A few weeks back, the Obama Administration finally got around to releasing new regulations governing sexual abuse in correctional facilities, as mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003. PREA initially only applied to DOJ facilities and agencies, but the Administration has expanded its scope to include immigrants in detention here in the US (mostly under the jurisdiction of ICE). This is particularly relevant for the private prison industry, which houses about half of the immigration detainees in the US, though it remains to be seen how effective these new regulations will actually be in stopping sexual abuse. ICE will have to draft rules and regulations to govern its facilities, but given all the problems ICE has had in ensuring the private prison companies it contracts with provide humane treatment to its detainees, I’m not overly optimistic that the oversight of efforts to stop prison rape will be any more stringent than for a host of other issues. Especially considering the fact that CCA just recently finished battling a shareholder who wanted the company to report on its efforts to curb sexual assault in its facilities.
I just want to drop a quick link here and encourage everyone to go sign a petition on Change.org asking CCA to report on its efforts to reduce sexual abuse within its facilities. Sexual abuse in prisons is a serious problem in both government and private facilities, so a CCA shareholder introduced a resolution asking the company to provide regular reports on the efforts it is taking to combat sexual assault and protect the prisoners it houses. CCA initially objected to the resolution, but that objection was rejected by the SEC, so it now will move to a vote by all shareholders of the company. Please go sign this petition.
This story is almost too ridiculous. A CCA shareholder introduced a resolution to the company that would require it to disclose information on sexual assaults that take place inside their facilities, and the company’s efforts to combat sexual abuse within its prisons and jails. The resolution would bring a measure of accountability to the largest company in an industry that, despite performing an inherently governmental function, is not required to disclose information to the general public in the same way a government agency must.
Now, CCA has had some trouble dealing with sexual assaults in its facilities in the past; female prisoners from Hawaii were removed from not one, but two separate CCA facilities (in Kentucky and Colorado) after routinely being victimized by staff. Other women have been sexually abused in CCA facilities in New Mexico, Florida, The District of Columbia, and Texas. And those are just the sexual assaults that have been reported within the past 3 or so years.
Maybe that’s why CCA objected to the resolution calling on them to disclose information about sexual assaults; there’s a good chance that, if more information on the sexual victimization of people they are charged with protecting comes to light, it could hurt the company’s chances to secure future contracts, or cut into their bottom line if they’re fined for non-compliance with existing contracts. Thankfully, though. the SEC saw through their BS (they called the resolution a “personal grievance” of the shareholder – apparently wanting to reduce sexual assaults is a personal grievance), and rejected CCA’s objection to the proposal, which was supported by numerous advocacy and policy groups. Now, the resolution will come before all shareholders at the next annual meeting, where it will be put to a vote.
Unfortunately for the state, which gives the company $10 million annually to allow its citizens to be murdered, their own officials have faced significant difficulties in trying to extract information from the facility. The aforementioned report of the Solicitor General noted major obstacles the agency encountered in trying to conduct an investigation of conditions Hawaiian prisoners were housed in. Maybe it’s because CCA doesn’t give a shit about the people it houses, and does everything possible to prevent governments from seeing just how poorly their tax dollars are being spent.
A lawsuit recently filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas (ACLU-TX) against the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) underscores the perils of the American prison-industrial complex, an aspect of corrections facility management studied by politicians, master’s degree candidates, and lawyers in the United States.
The class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of three female detainees whose identities were withheld to maintain anonymity. According to the ACLU-TX filing, the immigrant women were being transported from the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Williamson County to Austin, Texas, when they allegedly suffered sexual abuse while in the custody of ICE. One CCA employee and three ICE officials have been named in the lawsuit.
This isn’t the first time that CCA has come under fire for prisoner abuse. The CCA has operated the T. Don Hutto Residential Center since 2006. The day-to-day operations of the detention center are conducted by a cadre of ICE employees and CCA guards. In August 2010, the ACLU reported that a CCA guard was charged with numerous counts of sexually abusing female inmates at the same ICE facility in Williamson County. The Graduate Employees and Students Organization at Yale University teamed up with the school’s employee union to force a divestment based on CCA’s long record of civil rights violations.
Days after the filing the latest lawsuit against the CCA, the ACLU released a scathing report criticizing the massive profits realized by private prison contractors such as CCA during recessionary times. “Banking on Bondage: PrivatePrisons and Mass Incarceration” is the name of the report that shows the two most prominent prison profiteers, CCA and the GEO Group, received a combined revenue of $3 billion and earned hundreds of millions in profits in 2010.
CCA’s sketchy record of managing American prisons comes at a time when the state of Arizona is preparing to award a lucrative contract to private jailers despite a report from the Auditor General that state-operated facilities would actually cost less to maintain.
The meteoric rise of the private prison population in the United States is certainly sobering: a 1664% increase over the last two decades. According to industry analysts, there are plenty of long-term growth opportunities for business entities such as CCA. Mark Whitburn, an attorney at the ACLU of Texas, believes that the complaints lodged by the three plaintiffs in the most recent lawsuit against the CCA are only “the tip of the iceberg.”
Elaine Hirsch is kind of a jack-of-all-interests, from education and history to medicine and videogames. This makes it difficult to choose just one life path, so she is currently working as a writer for various education-related sites and writing about all these things instead. She is currently a writer for a master’s degree program resource.
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