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News Articles

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

The Big Business of Prisoner Care Packages: Inside the Booming Market for Food in Pouches

by Taylor Elizabeth Eldridge, The Marshall Project

Ed. Note: PLN’s August 2018 cover story examined prison food and commissary services. This article looks at prison and jail package services supplied by private vendors – some of which, like Keefe, also provide commissary services.

It’s the holiday season, but many incarcerated Americans won’t get presents directly from home.

To stop drugs and weapons from entering jails and prisons, many corrections agencies bar family members from mailing packages or bringing them during visits. Those who want to send food, clothing and other gifts to incarcerated relatives – at any time of year – often must go through private vendors.

Here’s how it works: Families shop from print and online catalogs supplied by care package companies. Every item is prison- and jail-approved. In some facilities, that can mean no glass or metal containers or no personal hygiene products containing alcohol. Items are often contraband-proof, from sealed food pouches to clear electronics to pocketless sweatpants.

For the holidays, families can choose from seasonal products; think red and green cream-filled Hostess cupcakes and peppermint Twinkies. The Los Angeles County jails’ contract for care packages includes annual “gift packs” that are given to prisoners for ...

CoreCivic’s Actions Against Sexual Harassment Compel Reversal of Jury Verdict

by David Reutter

 The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Georgia federal district court’s grant of judgment of law for Corrections Corporation of America, now known as CoreCivic, in a lawsuit alleging it failed to take prompt remedial action against sexual harassment.

Felecia Wilcox worked for CCA’s federal prison, McRae Correctional Facility. She filed a formal complaint with CCA that alleged her co-worker, Larry Johnson, slapped her on the buttocks twice. CCA told Jackson not to associate with Wilcox or be anywhere around her.

In the days that followed that July 10, 2009, complaint, Jackson repeatedly rolled his eyes at Wilcox and once punched a machine in her presence to intimidate her. Wilcox filed a second complaint on July 23, reiterating the July 10 claim and stating she feared Jackson would touch her again, that he had touched her previously, and that he said he can touch her if he wanted to.

CCA brought in an outside investigator, who interviewed Wilcox. That investigator heard that two additional times Jackson had sexually harassed Wilcox and had made a sexually explicit remark on another occasion. The investigator also interviewed 16 other employees and learned that Jackson had sexually harassed several of ...

Solitary Instead of Treatment of Mentally Ill Prisoner Costs New Mexico Jail $2 Million

by R. Bailey

New Mexico’s Otero County Board of County Commissioners agreed to pay a former Otero County Detention Center (OCDC) pretrial detainee $2 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit that alleged punishment without due process.

The suit claimed that OCDC had a policy or practice of placing mentally ...

Mother of Prisoner Who Died at Texarkana Jail Challenges $200,000 Settlement; Nurse Pleads Guilty

by Matthew Clarke

On November 11, 2017, notice of a $200,000 settlement was filed in a federal lawsuit over the death of a diabetic Texarkana jail prisoner who died after a nurse ignored her repeated requests for a blood sugar test. Soon thereafter the mother of the prisoner filed ...

Private Prison Operator Emerald Corrections Out of Business

by Steve Horn

Louisiana-based Emerald Correctional Management, also known as Emerald Corrections, was once among the major movers and shakers in the private prison industry. Today it’s a figment of the past.

Emerald was notorious for atrocious conditions in its detention facilities, as documented in a recent investigative piece co-published by Newsweek and the California-based publication Capital and Main. Incidents at the company’s prisons and jails included the medical-related deaths of immigrant detainees Igor Zyazin at the San Luis Regional Detention Facility in Arizona and Olubunmi Joshua at the Rolling Plains Detention Center in Texas; the “2016 suicide of a 77-year-old county inmate, Kennie Moore, who hanged himself using his boxer shorts as a noose” at Rolling Plains; and a lawsuit filed by Emerald employees who were “forced to work off the clock and weren’t paid for overtime.” The suit was settled out of court.

In 2016, as one of Emerald’s last acts during the two decades it was in business, the company opened the $60 million Prairieland Detention Center. Located in Alvarado, Texas, the 700-bed facility houses detainees for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), though technically the five-year contract is with the City of Alvarado. The center was ...

Texas Uses Failed Private Prison to Hold Civilly Committed Sex Offenders

by Matt Clarke

In 2015, Texas converted its outpatient program for civilly committed sex offenders into a “tiered” treatment program, in which participants start out in a “total confinement facility” at twice the cost of the original program. The state awarded Correct Care Solutions a $24 million contract to provide housing and treatment at the Texas Civil Commitment Center (TCCC) in Littlefield, formerly a failed private prison known as the Bill Clayton Detention Facility.

Correct Care had just acquired GEO Care, a subsidiary of the GEO Group – a for-profit prison firm whose 2009 abandonment of the Littlefield facility had almost forced the city into default on its bonds. [See: PLN, Oct. 2013, p.45]. GEO Care had a poor reputation, having been sued multiple times for providing inadequate health care. The company was known for having cooked alive a Florida psychiatric hospital patient who was left in a scalding hot bath, and for providing such abysmal care at a Texas immigration detention center that it sparked a riot.

The state’s contract with Correct Care required it to hire about 100 employees to provide treatment and housing for 277 civilly committed sex offenders at TCCC, which it rented from Littlefield ...

Dozens of Lawsuits Against Correct Care Solutions for Sometimes Fatal Denial of Medical Treatment

by Matthew Clarke

From 2014 through July 2018, at least 52 lawsuits were filed in federal court against Correct Care Solutions (CCS) – a private medical contractor based in Nashville, Tennessee – alleging failure to provide adequate medical care to prisoners in Colorado jails. Six of the cases involved fatalities ...

Protesters Blockade CoreCivic Headquarters in Nashville; 19 Arrests

As dawn broke on August 6, 2018, the light shone on a group of about two dozen protesters who had blockaded the main entrance to the Nashville, Tennessee headquarters of CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), the nation’s largest for-profit prison firm. Both entrances to the building’s parking garage were blocked, too. The peaceful demonstration continued for over eight hours and resulted in a response from nearly 70 Metro-Nashville police officers and the arrests of 19 participants on misdemeanor trespassing charges.

A small group of protesters joined hands through sections of pipe and laid down in front of one parking garage entrance, while the second entrance was blocked by demonstrators who had chained their hands into concrete-filled 55-gallon drums painted with slogans denouncing CoreCivic’s business practices. In a dramatic display at the main entrance to the company’s headquarters, protesters erected a 30-foot-tall tripod made of wooden logs, from which protester Julie Henry dangled in a sling.

A smaller group of community members and activists marched nearby holding signs and singing chants in solidarity with the demonstrators blockading the building.

The intent of the protest, as stated on a large banner hung during the event, was to place CoreCivic’s corporate headquarters ...

Oklahoma Prisoners, Advocacy Group File Short-lived Lawsuit Alleging Corruption

by Matt Clarke

In August 2017, Oklahoma state prisoners and the non-profit All In One Project filed a federal civil rights suit arguing political contributions made by private prison firms to state officials led to contracts with those companies that included a 98 percent occupancy rate at private prisons. The contracts allegedly caused Oklahoma to have a very low (10 percent) parole grant rate and unconstitutional conditions of confinement in its prisons, such as overcrowding and excessive levels of violence.

According to court documents, the All In One Project’s “membership consists of individuals impacted by the criminal justice system, including, among others, individuals serving life sentences, family members of these individuals, ‘lifers groups’ made up of individuals serving life sentences at various Oklahoma prisons, and individuals serving the parole terms equivalent to life sentences.”

The lawsuit accused Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, high-ranking government officials and legislative leaders of engaging in an “incarceration-for-profit scheme,” noting they received over $175,000 in campaign contributions from CoreCivic during the previous election cycle alone. The company was previously known as Corrections Corporation of America.

Those and similar donations by private prison firm GEO Group were allegedly in exchange for contracts guaranteeing a ...

JPay Vulnerability Exploited by Idaho Prisoners for $225,000 in Credits

by Steve Horn

In the realm of prisons and jails, many companies have positioned themselves to profit from mass incarceration.

Few have done so in the area of prisoner communications with as much vigor as JPay, whose business model centers around charging prisoners fees to communicate with the outside world via phone calls, video calling and e-messaging. The company also has a substantial share of the prison money transfer market.

But JPay, which has myriad contracts with jails and state prison systems, has come under scrutiny over a vulnerability in its media content ordering system that occurred in June and July 2018 at several facilities run by the Idaho Department of Correction.

Prison Legal News obtained documents via a public records request concerning the incident, which indicate that a prisoner tipped off state officials. Though his name was redacted, one document shows the prisoner contacted prison staff through a confidential informant line, explaining how the JPay vulnerability was being exploited by other prisoners.

The informant had originally reached out to JPay on June 28 via the company’s internal support system, letting them know prisoners were using a “glitch” to obtain hundreds of dollars worth of credits to purchase music, games ...