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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

Seventh Circuit Vacates, Remands Punitive Damages Award Against Wexford

by Derek Gilna

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has remanded a prisoner’s lawsuit against Wexford Health Sources, Inc., the healthcare provider for Illinois’ Department of Corrections, for either a reduced punitive damages award or a new trial on the issue of damages. 

After experiencing ankle pain in 2010, prisoner Donald E. Beard, Jr. filed suit claiming that he was denied proper treatment from Wexford and its staff. 

Beard’s pro se complaint alleged “that members of the prison’s medical staff and administrative team were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment (applied to the states through the Fourteenth), and he sought damages plus injunctive relief. The district court recruited counsel, who added Wexford as a defendant and stipulated to the dismissal of the individual defendants.” 

The case went to trial and the jury awarded Beard $10,000 in compensatory damages plus $500,000 in punitive damages. However, the district court reduced the punitive award to $50,000, finding it was excessive and arbitrary, contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment. Beard appealed.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “few awards exceeding a single-digit ratio between punitive and compensatory damages ...

No Summary Judgment for Jail’s Denial of Mental Health Treatment; $150,000 Settlement

by Mark Wilson

On June 8, 2018, an Oregon fed-eral district court denied a summary judgment motion filed by jail officials, concluding that a reasonable jury could find a psychotic detainee’s 16-day confinement without treatment constituted deliberate indifference to his serious medical condition. 

The Lane County Sheriff’s ...

Counties Modify, Cancel Contracts for Privately Operated Immigration Detention Centers

by Matt Clarke 

Using a type of contract known as an Intergovernmental Service Agreement (ISA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has partnered with local governments to place immigrant detainees in unused jail beds or detention centers built specifically for that purpose, creating a network of facilities that are often run by private prison companies. [See: PLN, June 2018, p.44]. However, the legal liability and public criticism faced by counties and cities that participate in such arrangements has some of them saying “no” to ICE.

The small, farming-centered town of Eloy, Arizona hosts a 1,550-bed ICE detention center run by private prison operator CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Opened in 1994, it is one of four facilities the company manages in or near Eloy. In the summer of 2018, about 300 immigrant women were detained there after being separated from their children by ICE.

Now those women will be sent over 900 miles away to Dilley, Texas, where ICE and CoreCivic run a facility that can house up to 2,400 immigrant detainees. The South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC), the largest immigration detention center in the U.S., opened in 2014 in a ...

JP Morgan Chase Bank Used Secretive Bonds to Finance Kansas Prison Construction

by Matt Clarke

Recently discovered evidence in a Thomson Reuters database revealed that, in June 2018, JP Morgan Chase Bank (JPMC) underwrote a $159.5 million bond to finance private prison operator CoreCivic’s construction of a 2,432-bed facility in Kansas. JPMC was already the largest debt holder for private prison firms CoreCivic and GEO Group. 

Make the Road New York, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of immigrants and working-class Americans, teamed up with Educators for Migrant Justice and two other organizations to establish a campaign that publicizes businesses it labels “Corporate Backers of Hate.” The group discovered the Kansas prison bond details in the Reuters database, which were confirmed by Bloomberg Business News.

The Kansas bond was issued via an unusual financing method known as “private placement,” which allowed JPMC to keep the names of the investors and financial partners secret. As the Sole Placement Agent for the bond, the bank marketed it to a group of potential investors without the need for a rating or prospectus – typical requirements for a public bond offering. 

The prison construction project also represented a departure from the way CoreCivic usually does business – either ...

Ohio Jail’s Private Healthcare Provider Denied Summary Judgment in Failure to Treat Prisoner’s Fractured Pelvis

by Douglas Ankney

A United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio denied motions for summary judgment filed by private healthcare provider NaphCare Inc. (NaphCare) and its employee Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Jack Saunders in a suit alleging they failed to treat a jail prisoner’s fractured pelvis.
Jeffrey Day was a passenger in a car November 26, 2015, which was involved in a collision in Trotwood, Ohio. As a result of the collision, Day suffered a fractured right acetabulum — the part of the pelvis that forms the socket of his hip. Day, who was intoxicated, was arrested on a charge of Obstructing Official Business because he provided false information about the accident.
At the scene of the accident, Day signed a waiver, refusing medical treatment. But upon his arrival at the Montgomery County Jail (MCJ), he was unable to walk into the booking area without assistance. Video showed Day could not stand on his right leg, and he was in pain. He was placed in a wheelchair.
According to a deposition from Saunders, during Day’s medical intake assessment Day told Saunders about the vehicle accident. Day told Saunders he felt like he had broken something in his ...

ICE-friendly Policies. A String of Jail Deaths. Why Does This Sheriff Keep Getting Elected?

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 ...

Corizon, the Prison Healthcare Giant, Stumbles Again

 This article was co-published in partnership with The Appeal on February 8, 2019, at 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 ...

Tennessee: Class-Action Suit Against Private 
Prison Over Diabetic Care Can Proceed

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 ...

Protesters Rally Against Private Prison Contractor GEO Group

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 ...

Under Pressure, Some Politicians Return Private Prison Campaign Cash

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 ...