Tag Archive: private prisons

McCrory brokered meeting on contract for friend and campaign donor

From News & Observer/ By Joseph Neff

Last fall, Gov. Pat McCrory personally intervened on behalf of a friend and major political donor who wanted to renew $3 million in private prison contracts over the objections of McCrory’s top prison officials, records and interviews show.

Graeme Keith Sr., a Charlotte developer and retired banker once known as “Billy Graham’s banker,” has aggressively pursued private maintenance contracts in state prisons since 1999. Keith’s contracts at two prisons were set to expire Dec. 31, 2014; a third would have ended four months later.

The governor convened an October 2014 meeting in Charlotte, where, according to a Department of Public Safety memo, Keith told prison officials and McCrory that “he had been working on this project ‘private prison maintenance’ for over ten (10) years and during that time had given a lot of money to candidates running for public office and it was now time for him to get something in return.”

After prison officials said they were uncomfortable with the tenor of the meeting, McCrory ended the meeting and referred the matter to his state budget director. Lee Roberts then worked out an 11th-hour extension that culminated in an exchange of testy text messages among the governor’s top appointees the night of Dec. 30, one day before the contract was to expire.

(more…)

2 Former Mississippi Officials Plead Guilty in a Graft Case Involving Private Prisons

Christopher B. Epps, the former head of Mississippi’s prison system, in Jackson on Wednesday.

Christopher B. Epps, the former head of Mississippi’s prison system, in Jackson on Wednesday.

From New York Times

Two former Mississippi officials, including the head of the prison system, pleaded guilty to corruption charges on Wednesday amid a federal inquiry that rattled the state’s government and raised new questions about its use of private prisons.

The guilty pleas, entered in Federal District Court in Jackson, came nearly four months after the authorities announced a 49-count indictment that named Christopher B. Epps, the former commissioner of the Department of Corrections, and Cecil McCrory, a onetime state lawmaker who had become involved with the private prisons industry.

In the indictment, which formed the basis of Wednesday’s pleas, federal prosecutors accused the men of a scheme in which Mr. McCrory directed more than $1 million to Mr. Epps, including cash and mortgage payments, in exchange for lucrative state contracts.

Mr. Epps pleaded guilty on Wednesday to money laundering conspiracy and filing a false tax return. Mr. McCrory pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy. (more…)

“Operation Streamline”: The New Prison Boom

Efrain Alejandro, a Mexican who has twice served prison time in the United States for illegally crossing the border, at the Kino Border Initiative shelter in Nogales, Mexico, January 28, 2014. Migrants like Alejandro are meant to be discouraged by the special courts known as Operation Streamline, but the resulting mass deportations have led to accusations of assembly-line justice.

Efrain Alejandro, a Mexican who has twice served prison time in the United States for illegally crossing the border, at the Kino Border Initiative shelter in Nogales, Mexico, January 28, 2014. Migrants like Alejandro are meant to be discouraged by the special courts known as Operation Streamline, but the resulting mass deportations have led to accusations of assembly-line justice.

From Truth Out/ By Leticia Cortez

What is “Operation Streamline”? It’s a U.S. Border Patrol Operation that began in 2005 under G. W. Bush. This law makes jail time mandatory for people convicted of illegal entry or re-entry into the United States. The plan was designed to get tough on illegal immigration by arresting and prosecuting those crossing the border, instead of simply deporting them or placing them in a civil detention center. This made the private prison industry a very profitable sector since they started incarcerating these immigrants. According to a report released last year by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 80 percent of immigration defendants convicted in federal court since 2010 received a prison sentence. This has had a dramatic effect on the makeup of the criminal justice system.

The immigration issue in this country is complex on many levels from the personal, political and economical. If one looks at it from the perspective of a woman, man or child caught crossing illegally, then held in jail up to 15 months, one must ask what is going on with the new prison industrial system. The war on immigrants is replacing the previous war on drugs that filled the jails and made obscene profits for private prisons. This new prison boom is foremost in states along the border with Mexico such as Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico. In Texas it costs the state $266/day to house a person not including food. That’s $97,090 per year paid for by taxpayers.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced reforms to the nation’s drug sentencing laws in an attempt to reduce the number of federal inmates held on non-violent drug charges. “It’s great that Eric Holder is talking about over-incarceration, but the actions he’s taking are not tackling the full scope of the problem,” said Carl Takei, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project. “There’s this whole other population that’s looming in the background, and growing.”

Advocates for reducing incarceration say that true reform of the prison system must also address the criminalization of immigration since reducing punishment for drug offenders is unlikely to affect the private prison industry.

(more…)

5 Links Between Higher Education and the Prison Industry

books and barsFrom Rolling Stone

American universities do a fine job of selling themselves as pathways to opportunity and knowledge. But follow the traffic of money and policies through these academic institutions and you’ll often wind up at the barbed wire gates of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, the two largest private prison operators in the United States. In the last two decades the private prison industry has exploded, growing 784 percent at the federal level, and helping the United States to achieve the highest incarceration rate in the world. CCA operates 69 facilities throughout the United States, GEO operates 55; both typically mandate that 90 percent of their beds be filled at all times. In the last two years alone CCA has defended itself against charges of fraudulent understaffing of its facilities, medical neglect and abuse of inmates.

A series of policies, appointments and investments knit America’s universities into the widening net of the criminal justice system and the prison industrial complex. Institutions of higher education have now become a part of what sociologist Victor Rios has called the “youth control complex”—a tightly bundled network of institutions that work insidiously and in harmony to criminalize young people of color. Here are five ways that universities buy into private prison companies. (more…)

Vigil Brings Demands from Detainees on Hunger Strike to GEO Group CEO’s Neighborhood

geocropFrom Earth First! Newswire

Demonstrators visually and vocally presented the suppressed demands of immigrant detainees on hunger striker to George Zoley, CEO of for-profit prison giant GEO Group. Zoley resides in a wealthy gated community in Boca Raton, Florida, just miles away from the company headquarters.

“We are here in front of George Zoley’s neighborhood to bring the demand of the immigrant detention center hunger strikers to him at his home and know that he cannot ignore them any longer,” said protestor Britni Hiatt.

Over the past two weeks hunger strikes have taken place at two different immigrant detention facilities owned and operated by the GEO Group, one in Tacoma, Washington and one in Conroe, Texas. The hunger strike began in Washington with 750 detainees refusing food and work, and spread to 120 detainees in Texas. Demands of the hunger strikers include: an immediate halt to all deportations, just treatment for detainees, an end to crowding in cells, an end to double judgment policies, adequate food and medical care, affordable calling prices and lower rates at commissary.

GEO Group has responded to both strikes by revoking the rights of detainees, threatening to force-feed strikers, putting strikers in solitary confinement, threatening their immigration status and cutting off communication with the outside world.

“The whistle has been blown,” says Cici Claar, “It’s time for GEO to address these offenses and stop engaging in retaliation and suppression.”

(more…)

Plea change hearing set in Miss. prison riot case

mississippi riotFrom Capitalist Media

NATCHEZ, Miss. — A change of plea hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 19 for an inmate charged with participating in a deadly prison riot in Mississippi.

One guard was killed and 20 people were injured in the May 20, 2012, riot at the privately-run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, which holds immigrants convicted of crimes while being in the U.S. illegally.

A court filing said the plea change hearing in U.S. District Court in Natchez is for Jesus Beltran-Rodriguez, who had earlier pleaded not guilty.

Court records said Beltran-Rodriguez is one of the inmates suspected of beating the guard, Catlin Carithers, who died. (more…)

Private Prison Company Used in Drug Raids at Public High School

Corrections Corporation of America used in drug sweeps of public school students in Arizona

by Beau Hodai

In Arizona an unsettling trend appears to be underway: the use of private prison employees in law enforcement operations.

“To invite for-profit prison guards to conduct law enforcement actions in a high school is perhaps the most direct expression of the ‘schools-to-prison pipeline’ I’ve ever seen,” —Caroline Isaacs, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

The state has graced national headlines in recent years as the result of its cozy relationship with the for-profit prison industry. Such controversies have included the role of private prison corporations in SB 1070 and similar anti-immigrant legislation disseminated in other states; a 2010 private prison escape that resulted in two murders and a nationwide manhunt; and a failed bid to privatize nearly the entire Arizona prison system.

And now, recent events in the central Arizona town of Casa Grande show the hand of private corrections corporations reaching into the classroom, assisting local law enforcement agencies in drug raids at public schools. (more…)

Prisoners Seize Private Prison in Mississippi

(from capitalist press)

The inmates have taken over the asylum.

A privately-owned prison in Natchez, Mississippi has been taken over by prisoners after a riot broke out on Sunday. This prison is mostly occupied by Mexican illegal immigrants arrested on drug charges and awaiting deportation. As of May 21st, the prisoners still had control over the building.

Eight prison employees are currently inside of the building and one, a 23-year-old guard, has been killed, dying from blunt force trauma to the head. Five other prison employees and an inmate were injured and sent to a hospital outside the facility.

Witnesses and neighbors living near the prison say they have seen smoke coming from the prison after a fire was lit.

The company that owns the prison, Corrections Corporation of America, says they have deployed special response teams, including local law enforcement, to secure the area and protect the public from harm.

No reason for the riot has been determined yet.

‘Anonymous’ Hackers Target Private Prison Contractor

From Prison Radio

Hacker group Anonymous on Friday vandalized the website of a major US prison contractor in the latest salvo in an anti-police campaign.

Anonymous subgroup “Antisec” took credit for replacing The Geo Group website home page with a rap song dedicated in part to Mumia Abu-Jamal and a message condemning prisons and policing in the United States.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose birth name is Wesley Cook, is a former Black Panther and radio journalist serving a life sentence for the 1981 shooting death of a police officer in Philadelphia. (more…)