CCA giving Sayre cops “the runaround” on prison riot

Interesting follow-up coverage from what appears to be the Oklahoman’s on-line edition, newsok.com. In addition to exploring the attempts of local police to investigate the riot, it goes into the distribution of California prisoners in for-profit facilities across the country. 

———-from newsok.com———

Cause of October prison riot in Sayre continues to be withheld

The cause of the Oct. 11 riot at a private prison in Sayre has yet to be released due to ongoing investigation by local authorities.

 
BY ANDREW KNITTLE aknittle@opubco.com  

Published: December 10, 2011



— Nearly a month after a riot that injured inmates at a private prison in western Oklahoma, prison officials say they do not have a cause that they can release.

They will say that 16 of the inmates who were hospitalized after the riot have since been released, but they won’t say what types of injuries they suffered in the Oct. 11 melee.

Mike Machak, spokesman for Corrections Corp. of America, said it’s too early to release details on the riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility.

“While we are not aware of any criminal charges that have been filed, we do know that the Sayre Police Department‘s investigation is ongoing,” Machak said.

“To that end, we do not want to release details that might undermine those ongoing efforts.”

Sayre Police Chief Ronnie Harrold said he has yet to receive anything from the prison regarding the riot. He said he thinks something is close to happening, but that the prison corporation has “been giving us the runaround.”

“It’s coming close to the point where we would expect for them to turn it over to us,” Harrold said. “At some point, if they want charges filed, they’ll have to turn it over to us.”

Prison spokeswoman Michelle Deherrera said the riot erupted just before noon, and the help of local law enforcement agencies was required to subdue the prisoners.

In addition to the 16 inmates who required hospitalization, another 30 were treated at a medical facility at the prison, she said.

Deherrera said no prison staff members or assisting law enforcement officers were injured.

The more than 2,000 prisoners held at the private prison are from California. Machak said inmates from Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Vermont have been housed at the prison over the past 12 years.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website, the state has more than 9,588 inmates serving time in out-of-state prisons.

In addition to North Fork, Arizona has two prisons that house 4,596 inmates from California. A facility in Mississippi has custody of an additional 2,592 prisoners.

California began transferring prisoners to out-of-state facilities in 2007 to alleviate overcrowding and restore rehabilitation programs in its state-run lockups, according to the California department’s website.

The move to transfer the inmates was prompted by an executive order issued in October 2006 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and was expected to be a temporary measure to allow prison reform in California.

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Eloy Red Rock Riot update: Christmas Eve

The latest word from Red Rock (in a news release via K-Gun in Tucson) is that 43 prisoners have been identified as being involved in the riot today and are in administrative segregation under investigation (isolated in detention units). According to them, seven prisoners were treated for injuries at a hospital, only one of whom was admitted (his injuries are reportedly non-life-threatening).

It still appears as if only California’s prisoners were involved.

(photo credit: TriValley Central)

Prison Talk has a thread going (that’s the link to the most current page, as of this evening) where family and friends of prisoners there are sharing info about which yard was involved, what’s happening with visitation, etc. I can’t figure out much more from that yet, but they usually know what’s going on before the media does – and will keep talking about it long after the media loses interest.

The families will be more current than I am, as well, so follow them if you’re really concerned about what’s going on and how other prisoners there are being affected. While rumors may sometimes fly in forums like Prison Talk, CCA’s news releases aren’t necessarily the whole truth. They don’t even have anything about the Red Rock Riot or the lawsuit at Saguaro up on their newsroom website, so don’t turn to CCA for “news” on their prisons.

My friend, Frank Smith from the Private Corrections Working Group (a private prison industry watchdog), dropped me a line today that he left the following remark about the Red Rock Riot on the TriValley Central website. Frank’s insight is often worth repeating:

———————————-

“These prisons are chronically troubled.

Thanks to campaign support and contributions to Republicans there is virtually no oversight. Arizona officials have no clue as to whom they hold; what murderers, pedophiles, rapists, kidnappers have been imported from hundreds or thousands of miles away. The female staff is endlessly sexually harassed by management. Escapes and riots are as regular as rain in the tropics.

When charges are successfully brought against murderers from out of state, it is Arizona taxpayers who will pay to keep them for most or the rest of their lives.

This “minor” incident, as the for-profit prisons are careful to term them, overtaxed Pinal County emergency services. Who will be paying for the costs of the medivac choppers to Maricopa County? Who will be called to address a “major” incident?

In Colorado, there was a 1999 riot in a badly constructed prison built by the same outfit to which Mohave County sole-sourced the Kingman prison, thanks to promoters who are now hovering over Arizona communities like a flock of vultures. It took law enforcement from four states to put down that riot. In 2004 a CCA riot in the same prison cost the state about three quarters of a million to put down, but it only got $300,000 or so in reimbursement.

These ineptly run lockups have long since exhausted the potential labor pool in Pinal county and low-wage labor required to run them will come from Maricopa or Pima counties.

Despite the staggering incompetence of the for-profits, Coolidge officials have welcomed still another such mistake, this one to be run by MTC, the outfit that gave us riots in Pima and Mohave county this year, and the escapes of three murderers who killed a vacationing Oklahoma couple. MTC has had escapes, riots and murders in other states as well, including California, Texas, New Mexico and their home state of Utah. MTC was thrown out of Canada, where cooler legislative heads prevail and politics are not dominated by special interests.”