Advocates say Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern is an odd fit for the Bay Area, but mounting a challenge has proved daunting.
by Kyle C. Barry, The Appeal
When Barbara Doss went to claim her son’s body last June, his face was covered in bruises. “The left side of his skull was busted open,” she said, with “staples holding it together.” He had multiple abrasions on his lips and dark bruises on his cheeks.
Her son, Dujuan Armstrong, died soon after reporting to serve the weekend at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, California. More than seven months later, Doss still did not know how her son died, who was at fault, or who, if anyone, would be held accountable. So in January she traveled from Oakland to Sacramento to confront Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern, whose office runs Santa Rita, and who was due in the state capital to preside over a lottery commission meeting.
“I don’t have any answers. I need answers,” she pleaded. “I need to ease my mind.”
Her voice was assured but uneven as she fought back tears. “My son was 23 years old,” she told Ahern. “He left behind a whole ...
This article was co-published in partnership with The Appeal on February 8, 2019, at https://theappeal.org/corizon-the-prison-healthcare-giant-stumbles-again. Copyright The Appeal, 2019.
by Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg
Feb 08, 2019
The company recently lost its contract with Arizona after allegations of serious—and sometimes fatal—medical neglect that have echoes across the country.
By the time Walter Jordan began radiation therapy on July 21, 2017, his skin cancer had already eaten through his skull and spread to his brain, according to a doctor who later reviewed the medical files. Jordan, who was incarcerated in a state prison in Florence, Arizona, had squamous cell cancer, a type of skin cancer that has a more than 90 percent cure rate, wrote the doctor, Todd Wilcox.
About a week before his death, Jordan wrote to the U.S. District Court. “ADOC [Arizona Department of Corrections] and Corizon delayed treating my cancer. Now because of there delay, I may be luckey to be alive for 30 days.”
For his pain, he was given Tylenol with codeine twice a day, according to Wilcox.
“Mr. Jordan’s case was unfortunate and horrific, and he suffered excruciating needless pain from cancer that was not appropriately managed in ...
In October 2018, a federal district court declined to dismiss a class-action lawsuit that claimed insulin-dependent diabetic prisoners at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center in Tennessee are denied basic care for their medical condition.
Trousdale is operated by CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America. The prisoners alleged claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The constitutional claims related to deliberate indifference to serious medical needs by denying blood-sugar monitoring and insulin in coordination with regular meal times.
The defendants included CoreCivic and the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC), and both filed dispositive motions. The TDOC’s motion, based on the plaintiffs’ failure to exhaust administrative remedies, was denied because there were disputed facts that could not be resolved at the motion to dismiss stage.
CoreCivic moved for summary judgment, arguing failure to exhaust and contending the action was moot because the plaintiffs had been transferred to other facilities and the case had not yet been certified as a class-action. For the same reasons as the TDOC’s motion, CoreCivic’s was denied as to the exhaustion issue. The district court noted there was a question as to whether a single member of a class-action satisfied the ...
by David M. Reutter
Activists protesting President Trump’s immigration policies are also rallying against a company that profits from immigrant detention: The GEO Group. The activists have been protesting at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities as well as GEO-run detention centers.
At $471 million, GEO Group’s contract with ICE is the agency’s largest. The company has outgrown its headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida, where a new six-story building is under construction. Meanwhile, protestors claim that people detained for immigration violations, which are civil matters, are treated like criminals in ICE detention facilities.
The protests ruffled the feathers of GEO Group to such a degree that it employed the law firm of Holland & Knight to send Florida-based Dream Defenders a stern cease and desist letter that accused the group of libel and inciting violence. That letter came just four days before a series of planned protests.
Dream Defenders was a force behind the Florida Democratic Party’s agreement to stop taking donations from private prison contractors such as GEO Group and Nashville, Tennessee-based CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) – a promise repeated by the Democratic parties of New York and California, said the organization’s leader, Rachael Gilmer ...
by Steve Horn
The 2018 election cycle saw a surge in the number of candidates and lawmakers promising to forego campaign donations from private prison operators such as Nashville-based CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and The GEO Group, headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida. The catalyst appears to have been public backlash to the Trump administration’s controversial policy, implemented in the summer of 2018, that resulted in the forced separation of parents and children held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which contracts with private companies to operate detention facilities.
Making the Pledge
Of ten members of the U.S. House of Representatives who pledged not to take private prison money, eight were Democrats. U.S. Rep. John Conyers, who returned $1,000 in donations, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who gave back $5,000, were retiring members of Congress, who usually return unused funds contributed to their campaigns or to an aligned political action committee (PAC). Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Lankford was the only Republican not retiring to return a private prison contribution – in his case, $2,500.
During June 2018 alone, four GOP politicians or their aligned PACs accepted donations from private prison firms: Missouri ...
by David M. Reutter
In 2011, the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) entered into a contract with Access Corrections that allowed prisoners to purchase MP3 players which could be hooked up to a kiosk for music downloads. Over the six-year life of the contract, prisoners bought 30,299 players at around $100 apiece plus 6.7 million songs for $1.70 each, for a total of about $14.4 million – an amount that netted the FDOC $1.7 million in kickbacks from Access.
In August 2017, sales of the MP3 players were halted after prison officials reached an agreement with JPay, owned by prison telecom provider Securus, to sell tablets to Florida prisoners. But since FDOC policy allows prisoners to possess only one electronic device, a directive was issued that would make the MP3 players contraband.
As part of its contract with both vendors, the FDOC forced prisoners to swap their MP3 players for a JPay tablet by January 23, 2019. The players turned over to prison officials were slated for disposal unless prisoners paid to have the devices returned to Access Corrections, which agreed (for a $25 fee) to have security features unlocked and the music downloaded to ...
by Christopher Zoukis
According to a 2017 survey by the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), of the more than 2.2 million people incarcerated in state and federal prisons and local jails across the United States, 61 percent hold some form of job.
In marketing materials prepared for Federal Prison Industries, also known as UNICOR, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) invites freeworld businesses to leverage its “skilled workforce” at “low labor rates” and take advantage of its “cost-effective labor pool.”
Created in 1934, UNICOR pays prisoners between $0.23 and $1.15 an hour. According to the agency’s most recent annual report, about 17,000 prisoners in 50 manufacturing centers are paid those low wages to make products ranging from air filters and clothing to office supplies and furniture.
Many of the items produced by UNICOR are purchased by the federal government – the agency had over $502.8 million in sales in fiscal year 2018. Since 2011, Congress has also allowed the prison industry program to produce and sell millions of dollars worth of prisoner-manufactured goods to private companies. Even military goods are produced by UNICOR, some of which end up in the hands of foreign governments.
by Christopher Zoukis
A lawsuit alleging that private prison operator CoreCivic violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) by forcing immigrant detainees to work at one of the company’s detention centers will proceed in federal court. The class-action claim withstood a motion to dismiss on August 17, 2018.
CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America, operates the Stewart Detention Center – an immigration facility in Stewart, Georgia. The detention center has nearly 2,000 beds and is one of the largest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)-contracted facilities in the country. It also has a notorious reputation.
CoreCivic makes use of a “voluntary work program” at Stewart. Pursuant to that program, detainees who agree to perform various jobs maintaining the facility are paid between $1 and $4 per day. They also are afforded upgraded living conditions, which consist of showers with hot water, a toilet shared with one person (instead of 66 people) and a two-person cell instead of a dorm unit known as “the Chicken Coop.” Further, workers are able to earn money to purchase toilet paper and soap, which the CoreCivic-operated facility does not adequately provide.
Multiple detainees at Stewart filed a class-action suit alleging the company violated ...
by Derek Gilna
In August 2018, a comprehensive audit report revealed that the private healthcare provider at Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County Jail and House of Correction (HOC) was not in compliance with the terms of a court-ordered consent decree requiring specific staffing levels for medical personnel. The time period under review coincided with the term of controversial sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., who resigned in August 2017.
The audit, conducted by the Milwaukee County Office of the Comptroller, found the county jail system’s healthcare contractor, Miami-based Armor Correctional Health Services, never reached the staffing threshold needed to adequately treat and care for the 2,100 prisoners held at the jail and HOC.
The county is under a consent decree requiring it to maintain healthcare staffing levels at 95 percent. Instead, Armor’s overall staffing level averaged 89 percent for the 22-month review period, from November 2015 to August 2017. Understaffed positions included a psychologist, registered nurse and psychiatrist, the audit found. The company was fined for the shortfalls, but the report recommended increasing the fines.
Following the release of the audit, which was conducted at the request of Milwaukee County board chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr., he expressed his disappointment with Armor.
In November 2018, shareholder resolutions were filed with CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, and The GEO Group – the nation’s two largest private prison companies – that would prohibit them from housing immigrant detainee children who have been separated from their parents, or parents separated from their children.
CoreCivic and GEO operate a number of immigration detention centers under contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. While the companies have denied that they house children separated from their parents, the resolutions note they “may change that policy in the future or may enter into future contracts to house separated immigrant children and/or parents.”
According to recent news reports, immigrant families are still being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border and the Trump administration is “actively considering” plans to renew separation efforts.
CoreCivic and GEO have had “a controversial history with respect to housing immigrant detainees,” the resolutions’ supporting statements noted. For example, “A CoreCivic employee was convicted of sexually abusing multiple female detainees at the Company’s T. Don Hutto Residential Center. Immigrant detainees have staged protests and hunger strikes at CoreCivic detention centers. There ...