On June 10, 2019, the Human Rights Defense Center and No Exceptions Prison Collective reported that from 2014 through June 2019, there were twice as many murders in the four Tennessee prisons operated by CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) than in the 10 prisons run by the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC). Also, the homicide rate in CoreCivic facilities was over four times higher than the rate for TDOC prisons. This was despite the fact that during that time period, TDOC facilities held, on average, 70% of the state’s prison population – including prisoners with higher security levels than in CoreCivic prisons.
Those findings were reported during a joint press conference held by HRDC and No Exceptions outside CoreCivic’s headquarters in Nashville. Family members of prisoners who had died at the company’s facilities spoke at the event, which was attended by the local news media.
CoreCivic operates four prisons that house Tennessee state prisoners: the Whiteville Correctional Facility (WCF), South Central Correctional Facility (SCCF), Hardeman County Correctional Facility (HCCF) and Trousdale-Turner Correctional Center (TTCC). TTCC, which opened in 2016, has been criticized in a state audit, during legislative hearings and in news reports. [See: PLN, Feb. 2018, p.46 ...
by Matt Clarke
On December 14, 2018, a federal district court in Florida denied motions to dismiss by Wexford Health Sources and Corizon Health in a medical deliberate indifference case where a state prisoner’s legs were amputated.
Craig Salvani was 38 years old when he arrived at the Florida Department of Corrections’ South Florida Reception Center on February 6, 2014. His intake medical screening included blood and urine tests; at the time, he was complaining of back pain, coughing green mucus and feeling unwell.
Six days later, Salvani was seen by Wexford employee Esther Mathurin, who performed his initial medical exam and noted the blood and urine tests showed an infection. Salvani had symptoms of sepsis, and an X-ray showed a left lung granuloma; however, Mathurin did not order a follow-up X-ray or any treatment for the infection.
Salvani was later transferred to the Reception Medical Center where Corizon provided healthcare services. No intake medical assessment was performed, and he said he was threatened by staff when he tried to submit a sick call request.
Four days later, Salvani received emergency medical attention at 1:14 a.m. because he could not speak and was hyperventilating ...
by Matt Clarke
A former prisoner at the Crossroads Correctional Center near Shelby, Montana is suing the facility’s private operator, CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and its contract medical provider, alleging staff allowed another prisoner to assault him without intervening and then delayed medical care, resulting in a permanent brain injury.
Ray Carpenter was 49 years old and serving an eight-year sentence for witness tampering when he was beaten inside his cell at Crossroads on June 2, 2016. According to Carpenter, fellow prisoner Robert Todd Kesley hit him from behind with a lock inside a sock, then threw him to the ground and kicked him repeatedly in the head for five minutes, at one point leaving the cell before returning. After the assault, Carpenter’s cellmate helped him onto his bunk where he “passed out.” He awoke around 2:30 a.m. and vomited several times, so he reported to the prison’s medical unit where his head wound was cleaned and examined.
A few hours later, a different nurse saw Carpenter and determined that he had a severe concussion and brain bleed. She told nurse practitioner Peter Molnar that Carpenter, who was still vomiting intermittently, needed to ...
by Scott Grammer
Mario Ramirez is disabled, more so now than when he was incarcerated at the Graham Correctional Center in Illinois. The facility contracted with Wexford Health Sources, owned by The Bantry Group Corp., to provide medical care to prisoners, and Wexford employed Dr. Francis Kayira.
A lawsuit ...
by Matt Clarke
In a report published on March 24, 2019, researchers from Columbia University and UCLA found that “the opening of a private prison increases the length of sentences relative to what the crime’s and defendant’s characteristics predict.” Private prisons did not increase the chances of defendants being incarcerated, as opposed to receiving probation or some other form of alternative sentence, but did increase the prison terms of defendants who would have been sent to prison anyway.
The core finding was that a doubling of private prison capacity led to an increase in average sentence length of 23 days, or 1.3 percent. The findings were statistically significant.
The report – titled “Do Private Prisons Affect Criminal Sentencing?” – involved 13 states that straddle 16 state borders, and focused on trial courts in adjacent across-border counties. This allowed the study to control for local trends in crime and other local effects while comparing different private prison circumstances. It focused on their effect on the sentencing practices of state judges.
A comparison of sentencing during election years and non-election years showed no private prison influence on sentence length. Sentences increased as elections approached, but that ...
by Matt Clarke
On March 26, 2019, a federal district court in Tennessee granted class-action certification in a shareholder lawsuit brought against CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America, that alleged the company made statements misrepresenting the quality and value of its services, resulting in losses to stockholders.
The suit was filed in August 2016 against defendants CoreCivic and four of its executives – CEO Damon T. Hininger, CFO David M. Garfinkle, Todd J. Mullenger and board member and former federal Bureau of Prisons director Harley G. Lappin.
Amalgamated Bank, as Trustee for the LongView Collective Investment Fund, sought to represent a class of investors who bought and sold CoreCivic stock between February 27, 2012 and August 17, 2016, including “at least 783 major institutions” and numerous minor institutions and private parties who owned the company’s stock during that period.
Amalgamated alleged it alone lost $1.2 million when CoreCivic’s stock price fell sharply after an August 18, 2016 memorandum by then-Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates directed the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to phase out private prison contracts – a directive later reversed by the Trump administration. [See: PLN, Oct. 2018, p.30; Oct. 2016, p.22 ...
by Kevin W. Bliss
The police department in Clayton, New Mexico and the state police are investigating a September 23, 2017 incident at the Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility (NENMCF), which grew into the state’s most dangerous prison uprising in the past 20 years.
“What happened that evening was unacceptable,” admitted the state’s Corrections Secretary, David Jablonski. “There were major security breaches. It wasn’t safe.”
Matt Shriner was a guard at NENMCF employed by the GEO Group, the Florida-based private prison company that runs the 625-bed medium-security facility, when serial killer Clifton Bloomfield talked the inexperienced 22-year-old into opening his cell door in the Restrictive Housing Unit, used to hold prisoners who pose the greatest security risk.
“When you’re dealing with violent inmates you always have a two-man escort,” Jablonski said.
But Shriner was the only guard on duty. He did not restrain Bloomfield, who is serving sentences totaling 195 years for five murders. Shriner also had no backup, nor a radio, and when Bloomfield attacked the guard with a shank, he took possession of keys to every cell in the unit. Shriner got away, but Bloomfield began releasing the other prisoners who then took over the ...
by Christopher Zoukis, MBA
The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), the parent organization of Prison Legal News, prevailed in a lawsuit seeking to force private prison contractor GEO Group to comply with Vermont’s public records law.
The complaint, filed in a Vermont Superior Court, sought to obtain records related to lawsuits brought against GEO in connection with the company’s contract with the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC) that resulted in monetary payouts. The lawsuit alleged that GEO Group stood in the shoes of the Vermont DOC and therefore was required, as the equivalent of a public agency, to produce the requested documents. [See: PLN, June 2019, p.18].
PLN readers know this is not the first time that HRDC has resorted to litigation to obtain public documents maintained by private prison companies. In fact, it settled a similar Vermont case against CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) in 2015. [See: PLN, July 2013, p.42]. One would think that GEO would recognize its duty under Vermont’s public records statute and provide the documents requested by HRDC, based on the outcome in the prior suit involving CoreCivic. But one would be wrong.
The litigation records produced by GEO Group may ...
by Kevin W. Bliss
Private prison medical care firm Wexford Health Sources, Inc. filed a motion in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, asking for judgment as a matter of law after being found liable for policies that created an atmosphere of deliberate indifference to the ...
by Ed Lyon
Regular readers of Prison Legal News are well aware of the abysmal reputations that private, for-profit prisons have earned. Apparently word travels and people on the outside eventually listen and pay attention to such matters, as the citizens of Lancaster, Pennsylvania demonstrated when they decided to say no to GEO Group.
For over a decade, post-release reentry programs in Lancaster County have been provided by a group of nonprofit organizations. Recidivism rates were low, and parolees received job and housing assistance through the Community Action Partnership and Reentry Management Organization. The YWCA offered support groups and counseling for prisoners who were sexually assaulted while incarcerated. Compass Mark worked with the children left behind whenever a parent was arrested, until he or she was released.
All of these services were funded via a month-to-month allocation by the county with a total annual expenditure of around $100,000.
In 2018, county commissioners Josh Parsons and Dennis Stuckey decided to put an end to the ad hoc manner of contracting for and funding the successful work by nonprofits in these areas. The county wanted to cap parolee housing costs at $1,000 for the 90-day program period and ...