by Derek Gilna
An April 2017 report by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) strongly criticized private prison company CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America), which operates the Leavenworth Detention Center (LDC) in Kansas. The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), which contracts with CoreCivic to manage the facility, was also a target of the OIG’s criticism.
As previously reported in PLN,CoreCivic had already come under fire for secretly recording privileged conversations between LDC prisoners and their attorneys, then sharing the recordings with federal prosecutors. [See: PLN, May 2017, p.36; Oct. 2016, p.44].
According to the OIG report, “unbeknownst to the USMS, LDC officials had uninstalled beds prior to an American Correctional Association (ACA) inspection in 2011.” The beds – the third added to cells designed for two prisoners – were removed “to conceal from ACA that the LDC was triple-bunking detainees.”
The ACA is the main accrediting body for both public and private correctional facilities, tasked with carrying out inspections before it certifies a facility as compliant with its self-promulgated standards. [See: PLN, July 2016, p.1].
Triple-bunking violated both ACA standards and the $697 million, 20-year ...
Until recently, Damon Hininger, president and CEO of CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), served as chairman of the Board of Trustees for the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville (UWMN). CoreCivic is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.
After UWMN CEO Eric Dewey, 54, died unexpectedly on March 31, 2017, the organization embarked on a search for a replacement leader. According to a news report, the national search for a CEO was headed by Alberto R. Gonzales, the dean at Belmont University’s College of Law, and Hininger.
Gonzalez is best known as having served as U.S. Attorney General under the George W. Bush administration, where he condoned “enhanced interrogation techniques” – widely criticized as constituting torture – for terrorism suspects.
On October 3, 2017, PLN managing editor Alex Friedmann sent an email regarding the new CEO search to several UWMN officials, including interim CEO Mary Jo Wiggins, board chairman Mike Schatzlein with Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, and vice board chair Jim Schmitz with Regions Bank.
Friedmann noted that Damon Hininger headed the nation’s largest private prison company, and that “CoreCivic is in the business of incarcerating people for the purpose of generating corporate profit.” He added, “The vast ...
by Matt Clarke
On December 12, 2016, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Texas district court’s sanctions of $1,000 each against lawyers representing GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest private prison operator, after finding they had engaged in discovery abuse.
Lisa Velasquez Olivarez filed a civil rights action against GEO Group and its employees alleging that, while she was incarcerated at the GEO-run Maverick County Detention Center in Texas, she was sexually assaulted by then-GEO staff member Luis Armando Valladarez. Valladarez claimed the sex was initiated by Olivarez and “consensual,” despite the fact that prisoners in Texas cannot legally consent to sexual contact with prison staff.
Early in the litigation, GEO Group attorney Shawn K. Fitzpatrick submitted the company’s initial disclosures pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1)(A). Attorney Timothy Flocos, who was representing Valladarez, did likewise. Neither disclosure included any mention of audio recordings of Olivarez’s phone conversations with her mother and her friend Juan.
Under Rule 26(a)(1)(A), a party is required to disclose all documents, electronically stored information and tangible things it may use to support its claims or defenses, unless the sole use would be for impeachment ...
by Matt Clarke
The family of a prisoner who was maced by guards as he bled to death at an Oklahoma prison operated by CoreCivic--then known as Corrections Corporation of America--has filed a lawsuit alleging prison officials allowed corruption and gangs to flourish at the facility, resulting in conditions that led to four murders. Several prisoners involved in the deadly melee have since been charged with participating in a riot.
At 4:39 p.m. on September 12, 2015, at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, Oklahoma, a battle erupted in the Charlie North Unit between rival prison gangs identified as the Irish Mob and the United (sometimes reported as Universal) Aryan Brotherhood.
After a two-minute battle--using weapons that included shanks made from the prison’s light fixtures--our prisoners lay dying and three others had wounds that required hospitalization. Due to a CoreCivic policy in effect at the time, prisoners were locked out of their cells and thus could not retreat and lock themselves in for protection when the fight broke out.
In April 2017, seven prisoners – all allegedly members of the Irish Mob – were charged with participating in the riot: Gage Broom, 25; Phillip Wayne Jordan, Jr., 34 ...
by David M. Reutter
An audit personally overseen by Florida state Rep. David Richardson concluded the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) had approved a pricing scheme that allowed Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), now known as CoreCivic, to operate the Lake City Correctional Facility (LCCF) at a significantly higher cost than if the state had run the prison itself.
Other reports by Rep. Richardson have led to staff changes at the privately-managed Gadsden Correctional Facility for women and the closure of the Lancaster Correctional Institution (LCI) for youthful offenders.
Since Governor Rick Scott began a drive to privatize prison operations – trying to make good on a promise from his successful 2010 campaign to trim $1 billion from the state’s corrections budget – Richardson has visited some 70 Florida prisons under a law that allows state legislators to enter a facility at any time for a review and inspection.
As recently reported in PLN, Richardson began visiting prisons housing youths after reading media reports of rampant abuse and violence. [See: PLN, Oct. 2017, p.22]. That investigation led to LCI’s closure.
Since then, Rep. Richardson’s work has turned into a one-man quest to bring accountability to Florida’s seven privately-operated prisons ...
by Lonnie Burton
In October 2016 report by Prison Voice Washington detailed the adverse effects of a takeover of food services in Washington state prisons by Correctional Industries (CI). The report, titled “Correcting Food Policy in Washington Prisons: How the DOC Makes Healthy Food Choices Impossible for Incarcerated People and What Can be Done,” described how shifting prison food services to CI has cost the state millions of dollars – from higher food costs, increased health care expenditures and more prisoner violence stemming from discontent over poor-quality meals.
The report also revealed that the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) was in violation of Executive Order 13-06, signed by Governor Jay Inslee, which mandates that state agencies serve healthy, nutritious food to people in their charge.
The Washington DOC incarcerates over 18,000 prisoners, and the food provided by CI in state prisons “is now unhealthier than it has ever been,” the report found. For example, CI has eliminated all freshly-prepared food and every main course is now “a reheated, highly processed CI product with high amounts of sodium.”
Unprocessed meat is never served. No fresh vegetables are provided, other than carrots and celery. Breakfasts have been eliminated ...
by Joe Watson
Three prisoners were murdered in a span of 10 months at an Oklahoma facility run by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest for-profit prison operator in the country.
The trio of homicides occurred at the Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville--one of four Oklahoma state prisons operated by CCA--between October 2014 and August 2015.
Lewis Hamilton, 36, was the most recent of the victims, found stabbed to death at the 1,670 bed Davis prison on August 5. Silas Royal, who is already serving a 25 year sentence for manslaughter, is the main suspect in Hamilton’s murder, according to Oklahoma DOC spokeswoman Terri Watkins. Hamilton was serving a life sentence for murder.
“We will investigate in full, and then (CCA) will conduct a full investigation,” Watkins said.
In December 2014, Eric Grimm, 28 was also killed at Davis. According to the state medical examiner’s office, Grimm was strangled to death. His cellmate was considered a suspect, but has not yet been charged.
And in October 2014, Tory Czernecki was also strangled to death. The 22 year old was serving a 15 year sentence for first degree rape. Joshua Wheeler, 25, has since been charged ...
On the heels of a controversy involving its food service vendor, the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) is creating a unit to monitor contract compliance.
As PLN reported, MDOC tossed Aramark Correctional Services as its food service vendor following a highly publicized failure to perform. Aramark, who had a three year, $145 million contract, had a history of problems, including maggots in the food, shortages of menu items and staff smuggling drugs or having sex with prisoners. Trinity Food Services is the current food vendor with a $158.8 million three year contract.
Over the last year, MDOC spent around$250 million on about 185 service contracts. According to spokesman Chris Gautz, MDOC has around 70 substance abuse contracts, more than a dozen sex offender related contracts, and about a dozen contracts with community service agencies for prisoner re-entry.
Such vendors, as PLN has reported, often fail to provide all the services contracted for, especially when it comes to medical treatment, which MDOC also contracts out. “We need to better coordinate our monitoring efforts” across all contracts, with uniform standards, and training for staff who do the monitoring,” said MDOC Department Director Heidi Washington. “We ...
by Lonnie Burton
In a settlement of a lawsuit previously mentioned in Prison Legal News, New York City agreed on September 27, 2016, to pay $5.75 million to the mother of a mentally ill Rikers Island prisoner who died on his cell floor in September 2013, naked and covered in feces. The settlement–yet another in a long string of multi-million dollar payouts to families of prisoners who died at Rikers–was the largest ever paid by the city in a prisoner-related lawsuit.
Bradley Ballard’s death was as tragic as it was preventable. At age 39, suffering from schizophrenia and diabetes, Ballard was arrested in June 2013 for a parole violation. He was sent to the psychiatric ward at Bellevue, where he stayed for 38 days before transferring to the mental health unit at Rikers. Soon thereafter, Ballard was placed on lockdown for dancing “inappropriately” in front of a female guard. According to the lawsuit, “not a single nurse, doctor, or other medical or mental health provider entered his cell” during his lockdown.
A week later, after being deprived of his insulin, psychiatric meds, and even running water, Ballard was found dead on his cell floor. Ballard’s genitals had also been ...
by Matt Clarke
On February 11, 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court rejected the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association's (OCSEA) challenge to the statute allowing for the private operation or sale of certain Ohio state prisons. In doing so, the court rejected the union's claim that the statute violated state constitutional prohibitions against combining multiple subjects in a single bill and co-mingling public and private property ownership. It also held that the State Employee Relations Board (SERB) had exclusive jurisdiction in determining whether private prison employees were public employees.
In 2011 Am.Sub.H.B. No. 153 (H.B. 153) the Ohio General Assembly appropriated funds to operate the state government and its programs. A section of the bill dealt with the operation, management and sale of state prisons. H.S. 153, R.C. 9.06(A)(1). In relevant part, it allowed government officials to contract for the operation, management and sale of five specific prisons.
Management and Training Corporation (MTC) and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) took advantage of the provision. MTC contracted to operate and manage North Central Correctional Institution. As PLN previously reported, CCA contracted to purchase, operate and manage Lake Erie Correctional Facility.