Private Contractor Accused of Skimping on Prisoner Food

This is from the In These Times series The Prison Complex, by George Lavender
Jan. 30, 2014

  When prisoners in the segregation unit at Westville Correctional Facility in Indiana received their lunch trays last Tuesday, it was, for some of them, a small taste of victory. While “savory stroganoff with noodles, mixed vegetables, and enriched bread” might not seem like much, the prisoners say it was their first hot weekday lunch in months, except on holidays. For the previous week, dozens in the unit had been protesting what they saw as inadequate food by refusing the cold sack lunches provided by the prison, according to two inmates who spoke to In These Times on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisal from the prison.

“A lot of people didn’t believe that we could win,” says “Jela,” (not his real name), one of the prisoners involved in the protest. “We proved them wrong.”

Barring holidays, prisoners in the maximum security unit had been receiving sack lunches instead of the usual hot meal, five days a week for approximately seven months. Indiana Department of Corrections (DOC) Public Information Officer John Schrader says the switch to the sack lunch program was a response to requests from some prisoners, and was an effort to speed meal times and free up more time for recreation and showers.

But “people were losing weight, people were not getting the proper nutrients and calories,” charges “Malik,” another prisoner in the unit, who also asked to be identified by a pseudonym. Each bag contained slices of bread, peanut butter and jelly, and a cookie—“not enough,” according to Malik and Jela.

In response, say Jela and Malik, prisoners began making dozens of complaints about the program, which they say went unheeded. So more than 40 inmates took part in the protest, which was inspired by prisoner actions in California and Georgia, and organized by shouting between rec rooms.

Read the rest here.

Security records mixed for private prison firms. Ohio will announce next month which firm will run the state’s prisons.

Special Investigation
From: Dayton Daily News
Security records mixed for private prison firms
Ohio will announce next month which firm will run the state’s prisons.
Kasich looking to privatization to cut costs, raise cash
By Tom Beyerlein and Laura A. Bischoff, Staff Writers
Saturday, August 6, 2011

An escape from a privatized prison in Kingman, Ariz., last year left two people dead and raised questions among some whether the same nightmare scenario could happen in Ohio.

The company that operates the Arizona State Prison Complex at Kingman is Utah-based Management and Training Corp., one of three for-profit corrections companies seeking to buy and operate five Ohio facilities under Gov. John Kasich’s prison privatization plan.

Escapes can and do happen at publicly operated prisons too. But a stunning lack of administrative oversight before the July 30, 2010, escape at Kingman has opponents of the Ohio plan calling it a textbook example of what can go wrong when private companies operate public corrections institutions.

Alarms blared at the Arizona State Prison Complex after three convicts escaped, but an investigation found that guards ignored them: The alarm system had been malfunctioning for two and a half years, sometimes going off 200 to 300 times per shift.

Before they were captured, authorities say, two of the fugitives and an accomplice kidnapped a retired couple vacationing in New Mexico, killed them at a remote ranch, then doused their camper with liquor and set it ablaze, burning their bodies beyond recognition.

The Oklahoma couple’s survivors are suing the state and the company for $40 million.

Ohio is joining Texas, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma and Mississippi as one of the top states using the $3 billion private prison industry to house convicts. Terms of the bids are secret, but Ohio is to announce Sept. 1 whether MTC, Corrections Corp. of America, the GEO Group or a combination of two or all three will buy and run the five prisons under contract with the state.

When the deal is completed, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction will confine at least 5,900 of its nearly 51,000 prisoners in privately run cells. People on both sides of the debate say privatization is unlikely to stop at five prisons. “If it’s making sense and working, let’s keep going,” said Matt Mayer, executive director of the conservative Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions.

Arguments for privatization

State officials hope the sale of the five prisons will generate $200 million — $75 million of which will go to shore up the $3.1 billion two-year Corrections budget — and they say the privatization of operations will save at least 5 percent, or $6.6 million per year.

The companies, according to Kasich administration officials, generally have good track records for safety, and MTC has safely operated two Ohio-owned prisons for 10 years for less money than comparable state-run prisons.

However, Ohio’s early experience with private prisons was troubled. In 1998, six inmates — five of them killers — escaped in broad daylight from a CCA prison in Youngstown that housed inmates from Washington, D.C. Like the Kingman inmates, they had cut through perimeter fences. At the time, state legislators complained that CCA officials wouldn’t answer their questions about the escape.

In a separate instance, the state didn’t renew the contract of CiviGenics Corp. as operator of an early private prison for Ohio inmates in 2001, saying the company failed to meet expectations.

Prisons spokesman Carlo LoParo said Ohio’s oversight policies, including state approval rights over the companies’ wardens, will prevent another Kingman from happening here.

“Anything can happen in a correctional facility if you don’t have the proper procedures in place,” LoParo said. “There has to be constant vigilance from the Department of Corrections to make sure safeguards are in place. That (Kingman) situation will never happen in Ohio because of our policies and procedures.”

Safety records

Like MTC, which is privately held, the publicly traded CCA and GEO also have made national headlines in recent months because of safety and security problems in some of the prisons they operate. For example:

• In November, the Associated Press published a video showing at least three guards watching as an inmate of a CCA prison in Boise, Idaho, beat another prisoner so badly he sustained brain damage. The video triggered an FBI investigation.

• The Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union are suing the GEO Group, formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., alleging it allowed widespread brutality and sexual abuse against juveniles by staff and other inmates at a private youth prison in Mississippi. And in 2009, an appeals court upheld a $42.5 million civil verdict against GEO in the death of a Texas inmate who was days away from release on a minor drug conviction when he was beaten to death with padlocks that inmates had purchased from the prison and stuffed into socks. The case led to a murder indictment against GEO by a Texas grand jury.

• In June, Florida Corrections inspectors conducted a surprise drug sweep at a GEO prison in Palm Beach County and found no guard at the front gate. No one answered a door bell, and no one responded when inspectors shined a flashlight into a security camera to attract attention. State officials are auditing the prison.

LoParo said expanded privatization is necessary to make up for cuts that were needed to balance the state budget and the end of federal stimulus funding that had been used to pay state salaries. Without it, he said, Ohio would have had to close prisons.

“Privatization is a way to save Ohio jobs, operate safe and secure facilities and prevent the state from further overcrowding our inmates,” he said.

Two privately run prisons have operated in Ohio for more than a decade. Kasich’s plan will not only expand that number to five, but also sell the publicly financed prison buildings to private companies. The state also plans to sell a closed juvenile detention center in Scioto County, perhaps to house federal prisoners or immigration detainees.

Administration officials say privatization is a good deal for taxpayers. Critics say it’s a bonanza for an industry with close ties to Republican governors.

“In Arizona, Florida and Ohio, industry lobbyists have very close connections with the governors,” said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the anti-privatization Private Corrections Working Group of Tallahassee, Fla. “What you’re seeing is basically a political payback for them. Governors like Kasich, they should be required to wear like a NASCAR jacket. You know, ‘This governor is brought to you by….’

“This is sort of a new phenomenon: Let’s sell the state assets. It’s basically a feeding frenzy. (The corporations) got a bunch of people elected and now they’ve got to make the best of it.”

Debate over costs

Research results vary on whether private prisons are as safe as state-operated prisons or truly save money in the long run. But critics say the profit motive causes corporations to scrimp on safety and security spending to boost their bottom lines. They say when problems do occur, corporations aren’t as accountable to the public as government. And they worry that the injection of corporate cash into the system will lead to more scandals such as the “kids for cash” conspiracy in Luzerne County, Pa., in which two juvenile judges pleaded guilty in 2009 to taking $2.6 million in kickbacks for sentencing juveniles with minor offenses to detention centers operated by Mid Atlantic Youth Services Corp.

“I simply can’t believe private corporations running a prison for a profit won’t cut corners,” said U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice of Dayton. “A private owner is far less likely to respond (to public concerns) than a political entity.”

Additionally, at a time when many governments are seeking ways to reduce burgeoning prison populations to save taxpayer money, critics accuse the major corrections companies of supporting political candidates who favor locking up more criminal and immigration offenders.

Activists have called on investors to divest themselves of corporate corrections stock because of corporate efforts to influence incarceration policies.

MTC and GEO Group officials declined to be interviewed for this story, but CCA spokesman Steve Owen said such concerns are “unfounded. We’re not in the business of public policy. We don’t grow our business by impacting crime and sentencing laws. We grow our business by providing safe, secure facilities.”

CCA, the largest corrections company with record revenues of $1.7 billion in 2010, was also the first modern industry player. Cofounded in 1983 by then-Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Tom Beasley, the company now confines more than 75,000 male, female and juvenile inmates in 66 prisons serving 19 states, the District of Columbia, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Owen said CCA helps governments save money by using economies of scale in the purchasing of goods and services, and in negotiating with providers for employee benefits. He said the company offers competitive pay, based on the standards of the prisons’ host communities. That translates to lower pay for guards than that offered to unionized state employees.

“We’ve been able to deliver on the value proposition,” Owen said. “Marry that with the oversight and accountability of government, (and you get) the best of both worlds.

“At the end of the day, from a business standpoint, if we’re not operating safe and secure facilities, there’s no reason for government to partner with us.”

Political connections

Privatization foes say there are other reasons that politicians engage corrections companies: Campaign contributions, lobbying and other personal connections.

Soon after Ohio dipped its toe into the private prison waters, money started flowing into campaign coffers, campaign finance records show. Since 2001, when it began running Ohio’s two private prisons, MTC has contributed a total of $103,000 to legislative and state candidate and political parties. In just the last two years, MTC donated $42,000.

In December, CCA and GEO — the other two dominant players in the industry — each contributed $10,000, the maximum allowed by law, to Kasich’s transition fund that pays for inaugural parties and other expenses.

Each of the three vendors hired well-connected Columbus lobbyists to advance their interests. In CCA’s corner is Donald Thibaut, who served as Kasich’s chief of staff in Congress for nearly 20 years. GEO contracted with Doug Preisse and Bob Klaffky, who both served as political advisors to the Kasich campaign. MTC hired Dan Jones, who went on a Florida fishing trip with then House Speaker Jon Husted in the midst of the 2006 budget negotiations.

After being elected governor last year, Kasich hired former CCA employee Gary Mohr as his corrections director and announced plans to privatize the five prisons. Mohr handed oversight of the deal to his chief of staff to avoid a conflict of interest.

MTC also hired former Ohio Corrections Director Terry Collins as a paid consultant. CCA announced in June it hired newly retired Federal Bureau of Prisons director Harley G. Lappin as its chief corrections officer and executive vice president.

According to, which tracks campaign giving and lobbying influence, CCA and GEO have contributed a combined $20.9 million to federal candidates in the last decade. The two companies also spent a combined $19.6 million to lobby federal officials since 2000. Since 2002, GEO and CCA contributed $1 million to the Democratic Governors Association and $1.8 million to the Republican Governors Association, according to OpenSecrets.

State Rep. Mike Foley, D-Cleveland, said Ohio’s privatizations are “giveaways to corporate America,” and said they raise questions about “pay to play and basically buying influence to obtain state resources.”

Ohio Corrections officials deny political motivations, saying the privatization plan is one means of solving the state’s budget crisis. LoParo said the selection process is being done by an adminstration team in “a very transparent, very professional manner, far removed from the political process.”

Next steps

MTC currently runs the minimum-security North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton and the medium-security Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut in the northeastern tip of Ohio near Pennsylvania.

LoParo said the MTC-run prisons have had fewer incidents of inmate-on-staff and inmate-on-inmate violence than comparable state-run prisons. And Corrections budget chief Kevin Stockdale said MTC’s prisons have come in six to 16 percent cheaper than comparable state-run prisons.

The five private prisons will house only minimum- and medium-security inmates, LoParo said. Higher-security inmates will be held only in state-run prisons and “that will not change.” He acknowledged that murderers and other violent criminals can achieve medium-security status with good behavior.

Critics worry that in practice the state would be slow to punish troubled vendors or hold the line on per-diem charges, especially when the vendors own the prison buildings. Some studies have shown that initial savings evaporate because vendors renegotiate for higher fees.

“Once the assets are sold … the camel’s nose is under the tent,” Kopczynski said. “The vendors have (state officials) over a barrel.”

But Kopczynski said Ohio also risks sacrificing basic human rights in the name of financial savings.

“It goes to the heart of the American system of jurisprudence,” he said. “The next question is, if you can save money privatizing the prisons, can you save money privatizing the cops? The courts? What is the basic function of government?”

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2264 or

Prison fails to treat heart patient: More Questions than Answers about Jackie’s condition

More Questions than Answers about Jackie’s condition
Posted on May 30, 2011 by Disarm Now Plowshares


This has been, and continues to be, a difficult time for all of us who know and love Sr. Jackie Hudson. First – Please know that there is an extraordinary convergence of people, including lawyers and physicians who are working virtually 24/7 on Jackie’s behalf. As of this moment none of us has had direct contact with Jackie, and so we cannot confirm her present health status. That having been said, here is what we know.

Since Sr. Carol Gilbert, who is also at Irwin County Detention Center (Georgia), informed us (on May 29th) of Jackie’s severe chest pain and that nothing was being done for her medical condition, Joe Power-Drutis immediately set a process in motion to secure her transportation to a hospital to reserve proper medical care. He contacted everyone possible, and engaged 2 physicians and 3 attorneys to engage directly with the prison staff. The prison has been completely uncooperative, only saying that Jackie “was being taken care of.” She is evidently in the prison medical facility (God only knows what that is like!!!).

At one point there was an indication that Jackie may have been transported to the local hospital and then returned to the jail. However, a followup conversation with staff at the local hospital confirmed that Jackie has not been admitted there, and he staff indicated that theirs is the only hospital in the area. There is absolutely no evidence that Jackie has been sent anywhere for proper medical evaluation.

The prison medical facility, as far as I know, is ill equipped to evaluate or treat Jackie’s possible medical condition and experts (MDs) agree that based on her presentation to prison medical staff, she should have been immediately transported to a hospital emergency facility for a thorough cardiac work-up.

Based on all the information we have received it appears that her treatment since her chest pain began, even beyond her basic medical needs, has been substandard and inhumane.

The legal team working on Jackie’s behalf includes Bill Quigley, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights; Anabel Dwyer, lawyer and international human rights expert; and Blake Kramer, Tacoma-based attorney who has been deeply involved in defending the Disarm Now Plowshares. I understand that the legal team is currently working every possible angle, and one involves getting the Judge for the Y-12 trial, which was the reason for Jackie’s current imprisonment, to order her release/transport to the hospital.

Another major concern and an egregious disregard for the rule of law is prison’s refusal to allow Jackie’s right to legal counsel. Jackie’s court-appointed attorney, Brad Henry, found out at the jail that the Warden told all the staff at the jail that no information was to be given out about Jackie, including her appointed council. The prison is stonewalling every step of the way.

Beyond the obvious moral and ethical implications of the prison’s treatment of Jackie Hudson, it is evident that she is being deprived of her Constitutional rights as well as essential human rights. This on top of Jackie’s very real status as a Prisoner of Conscience, quite literally a political prisoner in a nation that flouts both national law and international humanitarian law and then imprisons those who follow their conscience and the law to speak and act out to call on our nation to uphold these laws.

This maltreatment must not stand. The people operating Irwin County Detention Center, a private, for profit prison, must be held accountable for their actions. If this is how they treat Jackie, someone with a broad base of support, I can only imagine the mistreatment of a vast number of prisoners who have no one to advocate on their behalf. What of the forgotten???

Besides the work being done by this dedicated group to whom I’ve referred, many of you out there are working on Jackie’s behalf, and for this I thank you all! We evidently flooded the prison phone line with calls, and I have no doubt that this has had an impact. They know we are watching! I have contacted the ACLU of Georgia, asking them to act on Jackie’s behalf. We are working on alerting media locally(Georgia), regionally and nationally to Jackie’s plight, and will also be contacting members of Congress to act on her behalf.

What can you do to help Jackie? For one thing, we can continue to call, fax and/or email the prison to let them know we are watching and demand that they send Jackie to the hospital. The phone number is 229-468-4121. You may get a recorded message during some hours. There is also an email listed: Fax is 229-468-4186 Additional phone numbers: Warden Barbara Walrath – warden of Irwin County Detention Center, 229-468-4120, Dr. Howard C. McMahan – Medical Director of Irwin County Detention Center, 229-468-5177. If you get into a message system, LEAVE A MESSAGE!

Irwin County Detention Center
132 Cotton Drive, Ocilla, GA 31774
Telephone: 229-468-4121 Fax: 229-468-4186 Email:

Here are some suggested talking points:

Sr. Jackie Hudson, who is in your care and for whom you are responsible, has had intense heart pain, which began Saturday afternoon. She is being obstinately denied proper medical care. Her symptoms suggest that she may have one or more occluded coronary arteries. If this is the case, her heart, as a muscle, will progressively worsen in the hours and days to come.

Jackie must be taken to an emergency room immediately. The Emergency Department at the Irwin County Hospital verifies that Sr. Jackie has not been taken to their hospital, and that there is no other local hospital to which she might have been taken. They Emergency Department has been in contact with the ICDC to no avail.

Such treatment constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and if Sister Jackie is not moved to an emergency room immediately and suffers any negative medical consequences as a result I will hold Michael Croft Enterprises, operator of ICDC and in particular Warden Barbara Walrath and Medical Director Howard C. McMahon personally responsible.

Those supporting Jackie Hudson must have direct access to her and her physicians so they know her whereabouts, her condition and her treatment. These people include: Sue Ablao, Sr. Jackie’s housemate at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, Poulsbo, WA; Frank Hudson, Sr. Jackie’s brother; Sister Nathalie Meyer O.P., provincial of the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, Sr. Jackie’s religious order; and Brad Henry, Jackie’s attorney.

Send an email to (or call) any news media contacts you have, or even if you don’t have any you email the newsroom (look them up in the contacts section of that newspaper’s Website).

I understand that the Koinonia Partners community in Americus, Georgia, is planning a vigil at the prison tomorrow.

As I stay focused on dear Jackie’s immediate needs I find myself also focusing on a much broader issue. Here is a person with so much support from so many wonderful people. And yet, there is a huge percentage of the U.S. prison population (with the largest incarceration rate in the world) for whom there is no support. What becomes of these forgotten prisoners when they become ill??? We will take up that issue once we get Jackie taken care of!!!

One last thing before I close; an excerpt from something by Liz McAllister and Chrissy Nesbitt of the Jonah House community that I find quite pertinent today:

It is Memorial Day as we write. Meaning no disrespect, but on this “war heroes’ weekend”, isn’t it time to also honor those who have “fallen” in a different battle – against the slaughtering wars?

It often takes a different kind of moral and, yes, even physical courage to resist a war and/or a weapons system that you believe is a crime, when all your family, friends, teachers and the vast American majority support them.

But what about the Sr. Jackie Hudsons who don’t want to kill people, who don’t believe it is right to build more and more weapons of mass destruction? They’re an odd breed who count among their number such as Muhammad Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, Sergeant York, David Hockney, three US weapon-refusing combat medics who won the medal of honor. What kind of guts does it take for war objectors, whether they’re Quakers, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mennonites or Roman Catholic, who simply don’t want to kill? On this Memorial Day, it might be a time to think about the outcasts who refuse to take life. Should Sr. Jackie Hudson be required to give her life in a jail that displays absolutely no respect for life? Is this what the U.S. is about?

That’s all for now. In between these emails I am regularly updating the Disarm Now Plowshares Blog as I hear of anything that you should know. Please check in at the top of the home page occasionally for updates. And – Please forward this email far and wide.

Thanks to all who have offered to help in so many ways. As bad as this all is, Jackie is surrounded by such a wonderful, loving community, and I can imagine that this knowledge is deeply embedded in Jackie’s heart and mind, and that it is a great comfort to her.


Update on Jackie May 31, 2011
Joe Power-Drutis

This day promises to be a pivotal one in Jackie’s life and ours.
Whatever struck Jackie in the afternoon of May 28th, we can only
assume it heart because of its symptoms, she has remained in pain,
frequently crying out for assistance, and at least many of her cries
have gone forth unanswered by her human captors.

Nearly 65 hours have elapsed since Sr. Carol Gilbert first called
pleading for someone to come and provide Jackie much need care. Yes,
65 hours have elapsed when medical authorities tell us minutes make a
difference. It is 65 hours that Ardeth, Carol, Jean and Bonnie had to
sit helpless, literally feet away from where Jackie would lay. During
these 65 hours the legal system would ostensibly shut down and
everyone would go to the beach over Memorial Day Weekend.

Well now we are at the end of that 65 hour period and I feel confident
in my heart that Jackie will be liberated from, as Dorothy Day would
say, “this dirty filthy rotten system” that keeps her in chains and
without the care she so desperately needs.

Over the past 48 hours you have been a part of a very large response
from people North to South and East to West, that have wrote, called,
planned and made contacts on behalf of our sister Jackie. This morning
Medical, Legal and Political representatives will weigh in on Jackie’s
behalf and I believe they will accomplish their objective.

Our main hope is that the courts will intervene and order Jackie either
released from Jail so that we might ensure her care or order the
Irwin County Detention Facility in Ocilla to send her to the Irwin
County Hospital immediately for proper evaluation and treatment.

Nothing short of this will be acceptable. I am making plans for going
to Ocilla soon and will send out word through this service when I
catch wind of any development.

I pray this day that the men and women, who will do all they can on
Jackie’s behalf, will be successful in ensuring she receives the care
she desperately needs.

Sumter: No more business-as-we-know-it for Probation Profiteers.

And the follow-up to the 2008 Mother Jones article on for-profit probation in Georgia.

Monday, March 22, 2010 at at 7:40 PM by Dan

Thanks to the efforts of numerous groups including the Georgia Citizens’ Coalition on Hunger, the Americus and Sumter Branches of the NAACP, and the Southern Center for Human Rights, private probation has been kicked out of Sumter County, Georgia. For background on private probation, check out this 2008 Mother Jones article. Details on the victory are below care of The AmericUSumter Observer.

Through many prayers, tireless efforts from Georgia Citizens’ Coalition on Hunger, represented by Director, Minister Sandra Roberson, NUBIA Grand Hierophant Mr. Eugene Edge, and the Americus and Sumter County Branch of the NAACP, represented by President Matt Wright and his staff, private probation as we know it will no longer exist in Americus and Sumter County, Georgia. The pleasant winds of change that were championed by Judge Rucker Smith and the Sumter County Commissioners, produced a landmark decision to do away with private probation in Americus and Sumter County.

We spoke with one of the commissioners and were told that after the NAACP, and the other organizations met with the Americus City Council with complaints from citizens, some on probation and the unified front of organizations against private probation, the decision was made to remove the last private probation office. Final details have not been completely worked out, but we do expect private probation to be long-gone from our County and City no later than April 01, 2010.

NAACP President Matt Wright stated that “he was overwhelmed by the sudden move toward justice. I expected this to eventually come to pass, but not this soon.” Wright also expressed thanks to organizers Anginette Dodson, Minister Linda Wright, Assistant Police Chief Nelson Brown, Colonel Eric Bryant, other volunteers and the probationers who were not afraid to stand-up for their rights afforded to them by the U.S. Constitution. President Wright also noted that there could be a possible problem with the Judge who presides over City Court and that he and organizational partners are getting ready to set up a meeting with the Judge to pursue the issues. Wright said that Minister Robertson said she and her organization were very pleased, and that Sumter County was the only area that she knew of in the state of Georgia that has successfully won the probation fight against private probation companies.

Grand Hierophant, Edge said that, “the effort was a continued struggle for us at the office and those who were probationers in the county. I am reminded of a saying from a great African proverb, “A life of ease will sometimes allow us to forget struggle; therefore we must always be reminded of what it took to establish justice for the probationers.” Wright closed by saying, “there is nothing better than swift justice.” The first private probation company in Americus, Middle Georgia Probation, was run out with the help of the Law Office of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, GA. Kori Chen, one of the organizers, assisted our local NAACP and the other organizations in removing Middle Georgia Probation. We are so very appreciative of their dedicated service to so many communities in Georgia, says President Wright.

Probation Profiteers in Georgia.

An oldie but goodie from Mother Jones –

Probation Profiteers


In Georgia’s outsourced justice system, a traffic ticket can land you deep in the hole.


Bill Seeks To Privatize Half Of Ohio Prisons

Thank you to the people at Ohio’s Death Row on Blogger for bringing this to our attention –

Ohio prisons could soon become corporations if lawmakers pass a bill that would privatize up to half of the state’s correctional facilities.
An e-mail sent by the Ernie Moore, the director of Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, warned workers of the possibility, 10 Investigates’ Paul Aker reported on Thursday.
Supporters of the bill said privatizing prisons could save tax dollars, but the prison system’s union employees worry it means they will be out of work.

Continue Reading on ONNtv 

Read Senate Bill 269 Here

More information can be found here;

(Even though the above link is for Ohio Civil Service Employees they do have resources that could be utilized by citizens on that page.)

Wexford, Mississippi, and Women’s Health Care in Prison

(originally posted at the Prison Abolitionist 1/26/10 as “Jamie Scott, Prisoner Abuse, Self-defense.”)
Things are not looking any better for Jamie, folks. I’ve been working all morning on this and still have more links to embed for you, but here’s a start. Please read and think and act today.

Mississippi‘s prison health care services are privatized. Here’s a little info about the company that contracts with Mississippi to provide their prisoner health care, Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (that’s the link to their rap sheet with the guys at Private Corrections Working Group; there are more news links at the bottom about New Mexico’s investigation. Just Google Wexford if you want their propaganda). 
That’s who’s doing the day to day care. The Mississippi Department of Corrections is no doubt in on it, of course – they monitor the contract, and I’m sure they set the limits for what they’ll pay them for – which bring this back to the Governor’s office and the legislature, really. Dealing with the people at the level of the prison administration – even the medical administrator – seems to be a waste of time.  
Now, I’m no lawyer – I’ve been going to school for nearly 2 decades and still haven’t been able to finish my BS in Justice Studies, so keep that in mind. But I’ve been reading up on some of this stuff that’s been coming to my attention lately, and I think I should at least pass what I do know – or think I know – along. We’re not going to get better care for anyone unless the state knows we’re well-armed and that Jamie’s complaints can’t get tossed out right off the bat for her failing to “exhaust administrative remedies” (thank Bob Dole and Bill Clinton for championing the Prison Litigation Reform Act, which is routinely used to deny relief or protection to victims of institutional abuse in correctional settings on technicalities. Signed in 1996, it gutted federal protection of prisoner rights and legal recourse. We need to tear that thing up and start over.)
The Mississippi Department of Corrections, of course, knows full well that Jamie needs to be grieving every single thing in writing, if she isn’t already – or there will never be recourse if they continue to harm her. They probably won’t be advising her to take that route; here’s their administrative remedy policy. She then needs to get copies of that documentation out of the prison on a regular basis, because prisons are notorious for searching litigants’ cells and destroying whatever possible evidence they may have against them (I’m sure Mississippi is already covering themselves on this one). As far as I know, no prison employees have ever been prosecuted for destroying evidence (which usually includes prisoner as well as state property) that might be used against their institution – though you know what would happen to any of us if we tried to destroy evidence the state had against us in a civil or criminal case…
I wonder how much of this has to do with the “duly convicted” being constitutionally designated as slaves of the state? The 13th Amendment really did leave us with some problems.
Don’t ask how someone as sick as she is should be expected to know all the hoops she has to get through to get help, and then leap through each one. I don’t think the law takes that into account. Or the fact that some states – like Arizona – go to extremes to make it hard for prisoners to access the resources necessary to represent themselves or even just assert their civil rights. You have to know the law and grievance procedures from the start, because the steps involved have time frames for filing and responding to grievances (I guess that’s to protect the right of the state and their employees to a timely settlement of such issues – though we never seem to get timely settlements). Judges seem to love to tell prisoners that ignorance is no excuse.
As far as I can tell there’s no assurance that you’ll be protected from retaliation if you do pursue grievances – there will likely be retaliation of some kind. But this is how prisoners – women prisoners, in particular – have managed to change the conditions of their incarceration – they grieve everything and take it to court.
It should not just be Jamie grieving her care – all the other women who have suffered harm as a result of the same shoddy standards need to grieve too. En masse – but make sure it’s the best of the best cases you put forward if you’re showing a pattern of civil rights violations (that’s necessary to prove a Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act violation. Personally, I think the potential claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act need to be explored more. By an attorney, not me.)
If/when it gets to court, the first thing that the judges will look at is whether or not the prisoner (not the prison) followed proper procedures to seek relief before getting there. It just isn’t fair to the poor prison administrators if prisoners they’ve harmed don’t have to overcome extraordinary hurdles to even get their case heard in the courts. For some women that’s meant filing a grievance about sexual harassment by guards while the officers their complaint is about continue to have access and exert influence over their lives through the course of the “investigation.” It’s very easy to hurt a prisoner and get away with it. Women are set up to be assaulted by other inmates just as readily as men are.
In many cases the prisoner is also threatened with being prosecuted for filing frivolous complaints or false charges if their perpetrator ends up being cleared of everything. I don’t know how often most DAs take that approach with women who aren’t imprisoned who report that they’ve been victimized, or if that tactic is just reserved for prisoners who accuse the people with the authority of state violence and the keys to their chains of being the criminals.
In any case, there’s a tremendous disincentive for prisoners to report rape, assault, or other abuse or neglect. They will not necessarily be protected from their assailants once they make their accusation, and there are so few people in the system whose primary interest or responsibility is prisoner welfare – everyone works for the state, to serve the interests of the state. It is in the best interests of the state to cover up the more atrocious examples of corruption and abuse, as well as to minimize public shock over the dehumanizing nature of standard operating procedures for prisons. But it is in the best interests of the people (that’s us) to know what’s going on in those places – throughout the criminal justice system, really – and to be empowered to change it.
There are some good links in this article about Wexford’s adventures in New Mexico prisons, where they eventually lost the contract to do business and got sued. Similar stories seem to follow them around the country. Scott family and friends might want to see what more you can find out about this company’s history in Mississippi. Are there any lawsuits by prisoners pending there? You’ll need to dig deeper than Google – dig into the state’s court websites. How long have they been around? Check out what folks in the Mississippi Prison Talk community have to say about the health services. Are there patterns of neglect surfacing there? What about grievances that have been filed at the prison or throughout the system?
I’ll put more thoughts on strategy for the Scott Sisters’ family and friends into a separate private message. In general, though, the more supporting documentation you have that is accessible and organized now, the more likely it will be we can get an investigative journalist in and help you get legal assistance as this unfolds. First the fight to save her life, and the lives of other Mississippi prisoners – this is injustice regardless of what Jamie’s convictions or sentence may be, though it’s clearly all about how little a lifer is worth to the rest of us.

The justification for this kind of rationing is the same slippery slope that made it okay to conduct medical experiments on African Americans, on prisoners, insane asylum patients, soldiers, and the mentally impaired for so long: their lives just aren’t worth the lives of the members of the “public” (still considered to be white upper-middle-class America -many of whom, of course, are repeat offenders of some crime that have just never been caught).Guess a lot of experimentation is still done on  prisoners.

Well, as a member of the American public (albeit the poorer class), I have to say that I don’t care much for Nazi science and “medicine” being practiced in America in my name, against my people, over my strenuous objections. Nor do I think will many other people, if this is brought up in the context of a conversation about the history of southern prisons, prisoners and the crimes of the medical profession in America.
Especially when it comes to black women. Scholars who have studied women’s resistance to slavery should also be shining some light on women resisting their criminalization and the conditions of incarceration or the terms of their punishment – women resisting violence.
That’s what Oprah should really be most interested in herself, if anyone can get her ear: her PR people are probably just thinking in terms of human interest stories and ratings, but Oprah herself would pick up on the broader ramifications of the Scott family’s fight – the ways in which racism today is so cloaked and insidious, and the depth of the injustice still done to so many as a result. The racism is systemic and multi-faceted (intersecting with gender, class, sexual identity/orientation, etc.) – we need to elevate it to the proper level right away, because most of the prison administrators (and probably most guards in the department) are people of color themselves who have been well-indoctrinated to support the state line and positioned to act as examples of how non-racist the state is. 
Jamie’s life has been determined by the state to not be worth certain medical and environmental interventions that would be standard if we were basing prisoner health care on community standards (for the poor, of course). But we don’t use community standards for them anymore – we base prisoner health care on what is “constitutionally mandated” – which is about as bare bones as you can get. Prison doctors basically have to commit at the very least negligent homicide or intentionally mutilate you in the course of what constitutes more than just gross malpractice to prove that you didn’t get a constitutionally-mandated level of medical care. And the damage done to you as a result of the neglect or abuse has to be permanent (or lasting, as of the time of the case).
That’s what’s so wrong with prison health care across the country – the laws have been changed at some point to lower standards because too many prisoners were winning lawsuits, prisons were having to clean up their acts and cut back on the rape and violence, and the states were facing hefty federal fines. Prisoners weren’t being “frivolous” with lawsuits any more so than non-prisoners – they were defending themselves against state violence and dehumanization, and finally getting justice done.
And most of us out here since the 80’s with a voice and a vote who should have known better let most of it get undone again because we weren’t paying attention.
We need to pay attention, now. And we’ll have to get these laws changed again – which means hitting candidates now with questions specifically about the Prison Litigation Reform Act (good ACLU fact sheet for prisoners), the Prison Abuse Remedies Act, and – in Arizona – what we need to put into Marcia’s Law to protect our people from abuse and rip out the prison systems revolving door and meat-grinding machinery. That means a lot of folks here need to study-up. We need to be more literate than the Department of Corrections on our stuff – and have the empirical evidence in hand.
Can you imagine if it was that hard to prove negligence or malpractice in the community? If people could just so casually be left to die – all the while begging for help – because our medical providers have to determine whether or not our lives should be saved based on some formula applied to our crimes of our youth or addictions and the nature of our punishments, there would be a health care consumer revolt. Help me pin this down folks – do some research out there. This is what’s happening in every state I’m coming across: dealing with just about any health care issue for prisoners the standard of care to research is “constitutionally-mandated”.
I’ll have more on this issue, because the same minimum standards of care for prisoners and mandate that one exhausts all administrative measures before seeking relief in the courts is a huge problem for prisoners in Arizona, of course. In the meantime, here’s who we could end up with providing our prisoner health car too (the people who do Mississippi and once did New Mexico….), if they bid on our ADC medical care contract, too (everyone knows that our prison health care services are supposed to be privatized this year, too, right?).
By the way, in doing all this research I came across an interesting article on the last Medical Director for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. At some point along the way this woman would have made decisions to ration prisoner health care – maybe even signed off on cutting Jamie’s life short by excluding certain treatments from the prisoner “benefits” plan. I wonder if the fact she embezzled nearly $100,000 from the department has anything to do with the fact that they can’t “afford” to give Jamie – a woman accused of stealing $11 over 15 years ago – her medically-recommended diet even as her kidneys are failing. That woman is likely to get house arrest for her crimes. She’s arguing that prison would be cruel and unusual for her because she was in a position of authority over inmates.
It’s not a good thing for an abolitionist to say – I’m far from perfect, folks – but it sounds to me like a prison term for the former medical director of that place might actually, for once, bring a measure of justice to the institutions’ victims. I have to admit, I do want some of these people to pay more than restitution – I want a chunk ripped out of their lives, too. I want them to know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of their abuse…which is precisely the kind of mentality that landed us where we are today, with mass incarceration, and increasing numbers of young people being thrown away for life. I guess if the violent retaliation Americans call criminal justice isn’t changed by us, who will it be changed by? Do we really want to leave this multi-headed hydra as our generation’s legacy?
I don’t think so. At some point here, in the course of protecting our people and dismembering this beast, we need to figure out what we’ll do with the perpetrators of state violence if we ever get our hands on them. We need to make them examples of restorative justice, not more retribution. When we seek justice, we need to avoid dehumanizing and brutalizing others as they do, and instead use every opportunity to help people and communities heal and be kinder in the future. As for the ones with no conscience – the sociopaths and CEOs who would rape the world for their own greed or grisly pleasure – I’m still not sure what to do with them, but they don’t get an embrace and another chance to offend from me. We need to protect people from them – beginning with protecting our prisoners.
Here’s the latest bad news on Jamie and the State of Mississippi. Please do stop and drop Gladys a note, too, and let her know what you’re doing to help. It will mean a lot.

Nancy Lockhart sent a message to the members of Free The Scott Sisters.

Subject: Urgent Update – Jamie Scott ~ By Sis Marpessa ~ ACTION IS NEEDED!

Jamie Scott is presently locked down in a cell in the infirmary on a hospital bed on the men’s side of the prison.  She has had some of the toxins removed from her body through a temporary catheter, but she is still seriously ill and should be hospitalized! The prison has known that Jamie was sick for some time, yet her condition was allowed to manifest and deteriorate to this level and we do not trust them to provide her with sufficient medical care at all, their track record with Jamie is horrendous!

Jamie Scott was a healthy young woman in 1993 when she was snatched away from her family for no good reason and locked down in tortuous conditions for 15 yrs, now her condition is life-threatening, must this horrific injustice now become a death sentence?!

Gladys Scott is extremely upset by all of this, as you can well imagine.  As reported earlier, she has offered one of her own kidneys for Jamie and was told that as a state prisoner she doesn’t qualify.  With each passing day she is becoming more and more alarmed and could really use some cards/ letters from supporters:

Gladys Scott #19142
P.O. Box 88550
Pearl, MS 39288-8550

Please continue to contact the governor’s office, we cannot rest or believe that our efforts are in vain.  Call into talk radio, enter info on as many blogs, Ning groups, etc., as possible, we need to really make a very loud NOISE in order to be heard! We need all of your ideas and talents, thank you all!



(same numbers/contacts as in previous posts)

The Wexford Files

from the Santa Fe Reporter

By: 01/16/2008

Our ongoing investigation into prison health care in New Mexico.

Outtakes, March 21: “Let There Be Light
Outtakes, Feb. 7: “Audit ABCs
Outtakes, Jan. 10: “Under Correction
Top 10 Stories of 2006, Dec. 20: “Prison Break
Outtakes, Dec. 13: “Wexford Under Fire
Outtakes, Nov. 29: “Backlash
Outtakes, Nov. 22: “Unhealthy Diagnosis
Outtakes, Nov. 8: “Prison Audit Ahead
Outtakes, Oct. 25: “Medical Test
Outtakes, Oct. 18: “Corrections Concerns
Outtakes, Oct. 4: “Medical Waste
Outtakes, Sept. 13: “Checkup
Outtakes, Aug. 30: “Inmate Care Critics
Outtakes, Aug. 23: “Unhealthy Proposal
Cover story, Aug. 9: “Hard Cell?