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 ...
by Steve Horn
He’s the descendant of a slave and the son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who was the lead attorney in the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, which desegregated U.S. public schools. An attorney who served as White House Cabinet Secretary during President Clinton’s administration, Thurgood Marshall, Jr. also sits on the board of directors of CoreCivic, the nation’s largest for-profit prison company.
Marshall, Jr. has held a board position with CoreCivic – formerly Corrections Corporation of America – since 2002, though that has seldom been mentioned in the mainstream media. One criminal justice-focused news outlet, The Marshall Project – named after Thurgood Marshall – has only once reported on Marshall, Jr.’s affiliation with CoreCivic, burying it at the very bottom of an article titled “What You Need to Know About the Private Prison Phase-Out.”
In 2018 The Marshall Project received a $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, a multi-million dollar philanthropic organization that acts as a major funder of criminal justice reform in the United States. As it turns out, that same year Marshall, Jr. was finishing up his second of two six-year terms on the Ford ...
A Washington state federal district court held the GEO Group was not entitled to intergovernmental immunity in a lawsuit alleging it violates the Washington Minimum Wage Act (MWA) at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC).
The NWDC is a 1,575-bed immigrant detention center. Under the contract with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, GEO must provide a Voluntary Work Program. GEO pays the detained immigrants in that program $1 per day to perform various tasks and jobs. Some detainees are paid in “snack food such as chicken, potatoes chips, soda, and/or candy” in lieu of money.
The MWA set wages at $11 an hour on January 1, 2017. That rate has risen annually from the 2005 rate of $7.35 an hour. The suit, which was brought by the Washington Attorney General’s Office, alleged GEO has not only violated the MWA but it has unjustly enriched itself by paying $1 a day to its immigrant employees.
The district court noted in ruling on GEO’s motion for summary judgment that the nondiscrimination rule prohibits states from directly obstructing the activities of the federal government. It also found the MWA applies to all employers except “[a]ny resident, inmate, or patient ...
by Rick Anderson
Jerry Boyle, CEO of Correct Care Solutions, was arrested for driving under the influence on June 16, 2015, after police found him in the parking lot of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
According to a police report obtained by the Daily News Journal, officers were alerted by other drivers in the area who noticed Boyle allegedly driving erratically, almost hitting other cars and ending up smacking a concrete island.
Boyle, co-founder of Correct Care Solutions, which provides health care to prisons, psychiatric hospitals and recovery centers, said he was coming from downtown Nashville and was trying to get home to nearby Brentwood.
When police approached his car, they noticed the smell of an intoxicant, the report stated.
After failing to complete a field sobriety test, Boyle was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. He posted $1,500 and was released. The outcome of the case was not immediately available, a county circuit court spokeswoman said.
Sources: Murfreesboro Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro Police, Rutherford County Circuit Court.
by Pablo Sartorio*
“As a society, our decision to heap shame and contempt upon those who struggle and fail in a system designed to keep them locked up and locked out says far more about ourselves than it does about them.”
― Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Keywords: Incarceration, for profit, rehabilitation, recidivism, open prison
As a defense attorney, it is not often I get the chance to represent someone I admire as much as Matthew Ripley. Matthew is one of our heroes in the Armed Forces who is part of a group that is less than 0.5 percent of Americans, volunteered to go overseas multiple times, defended our freedom and our way of life, so we can live comfortably stateside. Like me, Matthew signed that dotted line of a blank check payable to the United States Government up to his life. But unlike him, I have not gone through the traumatic experiences that Matthew has. This article focuses on how I was able to save Matthew’s life with compassion and wholeheartedly believing that nothing was to gain by sending him to prison for the rest of his ...
by David M. Reutter
In a show of continued support for privately-operated prisons, the Florida legislature considered giving the state’s for-profit prison contractors a $4 million raise.
The GEO Group, MTC and CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America, have had contracts to operate prisons in Florida since the 1990s. While state law requires a seven percent savings to comparable public prisons, that cost analysis is flawed and not given serious consideration. [See: PLN, Jan. 2018, p.52; March 2011, p.36].
The most important consideration is apparently campaign contributions. The GEO Group, which operates four facilities in Florida, is a major contributor to the Republican Party and state GOP candidates. In 2016 alone the company gave almost $2 million in political donations, including $40,000 to Senate President Joe Negron and $100,000 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Committee.
State Senator Jeff Brandes, who chairs the Criminal Justice Budget Committee, defended the increase in payments to for-profit prison firms as being a matter of fairness.
“The issue here is that a couple of years ago we raised salaries for correctional officers in our public facilities, but we never extended that pay increase to correctional officers in private facilities,” he ...