by Derek Gilna
The parties to a May 2015 class-action settlement between prisoners at the Monterey County jail in California, county officials and the jail’s medical provider – which was supposed to address issues of poor medical and mental healthcare, inadequate staffing, accommodations for disabled prisoners and serious safety problems – were back in court in September 2017 to monitor compliance with the settlement agreement.
California Forensics Medical Group (CFMG), the county’s current medical and mental healthcare provider, was criticized by the judge monitoring the settlement over the quality of the company’s mental health treatment for prisoners.
The terms of the 2015 settlement included a payment of $4.8 million in attorney fees and costs, and a requirement that the county employ a full-time psychiatrist and have another on call at all times in an effort to reduce the increasing number of prisoner suicides at the jail. [See: PLN, April 2016, p.18]. However, CFMG admitted that it had only recently hired an on-site mental health professional due to difficultly in filling the position.
U.S. District Court Judge Beth L. Freeman was unsympathetic. “Maybe you need to offer a better salary,” she said, and indicated she was less ...
The Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center has prevailed in a lawsuit to obtain records related to prisoners held in segregation at Louisiana’s Allen Correctional Center (ACC), run by the GEO Group, a private prison contractor.
A public records request was submitted to ACC on June 19, 2017 and verified as received three days later. No reply was made by July 12, so the MacArthur Justice Center sent a follow-up letter via fax and certified mail seeking the status of its records request. No documents were produced, nor was a response provided by ACC. The Center then filed a public records mandamus petition on August 10, 2017.
“For over nearly two months we have made repeated attempts to obtain the requested documents and the warden simply refuses to provide the information,” said Katie Schwartzmann, co-director of the MacArthur Justice Center’s New Orleans office. “All we want to know is who they are holding in solitary confinement and segregated housing. The warden is illegally obstructing our inquiry and we are now seeking a court’s assistance.”
The Center filed similar requests with other prisons, which promptly complied. ACC, being a privately-managed facility, followed the GEO Group’s practice of trying to ...
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a summary judgment order in favor of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (LDPSC), holding that strip searches of prisoners for security reasons are not unconstitutional.
Freddie R. Lewis, incarcerated at the Winn Correctional Center (WCC), filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against LDPSC and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA, now known as CoreCivic) for alleged violations of his Fourth Amendment rights. He argued that he was subjected to unreasonable strip searches, that LDPSC failed to monitor CCA, and that both CCA and LDPSC failed to comply with their own rules and regulations. He sought injunctive relief and punitive damages.
Lewis worked in the garment factory at WCC, which subjects prisoners to strip searches twice a day. The garment factory has civilians who make deliveries and interact with the prisoner workers; it also has many tools which can easily be converted into weapons. The strip searches, prison officials said, are intended to control the introduction of contraband or weapons into the facility.
The searches are conducted in a partially-secluded room with windows near the exits at each end of the building. Two guards, Carol Melton and Joshua ...
by Matt Clarke
The estate of a man who died in a Colorado jail of a treatable foot malady has settled a lawsuit alleging Corrections Corporation of America (now CoreCivic) and other defendants caused his death by denying him medical care and surgery.
When Dennis Choquette was booked into the ...
by Christopher Zoukis
Criminal justice reform is slowly taking hold in the U.S. Since 2014, at least 30 states have passed legislation aimed at reducing their prison populations. And following the election of “law and order” President Donald J. Trump, states have continued to take reform efforts into their own hands – since improvements on the federal level appear unlikely. According to an April 2017 Pew Research Center report, those efforts have been working; from 2009 to 2015, the combined state and federal prison population has dropped by over 5%.
This is encouraging news for just about everyone. But for those who profit from our nation’s perverse system of mass incarceration, the news is not so welcome. In fact, it’s downright frightening. The Pew report, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, found that private prison populations have declined by a profit-pinching 8% since 2012.
So what is a prison profiteer to do? Diversify – and follow the money.
The Treatment Industrial Complex
While the prison population has dipped slightly in recent years, vast sums are pouring into what the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and other human rights organizations have referred to as the ...
by David M. Reutter
Three lawsuits, filed in June and July 2017, allege corrections officials ignored an outbreak of scabies at the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility (MDCDF) in Nashville, Tennessee. Affecting 89 prisoners, the outbreak also spread to at least 17 members of the jail staff and 16 courthouse workers and attorneys. The facility’s private operator eventually paid for scabies treatment for 55 county employees.
With 1,348 beds, MDCDF is operated under a five-year, $100 million contract by CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a company headquartered in the affluent Nashville suburb of Green Hills.
Scabies, a skin infestation caused by parasitic mites, is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact and exposure to clothes and bedding. It typically results in rashes and intense itching, and is treated with prescription ointments strong enough to kill not only the mites but also their eggs.
A lawsuit related to the scabies outbreak was filed by four courthouse employees and lawyers in June 2017. Another claim was filed in July 2017 by 17 CoreCivic employees at MDCDF, and a suit on behalf of 39 female detainees was filed the same month.
The detainees’ lawsuit states that some of the women who suffered scabies while ...
by Matt Clarke
In May 2017, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment accusing Texas state Senator Carlos Uresti of accepting substantial bribes from a company that provides healthcare to prisoners at the Reeves County Detention Center (RCDC) in West Texas.
Uresti allegedly received payments of $10,000 per month from the company, Physicians Network Associates (PNA), to ensure that it kept its lucrative contract to provide medical care to prisoners. RCDC, a “Criminal Alien Requirement” facility, holds federal prisoners who are non-citizens facing deportation after serving their sentences on criminal charges. It is operated by The GEO Group, a private prison contractor.
PNA was acquired by Correctional Healthcare Companies (CHC) in 2010, which then merged with Correct Care Solutions in 2014. The firm’s payments to Uresti allegedly continued through September 2016.
The company was the healthcare provider at RCDC in 2008, when Jesus Manuel Galindo was sentenced to serve 30 months, and then face deportation, after he was caught trying to swim across the Rio Grande to get back into the U.S. When he arrived at the facility, Galindo told guards he had a history of serious epileptic seizures and was not receiving the correct medication. Instead of sending him ...
by Monte McCoin
PLN has previously covered the continuing fallout from a massive bribery scandal involving former Mississippi DOC Commissioner Christopher B. Epps, including RICO lawsuits filed by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood against several companies involved in the scandal.
In May 2017, Alere, Inc., which had purchased Branan Medical Corp., one of the firms named in the bribery scheme, settled a suit filed by the Attorney General’s office for $2 million. And in August 2017, Global Tel*Link, the nation’s largest prison telecom provider, agreed to settle the RICO lawsuit filed against it for $2.5 million while admitting no wrongdoing. [See: PLN, Oct. 2017, p.16; Oct. 2015, p.42].
Hood announced on November 29, 2017 that a third company had settled. Sentinel Offender Services, LLC, which provides electronic monitoring, paid $1.3 million to resolve the litigation. “As a company that continues to contract with the state, Sentinel Offender Services agreed to cooperate and settle the case for $1.3 million on a $2 million contract,” the Attorney General said in a statement. “We successfully disgorged them of their ill-gotten profit and then some.”
The Sentinel settlement brought the total damages paid to Mississippi taxpayers ...
by David M. Reutter
A bizarre incident that resulted in the deaths of two pretrial detainees at the Richwood Correctional Center (RCC) in Louisiana reflects how understaffing and inadequate training at privately-operated jails can have life-changing consequences.
Following a traffic stop, Vernon Ramone White, Sr., 28, was arrested on charges of having no license, no insurance and an outstanding bench warrant for an unpaid traffic ticket. Two days after his October 10, 2015 arrest, White was involved in a fight with another prisoner. Guards placed him in a lockdown cell – “an isolation cell for problematic inmates” – with Erie Moore, who was in isolation due to his “erratic and violent” behavior.
Despite the fact that Lt. Hardwell and Capt. Douglas learned on the morning of October 13, 2015 that White and Moore were involved in an altercation, they were not separated. At 5 p.m., Moore was observed on video gesticulating wildly, pointing and pacing. A few minutes later he was seen creating a mask from a Styrofoam tray and holding it to his face.
At 5:13, White banged on the cell door but guards did not respond. A minute later Moore grabbed White, who unsuccessfully tried to ...
by Christopher Zoukis
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) overpaid food service giant Aramark $57,193 for food provided to nonexistent prisoners, investigators found.
The overpayment was uncovered by the state Office of the Inspector General (OIG). According to a June 15, 2017 report, the OIG began investigating Aramark after learning of a dispute between the company and the Michigan Department of Corrections over billing discrepancies in excess of $3 million. [See: PLN, Jan. 2018, p.46].
Aramark has held the contract to provide meals to Ohio state prisoners for over four years. The state pays the company around $60 million annually to feed more than 50,000 prisoners in 31 ODRC facilities. Meals provided by Aramark cost the state around $1.31 each.
In January 2017, the union representing ODRC employees submitted its third bid to take over prison food services upon completion of Aramark’s contract the following June. The price per meal quoted by the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) was $1.226 – low enough to save the state $4.4 million per year.
After rejecting OCSEA’s initial bid in 2013, state prison officials fined Aramark $235,000 for several contract violations – including ...