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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.

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Articles about Private Prisons

Danish Funds Invest In American Private Prisons

A February 18, 2020 story by Danwatch, a Danish investigative website, uncovered three Danish pension funds that had invested into two of America’s biggest prison profiteers: CoreCivic and the GEO Group. PKA, Villiv, and Lærernes Pension are pension funds for Danish social educators, social workers, nurses, and medical secretaries.

PKA invested the equivalent of about $8.5 million in the two private prison companies. Lrernes Pension has invested about $1.1 million in CoreCivic, and Villi invested about $160,000 in the two companies.

The Denmark pension fund investments come as America’s largest pension funds and banks have increasingly divested themselves from these prison profiteers. Politically, the companies are becoming pariahs, as some state Democratic parties and political groups are refusing to accept donations from private prison companies.

American public opinion of private prison companies has been trending against the profiteers. The Obama administration issued an executive order to phase out federal use of private prisons, but that order was reversed by President Trump. Both CoreCivic and GEO Group ...

Colorado Explores Ending Private Prisons

“I believe that profit should never be a motive in the prison industrv,’’ said Rep. Leslie Herod, the Denver Democrat who co-sponsored the bill.

Support for the legislation was split along party lines, but the bill was approved in the House and Senate. Resistance from Republicans has been based on the economic impact that closing the state’s three private prisons will have on the small towns where they are located.

“I don’t know why there is a bill here to target rural Colorado in such a detrimental way as this bill does,” said Rep. Rod Pelton, whose eastern district houses a correctional facility owned by CoreCivic that had been scheduled to reopen.

Other counties in the southeastern part of the state reported that their local private prisons accounted for 25 percent to 50 percent of their tax base. Herod said the study funded by her bill would take those ...

Maine DOC, Medical Provider, Pay $250,000 Settlement Due to Excessive Force on 11-Year-Old

Doctor at Florida Detention Center Spread COVID-19 to Prisoners

The doctor went to work on June 19, 2020. Within days, the number of detainees testing positive for coronavirus jumped from two to 20 to 178. Another 19 staffers also tested positive.

“We had done a great job up until, you know, we had one employee or contract employee not follow, you know, basic protocol and started this whole chain,” Williams said. “They were, at some point, symptomatic and didn’t report that. It was one of the health care workers in the jail. They, obviously, have since been removed and are no longer an employee of the health care provider.”

The Sheriff’s Office issued a statement that said it was a doctor who exposed detainees and staff to COVID-19. “When you contact trace it back, that seems to be the only point where, you know, there was a lapse in following the protocol.”

Prior to that exposure, the Sheriff’s ...

Justice Department and GEO Group Challenge California’s Ban on Private Prison and Detention Facilities

Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in October 2019, A.B. 32 bars any entity with a prison, jail or detention facility in the state from signing or extending a contract for its operation with a private firm after January 1, 2020. It also prohibits the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (CDCR) from entering into any new contract to house prisoners outside of the state in privately operated detention facilities. However, the law allows exemptions necessary to comply with a court-ordered population cap.

According to the DOJ complaint, five of eight exceptions provided for in A.B. 32 apply only to California’s contracts and not to those entered into by the U.S. government. They cover facilities that:

• provide services to a juvenile pursuant to a state juvenile court order;

• provide mental health evaluation or treatment to a person under a state court commitment order;

• ...

Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign Files Suit Seeking to Sever University’s Financial Ties With Prison Industrial Complex

On February 25, 2020, student members of the Harvard Prison Divestment Campaign (HPDC) filed suit in the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County, Massachusetts, seeking to force the university to divest its charitable trust investments from entities that directly or indirectly profit from the “prison-industrial complex” (PIC) – a sprawling group of privately owned firms that provide management and staffing, as well as food and health services to American prisons and jails.

Prompted by a similar student action in 2015, New York City’s Columbia University became the first American institution of higher education to restrict its PIC investments. Since then, the University of California system, Georgetown University, and more than a dozen other prominent universities have followed suit.

With nearly $40 billion invested, Harvard University holds the nation’s largest endowment for a learning institution. Students have been able to uncover specifics related only to about $400 million of that amount, but it includes at least $3 million invested in an equity fund that owns shares in the country’s two largest private prison operators, Florida-based GEO Group, Inc. and Tennessee-based CoreCivic, with 2019 revenues of $2.48 billion and $1.98 billion, respectively.

“Both my own parents have been incarcerated,” ...

Eleventh Circuit Holds Trafficking Victims Protection Act Applies to CoreCivic “Voluntary Work Program”

Plaintiffs Wilhen Hill Barrientos, Margarito Velazquez-Galicia, and Shoaib Ahmed are current and former immigration detainees who were held at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, a facility owned and operated by CoreCivic as an immigration detention facility under contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE requires CoreCivic to follow the Performance-Based National Detention Standards, one of which requires that it offer detainees an opportunity to participate in a “voluntary work program.” The standards allow detention centers to require detainees to “maintain their immediate living areas in a neat and orderly manner,” but specifically states that they “shall not be required to work” and that all other work assignments are voluntary.

The plaintiffs filed a federal complaint alleging the “voluntary work program” at Stewart was anything but voluntary. They alleged CoreCivic coerced detainees into performing labor by “the use or threatened use of serious harm, criminal prosecution, solitary confinement, and ...

ACLU Files Lawsuit Against CoreCivic Prison in Arizona over COVID-19 Failures

by Dale Chappell

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a federal lawsuit against a private prison run by CoreCivic in Florence, Arizona, claiming that staff has failed to protect its prisoners and the community from the coronavirus, according to a story in The Appeal and court records.

According to papers filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on May 9, 2020, CoreCivic has made it impossible for prisoners to adhere to state-mandated “social distancing” because of overcrowding, failed to properly quarantine prisoners suspected of having the coronavirus and new prisoners coming into the prison, failed to test prisoners who have shown symptoms for coronavirus, lied to prisoners about there being no COVID-19 cases in the prison, refused to give prisoners masks and made them share masks, and continues to use prison labor to run CoreCivic’s factory without any precautions.

The five prisoners who filed the lawsuit said they have numerous medical conditions putting them at high risk of death from COVID-19. Some also have cancer that CoreCivic has left untreated since their incarceration months ago, putting them at further risk of serious illness. Some of the prisoners are sitting in jail on minor charges, ...

Orleans Parish Sheriff, Wellpath, Sued Over Louisiana Jail Prisoner’s Fatal Overdose

by Matt Clarke

The mothers of three children of a prisoner who died of an overdose of fentanyl while incarcerated at the Orleans Justice Center, the Parish’s jail, have filed a lawsuit against employees of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO) and Wellpath (the jail’s contract provider of prisoner medical and mental health services), alleging they caused the prisoner’s death.

According to court documents, Edward Patterson was arrested on attempted murder charges in January 2015 and booked into the jail. On November 26, 2018, while still at the jail awaiting trial, he engaged in “abnormal behavior” after he was seen smoking an “unknown substance” and was taken to University Medical Center. By the time he arrived at the hospital, he had stopped displaying symptoms, so he was returned to the jail and to the same tier where he had obtained the drugs.

Five days later, another prisoner told jail staff that Patterson was unconscious on the floor of his cell. Instead of calling an ambulance, staff administered naproxen and performed CPR for a half-hour. Finally, they summoned emergency medical transportation. It was too late. He was pronounced dead after arriving at the hospital.

Aided by Metairie, Louisiana attorneys Wesley J. ...

NaphCare, Oregon Jail’s Private Healthcare Provider, Required to Disclose Records in Detox Death Suit

by Mark Wilson

An Oregon federal court in January 2020 compelled NaphCare, Inc., the private medical care provider for the Washington County Jail (WCJ) in Hillsboro, to disclose lawsuits and financial records in a wrongful death action stemming from the June 2017 detox death of a detainee.

County officials terminated a jail health-care contract begun in 1998 with Corizon Health, Inc., following a $10 million damage award against the county and the Tennessee-based firm for the 2014 withdrawal-related death of a jail detainee. [PLN, May 2019, p.35]. Since then, the contract has been awarded to Alabama-based NaphCare, Inc., a private, family-owned company providing health care to more than 80,000 prisoners in 53 city and county jails and federal prisons throughout the nation.

On June 25, 2017, Dale Thomsen was booked into the WCJ, and NaphCare registered nurse Kathy Dement conducted an intake medical screening. She did not identify any signs of alcohol abuse or possible detox, court records show. But that evening Tammy Thamsen, wife of the 58-year-old, called the jail to warn that her husband had previously suffered a brain injury and currently suffered from a seizure disorder and alcoholism.

Tammy Thomsen made additional attempts to warn ...