by Chad Marks
In a lawsuit filed on January 29, 2019, Securus Technologies, Inc., one of the nation’s two largest prison telecom companies, accused the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) of ignoring provisions of the Florida Constitution when exercising budgeting and appropriation powers, and doing so at the expense of prisoners and their families.
Securus had provided prison phone services to the FDOC for over a decade. The company also owns JPay, which provides money transfers, video calling and other services for Florida prisoners. In December 2018, the FDOC awarded a 10-year telecom contract to the company’s main competitor, Global Tel*Link (GTL).
In its lawsuit, Securus claimed the contract was improper because it had offered the best value to the state as required by Florida procurement laws. It lost the FDOC contract, Securus argued, because GTL agreed to provide $150 million worth of goods and services to the state’s prison system that the Florida legislature had decided not to fund.
Securus contended that its reply to the FDOC’s invitation to negotiate (ITN) showed that it was the top-ranked vendor by the Department’s evaluation team, as it offered the best phone services and lowest calling rates, which serve to ...
by Matt Clarke
In January 2019, the Dallas Morning News reported that Louisiana-based private prison company LaSalle Corrections, which operates eight jails in Texas, employs a former Texas Ranger whose son oversees that law enforcement agency. The Texas Rangers are responsible for investigating deaths at seven of the eight LaSalle-operated jails in the Lone Star State.
The facilities operated by LaSalle have long been criticized for violating jail standards and using undertrained staff. Deaths at the company’s jails have resulted in multiple lawsuits.
The increasing number of deaths in Texas jails led the state legislature to pass a law in 2017 requiring counties to have an outside agency investigate prisoner deaths. Most counties designated the state’s top law enforcement agency, the Texas Rangers, as their investigative agency with the approval of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
Nothing much was made of those decisions until the Dallas Morning News informed the Commission that LaSalle’s director of governmental affairs was Bob Prince – a former Texas Ranger whose son, Randall Prince, is now the deputy director for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and in charge of overseeing the Texas Rangers after having served as chief ...
by Ed Lyon
Estrella Tenorio was a nurse’s aide/medical technician employed by for-profit contractor HealthCare Partners, Inc. (HCP). HCP specializes in providing medical services to prisoners. Tenorio’s first assignment was at a jail located near Las Vegas, New Mexico. Her mother was a state prison employee and her ...
On March 5, 2019, the Private Corrections Institute (PCI), a nonprofit citizen watchdog organization, announced its 2018 awardees for individual activism and organizational advocacy against the for-profit prison industry.
PCI opposes the privatization of correctional services, including the operation of prisons, jails and other detention facilities by companies such as Nashville, Tennessee-based CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and Boca Raton, Florida-based GEO Group, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbols CXW and GEO, respectively. PCI also opposes privatization of prison and jail medical, mental health, transportation, food, commissary and probation services, under the rationale that criminal justice should not be profit-driven.
Therecipient of PCI’s 2018 award for exceptional individual activism against the privatization of correctional services was Judy Greene, director of Justice Strategies (www.justicestrategies.org).
An expert on prison privatization, Judy has long advocated for an end to for-profit prisons. Justice Strategies, founded in 2003, is “a nonprofit research organization dedicated to providing analysis and solutions to advocates and policymakers pursuing more humane and cost-effective approaches to criminal justice and immigration reform.” It has produced a number of reports, including studies related to privatized immigration detention centers and prisons.
“I am very ...
by Derek Gilna
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) have agreed to pay $15,000 to the estate of a mentally ill prisoner who was killed after being attacked by another prisoner in February 2015.
The March 2018 settlement ended a suit ...
by Tina Vasquez, Rewire.News, March 13, 2019
This is the second article in a two-part series. Read the first article in the series here.
Trying to understand the systems in place intended to protect immigrants in federal custody from sexual abuse is like navigating a maze, and Laura Monterrosa’s story is one example of how complicated it can get.
Rewire.News partnered with Latino USA on this two-part investigation of her abuse allegations at the T. Don Hutto detention center in Taylor, Texas. In part one, we looked into Monterrosa’s story and the federal investigation into her claims of repeated sexual abuse by a female guard at Hutto in 2017. For part two, we examine the nuts and bolts of a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) audit and how the process can fail survivors of sexual assault.
As we noted in part one, PREA is one of the main mechanisms for justice for immigrants in custody if they are sexually abused. Under PREA, officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigate the allegations in the short term, and auditors hired by ICE review each facility’s handling of allegations every three years.
What we learned about this process ...
by Tina Vasquez, Rewire.News, March 8, 2019
Over a ten-month period, Rewire.News partnered with Latino USA to dig into the case of one woman’s alleged sexual abuse. What we learned through a FOIA request raised questions about internal investigations at immigration facilities and the safety of thousands of detained immigrants.
This is the first article in a two-part series. Read the second article in the series here.
Content note: This piece contains detailed descriptions of sexual assault.
On May 3, 2017, Laura Monterrosa fled El Salvador for the United States because she heard that she could find protection and safety here. Once in the custody of U.S. immigration officials, she said another “nightmare” began; while at the T. Don Hutto detention center, she alleges, she was repeatedly sexually abused by a female guard.
Monterossa, 24, said through a translator that when she threatened to report the incident, the guard told her that the staff would never believe her. “I was scared because I thought that she was gonna deport me—that they could send me to another detention center and deport me.”
In the United States, there are two primary apparatuses intended to protect detained immigrants from ...
Private prison medical care provider Corizon Health has received an injection of capital from shareholder BlueMountain Capital Management, a global hedge fund.
The infusion of cash allowed Corizon to pay down its debt and “accelerate business development and investment opportunities.” In other words, the company plans to obtain more contracts to provide medical services at prisons and jails. Corizon reportedly operates in 21 states and is responsible for the care of prisoners at 273 facilities.
BlueMountain manages more than $21 billion. As a result of an initial recapitalization led by the hedge fund in April 2017, Corizon “significantly reduced” its $300 million debt load. While details of the deal were not fully disclosed at the time, the investment reduced the stake of former main Corizon shareholder Beecken Petty O’Keefe & Company.
Then, in November 2018, BlueMountain invested another $100 million in Corizon in a debt-for-equity deal, lowering its debt to $90 million. Corizon has been investing in electronic health records, telemedicine, data analytics and other services. It has submitted bids in several states to privatize or take over currently privatized prison medical services, though it has faced numerous lawsuits as well as fines for contract violations, and recently ...
by Steve Horn
Located in heartland America in an area historically dominated by the oil and gas industry, the small town of Sayre, Oklahoma recently found itself in the middle of a lawsuit against private prison operator CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America. And the township prevailed, obtaining ...
by Ed Lyon
For aficionados of “U.S. Marshals” and “The Fugitive,” movies staring Tommy Lee Jones, it may come as a shock that art comes nowhere near to a true imitation of life. That was painfully evident in a 20-page memorandum released by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on December 21, 2018 – just in time to ensure a not-very-merry Christmas for many senior staff in the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) and the agency’s former director, Stacia A. Hylton.
A three-year-long investigation by the Judiciary Committee, guided by whistleblowers within the USMS who were vigorously pursued and subjected to retaliation, revealed a culture of misconduct, waste, sexual harassment, favoritism and total unconcern for the safety of deputies involved in high-risk law enforcement operations, according to a comprehensive 430-page report issued by the Committee in January 2019.
The memo and subsequent report found that Director Hylton had Deputy Assistant Director Kimberly Beal hire a friend of Hylton’s in the Asset Forfeiture Division (AFD). When her friend failed to qualify for that position, Beal created one for him. Beal, in turn, was promoted to a full assistant directorship, but only after having a subordinate prepare her Executive ...