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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

NC Prisoners Riot in Tennessee

On October 28, 1995, more than 100 North Carolina prisoners at the Corrections Corporation of America owned private prison in Mason, TN rioted, demanding to be returned to North Carolina. The prisoners smashed toilets and sinks and knocked a hole in a dormitory wall. Guards at the prison ended the riot by pumping pepper gas into the two dormitories that had been seized by the prisoners. No injuries or deaths were reported at the prison.

The medium security prison houses 455 state and federal prisoners on a contract basis. The 111 North Carolina prisoners had been sent to the prison involuntarily by the NC DOC and they complained about being separated from their families. Tipton County Sheriff Buddy Lewis said: "They are very unhappy because they are over here and they want to go back to North Carolina. They totally demolished the dormitory areas they were in." After the uprising the prisoners were moved to the Shelby County jail in Memphis.

Contract Physicians Entitled to Qualified Immunity

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit has held that physicians hired by a prison to provide medical care are entitled to qualified immunity when sued by prisoners. As more and more prison systems attempt to cut medical care costs by contracting the care out, prisoner suits against the contracted medical care providers are likely to increase. This case involves Derrick Williams an Illinois state prisoner who claimed he was given inappropriate care for a bone infection in his leg. The prison doctors he sued, claiming they were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs thus violating his eighth amendment rights, were employees of a company called Correctional Medical Systems (CMS). The district court granted the defendants summary judgment, holding they were entitled to qualified immunity from suit. The district court held that the physicians were entitled to qualified immunity from liability for repeated acts of medical malpractice.

The court of appeals for the seventh circuit affirmed dismissal. On appeal Williams claimed that the defendant doctors were not entitled to raise the affirmative defense of qualified immunity because they were not government officials. The appeals court rejected this argument. "In cases involving 'a private party acting under government contract ...

Alaska Prisoners in Exile

I would like to respond to a News in Brief segment of your February 1995 issue of PLN concerning the shipment of Alaska state prisoners to the Penal Detention Center [a private prison operated by the Corrections Corporation of America] in Florence, AZ, supposedly to ease overcrowding and avoid fines levied by the court for violating population caps.

Briefly, some history... Prior to 1988, Alaska had no facilities for housing long-term felons, and the DOC routinely shipped prisoners with ten years or more to serve on their sentences to prisons outside of Alaska. Most, like myself, were designated to federal prisons, although some went to other state's facilities in accordance with the Western Interstate Compact Agreement.

This policy of exile for long-term prisoners ended in 1988, with the completion of the Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward. Spring Creek, Alaska's only maximum security prison, was built in response to a 1986 Partial Settlement Agreement (Cleary, et al. v. Smith, et al., 3AN-81-5274 Civ.) in which the DOC agreed to return all Alaska state prisoners in federal custody who desired to return. This was the same agreement containing population caps that the DOC was found to be violating and ...

INS Detainees Trash Private Prison

On June 18, 1995, some 300 im migrants being held at the privately-run Esmor Immigration Detention Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey, chased out the guards, trashed the facility and held off federal, state and local law enforcement agents for nearly six hours. Police finally threw a flash grenade into a barricade the detainees had set up and stormed the facility. Twenty detainees were injured in the melee.

The Esmor facility was hastily set up in a converted warehouse just over a year ago when the U.S. government decided to "crack down" on immigrants who land at Kennedy and Newark airports with no papers.

The 240 men and 60 women detainees at the 300-bed center included Romanians, Cubans, Chinese, Russians and Sikhs, most of them seeking political asylum in the U.S. None of the detainees had been convicted of a crime. They had not even been accused of a crime. Many of them had been forced to flee their homelands due to poverty or persecution. They came to this country seeking the "American Dream" of freedom and democracy. What awaited them, however, was a nightmare of concentration camp imprisonment and brutal mistreatment. One young Somali woman told of being ...

Diabetic Sues for Meals

Prisoners with medical conditions are entitled to special diets if needed to avoid illness. Robert Taylor is a diabetic and an Illinois state prisoner. His medical condition requires that he receive a special diet to insure that he receives the proper amount of sugars and carbohydrates. He was receiving the proper diet at the Joliet Correctional Center until the prison's food service contract was given to Service America Corporation (SAC), after which he never received the special diet. Taylor filed administrative grievances to receive the special medical diet and prison officials claimed they were working with SAC to ensure that he received a proper diet, however, nothing was done to ensure that he actually received the diet. Taylor filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by not providing him with a special diet. He claimed this failure violated the eighth amendment. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, which the district court denied.

In a brief ruling the court held that Taylor had adequately set forth a claim because he had informed prison officials of his need for special ...

Health Problems in WY

We have a new Health Service provider that took over from the state. They worry about costs over and above prisoners' health care. The name of the provider is Wexford Health Services, Inc. Their home office address is 4500 PGA Blvd. Suite 302, Palm Beach, FL 33418. It is rumored that they provided services in Alabama ten years ago and were kicked out. Besides Wyoming they are providing services in Michigan, Illinois; South Dakota and Florida. I'm wondering if you could print something asking if any of your readers has information about past or present litigation against this company or has discovered any other information about them they would be willing to share. There are several suits filed against them in Wyoming, but none of them are in the discovery stages yet that I am aware of. We are having problems with them changing medication without doctors orders, not passing out medications in a timely manner or handing out the wrong medications to the wrong people. They deny surgery after the doctors have recommended it, have tampered with medical records, lied to the prison administration and are guilty of general incompetence. Please send any information to Andy Renken, 2121 ...

Prisoner Raped by Custodians

A federal woman prisoner being transported from the Danbury prison in Connecticut to one in Texas was sexually assaulted by the owner of Fugitive One Transport, Arnold Faulhaber, and a company guard, Joseph Jackson. Both suspects were arrested on October 8, 1994, and charged by Monmouth County, New Jersey , prosecutors with sexually assaulting someone in their custody and over whom they had supervisory power. Both were released on $50,000 bond.

The victim states that she was picked up in Danbury and driven to Faulhaber's office. Faulhahcr asked her to go to Atlantic City with him and party rather than spend the night in the Ocean County Jail. She refused and was taken to the jail by Jackson. En route to the jail, Jackson allegedly drove to a remote area and raped her. Jackson threatened to charge her with attempted escape if she reported the rape to law enforcement officials.

On September 24, 1994, Faulhaber took the victim to his Ocean 1 ownership home and raped her. Jackson raped her yet again before she was finally flown to Texas to face charges. Upon being incarcerated in Dallas she told her family about the rapes and they in turn reported ...

Breach of Contract Claim OK Against Medical Contractor

On December 22, 1992, Eddie Cherry began serving a 30 day sentence in the Polk county jail, Florida, for drunk driving. At the time of his incarceration he told jail staff that he drank approximately a case of beer a day. Over the next two days he repeatedly sought medical attention for symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal. On December 25, Cherry's wife contacted jail staff and told them that her husband had a history of delirium tremens (DTs) during alcohol withdrawal and that he was in immediate need of a physician's attention. Cherry's cellmate and other prisoners repeatedly told jail staff that Cherry required medical attention because he was hallucinating and shaking violently. Cherry was taken to the jail infirmary where he was shackled to his bed. On December 26, still hallucinating and suffering from DT's, Cherry jumped or fell off the end of his bed. Due to the shackles Cherry struck his head on the concrete floor and died five days later as a result of his injuries.

Loretta Cherry, Cherry's wife, filed suit against jail officials and Prison Health Services (PHS), a Delaware corporation which was contracted to provide medical care and services ...

Medical Claims Standards Discussed

Ronald Brewer is an Iowa state prisoner. He suffers from coronary artery disease. Employees of Correctional Medical Services (CMS), a contractor with the Iowa DOC, prescribed medicine for Brewer's illness but the treating doctor made an error in the dosage. Brewer filed suit claiming that he was denied the correct dosage of medication in an effort by CMS to minimize it's costs. The district court dismissed the suit, holding that Brewer had failed to state a claim.

The district court gave an extensive overview of the history of the eighth amendment, the legal standards applying it to prison conditions in general and deliberate indifference to prisoner's serious medical needs in particular. It explains the subjective and objective components that a prisoner must prove in order to prevail on an eighth amendment claim. The court cited numerous cases from all circuits discussing all these aspects. This case should be read by anyone litigating an eighth amendment claim as it provides useful reference and a good starting point for further research.

In this case Brewer failed to state a claim because the error in prescription dosage was due to a misunderstanding by the treating physician rather than deliberate indifference ...

Detainees Have Right to be Vermin Free

Two federal pretrial detainees housed under contract in the Allegheny County Jail (ACJ) in Pennsylvania sued jail officials for a wide variety of ailments affecting jail prisoners. Among the issues they filed suit on were: inadequate ventilation, extreme temperatures, excessive noise, use of chemicals and machines in the jail that gave off toxic fumes, unsanitary food preparation and inadequate medical care, among others. The district court dismissed the complaint on the defendants' combined motion for summary judgement and dismissal for failing to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

The court of appeals for the third circuit affirmed in part, reversed part and remanded the case back to the district court. The appeals court covered numerous procedural issues before addressing the substantive issues of the detainees complaint. Readers should note that while the plaintiffs were federal detainees' they filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 rather than as a Bivens action because the defendants were state and county officials.

The appeals court held that some of the issues raised were time barred, ruling that the statute of limitations for § 1983 actions that arise in Pennsylvania is two years under 42 PA.Con.Stat.Ann. § 5524.

One of ...