By La Risa R. Lynch -Contributing Writer
“When you make prisons into a profit, you drive the need for incarceration and that is not in the public interest.”
(FinalCall.com) - The private prison industry's profiteering off mass incarcerations has come under fire by prison reform advocates who blasted the industry’s use of bed or lockup quotas to pad their bottom line even as states attempt to decrease their prison population.
Today the US is home to 5% of the world’s population but a quarter of the world’s prisoners. It also has the highest rate of youth imprisonment and on any given day there are more than 70,000 youths in detention. And the biggest winners of this mass incarceration? The for-profit prison companies whose business models essentially depend on locking more and more people up.
Published on Oct 23, 2013
http://www.democracynow.org - We turn to the latest news in the so-called kids-for-cash scandal in Pennsylvania, in which judges took money in exchange for sending juvenile offenders to for-profit youth jails. In 2011, former Luzerne County Judge, Mark Ciavarella, was convicted of accepting bribes for putting juveniles into detention centers operated by the companies PA Child Care and a sister company, Western Pennsylvania Child Care. Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, are said to have received $2.6 million for their efforts. Now the private, juvenile-detention companies at the heart of the Kids for Cash scandal in Pennsylvania have settled a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million. The state has also passed much-needed reforms aimed at improving its juvenile justice system and ensuring such abuses are not repeated. We are joined in Philadelphia by Marsha Levick, chief counsel of the Juvenile Law Center, which helped expose the corrupt judges and represented the families’ class-action suit.
Democracy Now! – “We look at a major new investigation into how Youth Services International, a private prison company that runs juvenile detention centers, is rapidly expanding its services, despite a record of abuse and neglect over the past 25 years. Despite allegations that include the neglect and abuse of young prisoners and the bribing of public officials to win contracts, Youth Services International has expanded its contracts to operate juvenile prisons in several states. More than 40,000 boys and girls in 16 states have gone through his facilities in the past two decades. This comes as nearly 40 percent of all detained juveniles are now committed to private facilities, and in Florida, it is 100 percent. We are joined by Chris Kirkham, business reporter at The Huffington Post, where he has just published his new two-part investigative series, “Prisoners of Profit: Private Prison Empire Rises Despite Startling Record of Juvenile Abuse.” Kirkham explains: “When oversight is not as strong as it can be, companies are only going to be incentivized to do what the government that’s paying them makes them do. And so in these cases if the oversight is lacking, if there is not constant monitoring, I think there is an incentive to cut costs and services.”
“From a glance at his background, one might assume that James F. Slattery would have a difficult time convincing any state in America to entrust him with the supervision of its lawbreaking youth.
Over the past quarter century, Slattery’s for-profit prison enterprises have run afoul of the Justice Department and authorities in New York, Florida, Maryland, Nevada and Texas for alleged offenses ranging from condoning abuse of inmates to plying politicians with undisclosed gifts while seeking to secure state contracts.
In 2001, an 18-year-old committed to a Texas boot camp operated by one of Slattery’s previous companies, Correctional Services Corp., came down with pneumonia and pleaded to see a doctor as he struggled to breathe. Guards accused the teen of faking it and forced him to do pushups in his own vomit, according to Texas law enforcement reports. After nine days of medical neglect, he died.
That same year, auditors in Maryland found that staff at one of Slattery’s juvenile facilities coaxed inmates to fight on Saturday mornings as a way to settle disputes from earlier in the week. In recent years, the company has failed to report riots, assaults and claims of sexual abuse at its juvenile prisons in Florida, according to a review of state records and accounts from former employees and inmates.
Despite that history, Slattery’s current company, Youth Services International, has retained and even expanded its contracts to operate juvenile prisons in several states. The company has capitalized on budgetary strains across the country as governments embrace privatization in pursuit of cost savings. Nearly 40 percent of the nation’s juvenile delinquents are today committed to private facilities, according to the most recent federal data from 2011, up from about 33 percent twelve years earlier.
Over the past two decades, more than 40,000 boys and girls in 16 states have gone through one of Slattery’s prisons, boot camps or detention centers, according to a Huffington Post analysis of juvenile facility data.
The private prison industry has long fueled its growth on the proposition that it is a boon to taxpayers, delivering better outcomes at lower costs than state facilities. But significant evidence undermines that argument: the tendency of young people to return to crime once they get out, for example, and long-term contracts that can leave states obligated to fill prison beds. The harsh conditions confronting youth inside YSI’s facilities, moreover, show the serious problems that can arise when government hands over social services to private contractors and essentially walks away…” Full Article on HuffPo
- “Prisoners of Profit”: Despite Widespread Abuse, Private Juvenile Jail Firm Expands Empire (democracynow.org)
- PRISONERS OF PROFIT: Florida Still Giving Millions In Contracts To Troubled Youth Prison Company (huffingtonpost.com)
- Jesse Lava: As Immigration Reform Comes Up Again, Watch This Private Prison Company (huffingtonpost.com)
- Report Documents Abuse of Juveniles in Private Prisons (truthdig.com)
KTVB- “Democratic lawmakers are urging the Board of Correction to put Idaho’s largest prison back under state control instead of contracting with another private prison operator.
The letter signed by 16 of the Legislature’s 20 Democrats was delivered Tuesday by an unexpected messenger: Republican Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s spokesman, Mark Warbis.
Warbis said there was no “hidden message” to Otter’s decision to deliver the Democrats’ message to the board. Instead, he said Democratic leaders approached the governor last week after they learned Otter was open to all options for running the Idaho Correctional Center.
Corrections Corporation of America operates the prison for $29 million a year. The Idaho State Police is investigating CCA for possible contract fraud, and CCA has admitted understaffing ICC in violation of a federal court order.” Full Story
Dispatches From The Culture Wars – “Jails and prisons are not the only parts of our criminal justice being turned over to private companies with terrible consequences for justice. Some states also have turned over their parole and probation services to private companies, one of the largest of which has been found guilty of illegally extending sentences to keep the money flowing in.
Last week, a Georgia county judge ruled that Sentinel Offender Service had illegally extended the sentence of Mantooth and potentially thousands of others who were required to pay the firm monthly probation fees, and was illegally ordering electronic monitoring for misdemeanor offenders — prohibited by state law — while charging probationers for their own monitoring.
Other named plaintiffs in the pair of cases were hauled off to jail and/or subjected to electronic monitoring for alleged probation violations six years after their probation had ended for minor offenses like possession of marijuana and no proof of insurance.
Sentinel Offender Services has become notorious for using every means available to extract funds from low-level offenders, motivated by profit rather than the public interest in supervising and rehabilitating these low-level offenders. Those in Columbia or Richmond counties who cannot pay fines associated with minor offenses like speeding or public intoxication are placed on private probation, which carries monthly fees of $34 to $44. They are also charged additional “start-up” fees, photo fees, and electronic monitoring fees. When they cannot afford to keep up with these fees, they end up in jail,unfamiliar with a state law that prohibits incarceration for inability to pay.
Not only have some places brought back debtors’ prisons, they’ve privatized them as well. This should be absolutely illegal and the DOJ should be cracking down on it.”
“Just as Arizona was the focal point of CCA’s involvement with the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) in 2007, and as Arizona was the epicenter of state-based immigration enforcement via “model legislation” from CCA-funded ALEC in 2009 and 2010, Arizona is an excellent starting point for any for-profit prison corporation looking to incarcerate Indians. The state contains nearly 240,000 members of 22 tribes, living on nearly 15 million acres of tribal land. Perhaps most notably, the bulk of the Navajo Nation (consisting of the Navajo Reservation and Navajo Nation off-reservation trust land) is contained within Arizona.”
PR Watch – “Earlier this year, DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy launched an investigation of the influence of the private prison industry on state policies. The review of public records this summer revealed a surprising connection between Arizona Department of Gaming Director Mark Brnovich and the Corrections Corporation of America. In the midst of this story being written, Brnovich announced he would be seeking the post of state Attorney General.
A former Corrections Corporation of America “senior director of business development” and lobbyist is planning to run for the office of Arizona’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General.
On September 3, Arizona Department of Gaming Director Mark Brnovich sent a letter to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, declaring his intention to resign his post, effective September 20. Although Brnovich has yet to file any formal campaign/committee registration documents with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State Division of Elections, the Capitol Times reported on September 4, that Brnovich had reserved the website address, “mark4ag.com,” on August 23.
Brnovich, a Republican, would likely be challenging incumbent Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne in the 2014 Republican primary election for the office. Over the past year, Horne has been the subject of both federal and Maricopa County investigations into alleged campaign law violations, in that Horne allegedly coordinated with an independent expenditure committee in the creation of negative ads targeted at his Democrat opponent during the 2010 election. (Maricopa County is the home of Arizona’s urban center, the Phoenix metropolitan area.)
Brnovich has credentials for the office of Attorney General, having previously served as an assistant Arizona Attorney General under former Arizona Governor Jane Dee Hull, and having previously served as a deputy Maricopa County Attorney from August of 1991 to May of 1998.
What is less well known are his ties to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a for-profit prison corporation that is very influential in Arizona and that has benefited financially from its close ties to the government.
The CCA Man
According to statements of financial disclosure filed with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State Division of Elections by Brnovich’s wife, former Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner and current Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Susan Brnovich, Mark Brnovich served as a “senior director of business development” for CCA during the course of 2005, 2006 and 2007. CCA was not Brnovich’s sole source of employment during at least part of this time. He also worked as a federal prosecutor while working for or on behalf of CCA during part of this time, according to the financial disclosure forms of his wife.
Statements of financial disclosure filed by Susan Brnovich, per her employment with the courts, are only available with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State Division of Elections dating back to 2005. There are no publicly-available records of Mark Brnovich’s financial interests or employment prior to this point.
Biographical data submitted to the Arizona Legislature pursuant to Mark Brnovich’s March 31, 2009, appointment as the director of the Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) states that Mark Brnovich began his employment with CCA in 2005. Similarly, lobbyist records maintained by the Office of the Utah Lieutenant Governor show that Mark Brnovich was a registered lobbyist for CCA in that state during 2005 and 2006. (Utah lobby reports filed for Brnovich during 2006 and 2007 pertain to Brnovich lobby activity on behalf of CCA during 2005 and 2006).
It is also worth noting that, while statements of financial disclosure filed by Susan Brnovich do not reflect any continued financial interest in CCA beyond 2007, Mark Brnovich — in neither his capacity as director of the Arizona Department of Gaming, or as chairman of the Arizona Commission on Privatization and Efficiency (to which he was appointed by Governor Jan Brewer in January of 2010) — has been required to file any statement of financial disclosure, as Arizona law does not require agency or commission heads to file such disclosures.
Neither Mark Brnovich or CCA Senior Director of Public Affairs Steve Owen responded to multiple inquiries relating to either the nature or duration of Brnovich’s employment with CCA.
Mark Brnovich worked as a CCA “senior director of business development” commencing in 2005, also appears to have coincided with the year in which Brnovich was also employed as the “director of the Center for Constitutional Government” at the influential Arizona group, the Goldwater Institute (for more on the Goldwater Institute, see).
Additionally, records indicate that Mark Brnovich served as a Maricopa County judge tempore throughout his entire tenure as “senior director of business development’” for CCA.” Full (Excellent, In Depth) Article Here on PR Watch
Publication Date: 9/19/2013
In the Public Interest
This report discusses the use of prison bed occupancy guarantee clauses in prison privatization contracts and explores how bed occupancy guarantees undermine criminal justice policy and democratic, accountable government. The report sheds light on the for-profit private prison industry’s reliance on high prison populations, and how these occupancy guarantee provisions directly benefit its bottom line.