Overcrowding in Kentucky’s corrections system has spurred renewed interest in private prisons. Despite abandoning privately-operated prisons five years ago due to a number of problems, including sexual abuse of female prisoners by private prison guards, Kentucky officials have returned to privatization to relieve the state’s overcrowded prisons.
“This is simply a move we are forced to make,” said Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley. “We hope this is a release valve.”
The state’s prison population exploded from 22,089 in November 2015 to 24,367 as of February 2018. The opioid epidemic has been blamed for the increase.
Kentucky turned to CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America, for more prison beds. The company owns facilities in Lee, Floyd and Marion counties.
At one time, Kentucky housed prisoners at all three facilities; it pulled out of Lee County in 2010, Floyd County in 2012 and Marion County in 2013.
Governor Steve Beshear had ordered female prisoners removed from the CoreCivic-operated Otter Creek Correctional Center in 2010 following reports that guards were sexually abusing prisoners. [See: PLN, Sept. 2011, p.16; Oct. 2009, p.40]. The Lee Adjustment Center was the site of a 2004 riot.
For state officials, using the ...
by Christopher Zoukis
GEO Group, one of the nation’s largest for-profit prison companies, donated $225,000 to the pro-Trump Super PAC Rebuilding America Now during the 2016 election cycle. Within a few months after President Trump’s inauguration, in April 2017, GEO was awarded a $110 million federal contract to build a 1,000-bed immigration detention facility.
The Campaign Legal Center, a non-partisan public interest watchdog organization that monitors elections for violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), recognized the particular stench that accompanies improper political influence. So the group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), alleging GEO Group had violated the FECA by making donations to the PAC while holding federal contracts – which is prohibited. That was on November 1, 2016. Since then the FEC has utterly failed to act.
Therefore, on January 10, 2018, CLC filed suit against the FEC in federal court. The complaint seeks to require the agency to do its job, which is to enforce the FECA.
CLC’s lawsuit over GEO Group’s PAC donation is straightforward. Federal law prohibits a federal contractor, such as GEO, from “directly or indirectly ... mak[ing] any contribution of money or other thing of value ... to ...
by Taylor Elizabeth Eldridge, The Marshall Project
Ed. Note: PLN’s August 2018 cover story examined prison food and commissary services. This article looks at prison and jail package services supplied by private vendors – some of which, like Keefe, also provide commissary services.
It’s the holiday season, but many incarcerated Americans won’t get presents directly from home.
To stop drugs and weapons from entering jails and prisons, many corrections agencies bar family members from mailing packages or bringing them during visits. Those who want to send food, clothing and other gifts to incarcerated relatives – at any time of year – often must go through private vendors.
Here’s how it works: Families shop from print and online catalogs supplied by care package companies. Every item is prison- and jail-approved. In some facilities, that can mean no glass or metal containers or no personal hygiene products containing alcohol. Items are often contraband-proof, from sealed food pouches to clear electronics to pocketless sweatpants.
For the holidays, families can choose from seasonal products; think red and green cream-filled Hostess cupcakes and peppermint Twinkies. The Los Angeles County jails’ contract for care packages includes annual “gift packs” that are given to prisoners for ...
by David Reutter
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Georgia federal district court’s grant of judgment of law for Corrections Corporation of America, now known as CoreCivic, in a lawsuit alleging it failed to take prompt remedial action against sexual harassment.
Felecia Wilcox worked for CCA’s federal prison, McRae Correctional Facility. She filed a formal complaint with CCA that alleged her co-worker, Larry Johnson, slapped her on the buttocks twice. CCA told Jackson not to associate with Wilcox or be anywhere around her.
In the days that followed that July 10, 2009, complaint, Jackson repeatedly rolled his eyes at Wilcox and once punched a machine in her presence to intimidate her. Wilcox filed a second complaint on July 23, reiterating the July 10 claim and stating she feared Jackson would touch her again, that he had touched her previously, and that he said he can touch her if he wanted to.
CCA brought in an outside investigator, who interviewed Wilcox. That investigator heard that two additional times Jackson had sexually harassed Wilcox and had made a sexually explicit remark on another occasion. The investigator also interviewed 16 other employees and learned that Jackson had sexually harassed several of ...
by R. Bailey
New Mexico’s Otero County Board of County Commissioners agreed to pay a former Otero County Detention Center (OCDC) pretrial detainee $2 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit that alleged punishment without due process.
The suit claimed that OCDC had a policy or practice of placing mentally ...
by Matthew Clarke
On November 11, 2017, notice of a $200,000 settlement was filed in a federal lawsuit over the death of a diabetic Texarkana jail prisoner who died after a nurse ignored her repeated requests for a blood sugar test. Soon thereafter the mother of the prisoner filed ...
by Steve Horn
Louisiana-based Emerald Correctional Management, also known as Emerald Corrections, was once among the major movers and shakers in the private prison industry. Today it’s a figment of the past.
Emerald was notorious for atrocious conditions in its detention facilities, as documented in a recent investigative piece co-published by Newsweek and the California-based publication Capital and Main. Incidents at the company’s prisons and jails included the medical-related deaths of immigrant detainees Igor Zyazin at the San Luis Regional Detention Facility in Arizona and Olubunmi Joshua at the Rolling Plains Detention Center in Texas; the “2016 suicide of a 77-year-old county inmate, Kennie Moore, who hanged himself using his boxer shorts as a noose” at Rolling Plains; and a lawsuit filed by Emerald employees who were “forced to work off the clock and weren’t paid for overtime.” The suit was settled out of court.
In 2016, as one of Emerald’s last acts during the two decades it was in business, the company opened the $60 million Prairieland Detention Center. Located in Alvarado, Texas, the 700-bed facility houses detainees for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), though technically the five-year contract is with the City of Alvarado. The center was ...
by Matt Clarke
In 2015, Texas converted its outpatient program for civilly committed sex offenders into a “tiered” treatment program, in which participants start out in a “total confinement facility” at twice the cost of the original program. The state awarded Correct Care Solutions a $24 million contract to provide housing and treatment at the Texas Civil Commitment Center (TCCC) in Littlefield, formerly a failed private prison known as the Bill Clayton Detention Facility.
Correct Care had just acquired GEO Care, a subsidiary of the GEO Group – a for-profit prison firm whose 2009 abandonment of the Littlefield facility had almost forced the city into default on its bonds. [See: PLN, Oct. 2013, p.45]. GEO Care had a poor reputation, having been sued multiple times for providing inadequate health care. The company was known for having cooked alive a Florida psychiatric hospital patient who was left in a scalding hot bath, and for providing such abysmal care at a Texas immigration detention center that it sparked a riot.
The state’s contract with Correct Care required it to hire about 100 employees to provide treatment and housing for 277 civilly committed sex offenders at TCCC, which it rented from Littlefield ...
by Matthew Clarke
From 2014 through July 2018, at least 52 lawsuits were filed in federal court against Correct Care Solutions (CCS) – a private medical contractor based in Nashville, Tennessee – alleging failure to provide adequate medical care to prisoners in Colorado jails. Six of the cases involved fatalities ...
As dawn broke on August 6, 2018, the light shone on a group of about two dozen protesters who had blockaded the main entrance to the Nashville, Tennessee headquarters of CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), the nation’s largest for-profit prison firm. Both entrances to the building’s parking garage were blocked, too. The peaceful demonstration continued for over eight hours and resulted in a response from nearly 70 Metro-Nashville police officers and the arrests of 19 participants on misdemeanor trespassing charges.
A small group of protesters joined hands through sections of pipe and laid down in front of one parking garage entrance, while the second entrance was blocked by demonstrators who had chained their hands into concrete-filled 55-gallon drums painted with slogans denouncing CoreCivic’s business practices. In a dramatic display at the main entrance to the company’s headquarters, protesters erected a 30-foot-tall tripod made of wooden logs, from which protester Julie Henry dangled in a sling.
A smaller group of community members and activists marched nearby holding signs and singing chants in solidarity with the demonstrators blockading the building.
The intent of the protest, as stated on a large banner hung during the event, was to place CoreCivic’s corporate headquarters ...