If you’re a state official looking to plug up one of those multi-billion dollar state budget holes you may want to talk to the folks in the for-profit prison industry.
The Corrections Corporation of America is offering states tons of cash. All state officials have to do is close their prisons and sign on the dotted line.
CCA, the nation's largest operator of for-profit prisons, has sent letters recently to 48 states offering to buy up their prisons as a solution for "challenging corrections budgets."
So what’s in it for CCA?
The company is asking for a 20-year management contract. They also want assurances that their prisons would remain at least 90 percent full regardless of crime rates. This is the kind of deal politicians dream about. Not only to they get to cover their tracks in terms of which hole the state’s money disappeared into, they also get to play the “tough on crime” candidate during elections.
CCA is now a giant on Wall Street. Share holders have seen revenues increase by 500 percent since the mid-1990s. The company capitalized on the expansion of state prison systems in the '80s and '90s as the result of the war on drugs by contracting with state governments to build or manage new prisons to house an influx of minor drug offenders.
But as drug abuse has changed in rates and nature, CCA has turned most of its lobbying power to advocate for locking up undocumented immigrants
So what is a state prison system worth? According to CCA it’s an even $250 million.
By getting the prisons at bargain prices and using political influence and lobbyists to advocate longer sentences and “tougher” crime laws, CCA could do very well in terms of keeping profits high for its shareholders.
"We believe this comes at a timely and helpful juncture and hope you will share our belief in the benefits of the purchase-and-manage model," reads the letter from Harley Lappin, CCA's chief corrections officer, who was a former director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The prison sale for quick cash plan is sure to attract those who rode into office on promises of balanced budgets and reductions in government spending. Whether or not tax payers will be paying more or less for private prisons instead of state run prisons remains to be seen.
A new lawsuit for alleged brutality against CCA.
Couer D'alene, ID - Guards at a private prison instigated - and watched - a gang fight that left him brutally beaten and unconscious, says a man who claims that Corrections Corporation of America guards "foster" brutality between inmates, and conceal injuries in the prison's "in-house" medical center.
Jacob Clevenger sued Corrections Corporation of America, CCA Western Properties, and Philip Valdez, warden of the CCA's Idaho Correctional Center, in Federal Court.
Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America is the largest private corrections company in the country, managing 60 prisons with a total of 90,000 beds.
Clevenger, who claims he was beaten senseless in the prison, claims CCA "has allowed and even fostered systemic conditions of brutality, peril and injuriousness at the ICC."
Clevenger claims that ICC warden Philip Valdez has refused to hire enough correctional officers, to adequately train the ones he does hire, and failed to pursue "reasonable policies of personnel discipline and retraining in cases where correctional officers have contributed to or facilitated inmate violence or injury."
He claims that correctional officers at ICC "have acted, and feel empowered to act, with impunity when they deliberately disregard or derogate inmate safety."
He claims there is a "code of silence" by which "staff are conspicuously not encouraged to report prisoner or personnel misconduct, and are furthermore not provided adequate training in how to do so".
The complaint continues: "Defendants CCA and Valdez have operated the ICC's 'in house' medical unit so as to purposefully conceal the incidence and extent of inmate injuries suffered as a result of the facility's recurrent violence~ through official medical unit policies, such as the omission of any X-rays of severe assault injuries, the defendants act to obfuscate the extent of the systemically dangerous conditions at their facility.
"For years, defendants CCA and Valdez have possessed actual and constructive knowledge of these illegal and dangerous conditions at ICC. However, in direct derogation of their state and federal duties of care, they have avoided and refrained from taking reasonable measures to abate them."
Court Filing: http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/03/26/CCA.pdf