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Midland Mirror Aug 24/01
Super jail hires administrator
Aug 24, 2001
Douglas G. Thomson is the newest face at the Penetanguishene super jail.
He is the new facility administrator for the Central North Correctional
Centre and comes to the area with 22 years' experience.
"I am looking forward to working with (Management and Training Corporation
Canada) and continuing their tradition of rehabilitation in education
and vocational training," said Thomson, in a press release.
"I've lived and worked in Barrie and am pleased to return to the
Thomson is leaving his position as superintendent for the Ontario
Ministry of Correctional Services and begins his new position on Monday.
In May 2000 Thomson was awarded the Corrections Exemplary Service
Medal from the office of the Governor General.
Thomson began his career as a correctional officer and has gained
experience as he worked his way to superintendent.
"He brings strong leadership and a record of innovation. He has
implemented sound security practices, improved labour relations,
initiated community partnerships and increased public accountability,"
says Mike Murphy, MTC Canada's director of corrections marketing.
MTC Canada will officially open the facility in early October and
expects to begin admitting offenders in late fall to the 1,184-bed
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Warden plans to address privatization fears
Aug 31, 2001
Doug Thomson has barely moved into his office at the Penetanguishene super jail but already his phone is ringing off the hook.
Thomson, facility administrator or warden, began his job on Aug. 27 and said he's looking forward to new challenges at the Central North Correctional Centre (CCNC).
"I've worked in corrections for 22 years and I enjoy the challenges of dealing with the offenders' behaviour and social aspects," Thomson said. "I also enjoy dealing with complicated labour issues and ensuring that I'm running an efficient place while being creative."
He used the example of how the government wakes up all offenders at the same time every day.
"In a private system, you can be creative while still getting the job done. We have the flexibility to take a look at the past structures and can start fresh at mandating new programs," said Thomson.
He believes offering skill-training programs at the jail will keep the inmates and staff happy.
"In the long term, the goal is to ensure the programs are enhanced and maintained. If an offender is kept busy, they have less time to worry about planning an escape. I believe in reaching rehabilitation through training and education," he said.
"I also want to ensure that staff training is up-to-date."
Thomson said the modern facility in Penetanguishene will help him keep everyone safe.
"We have a commitment to public safety, visitors' safety, offender's safety and staff safety, and there are specific procedures we have to follow. It's a balance between dynamics and cameras, and this is a high-tech security facility with less blind spots," said Thomson.
"Another short-term challenge is to alleviate the community's fears of privatization. The perception they have is from television and movies, and we have to explain the business of corrections to them. Anybody on our staff is sensitive to that, but once people come into the jail and see it for themselves, we're hoping they will feel more at ease," he said.
Before any inmates arrive in late-November, Thomson has a chance to settle into his office and has some decorating to do.
"The approach I want is professionalism and I want to inspire people to come to work. This is a tough job and I'll be bringing in plants and some teamwork type of prints," said Thomson.
He also said he plans on keeping staff, police and the public informed about what's happening.
"I will involve those who need to be involved in discussions. This isn't a dictatorship, staff can write, e-mail or come knock on my door to let me know their input," said Thomson.
An open house of the CCNC facility is planned in the next few months, although a date has not been set.
So far, 56 new correctional officers have been hired, 15 kitchen staff, 16 medical staff and six administrators, which includes Thomson. A total of 308 staff members will eventually work in the facility.
"Another short-term challenge is to alleviate the community's fears of privatization ... once people come into the jail and see it for
themselves, we're hoping they will feel more at ease."
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The Providence Journal-Bulletin (Providence, RI)
August 31, 2001
GUARDS' UNION CHIEF FACES STEROID CHARGES
Dunn Beckett, president of the guards' union at the federal Donald W. Wyatt
Detention Center, in Central Falls, was arrested there yesterday by Cumberland
and Central Falls police and charged with felony possession of anabolic
steroids, a Cumberland police spokesman said.
Beckett, 32, was taken to the Cumberland Police Department for arraignment,
said Detective Richard Quinn.
He was not able to make the $5,000 surety bail set by Bail Commissioner
The steroids were found last month during execution of a search warrant at
Beckett's Cumberland home, "as the culmination of an
investigation," Quinn said. Asked why Beckett had not been arrested then,
Quinn said he did not know.
Beckett heads the 57-member Rhode Island Private Correctional Officers'
Union. The officers guard about 330 inmates at the private, for-profit prison
at 950 High St., which is owned by Cornell Corrections of Texas.
Beckett was being held at the Adult Correctional Institutions last night.
He's scheduled for a bail-review hearing today in District Court, Providence.
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Maryland: Private escapee (Wackenhut) caught by public police
The Baltimore Sun - August 30, 2001
Police catch Porter on tip;
His hair had been dyed and he was no longer wearing shackles and handcuffs,
but Howard County police found escapee J.C. Porter in a West Virginia motel
Tuesday night, authorities said yesterday.
Escapee fled court in Ellicott City, is captured in W.Va.;
Arrest made at motel;
$500 reward elicits information needed to find fugitive
Porter ran barefoot from security guards the evening of Aug. 20 while he
was at Howard County District Court in Ellicott City to see a bail commissioner.
He fled the building and into a wooded area north of the court building,
police said. Authorities used police dogs to search the area until nightfall.
After receiving a tip a few days ago, three Howard detectives traveled to
Petersburg, W.Va., where they suspected Porter was staying at a motel.
The tip was from someone whom police had interviewed soon after Porter's
escape, but the person did not give police the West Virginia information until
they offered a $500 reward, police said. The person received the reward,
When police found Porter, he tried to evade them by attempting to dive
through a window of the motel room. He was unsuccessful and was taken into
custody shortly after 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said.
The Grant County (W.Va.) Sheriff's Office and the West Virginia State
Police assisted Howard County detectives in Porter's apprehension. Officers were
stationed outside the motel room in anticipation of another escape attempt,
Howard police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said.
Police said Porter was being held without bail in a West Virginia jail,
where he has been charged as a fugitive.
Higher level of security
"He is now what's considered an escape risk, which carries a significant
level of security," Llewellyn said, adding that police were not concerned
about him escaping again because of that designation.
Police said Porter likely will return to Howard County next week, where he
will be charged with escape.
Police said that because Porter took off with the shackles, prison belt and
handcuffs - all property of the Howard County Police Department - he will also
be charged with theft.
Police recovered the shackles Friday from one of Porter's friends. The
shackles had been tampered with, police said, and Anthony Harry Dakis, 23, of
Columbia was charged with hindering an investigation, destruction of property
"He refused to provide any information about Porter's whereabouts," Llewellyn said.
At the time he fled, Porter was being held on a probation violation that
stemmed from a resisting-arrest charge.
He also is wanted in other jurisdictions on traffic violations and drug
charges, court documents show.
Reducing escape chances
Llewellyn said police plan to shift commissioner hearings to the Southern
District building - where suspects are booked - within the next month or two.
Having both operations in that building will eliminate the need for
transportation, thereby reducing the escape risk, she said.
Until then, the department has assigned a police officer to assist
Wackenhut Security guards with all prisoner transports.
The security guard present at the time of Porter's escape has been
suspended from transporting prisoners in Howard County, police said.
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Tulsa World - August 29, 2001
CCA imposes discipline after escape
Corrections Corporation of America has disciplined four employees following
the escape of an inmate who posed as another inmate scheduled for release from
the Tulsa Jail.
Danny Oliver, assistant chief of security, was given two days of extra
unpaid duty, according to CCA spokesman Chris Howard. Three other employees received
written reprimands: Chery Anjorin, corrections officer working in release;
Danielle Hughell, corrections officer working in housing; and, Laketa Miller,
senior corrections officer working the operations desk.
Brandon Florence, 22, escaped Aug. 17 and is still at large. Florence, who
was serving nine years for stealing an automobile and second-degree burglary
in Washington County, had been brought from the Department of Corrections to
Tulsa County for an arraignment on false declaration of ownership to a pawnbroker
Florence switched badges with John W. Profitt, 20. Profitt is charged with
aiding and abetting an escape.
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Ex-Guards Indicted in Beating of Inmate
Crime: Two officers fired by the private outfit
By MONTE MORIN and STUART PFEIFER, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
running Seal Beach jail allegedly orchestrated the violence.
Two fired guards were indicted Wednesday for allegedly orchestrating a
fight between two inmates at the Seal Beach City Jail, prompting the city to
review its ties to the private company that operates the facility.
The former guards, who worked for Correctional Systems Inc. before being
fired, are accused by a federal grand jury of arranging and concealing
an attack on a drunken inmate who was singing boisterously in the jail's
According to the U.S. attorney's office, one of the officers allegedly
goaded the attacker before escorting him into the detoxification cell
for the beating. The second guard allegedly helped cover up the incident,
which left 28-year-old Arrow Stowers of Huntington Beach badly bruised and
bloodied. The motive for the June 21 attack, prosecutors said, was to
quiet down Stowers.
"He was yelling and singing," said Deputy U.S. Atty. Debora Rodriguez.
"That's pretty standard in the detox cell."
The U.S. attorney's office charged Javier Ferreira, 32, of Riverside
with federal civil rights violations because he allegedly used his position
as a guard to induce an attack on Stowers. The second guard, James Edward
Smith, 27, of Long Beach, was charged with being an accessory after the fact
for allegedly trying to conceal the incident.
The former guards, who did not return telephone calls Wednesday, must
appear in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on Tuesday to answer to the charges.
Ferreira faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000
Smith could face up to five years' imprisonment.
Correctional Systems Inc. operates detention facilities throughout
Southern California and the West. CSI has run the 30-inmate Seal Beach City
since 1994, when officials decided a private operator would save money.
CSI's management of the jail has been an issue in the past, including
lawsuits saying guards did not properly respond to the medical problems
of two inmates who died there.
Still, city officials said they are generally pleased with the contractor's
performance.In the wake of the beating, however, the city began a review of its
arrangement and is considering other options, according to the Seal
Beach Police Department and the city manager.
"Obviously, we're going to have to revisit the contract to see if we want to
maintain a long-term relationship with CSI," said the city manager, John B.
Stowers' attorney said his client was "thoroughly beaten" and continues
to suffer emotional wounds from the episode. He says that both the city and
CSI are responsible.
"When you get sucked into a jail like this, your life and limb are totally
at the whim of your jailer," said the lawyer, Colin C. Swainston. "The
protections at the jail were totally inadequate."
John R. Forren, president and chief executive of Correctional Systems,
did not return telephone calls Wednesday seeking comment.
The company came under scrutiny in 1996 after an inmate at the Seal
Beach jail said his fellow inmates regularly smoked marijuana and drank
alcohol in view of guards. Those allegations prompted police and company
to search the facility, but no drugs or alcohol were discovered.
Other cities that have contracted with CSI have reported problems.
Hawthorne police canceled their pact with CSI last year after 18 months
and retook control of the jail.
"The biggest issue with CSI was they didn't have sufficient guards to
handle our jail. . . . They would have them work as long as 18 hours, so the
guards were unhappy and we were unhappy," said Hawthorne Police Capt. Richard
Prentice. "But we didn't have any problems like this; never did we have
any indication they were abusive to prisoners."
In addition, the company has been hit with two wrongful-death lawsuits
since 1999 related to the two inmate deaths at the Seal Beach jail. The
company was accused in each case of failing to protect inmates admitted with
medical problems. One lawsuit was settled and the other is pending, said
attorney Timothy Ryan, who represented family members in both cases.
The Seal Beach jail is known as a "pay to stay" facility, where for a
fee some people convicted of nonviolent crimes can serve out their terms
there instead of the county jail.
The U.S. attorney's office said it doesn't plan to charge the inmate who
allegedly beat up Stowers. But the Orange County district attorney is
still considering charges.
Times staff writer Stanley Allison contributed to this report.
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State buying prison in North Las Vegas
AP - September 11, 2001
A $24.2 million purchase of a privately operated women's prison in North
Vegas was approved Tuesday by the Nevada Board of Examiners.
CARSON CITY, Nev.
The board, chaired by Gov. Kenny Guinn, voted following earlier
by the state Board of Finance of a bond sale to finance the purchase of the
500-inmate prison from Corrections Corporation of America.
The state has a 20-year contract to pay the private company to operate the
facility. At the end of the period, the state would have ended up owner of the
The purchase with bond money will permit the state to acquire the buildings
earlier. The state expects to come out even financially because of the low
interest rates on bond sales.
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AP - September 12, 2001
Prisoner hijacks transport van in attempted escape
A van transporting 12 prisoners from a Cuyahoga County jail to upstate New
York was hijacked Tuesday by one of the prisoners in a failed escape attempt,
During a food stop, a guard and the driver of the van, which was operated
Extraditions International, a private company, went into a McDonald's
restaurant, leaving a feamle guard to watch the prisoners.
Police said one of the prisoners, Lawrence Tutt, 32, of Pueblo, Colo.,
overwhelmed the woman, jumped in the driver's seat and sped off.
Police were able to stop the van after a brief chase and take all the
prisoners into custody.
Mentor police Lt. John Jaros said Wednesday that his department has
that Tutt acted alone.
Tutt pleaded innocent Wednesday in Municipal Court to charges of escape,
assault, robbery and grand theft.
Extraditions International is a Colorado-based company that transports
prisoners between police jurisdictions.
Nevada stopped using the company to transport prisoners after prisoners
escaped from the company's vehicles twice during rest stops last year.
Capt. K.V. Schilling, head of transportation for Extraditions
said, "We're still trying to figure out what happened" in Mentor.
The prisoners are transported in handcuffs, leg irons and waist chains and
have "black boxes" attached to the chains to limit the mobility of their arms.
"We've had problems like every transport company has," Schilling said. "We
all have escapes or problems." But she said no state, including Nevada, has
dropped the company's services because of concerns about escapes. Schilling
Nevada had other reasons for cutting ties with the company, but declined to
Mentor police said the prisoners were being transported to the Onondaga
County Sheriff's Department in Syracuse, N.Y., from all over the nation. Tutt
will stay in Mentor at least until a preliminary hearing Sept. 20, but the
prisoners have been taken to New York, Jaros said.
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A P - September 20, 2001
Former jail employee pleads guilty to smuggling substance into
TULSA, Okla. -
A former Tulsa jail employee has paid a high price for trying to smuggle
methamphetamine to an inmate for $40.
Edwin M. Vasquez pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of a three-count
federal indictment. Vasquez, 47, worked for Corrections Corporation of America
at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center.
He successfully delivered what he thought was three grams of meth on July 20.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Faerber said the jailer actually distributed
"simulated" meth after being caught in a sting operation.
The transaction is considered an "attempt" because real drugs were not
actually involved, Faerber said.
After a tip, two undercover agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
Firearms met with Vasquez July 19 at a Tulsa apartment, according to an
affidavit. On the following day, the agents got Vasquez to deliver a substance
they presented as methamphetamine to a cooperating inmate inside the jail.
The agents then reportedly met with Vasquez on July 24 and gave him 10 more
grams of simulated "crank" that was intended for the same prisoner. Four days
later, seven of the 10 grams were retrieved from the inmate.
According to the affidavit, during an Aug. 2 meeting with an undercover ATF
agent at a hotel, Vasquez agreed to deliver a .22-caliber "pen gun" to the same
inmate for $200.
The guard was arrested immediately after the money was given to him and while
he was in possession of the weapon, the document indicates.
Officials with CCA, the private company that operates the Tulsa Jail, said
Vasquez was fired the day he was arrested.
Faerber and Assistant Federal Public Defender Jack Schisler said Vasquez
could face a prison term of between 30 and 37 months.
Vasquez is currently in protective custody at the Tulsa Jail, Schisler said.
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Profits & Convicts
It's about saving money.
No, it's about doing a better
job on rehabilitation.
That's only one of the contradictions
as Ontario makes its pitch for prisons-for-profit
Friday, September 28, 2001
The tour of the 15-month-old operation has been arranged for a dozen visitors from Penetanguishene, Ont., a quiet Georgian Bay outpost where Canada's first privately run provincial prison will open in October. MTC, in May, won the five-year, $170-million contract to run the just-constructed 1,184-bed "superjail."
Mike Murphy, MTC's marketing director, has brought the town dignitaries to Conneaut for an information-gathering session, including chats with Conneaut town officials, meals at upscale local eateries and two nights at the Ashtabula Holiday Inn, all expenses paid (though not for a tagalong reporter).
MTC is eager to present this place as a model of rehabilitation, and itself as an entrepreneurial outfit that will do a better and cheaper job of incarcerating wrongdoers than the state. The company focuses on training, and employs a far less punitive approach to incarceration than some state agencies. It rejects inmates who are unlikely to respond to rehab.
The last stop on Gansheimer's tour is a cramped dormitory for 230 prisoners. Some inmates peer out at us from behind heavy glass windows. Others lounge around in a kitchen/TV area next to the room with the bunk beds. I ask one man, scrubbing a counter, how he feels about this place.
As he's telling me this, I notice out of the corner of my eye that Gansheimer, the Penetanguishene delegation and their security escorts have left the building. The man continues earnestly, adding that he's in for "straight time" until 2006, which means he's not here for shoplifting. I don't interrupt, but, standing there unaccompanied, deep inside this medium-security prison, I find myself hoping that MTC does a very thorough job when it selects only easy cases to fill these rows of beds.
The raging debate over privatizing Prisons in the United States is bound to accompany MTC across the border. For 17 years now, state governments have been privatizing prison operations for a range of reasons: Cost is one, of course, but political proponents also see privatization as a way to inject ideas, innovation and capital into a moribund system that was bursting at the seams. And across the U.S., economically challenged communities have been bidding for prisons, which, for these towns, have taken the place of factories in a postindustrial economy.
Just as Ontario-whose government is committed to privatizing large swaths of the public sector-launches its long-awaited private-prison plan, many U.S. jurisdictions are backing away from the approach, stung by negative publicity and concerns that contracting out isn't the panacea the prison industry had promised. "If run properly, the public system works," says Dave Levac, the corrections critic for the Ontario Liberal Party. "This isn't about best practices. This is about an ideology that needs to be fed."
In the coffee shops and living rooms of Penetanguishene, the subject of private incarceration comes up frequently, and elicits strong feelings. "I don't really like it because it should be run by the government," says an older man taking in the waterfront view, who won't give his name. "It's Canada, not the U.S., is the way I feel."
"You know where that jail shoulda been built?" says her partner. "Way out in the bush. Outta sight, outta mind."
Not likely. After MTC opened its local recruiting office last June, more than 3,000 people applied for the 308 jobs that will be created in the facility. For Penetanguishene Mayor Anita Dubeau, that "economic spin" is very attractive indeed. Her community, now numbering 8,500, has successively been based on the military, forestry and manufacturing. But many of the manufacturing jobs had trickled away by the mid-1990s; one of the town's two auto-parts plants closed down. The Oak Ridges facility is now the largest local employer. While the town has worked hard to cultivate the tourism industry, Dubeau knows that those prison jobs, plus some supply contracts and a bit of new home construction, will go a long way toward stabilizing the area's economy, not to mention the town's finances. MTC, she's been assured, "wants to do as much business locally as possible, provided the price is right."
The building itself, designed by the prominent Toronto firm Zeidler Roberts, is a geometrical maze of cinder-block corridors, electronic sliding doors and self-contained octagonal "pods," each designed to serve virtually all the needs of inmates, from bathing to training to what passes for recreation. There will be two inmates to a cell, and up to 32 in each pod. The CNCC was designed as a maximum-security prison, although the vast majority of inmates will be there for provincial offences, serving relatively short sentences of up to two years less a day. Instead of the traditional guard towers and razor-wire fences, there are layers upon layers of internal security features, including motion sensors that can pick up assaults against corrections officers (COs) and a system of elevated, glassed-in control stations, where MTC employees can monitor their charges both visually and electronically. Indeed, the whole place was built to minimize staff costs by limiting inmate movement and taking full advantage of 360-degree sightlines afforded by the pod design. "It's a management philosophy," MTC's Murphy explains. "Inmates feel safer in this type of environment."
In the late 1980s, California corrections officials asked MTC to bid on running a small prison facility. The arrangement went so well that the state asked MTC to double the capacity. Over the next decade, MTC (which is privately held and is still run and controlled by the Marquardt family) won contracts to run minimum- to medium-security prisons in Utah, Arizona and Texas. "Agencies liked our company because of our education and training background," says Murphy.
MTC was in the right place at the right time. While the U.S. has long had the highest adult incarceration rate in the developed world, the legacy of Reagan-era policies-such as "three-strikes" sentencing and the "War on Drugs"-ballooned the prison population to dangerous levels. Between 1975 to 1984, its growth rate soared to 84%. As of 1999, the prison population was almost 1.3 million. (The Canadian equivalent is just 31,000, reflecting this country's lower incarceration rate; in the U.S., 2.3% of the public is either in prisons, in jails or on parole.)
Thus the private-prison industry was born. Investors and entrepreneurs were attracted by what seemed like an inexhaustible supply of new tenants. In 1992, there were just 21,000 inmates in private prisons; today, that figure stands at 143,000 (or about a 10th of the total adult prison population), although the steep growth of the 1990s has ebbed sharply in the last two years. Nonetheless, these prisoners generate estimated revenues for the prison industry of more than $2.3 billion (U.S.) a year.
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut Corrections, the first- and second-largest players in the industry, are fierce rivals that have both been dogged by accusations of shoddy practices and political string-pulling. MTC is the fourth-largest firm, with an 8.4% market share of all private prison beds around the world. (The Ontario contract is a bit of a coup for MTC, given that Wackenhut has been the most active of U.S. firms in lobbying for Canadian contracts.)
In some jurisdictions, such as Florida, corrections agencies tried to block privatization, forcing legislators to circumnavigate the bureaucracy by establishing an independent commission responsible for contracting out prisons. Other opponents, such as unions representing police and corrections officers, worry about safety and security being compromised by the pressure to maximize returns. Anecdotes abound about private firms skimping-buying low-quality food, for example. In one notorious case, Esmor Correctional Services Inc. (now Correctional Services Corp.) won a contract to run an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) holding centre for illegal immigrants in New Jersey by underbidding its main opponent, Wackenhut, by more than $20 million (U.S). Esmor's winning bid was premised on extremely low CO salaries. An INS inquiry later found that, from the beginning, the facility was plagued by high turnover, and the dearth of experienced COs led to rioting. Less than a year after opening, the INS cancelled the deal.
The staffing-level question has created other headaches. Private prisons have more than their fair share of assaults on COs (one study found the rate to be 50% higher than in public facilities) and escapes, according to some researchers.
But if one peels back the ideological arguments pro and con, there's more to this fight than meets the eye. The defenders of public prisons, both in Canada and the U.S., are backing a penal system that seems powerless to control rampant drug smuggling, escapes and unacceptably high recidivism rates. While union leaders emphasize the public interest, their bottom-line concern is, of course, that privatization diminishes their own membership rosters. What's more, absenteeism, abuse of sick-day benefits and other morale-related problems have undermined the reputation of public prisons and unionized COs.
On the other side of the debate, there's a good deal of data to suggest that promised double-digit savings haven't materialized. In many cases, private firms low-ball their initial bids and then ask for increases mid-contract. In 1996, the U.S. federal auditing agency, the General Accounting Office, concluded that there was no definitive evidence to indicate that private prisons are less expensive than public ones. A recent study by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections found that the state's average operating costs were lower than those being logged by every single private firm contracting with the department.
The evidence of savings-some 10%-20%-from privatization is "overwhelming," insists Thomas, who is also now a CCA director. "No one's stupid enough to award a contract where they don't expect to get a better deal."
That truth was borne out in Utah recently, where cost considerations led the state to not renew a three-year contract with a private firm. An $8-million (U.S.) budget cut ordered by the governor then prompted the Department of Corrections to shut the facility altogether. Corrections spokesman Jack Ford says the total cost of operating the Promontory medium-security prison was higher with a private firm than with the state. That's because the contract didn't take into account medical and transportation expenses, or the sizable police bill when prisoners escaped while out on work detail-something that happened an average of 15 to 20 times a year, Ford says. The contractor in that case was MTC, which is headquartered in Centerville, Utah; employs a former senior Utah corrections official; and takes care to contribute generously to the campaigns of state politicians. MTC lost the contract less than one month after winning the Ontario job.
In many jurisdictions, the task of cost comparison is appropriately delegated to auditors general, whose staff work at arm's length from the corrections institutions and their contractors. Elsewhere, the job falls to a somewhat incestuous service industry made up of consultants and former corrections officials.
MTC's Arizona facility, Marana, is an example. Not long after Marana opened in 1994, the state's Corrections Department issued a stinging evaluation, which indicated, among other things, that staff turnover at the medium-security facility was alarmingly high. But when the department had another look, in 1997, it tendered the evaluation to Thomas. He concluded that per-diem costs at that facility were 13.8% lower than the state average. This spring, Arizona's Corrections Department reported that MTC was the most expensive prison contractor, with per-diem costs only 5% lower than the state average-a far cry from Thomas's figure.
Overall, however, Arizona's auditor general has declared that privatization was a financial success. Privatization "forced us to install cost accountability into our system," says former Arizona corrections official Carl Nink, a onetime guard who rose through the ranks and went on to run the privatization project. Nink oversaw the process that awarded the Marana contract to MTC. Today, he works for MTC as a marketing manager.
Australian academic Richard Harding warns that the phenomenon of "capture"-meaning that public officials fall under the thrall of their private partners and lose the ability to objectively assess their performance-is a major threat to the viability of such initiatives. He advocates various accountability mechanisms-everything from corporate background checks and full public disclosure of all contracts to the retention of a viable public system-as means of keeping the private operators from digging themselves in so deep they end up dictating criminal justice policies to serve their own interests.
MTC officials, not surprisingly, make no apologies for their close ties to state governments, and in fact see their large roster of former public corrections officials as a strategic asset. Rich Gansheimer, the warden in Conneaut, was a top performer in the Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. In fact, says MTC's Mike Murphy, Ohio corrections staff deliberately put forward the names of their best people when they awarded the contract to MTC. The same thing happened in Ontario: Two leading ministry wardens were on the shortlist; 22-year veteran Douglas Thomson was the successful candidate. MTC's human-resources gain is the public system's loss.
During lunch, after the tour for the Penetanguishene officials, Gansheimer and Murphy talk up the company's approach to community relations. It's an all-important consideration in Conneaut, a small town hit by the closure of its major employer, an auto-parts manufacturer.
In its first year in Conneaut, notes Gansheimer, MTC staff raised $17,000 (U.S.) for the local United Way. He routinely donates money from the prison's marketing budget to local events, such as the high-school prom. Not long ago, MTC maintenance staff helped fix the lock system at the town jail, for free. More than that, MTC makes a concerted effort to do its buying locally. And of course, there are all those jobs inside the walls. All told, Conneaut estimates that $13 million of the prison's $17-million (U.S.) budget stays in the area.
The Penetanguishene group seem receptive to Gansheimer's pitch. As he finishes his sandwich, Penetanguishene Deputy Mayor Randy Robbins tells Gansheimer and Murphy that he has no objection to MTC per se; it's clear to him this company is a good corporate citizen. Robbins's beef is with the province, which, in his view, has hedged, backtracked and stonewalled on privatization during the run-up to this month's opening. Recalling one of several frustrating meetings with Ontario corrections officials, Robbins says, "I had a headache for three days afterwards."
In 1996, the Harris Tories embarked on a wholesale campaign to refurbish Ontario's prisons, many of which were rotting and overcrowded. Corrections officials selected Penetanguishene and Lindsay, near Peterborough, to be the sites for identical, ultramodern superjails. Both facilities would house only medium-security offenders, but the province also wanted them to both accommodate 200 "remand" inmates-those awaiting court dates, sometimes for far more serious crimes.
Ellis-Don, the London, Ont.-based contracting giant, won the $84.5-million construction contract, much of which ended up with local subcontractors and gravel firms (costs were ultimately $92 million). As the work proceeded, the province was also quietly looking into privatizing the operations of one of these new prisons. In 1997, corrections officials asked an Ottawa consulting firm, Partnering & Procurement Inc., to draw up a "request for proposals" that would lay out what the province sought from potential bidders. That firm, in turn, retained the University of Florida's Charles Thomas as an adviser on the project; at the time, Thomas had recently been working for the Nova Scotia government on a prison-privatization initiative that has since been abandoned. Thomas describes the evolution of Ontario's privatization plan as "a very long and arduous process"-drawn out because the Tories, despite their enthusiasm for privatization, weren't sure what they wanted.
In November, 1999, Corrections Minister Rob Sampson announced that the Penetanguishene facility had been selected for privatization. The identical Lindsay facility would be run by the ministry. Some Penetanguishene residents felt they'd been duped by the province into believing that Lindsay was the one to be privatized. "As soon as the [June, 1999] election was over, they flip-flopped," charges Penetanguishene shopkeeper Sharon Dion, who spearheads a group called Citizens Against Private Prisons (CAPP). "We are a small town but we're not stupid people," she says. "We're the experiment, and we didn't ask for that." Sampson flatly denies that politics played a part in the decision. "It went to Penetanguishene because it was the first institution to be completed. We wanted to get on with it. It's as simple as that."
Much of the local anxiety about privatization stems from the province's mixed signals about how it plans to monitor MTC. The issue of contract compliance is pivotal in prison privatization schemes. Public corrections agencies, answerable to taxpayers, must be able to determine that private operators train their COs properly, don't cut corners on security, and report all incidents, including those that reflect badly on the contractor, such as assaults on inmates and drug smuggling involving prison staff.
In high-accountability jurisdictions such as the U.K., government monitors are always on-site in private prisons, where they have unrestricted access to the premises and all paperwork, and are responsible for disciplining inmates who act up. Ohio fines contractors like MTC whenever staff counts fall below certain levels. Some states also require private operators to be accredited by the American Corrections Association (ACA), an industry body that scrutinizes all prisons.
More troublingly for Penetanguishene residents, the province has been inconsistent about whether it plans to have ministry staff on-site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In May, the province promised round-the-clock monitoring. Corrections officials later informed residents that ministry monitors would only be "on-call" on a 24-7 basis. Sampson does little to clear up the misunderstanding. "Yeah, it's 24-7," he shrugs, "but that doesn't mean that when you go into the monitoring office, there will be a body sitting there. They have to be able to go to the bathroom or out for lunch." He insists that between a local liaison committee, the CAPP citizen's group, the media and the provincial auditor general, MTC's operations will be well scrutinized. "By the way," Sampson adds testily, "we don't have monitoring in the public system."
If the illogic of that statement illustrates anything, it is that the province's prison privatization is still very much in process. As of early September, regulations setting out performance standards for MTC had yet to be enacted by the legislature-even though the Penetanguishene prison is scheduled to open in October. And the overall political rationale has shifted: Early on, privatization was about efficiencies; today, says Sampson, the province's motive is not financial, but rather bettering the rehabilitation record of the prison system. "Ours is not a fiscal initiative, but a performance and results initiative."
Over the life of the contract, MTC's track record will be compared to Lindsay's in categories such as recidivism rates. "There is a recidivism target in the contract," Sampson says, although he can't specify what that target is. In fact, the contract contains nothing specific about decreasing recidivism. And while the original request for proposals refers generally to reduced recidivism as part of the evaluation of the contractor's performance, it cites no benchmarks. Sharon Dion isn't surprised by this kind of hedging. She says she's heard it all before. "As for Rob Sampson's recidivism rates, there are none. We don't know what to believe."
Nor is the cost-effectiveness issue any clearer. MTC-which was not the lowest bidder among the four firms that competed for the contract-plans to run the prison for $79 per day per inmate. Its salary ranges are very much in league with ministry levels. On the face of it, MTC's proposed operating budget looks to be far more competitive than the $140 per-diem rate that corrections officials cite as the provincial average. But the latter number is misleading, because it includes every Ontario prison, including the old and deteriorating ones. What's more, the distinctive layouts of both the Lindsay and the Penetanguishene prisons are expressly intended to sharply reduce staff and security costs. In other words, no one really knows what the operating budget ought to be, and that data gap will likely work to MTC's advantage should the firm discover, a few years into the contract, that it isn't making enough of a margin (it typically earns 5%-10% on its U.S. operations).
The Tories say the debate will be resolved simply by comparing the two identical facilities-one public, one private. "It's a perfect test case," says Sampson. But he readily admits that he's pretty much prejudged the outcome. Ontario is now working on plans to open another private adult prison and several privately run youth camps. There's a good chance the next contract prison will be owned as well as operated by the private sector. Nor will Sampson rule out the possibility that these facilities will open before the results are in from the Lindsay-vs.-Penetanguishene experiment.
Back in Conneaut, the Penetanguishene delegation has decamped to the town offices to listen to the city manager assess MTC's place in this community. "A day doesn't go by when you don't meet someone who works in that prison," he says. The statement resonates with Anita Dubeau and her colleagues, who know that the town could have done far worse. MTC isn't publicly traded and thus doesn't face the stock market's craving for cost-cutting and growth. And in Ohio, MTC has had to satisfy officials nervous about private prisons ever since 1998, when an accidental mingling of "close-security" prisoners with less-dangerous convicts at a CCA prison 100 kilometres south of Conneaut led to two murders and 17 stabbings. "We've been audited three times in the first year," says one MTC official of the Conneaut prison. "We have nothing to hide." The question up in Penetanguishene is whether Ontario is willing to look.
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AP - September 29, 2001
Prisoner overpowers van guards, escapes
Authorities from at least seven police agencies searched central West
Virginia Friday for a prisoner armed with a pump shotgun who escaped from a
Christopher Paul Savage, 28, of Hastings, Pa., faked an illness and convinced
guards to stop at a gas station at the Eastpointe Plaza off Interstate 79, said
investigator David Wygal of the Clarksburg Police Department.
After a guard removed Savage's handcuffs, he overpowered and slightly injured
both guards. Savage then drove the van to a closed restaurant about a
quarter-mile from the gas station and fled with the shotgun, Wygal said.
The eight other prisoners, who were still wearing shackles and not involved
in the plot, were captured in the van at the restaurant or at a nearby post
office, a Harrison County dispatcher said.
Police concentrated the search in a heavily wooded area about one mile from
where the suspect abandoned the van. Police also stopped a CSX coal train after
a witness said she saw a man fitting the suspect's description trying to board
the moving train. No one was found.
The search for Savage, which was called off for darkness Friday night, was to
Police believe Savage was not wearing shackles. He is white, about 5 feet 11
inches tall and weighs 145 pounds. He has brown hair, hazel eyes, a two-day
growth of facial hair, tattoos on his left arm and was wearing a dark shirt and
The van was driven by employees of TransCor America, said Steve Canterbury,
executive director of the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority.
TransCor is based in Nashville, Tenn., and is a private prisoner
transportation company, said Jon Walker, TransCor's vice president of marketing.
Savage was headed for the Cambria County Jail in Pennsylvania, said Keldeen
Stambaugh, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.
Savage had been picked up at an Indiana jail, Stambaugh said.
Savage had previously been sentenced on charges of robbery and escape,
criminal solicitation, burglary and criminal trespass, Stambaugh said.
He was later paroled to a community corrections center, but was declared
delinquent in May 2001, Stambaugh said. Savage was on his way Friday to a
hearing for technical parole violations when he escaped, Stambaugh said.
Another inmate was to be taken to Camphill Prison, in Camphill, Pa., she
said, and had been picked up in Florida.
"He is still secured and will be transported as planned," she said.
Stambaugh was not sure where the other seven inmates were picked up or where
they were headed.
Walker said he could not give out that information, but said the inmates were
going to "several different counties up through the East Coast."
"Our primary concern right now is the public safety of the people that live
... there, Clarksburg or where the incident took place or wherever this guy
could go," Walker said.
The dispatcher said the guards had minor facial injures. Their names were not
State Police, the Harrison County Sheriff's Department and police from
Clarksburg, Bridgeport, Nutter Fort, and Anmoore participated in the search.
Armed prisoner still on the loose after early scuffle
A Clarksburg manhunt involving state and local police was under way this
morning for an escaped prisoner armed with a shotgun and five shells,
Eight other prisoners also escaped about 5 a.m. from a van being used to
transport them, but were later recaptured.
Authorities still are searching for Christopher Savage, 28, of Pennsylvania.
It was not immediately clear where the van was coming from, but it was headed
to the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. The van was driven by two
employees of Transcor, an inmate transportation company based in Tennessee, said
Sue McMaughton of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
A spokeswoman for the state Division of Corrections said she was told by
Regional Jail Authority officials that the prisoners were not in the custody of
West Virginia authorities. They were just being transferred through the state,
possibly from Kentucky to Pennsylvania, said Sgt. R.E. Crawford of the Harrison
County Emergency Services.
Savage was being transported back to the Board of Probation and Parole for
violating his parole, said Keldeen Stambaugh, a spokeswoman for the board.
He was released on parole in January of this year, she said. He was reported
as having violated his parole in May of this year.
Savage had served time in Cambria and Huntington County Jails in
Pennsylvania, Stambaugh said.
He was sentenced in 1992 for burglary and criminal trespassing, was sentenced
again in 1993 for robbery and escape and was sentenced again in 1995 for
Savage was one of nine prisoners in a van that stopped for gas at the
Eastpointe Plaza off Interstate 79. At least one prisoner overpowered and
slightly injured two guards, allowing all nine to escape with the van.
The van had stopped so guards could allow the prisoners to go to the restroom
at the Eastpointe Chevron, said Greg Cumberling, a clerk at the service station.
One of the guards came into the store to fill a 5-gallon jug with water and
ice, Cumberling said. Then, Cumberling was waiting on another customer when the
guard went back outside the store.
"He came back in and said, 'Call the cops. There's a fight in the parking
lot,'" Cumberling said.
Then, Cumberling said, he saw the van take off with the back doors open. He
said another guard came through the door shouting, "Call the cops - they just
Cumberling said he did not see any of the escapees.
The prisoners stopped at a closed restaurant about a quarter-mile from the
gas station. Several were captured there in the van, and several more were
caught at a nearby post office. All eight who were captured were still wearing
shackles, a Harrison County dispatcher said.
The dispatcher did not know why the prisoners stopped so close to the gas
"I guess that's why they were in prison the first time, they were not bright
enough," a dispatcher, who did not want to be identified, told The Associated
Police believe Savage is not wearing shackles, the dispatcher said.
Savage was described as a white man with brown hair and hazel eyes. He is
about 5 foot 11 and 145 pounds with about two days' growth of beard on his face.
He was last seen wearing a dark-colored shirt and blue jeans, Crawford said.
The dispatcher said the guards had minor facial injures. Their names were not
available this morning.
State Police with a helicopter, the Harrison County Sheriff's Department and
police from Clarksburg, Bridgeport, Nutter Fort, and Anmoore participated in the
Police set up a roadblock along County Route 58 to check cars leaving the
area, the manager of a nearby Kroger said.
Officials at the Kroger and other businesses in the area were closely
monitoring the search.
Cruisers were already passing by Kroger when the manager got to work about 7
a.m. They added an extra lock to their fuel station kiosk, where an attendant
takes payments for the gasoline pumps at the Kroger. The manager, who declined
to give his name, said everyone coming into the store was talking about the
"I think they're concerned, there's no doubt," he said. "We just made sure
that extra lock is in place."
Police gathered outside of Ryan's Steakhouse, operating partner Rich Alvarez
said. By the time he got to work around 6:40 a.m., Alvarez saw cops swarming
outside his business and asked what was going on. He said he wasn't worried
since police were nearby.
"I got cops out front," he said. "I'm not too worried."
Employees at the Hampton Inn hotel in Bridgeport were told by authorities
that the missing fugitive was from Indiana and was armed with a shotgun and was
to be considered "extremely dangerous."
"We haven't seen him, and we don't want to," said a hotel employee.
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The Hamilton Spectator
Saturday September 29, 2001
Barton Street inmates riot
Barton Street jail inmates rioted last night after jail guards caught them smuggling drugs into the detention centre.
About 20 prisoners trashed a top-floor wing and barricaded themselves in the area to prevent guards searching their cells.
Ministry of Correctional Services spokeswoman Julia Noonan said the incident began shortly after 8 p.m.
"They were causing a disturbance and staff had been attempting to alleviate the situation," she said late last night. "They (the inmates) refused."
Noonan said she wasn't sure what caused the incident.
Prisoners smashed lights and barricaded the door to the unit after somehow disabling the locking system. Noonan refused to say where in the jail the standoff occurred.
But Hamilton police Staff Sergeant Jim Lauffer said the situation started in a wing known as "5C Right," where adult federal inmates awaiting trial, sentencing or transportation to prison are kept.
A jail source who spoke on condition that his name would not be used said the situation started earlier in the day when a broom handle went missing after inmates finished cleaning duty.
Just after lockdown, the inmates in 5C Right took the broom handle and tied it to several sheets to make a long rope. They then smashed a window, and launched the broom handle through the hole. It soared over the three-metre high brick wall that surrounds the building.
On the other side of the wall, someone in a silver Chevrolet pickup truck attached an unknown quantity of drugs to the end of the broom handle. The inmates, still holding one end of the knotted sheets, pulled the broom handle and the drugs back into the jail. The source believes the drugs are hidden in a cell.
Lauffer said a jail guard spotted the truck in the east parking lot of the jail but it sped away before the guard could see its licence plate number.
Upstairs, the source said, inmates were ordered into the range so their cells could be searched by guards. They exited the cells but trashed the range, breaking lights, a sink and a television. When guards tried to enter the range, the inmates barricaded the entrance by jamming the locks and leaning a mattress against the door.
Negotiators were called in immediately, as was the Barton Street jail's Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) -- guards trained to force their way into an area held by prisoners and subdue them.
Police were called in to provide perimeter security. The Emergency Response Unit was also on standby.
Noonan said the CIT was waiting in the early hours of this morning as negotiators tried to talk the prisoners into surrendering. She said any decision on breaking into the unit would be made by senior detention centre staff.
Noonan said jail staff were optimistic the standoff could be resolved without using force.
The disturbance started just after the jail was being locked down for the night. All other prisoners were in their cells and the incident has not escalated, Noonan said.
Ministry officials and police are investigating. Noonan said it is possible criminal charges could be laid.
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October 4, 2001
Prison defeat leaves few options
Kenai voters speak:
politicians who supported idea backpedal.
By Tom Kizzia - Anchorage Daily News
The crushing defeat of a private prison proposal for Kenai in Tuesday's
borough election leaves the state with few options for housing its excess
inmates, according to corrections officials and key elected officials.
few advocates still spoke faintly of studying the prison project further, many
Kenai politicians were scrambling Wednesday to put distance between themselves
and the unpopular idea.
The plan for a private prison, which had already been
approved by the Legislature, was rejected by 74 percent of voters in Tuesday's
Kenai Peninsula Borough election. The election had a record voter turnout of 31
percent. Among those backing away from the idea were Sen. Jerry Ward, a
Republican representing both Kenai and South Anchorage. Ward prominently pushed
the Kenai project in the Legislature as a successor to a prison plan for Delta
Junction. The Delta project also collapsed in the face of local opposition.
"There will not be a prison on the Kenai Peninsula," Ward said Wednesday. "I do
understand what 'No' means." The prison vote may have been a factor in several
central Peninsula races, with anti-prison candidates winning and pro-prison
candidates losing. The potential political fallout for Ward is worsened by a
pending legislative redistricting plan.
Ward's new Senate district would replace
his Anchorage precincts with more communities on the Kenai Peninsula. Barring
any strong prison pitch from another Alaska municipality, Ward said, the state's
excess prisoners will continue to be held in the Lower 48.
About 790 Alaska
inmates are currently in a private prison in Arizona. That number could double
in coming years if inmate populations continue to rise, he said. Knowles
administration officials said they hope the Kenai vote will help revive support
for their dormant proposal to expand smaller regional prisons and jails in
Alaska. "We obviously still have the needs. The regional expansion plan is
something we've always supported," said Bruce Richards, a special assistant in
the Department of Corrections. "We're going to have to work with the Legislature
to find a solution to this."
Expansion of state facilities is the option
preferred by the Public Safety Employees Association, which helped fund the
opposition campaign to the prison. "Prison privatization is dead in Alaska,"
said a statement Wednesday from the union, which represents state corrections
workers. But Ward said building more state-run prisons would be too expensive
for the Legislature's tastes. He also said it would be too costly for a private
company to build a prison speculatively, as sometimes is done in the Lower 48.
Private prison plans in Alaska have so far involved construction by a
municipality, which lowers building costs through use of tax- free bonds. That
leaves Arizona, even though such a policy exports state money and hurts efforts
to fight recidivism, he said. "I don't think it's the best concept in the world,
sending people Outside," Ward said. "But then I come up against the checkbook.
How much do you take away from the public in order to rehabilitate?" The Kenai
project is the third big project to be sunk by local opposition since the
Legislature started pushing the private prison option in 1996. At least one
other municipality, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, may be interested in pursuing
the project. Ketchikan Borough Mayor Jack Shay said Wednesday he plans to ask
the Borough Assembly there to consider a private prison, possibly on Gravina
Island opposite the city of Ketchikan. He said the idea has been discussed but
no action was taken in the community, whose timber-processing economy has
suffered. "We're going to look at it, certainly," Shay said. "I'm sure it will
be somewhat controversial, as it was in Kenai." One Kenai prison advocate,
Borough Assembly president Tim Navarre, said Wednesday the Kenai project might
not be gone forever. He said the Assembly would have to consider many options,
including a public prison or an independent feasibility study funded by the
borough's prison partner, Cornell Companies. "I'm still willing to take a look
at it," Navarre said. But Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley, who also
supported the prison, had no interest in carrying on. "I think the voters spoke
and the prison down here is a dead issue," Bagley said.
The prison had the
support of many local business and political leaders, who touted it as a jobs
issue. Companies that stood to profit from the job funded a high-profile
advertising campaign. But opponents, boosted by public employee union funds,
raised questions about safety, community impacts and the propriety of
Tuesday's 31 percent voter turnout set a record for a
municipal election in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, according to the borough
clerk's office. Some central Peninsula precincts ran out of ballots and had to
use samples. The previous record was 29 percent in 1996. Last year's municipal
election turnout was 18.6 percent. The private prison proposition, the marquee
issue in the election, lost 8,259-2,933, according to unofficial totals released
Wednesday. Some absentee and mail-in ballots remain to be counted.
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The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
October 04, 2001
IT WAS shocking enough to read about another suicide at the Alexander Youth
Center. This was the third suicide at a state youth center since 1997, and these
deaths are getting no easier to explain.
Worse than we thought Gruesome details out of Alexander
In this case, according to the report from the private company that now runs the
center, the details are nightmarish:
- A frenzy of other inmates shouting "Do it. Do it."
- Guards who called to the inmate but didn't bother to look in on him even when he
failed to respond.
- Scheduled checks that weren't made.
- A staff new to their jobs and unprepared for their duties.
Any suicide in detention is awful, but this one was worse than we thought. It
was worse than we could have imagined.
If its own report is accurate, the private outfit contracted to operate the
youth center--Cornell Companies Inc.--has painted a damning picture of its own
What does the Huckabee administration have to say about all this?
"We still are extremely troubled by the suicide," says Joe Quinn, who's become
an expert by now at making apologies for the state's ironically named Department
of Human Services. Anybody would be troubled by what has happened. The
mystifying part of poor Joe Quinn's statement was the next sentence: "But we
still have confidence in Cornell."
Why, for the love of Heaven?
No wonder Joe Quinn draws the big bucks. Imagine being called on to express
confidence in the company that presided over this macabre mess.
Here's one question not addressed in Cornell's otherwise admirably candid report
and painful recitation of one terrible mistake after another:
Why should the people of Arkansas have confidence in an administration that
contracts with such an outfit to guard its troubled young people? Confession is
good for the soul, but it shouldn't guarantee a state contract.
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The New York Post
October 4, 2001
PRISON COS. GET HOT :
America's new wall of homeland security is creating a big demand for cells to
hold suspects and illegal aliens who might be rounded up.
TERROR THREAT FUELING FIRMS' STOCKS
Stocks of private companies that build and operate prisons for governments
have zoomed as high as 300 percent in anticipation of internment camps and new
"Unfortunately, these are becoming good investments," said James MacDonald, a
prisons-security analyst at First Analysts Securities.
One company, Wackenhut Corp., may be able to put its expertise to work here.
"Wackenhut has had some success running the immigrant camps in Austraila by
converting military bases," said MacDonald.
"It could be done here, too, but turning our old military bases into
internment camps would be a highly charged issue for us," said MacDonald. "It
would be too drastic."
He said the half-dozen publicly traded prison companies are in a buzz about
expanding prison projects being issued by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The Bureau has just let out requests for bids for two prisons to hold
criminal aliens in Georgia.
"It's going to be the biggest award made this year by the Bureau, and it's
generated a lot of excitement," said MacDonald.
He said the Bureau is also seeking bids early next year for three more
prisons in the Southwest deserts that can hold more than 1,500 detainees.
Governments pay private prisons about $31,000 a year to handle each jailbird
- about half what a government agency spends to run a prison on its own.
Private prison investors are also jubilant about an expected U.S. Supreme
Court ruling that would bar any inmate from suing a privately run prison for
civil rights violations.
"The Bureau is expanding rapidly to free up extra space in its system," said
In line to get a big piece of that business is the nation's largest private
prison company, Corrections Corp. of America. Its stock has soared 308 percent
this year, and closed yesterday at $13.98, up 30 cents in active trading.
The company was on the brink of bankruptcy just months ago, but a new
management team and the sudden new business in the aftermath of the Sept. 11
terror attacks has changed its prospects.
"There's clearly a better outlook for the company than it had a few months
ago," said MacDonald.
The company runs about 65 prisons around the U.S. and Puerto Rico and handles
about 61,000 prisoners, including 500 in Leavenworth.
Analysts say many security companies got a huge and immediate profits boost
from supplying guards and new security in the aftermath of the terror attack.
"They got immediate returns, but it's going to take a while for any new
prisons to make their way into the market," said MacDonald.
Also helping the profits outlook for private prisons is an expected rise in
the crime rate due to the recession.
"Crime always goes up in a bad economy," said MacDonald. "Where's there are
good times and jobs are plentiful, people who get out of prison can usually find
work and don't have to go back to their old ways. When the economy fails, so do
the former inmates."
Federal prisons are the fastest growing in the U.S., rising as much as 10
percent a year. State prison populations have been in a decline for a few years
and barely will make a 1 percent rise this year, most of it expected in the
fourth quarter, said MacDonald.
LOCK DOWNS UP
Corrections companies are locking in profits in the wake of the Sept. 11
disaster. The terrorist attacks and a subsequent crackdown on illegal immigrants
have spawned a new growth era in the industry of privately-run prisons. Some of
the companies benefiting:
Company Price Year-to-date increase
Cornell Cos. $17.73 230%
Corrections Corp. of America $13.98 307%
Avalon Correctional Services $1.80 60%
Wackenhut Corp. $22.94 70%
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AP - Monday, October 8, 2001
Parents sue boot camp following son's suicide
By all accounts, Chad Franza was a troubled boy, but he didn't deserve to die the way he did.
The 16-year-old, confined to a juvenile boot camp in Bartow for a series of run-ins with the law, hanged himself with his boot
Just 24 days after he entered the boot camp, Chad decided he could no longer endure the isolation from his family and the
His suicide more than three years ago still haunts his parents, Joseph and Mylinda Franza of Avon Park.
"It was the worst day of my life," his father said.
Hours before Chad took his life, his parents stopped at the boot camp to see their son. "They wouldn't let us," Joseph Franza
Chad's parents have sued the state Department of Juvenile Justice, Polk County Sheriff Lawrence Crow and EMSA
Correctional Care Inc., which had a contract to provide physical and mental health care services for the boot camp.
The defendants have denied responsibility for Chad's suicide and the allegations in the lawsuit. Diane Hirth, a spokeswoman for
the juvenile justice agency, said she could not comment on the lawsuit.
Hirth said the state is trying to improve its mental health treatment of juveniles. In 1999, only one of every 24 juvenile offenders
received specialized mental health care. This year, the ratio is one of every 3.6 offenders, she said.
There are seven boot camps statewide, housing about 380 juvenile offenders between the ages of 14 and 18. Chad's death is
the only suicide in a boot camp.
Chad was the youngest of more than 175 jail and prison suicides over the past decade examined by The Associated Press.
"He was a troubled kid, but he was a far cry from a hardened criminal," said Howard Kay, a Lake Wales attorney who
represents the Franzas. "His parents were troubled about what he did, but he did not deserve the death penalty."
A troubled history
Chad's criminal history began in October 1997 when he was charged with possessing a knife on school grounds. Three weeks
later, he was charged with retaliating against a witness.
"I gave him the knife for his birthday," said his father, who took Chad hunting and fishing. "He knew better about taking it to
school, but he was a kid. He wasn't going to use it to hurt anybody."
After his first arrest, he was ordered into a diversion program, with rules set by his mother and father, the state attorney's office
and a state juvenile case worker.
Things deteriorated when Chad was found with a gun. He was placed under community control, which is essentially house
"I don't think he realized the ramifications of what he did," his mother said.
In February 1998, he broke the terms of his community control by trespassing on school grounds. He was ordered to an Avon
Park day treatment center. When that didn't work, Chad was sent to boot camp.
No close watch
His parents, both employees of the Florida Department of Corrections, said boot camp was the only alternative given to them
by state juvenile officials.
"I didn't think he did anything bad enough to be sent there," his mother said.
Chad's parents told workers that the boy was suicidal and had threatened to kill himself more than once.
But the youngster was never placed on close watch or scheduled for a suicide risk assessment.
"A boot camp is probably the worst place for a person with suicidal tendencies," Kay said. "It is a case in which nobody is
willing to admit they screwed up."
The family's lawsuit alleges that workers failed to complete a section of documents on the youth's suicidal tendencies, did not
recognize his problem, failed to check his room regularly and restricted contact between Chad and his parents.
"We think we could have stopped the whole thing," his father said.
Chad, the youngest of four boys, had never been away from home. The isolation from his family was unbearable. Chad, in a
suicide note, apologized to his parents and told them he loved them.
"I've tried to bear with where I'm at, hoping it will get easier (than) what it has been. It does not look like it will, he wrote. I
cannot bear with being locked up and not at home. I can't go this long without seeing any of my family members."
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