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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.

For any type of search, click on the magnifying glass icon to enter one or more keywords, and you can refine your search criteria using "More search options." Note that searches for "CCA" and "Corrections Corporation of America" will return different results. 


Articles about Private Prisons

Health Care Contractor Subject to Monell Liability

The court of appeals for the eleventh circuit held that private companies performing traditional government functions are liable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 but enjoy the protection of Monell v. Dept. Of Social Services of New York , 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018 (1978). Junior Buckner was a pretrial detainee in the Clayton county (GA) jail when he developed a psychological condition called "conversion reaction" that made him unable to walk. The jail contracted with a private company, Prison Health Services (PHS), to provide medical care. While PHS "treated" Buckner they did not diagnose his condition and it became permanent.

Buckner filed suit claiming that the county, sheriff and PHS were deliberately indifferent to his psychiatric medical needs. The district court granted the defendants summary judgment holding that under Monell a plaintiff must show the municipality itself injured the plaintiff by having a policy or practice which caused the plaintiff's injury. The court held Buckner had not shown the existence of any such injurious policy by either the county or PHS.

The court of appeals affirmed. This ruling is significant for anyone suing county or city governments over constitutional violations and, more importantly, any private companies ...

Juvenile Crime Pays

According to a study by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), from 1991 to 1995 the population of youthful offenders held in privately-operated facilities grew 10% to an estimated 35,600. The juvenile justice system has become enormously profitable as youths are channeled from the schoolhouse to the jailhouse in ever-increasing numbers. In 1997 Equitable Securities Research released a report entitled "At-Risk Youth: A Growth Industry," which indicates there are 10,000 to 15,000 private juvenile justice service providers; publicly traded juvenile corrections companies made $75 million in net profit in 1996 alone. An estimated $3 billion is spent each year on services for juvenile offenders at the federal, state and local levels, and up to $50 billion is spent annually on programs for at-risk youth.

Private-sector companies that primarily provide adult corrections services are jumping on the "jails for juveniles" bandwagon: The Corrections Corp. of America (CCA) and Wackenhut operate seven juvenile facilities each, and the Corrections Services Corp. operates six. In May 1997, Cornell Corrections, another adult prison contractor, announced its interest in acquiring the privately-held Abraxas Group, a leader in juvenile supervision services that provides residential, educational and treatment programs to over 1 ...

No Immunity for Florida Private Jail

The district court for the middle district of Florida held that the sheriff, the county and a private corporation operating the county jail were liable for detaining an arrestee for 30 days without a probable cause hearing. The court also held that monetary damages were the proper remedy and that the private operator was not entitled to qualified immunity.

On September 18, 1992, Thomas Blumel was arrested by a Florida sheriff's deputy for allegedly violating a restraining order obtained by his estranged wife as an adjunct to a divorce action. Blumel was booked into the county jail, which was operated by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) under contract with the county.

The day after his arrest Blumel was brought before a county judge for a "first appearance," which is normally intended as a probable cause hearing. However, the judge in this instance was not the same judge who issued the restraining order, so he could not rule on the contempt. Blumel was neither released nor offered bail because his arrest was a warrantless arrest.

A month after Blumel was arrested the judge who issued the restraining order finally held a hearing on the matter. As a result the ...

Private Prisons Cheaper?

The New Mexico state DOC contends that Corrections Corporation of America has overcharged the state by nearly $2 million since the CCA-operated Women's Correctional Facility at Grants N.M. opened some eight years ago. State officials also say that CCA is not living up to a deal struck in the 1997 legislative session to lower costs at the Grants prison.

CCA bills the state $95 a day for most of the women it imprisons at the Grants facility, about double what the state pays to house overflow New Mexico male prisoners in Texas rent-a-jails.

"Frankly, it's absurd," NM DOC chief Rob Perry said of the CCA rate.

But CCA denies there have been any overcharges in the past, and corporate PR flack Susan Hart said the company "did not agree to any sort of price decrease" for the 1997 fiscal year.

CCA claims the higher rate it charges at the Grants prison is due to extra services needed by female prisoners and a high debt service on the prison. CCA says that $22 per prisoner per day is assessed to service the debt.

"We are continuing discussions with both the corrections department and the legislative finance committee and ...

The Poor Get Poorer - The Rich Get Prisons

Wall Street recently celebrated an initial public offering (IPO) and welcomed the addition of a spanking new growth-oriented corporation: CCA Prison Realty Trust.

This Nashville-based corporation is a spin-off of the world's largest private prison corporation -- another Wall Street darling, Corrections Corporation of America -- whose stock is one of the top performers on the NYSE (doubling in value in just the first six months of 1997). CCA Prison Realty Trust is the nation's first real estate investment trust (REIT) that will focus solely on buying prisons.

As reported by Gregg Wirth in Left Business Observer, CCA Prison Realty sold 18.5 million shares in its IPO, 1.5 million more than originally planned, at a price of $21 a share, a dollar above initial projections, so hot was Wall Street for a piece of the imprisonment action. The deal was underwritten by investment bank J.C. Bradford & Company, also based in Nashville, and a fleet of co-managing firms, including heavyweights Lehman Brothers and PainWebber.

In a research paper, Equitable Securities (yet another Nashville firm), estimated that the U.S. prison population will reach 3.5 million over the next ten years, more than double the 1995 warm-body count of 1.6 million prisoners. In an SEC filing in advance of the IPO, Equitable Securities wrote: "As a result of the number of crimes committed each year and the corresponding number of arrests, incarceration costs generally grow faster than any other part of a government's budget. In an attempt to address these pressures, government agencies responsible for the operation of correctional and detention facilities are increasingly privatizing such facilities."

The malodorous language of corporate profiteering on the commodification of the imprisoned is bad enough. But as Wirth points out in LBO, the real stench of this IPO rises from the revelation that CCA Prison Realty will make its first incestuous purchase of nine prisons from its parent corporation, Corrections Corporation of America, for $308.1 million. Unsurprisingly, many of the top executives of CCA are also running CCA Prison Realty. Doctor R. Crants, CEO of CCA, is also chairman of CCA Prison Realty. While some Wall Street analysts pointed out this apparent conflict of interest, that didn't deter eager investors from scooping up the shares.

CCA Prison Realty will hand over $308.1 million -- cash to its parent and then lease the nine prisons back to CCA. With the $80 million left over, CCA Prison Realty will be shopping for more prisons -- most likely from CCA, which has five new prisons under construction.

And CCA, flush with over $300 million in cash, will be looking to boldly expand the frontiers of prison privatization, no doubt lobbying state and federal lawmakers for tougher crime bills and longer sentences in the process.

Left Business Observer (ISSN 1042-0134), the principal source for this article, is available for $22/yr ($55/yr for institutional/high income) from: LBO; 250 W 85 Street; New York, NY 10024-3217. Doug Henwood's book, Wall Street, can be ordered by calling 1-800-233-4830, or by visiting a bookstore.

GAO Reports Available: Private and Public Prisons

By Julia Lutsky 

GAO Reports Available

Federal and State Prisons: "Inmate Populations, Costs and Projection Models," November 1996, GAO/GGD-97-15

Private and Public Prisons: "Studies Comparing Operational Costs and/or Quality of Service," August 1996, GAO/GGD-96-158

Reflecting both the relatively recent "get tough on crime" and the age-old theme of corporate profit there are two new GAO reports, one written as if in response to questions raised by the other. Approximately 1.1 million people were incarcerated in 1995. Assuming the sentencing policies in effect in 1994, there will be 1.4 million in prisons by the year 2000. This estimate is based on the average annual increase of 8.5 percent experienced between 1980 and 1995, the period covered by the report on federal and state prisons. If all states opted to use truth-in-sentencing laws which require prisoners to serve 85 percent of their sentences however, the number of prisoners could reach 1.6 million. Other estimates predict as many as 2 million by 2002.

All of this comes at a not inconsiderable cost to the taxpayer. In 1980, $3.1 billion was spent on prisons. In 1994 that sum had increased to $17.7 billion. By the ...

CCA Unveils Aggressive New Marketing Ploy

The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) plans to build a 2,000-bed prison in California's Mojave Desert -- on speculation. CCA President David L. Meyers said his private prison corporation has no guarantee the California Department of Corrections (CDC) will send prisoners the proposed facility, nor has CCA yet held any discussions with the state of California.

Meyers, officials from California City (population 8,000) and state senator Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles) held a July 31, 1997, news conference in Sacramento to announce plans to open the "top-of-the-line" medium security prison within two years. And California might be the perfect location to exploit this new "build it and they will come" corporate strategy.

The state prison system, already overcrowded at nearly double its design capacity, is expected to exhaust all possible bed space by 2000, Polanco said. California voters have rejected general obligation bonds for more prison construction, and the legislature has defeated the use of lease revenue bonds.

"We don't know enough about it to have a position one way or another," said CDC media-wrangler Tip Kindel. However he added: "If someone comes and says 'Hey, we've got some beds,' we're always open to talk about ...

Private Transportation Firms Take Prisoners for a Ride

by Alex Friedmann

Many of the hundred-thousand-plus prisoners of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) are familiar with the BOP's buses that shuttle convicts around the country. The federal government also maintains a fleet of a dozen planes designated for transporting prisoners, known as ConAir, which was brought to the public's attention with the release of the 1997 action movie of the same name. But prisoners in state and county lock-ups are subject to local transportation services to move from one prison to another. And there's a lot of moving going on: In addition to intrastate transfers and interstate extraditions, a growing number of corrections departments are exiling prisoners to out-of-state "rent-a-jail" facilities (most of them privately owned or operated) ostensibly to relieve overcrowding and save money.

With a growing demand for prisoner transport services, private for-profit companies have entered the market to fill this lucrative niche; many of these companies are small-scale operations that are paid flat-rate fees and per-mile expenses by state and local governments. And because the majority of small private transport services utilize vans and other passenger vehicles, they are exempt from most federal regulations regarding the operation of commercial over-the-road vehicles (except ...

Escaped Prisoner Rides into Sunset

Eight federal prisoners being transported in a van operated by Federal Extradition Agency escaped July 30 near Ordway, Colorado. Two guards working for the private transport firm were driving nine prisoners across Colorado when they stopped to drop one prisoner off at the Crowley county sheriffs department. One guard took the prisoner inside and the other reportedly fell asleep in the van.

One of the prisoners, David Glick allegedly snatched the keys from the dozing guard and freed himself. He then stole two revolvers and a 12-guage shotgun, say authorities, woke the guard and told him to drive away.

The other guard was coming out of the sheriffs office when he saw the van pull away. He said his partner waved at him as the van sped off.

Seven of the eight escapees were caught within hours, not far from the van. Glick allegedly commandeered a pickup, drove it a short distance and abandoned it near a ranch where he forced the rancher to give him his best horse. The rancher told authorities that he last saw Glick, clad in chaps and a cowboy hat, stolen from him, riding into the sunset across the open prairie.

About 60 law enforcement ...

DOJ to Probe Texas Rent-A-Jail

The Brazoria County Jail, site of the video-taped beatings that aired on network television, is but one of 38 for-profit jails or prisons in the state of Texas. And it's not the only one with problems, just the one with the most press.

A week before Brazoria County erupted into the national spotlight, the U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division announced that it planned to investigate the Dickens County Correctional Center (DCCC).

The facility is operated by the Bobby Ross Group, based in Austin, Texas. It is one of many small "Rent-a-Jails". in the state, housing primarily out of state prisoners about 60 miles east of Lubbock.

Colorado removed 140 of its prisoners from DCCC in June. The facility houses other prisoners from Hawaii and Montana, and hopes to fill the cells vacated by Colorado prisoners with fresh, profit-producing, warm bodies from Missouri.

The DCCC has experienced numerous problems in the last year. In August, 1996, 120 Hawaii and Montana prisoners refused to report to their jobs or return to their cells. Guards fired warning shots in an attempt to quell the disturbance. A month later, warden George Fry was fired for violating prison policies in dealing ...