit, they realized that and did away with them," Lewis said.  Attempts to reach former members of the commission, disbanded by the Legislature last year, were unsuccessful Tuesday.  Spokesmen for both companies declined to comment specifically on the audit, saying staff were still reviewing it.  "There may be details and fine print in the audit that we take issue with, but the intent of the audit, we certainly embrace," said Steve Owen, spokesman for Corrections Corp., paid about $43-million annually by the state to run three north Florida prisons.  GEO Group spokesman Pablo Paez said, "We will work with our client and respond to any questions it may raise." GEO collects about $36-million annually to operate two south Florida facilities.  Democrats and private prison critics seized on the findings as evidence of privatization gone awry. "We would hope this would prompt some kind of action," said Ken Kopczynski, lobbyist for the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents public prison guards. "We should be talking criminal charges."  But dramatic ramifications to the findings appeared unlikely. Lawmakers have been reluctant to tamper with the system despite recurring questions about whether the state's private prisons meet the 7 percent cost savings required in law.  This spring, lawmakers voted to build additional beds at three of the facilities with the current vendors, requiring a two-year extension on those contracts. Expanding private prisons is cheaper in the short term than building public ones because vendors shoulder the financing, supporters say.  DMS also renewed the contracts on the two other prison facilities for a year. Lewis said there wasn't time, after he became secretary in March, to launch a full rebidding process for those two contracts. He said he is committed to rebidding those contracts before they expire in June 2006.  Corrections Corp. and GEO have been successful since at least 2002 in thwarting efforts to rebid their contracts. That year, the Correctional Privatization Commission, whose members were appointed by the governor, launched a plan to rebid the contracts.  But its efforts became mired in controversy after the commission's director illegally hired a former Department of Corrections secretary as a consultant. Lawmakers voted to disband the group and give oversight to DMS. Gov. Jeb Bush concurred.  DMS is in negotiations to build a sixth private prison at Graceville with 220 beds. It appears either GEO and Corrections Corp. will win that contract, as well. GEO announced two weeks ago it planned to buy a third possible competitor in the bid process.

June 30, 2005 Evansville Courier & Press
Indiana prison officials are drawing up the details on plans to contract out operation of a state prison in New Castle, Ind. They've chosen a firm to run food service for the other state prisons and are also looking into having a contractor take over nursing services. These are just a few changes state officials are looking into that could potentially cut state jobs. That has some state employees and their representatives wondering just how many jobs -- and at what pay scale -- may be left after the dust settles. "There's been a profound disregard of state employees by this administration," said Joe Lawrence, a spokesman for AFSCME, one of several affiliated unions that represent state workers. One of Gov. Mitch Daniels' first moves in office was to end state employees' right to collectively bargain. Lawrence said that and the push to privatization have made the work environment for state employees "treacherous." And some big backers of privatization, such as Geoffrey Segal, director of government reform with the Reason Foundation, are lending their support to the push. "The basic principle is that competitive arrangements are always superior to monopoly arrangements," Segal said. "Competition fosters innovation and a focus on the bottom line and cost savings."  State Rep. Tom Saunders, R-Lewisville, said he understands the administration's push and he's excited that running the prison at full capacity would mean more jobs in the region. Be he said he's concerned about how a private prison company would treat employees. "There will be more jobs here," Saunders said. "The concern is what will those jobs pay and what kind of benefits will they get?" Most likely not comparable to state wages and benefits, according to Ken Kopczynski of the Private Corrections Institute, a watchdog and critic of Florida's private prison system. "What the industry does is they come in and say: 'We can do it better and we can do it cheaper,'" Kopczynski said. "One way they do that is on the back of employees." He said private prisons nationwide have about a 50 percent employee turnover rate while government-run prisons have a 15 percent rate. Donahue has already inked a deal to turn over the food service of state prisons to a private company. And he's also reviewing whether to contract out for nurses. He said a private firm already oversees the medical systems but the nurses are state employees. He said chronic shortages of nurses force the state to hire temporary workers to fill the jobs. And with a private firm managing and a mixture of state and temp workers providing the service, it sometimes becomes a matter of "too many cooks in the kitchen." But some prison nurses are worried about the possibility. "I'm terrified," said Rebecca Fowler, a nurse at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility for nearly 13 years. "We've put up with a lot of physical, mental and verbal abuse for this job security and we're losing it." Fowler said many nurses came to work in Indiana to escape privatization in Illinois' state prison nurse system. She said in Illinois, the wages and benefits were competitive when the private companies first took over but fell year by year. "The health care is going to drastically drop," Fowler said. "Why work for a private company when you can go back to a hospital?"

May 25, 2005 Nashville City Paper
After 20 years in business, Corrections Corporation of America still finds itself having to defend the very nature of its existence. Being the largest private prison operator in the country has thrust CCA into the spotlight of the ongoing debate over whether the nation's prisons should be privately owned and run. The issue hit home for CCA in May when a union of jailers picketed in front of their Nashville headquarters on Burton Hills Boulevard. Their beef: Don't replace the government-run county jail in Shelby County with a private prison. Opponents claim privately-run jails are understaffed and suffer from high turnover and inadequate training - claims that CCA insists have no basis in fact. Critics, led by the Private Corrections Institute Inc. in Florida, strongly disagree with CCA's assessment, saying that many of the studies that CCA relies upon have been financed by the industry. "What I found with the industry is they don't save money. It's always an apples to oranges comparison," said Ken Kopczynski, the institute's executive director and lobbyist for the Florida Police Benevolent Association. His institute has been leading the charge on behalf of unionized corrections officers, taking their cause to battlegrounds around the country, including Dickson and Shelby counties. He said per-diem cost comparisons done by CCA don't take into account the health care and pension tabs picked up by state governments after employee benefits exceed the caps placed by private operators. Florida absorbed $1.8 million in cost shifts last year, he said. Labor officials argue that although private operators pay jailers an average of $3,000 less a year in wages than public prisons, the issue is not one of union jobs erosion. "This is more of a public safety issue. When you start cutting corners in prisons, you start having riots, you start having inmates burn the place down," Kopczynski said. In fact, 2004 proved to be a challenge for CCA, which saw disturbances and riots break out in its facilities in Arizona, Florida and Kentucky. A riot that lasted several hours last July at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Colorado prompted a review by the state Department of Corrections. State officials found flaws in the prison staff's level of emergency preparedness.

February 25, 2005 Tallahassee Democrat
Confronted with conflicting cost and benefit numbers, a Senate budget committee ordered a special audit Thursday to determine whether privatizing prisons really saves Florida taxpayers any money.  Lobbyists for the Police Benevolent Association said the private companies have used their political influence to cut corners and dodge a legal mandate of operating 7 percent cheaper than state-run prisons. The PBA, which represents about 18,000 correctional officers in state institutions and probation officers, opposes privatization - as other state employee unions do. "This is the poster child for everything that's bad in privatization of state government," said David Murrell, executive director of the PBA. "We think the taxpayers are being soaked for millions of dollars. We think the people of this state are being sold a bill of goods." Murrell and Ken Kopczynski, the PBA's legislative aide, said Geo and CCA enjoy a cap of $8,100 per inmate in medical costs and can "dump" extremely costly hospitalization treatment on the DOC if a prisoner needs long-term care. They also said the companies were supposed to pay property taxes to counties, when privatization was begun in 1986, but that the Legislature has given them tax breaks and credits against their corporate income taxes.  Kopczynski said the state has assumed $4.1 million in medical costs for prisoners who passed the $8,100 cap in a private institution and that lawmakers reimbursed counties $1 million for lost property taxes. He and Murrell said state prisons have to pay higher salaries because they have more senior staff. Kopczynski said the five private prisons average 43 percent turnover a year because of low salaries and poor benefits and that the Gadsden County institution for women had 76 percent turnover in 2003. "The for-profit private prison industry says they can do it better and cheaper," said Kopczynski. "This is true when you ignore statutes, medical cost, taxes, debt service, high turnover, low pay and fewer benefits." Sen. Victor Crist, R-Temple Terrace, chairman of the Justice Appropriations Committee, said he would have the Office of Program Policy and Government Accountability audit the costs of private prisons. OPPAGA is the Legislature's accounting and performance-monitoring agency. "What are the real costs and what are the real savings?" Crist asked. "Are we taking into consideration all the indirect costs with the private prisons?"

February 25, 2005 St Petersburg Times
Ten years after Florida hired private companies to run some state prisons, lawmakers still aren't convinced the deal saves tax money. "What are the real costs and what are the real savings?" Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee, asked Thursday. "We've got to find that out." The discussion was part of a long-running dispute between the companies and the Police Benevolent Association, which represents prison guards. PBA lobbyist Ken Kopczynski told the panel private prisons never produced the 7 percent savings required under state law. And the private prisons pay corrections officers $3,000 less than state prisons, leading to higher turnover rates. "If the Legislature wants private prisons for "privatization's sake' it should just say so," Kopczynski said. Crist said he would order the Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability to investigate.

February 24, 2005 News Herald
Former Bay County Commissioner Danny Sparks has entered into a "joint stipulation" with an advocate for the Florida Commission on Ethics in which Sparks admits he violated state law when he accepted a $240 round of golf paid for by the county’s financial adviser.  The Ethics Commission must approve the stipulation, which it will consider at its April 21 meeting.  The Florida Police Benevolent Association, a union representing police and correctional officers, filed ethics complaints against Sparks and five other former and current county officials in July 2003. The complaints targeted a February 2000 trip the officials took to Tennessee to visit a jail operated by Corrections Corporation of America, which also operates Bay County’s jail and jail annex. As a second leg of the trip, the officials traveled to Arizona to view a publicly run jail. Bay County was negotiating a contract renewal with CCA at the time.  The PBA also filed complaints, each with multiple allegations, against former Commissioners Carol Atkinson and Richard Stewart, former County Manager Jon Mantay, former county attorney Nevin Zimmerman, and county Emergency Services Chief Bob Majka.  The Ethics Commission issued probable-cause findings against all but Atkinson. All allegations against her were dismissed. Spark’s stipulation with the commission advocate includes a recommendation that he be fined $1,000 and that he be publicly censured and reprimanded. The public censure and reprimand would occur as part of an executive order by the governor. The $240 golf game, which was played during the trip, was paid for by Gary Akers, a financial consultant that assists the county with bond issues. Florida law prohibits public officials from accepting any gift with a value of more than $100 from a "lobbyist." Ken Kopczynski, PBA’s legislative assistant, said Ethics Commission investigators found out about the golf game as part of their review of the PBA’s complaint. The Ethics Commission dismissed allegations against Sparks related to CCA’s paying his travel expenses. The commission based the dismissal on its determination that Sparks was not aware that CCA was paying for the trip. The dismissal of the allegations against former Commissioner Atkinson was based on the same determination. In its probable cause findings issued in September, the Ethics Commission found: That Majka, Mantay and Zimmerman may have violated state gift laws by allowing CCA to pay their travel expenses. That Majka and Stewart, in addition to Sparks, may have violated gift laws by accepting rounds of golf from Akers. The commission dismissed the most serious allegations — that the officials accepted the gifts with knowledge that they were intended to influence future votes or decisions. Kopczynski said Wednesday that he believes the stipulation with Sparks is "reasonable." But he noted that allegations related to CCA would not be addressed until the other officials enter into stipulations or settlements or take their cases to hearing. Kopczynski’s organization, the Police Benevolent Association, opposes privately operated prisons and jails.

December 8, 2005 News Herald
A police union wants to know whether state officials and a private company gave themselves financial wiggle room in their plan to build and operate a prison in Graceville. The Florida Police Benevolent Association, which represents cops and corrections officers statewide, is challenging a state estimate that GEO Group Inc. - accused earlier this week of Sunshine Law violations - will save taxpayers $10 million on the 1,500-bed facility. Ken Kopczynski, a PBA lobbyist, has asked for financial plans and information about the "cost savings summary," a one-page worksheet prepared by state officials that shows GEO Group's total estimate at about $74 million. The summary indicates that GEO Group would pay $45.32 per day, per inmate over the three-year contract for a total of $74,438,100. In contrast, the state would pay a $51.41 per diem at a total cost of $84,440,925. The difference is about 12 percent. According to state law, private facilities must operate at 7 percent less than what the state would pay. PBA's beef, Kopczynski said, is that the long-term cost of the facility is hidden in construction bonds. The question, he said, boils down to this: How much less could the state build and operate the prison for? Kopczynski said the state does not usually build prisons with bond financing, and that if legislators paid cash for the project it would likely save "tons of money." "(GEO Group) hasn't gotten the financing so we don't know what the interest rate is going to be," Kopczynski said Wednesday. "So how can you make a comparison? They give you this simplistic little one-sheet flier with the figures on it, but that doesn't make sense. How can you determine what the true cost is going to be without looking at the financial plan." GEO Group beat out another private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, and was awarded the contract in September. The Florida Department of Management Services, which this year began overseeing the state's private prisons, on Wednesday defended the contract and GEO Group, saying that the bonds will be tax exempt because the underlying financial obligation belongs to the state. DMS spokeswoman Colleen Englert also said that GEO Group is assuming all construction risks related to the project, which quickly will provide much-needed bed space that saves the state money. The prison will employ 287 workers, Englert said, providing a boost to the Jackson County economy when it opens in mid-2007. "They bid a price for the construction and operation," Englert said, "and they are contractually obligated to meet that price." GEO Group and CCA operate facilities around the country, and each was named in a report earlier this year that said the now-defunct government agency that oversaw the private prisons routinely put the vendor's interest ahead of the taxpayer. The state evaluation said the Correctional Privatization Commission, which was disbanded when DMS began overseeing private prisons, allowed the companies to overbill the state by about $13 million. The report also said that the commission allowed the companies to bill for vacant positions, avoid minimal requirements for nurses and teachers, and used inmate welfare funds to be used for chaplain and library services. The report indicated that Florida was the only state where privately operated prisons are not administered by the department of corrections. When asked if DMS took the audit into account when it awarded GEO Group the Graceville contract, Englert said the evaluation was a management review - not a review of the companies. "Based on the documentation reviewed," Englert later wrote in an e-mail, "we did not find an indication of any improper conduct by GEO." Said Kopczynski: "They're in a race to the bottom. They say, 'We're going to do this on the cheap,' but you get what you pay for. Privates can't do it better and they definitely are not going to do it cheaper. They've created a race to the bottom." Last week, a watchdog group sued GEO Group in a Palm Beach County court, alleging that the company violated the Sunshine Law and had refused to turn over records. On Wednesday, a GEO Group spokesman said the company was going to work with Prison Legal News, the organization that requested public documents related to contracts, lawsuits and settlements. "We were in the process of responding to their request and we were surprised by the lawsuit," said GEO Group spokesman Pablo Paez. "Our general counsel's office has received the lawsuit and will be working with the plaintiffs to satisfy their request."


December 5, 2004 Tulsa World
Tulsa County taxpayers are paying 30 percent more to run the Tulsa Jail than the average amount that other jurisdictions pay Corrections Corporation of America at facilities it manages across the nation. In its latest financial report to investors, records show the Tennessee-based company's daily revenue per inmate averages $37.52 among the 26 facilities it manages but does not own.
Locally, taxpayers are paying CCA $48.60 per inmate daily at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center, owned by the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority. Oklahoma County's per diem rate has been $35 a day for the past three years, according to the sheriff's office, which operates the jail. Dick said CCA indicated to him that it makes a profit of about $1 million a year in Tulsa in its current contract. Based on the $22,179,438 CCA was paid in 2003-04 that would be about a 5 percent profit. In the five years since CCA first won the jail contract, its fee has risen 32 percent, while the total amount it has been paid has gone up 42 percent in four years. Ken Kopczynski, who operates a Florida-based watchdog group called the Private Corrections Institute, said Tulsa's jail problems are not unique. "You are basically getting the same issues everywhere. The prices are escalating. They (CCA) just walked away from a contract in Nevada because they low-balled it, and they came back begging for more money, particularly for medical costs." Kopczynski said private prison operators "say they can do it better and cheaper, but . . . they have to provide a profit to their shareholders. On top of that, they have to contribute thousands of dollars to politicians." In Florida, state law requires that use of private prisons results in a 7 percent cost savings. CCA runs six private correctional facilities in that state: three jails and three prisons. A review by the Florida Legislature found that only one in five private prisons operated by CCA and another company met the requirement.

November 19, 2004 Midland Free Press
The Free Press has learned that a recent work refusal issued by a correctional worker cites more computer problems at the superjail, but a Ministry of Labour inspector deemed it did not pose immediate danger to the guards. The work refusal was issued by a correctional officer in the early morning hours of Nov. 4.
Ministry of Labour spokesperson Belinda Sutton said the work refusal was called in after three alleged computer crashes the night before, and correctional officers said it posed a threat to their safety. Sharon Dion, a member of the prison's Community Monitoring Committee and an advocate for the abolishment of private prisons in Canada, said she is at her wit's end regarding continual defects within the jail. "This is absolutely ridiculous," said Dion. "If (Management and Training Corporation) cared about its correctional officers, they'd deal with this promptly."

September 21, 2004 Pueblo Chieftain
Colorado Department of Corrections officials don't routinely keep records of staffing levels, turnover rates or salary information for private prisons housing state inmates, says DOC spokeswoman Alison Morgan. The staffing issues were raised following a July 20 inmate riot at Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs, where 400 to 500 prisoners held control at the prison for five hours, until DOC and law officers from several local and state agencies used tear gas and rubber pellets to regain control of the medium-security prison run by Corrections Corp. of America. Following the riot, The Pueblo Chieftain questioned Morgan about the private prison's staffing ratio, number of uniformed staffers on duty when the riot began and salary ranges for CCA employees. Morgan replied: a.. CCA's uniformed staff-to-inmate ratio was 1 to 7.9, while DOC's average staff-to-inmate ratio is 1 to 4.7.  b.. CCA had 33 uniformed staffers on duty when the riot began and the prison housed 1,125 inmates at the time. c.. A Crowley County correctional officer's pay averages $1,818 per month plus benefits. d.. DOC's monthly beginning correctional salary is $2,774, plus state benefits; (no average was given). Morgan provided the information to The Chieftain on July 23. But when private prison critic Ken Kopczynski of the Private Corrections Institute Inc., asked Morgan in August for the same information, along with some backup information such as shift logs, Morgan told Kopczynski that DOC did not have information on the staffing levels at the time of the riot, annual turnover rates or average salary ranges. Staff longevity was raised, according to Kopczynski, because one female Crowley employee stated on television that she was working in the central control center despite being on the job for only two days. Morgan, asked Monday about the discrepancy in her responses to Kopczynski and The Chieftain on staffing issues, said she obtained responses for The Chieftain in July from CCA, but added that DOC does not routinely keep staffing or other information on the Crowley prison as part of its ongoing monitoring of CCA. The reason, she said, is that DOC's contract with CCA requires the company only to maintain sufficient staffing; no specifics are spelled out.

September 16, 2004 AP
A privately operated prison in eastern Kentucky was under a security clamp and inmates were doubled up in cells, a day after prisoners torched three buildings during an uprising. The medium-security Lee Adjustment Center at Beattyville was on "lockdown" Wednesday following a disturbance that erupted as inmates milled around a recreation yard Tuesday night. Ken Kopczynski of Private Corrections Institute Inc., a group opposed to private prisons, said such prisons are understaffed and have high turnover, leading to inexperienced guards. "What that does is it leads to more abuse and more safety-related issues because they don't know what's going on," Kopczynski said. He said locking up people hundreds of miles from families - such as the Vermont inmates - "doesn't help the situation." Vermont inmates have been housed at the Kentucky prison since this year to help ease overcrowding in Vermont facilities.

September 16, 2004 AP
A privately operated prison in eastern Kentucky was under a security clamp and inmates were doubled up in cells, a day after prisoners torched three buildings during an uprising. The medium-security Lee Adjustment Center at Beattyville was on "lockdown" Wednesday following a disturbance that erupted as inmates milled around a recreation yard Tuesday night. Ken Kopczynski of Private Corrections Institute Inc., a group opposed to private prisons, said such prisons are understaffed and have high turnover, leading to inexperienced guards. "What that does is it leads to more abuse and more safety-related issues because they don't know what's going on," Kopczynski said. He said locking up people hundreds of miles from families - such as the Vermont inmates - "doesn't help the situation." Vermont inmates have been housed at the Kentucky prison since this year to help ease overcrowding in Vermont facilities.


September 10, 2004 Midland Free Press
Following a pair of stabbings at Central North Correctional Centre, an anonymous correctional officer at the superjail said a lockdown and subsequent search yielded a pocketknife, the same week a report was leaked to the media about modicum staffing levels. Because of staff shortages, searches aren't performed as regularly as they should be, said the correctional officer.
At least one anti-privatization supporter says the memo should open the public's eyes once and for all about staffing levels inside the jail. "The words come straight from one of their administrators," said Sharon Dion, head of Citizens Against Private Prisons Penetanguishene, and a member of the prison's community advisory committee. "If it's a concern to them it should be a community concern. The OPP is investigating a pair of stabbings that happened last Saturday at CNCC. A 21-year-old Toronto man received a puncture wound to his leg, and a 20-year-old man, also from Toronto, sustained a puncture wound to his chest and a cut on his thumb.

North Carolina
September 4, 2004 The Charlotte Observer
Gaston County officials say contracting with a private company for inmate health care saves money, but a watchdog group spokesman says such outsourcing is a growing practice that can lead to inadequate medical treatment.  Two recent deaths of people held at the Gaston County Jail have raised questions about the quality of medical care there. Gaston renewed its contract with Prison Health Services three days after the first death. The county expects to pay PHS $750,000 during fiscal year 2004-05.  Large companies that specialize in prison health care are interested in making a profit, so they cut costs where they can, said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of Florida-based Private Corrections Institute, a group that monitors privatization of prison health care. He's a lobbyist for the Police Benevolent Association and believes officers' safety depends on how inmates are treated.  "You get what you pay for," he said. "But the problem is, a lot of the people that are going into prisons and jails don't take care of themselves anyway. They probably already have medical problems." 

July 29, 2004
For more than two hours, Tammera Bravo's son, an inmate at Crowley Correctional Facility, delivered "minute-by-minute terror" over the phone as prisoners smashed their surroundings.  "He said, 'It's on Mom. Those prisoners from Washington are refusing to come out of the yard.' " Washington inmates at the private prison in Olney Springs, about 80 miles southeast of Colorado Springs, had reached a boiling point because of their recent transfer and because they didn't like their new cells, Bravo said.  Five and a half hours later, it was over. All in all, as many as 400 of the prison's more than 1,100 inmates had been involved. Two of five cellblocks were trashed, at least one control room had been breached, fires had burned, and 13 inmates were injured.  Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Tallahassee, Fla.-based Private Corrections Institute -- which has been extremely critical of privatized prisons -- said the transfers hurt inmates' ties to family and friends. Many families, he said, are too poor to afford regular visits and inmates are left with little to look forward to and no life outside prison walls.  Kopczynski says it was no coincidence that, a day after the Crowley County prison incident, 28 Colorado inmates rebelled at a CCA private prison in Tutwiler, Miss., setting fire to mattresses and clothing.  "You're importing inmates from Washington and Wyoming to Colorado, and then you're shipping Colorado inmates off to Mississippi," Kopczynski said. "Does anyone see the irony here?"  In 2002, former state Sen. Penfield Tate, as he had in years prior, introduced unsuccessful legislation that would have prevented Colorado inmates from being transferred out of state. Tate became worried after incidents occurred in the 1990s similar to the one in Crowley County.  "We've seen a history of it," Tate said.  At CCA-owned private prisons, the guard-to-inmate ratios are far lower than at state-operated Department of Corrections facilities. The state's average ratio is one guard for less than five inmates, while the for-profit CCA averages one guard for nearly eight inmates. Morgan said the vast difference in ratios is justified because the state tends to deal with more difficult inmates.  However, critics like Kopczynski note that salaries for private prison guards tend to be much lower. At the Crowley County prison, guards make an average of $1,818 a month, compared to state guard salaries that start at $2,774 a month.  Because private prisons tend to pay guards less, companies grapple with higher turnover, meaning fewer experienced guards are available to handle complex inmate issues, Kopczynski said. Some guards, he said, don't last long enough to complete their training, which can take months. Others stay just a few years, he added.  (Colorado Springs Independent)

July 23, 2004 Henry Herald
Troubles seem to keep mounting this month for the nation's largest operator of private prisons. Corrections Corporation of America suffered through two prison riots this week - one in Colorado and another in Mississippi. The uprisings follow a July 7 homicide at a Nashville facility, which is still being investigated, and a smaller uprising in Oklahoma.  The spate of bad news is providing fodder for critics of privately run prisons and prompting a slight drop in CCA's stock price. In the prison industry, no news is often good news.  "I think the idea of privately operated prisons is one that is still controversial," said Richard Crane, a consultant in the industry and former CCA attorney. "(Bad incidents) give those who are opposed to privatization something to beat their drum about."  Critics said the string of problems shows that privately run prisons are a bad idea, and that grouping prisoners from multiple states under the care of low-paid, often inexperienced guards will lead to trouble.  "Almost half of the employees in the facility have no experience whatsoever," said Ken Kopczynski, with the Private Corrections Institute Inc., an advocacy group opposing private prisons. "I just hope enough people will wake up to the bad idea of private prisons. It just goes against all the principles of democracy."

July 23, 2004
Although state lawmakers have carried out four audits of state prison programs since 1999, they have never audited the private company in charge of the southern Colorado prison engulfed by a riot Tuesday.  The Crowley County prison that erupted in flames is run by Corrections Corporation of America. A state senator said Thursday the state might want to take a closer look at its finances.  "We can follow the state's money and audit that," said Sen. Norma Anderson, R-Lakewood, a longtime audit committee member. "Perhaps we should do more along that line. We have looked at the bank accounts for the prisoners that are held in the private prisons, but we have never audited security there."  No one could estimate the damage from Tuesday's melee, but state officials insisted those costs would be borne by CCA.  The state also intends to bill the company for its costs in rushing more than 100 correctional officers and other help to the scene to help quell the uprising, as well as the expense of the investigation - a cost that could run as high as $150,000.  And at a news conference in Pueblo, Frank Smith of the anti- private prison group Private Corrections Institute said that "Olney Springs came apart at the seams, and it was no big surprise."  Smith, along with Brian Dawe, executive director of Corrections U.S.A., a nonprofit group that represents the nation's public corrections officers, said private prisons do not protect the public.  "This isn't about public safety for the private prisons, it's about the money," Dawe said.  Smith said he talked to some of the corrections officers at Crowley and they expressed concerns about understaffing, low pay and inadequate training. Dawe said private prison guards receive 30 percent less training than those at federal facilities.  Smith said he was also told that Colorado prisoners might have started the riot because they were not happy about what they considered special treatment that prisoners from Washington state were receiving.  Dawe, a former prison guard, said moving inmates out of state and away from their families is bad for the prison and the public. "I guess Colorado doesn't have enough problems, so they need to import some more," he said.  (Rocky Mountain News)