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Prisoner Transport
October11, 2010 The Journal
An inmate on the run since he escaped from a private prison transport van last month in the Spring Mills area was shot dead by authorities in Connecticut following a pursuit, federal authorities have announced. Deputy U.S. Marshal Michael Ulrich of the West Virginia Mountain State Fugitive Task Force said federal authorities were notified Saturday at about 5 p.m. that the fugitive, 36-year-old Albert James Voute III, had stolen a vehicle in Connecticut Friday and led officers on a pursuit that ended when Voute was shot and killed after he pulled a gun on an officer. At the time of the incident, Voute's identity was unknown. After the shooting, authorities found Voute had no identification on his person and was temporarily declared a John Doe until Connecticut authorities submitted his fingerprints to obtain a positive identification, Ulrich said. The manhunt for Voute began Sept. 15 when he escaped from a prisoner van operated by North Atlantic Extradition Services, a private transportation company hired by the state of New Jersey to transport Voute from the Big Sandy penitentiary in Kentucky to Bergen County Jail in Hackensack, N.J. Voute managed to slip out of his leg shackles after the van pulled over at a Burger King located off of W.Va. 901.

September 16, 2010 The Journal
A manhunt continued in Berkeley County as of press time Wednesday night as police searched for an inmate who escaped from a transport van early Wednesday morning at the Burger King in Spring Mills. According to a news release, at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, the West Virginia State Police received a call reporting that an inmate had escaped. Troopers learned that the inmate had fled on foot from a prisoner van he was being transported in after the van stopped at the Burger King restaurant on W.Va. 901 in Spring Mills. The inmate has been identified as 36-year-old Albert Voute, who is described as a white male, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, weighing 175 pounds with short black hair. The suspect was somehow able to remove his leg shackles and exit the van, police said. Troopers and Berkeley County sheriff's deputies utilized K-9s and a Maryland State Police helicopter to search the area. The manhunt continued as of 10:15 p.m. Wednesday with a helicopter scanning wooded areas where the inmate might be hiding, while officers continued looking on the ground. The escaped inmate was being transported from Kentucky to New Jersey to face an armed robbery charge. He was being transported by North Atlantic Extradition Services, which is a private company contracted to transport prisoners, police said. The company's motto is "extradition you can trust," according to its website. The company was contacted by The Journal Wednesday seeking comment. A message left with company officials was not returned as of press time.

ResCare's Intermediate Care Facilities
March 7, 2003
A report released today highlights problems with quality of care at ResCare, Inc., group homes in West Virginia. The report "Worse Care with ResCare?" was published by the Service Employees International Union and demonstrates both qualitatively and quantitatively ResCare's problems with quality of care issues at its intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded (ICF/MR) in the state.  ResCare's lapses of care highlighted in the report include: * Instances of insufficient staffing and inadequate supervision, which have contributed to a risk of injuries or actual injuries, including death in at least one case.  * Falsification of medical records and instances of medical duties performed by unlicensed staff.  * Medication errors that were not reported to residents' doctors until up to 19 days after the errors.  * "Suspected neglect" that went unreported to Adult Protective Services until state inspectors discovered records of the incidents.  * Delays in providing medical services.  * Inappropriate diets provided to restricted-diet individuals, leading to several instances of choking. * A lack of habilitative services, which are designed to lead to a more independent lifestyle for individuals with disabilities.  The report also documents that ResCare's record of care is worse than other providers in the state, as measured by data in publicly available state records. For example, * During annual facility inspections between August 9, 2001, and September 19, 2002:  * 53% of ResCare ICF/MR facilities in West Virginia had violations of active treatment standards.  * 47% of ResCare ICF/MR facilities in West Virginia had violations of health care service standards.  * ResCare's rate of 3.81 violations per facility was 2.26 times the rate at facilities run by other providers during the same period.  * ResCare was the only provider to fail to meet basic Medicaid  Conditions of Participation during this 13-month period.  * ResCare was the target of 36 complaints regarding the care and services it provided between January 1, 2001 and October 28, 2002. Half, or 18, of these complaints were validated by state authorities. In contrast, other providers were the target of only two validated complaints during this period. ResCare's rate of validated complaints per facility was 3.81 times that of other providers.  (Service Employees International Union)

TransCor America
West Virginia
August 15, 2003
Three prisoners who were trapped in a van after it was hijacked in 2001 by a fellow prisoner have filed a lawsuit against the van's transport company and two of the company's former employees.  The lawsuit was filed Wednesday on behalf of Frederick Furlong, Michael Wolf and David Adams by Morgantown lawyer Jennifer McGinley in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg.  In September 2001 Christopher Paul Savage overpowered two transport officers at a Clarksburg gas station after faking an illness. He then used the van he and other prisoners were being transported in to escape.  Savage later abandoned the van and ran away on foot. He was arrested almost two months afterward in Georgia.  The lawsuit alleges the transport drivers' negligence led to Savage's escape and the prisoners' kidnapping - during which, the prisoners were denied proper food, drink and bathroom breaks and were deprived of medication.  The lawsuit alleges Nashville, Tenn.-based TransCor America, Inc. already knew of training and supervision problems among its drivers.  (AP)

West Virginia Department of Corrections
December 10, 2013
Dec. 17, 2013 herald-dispatch.com

As West Virginia officials weigh further steps to deal with overcrowded prisons and jails, they should give strong consideration to a proposal floated to legislators last week. It could well provide a more suitable alternative to another option now being pursued -- placing some of the state's inmates in an out-of-state prison run by a private corporation. The plan spelled out a week ago to members of the Legislative Oversight Committee on Regional Jails and Corrections involves expanding programming to state inmates now being held in the state's regional jails so that they can more quickly become eligible for parole. The proposal put forth by John Lopez, chief of operations for the state's Regional Jail Authority, calls for hiring one to two additional full-time counselors at each of the 10 regional jails. The price tag for doing that would be about $700,000 a year for salaries and benefits, he said. The regional jails now house about 1,300 Division of Corrections inmates that should be in the state-run prisons, but those prisons are already beyond capacity. One drawback of that situation is that the regional jails now do not offer adequate programming that could make those inmates eligible for parole consideration, so that slows the process of reducing inmate populations. Adding the counselors could mean adding the programs -- on such topics as domestic violence, life skills, anger management, and alcohol and substance abuse -- that are needed. Taking such a step should help speed up the parole process for many inmates, and possibly reduce the state's overall inmate population, particularly at the regional jails. And it could keep West Virginia's inmates housed within the state's borders -- unlike another plan being considered by the Division of Corrections. Corrections officials earlier this year sought bids from contractors to house up to 400 of the state's inmates at an out-of-state prison. It received one bid this month, from Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest private prison operator. The company proposed housing the inmates at one of its prisons in Beattyville, Ky., about two-and-a-half hours from Huntington. The second part of the bid -- how much it would cost the state -- won't be opened until later this month or early January. Even though the cost of that plan isn't known yet, it's unlikely to be a less expensive option than Lopez's plan to hire more counselors. State officials say incarcerating an inmate can cost up to $25,000 a year. Even if Corrections Corporation of America's bid comes in at half that cost per inmate, the sum would be $5 million a year. Another factor is that the West Virginia Constitution forbids banishment of prisoners to other states -- a principle worth maintaining if at all possible. Any inmates moved to an out-of-state facility would have to do so voluntarily. At this point, the state is making headway on its efforts to reduce its prison and jail population, giving encouragement to officials that expensive steps such as building a new prison won't be necessary. We think the same thinking should be applied before sending prisoners out of state. The alternative proposed by the Regional Jail Authority appears to be a better option overall.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A top official with the state Regional Jail Authority told state lawmakers Monday there’s a less expensive option that should be considered to the one that would send up to 400 state prison inmates to a private prison outside of West Virginia. Regional Jails Program Director John Lopez said those state inmates, who are currently housed in regional jails, could get the programs they need for a chance at parole if additional counselors are hired at the regional jails. “If you hire two counselors at each facility, we have 10 jails, you are looking at about 700-thousand dollars,” Lopez said. Supporting lawmakers said that would be much cheaper than a plan currently under consideration by the state Division of Corrections. A lone bid was submitted last week that offers a private prison in Kentucky for up to 400 inmates. The proposal is under consideration because the state inmates can’t get the programs they currently need in the regional jails so they are less likely to make parole the first time. Lopez cautioned lawmakers that if you take too many state prisoners out of the regional jails it’s going to raise the costs for the counties who pay the jail bills. “If we lose too many more eventually down the road we’re possibly going to have to raise the jail per-diem,” Lopez said. “That’s just commonsense.” The regional jails currently offer 8 programs for their misdemeanor inmates; only 2 of those are approved for state prison inmates who are lodged in the jails. Lopez said additional counselors and additional programs would accomplish the same goal as the out-of-state prison plan—getting inmates released as early as possible. “Those two counselors will be able to zero in and focus solely on the convicted felons housed in our jails,” Lopez said. The private prison bid, which came in last week, is currently under review.

West Virginia Legislature
September 14, 2011 AP
West Virginia is facing an inmate crowding crisis, but building a new prison may not be the answer, state Supreme Court administrator Steve Canterbury told lawmakers Tuesday. Addressing a House-Senate subcommittee wrestling with the problem, Canterbury cited his years as head of the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority. "When the state commits to spending $100 to $200 million — and this will be closer to $200 million, mark my words — for building a prison, it takes a political life of its own," Canterbury said. Groups representing contractors and construction unions will each lobby hard to get the work, Canterbury said. Local economic development agencies will jockey for the new prison's location. Canterbury said someone shot up his car while the jail agency debated where to build. He kept one of the bullets as a souvenir. The private prison industry, meanwhile, will press West Virginia to change its stringent legal standards that have so far kept their facilities out of the state. Canterbury said that industry is why the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council helped write Arizona's tough new immigration law. "They sensed that this is a growth opportunity," he told lawmakers, while also saying that the industry "will lobby pretty hard for more customers. And how do they get more customers? Enhancing penalties, and jailing more people." West Virginia should instead revisit its criminal penalties, as Texas has done in recent years, and find better ways to spend that $200 million, Canterbury said. Those alternatives include a statewide work-release program for nonviolent offenders. Wheeling and Morgantown are among the state's larger communities without work-release, he said.

July 17, 2006 Daily Mail
Tucked into a proposed rule clarifying how the state's jails are funded is a provision that would open the door for the state to accept inmates from outside its borders. But chronic overcrowding in the state's 10 regional jails makes this importation a long shot. John King, operations director for the state Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority, said officials are keeping options open should the state Division of Corrections increase bed space in its prisons enough to eliminate the overcrowding. Bills to strengthen the corrections commissioner's control over private prison construction and operations have languished in the last two legislative sessions. The bills add language to enable laws already on the books that permit private prisons in the state.

July 11, 2006 Charlotte Gazette
The state of West Virginia is considering a proposal by one of the world’s largest private prison companies to run its two mental hospitals. The proposal was made by Florida-based GEO Group, formerly known as The Wackenhut Corp., which manages more than 42,000 prison beds in the United States. Increasingly, the company is getting into the psychiatric hospital business. Its subsidiary, GEO Care, operates three mental institutions for the state of Florida and a state-run nursing home in New Mexico. GEO Care made two separate pitches to West Virginia officials, according to John Bianconi, commissioner of the state Bureau for Health and Health Facilities. Bianconi said he plans to tour a GEO Care facility in Florida this week. He is already in Orlando for a convention and several of his colleagues also are taking the tour. “We are looking at options for better ways of doing things,” Bianconi said. “But we are far from making any decisions.” The privatization proposal was discussed in a draft report from a state consultant that is studying the state’s mental health system. The Gazette obtained the draft document last week. As one of its recommendations, Public Consulting Group said the state should “explore privatization of state facilities.” Bianconi said the recommendation refers only to the state’s two mental hospitals, the 150-bed William R. Sharpe Hospital in Weston and the 90-bed Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital in Huntington. Other state long-term care facilities, such as Lakin and Pinecrest hospitals, have not been part of the discussions with GEO Care, he said.  

Wheeling Jesuit University
May 23, 2002
Statement on Wheeling Jesuit University's Relationship with Sodexho by Rev. George F. Lundy, S.J., Ph.D.   nUniversity President During the late fall of 2000, the question was raised by the Wheeling Jesuit University student organization JAPOT (Justice and Peace in Our Times) whether the University could continue its business partnership with its campus food service provider, Sodexho, without incurring complicity in the prison-industrial complex.  To research the issues in question, and to advise me as to a just course for Wheeling Jesuit University,  I appointed a campus-wide committee in the fall of 2001 under the leadership of the Rector of the Jesuit Community and my Senior Advisor for Social Justice, Fr. Joseph R. Hacala, S.J. Comprised of faculty, administrators, students and Sodexho management, the group worked in concert with an external researcher, as well as with labor leaders, prison advocates and others, including a variety of Sodexho personnel. I asked the Committee to focus especially on the degree of Sodexho's openness about the extent of its prison-related activities, on the human rights implications of operating prisons for profit,  and Sodexho's level of understanding of and compliance with the Catholic labor tradition.  An interim report submitted to me by the Committee at mid-year confirmed both the complexity and the utmost seriousness of the issues involved.  After much study and prayerful reflection,  I have concluded that Wheeling Jesuit University cannot continue with Sodexho as a major business partner without incurring some complicity in what is now a global prison-industrial complex. My reasons are as follows:   1) The eight-fold increase in the number of people held in prisons and jails in the United States over the past thirty years is a national disgrace.  The use of prisons as a preferred response to non-violent crime is poor stewardship of resources,  and is a preferential option against the poor.   2) Through their corporate contributions to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), corporations in which Sodexho had a significant share of ownership helped shaped the laws under which ever more Americans spend ever more time in prison. The American Legislative Exchange Council is an organization founded in 1973 to support conservative legislators and conservative legislation. It prepares "model" bills which are then introduced in state legislatures throughout the nation. The Council claims credit for the enactment of "Truth in Sentencing" (inmates must serve 85% of their sentence) laws in 25 states,  "Habitual Offender/Three Strikes" (life in prison for a third violent felony) laws in 11 states, and Private Corrections Facilities laws in 4 states. Representatives from the corporate sector co-chair the task forces that develop ALEC's model legislation. The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) long held a co-chair position on the Criminal Justice Task Force.   In 1999, when Sodexho had about 10% ownership of CCA, CCA made ALEC's President's list for contributions to its States and Nation Policy Summit. Sodexho Marriot, then about half owned by Sodexho, also sponsored the conference.    Some of these laws, such as the "three strikes" statutes, have been criticized by the U.S. Catholic Bishops as inappropriate.   3)  Sodexho is expanding its global prison operations at a rapid pace.  Additionally, I have concluded, from documents I have reviewed, that Sodexho's posture towards collective bargaining leaves much to be desired from the perspective of the Catholic labor tradition.  (NWOM-News)