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Alternative Youth Adventures
Montrose County, Colorado
Community Educational Centers

January 22, 2009 Rocky Mountain News
The mother of a Salt Lake City boy has filed a lawsuit against a Colorado wilderness camp where her son died of a staph infection. The mother, Dawn Boyd Woodson, alleges her son's 2007 death could have been prevented if the staff of Alternative Youth Adventures had heeded medical warning signs. A company attorney says operators of the former camp in Montrose had a stellar reputation until 15-year-old Caleb Jensen's death. Attorney Colleen Scissors says a staph infection is not something that would have been obvious. She is defending West Caldwell, N.J.-based Community Education Centers Inc., AYA's former corporate parent, against criminal charges filed by the Montrose County district attorney over Jensen's death. A trial is set for March.

July 15, 2008 Daily Planet
More than a year has passed since Caleb Jensen died in the mountains near Montrose, in a wilderness camp for troubled kids. Languishing from an untreated staph infection, the 15- year-old collapsed on his sleeping bag one day and never got up. That was May 2007. Yesterday, a Montrose County grand jury indicted the camp, its corporate parent, two camp staffers and a Utah doctor on charges stemming from the boy’s death. They’re charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and child abuse and face up to 12 years in prison. Jensen’s mother, Dawn Woodson, said she’d been waiting for this news in one form or another every since she got a phone call telling her that her son was dead. “I’m glad to hear of it, and that these people have been indicted,” she said in a telephone interview. “But I still have a huge void and nothings ever going to fill it.” The Utah boy spent the last month of his life at Alternative Youth Adventures, a now-defunct youth camp outside Montrose. He was sent there in late March 2007 after getting into trouble and landing in the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services. The camp sought to rehabilitate troubled kids with a menu of long hikes, tough physical exercise, counseling and education. It was an offshoot of Community Education Centers, a New Jersey company that runs programs nationwide for adult prisoners and at-risk kids. But Jensen’s experience became a doomed nightmare. He was prone to staphylococcus infections and developed one after arriving at the camp, investigators said. He complained, and other campers complained on his behalf, but Jensen’s mother said those pleas fell dead to the ground as her son’s skin went gray, his fever spiked and he started hallucinating. Jensen was even isolated for insisting that he felt sick, his mother said. “They were saying he was acting out and lying, and he was being punished the entire time he was sick,” Woodson said. “He was all by himself the whole time. He was dying and he was by himself. He couldn’t talk to anyone the whole time he was sick.” On May 2, 2007, a month after he entered the camp, Jensen died. After the state suspended its license, Community Education Centers shut down the camp permanently in July 2007, “without admission of wrongdoing of any sort,” according to a letter it wrote to the Colorado Attorney General’s office. The case went nearly silent until yesterday’s indictments were announced. Alternative Youth Adventures and Community Education Centers were charged with child abuse resulting in death and criminally negligent homicide, according to the Montrose County district attorney. James Omer, the camp’s program director, and Dr. Keith Hooker, a Utah emergency doctor and wilderness program expert, were also charged with child abuse and criminally negligent homicide. Ben Askins, another camp staffer, was charged with manslaughter and child abuse. The three men could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the Utah hospital that employs Hooker said he remains in good standing on the medical staff, but she said the hospital would investigate the charges. Community Education Centers issued this statement: “CEC stands by its position that at all times the company acted appropriately and that the circumstances that lead to Caleb Jensen’s death, while tragic, were not reasonably foreseeable.” The indictments offered a rare moment of vindication for child-safety advocates. Isabelle Zehnder, who runs the Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse, said that institutions and employees rarely face criminal charges after children die or suffer abuse in custody. The public agencies and private companies that provide care for troubled kids are often the last resort for parents, social services and judges. Their methods are often meant to be tough, and when things go wrong, agencies say they were simply acting in the name of treatment, Zehnder said. “You don’t know how many cases we have where everybody walks,” she said. “And then to have this — it’s amazing.” Jensen’s mother welcomed the indictments, but said the pain of her son’s death couldn’t be balmed by the justice system. Months pass, things get better, but then she’ll chance upon a children’s book Caleb once loved, and confront a wall of memories and hurt. “I still battle,” she said. “I don’t know how to tell myself, ‘You just have to understand that you’re not going to have Caleb back.’ I want him back so much, it hurts. It’s not easier or better. Somehow we find a way to get through every day.”

July 15, 2008 Montrose Daily Press
More than one year after Caleb Jensen died while under the care of Alternative Youth Adventures, the organization, its parent company and three people have been indicted. Jensen, 15, of Utah, had been placed into the outdoor wilderness therapy program for at-risk youths. He was on an outing in rural Montrose County last May when he developed a staph infection and died. The Colorado human services department said previously the infection produced observable symptoms, which the department accused AYA staff of neglecting. AYA’s parent company, Community Education Centers Inc., said Jensen’s death was tragic and the underlying cause was undetectable. On Tuesday, a Montrose grand jury handed down indictments alleging criminally negligent homicide, child abuse resulting in death, and manslaughter. According to a press release from the district attorney’s office, the indictments name AYA, CEC; Dr. Keith Hooker, and AYA employees James Omer and Ben Askins. The indictments have been sealed for now. “The grand jury was able to reach a decision they felt comfortable with,” District Attorney Myrl Serra said. “Those indictments have been sealed until the summons can go out and those charged have notice of what they’ve been charged with.” Community Education Centers Inc.; AYA; Hooker and Omer were all charged with the felony-3 offense of child abuse resulting in death and the felony-5 offense of criminally negligent homicide. Askins was charged with felony-3 child abuse resulting in death and manslaughter as a class-4 felony. Penalties upon conviction of the charges in the indictments range from one to 12 years in prison, with fines of up to $750,000. All indicted parties are due in court at 9 a.m. Aug. 25. “Community Education Centers stands by its position that at all times, the company acted appropriately and that the circumstances that led to Caleb Jensen’s death, while tragic, were not reasonably foreseeable,” Christopher Greeder, public relations manager for Community Education Centers, said in a written statement. Jensen’s family could not be reached for comment Tuesday. AYA and New Jersey-based Community Education Centers came under investigation by the Colorado Department of Health and Human Services, Colorado Attorney General’s office and the local Seventh Judicial District soon after Jensen’s death. The company consistently denied negligence. AYA’s licenses for residential and therapeutical childcare in Colorado were suspended within a week of Jensen’s death. Initially, Community Education Centers planned to contest suspension, but voluntarily surrendered its licenses last July, as a “business decision,” without admitting wrongdoing. The company at the time also said it’d decided before Jensen’s death to sell the Montrose facility.

May 11, 2007 Denver Post
State health authorities have shut down a wilderness youth camp in Montrose County after a 15-year-old Utah boy died there last week of an untreated staph infection. The Colorado Department of Health and Human Services suspended the license of Alternative Youth Adventures on Wednesday. The 26 at-risk youths in the program were moved from the remote camp in Montrose County to corrections or human service agencies in Grand Junction and Denver on Wednesday and Thursday. "We believe we have reasonable grounds to believe the camp presents a substantial danger to public health, safety and welfare," said Liz McDonough, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. McDonough said she did not know how Caleb Jensen contracted a methicillin- resistant staphylococcus aureus infection. She said he reported symptoms to the adult camp leaders. "We are at a loss to see how this was preventable. ... It was something the staff just could not tell was there," said Bill Palatucci, a spokesman for Community Education Centers Inc., the Roseland, N.J., company that operates the wilderness camp and five other rehabilitation-type programs in Colorado as well as programs in six other states. "From what we know, the staff acted appropriately, in line with their track record." The type of bacterial staph infection Jen- sen died from most commonly occurs in hospitals and usually affects the elderly and very ill or others with compromised immune systems. It most commonly develops in an open wound. In minor cases, the infection causes pimples or boils. In serious cases, the infection can lead to fever, pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome and death. Jensen died the afternoon of May 2 in a camp in a remote part of Montrose County just over the Mesa County line. Counselors reportedly tried to revive the boy, who had been at the camp for a month. He was placed in the program for two months by the Utah Division of Juvenile Services. A website for Community Education Centers describes the camp as incorporating "education, conservation practices, work projects in national forests, rigorous physical activity, substance abuse treatment and detailed aftercare planning." Dan Robinson, director of the Grand Mesa Youth Services program in Grand Junction, said his facility has used the camp for years and has not had problems with it. McDonough said her department had previous issues with youths who suffered frostbite at the camp. Last year, six youths walked away from Alternative Youth Adventure camps in Montrose and San Miguel counties. All were eventually located.

May 3, 2007 Rocky Mountain News
A 15-year-old Utah boy died during a backcountry outing with a youth program on the Uncompahgre Plateau of natural causes, authorities said today. The teenager, whose name was not immediately released, was part of Alternative Youth Adventures, a Montrose care facility that treats at- risk juveniles through education, counseling and work projects in national forests. Dr. Rob Kurtzman, chief deputy coroner in Mesa County, said he'll conduct further tests to determine the precise cause of death. "It's sudden and tragic," said Bill Palatucci, senior vice president of Community Education Centers, the parent company of Alternative Youth Adventures. "It may have been a previously undetected underlying medical condition." Palatucci said the boy had been referred to the AYA program by the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services. He declined to release the boy's name, citing federal privacy regulations. The boy died Wednesday afternoon. Authorities received a 911 call about 3 p.m. saying he was not breathing, but the boy was dead by the time rescue personnel reached the remote site southwest of Grand Junction near the Mesa-Montrose county line.

Cornell Community Corrections Center
Salt Lake City, Utah
June 16, 2008 Deseret News
A federal judge has ordered the dismissal of a sexual misconduct charge against a former employee of a contracted federal halfway house, who was accused of having an affair with an inmate, becoming pregnant. In a ruling issued last Friday, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball said federal prosecutors had insufficient evidence to show that Ashley Ford committed sexual misconduct when she had sexual relations with an inmate, because the sexual relations took place outside of the halfway house and while Ford was off duty. According to court documents, Ford was hired at the Cornell Community Corrections Center in Salt Lake City as a staff monitor in November 2006. The facility houses inmates who can leave the facility during the day to work and then return in the evening to sleep. About a month before she was hired, Ford met inmate Nathan Coccimiglio at a party and was later put in a supervisory position over Coccimiglio at CCC. Records also state that while working at CCC, Ford and Coccimiglio became sexually involved, but that the couple met at Ford's apartment while Coccimiglio was on work release and she was off duty. The record also states Ford became pregnant at the time. Ford argued that she did not have custodial, supervisory or disciplinary authority over Coccimiglio when they were engaged in intimate relations. "There is no evidence that Ms. Ford's conduct occurred 'in' the Cornell facility," Kimball wrote. While the court recognized that there were a variety of reasons to forbid a corrections officer from engaging in sexual conduct with someone in custody, the federal law simply does not prohibit the conduct which took place in Ford's apartment, Kimball added. Ford is one of three CCC employees who have been charged in the past year with alleged misconduct. Two male employees, William Lynn Appawora and Larry Lee Jensen, were both charged with misconduct and sentenced to terms in federal prison. Both men admitted to altering urine drug tests for inmates at the 99-bed facility. Jensen admitted to using his own urine for an inmate's test in exchange for $40. He would also provide advance notice of drug tests and outside visits in exchange for sexual favors from inmates. Appawora was sentenced to 21 months in prison. Jensen was sentenced to 27 months but appealed his sentence. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Jensen's claims and had upheld his sentence as appropriate.

September 20, 2007 Salt Lake City Tribune
The inmates at a halfway house in Salt Lake County knew that a sexual favor or a few dollars slipped to monitor Larry Lee Jensen could allow them to break the rules or keep them out of trouble if they had been drinking or using drugs. For $50, four inmates of Cornell Community Corrections Center were allowed to leave the facility one night to have sex, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stated. The Denver-based court also said another inmate got notice from Jensen of urinalysis test dates in exchange for naked pictures of her boyfriend. And those actions, along with numerous other incidents, supported an enhanced prison term of 27 months, the 10th Circuit said Tuesday in upholding Jensen's sentence for altering a record in a federal investigation. The punishment was imposed in April by U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene, who determined that Jensen had enabled numerous residents at the halfway house to violate the institution's rules. Greene wrote that Jensen's willingness to give advance notice of urinalysis dates or provide them with his own urine samples "became known to every inmate in the place." Jensen, 38, had argued that his offense of falsifying a record and his other conduct did not call for the enhancement under federal sentencing guidelines. However, the 10th Circuit said Greene's "uncontroverted" finding of "extreme and repetitive conduct" showed that Jensen's crime was far from an isolated occurrence and upheld the enhancement. Cornell Community Corrections is a private company that contracts with the government to house inmates after their release from federal prisons. In 2006, the FBI began investigating allegations of illegal activities by employees in Salt Lake County. According to the 10th Circuit, Jensen admitted taking $40 on April 19, 2006, to urinate into a specimen cup and falsely writing in official paperwork that the inmate had provided the sample in his presence. The appeals court decision said Jensen also admitted in an interview with FBI agents to: * Allowing a male resident, in exchange for a sexual favor, to visit a female resident in violation of center rules. * Providing two residents with advance notice of pending urine submission dates in exchange for the pair agreeing to be photographed in the nude. * Failing to record positive breath tests for certain residents. * Allowing two male residents and two female residents, for $50, to leave the facility during the night so they could have sex. Under a plea deal, Jensen pleaded guilty to one count of falsification of a record in a federal investigation. Another monitor, William Lynn Appawora, admitted to damaging the seal on a urinalysis sample in exchange for $40 so it would not be tested. He was sentenced to 21 months behind bars and did not appeal.

April 6, 2007 Salt Lake City Tribune
A former worker at Cornell Community Corrections Center, a halfway house in Utah for federal inmates, has been sentenced to 27 months in prison for tampering with a urine-test record. Larry Lee Jensen, 38, admitted that he urinated into a specimen cup for a center resident and filled out paperwork saying he had witnessed the inmate providing the sample. The sentence was imposed March 28 by U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene.

September 11, 2006 Deseret News
Two employees of a contract federal halfway house have been indicted in the destruction and falsification of urine records of federal inmates. According to federal prosecutors, Lynn Appawora, 37, and Larry Lee Jensen, 38, face up to 20 years in federal prison for destruction, alteration or falsification of a record in a federal investigation. Specifically, federal prosecutors say while the two worked as monitors for the Cornell Community Corrections Center in Salt Lake City they altered drug urine records for federal inmates. The center contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

September 6, 2006 Salt Lake Tribune
An investigation into possible corruption at a Salt Lake City corrections center for federal inmates has resulted in an indictment against two employees there. William Lynn Appawora, 37, and Larry Lee Jensen, both of Salt Lake City, were indicted Friday on one count each of destruction, alteration or falsification of a record in a federal investigation. The two, who are accused of tampering with records of urine tests, face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, if convicted. The probe targeted Cornell Community Corrections Center, a private corporation that contracts to house inmates after they are released from federal prisons outside of Utah. The center also provides services for prisoners who are on federal probation or who have been released from custody pending trial on federal charges. The investigation, which began several months ago, is ongoing, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Diamond Ranch Academy, Utah
Dec 8, 2014 courthousenews.com
SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - A private prison that calls itself an academy locked up teenagers, "sadistically and verbally" beat them down, and forced them to go barefoot in winter, four teens claim in court. Tyler Weber, Tracy Sarno, Janet Yelding and Janaye Kearns sued Diamond Ranch Academy on Dec. 3, in Federal Court. They claim that Diamond Ranch, a self-styled "troubled teen" boarding, reform and alternative school, promised them a "supportive, safe, healthy, camp-like setting with regular and productive therapy/counseling." Weber and Kearns separately attended Diamond Ranch. Sarno's and Yelding's experiences are not detailed in the lawsuit. Weber and Kearns say they were forced to work in 100-degree weather without protection and insufficient water, deprived of shoes and sufficient clothing in winter, and repeatedly ordered to dig deep holes and refill them. They claim they were kept awake until midnight and made to get up at 4:30 a.m., tackled and sat on by staff "for punishment for some perceived slight," and made to sit facing walls "for any reason or no reason." "The staff sadistically and verbally beat down everyone, and the bullying was excessive," the 20-page complaint states. "Groups of captives were pitted against other groups for the amusement of staff. Although some staff members were more kind and helpful and willing to become friendly, they never mustered the courage to correct the sadistic staff members who enjoyed wielding the power over Mark and Devin, along with all of the others."  Parties listed in the complaint do not include a Mark or a Devin. "At Diamond Ranch Academy, there was no forum for complaint, explanation, appeal, or grievance against the placement, before, during, or after it occurred," the complaint states. "The only option available to the hapless youth there confined was to 'fake it in order to make it,' for Diamond Ranch Academy is a lock down, closely guarded private prison, where punishments are harsh for any rule infraction, real or instigated by the Diamond Ranch Academy staff for their amusement." The plaintiffs say Diamond Ranch's "extravagant fees fraudulently suggest great expertise and cloak its staff's minimal credentials and multiple mistakes. A website from "Diamond Ranch Academy Survivors" (www.drasurvivors.com) harshly criticizes the place. For example: "Diamond Ranch Academy is not a legitimate treatment facility and their methods are unethical, illegal and abusive. Please, do not send your child to Diamond Ranch Academy." The site calls the "therapeutic" treatment program, based in Hurricane, Utah, "The Devil's Ranch," adding "Out in the middle of nowhere ... hot, desolate and miserable."The school did not respond to a request for comment. Diamond Ranch states on its website: "Our students become their best selves in a structured elite private school environment with a personalized therapeutic approach." The plaintiffs seek punitive damages for fraud, false imprisonment and child abuse. They are represented by Thomas Burton.


Grantsville, Utah
August 1, 2002 The prison population in Utah declined 5.2 percent last year. That was second only to New Jersey, where the population dropped 5.5 percent. This is good news any way you look at it, but it also ought to make Utahns heave a big sigh of relief. Think what would have happened if the state had gone ahead with plans to contract with a private company to build and operate a full-fledged state prison. That was the plan, up until two years ago this month. It had progressed so far that the city of Grantsville extended a waterline to the proposed prison site and a private contractor incurred some costs. Thus was the state, and its taxpayers, saved from what could have been a disaster. What might have happened? Take a look at what is happening in Mississippi. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported on how the Mississippi Legislature had agreed to pay a private prison company for housing approximately 900 inmates regardless of whether those inmates actually existed. Lawmakers had, in effect, agreed to pay full price for empty cells. It was either that or go round up a bunch of innocent people on trumped up charges. To put it bluntly, when a state decides to privatize prisons, it creates a new set of special interests. Crime is down and prisons are going empty. That's a good thing. It should never become a burden for taxpayers. (Desert News.com)

June 21, 2001
Legislators have endorsed a $1.5 million settlement to avoid being sued by a private corrections company over the state's abandonment of plans for a private prison in Tooele County. "We warned lawmakers, "said Steve Erickson, co-founder of Utah Citizens Education Project. "Heading down the private prison path was buying a pig in a poke.  Turns out it was all pig and no pokey." The $1.5 million figure is roughly $2 million less than Cornell and its subcontractors, VCBO Architects and Hogan Construction, said they were owed. For its money, Utah will receive architectural plans that are three-quarters complete, but in all probability worthless, Erickson said.  (AP)

June 20, 2001
Legislators are scheduled to vote today on a $1.5 million settlement with the Cornell Corrections Corp.  The deal stems from the Utah Department of Corrections' decision to cancel a privatized prison project with Cornell last year to run a 500-bed private prison near Grantsville.  If the settlement is approved, the state would pay Cornell roughly $875,000 more, having already paid about $675,000.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

March 31, 2001
Utah's aborted courtship of the private corrections industry could cost the state roughly $1 million, according to preliminary figures released this week by state risk managers.  The Department of Administration Services was near a settlement Tuesday on claims from Hogan Construction and Houston-based Cornell Corrections, which was selected in 1999 to build a 500-bed medium-security prison in Grantsville before the Legislature withdrew financial support for the proposal.  More troubling is the $872,000 Utah is prepared to pay Cornell and its contractors for plans that never reached fruition.  While Cornell complained last year that the company should be compensated for preparation costs, it is not clear the company did anything more than negotiate for the prison contract ( as did three other companies vying for the prison) and acquire an option to buy property.  ( The Salt Lake Tribune)

Maximum Life Skills Academy
Cedar, Utah
March 11, 2004
A counselor at a home for troubled teens died tonight, hours after two of those teens apparently beat him with a baseball bat.  Sam Penrod, this sounds like a horrible attack. The 31- year old victim was airlifted here to LDS Hospital in extremely critical condition.  He died tonight, after what police call a vicious attack. Cedar City police were called to this group home around midnight.  They found Anson Arnette of Cedar City with severe head injuries.  The Maximum Life Skills Academy in Cedar City houses six boys-- it's a private program that's suppose to help troubled teens turn their lives around.  Police say two 17- year old boys, Jesse Simmons and Sean Graham snuck up on the counselor and hit him at least twice with a baseball bat.  (tv.ksl.com)

Management and Training Corporation, Ogden, Utah
Immigrants prove big business for prison companies: August 2, 2012 By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ and GARANCE BURKE Associated Press. Must read on immigration $$$.
MDOC Sticks with Private Prisons: Jackson Free Press, June 13, 2012. MDOC chooses MTC to take over where GEO failed. What are they smoking?
Top Ten Industry Lies: Cell Out Arizona, August 22, 2011
2010 escape at Kingman an issue for MTC’s bid: August 11, 2011, Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic. Expose on MTC
Rachel Maddow kicks butt http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/38685023#38685023

August 19, 2012 Union Leader
Three out-of-state companies vying to build a new men’s prison in New Hampshire have paid more than $130,000 in lobbyist fees to three Concord firms to win support for their proposal, according to state records. Corrections Corporation of America, based in Nashville, Tenn., outpaced its rivals, providing more than $101,000 to the Rath, Young and Pignatelli law firm since 2011, according to a New Hampshire Sunday News review of lobbyist income and expense reports. “Generally speaking, because governments are our partners, we obviously educate through government relations,” CCA spokesman Mike Machak said in an email. “It’s how we transparently share information about the services and solutions we provide and make sure we’re up to date on any specific needs they may have.” The law firm, which includes a section devoted to government relations, reported it spent all $101,729.85 it collected in lobbying fees from CCA since 2011. State law requires lobbyists to submit certain financial information regarding its clients. According to paperwork lobbyists must submit to the Secretary of State’s Office, lobbyists are required to report all fees “that are related, directly or indirectly, to lobbying, including fees for services such as public advocacy, government relations, or public relations services including research, monitoring legislation, and related legal work.” David Collins, director of government relations at the Concord law firm, deferred questions to CCA, which declined to talk specifically about its lobbying efforts in New Hampshire. William McGonagle, the state’s assistant corrections commissioner, said he’s aware of the lobbyists, but said the process for reviewing proposals is private at this point. “They’re out there,” McGonagle said. “I know they’re out there talking with legislators and the like.” The Legislature would need to approve funding any new prison received, he said. Fran Wendelboe, a former legislator and current registered lobbyist not involved in the prison proposals, said lobbyists can prove to be powerful forces. “On many occasions, they write the ... legislation,” Wendelboe said. “The lobbyists are considered the expert or who they represent are considered the experts.” Four companies submitted proposals — some topping $100 million — to build the prison. Some call for a privately run prison while others allow for the state to run it. Three state evaluation teams are privately reviewing the proposals. A recommendation is expected to reach the governor’s office and the state departments of corrections and administrative services in October, McGonagle said. Bruce Berke, a lobbyist with the Sheehan Phinney Capitol Group that represents Management & Training Corp., confirmed the receipt of $24,000 in fees, but referred further questions to his client. Issa Arnita, director of communications for the Centerville, Utah-based company, said in an email: “At times we hire lobbyists to educate various groups on the benefits of public/private partnerships in corrections. “We are participating in the competitive bid process, and we look forward to a decision by the state of New Hampshire,” Issa wrote. Berke’s firm on its website says its lobbyists “utilize their knowledge of the legislative and regulatory process and their long-term, trusted relationships with decision makers to achieve their clients’ goals.” Management & Training Corp.’s proposal included building a prison on Hackett Hill in Manchester. A third firm, The GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., paid at least $10,000 to Dennehy & Bouley. Lobbyist Jim Bouley couldn’t be reached for comment, but GEO Group spokesman Pablo Paez said in an email: “Since the procurement in New Hampshire is ongoing, it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on our proposal or the process. “Our company participates in the political process in states across the country, including New Hampshire, . . . as do a variety of organizations, including private corporations and organized labor organizations, through lobbyist representation and contributions to political candidates and parties who support different public policy viewpoints.” One company, NH Hunt Justice Group, has not hired any lobbyists. “We don’t see a need to lobby,” said Buddy Johns, president of CGL, an affiliate of the Hunt Companies, a Texas construction firm. Hunt Companies and LaSalle Corrections, a prison operator also based in Texas, have formed the NH Hunt Justice Group, which lists its home office in El Paso, Texas. He said the procurement process appeared straight forward. “Some people use outside services to make their point,” Johns said in a phone interview from Mexico. “I think we believe we’re the experts in what we do, and we’re best to make that point.” Johns has said his company proposed building a new prison next to the existing men’s prison in Concord. LaSalle Corrections, based in Texas, would manage the prison if the state didn’t. CCA, which declined to discuss its specific lobbying efforts in New Hampshire, met earlier this year with Lancaster community leaders to let them know they were one of at least three communities being considered to host a possible prison costing $100 million to $120 million. Northumberland and Hinsdale were the others, according to Lancaster’s town manager. McGonagle said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Legislature forms a committee to study the state prisons. If the governor and Executive Council approved a contract, the Legislature would need to weigh in on the financial implication on the state budget, he said. Wendelboe said lobbying money in general could be spent on research, campaign donations or hosting events for legislators. McGonagle said he has talked with lobbyists about general issues.

December 8, 2011 KRGV
The backpay that is supposed to go to some current and former prison employees in Willacy County comes to $23 million, but there is a major problem. The Willacy County judge says the feds are dragging their feet. About 1,700 current and former prison employees have waited as much as five years for that money owed by ICE. Many of them will continue to wait. Willacy County Judge John Gonzales says the money was handed over on time. The checks are ready to go. The Department of Labor brokered the backpay deal. It required MTC, the company that manages ICE's detention center, to re-enter all former employees into its database. That's how the taxes were calculated. That part is done. Employees still working for MTC will get their check this month as part of payroll. The holdup comes by way of the next step. The feds are requiring the money owed to former employees be sent directly to the Department of Labor by Dec. 13. Even though the checks are ready to go, the feds have not announced when they will dish out the dough. Willacy County's judge says that's not good enough. Gonzalez attended a meeting with U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Cornyn as well as U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold. They say they will pressure the Department of Labor on Friday to offer up a date. If one doesn't come by Monday morning, the group will jump on a plane and head to Washington, D.C., where they will demand a deadline.

November 10, 2011 KRGV
People who work or worked for the ICE detention center in Willacy County are finally getting money owed to them. Current and former employees will be paid $23 million. Willacy County settled with the feds and Management Training Corp., the operator of the private prison. The original contract didn't mention employee wage information. The contract was amended in 2007 to include that information. As a result, Willacy County fought to get back wages for employees. Checks will start going out in early December.

August 17, 2011 ABC 15
Family members of a couple allegedly murdered by two Arizona prison escapees are speaking out against a proposed prison. The Haas family is on a mission that they never wanted, but feel they need pursue. “It’s something you think about everyday,” said Linda Haas Rook. Rook’s brother Gary Haas and his wife Linda were murdered last year. Investigators believe the killers are two men who escaped from a prison in Kingman just days earlier. The Kingman prison is operated by the Management and Training Corporation, which now has hopes to build prisons in San Luis and Coolidge. The Haas family hopes to prevent the company from doing so. Linda Rook planned to travel more than 1,400 miles with her husband and her mother to the public hearing Tuesday night in San Luis to voice her concerns. “[MTC] needs to right their wrongs,” she told ABC15 from her stopover in Scottsdale. MTC has made several security upgrades to their facility in Kingman, and a spokesperson said the company has a great track record with the state. If MTC is approved to build the new prison, the company stated it plans to bring about 500 jobs to the San Luis area.

January 3, 2011 The Daily News
The operators of a privately run prison near Kingman have reimbursed Mohave County for the capture of three inmates who escaped from the prison in July. Management and Training Corporation reimbursed the county Nov. 14 about $23,587 for costs associated with the capture of Tracy Alan Province, John Charles McCluskey and Casslyn Mae Welch. Province, McCluskey and Daniel Kelly Renwick escaped from the state prison July 30 with the help from Welch. MTC will reimburse the county for additional costs once Renwick’s case in Colorado is resolved and returned to the county, Deputy County Manager Dana Hlavac said. The cost does not include the cost to prosecute and defend the inmates along with the cost to incarcerate the inmates and court costs to try the suspects. Those costs will not be known until the cases are resolved. Those costs are paid through the county’s general fund, Hlavac said.

October 31, 2010 Joplin Globe Sun
A Joplin woman is among the relatives of an Oklahoma couple, allegedly slain by two escaped prisoners from Arizona and an accomplice, who are seeking $40 million in damages, according to notice of claim letters the family’s attorneys have mailed to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and other officials in that state. Letters sent last week by attorneys for the relatives of Gary and Linda Haas, of Tecumseh, Okla., allege that their Aug. 2 deaths in New Mexico were the result of “a long series of egregious errors and omissions of gross negligence” by the Arizona Department of Corrections and officials at the Arizona State Prison at Kingman, where the inmates escaped July 30. The Haases, who grew up in McDonald County, had been planning to return to Southwest City, where they had property, after losing their jobs in Oklahoma when a GM plant shut down, Linda Rook told the Globe after their deaths. Rook, of Joplin, is a surviving sister of Gary Haas. In August, the couple were heading out west on a camping trip when they were abducted and killed. ‘Slipshod security’ -- The attorneys’ letters allege that Arizona corrections officials and the prison’s private operator, Utah-based Management and Training Corp., “set the stage for and permitted the careless and slipshod security environment” at the prison that allowed the inmates to escape and allegedly kidnap and kill the victims. MTC is liable for punitive damages in the case, according to notice of claim letters sent to company officials. The notice of claim letters were mailed on behalf of the Haases’ daughter, Cathy Byus, and the mother, sister and two brothers of Linda Haas. Their attorney, Jacob Diesselhorst, said Thursday that the claim letters are required before a wrongful-death lawsuit can be filed against the state. Diesselhorst said Arizona officials have 60 days to respond. Contacted over the weekend, Rook declined to comment and referred questions to a Joplin lawyer, John Dolence, who is representing her in the matter. The Globe’s efforts to reach Dolence on Sunday afternoon were unsuccessful. A spokesman for Gov. Brewer, Paul Senseman, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. A spokesman for MTC, Carl Stuart, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

September 14, 2010 Courthouse News
The Arizona prison breakout that led to the killing of two campers was caused by "lax procedures and incompetent management" of the private prison operator in Kingman, the mother of one of the victims says. Vivian Haas, whose son, Gary and his wife were shot to death, claims that Management and Training Corp. admitted in an Aug. 13 letter its responsibility for the escapes, and that the circumstances "were shocking and egregious." Haas claims that one of the escaped inmates, John McCluskey, killed her son and his wife in New Mexico in the days after the escape. Haas says the private prison operator "had duties to protect the general public in employing proper incarceration policies and procedures to assure that violent offenders stayed locked up and away from the general public." McCluskey was sentenced to 15 years in 2009 for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and discharge of a firearm, and was sent to the private prison, according to the complaint. His fellow escapee Tracy Province was sentenced in 2009 for murder and robbery, and escapee Daniel Renwick was sentenced to two 22-year sentences for second-degree murder, the complaint states. On July 30, McCluskey, Province, and Renwick escaped from the Kingman prison through a door wedged open by a rock, "climbing one improperly protected fence, hiding behind an inappropriate building in 'no-man's land,' and cutting through the wire of a second chain link fence," according to the complaint. Haas says that Management and Training Corp.'s officers failed to check an alarm that sounded when the men cut through one of two security fences surrounding the prison. She says the alarm system set off false alarms so often that the guards ignored them. Haas adds that the "perimeter fencing was substandard," and that patrols of the perimeter "were scattershot at best." Light poles around the prison were routinely burned out, and "intrusions by outsiders near the fence perimeters were common." On Aug. 2, McCluskey and Province, allegedly with help from Casslyn M. Welch, "confronted" Gary and Linda Haas while they were "in or near their pickup truck towing a camping trailer." Gary and Linda Haas were traveling from Oklahoma to Colorado. McCluskey and Province ordered Gary and Linda Haas into the truck, and forced Gary to drive to the west, his mother says. McCluskey directed Gary to leave the highway and drive to a secluded area, then took the couple into the camping trailer and "brutally shot them, killing each of them," Haas says. McCluskey, Province, and Welch then allegedly drove the camper on the highway until they noticed blood leaking out of the trailer door. The escapees and accomplice "drove to a remote location, disconnected the trailer and intentionally set fire to the trailer with the bodies of Gary and Linda Haas still inside," according to the complaint. Haas says the escapees abandoned the stolen truck in Albuquerque. Province was captured on Aug. 9 in Meeteetse, Wyo. McCluskey and Welch were captured on Aug. 19 in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. On March 22, 2004, the Arizona Department of Corrections awarded a contract to Management and Training Corp. to operate the private prison which was "designed and constructed for 1,100 minimum security beds and 300 medium security beds to house DUI inmates," according to the complaint. Haas seeks punitive damages for negligence and recklessness. She is represented by Christopher Zachar.

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 23, 2010 Arizona Republic
After three violent criminals escaped from a private prison last month in Kingman, state officials began asking why they had been assigned to a medium-security facility. John McCluskey, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick escaped July 30 after an embarrassing series of security lapses at the prison, operated by Utah-based Management and Training Corp. All three have been captured, but their escape is likely to spur further discussion on how to classify inmates' security risks and decide where to house them. Both public and private prisons use the state's classification system, but the Arizona Department of Corrections already has pulled some inmates from the Kingman facility as it rethinks how it assigns risk. Arizona assigns inmates a number from one to five, with five representing the highest risk, based on their crimes. Depending on their score, inmates are assigned to one of four custody levels: minimum, medium, close and maximum. Over time, an inmate's classification can be adjusted up or down based on the inmate's behavior in custody. The system works when used properly, said Tom Rosazza, a consultant and former state corrections director. But the system can also mean that more violent offenders can wind up in less-secure facilities depending on their behavior. Although they were in a medium-security facility at a private prison, McCluskey, Province and Renwick qualified as dangerous offenders. Renwick was a convicted murderer. Province killed a man in 1991 by stabbing him 51 times. McCluskey was sentenced in Arizona for attempted murder and had a previous armed-robbery conviction in Pennsylvania. "My first thought was, 'What the hell were those guys doing at that (Kingman) place?' " Rosazza said. Their cases are not unique. There are more than 1,400 inmates serving time for murder in medium-security settings in Arizona, including 796 with life sentences. More than 100 were housed at the prison near Kingman, the only private facility in Arizona to house murderers. Province entered the prison system with a maximum "five" rating when he reported to serve his life sentence in 1993 but was moved down to a "three," or medium security, by 1997. Renwick followed a similar path through the system, while McCluskey entered custody as a medium-security inmate for firing a shotgun into a Mesa home in 2009. Authorities allege the trio escaped with help from Casslyn Welch, McCluskey's cousin and fiancee. The escapees are believed to have cut their way through a fence. Alarms were ignored because, according to state officials, prison guards thought they were false. Renwick was recaptured Aug. 1 in Colorado after a shootout with police. Province was caught Aug. 9 in Wyoming. McCluskey and Welch were caught Thursday evening in Apache County and are suspected along with Province of being involved in the murder of an elderly couple in New Mexico shortly after the escape. Because of the three inmates' possible post-escape crimes, the classification issue likely will come up in any future lawsuits against the state or a prison operator, Rosazza said. "That would be the first thing I'd look at," he said. Arizona officials control what factors are used in determining prisoner classifications and, based on those classifications, decide which facilities prisoners are held in. Although the former fugitives escaped from a private facility, the state will bear some liability in any court action because it is responsible for prisoners sentenced in Arizona. "The state doesn't contract away its responsibility," Rosazza said.

August 20, 2010 Arizona Star
An executive with the firm that runs the private prison from which three dangerous inmates escaped promised Thursday to beef up security but said that's no guarantee it won't happen again. "Escapes occur at both public and private," Odie Washington, a vice president of Management and Training Corp., said while noting it's incumbent on the company and state to do whatever is necessary to close those security gaps prisoners can take advantage of. But a security review of the MTC-run prison near Kingman, released Thursday, reveals that what Washington referred to as "gaps" were more like chasms. As a result, State Corrections Director Charles Ryan has ordered 150 of the highest-risk prisoners removed. The report shows the prison perimeter-alarm system was essentially useless. Bulbs showing the status of the fence were burned out on a control panel. Guards were not patrolling the fence. And a door to a dormitory that was supposed to be locked had been propped open with a rock, helping the inmates escape. Washington, however, said that's not the fault of the corporation. He said company employees at Kingman never told anyone at the corporate headquarters about the problems. Ryan admitted his own audit team, which had been to the prison before the July 30 escape, "didn't see or didn't report" the shortcomings. All that is significant because the three inmates escaped when an accomplice tossed them wire cutters and they made a 30-by-22-inch hole that went undetected for hours. Of particular concern to Ryan is the fence. "What was found were excessive false alarms," Ryan disclosed, noting over 16 hours on July 30 there were 89 alarms. "The system was not maintained or calibrated." The result, he said, was employees were "desensitized" to the alarms going off, and it took 11 to 73 minutes for staffers to check out problems and reset the alarms. "That is absolutely unacceptable," he said. The last of the three inmates, a convicted murderer, along with an accomplice, was recaptured Thursday night. The other two were recaptured, but not before they were linked to the deaths of an Oklahoma couple who were in New Mexico. "This is a terrible tragedy, and the department and the contractor have a lot of work to do," Ryan said. The findings prompted Ryan to put limits on what kind of criminals can be housed at the facility. Until now, the 1,508-bed medium-security section has included people convicted of murder. His order removes, at least from Kingman, anyone convicted of first-degree murder, anyone who attempted escape in the last decade and anyone with more than 20 years left on a sentence. All told, 148 inmates were taken from the facility. But Ryan would not rule out allowing murderers back in the prison after he is satisfied that security has been upgraded. He defended the classification system that allows convicted murders - and even lifers - to serve their time in medium-security prisons. Gov. Jan Brewer sidestepped questions about the system, saying it was in place long before she became governor in January 2009. "It is something that maybe should be reviewed," the governor said Thursday, but added, "That classification is used across America." Ryan said he remains convinced there is a role for private prisons. About 6,400 of the more than 40,000 people behind bars in Arizona are in private prisons. Another 1,760 Arizona prisoners are at an out-of-state facility. The Republican-controlled Legislature remains very much in favor of private prisons, as does Brewer. That support hasn't wavered because of the escape. Brewer said the report from Ryan underscores her belief the escape was caused by human error, and nothing inherent in private prisons. "It's very obvious those alarms should have been responded to," the governor said. But the problems that Ryan sketched out go beyond the actions - or inactions - of guards. Washington admitted there are "significant construction issues" with the perimeter fence and the alarm system that will have to be handled. And Ryan found flaws with the entire way MTC allowed the facility to be operated. For example, he said no one was making regular checks along the fence to look for breaches. And Ryan said guards were "not effectively controlling inmate movements" within the prison system. Other flaws included inmates not wearing required ID badges, grooming requirements being ignored and proper searches of people going into the facility not being done. Casslyn Welch, the woman accused of providing the wire cutters and a vehicle, was banned from the prison after she was caught trying to bring in drugs. But Ryan said prison officials still allowed her to talk to inmates on the phone, making it possible for her to help plan the breakout. Welch and John McCluskey, her fiancée and cousin, were caught Thursday night in northeastern Arizona. Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick have been recaptured. Another problem is that the design of the prison allows anyone to drive up close to the facility. Corrections officials want traffic routed away from the fence.

August 13, 2010 USA Today
An Arizona fugitive's accomplice was acting as a drug mule for a white supremacy group and agreed to become a police informant weeks before she helped him escape from prison, authorities said Friday. Casslyn Welch, and her fiance and cousin John McCluskey, are now considered among the most wanted fugitives in America after authorities say Welch helped McCluskey and two other men escape from the Arizona State Prison in Kingman by throwing wire cutters over a fence. Daniel Renwick and Tracy Province have since been captured. Welch was visiting McCluskey at the medium-security prison in June when a random search of Welch and her vehicle turned up marijuana, heroin and drug paraphernalia, Mohave County sheriff's spokeswoman Trish Carter said. Welch wasn't jailed because she agreed to become an informant, and she provided information about the suppliers of the drugs, Carter said. Welch told investigators she was being paid by members or associates of supremacists to smuggle heroin into the prison as she had successfully done three times before, but she declined to say who the items were intended for at the prison. Fidencio Rivera, chief deputy U.S. marshal for Arizona, said authorities believe Welch and McCluskey have minimal ties to white supremacy groups in or out of prisons and "we're not expending much resources on that right now." Investigative efforts were focused Friday in Arkansas, where Welch has family, and Montana, where the two were last seen Aug. 6, but Rivera said the pair could be anywhere. They are financing their getaway by committing crimes along the way and using their experience as long-haul truck drivers, Rivera said. "Our stance is they're being very reactionary at this point and time, playing off the cuff," he said. A reward of up to $35,000 is being offered for information leading to their arrest. They are believed to be traveling in a 1997 Nissan Sentra that is gold, gray or tan in color, and authorities say that the two likely will become more dangerous as the manhunt continues. Marshals are asking travelers at truck stops along highways and in campgrounds across the nation to watch out for the couple, who may have dyed their hair and otherwise changed their appearance. "We know they're out there and they're committing crimes out there to get money," Rivera said. "They have limited funds, they're sleeping in their car, they're staying at rest stops, campsites. They're not using a whole lot of money." Marshals and border officials in Montana are following up on what leads they have, but there have been no developments in the past few days, said Rod Ostermiller, Montana's acting U.S. marshal. "At this point in time, just because of the time frame we're working with, we're expanding way beyond Montana," Ostermiller said Friday afternoon. Welch is facing a growing list of charges since the July 31 escape, including kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault. She was charged last week with six counts of narcotics violations for the drugs she's accused of bringing to the prison. Welch told investigators in June that the marijuana belonged to her, Carter said, but she picked up what she was told was heroin packaged in balloons from two men in Phoenix and was paid $200 each time she smuggled it into the prison, according to police records. On the night of the escape, Welch had packed a getaway car nearby with cash, weapons and false identification, Rivera has said. But Renwick, Province, McCluskey became disoriented and could not find the car after they cut through the prison fence. The group split up, and Renwick found the vehicle and drove off, leaving the other three to hijack a tractor-trailer and head to Flagstaff. Renwick, who was serving time for second-degree murder, was arrested after a shootout with law enforcement in Rifle, Colo., two days after the escape. The rest of the group was linked through forensic evidence to the deaths of an Oklahoma couple whose bodies were found in their charred camper in eastern New Mexico last week, authorities there said.

August 9, 2010 FOX
Questions surround the escape of three violent convicts from a prison in Kingman, casting a shadow on Arizona's relationship with the private prison industry. Officials are reviewing security measures at private prison facilities, and are looking into the future of private prisons in our state. "My concern about this has been the manner in which the facility was operated. I do not believe that the physical plant itself from which these inmates escaped was the issue, it is the performance of the staff that concerned me," says Chuck Ryan, Arizona Department of Corrections Director. State Attorney General Terry Goddard is calling for a break in new contracts with private prison companies, until security issues can be ironed out and a review of their relationship with the DOC is undertaken. "We have basically turned a very significant direction in our state towards more and more private prison operations without looking at the consequences. I'm afraid those consequences have been put in very stark relief by the escape of three violent prisoners," says Goddard. Ryan told us he's in the process of reviewing his team's findings at the facility but offered no further comment on what the future may hold for the state of Arizona and its relationship with MTC. "Until we review their findings and their recommendations it would be premature to comment further about that," says Ryan. Guards at private prisons do not carry weapons and are not trained law enforcement officers. The three convicts escaped on July 30 -- one alarm never sounded and it remains to be seen whether prison guards went to check the second alarm. Prison staff didn't realize they were missing until a 9 p.m. head count, which was five hours after they were last accounted for. The local sheriff's office wasn't alerted until more than an hour later, and state corrections officials found out about the escape at 11:37 p.m. House Democrats are calling for a special session to address security issues with private prisons. The governor's office has not yet sent a comment.

August 4, 2010 AP
The three inmates didn't seem to arouse the least bit of suspicion when they sneaked out of their dorm rooms and rushed to the perimeter of the medium-security prison. Alarms that were supposed to go off didn't. No officers noticed anything amiss. And no one was apparently paying attention when the violent criminals sliced open fences with wire cutters and vanished into the Arizona desert in their orange jumpsuits. The series of blunders surrounding the escape and the state's practice of housing hardened murderers and other violent criminals in private, medium-security prisons have placed Arizona corrections officials under intense scrutiny in recent days. Two of the fugitives remained at large Wednesday as the manhunt entered its fifth day. Authorities believe the inmates have left Arizona and were heading east with a girlfriend who allegedly threw the wire cutters over a fence and fled with two of them. Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan said he met Wednesday with representatives of the Utah-based prison company Management and Training Corp. and that they "have been assured that MTC is committed to addressing and correcting the security deficiencies that contributed to the escape." Ryan said a corrections security team at the prison was completing a comprehensive evaluation, and he would meet with MTC next week to finalize a plan. Investigators were focused on how the inmates managed to go undetected for several hours around the time of the escape and why three violent criminals were allowed in a medium-security prison in the first place. An Arizona lawmaker said the state needs to overhaul its inmate classification system, which allowed the prisoners to get put into the medium-security lockup despite their violent pasts. Corrections officials said their prison behavior was good enough that they downgraded the inmates' threat risk, clearing the way for placement in the facility. "One thing we might have to look at is saying if you're convicted of a crime that is as serious as murder, that you are always considered a high risk," said David Lujan, a state lawmaker who unsuccessfully sought to regulate the types of inmates held in private prisons. "They may be a moderate risk to the staff when they're inside. But when you see what happens outside afterward, obviously, they're more than a moderate risk to the public." The Arizona State Prison in Kingman sits amid nothing but a dusty field, three miles from a major east-west interstate highway. It opened in 2004 and was designed to house repeat drug and alcohol offenders and set them on a path to rehabilitation, but eventually grew to include more serious offenders in a separate unit. That was where Daniel Renwick, 36, Tracy Province, 42, and John McCluskey, 45, plotted their escape. Province was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery, including allegations that he stabbed his victim multiple times over money. Renwick was serving two 22-year sentences for two counts of second-degree murder, and McCluskey was doing 15 years for attempted murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm. Authorities originally said McCluskey was convicted of murder, when it was in fact attempted murder. Province has a dozen prison disciplinary infractions since 1996 — many of them drug-related. He worked in the prison's kitchen, while Province and McCluskey worked in the prison dog kennel, where they trained the animals for adoption. The trio last was accounted for at 4 p.m. Friday, said Department of Corrections spokesman Barrett Marson. Staff noticed the men missing in a head count and after electronic sensors along the perimeter fence sounded around 9 p.m. The local sheriff's office wasn't notified of the escape until 10:19 p.m., and state corrections officials weren't called until 11:37 p.m. "I think there was a concern by everyone that it was after the fact," said Trish Carter, a spokeswoman for the Mohave County Sheriff's Office. "Time is of the essence during this type of incident. The faster you get there, the more likely you're able to catch these inmates who escaped the facility." The three hopped a fence in the area of the dog kennel and used wire cutters that McCluskey's fiancee, who also is his cousin, had thrown over a fence to cut through two perimeter fences and flee. Carl Stuart, a spokesman for MTC, indicated that the dog program might have to be suspended because of the incident. He declined to comment further on security at the 3,508-bed prison. Province, McCluskey and his fiancee, 44-year-old Casslyn Mae Welch of Mesa, kidnapped two semi-truck drivers at gunpoint in Kingman and used the big rig to flee to Flagstaff, police said. Renwick was captured Sunday after an early morning shootout with an officer in Colorado. Ryan has said "lax" security may have created an opportunity for the men to escape, and authorities are looking into whether prison staff members might have aided the inmates. Ryan also has said the prison contractor will "be on the hook" for costs associated with finding the fugitives. The fugitives were among more than 115 inmates housed at the medium-security unit where others convicted murderers were held. Under their classification, they were considered a moderate risk to the public and staff. They weren't allowed to work outside the prison and were limited in their movement within the prison walls. The men were in orange jumpsuits when they escaped, which should have been easy to spot against the desert backdrop, said Kristen Green of Phoenix, who visits an inmate at the prison. "Guards should be on top of this, people in the control room should be on top of this," she said. "There's no way that they should have missed these guys, three of them going through a fence? This was pretty well planned."

August 3, 2010 AP
Three convicted murderers escaped a privately run prison in Arizona by using wire cutters that a woman threw over a fence, a state Department of Corrections spokesman said Tuesday. Officials also said prison staff didn't realize the inmates were missing Friday until after sensors on the perimeter fence sounded and a 9 p.m. head count, which came five hours after the three were last accounted for by prison staff. The woman who authorities say helped in the escape is Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, of Mesa — the fiancee and cousin of John McCluskey, one of the three inmates. She was waiting outside the prison in Kingman as the inmates breached a perimeter fence with the wire cutters and escaped, said department spokesman Barrett Marson. A security camera captured Welch driving a blue sedan around the facility that holds minimum- and medium-security inmates. Corrections Director Charles Ryan has said "lax" security created an opportunity for the men to escape. He's scheduled to meet with representatives of the prison operator, Utah-based Management and Training Corp., on Wednesday, Marson said. "We are going over everything that happened during the night of the escape, and many issues will be addressed with MTC," Marson said. A spokesman for MTC, Carl Stuart, declined to comment on security at the 3,508-bed facility. The local sheriff's office wasn't alerted until more than an hour after prison staff discovered the three were missing, and state corrections officials found out about the escape at 11:37 p.m., Maroon said. Daniel Renwick, 36, was captured Sunday in western Colorado. Tracy Province, 42, the 45-year-old McCluskey and Welch had kidnapped two drivers of a semi-truck in Kingman early Saturday morning and traveled in the rig to Flagstaff, where they left the drivers unharmed, authorities said. The three remain at large and are believed to be together in Arizona, said U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Thomas Henman. Province was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery, and McCluskey was serving 15 years for second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm. Renwick was serving a 22-year sentence for second degree murder. Renwick was being held Tuesday in a Colorado jail on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, vehicular eluding, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and felony escape. His bail is set at $2.5 million. Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson in Colorado said his office is reviewing the case and will decide whether to file charges by Aug. 11. "He's presumed innocent," Beeson said. "But if what we have seen in the reports is true, then I would say you're not going to come into my jurisdiction, shoot at officers and not be taken to task for it. My intent is, if we have business to do, we will do it, and accomplish it, and then we would be glad to turn him over to whomever wants him." According to an arrest affidavit, a Garfield County, Colo., sheriff's deputy noticed a vehicle with its lights off in a church parking lot and found that it matched the Arizona license plate of a Chevy Blazer connected with the fugitives. Another officer noticed the vehicle pulling out of the parking lot and chased it for three miles on an interstate until Renwick slowed down and exited. Renwick shot through the rear window of the Blazer, and Rifle, Colo., police Officer William Van Teylingen said he heard objects hitting his car. Teylingen rammed Renwick's vehicle, which came to a stop in a hotel parking lot. Teylingen's airbag activated in his cruiser and by the time he got out, Renwick was lying on the ground behind the cruiser. Teylingen found a rifle in the Blazer and a hole in a headlamp on his cruiser.

August 3, 2010 AFSC
The escape of three prisoners from the Kingman prison on Friday July 30, 2010, highlights continuing concerns about the management of state prison facilities by for-profit corporations, according to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). The Kingman facility is run by Management and Training Corporation of Ogden, Utah. MTC also runs the Marana Community Correctional Center, and is one of four prison corporations that have submitted bids to the Arizona Department of Corrections to build and operate up to 5,000 new state prison beds. This incident comes on the heels of a riot at the Kingman facility in June in which eight prisoners were injured. The escapes are being blamed on lax security and a failure to follow proper protocol. The prisoners reportedly were able to sneak out of their dormitory and cut through a perimeter fence without being detected. "You get what you pay for," said Caroline Isaacs, Director of the AFSC's Arizona office. "These for-profit prison corporations are primarily concerned about the bottom line and making money for their CEO's and shareholders." Isaacs charges that the companies cut corners everywhere they can, but primarily on staff pay and training. The result is a facility with high turnover rates, where the staff is inexperienced and the prisoners have nothing productive to do. Such a prison is unsafe for the inmates, the guards, and the surrounding community. This is not the only Arizona private prison scandal to make headlines recently. A prison run by Corrections Corporation of America in Eloy was recently on lockdown after prisoners from Hawaii rioted over an Xbox video game. When a staff member attempted to intervene, he was severely beaten, suffering a broken nose, broken cheekbones and damage to his eye sockets. The incident was the latest episode in a history of violence that has plagued the facility. Two prisoners are facing a possible death sentence in the fatal beating of another inmate there last February. These types of incidents are "alarmingly common" in privately operated prisons, Isaacs says, citing patterns of mismanagement, financial impropriety, abuse, and medical negligence. Further privatization of Arizona's prisons will be a financial boondoggle for a cash-strapped state and a nightmare for the host communities, she warns. "Arizona's legislature needs to take a good look at the track record of these companies before they spend any more of the taxpayers' money on this failed experiment."

August 3, 2010 KGUN9-TV
When a prison inmate escaped--who killed a woman's husband and daughter, she says 19 hours went by before the Arizona Department of Corrections informed her she could be in danger. KGUN 9 wants to know why. Daniel Renwick was one of three inmates who escaped from a privately run prison in Kingman. For Vicki Walker learning that Renwick escaped brought back a world of bad memories. "He murdered my husband and my daughter, " she said. "They were in their vehicle and he shot them, leaving my grandson who was 14 months. Kaleb now is ten." The way she heard of the escape made things worse. A son in law in another state saw it on the news and called her. Mrs. Walker says, "As a victim I'm supposed to be notified right away if there's an escape or if he's released and I did not hear from Department of Corrections for 19 hours." KGUN9 News asked Arizona Department of Corrections director Charles Ryan what went wrong. Ryan said, "The Department was also not advised immediately about the escape by Management Training Corporation and it's unfortunate it took as long as it did."

April 27, 2010 Salt Lake City Tribune
Centerville-based Management & Training Corporation (MTC) has received a three-year, $76.5 million contract to operate a 1,520-bed prison for women in Quincy, Fla. The contract with the Florida Department of Management Services goes into effect Aug. 1 and includes a pair of renewable, two-year options. MTC already manages 16 private correctional facilities in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas and, beginning in June, Idaho. The contract to run the Gadsden Correctional Institution, about 20 miles outside Tallahassee, marks the Utah company's entry into Florida. "The company's experience working with female inmates in other locations has provided us with the expertise needed at this site," said Odie Washington, MTC's senior corrections vice president. "MTC believes in rehabilitating inmates by providing them with educational opportunities. For nearly a quarter century we have helped inmates improve their lives and to reestablish themselves as successful members of society." MTC uses the Foundations for Life and Success for Life rehabilitation programs to educate inmates, he noted. With the Florida prison, MTC manages more than 24,000 correctional beds. The company also is involved in operating 26 Job Corps centers for the U. S. Department of Labor, serving 19,000 students annually.

April 13, 2010 Dow Jones Newswire
The state of Florida said Tuesday it plans to award three prison contracts to Corrections Corp. of America (CXW), two of which previously were held by rival Geo Group Inc. (GEO). According to a memo reviewed by Dow Jones from Florida's Department of Management Services, it intends to award three out of four available prison contracts to Corrections Corp. Two of the contracts--Graceville Correction Facility and Moore Haven Correctional Facility--were previously held by Geo. In addition, Corrections Corp. lost one of its previously held contracts--Gadsden Correctional Facility--to Management & Training Corp., but it kept its contract for Bay Correctional Facility. Some analysts and industry insiders had expected Corrections Corp. to win all four contracts. The three contracts Corrections Corp. received were unanimous decisions by the panel. The committee was split on the fourth contract, which received bids only from Corrections Corp. and Management & Training. The contracts are for a period of three years and include four years of potential renewals. The department memo revealed the state will save almost $750,000 by offering Management & Training a piece of the pie, as opposed to offering all four contracts to Corrections Corp. The total value of the four three-year contracts is more than $250 million. A representative from Geo Group wasn't immediately available to comment, while Corrections Corp. declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Florida's management services department wasn't immediately available to comment on the contents of the memo.

January 31, 2007 KSL TV
A Utah-based company has been forced to pay back wages to hundreds of current and former employees in Texas following an investigation. Management and Training Corporation --- which is headquartered in Centerville, Utah -- has paid nearly $486,000 in back wages to just over 260 current and former security guards. That's according to a U- S Labor Department new release. An investigation by the labor department found employees had NOT been properly paid over a two-year period between October 2003 and September 2005. Federal officials say the company failed to pay proper overtime --- meal breaks when employees worked beyond their schedules and the correct fringe benefits. The company has agreed to comply with future contracts.

December 17, 2005 Deseret News
The U.S. Department of Labor announced Friday that Management & Training Corp., headquartered in Centerville, has paid $169,105 in back wages to 393 employees at five locations in Utah, Indiana, Ohio and New Mexico. The back wages were paid following an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division for compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Labor Department said in a statement. Supervised by the department, MTC conducted a companywide self-audit and found that some employees, including security personnel, were not paid for all hours worked. MTC employs more than 2,000 workers at 24 Job Corps Centers and six correctional facilities throughout the country.

April 4, 2002
Wayne Scott, who headed the state's prison system before retiring last year, has resigned from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.  Scott has accepted a job with Management & Training Corp. a Utah-based private prison management company, The Dallas Morning News reported today.  (AP)

Sept. 18, 1999
Three children of Scott Marquardt, president of Management & Training Corp. (MTC), contributed $1,000 apiece to the Bush juggernaut earlier this summer.  The youngsters are 8, 10, and 13 years of age.  It was shortly after a Bush fund-raiser in July at, Republican activist and finance chairman of the Bush campaign in Utah, John Price's mansion in the Federal Heights neighborhood of Salt Lake City that the Marquardt family donated $7,000 to the campaign.  Marquardt, 41, has contributed thousands of dollars in personal cash to Republicans and Democrats in the past.  His Management & Training Corp. (MTC) also has donated to state elections, including $3,500 this year to Gov. Mike Leavitt's spring gala fund raiser.  Corporate donations are prohibited in the federal elections, but are legal and unlimited in state races.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

February 13, 1998
Taxpayers doled out $36,000 in short-term "consulting contracts" to members of Gov. Mike Leavitt's Cabinet who resigned, retired, or whose terms expired last year.  At the time, administration officials said the one-month "contracts" had elements of severance pay but were mostly were to help departments "transition" under new directors.  However, The Tribune found that several of the contracts had 24-hour on-call provisions, but no minimum work requirement.  In the case of former Corrections Director O. Lane McCotter, the new director and top administrative staff had not even been informed that McCotter was required by his consulting contract to be at the department's disposal.  McCotter received the maximum $8,046 allowed in his one-month contract.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

August 03, 1997
Besieged O. Lane McCotter stepped down as director of the Utah Corrections Department last month and took a job in the private sector.  But he still works for the state.  McCotter continues drawing weekly pay of 1,609.20 as part of a five-week consulting contract with the Corrections Department.  Tell that to Corrections Director-designate Pete Haun.  Nobody made it clear to him that taxpayers were footing the bill to give the Corrections Department unlimited access to McCotter.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

July 13, 1997
Former Department of Corrections chief O. Lane McCotter has joined his mentor and longtime confidante Gary Deland as a private corrections consultant. But don't look for McCotter to be doing much work in Utah, where the directors of the state's only privatized prison already have turned him down.  Bob Marquardt, chief executive officer of Ogden-based Management and Training Corp., which contracts with the state to operate the 400-bed Promontory pre-release facility at the Utah State Prison in Draper, said McCotter was turned down for a full-time job in marketing.  "I interviewed Lane personally" after McCotter called looking for work, Marquardt said.  "We decided hiring him might be too sensitive." Ron Russell, MTC's senior vice president of correctional and building management, said he would be concerned about McCotter's strained relationship with the Legislature, which is considering additional privatized prisons. "We as a corporation have to be very careful," Russell said. "We have to remain competitive." Deland and Associates is a nationally recognized corrections firm which has contracted with MTC in the past. And there would be no reason McCotter could not do consulting for the company in other states, Russell said.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)  

Promontory Community Correctional Center
Draper, Utah
Management and Training Corporation

February 20, 2006 The Spectrum
Utah has one of the country's lowest incarceration rates, according to federal data, but is climbing from a booming population growth spurt that has increased the incarcerated population by 200 to 300 inmates each year. The Utah prison system is overwhelmed with more than 6,350 inmates statewide - including a large percentage housed at Purgatory Correctional Facility in Washington County - making more bed space desperately needed. Two facilities are being built, one in Gunnison and the other facility in Beaver County, where the state intends to rent 200 beds to house its inmates. Also, corrections is requesting another 192-bed facility to be built in Gunnison. Senate Bill 175, sponsored by Sen. Howard A. Stephenson, R-Draper, calls for the Department of Corrections to issue and evaluate a request for proposals from private prison contractors, county jails and other interested agencies for a 300-bed or larger minimum-security correctional facility to accommodate prison-sentenced criminals beyond that. We commend Stephenson and the corrections department for their foresight in dealing with the rising housing needs of criminals. However, taxpayers should urge lawmakers to do some analysis as they embark on mingling public and private enterprise, based on the state's history in that corrections partnership. Utah's first privately run prison, Promontory Correctional Facility - a 400-bed, low-security facility located on the northwest side of the Draper prison site, which was closed because of budget cuts - was administered by Ogden's Management and Training Corporation. Three weeks after it opened in August, 1995, two inmates escaped in broad daylight by crawling through a fence. Every year until it closed on July 1, 2002, there were one to two escapes. A pre-release program through that facility resulted in 102 parolees enrolled in it simply walking away within a 10-month period. One in particular was by 35-year-old Stan Lee Foster, a man convicted for a string of thefts and burglaries in Southern Utah. He was enrolled in the "cutting edge" halfway-back program in May 1999, but two months later hopped onto a bus in Sandy to go to work never to return. Six days after he walked away, he was fatally shot by an FBI agent investigating a rash of bank robberies. Aside from budget cuts that were cited for the closure of the prison, heavily-rumored high staff turnover rates and drug use by inmates were disclosed by media outlets. The mixture of the public and private sector of corrections through Promontory lasted a mere seven years. As SB-175 mandates the acceptance of bids for a new facility, and is considering recommendations from corrections to highly consider privatization for housing and treatment, we ask lawmakers to scrutinize the whole package privatization has to offer with a fine-tooth comb. While it is admirable to be looking toward the future to accommodate the increasing incarcerated population, it is just as important to learn from mistakes where failures occurred so as not to repeat them.

Oct. 3, 1999
Stan Lee Foster, 35 and going nowhere, was given a chance by a crop of penal reformers assembled by corrections chief Pete Haun to jump-start his rehabilitation.  Foster was paroled on May 11 to pre-release center at the Utah State Prison 13 after years of drug abuse and a string of thefts and burglaries in southern Utah.  Then, on July 9, he hoped a bus to Sandy, ostensibly to go to work, and never returned.  Six days after he walked away, he was dead, shot by an FBI agent investigating a string of bank robberies.  Foster's is not the only failure of the pre-release center; his is just the worst example.  A year after it opened to high expectations, the center is at a crossroads, and its program designed to ease paroles back into their communities is under fire.  Not only are some parolees not returning to prison , they are disappearing at an alarming rate.  Until this week, the parolees -- as many as 80 at a time -- caught Utah Transit Authority (UTA) buses from the Draper prison to a bus stop at the South Towne Center in Sandy.  But a spike in crimes linked to halfway-back parolees led to a meeting between Haun and three south county legislators who convinced the corrections chief to scrap the bus route.  Since January, 102 parolees enrolled in the program have walked away.  By contrast, only 41 parolees have walked away from halfway houses operated by the Department of Corrections outside of prison.  Just Tuesday, one halfway-back parolee thought to be working was arrested by Sandy police who caught him cooking methamphetamine in a hotel room with his girlfriend.  Of the 102 parolees who have fled the program, 28 are still at large, according to statistics provided by the department to The Salt Lake Tribune.  Prison administrators unveiled the cutting-edge halfway-back program last October inside the medium-security Promontory building, a facility managed under a private contract with Ogden's Management & Training Corporation.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

April 6, 1999
Three prisoners who escaped from Utah's minimum-security prison at Draper on Sunday were arrested 12 hours later by police who were tipped they could find the fugitives at a Salt Lake City boarding house.  One of the three -- Jason William Kirk, 21, of Arizona -- was already on parole but staying at Promontory, a pre-release center akin to a halfway house, until he secured outside employment.  Promontory is owned by the state but managed by Management & Training Corporations (MTC).  After working in the commissary at Promontory and helping prepare Easter breakfast around 8 a.m., the trio slipped to a grassy recreation area outside the facility.  They were discovered missing after a routine 11:30 a.m. head count.  Investigators believe the trio, who used a file to cut through a section of chain-link fence, fled across the Bangerter Highway, walked to the auto mall and then stole a car by breaking into a locked key box.  Two other soon-to-be-paroled inmates have escaped from the facility since September.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

April 6, 1999
Three inmates used a file to cut through a section of the chain link fence and escaped from the private prison. They walked to a nearby auto mall, broke into a lock box and stole a car. (Salt Lake Tribune, April 6, 1999)

April 5, 1999
Promontory Correctional Facility officials wonder why three men close to parole crawled under a fence to freedom Sunday.  Department of Corrections spokesperson Jack Ford said he's surprised once or twice every year by attempted escapes at the low-security facility, but this is the first time three people have escaped at the same time.  After breakfast Sunday morning, which the escaped trio helped prepare, guards performed their daily 11:30 a.m. head count.  They were missing three prisoners.  The three men apparently pulled loose a wire used to secure the bottom of the fence surrounding the facility, lifted the fence up and crawled under, Ford said.  In September, Ronald Allen Liptrap climbed through a hole in the perimeter fence though he was due for parole three months later.  Police officers found him several hours later at an Ogden hotel.  In December, Nicolas Angel-Rivera scaled the fence just two months before his parole date.  Bloodhounds found him two hours later at a nearby trailer park.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

June 16, 1998
About 140 inmates at the Promontory pre-release facility at the Utah State Prison refused to go into their dorms Monday afternoon, prompting officials to use a gas grenade to disperse them.  Prison spokesperson Jack Ford said the inmates were in a common room and outside at the 400-bed privately operated Promontory facility when they refused to return to their rooms for a 4p.m. head count.  Fred VanDerVeur, the Department of Corrections director of institutional operations, said correctional officers used "some sort of gas grenade' to scatter the inmates, all of whom are minimum-security and within weeks of release.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

July 12, 1996
Freddy Lee Wolfe was to be paroled from Utah State Prison on Aug. 27, but Thursday he decided his date with freedom was not soon enough.  Prison officials say Wolfe, who is serving 5-year terms for forgery and theft by receiving, escaped at 12:30 p.m. while working at the Draper prison's meat-processing plant.  He was discovered missing an hour later following a routine prisoner count.  Because of his upcoming parole, Wolfe, 33, was a minimum-security inmate residing at the prison's dormitory-style Promontory pre-release center.  He probably escaped by scaling an 8-foot fence surrounding a work area at the southwest end of the Draper complex, said prison spokesperson Jess Gallegos.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Sept. 5, 1995
It may not be an alarming threat to public safety, but neither is it a good sign.  Utah's first privately run prison has been open less than three weeks, and two inmates already have escaped--in broad daylight, by crawling through a prison fence.  The two escapees, Anthony Scott Bailey and Eric Neil Fischbeck, are not particularly dangerous characters.  Fischbeck was serving time for burglary and drug possession, Bailey for burglary.  They were assigned to the Promontory Correctional Facility, run by Management & Training Corp. of Ogden, because they were preparing for parole.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Sept. 4, 1995
A search for two escaped Utah inmates widened to four states Sunday after Nevada authorities found a truck belonging to one escapee's father-in-law broken down and abandoned just across the state border in Wendover.  Bailey, 27, and Fischbeck, 21, apparently pulled apart a piece of chain-link fence at a minimum-security center on Utah State Prison grounds in Draper between 9:30 and 10 am Saturday and climbed underneath to freedom.  Less than an hour before the two escaped, Bailey's wife, Michelle Lynn Baird, had paid him a visit. The two were seen arguing and then she drove off in the pickup truck.  ( The Salt Lake Tribune)

Salt Lake Valley Detention Center
Salt Lake, Nevada
Cornerstone (formerly run by Cornell)

September 17, 2008 Deseret News
A California-based company that previously ran a Salt Lake juvenile detention facility for 11 years is suing the state of Utah after a new five-year contract was awarded to another firm. Cornell Corrections of California, which does business as Abraxas Youth and Family Services, recently filed a lawsuit in 3rd District Court requesting that the decision regarding the multimillion-dollar contract be overturned and that Abraxas get the new contract instead. Abraxas alleges that the decision-making process used by the Utah Department of Human Services and other state agencies in awarding the contract was "arbitrary and capricious" and was "clearly erroneous." In fiscal year 2008, the budget for the Salt Lake Valley Detention Center was about $3.8 million, according to Liz Sollis, DHS public information officer. Abraxas in the latest round of bidding submitted a proposal containing a budget of approximately $5.2 million for fiscal year 2009, Sollis said. Meanwhile, Cornerstone Programs Corp. submitted a proposal that had a budget of about $4.4 million for fiscal year 2009. Cornerstone, based in Centennial, Colo., has operated the 60-bed Farmington Bay Juvenile Detention Facility in Davis County since 1995. Sollis did not comment on the litigation. However, she said contract proposals are initially reviewed by DHS and then referred to the state's Department of Administrative Services Division of Purchasing and General Services for final decisions. The Salt Lake Valley Detention Center is a 160-bed locked facility for juveniles ages 10-18 who are being held temporarily until their cases are resolved in court or DHS can find another place for them. While in the center, the young people receive a variety of services, including such things as schooling, medical and dental care, psychological help and other assistance. The center at 3450 S. 900 West is owned by the state, but services are provided through contracts with other organizations. The lawsuit said there were 4,190 admissions to the center during fiscal year 2007. Abraxas said in its suit that it had operated the center successfully and DHS recently gave it a 100 percent rating. "Cornerstone received 164 points for its proposal, while Abraxas received 161.22 points for its proposal. Because the scoring was so close, even a minor error in the scoring process would have resulted in Abraxas being awarded the contract," the lawsuit said. When notified that Cornerstone was getting the contract instead, Abraxas filed a protest with the state making several allegations: that Cornerstone's proposal did not comply with state requirements as far as employee education and other standards; that Cornerstone's proposal contained "blatant misstatements" regarding the services it would or could provide; and that Abraxas' score in one section was rounded down while Cornerstone's was rounded up. Attorneys representing Abraxas and representatives for Cornerstone were not available for comment at press time. (Cornerstone is not a party to this lawsuit; Abraxas is suing the state of Utah.) The Utah Attorney General's Office declined comment.

Security Transport Services
Aug 28, 2019 mercurynews.com

Couple wanted for murder escape from prison transport

A couple wanted for murder in Arizona escaped from custody when they overpowered guards who were transporting them through Utah, officials said on Tuesday, adding that the man and woman are considered armed and dangerous. Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59, broke free on Monday evening from two guards in Blanding, a rural town in southeast Utah, the Tucson Police Department said in a statement. The couple later obtained a GMC Sierra pickup truck and drove off, Tucson police spokesman Pete Dugan said. “Investigators have information that they are possibly traveling through Arizona,” Tucson police said in a statement. The couple were being extradited from the upstate New York town of Henrietta, where they were arrested in May, to Pima County, Arizona, to face a murder charge, Tucson police said. It was not immediately clear how the couple commandeered the pickup truck. It had damage to the front passenger side and rear bumper, Tucson police said. Dugan could not provide further details on how the couple escaped. The two guards who were transporting the Barksdales worked for the private company Security Transport Services, which is hired by Pima County, Arizona, officials to transport inmates. A representative for Kansas-based Security Transport Services could not immediately be reached for comment. The Barksdales are charged with murdering Tucson resident Frank Bligh, 72, who was last seen on April 7 at the Cowpony Bar in Tucson, police said in a statement in May. Bligh’s house was intentionally set on fire on April 16 and the flames set off an explosion in the home, the police said. Bligh was not found inside the house. Police later identified the Barksdales as suspects in Bligh’s disappearance, obtaining an arrest warrant on May 1 on a charges of murder, burglary, arson and vehicle theft, Tucson police said.

Aug 28, 2019 azfamily.com
Reward offered for Tucson homicide suspects who escaped from prison van
TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- A big reward is now being offered for information about two Tucson homicide suspects who escaped from a prison van. The U.S. Marshals Service is now offering a $10K reward (per fugitive) for information leading to the arrest of Blane Barksdale, 56, and Susan Barksdale, 59. The Barksdales reportedly escaped from a private prison transport company while being extradited from New York City to Pima County. "It just shows you their mental state," said Sgt. Pete Durgan, Tucson Police.  "I'm sure at this point they have nothing to lose, so these people should be considered armed and dangerous." Authorities said the pair is likely armed and dangerous. The Apache County Sheriff’s Office said the Barksdales overpowered two transport officers in Blanding, Utah, on Monday, Aug. 26. One of the transport officers suffered minor injuries. The Barksdales allegedly then drove to St. Johns in northeastern Arizona. There, they dumped the transport van and took off in another vehicle. The FBI will now be taking over the case. The Barksdales are accused in connection with the presumed death of 72-year-old Frank Bligh in Tucson in April 2019. Bligh, whose body has not been found, was reported missing. On April 16, his home in the 3500 block of South Calexico Avenue caught fire and exploded. The next day, his car was found abandoned in Tucson. "We're a little dumbfounded at the whole thing. I don't even understand why they would transport the two of them together," said William Bligh, the victim's brother. "What they did, I mean they took away part of our life." On April 24, the Barksdales’ nephew Brent Mallard was arrested on an arson charge. Less than a month later, the Barksdales were arrested near Rochester, New York, on charges of first-degree murder. The FBI, US Marshals and Apache County Sheriff’s Office are all assisting in the investigation. If the Barksdales are spotted, please call 911 immediately. Anyone with possible information on their whereabouts is urged to call 911 or 88-CRIME. "I want the police to do whatever they gotta do to get these people," said William Bligh.

Skyline Journey
Millard, Utah

October 26, 2003
An administrative law judge revoked the license of a Utah wilderness therapy program over an Austin boy's death from heat exhaustion last year.  Skyline Journey has until Friday to shut down and send 10 campers packing under the order. Owner Lee Wardle declined to say if Skyline Journey would appeal the decision to a state court.  The ruling affirms "his death means something," said Judith Pinson, of Drumright, Okla., the birth mother of Ian August, 14, who was placed in the program by his adoptive mother.  According to Friday's ruling from Judge Sheleigh Harding, Skyline Journey failed to describe the harsh environment of Utah's west desert and physical demands on teens when it asked a Texas doctor to sign off on enrollment for August, who weighed 198 pounds with a 5-foot, 3-inch frame.  Skyline Journey failed to comply with "one of the most critical rules governing wilderness programs," wrote Harding, a Utah Department of Human Services administrative judge. Harding determined that "Ian's doctor never had the opportunity to determine whether Ian's physical condition would make him an appropriate candidate for the types of activities Skyline Journey would require him to do."  The boy had set out with five other teens and three counselors on a three-mile trek across the Sawtooth Mountain region in western Millard County on July 13, 2002, when a heat wave rolled across Utah. They had covered little more than a mile over three hours when August refused to hike farther. He was left in the sun for an hour before he collapsed and stopped breathing, according to court records.  (Austin American-Statesman)

August 19, 2003
About 13 months after Ian August died while hiking in the mountains of Utah's west desert, owners of the wilderness therapy program that took him there are defending themselves again, this time hoping to keep the state from shutting them down.  A two-day administrative hearing over Skyline Journey's practices started Monday as the state set out to prove that the program should lose its operating license. It cited four violations of state statute that relate to August's death.  Skyline presented the testimony of a former employee and an owner in an attempt to knock down several of those allegations.  Mark Wardle, the program manager and part-owner of the company, testified that August, a 5-foot-3-inch teen who weighed 198 pounds, was appropriate for the program even though a doctor said August was obese and his mother indicated the boy had low tolerance for heat.  "We're built the exact same," said Wardle, who also spent five days hiking with August's group. "I consider him overweight. I didn't consider him obese."  August, 14, from Austin, Texas, had been in the program for less than two weeks when he crested a ridge of the Sawtooth Mountain in Millard County and refused to hike any longer. About two hours later, the boy's heart stopped.    An autopsy determined August died from hyperthermia -- or heat exhaustion -- on one of the state's hottest days of the year.  With that autopsy and a timeline that alleged August was kept in the sun for up to an hour after he stopped hiking, the state's Office of Licensing moved to revoke the Skyline's operating license in October. The licensing case was put on hold while a criminal charge of child abuse homicide against Wardle was dealt with. Earlier this year, a judge dismissed the case, ruling that Wardle was not responsible for the teen's death. The Office of Licensing alleges the staff failed to recognize the symptoms of hyperthermia and treat them, the hike went beyond the ability of the weakest member of the group, administrators failed to have the appropriate professional medical person screen August for the program, and a description of the program wasn't given to a Texas doctor who cleared the teen to enroll.  (The Slat Lake Tribune)

July 14, 2003
As Ian August and a band of teens hiked over the steep hills that make up the Sawtooth Mountain area one year ago, Millard County prosecutor Brent Berkley was inside his air-conditioned Delta home.  Suffering through a searing heat wave that gripped Utah that weekend, Berkley didn't want to go outside.  Arriving at his office the following Monday, Berkley was surprised to learn a program promising to turn around so-called troubled youths had the teens trekking across the high-desert mountains to the west. He was even more shocked when the Millard County Sheriff's Office said an obese, 14-year-old boy from Austin, Texas, had mustered the strength to reach the top of one of those hills, stopped, sat down and baked to death as rescuers tried in vain to reach the site in time.  "My first thought was 'What were they doing out there in the first place?' " Berkley says.  He was not the only one wondering why. "The area out there -- it's an arid, desolate place," said Millard County sheriff's Sgt. James Masner. "It's extremely hot, both day and night. We didn't even know the program was functioning out there."  As Berkley was being briefed on the case in Fillmore, one owner of the wilderness therapy program in which Ian died -- Skyline Journey -- sat down at a conference room table in St. George to give his version of events.  Surrounded by state regulators and owners of Utah's eight other wilderness programs, Mark Wardle blamed the tragedy on the response of the sheriff's rescue team. The crews, he said, wasted time by not following his directions, turning what Wardle said was a 40-minute drive from Delta into a two-hour trip.  "We're not a bunch of bumbling idiots out here, abusing kids," Wardle said. "When we say, 'This is where we're at,' this is where we are at."  The comment made Millard County Sheriff Ed Phillips livid. Phillips said the ambulance dispatched from Delta traveled 70 miles to reach the scene, nearly half of those miles on gravel and graded dirt roads. The crew had to backtrack because of Wardle's confusion about the best way to reach Ian.  Rescuers split into two groups, one following Wardle's directions to a road that proved impassable and the other hiking to Ian with a handheld GPS unit. The hikers reached him first and, on their arrival, pronounced him dead.  A medical helicopter never reached the scene -- something Phillips blames on a malfunctioning GPS unit in an ambulance giving directions. The helicopter also ran low on fuel and the pilot was forced to make a gas run to Richfield.  The investigation: Although shocked, Berkley still thought the death might have been accidental. His opinion would change as the Sheriff's Office investigation proceeded.  Each passing day, Sheriff Phillips became more convinced that Ian's death was preventable. Ian stopped hiking at 11:30 a.m., but Wardle did not contact the Sheriff's Office until 1:30 p.m. -- over an hour after his staff radioed him that Ian wouldn't hike.  Berkley has been a prosecutor for four years. Once, while in private practice, he defended a youth rehabilitation program. He says Skyline Journey's employees were undertrained, its health-screening process was inadequate and its water supply insufficient. He doubts that Ian, accustomed to Austin's 540-foot elevation, had time to adjust to the 7,000-foot altitude of the Sawtooth area. But Ian came to Utah straight from Santa Fe, N.M., which has a similar elevation.  Basically we just thought the program was poorly run," Berkley says. In his opinion, Berkley characterizes the program as "designed to take money, throw these kids out on public lands where they don't have to pay anything for them, feed them tuna fish sandwiches for three months and change their lives. They caused the death of this kid [who] shouldn't have been in the program in the first place."  The state: The criminal charges made Ken Stettler, the director of the state's Office of Licensing, take a harder look at the case.  "When the county filed charges we said, 'Crud, there's got to be something,' " Stettler says.  Stettler wondered whether his investigators had been too focused on the temperature at the scene. Once charges were filed, Stettler redirected them to refocus on other potential violations of state rules.  A detailed timeline put together by Stettler and his supervisor points to four alleged violations by Skyline Journey:  * Counselors failed to recognize Ian's symptoms and get him treatment quickly. "When they were sitting, they were sitting in the sun," Stettler says. "So, they weren't really cooling down." * The program exceeded the limits of the weakest members -- Ian and another teen, who had motor skill problems, were lagging far behind the group.  * A Texas doctor who cleared Ian to participate in Skyline Journey did not receive a full description of its program.  * Ian's enrollment application was not screened by a licensed medical professional.  If that review had been done, Stettler says, Skyline's staff would have known Ian had "low heat tolerance and was taking medications that could have been a factor in exposure-related illness."  With those allegations in hand, Stettler moved to revoke Skyline Journey's license in November. That process was put on hold pending the outcome of the criminal case against Wardle. The program continues to operate, but is no longer monitored by Husbands -- in part because Stettler learned Husbands and Wardle were members of the same LDS Church ward in Nephi. Wardle has since moved.  The prosecution: Knowing that the charges against Wardle would be difficult to prove, Berkley decided to bolster his case by offering a plea deal. In exchange for her testimony against her former employer, Berkley would divert prosecution of Hale and dismiss the charge against her in six months.  At a Jan. 6 preliminary hearing, Hale and five other witnesses took the stand before 4th District Judge Donald Eyre.  Next on the stand, field counselor Matthew R. Gause gave a history of his involvement with Skyline Journey, explaining he had no formal training as a counselor or as an outdoor guide beyond what he had learned in Boy Scouts. Once hired by Skyline, he had gone through two days of book training, three days of field training and a CPR class.  One month after the hearing ended, Eyre issued an eight-page ruling in which he refused to order a trial, saying Berkley had failed to show the program had acted recklessly.  Although Berkley mentioned during the hearing that the state was trying to revoke the program's license based on three other alleged violations, the judge wrote:  "Perhaps nothing in the state's allegations is more glaringly absent than the lack of evidence that [Wardle] had failed to comply with the state Office of Licensing regulations governing youth wilderness programs. Indeed, the evidence presented to the court only serves to establish that Skyline Journey took many more precautions than those provided in similar youth programs."  In a recent interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Eyre said he did not think Skyline had "done things that would put a heavy burden on these youths to the point you would say it was reckless." The aftermath: Berkley said he was surprised at the judge's decision to kill the case before it could get to trial, but he says there is not much he would have changed about his prosecution.  Ian's death on that hot July afternoon continues to trouble Berkley.  "It worries me that [Skyline is] still out operating," Berkley says. "I think they are still doing the same thing."  The day-to-day operations of Skyline remain the same since Ian's death.  "We haven't changed anything because we were safe at the time," Wardle says.  But Skyline, like the state's other wilderness programs, must meet new requirements put in place after Ian's death.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Utah Correctional Industries
January 8, 2003
When a 14-year-old from Dripping Springs dropped to the ground during a hike through a Utah desert last summer, two of his wilderness therapy counselors thought he was faking, a camp staff member testified during a preliminary hearing Monday.  An autopsy later determined that August had died of hyperthermia -- excessive body heat.  Judge Donald Eyre of the 4th District Court in Utah is considering whether Mark Wardle, Skyline Journey's field director, should stand trial in connection with August's death, The Salt Lake Tribune reported in Tuesday's online edition.  Prosecutors charged Wardle, 47, a former employee of a similar wilderness program in Central Texas, with a second-degree felony last year, arguing that he acted with criminal recklessness in failing to get help for August quickly enough to save him.  According to Texas records, Wardle is a former program manager at On Track, a Mason County wilderness program at which 17-year-old Charles Chase Moody of Richardson died while being physically restrained in October.  Wardle left On Track in 2000 for another wilderness camp In Oregon and later joined Skyline.  At the outset of Monday's hearing in the August case, Millard County prosecutor Brent Berkley dismissed a similar criminal charge against Leigh Hale, a head field instructor for Skyline.  Hale had agreed to testify against Wardle and her former employer in exchange for the dismissal.  The Office of Licensing, an arm of Utah's Department of Human Services, shut down the Skyline Journey program last year, but it continues to operate while the company appeals.  (Statesman.com)

November 6, 2002
Housing out-of-state prisoners in Utah won't be the financial boon to the Beehive State's sagging budget that officials had hoped. Putting out-of-state prisoners in Utah's empty prison beds would bring in only $1 million to $1.5 million annually, according to a recently completed report from the Utah Department of Corrections. The report, which laid out three possible scenarios for housing out-of-state inmates, concluded, "The opportunity for significant revenue to the state of Utah through the contracting of empty prison beds is not supported by this report."

October 6, 2002
A prison watchdog group is bemoaning the possibility of housing out-of-state inmates in Utah's prison system to boost the state's sagging budget. The Citizens Education Project called the proposed plan to fill some 700 empty prison beds in the Department of Corrections a "tawdry enterprise." "There are many reasons why Utahns should reject any prisoner purchase plan legislators might propose to pad the corrections budget," Citizens Education Project organizer William R. Jensen said. "We passed a bill in 1999 outlawing the import of other states' inmates to a private prison in Grantsville. The private prison was rightly dumped. The objections to importing inmates for profit apply to public prisons as well." The department's bed surplus came after corrections officials implemented a plan to treat offenders in the community to reduce the prison's bursting inmate population. "Utah's DOC has made commendable progress in the past few years in diverting offenders from prison into treatment programs, reentry programs and cutting overall costs," Jensen said. "Improvements in the system are still needed, but again attempting to venture into commerce in souls is a tawdry enterprise that would only undermine recent progress." (Desert News.com)

May 29, 2001
Hundreds of working prisoners are facing pay cuts as state officials try to free up cash to hire other inmates.  The reduced wages are part of the Department of Corrections' plan to revolutionize inmate privileges, allotting fewer perks to unemployed prisoners.  The downside is that nearly 700 inmates who work for Utah Correctional Industries (UCI) -- the Utah State Prison's highest-paid and most skilled workers -- could have their earnings slashed by about 9 percent.  UCI inmates make between 60 cents and $7 an hour, the eighth-highest prisoner pay scale in the nation, according to statistics complied by the Correctional Industries Association in Baltimore.  UCI inmates would actually "take home" 20 percent or less of their salaries.  UCI director Dick Clasby and other officials note that Utah's inmates are relatively fortunate; prisoner laborers in at least three states -- Texas, Georgia and Arkansas -- receive no pay at all.  Companies typically find inmate labor attractive because paying the lower wages and not having to offer benefits keeps costs down.  Telemarketing jobs at the prison were eliminated last year after inmates obtained personal information about callers, and at least one inmate used the data to send sexually suggestive letters to a 15-year-old girl.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

Utah Legislature
September 20, 2007 Salt Lake City Tribune
Halfway through a professor's presentation of a study on prison privatization, Sen. Bill Hickman was losing patience. "I am interested in the cost of a study that did everything but reach a conclusion," Hickman, R-St. George, told University of Utah professor Brad Lundahl during a legislative subcommittee hearing Wednesday. Hickman was clearly perturbed that the study concluded that there were no clear, proven advantages or disadvantages to hiring companies to run prisons. He looked similarly off-put at Department of Corrections Director Tom Patterson's response when asked what the study told him. "It tells me I shouldn't be running to privatization," Patterson said. The reaction from Hickman and members of the Law Enforcement And Criminal Justice Interim Committee was understandable, said Russ Van Vleet, who heads the U.'s criminal justice department. The study, which Van Vleet said cost the state no extra money, was essentially a review of all the reliable, unbiased studies on privatization available, he said. So it wasn't the university's fault that the studies found no clear winner, he said. If anything, Van Vleet said, the dozen studies of privatization leaned toward public-run prisons, he said. The issue may be moot for the moment, as the bill that prompted the study and called for prison privatization failed last session. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, did not show up for Wednesday's hearing, a fact pointed out by co-chair Sen. Jon Greiner, R-Ogden. Patterson said he would continue to explore new ways to improve prison efficiency. He recently signed a multi-million dollar contract to create a 300-bed facility to house parole violators. The facility, set to open next spring, will be completely privatized from construction to management, Patterson said. "This could be a testing ground to see if privatization could work."

February 10, 2007 Salt Lake City Tribune
Paul Rolly: One bill introduced at the Utah Legislature raises constitutional separation-of-powers questions with the appearance that lawmakers want to take over the bidding process for choosing state contractors. It also appears that some legislators are setting themselves up to be best-deciders of how state services should be provided, rather than the executive branch departments that actually administer those services. House Bill 391 directs the Department of Human Services to issue a request for proposals from private vendors to operate and manage the Utah State Hospital. It says the Legislature's Executive Appropriations Committee will review the bids and determine whether the state should go ahead and privatize the hospital. State officials say the intrusion by the Legislature in government procurements is unprecedented and that the state-run hospital in Provo is operating just fine. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, is one of five legislators who were invited by lobbyist Rob Jolley to visit a privately run state hospital in Pembroke Pines, Fla., in December. The others were House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy; House Majority Leader David Clark, R-Santa Clara; Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper; and Senate Majority Leader Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, who is to be the Senate sponsor of the bill. They were the guests of Geo Care, a private operator of state mental services hospitals. Geo Care is an affiliate company of the Geo Group, which operates privately run prisons throughout the United States and several other countries. Jolley is a registered lobbyist for Geo Care and the trip, at a total cost of about $10,000, was paid for by David Meehan, another Geo Care lobbyist. Reports about the privatization of prisons and mental hospitals are not, by the way, all sunshine and roses. A Florida legislative audit concluded that "privatizing South Florida State Hospital has not resulted in cost savings or improved client outcomes." And a 2004 story in the Gainesville Sun reported that the privately-run facilities cost significantly more than government-run institutions. The St. Petersburg Times reported last month that the Geo Group was one of two companies the state of Florida had overpaid by nearly $13 million and Geo had agreed to repay $402,000. Utah Human Services Director Lisa-Michele Church suggested in a letter to the co-chairs of the Legislature's Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee that the issue be sent to an interim committee to be studied for a year before the bidding process is initiated. But the lawmakers favoring the bill apparently can't wait. Lockhart, responding to a series of my questions in an e-mail exchange, says the request-for-proposals process, which under the bill will take nearly a year, is the study and, "at the end of the year, if we have received responses, we will explore with the (Human Services) Department if privatization is in the best interests of the state, but more importantly the best interest of patients served by the State Hospital." She said the Executive Appropriations Committee, of which she is assistant co-chair, will not select the bidder. "It will only review the bids to determine if it makes any sense for the state. If it does, then the Department of Human Services will select the provider, not the Legislature." She said she is aware of other companies that run similar operations, "but it would be the Department that selects a private provider if privatization is determined viable." State Purchasing Director Doug Richins says that for a project the size of the State Hospital, vendors would have to go to great expense to put together a bid. This bill would require them to do that without knowing if a bid even is going to be offered. But, as we are constantly being told these days, the Legislature knows best.

March 9, 2006 Salt Lake Weekly
On the philosophical level, it had to be a bad year for Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper. He just couldn’t get lawmakers to agree with him on his Principles of Government. No. 1: U.S. senators ought to listen up when state elected officials speak; No. 2: Legislators ought to be able to override damned near anything that the governor vetoes; No. 3: Government ought to be run like a business, get out of the business of competing with business and even give up some of its business to business. In other words, privatize. Privatization was a consistent undercurrent of this year’s legislative session. The idea is tied to a conservative reverence for competitive forces and a libertarian view of limited government. In Utah, that means a long-term goal of privatizing schools, prisons and highways, to name a few. “We’re not saying that government shouldn’t provide any services,” says Mike Jerman of the Utah Taxpayers Association. “Just not at a loss. The bottom line is can the private sector provide an adequate level of service at an adequate price, and how much will it cost taxpayers?” “There are some things that can be effectively privatized, and we’re not going to spurn those ideas,” says Steve Erickson of the Citizens Education Project. “But they’re even privatizing war these days.” Erickson came up against Stephenson over the private-prisons legislation—another bill that Stephenson had to put in the “loss” column. “It was commerce in souls,” says Erickson. “Philosophically, the greatest power of government is to deprive an individual of his life or liberty and with that comes a grave responsibility of government.” While Utah’s Management & Training Corp. was pushing the legislation, Erickson and the Utah Department of Corrections were researching the downside. New Mexico, for instance, where 45 percent of inmates are in private prisons, has been reeling from reports of abuses and mismanagement.

February 24, 2006 Salt Lake Tribune
All SB175 does is leave the door unlocked. But, as any prison guard can tell you, sometimes one carelessly unlocked door is all it takes to separate an orderly prison from mayhem. The bill, which has passed the Utah Senate and a House committee, would do no more than require the Department of Corrections to take bids from those who would build and operate the state's next prison expansion as a private business. It would not require the state to accept any of those bids if, after their own analysis, our corrections managers determine that they can do the job as well or better themselves. Sponsored by Sen. Howard Stephenson, SB175 is a highly questionable flirtation with an industry that is in widespread disrepute throughout the English-speaking world as the least logical place for the privatization of a public service. The private prison industry has been excoriated in independent examinations in the United States, Great Britain and Australia. Because private prison operations exist to make profit first and provide service second, the temptations to cut corners, hide problems, shift blame, cook books and buy the services of experts and officials are just too strong. The lives of prisoners and guards, and the safety of the public, are at risk. But the greatest danger created by private prisons may be less within the walls than on the Hill. Once prisons become another public concession, the lobbying, wining, dining and campaign contributions from the industry will just add further taint to a government that already has far too much of it. The prison providers' checkbooks will be marshaled not only to promote the interests of one contractor over another, but also in opposition to any reforms that might reduce the need for prison beds and, thus, for the services of an industry that more than most (even more than newspapers) profits from the misery of others. The money that starts to flow when prisons become profit centers has seriously tainted the reputation of public officials in Tennessee and Florida. And destroyed the career of one pro-privatization University of Florida researcher who, it turned out, was on the industry's payroll. This bill is pointless at best, and we trust that the Legislature's traffic cops, as they approach a busy end to their session, will choose it as one that can be cast aside in favor of more important things.

February 20, 2006 The Spectrum
Utah has one of the country's lowest incarceration rates, according to federal data, but is climbing from a booming population growth spurt that has increased the incarcerated population by 200 to 300 inmates each year. The Utah prison system is overwhelmed with more than 6,350 inmates statewide - including a large percentage housed at Purgatory Correctional Facility in Washington County - making more bed space desperately needed. Two facilities are being built, one in Gunnison and the other facility in Beaver County, where the state intends to rent 200 beds to house its inmates. Also, corrections is requesting another 192-bed facility to be built in Gunnison. Senate Bill 175, sponsored by Sen. Howard A. Stephenson, R-Draper, calls for the Department of Corrections to issue and evaluate a request for proposals from private prison contractors, county jails and other interested agencies for a 300-bed or larger minimum-security correctional facility to accommodate prison-sentenced criminals beyond that. We commend Stephenson and the corrections department for their foresight in dealing with the rising housing needs of criminals. However, taxpayers should urge lawmakers to do some analysis as they embark on mingling public and private enterprise, based on the state's history in that corrections partnership. Utah's first privately run prison, Promontory Correctional Facility - a 400-bed, low-security facility located on the northwest side of the Draper prison site, which was closed because of budget cuts - was administered by Ogden's Management and Training Corporation. Three weeks after it opened in August, 1995, two inmates escaped in broad daylight by crawling through a fence. Every year until it closed on July 1, 2002, there were one to two escapes. A pre-release program through that facility resulted in 102 parolees enrolled in it simply walking away within a 10-month period. One in particular was by 35-year-old Stan Lee Foster, a man convicted for a string of thefts and burglaries in Southern Utah. He was enrolled in the "cutting edge" halfway-back program in May 1999, but two months later hopped onto a bus in Sandy to go to work never to return. Six days after he walked away, he was fatally shot by an FBI agent investigating a rash of bank robberies. Aside from budget cuts that were cited for the closure of the prison, heavily-rumored high staff turnover rates and drug use by inmates were disclosed by media outlets. The mixture of the public and private sector of corrections through Promontory lasted a mere seven years. As SB-175 mandates the acceptance of bids for a new facility, and is considering recommendations from corrections to highly consider privatization for housing and treatment, we ask lawmakers to scrutinize the whole package privatization has to offer with a fine-tooth comb. While it is admirable to be looking toward the future to accommodate the increasing incarcerated population, it is just as important to learn from mistakes where failures occurred so as not to repeat them.

February 16, 2006 Deseret Morning News
Government should seek out efficiencies whenever possible. But it is not sufficient for some functions of government to simply be cost-efficient. The state prison system, for instance, must be operated in a manner that ensures accountability and public control. Any move to delegate that responsibility to a private provider deserves careful study and deliberation. Some states have had success in privatizing certain aspects of their prison systems. But overall, the states' experiences have been a mixed bag. That should be a red flag to state lawmakers as they consider SB175, which would require the Department of Corrections to seek bids for the construction and operation of any new adult correctional facilities for medium security inmates and lesser offenders. Legislators need to consider this proposal with eyes wide open. Utah's experience with private prisons has been less than stellar. In the mid-1990s, several Utah inmates escaped from a private prison in Texas where they were temporarily housed. Incredibly, Texas officials weren't sure how to pursue the inmates since the state then had no specific law against escaping from a private prison. As the Utah Legislature has considered a number of bills this legislative session that deal with open meetings and open records issues, it is appropriate to also raise a concern about the issue of transparency in dealing with the state prison system. Private providers must be subject to the same open records requirements as the state prison system. Beyond the laws themselves, there must be training so there is no misunderstanding about the requirement of the Government Records Access and Management Act and other open government requirements. Clearly, lawmakers need to be conscientious about the best use of tax money. But in this instance, they should not be swayed simply by the low bid for a prison and its operations. Far much more is at stake, including the state's liabilities and all of the public's interests.

February 4, 2006 Salt Lake City Tribune
A Senate committee Friday took the initial step toward authorizing Utah's first privately operated prison. The Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee approved SB175, which would require the Department of Corrections to issue a request for a proposal for a 500-bed facility by July 1, 2007. The department could still build the facility on its own if it rejects all of the private proposals. The Legislature could also change the date for the requests next year if the need for a new facility dwindles. Sponsoring Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, believes private contracting will save the state money and provide healthy competition with the Corrections department. Utah is the only state in the Mountain West that does not have some portion of its inmate population in a private prison. Corrections Executive Director Scott Carver said the department has concerns about a contractor operating in the public safety field. “We are dealing with the liberty of people and the very lives of people,” Carver said. “There have been instances where people have been killed because of poor management.” Stephenson is not just a senator, he is also a lobbyist working on behalf of the Utah Taxpayers Association. The taxpayers association, funded by big business, generally supports privatization of government. Stephenson is also sponsoring SB74, which would create a legislative task force to seek out areas of government that the private sector could take over.

November 18, 2005 The Salt Lake Tribune
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said he would let cold, hard facts guide his decision about moving the Utah State Prison from Draper. And the facts are in: A group of consultants found the cost of moving the prison far surpasses - by an estimated $372 million - the money the state could make selling the land. The governor says that's all he needs to know. "We will not be moving the prison. We ran the numbers, did the analysis and the numbers simply aren't there," Huntsman said in an interview this week. "We would not recoup the cost from the sale of the land." Prison managers are relieved to have the study. Residents of nearby foothill neighborhoods in Draper have prodded local and state leaders to consider moving the complex for years. And in May, Corrections Director Scott Carver said private prison developers started "swarming" after the state listed privatization as an option in a May 10 request for proposals from consultants. Now, Deputy Corrections Director Chris Mitchell hopes those pressures will ease.

October 20, 2005 Deseret Morning News
At least one lawmaker wants private prisons in Utah's incarceration plan but the top administrator of state corrections claims they could hinder more than help and that allowing them would be a partial abdication of one of the state's chief responsibilities. Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, told members of the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee on Wednesday he's planning to propose a bill that will bring private prisons back to Utah. Scott Carver, executive director of the Utah Department of Corrections, responded that jailing someone is a serious step that is best left alone. He cited failed attempts to house prison inmates privately, including 1995, when 100 Utah inmates were sent to a private Texas jail run by Dove Development to await the construction of new facilities in Utah. During one year, there were eight escapes; six were captured, he said. In February 1996, Missouri inmates being held at the same jail set part of their housing unit on fire during a riot, which raised Utah officials' concerns about the security there. "We will do what you direct us to do," Carver said. But he cautioned lawmakers to keep in mind that if they allow a private company to manage, the state is still ultimately responsible for what happens there.

Utah State Prison
Correctional Medical Services
July 16, 2003
A consultant selected to study whether the state can save money by privatizing medical services at the Utah State Prison has ties to privatization companies, including the one seeking a Utah contract.  Jacqueline Moore said Tuesday that her Chicago-based consulting firm, Jacqueline Moore and Associates, was selected this week through a competitive bid process to evaluate the prison's health care system.  The amount she will be paid was not revealed because a contract has not yet been signed, said Kevin Walthers, legislative fiscal analyst. The contract is expected to be signed early next week, Walthers said. He told lawmakers in May that such a study could cost up to $60,000.  Moore, however, acknowledged ties to St. Louis, Mo.-based Correctional Medical Services, saying she previously has been paid by CMS for conducting periodic reviews of Maine's prison health care.  Mont Evans, a CMS lobbyist, Riverton mayor and former Utah Department of Corrections employee, told lawmakers in February the company could save the state millions by taking over inmate health care.  In the "customer feedback" section of Moore's Web site (www.corrections.com/ moore), a comment is posted from Gary McWilliams, CMS' vice president of sales and marketing. "Jackie is noted in the industry for her research abilities, her keen understanding of the nuances of correctional medical care and professional presentation skills related to health care management," McWilliams says.  Also, Moore said, depending on which company held the Maine contract from year to year, she also has been paid by Prison Health Services for the periodic evaluations.  Moore co-founded PHS in 1989, and her ex-husband still works for the company, according to published reports. She said Tuesday she has not been associated with the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company for more than a decade.  Even the American Civil Liberties Union and the Disability Law Center -- which both were parties in the inmate lawsuits and among BCS' biggest critics at one time -- have said the bureau has shown improvement and they would oppose any effort to privatize medical services.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

May 22, 2003
More in-depth research is needed to determine whether privatizing inmate medical services at the Utah State Prison would save the state money, a legislative fiscal analyst said Tuesday.  Results of a preliminary study show the savings might not be as significant as initially thought, given cost-cutting and streamlining measures already in place within the state Department of Corrections' Bureau of Clinical Services (BCS).  Former lawmaker Mont Evans, now a lobbyist for St. Louis, Mo.-based Correctional Medical Services Inc., told the committee that the company could save the state more than $2 million.  Medical care at the prison has a troubled past, including lawsuits from inmates that forced increases in staff and training. In 1999, under the leadership of Richard Garden, a physician and current BCS director, the prison opened its $2.9 million, 144-bed Olympus Mental Health Facility. Garden has said the bureau also increased preventative care and hepatitis C treatment and improved mental health screenings.  Even the American Civil Liberties Union and the Disability Law Center -- once two of the BCS' biggest critics and parties in the lawsuits -- have said the bureau has improved and that they would oppose any privatization.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

May 22, 2003
More in-depth research is needed to determine whether privatizing inmate medical services at the Utah State Prison would save the state money, a legislative fiscal analyst said Tuesday.  Results of a preliminary study show the savings might not be as significant as initially thought, given cost-cutting and streamlining measures already in place within the state Department of Corrections' Bureau of Clinical Services (BCS).  Former lawmaker Mont Evans, now a lobbyist for St. Louis, Mo-based Correctional Medical Services Inc., told the committee that the company could save the state more than $2 million.  Medical care at the prison has a troubled past, including lawsuits from inmates that forced increases in staff and training.  Even the American Civil Liberties Union and the Disability Law Center -- once two of the BCS' biggest critics and parties in the lawsuits -- have said the bureau has improved and that they would oppose any privatization.  (The Salt Lake Tribune)

February 11, 2003
Utah Corrections officials are willing to help examine whether hiring an outside company to provide medical care to the state's inmates would save money – but maintain their award-winning program does not need fixing. On Monday, lawmakers agreed to study privatizing Utah 's prison health care and to seek up $15,000 in funding from the Executive Appropriations Committee. The study, to be completed by July 1, will be supervised by the legislative fiscal analyst. The move follows a presentation last week by Mont Evans, a former lawmaker and Corrections employee who now is a lobbyist for St. Louis, Mo.-based Correctional Medical Services Inc. (The Salt Lake Tribune)

White River Academy
May 6, 2014 courthousenews.com

SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - A "private prison" posing as a "wilderness experience" tormented a teen into "robotic obedience" by forcing him to work in burning sand without shoes or adequate water, leaving "a trail of post-traumatic stress, nightmares, and damaged, destroyed families," a family claims in court. Ryan, Shawn and Mark Stencel sued White River Academy, USA Guides and four individuals, in Federal Court. The Stencels, of Alaska, claim the "private prison" locked up Mark Stencel against his will and without consent, based on false promises of "a supportive, safe, healthy, camp-like setting with regular and productive therapy/counseling." White River Academy, in Delta, Utah, markets itself as a boarding school, academy, therapeutic treatment center and wilderness experience "designed to straighten out troubled, truant or failing teenage youth," according to the lawsuit. Mark Stencel was among many teens damaged at White River, the Stencels say, which relied on "rough tough love" to enforce its supposed treatment. "Mark Stencel was thrust into White River without the slightest understanding of what he was getting into, and had no choice in the matter. For White River, Mark represented one in a string of damaged teenagers that it boasted of helping, accompanied by some unjustified theory that rough tough love was just the treatment they needed," the 24-page complaint states. "At White River, there was no forum for complaint, explanation, appeal, or grievance against the placement, before, during, or after it occurred. The only option available to Mark was to bear it, for White River is a lock down, closely guarded private prison, where punishments are harsh for any rule infraction, real or imagined." Mark Stencel was made to complete "mindless tasks of blind obedience enforced by cruel punishment" at White River, the Stencels say, and was punished by isolation and loss of earned privileges.  "Mark was forced to work in 100-degree weather without protection and insufficient water, no shoes to protect against the burning sands, cuts, thistles, or other foreseeable injury. This was done to thwart any potential attempt to escape to seek help and freedom and to intimidate Mark in to robotic obedience to any and all commands by White River," the complaint states. Mark was not properly fed or clothed while at White River, the Stencels say. "Defendants failed to provide nutritious food, clothing, shelter, and education, even though they represented to the Stencels that they were doing so and specifically lied to them about the living conditions at the facility, to the detriment of Mark's well being," the complaint states. "Defendants were negligent in adopting and implementing regimens and tactics specifically designed to induce anger, helplessness, and worthlessness in Mark Stencel and other inmates, much to their mental and emotional distress, with lasting effects, potentially changing the entire course of Mark Stencel's life unless plaintiffs prevail in this case so they have the means to continue to help Mark with the additional issues and pain caused by White River, in addition to the initial problems that caused the Stencels to seek help for Mark by sending him to White River." Defendant USA Guides, "a transport service trafficking in minors ... kidnapped Mark by force" and took him to White River, the Stencels say in the lawsuit. White River then charged "extravagant" fees for its bogus treatment, the Stencels claim. "Mark Stencel was emotionally and physically harmed at White River and his parents did not receive the quality care, services, and facilities, destined for Mark and for which they paid," the complaint states. "Defendants were aware that the harm caused to children at these facilities, including Mark Stencel, was so grave that the Utah Department of Human Services should have stepped in and shut down White River, but it did not." Individual defendants include White River owner Justin Neilson; camp therapist Gary Anderson; parent liaison Barbara Habe; and Robin Reber, allegedly "responsible for propagandizing the plaintiffs about White River." Delta, pop. 3,436, is in central Utah. The Stencels demand a refund and punitive damages for fraud, false imprisonment, involuntary servitude, intentional infliction of emotional distress and constitutional violations. They are represented by Thomas Burton.