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Happy Anniversary, CCA!

5:32 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

I apologize for falling silent for the past few months.  Life caught up with me.  Anyway, don’t think I’ve stopped hating on private prisons – far from it.  I just haven’t really had the time to write.

But I can’t let a day like today go by without some mention.  Today, CCA turns 30.  That means for three decades we as a nation (beginning with Tennessee (thanks a lot, Tennessee)) have been bullishly pursuing a failed experiment in which we turn over society’s most vulnerable members to private companies, who systematically fail to live up to their contractual standards, let alone any notion of human decency, in how they operate their facilities.  In the process, millions of lives have been impacted, with all but a very few exceptions (the corporate brass) being worse for the wear.

We’ve sold our morality to the lowest bidder, repeatedly, to the tune of BILLIONS of taxpayer (i.e. my and your) dollars every year.  Meanwhile, these companies earn hundreds of millions of dollars (again, our money) in profit annually. But even THAT wasn’t enough, because now CCA and the GEO Group are reincorporating as something called Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), which, in a nutshell, is a legal maneuver that will allow them to largely avoid paying taxes.

So CCA, GEO Group, MTC, and everyone else who takes my money to abuse and mistreat people, on the thirtieth anniversary of your despicable existence, here’s a heart-felt

Fuck You.

from me to you.

MTC Takes Over Where The GEO Group Left off

6:25 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

After the state of Mississippi announced it was not renewing its contract with the GEO Group (or that the GEO Group bailed on the state, depending on how you see it) following a litany of abuse and mismanagement issues at the prisons it ran for the state, the Department of Corrections needed to bring in another company to operate the private facilities formerly run by them.  Apparently, the state did not consider just hiring additional corrections staff and taking control of the prisons itself.

Into the picture now comes MTC, or Management and Training Corporation, the third-largest private prison operator in the U.S. MTC most recently made headlines as the company in charge of the Kingman prison in Arizona, from which 3 felons (2 convicted murderers) escaped, fled across the country, killed an elderly couple, and stirred up a multi-state manhunt.  Shortly thereafter, an audit found the facility had numerous security flaws that the prisoners exploited in their escape.  This was part of what prompted many advocates to call for a statewide audit of private prisons that found the facilities to cost more than government-operated prisons.  Then Republicans in the state legislature passed a bill to prohibit future audits. Of course.

So this is the company that Mississippi has apparently seen fit to give responsibility for prisoners in the former GEO Group facilities.  MTC will operate 3 prisons for the state; Walnut Grove, East Mississippi CF, and Marshall County CF, while CCA will continue to operate an additional 2 facilities (one of which just suffered a riot).  But many people, including this author, are skeptical that there will be any signifncant improvement at the prisons.  Hopefully, Mississippi will have learned from at least some of its mistakes with the GEO Group, such as not having an enforcement mechanism in the contract to ensure adequate staffing levels.

Meanwhile, it looks like the GEO Group is seeking to expand northward into Canada since its reputation has taken such a hit here, and MTC is focusing their sights on our continental brethren as well.  I just hope the Canadians learn from our mistakes.

GEO Group Fined More Than $100,000

8:35 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

OSHA has fined the GEO Group more than $100,000 for occupational hazards present in the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, one of the prisons it had operated for years before losing its contract with the state in the wake of some terrible abuses that took place in the juvenile detention center they also ran.  Some of the violations at EMCF included malfunctioning locks and staffing levels so low that guards had to conduct head counts of prisoners alone.

 

CCA Can’t (Or Won’t) Defend Its Business

1:34 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

First published on WhyIHateCCA

About three weeks ago, the ACLU challenged CCA to a public debate on the merits of prison privatization, a timely request given that it came on the day of CCA’s shareholder meeting where it faced a proposal from a shareholder that would have required the company to report on its efforts to curb sexual violence within its facilities.  The ACLU asked CCA to discuss rationales behind using private companies to perform an inherently governmental function, particularly when the industry has failed in so many respects, from efficiency and oversight to the humane treatment of the prisoners it houses.

CCA, incapable of actually defending its morally reprehensible and laughably inefficient business model, meekly rejected the ACLU’s offer to debate in a public forum. I guess they find it difficult to justify abusing and neglecting human beings while reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in profit every year, and having spent millions more lobbying for an ever-expanding prison industrial complex while crime rates continue to fall.

Just a hunch…

Beating a Malnourished, Restrained Man to Death

1:33 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

UPDATE: Retraction

First published on WhyIHateCCA

CCA is being sued by the family of Michael Minnick, a Tennessee man who was killed by Sheriff’s deputies while in restraints.  After being arrested for failing to appear in court for a suspended drivers’ license hearing, Minnick was taken into custody and turned over to CCA.  Some time later, he was admitted to the hospital for loss of muscle mass and extreme dehydration.  While in the hospital and handcuffed, he was beaten so severely by the guards that he fell into a coma.  The hospital was able to revive him temporarily, but Mr. Minnick died a few hours later.

Mississippi Tosses Private Prison Company, The GEO Group

6:53 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

Previously published on WhyIHateCCA

Cell in Alcatraz. Photo by Miss Millions.

Mississippi, of all places, has had enough.  Not exactly known for its hospitable prison system, the state announced last Friday that it intends to terminate its contract with the GEO Group to operate 3 facilities, effective in July.  One of those facilities is Walnut Grove, which was recently the target of a lawsuit that brought sweeping change to the way Mississippi incarcerates its youth.  Plagued with violence, medical neglect, and persistent sexual abuse, the facility’s conditions were so abysmal that the Department of Justice called it “some of the worst abuse” they had seen in any investigation of a prison or jail.  Children housed there used terms like “barbaric,” “a war zone,” and “the deepest depths of hell” to describe it.  The settlement in the lawsuit removed all juveniles from Walnut Grove and mandated that they never be held in solitary confinement.  Lest you feel bad for GEO getting slapped around so hard in the lawsuit, remember that they earned millions of dollars in profit by treating children like shit.

Read the rest of this entry →

Some of the Worst Abuse Ever Seen in a Private Prison

1:17 pm in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

Some of the Worst Abuse Ever Seen

Following on the announcement of the removal of all juvenile prisoners in Mississippi from private prisons, the Department of Justice has just released a report of its findings in investigating the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, which is run by the GEO Group.  Walnut Grove was the target of the lawsuit that resulted in the prohibition on sending juveniles to private prisons, and it turns out the state was more than justified in ordering such a removal.  Juveniles incarcerated at the facility were subjected to ongoing sexual misconduct and other forms of abuse; the abuse was “among the worst that [the DOJ has] seen in any facility anywhere in the nation.

This is truly one of the most gut-wrenching tales of the horrors of privatization that I’ve ever seen.  The report indicates that the profit motive inherent in the private prison industry led the GEO Group to ignore the suffering of children under its care; the company earned more than $100 million from the facility’s operation.  Staff were frequently involved in gang activity, and children suffered from excessive use of force regularly.  The children were sexually assaulted, guards smuggled drugs into the facility, numerous extremely violent riots occurred, and the kids were routinely subjected to long periods of isolated confinement, denied medical care and access to educational programming.  It was so bad that the judge who just ruled on the settlement remarked that “The sum of these actions and inactions … paints a picture of horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world.”  The inaction the judge refers to is not only the fault of the GEO Group; the state of Mississippi was remiss in repeatedly failing to enforce and monitor the contract it has with the company to ensure its own citizens, children of all people, would not suffer through such horrendous experiences.

It looks like long-needed change has finally come to the children housed at Walnut Grove and their families, all of whom were victimized by the prison-industrial complex, and more specifically, by the profit motive inherent to the private prison industry.  Judge Reeves, who approved the settlement, claims he will avidly enforce the agreement to ensure that no other children fall prey to the GEO Group.

Idaho Should Rethink Its Relationship With Private Prisons

7:15 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

Idaho Should Rethink Its Relationship with Private Prisons

It turns out private prisons might cost more to operate than government ones in Idaho, according to a report from the Associated Press.  The thing is, Idaho hasn’t bothered to find out; the state has never conducted a cost comparison study despite elected officials’ claims that the industry saves it money.  The AP’s study attempted to compare costs at public and private prisons, but ran into the common obstacles facing researchers who try to compare costs.  Namely, the per diem paid by the state doesn’t account for oversight of the industry, CCA has a clause in its contract with the state that bars any prisoners with serious medical issues (thus placing a heavier financial burden on the state), and the private facility is much newer than state prisons (resulting in lower operating costs).

So the Board of Corrections has not yet allocated funds for a comparison, but a new board member says he’s willing to do so, and even went so far as to say he was “on the verge of calling [contracting with CCA] a failed experiment.”  He would seem to be correct in making such a claim – the state’s history with privatization is far from pretty.  For starters, it failed to ever conduct a cost comparison before privatizing in the late 90s, against the recommendation of a consultant hired to help with the transition.  It brought CCA in to run the Idaho Correctional Center, which became the target of a multiple of lawsuits alleging civil rights abuses and an FBI investigation.  Conditions became so bad that it was called “gladiator school” by the prisoners housed there, who would routinely suffer severe physical assaults while staff failed to intervene, sometimes even watching the beatings.  A class action lawsuit about the violence at ICC was settled out of court late last year, but details on that are unavailable because the judge sealed the settlement.

The time has come for Idaho to evaluate its relationship with CCA and privatization, as its prisons are currently operating at or near capacity and the state will likely need to open a new facility within the next few years to handle the anticipated rise in the population.  Particularly because the state legislature just allocated $29.8 million to the private prison fund for this coming year, a 3% increase over the last budget (that again won’t take into account the administrative costs of overseeing the prison).  This was the only item on the budget that didn’t pass unanimously, possibly because it’s about a million extra dollars going to CCA; 3 representatives voted against it.  Since private prisons have been found to cost as much or more than government ones in basically every study not funded by the industry, and given its track record of failing to properly operate prisons both in Idaho and elsewhere, the state should think long and hard about the 30 million taxpayer dollars it’s giving CCA to operate a prison that just a few short years ago had more violent assaults than all other state prisons combined.

MS Bans Juvenile Solitary Confinement, GEO Group Housing

11:26 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

MS Bans Juvenile Solitary Confinement, GEO Group Housing

In a really monumental settlement agreement, the state of Mississippi has been ordered to remove all its juvenile prisoners housed at the Walnut Grove YCF, a juvenile facility operated by the GEO Group (formerly by Cornell), and place them elsewhere.  Following rampant sexual, physical, and verbal abuse, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of the children detained at the prison to try to relieve the nightmarish conditions they were housed in.  In addition to removing the children from a prison that profits with every additional incarcerated soul, the settlement mandates that no children in the state can be housed in solitary/isolated confinement, a notoriously dangerous and harmful classification that typically involves 23-hour per day lockdown and extreme sensory and social deprivation.

Judge Keeps Private Prison Settlement Secret

9:29 am in Uncategorized by WhyIHateCCA

Judge Keeps Settlement Secret

Last year, the ACLU reached a settlement with CCA over its deplorable operation (or lack thereof) of the Idaho Correctional Center, which was so plagued with violence and assaults that it had been dubbed “gladiator school” by the prisoners.  The lawsuit had sought up to $150 million in damages, but a settlement was reached that was likely substantially lower (and which allowed CCA to avoid admitting responsibility).  After the settlement, the AP petitioned the court to have the settlement documents de-classified, so that the public could get an idea of the terms of the agreement.  Such a move could have given the public a better understanding of just how shitty this CCA prison was, and still is; in fact, it was still the most violent prison in the state, even after the lawsuit settled! 

But apparently the judge doesn’t want the people of Idaho to have any real oversight of the private prison that’s taking millions of taxpayer dollars every year to provide such substandard treatment, because he refused to unseal the settlement.  His basic reasoning was that he feared releasing the documents could discourage a company like CCA from seeking settlements in the future.  Which would be GREAT, because then they could actually have to take some responsibility for the thousands of instances of abuse and negligence that have taken place in the prisons they’re paid billions of dollars to operate.