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This site contains over 2,000 news articles, legal briefs and publications related to for-profit companies that provide correctional services. Most of the content under the "Articles" tab below is from our Prison Legal News site. PLN, a monthly print publication, has been reporting on criminal justice-related issues, including prison privatization, since 1990. If you are seeking pleadings or court rulings in lawsuits and other legal proceedings involving private prison companies, search under the "Legal Briefs" tab. For reports, audits and other publications related to the private prison industry, search using the "Publications" tab.

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Articles about Private Prisons

Nine Deaths in Three Years at CoreCivic Jail in Florida, None From COVID-19

The Citrus County Detention Facility(CCDF) in Lecanto, Florida, serves a modest-sized county with a population of 149,383, slightly over the average in all 2,843 jail jurisdictions in the U.S. The mortality rate in all U.S. jails in 2018—the last year for which federal Bureau of Justice statistics were published—averaged 154 deaths per 100,000 people detained. But at CCDF, the rate is two-and-a-half times higher: an eye-popping 426 per 100,000.

That’s thanks to nine deaths recorded in just three years at the jail, which is run for the county by Tennessee-based private prison operator CoreCivic.

In 2021 alone, CCDF recorded six deaths, including two previously reported by PLN: the suicide of Lisa Ann Trombley, 48, on October 17, 2021, and the death the following November 2 of Valerie Bogle, 63. After those fatalities, the county began to fine CoreCivic $2,500 for each day the jail remained understaffed, leading the firm to replace several jail officials, including Warden Mike Quinn. [See: PLN, Apr. 2022, p.34.]

Two prisoners died at CCDF in 2020, including Wayne Charles Washer, 53. He was serving a sentence for the state Department of Corrections (DOC) and transferred to CCDF for a court appearance when he sustained fatal ...

$316,673 Settlement in New Mexico Prisoner’s Lawsuit Over Stabbing at GEO-Operated Private Prison

by Matt Clarke

On October 1, 2021, the New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD) and the private operator of one of its prisons, the GEO Group, agreed to pay $316,673.53 to settle a lawsuit brought by a prisoner stabbed and severely injured by another prisoner at a GEO-operated state prison that was allegedly seriously understaffed in Clayton, New Mexico.

The prisoner, Dominick Michael Smith, 39, was incarcerated at the Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility on October 19, 2019, when a fellow prisoner reported that his cellmate, Michael Maes, 37, was being stabbed by another prisoner, Orlando Torrez, 35. Upon exiting the cell, Maes’ cellmate had pushed the “panic button” used to inform staff of a serious situation requiring immediate intervention, but he received no response.

Smith then exited his cell and pushed the panic button, but again no response was forthcoming. So he made his way to Maes’ cell, where a group of prisoners had gathered to watch the stabbing in progress. Smith managed to force his way into the cell, positioning himself between Torrez and Maes. Torrez then turned on Smith, stabbing him in the neck and hands. They struggled, and Smith managed to disentangle himself and run for help. ...

Centurion Health Supplants Corizon in Missouri After Court Ruling

by Keith Sanders

After a trial on November 3, 2021, a Missouri court ruled in favor of the state Department of Corrections (DOC) in a challenge to its decision replacing its private healthcare contractor Corizon with a competitor, Centurion Health.

At stake was a $1.4 billion seven-year contract to provide medical care to the state’s roughly 23,000 prisoners. Corizon, the largest for-profit prison healthcare provider in the country, had held the contract since 1992. But a spate of lawsuits and the company’s loss of contracts in Tennessee, Michigan, and Kansas prompted DOC to re-evaluate. It then granted its next contract to Centurion Health.

Corizon filed suit in state Circuit Court for Cole County, claiming that Centurion Health, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Centene Corp., supplied false information in its bid proposal and participated in the bidding process in bad faith.

Specifically, the firm said that during a similar bidding process with the DOC in Tennessee, where Corizon is based, emails surfaced between the prison system’s chief financial officer, Wesley Landers, and a Centurion Health vice-president, Jeff Wells, showing that Landers provided Wells with internal documents regarding the contract. Centurion Health then won the bid, but the Tennessee DOC subsequently put ...

$14.3 Million in Costs, Attorney Fees and Interest Awarded Against GEO Group in Suits for Not Paying Minimum Wage to Immigrant Detainee Workers in Washington

Brings total the firm is ordered to pay to $37.6 million

by Matt Clarke

On December 14, 2021, a Washington federal court issued additional orders in lawsuits against Florida-based private prison operator GEO Group for failing to pay immigration detainees the state-mandated minimum wage, adding over $14.3 million to the ...

After Two Detainee Deaths, CoreCivic Hit With $2,500 Daily Fine for Chronically Short-Staffed Florida Jail

On February 15, 2022, an on-going staffing crisis at Florida’s Citrus County Detention Facility (CCDF) prompted county officials to start fining its privately contracted operator, Tennessee-based CoreCivic, $2,500 a day for running the prison short-staffed. Three days later, on February 18, 2022, County Administrator Randy Oliver informed county commissioners that CoreCivic would have $77,500 deducted from its current invoice.

The fine is a wrist-slap for CoreCivic, which reported 2021 revenues of $1.86 billion. But it was sufficient to get company executives on their jet to the Florida jail, bringing along several temporary guards. The firm announced on February 10, 2022, that former CCDF Warden Mike Quinn and three other staffers were “no longer employed.”

That news followed the deaths of two female CCDF detainees. Lisa Ann Trombley, 48, jumped to her death from the second floor on October 17, 2021, three weeks after she was jailed for failure to appear on a charge alleging she violated her ex-husband’s restraining order with a text message to him. Valerie Susan Bogle, 63, was found dead of dehydration on November 2, 2021, in the isolation cell where she had been held since her arrest for battery four days earlier.

In his letter announcing ...

Eighth Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity to Private Companies Providing Missouri Prisoner’s Health Care

by Matt Clarke

On August 24, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that private companies providing health care for prisoners are not entitled to assert qualified immunity or appeal its denial.

The underlying case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri by Brenda Davis and Fred Stufflebean after the death of their son, Justin A. Stufflebean, at the Buchanan County Jail (BCJ) on November 16, 2015. The 27-year-old had been held at the jail for the Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) since his October 2015 sentencing for statutory rape.

During his sentencing hearing, Stufflebean’s physician testified that he suffered from Addison’s disease and hypoparathyroidism, endocrine disorders that “flare up” periodically, depress blood calcium levels, and can cause death in 24 to 48 hours if untreated. County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Gross was present at the hearing and, afterward, walked Stufflebean across the street to the jail.

There, based on questions Gross answered, a fellow deputy, Dustin Nauman, entered “No” to answer intake form questions as to whether Stufflebean was:

• a medical, suicide, or mental health risk now;

• currently under a physician’s care; or

• a medical, mental health, or ...

Vermont Hep-C Settlement Agreement Provides Direct-Acting Antivirals to Infected Prisoners

by David M. Reutter

A settlement agreement setting out guidelines for care that the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC) will provide to prisoners with Hepatitis-C was finalized on May 14, 2021, calling for enhanced screening of incoming prisoners and altering policies and procedures governing who can receive Direct-Acting Antiviral (DAA) ...

Private Prison Firm Revenues Soar on “Tailwind” of Immigrant Detainees

by Chuck Sharman

In a filing with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on January 5, 2022, Florida-based GEO Group—the nation’s largest private prison operator—laid bare its strategy to keep federal dollars flowing into the company’s coffers, despite a Presidential Executive Order that bars the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) from continuing to do business with the firm and its competitors when existing contracts expire.

When that order was signed by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D) on January 26, 2021, critics, including PLN’s publisher, the Human Rights Defense Center, noted a huge loophole it left open by not extending its ban to the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the massive agency that includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which—because it owns few facilities of its own—housed the 20,866 immigrant detainees it held on January 16, 2022, in a sprawling network of some 200 contracted immigration detention facilities, including privately run facilities. [See: PLN, Mar. 2021, p.16.]

The new filing by GEO Group includes a “company overview” from November 29, 2021, in which the firm said it expects to report 2021 revenues of $2.3 billion despite losing $125 million in contracts canceled after Biden’s order by ...

Ninth Circuit Overturns California Law Banning Private Prisons

by Kevin Bliss

On October 5, 2021, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down a California statute, Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), barring private companies from entering new contracts with any government—including the federal government—to operate jails, prisons, or detention centers in the state after January 1, 2021, and setting a deadline of 2028 for all existing contracts to end. [See: PLN, Dec. 2020, p.30.]

The law was challenged in a pair of federal suits, the first filed by the Florida-based GEO Group on December 27, 2019, in which it said that closing the detention centers it operates in the state for federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) would cost the firm $4 billion in lost revenue. The following month, on January 24, 2020, the federal Department of Justice (DOJ)—which was then operating under the administration of former President Donald J. Trump (R), a vocal opponent of immigration—also sued to block the law, arguing that AB 32 violated the ‘Supremacy Clause’ in Article V of the U.S. Constitution, which maintains that federal laws “shall be the supreme Law of the Land.”

After the cases were consolidated ...

Federal Court Sanctions Wexford for Discovery Abuse in Illinois Prisoner’s Suit

by Matt Clarke

On June 3, 2021, a federal court in Illinois granted a state prisoner’s motion for sanctions against Wexford Health Sources for responding to a specific discovery request by providing 272,000 pages of documents it had converted into a nearly useless format.

With the assistance of Oakbrook attorney Daniel R. Flynn and his Pittsburgh co-counsel, Alec B. Wright, both with the law firm Leech Tishman Fuscaldo & Lampl, the prisoner, Donald Haywood, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on March 23, 2016, accusing the state Department of Corrections (DOC) and Wexford, its privately contracted healthcare provider, of deliberate indifference to his serious mental health needs.

Defendants’ motion to dismiss Haywood’s original claim was granted by the Court on March 1, 2017. See: Haywood v. Wexford Health Sources, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28416 (N.D. Ill.). His first amended complaint also succumbed to a motion for summary judgment by Defendants on June 5, 2019. See: Haywood v. Wexford Health Sources, 387 F. Supp. 3d 877 (N.D. Ill. 2019).

After his next amended complaint was filed, Haywood served a request on Wexford for production of documents, including “all ...