Posts Tagged With: Montana Department of Corrections

Montana Jailers Sued Again

Colton Wilson

Colton Wilson

Do you see the difference in this young man?  This is a young man that is now on his proper medications, out of prison, healthy and doing well.   This was him before, featured in an earlier article.   He looks agitated, stressed, serving a 5 year sentence instead of the 90 day boot camp sentence because of being denied the medications that he so desperately needed under Montana Department Of Corrections.

Colton Wilson

Colton Wilson

 

According to the Missoula Independent, reporter Jessica Mayrer wrote the following article.

Justice

Jailers sued again

Wilson, 23, alleges in a lawsuit served to the Montana Department of Corrections this week that he should never have been sent to prison at all. In 2005, doctors diagnosed Wilson with bipolar and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. Between 2005 and 2007, court records indicate that erratic and fearful behavior prompted Wilson’s family to hospitalize him repeatedly.

In 2007, Wilson, then 16, stabbed a man in the neck. In exchange for pleading guilty to the crime, Wilson received a deferred sentence, contingent upon his completion of a 90-day DOC boot camp.

Prior to Wilson’s arrival at the Treasure State Correctional Training Center boot camp, he says doctors finally found a pharmaceutical combination that helped control his irrational behavior. The problem, as the lawsuit alleges, is guards did not provide Wilson with any of his medications for days after his arrival.

“(It was) nothing short of a mental catastrophe disaster within my head,” he says.

Wilson’s worsening behavior prompted the boot camp to terminate him. He was then sent to prison to serve out a five-year term. According to the lawsuit, given Wilson’s “longstanding mental disorders,” Treasure State’s actions “constituted gross medical dereliction (and) reckless disregard for the well-being of the Plaintiff …”

Wilson seeks damages and says he wants the DOC to change how it treats mentally ill inmates. “You can’t get away with doing this to people,” he says.

Wilson’s story is strikingly similar to that of several others collected by Disability Rights Montana during a year-long investigation into the state’s prison system. According to the investigatory findings released last month, DOC engages in “a pattern of deliberately withholding medication from prisoners with mental illness,” and refuses to diagnose prisoners as suffering from mental illness “despite clear evidence.”

If jailers don’t remedy what Disability Rights alleges are widespread constitutional violations, it is threatening to file suit to compel the DOC to fulfill legal mandates against employing cruel and unusual punishment.

As for Wilson, he was discharged from prison in June. He’s relieved to be out of jail, back on his medications and looking for work. “I made it,” he says.

 

There are far too many cases of this happening within the Department of Corrections.  So many inmates have been thrown in solitary or have committed suicide due to the fact of not being on the medications that are needed.   They completely make those with mental health issues go cold turkey without what they need.  Then when the inmate has a mental breakdown they punish them and it goes on the record.   Thus making his or her stay longer at the prison.   Prisons for profit by torture?  Unbelievable!! 

 

Related Article :  Colton Wilson – Concerns For The Mentally Disabled

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What Happens With A Homeless Inmate Prepared, To Leave Prison?

By Christopher Moraff

Stock_Prison_920_647_80

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Many of  the roughly 10,000 inmates who exit U.S. prisons each week following incarceration face an immediate critical question: Where will I live? While precise numbers are hard to come by, research suggests that, on average, about 10 percent of parolees are homeless immediately following their release. In large urban areas, and among those addicted to drugs, the number is even higher — exceeding 30 percent.

“Without a safe and stable place to live where they can focus on improving themselves and securing their future, all of their energy is focused on the immediate need to survive the streets,” says Faith Lutze, criminal justice professor at Washington State University. “Being homeless makes it hard to move forward or to find the social support from others necessary to be successful.”

Although education, employment, and treatment for drug and mental health issues all play a role in successful reintegration, these factors have little hope in the absence of stable housing. Yet, few leaving prison have the three months’ rent typically required to get an apartment. Even if they did, landlords are given wide latitude in denying leases to people with a criminal record in many states. Further, policies enacted under the Clinton administration continue to deny public housing benefits to thousands of convicted felons — the majority of whom were rounded up for non-violent offenses during the decades-long War on Drugs. Some are barred for life from ever receiving federal housing support.

As a result, tens of thousands of inmates a year trade life in a cell for life on the street. According to Lutze, with each passing day, the likelihood that these people will reoffend or abscond on their parole increases considerably.

Lutze and a team of researchers recently completed a comprehensive assessment of a Washington State program that aims to reduce recidivism by providing high-risk offenders with 12 months of housing support when they are released from prison.

The study tracked 208 participants in three counties and found statistically significant reductions in new offenses and readmission to prison. It also found lower levels of parole revocations among participants.

While housing is the immediate goal of the program, the Re-Entry Housing Pilot Program (RHPP) operates in concert with the Department of Corrections’ Community Justice Centers to provide a range of reentry support services.

Participants live in heavily subsidized apartments, often with roommates, and are required to engage in treatment, secure employment and work toward self-sustainability.

Lutze says stable housing not only reduces violations of public order laws related to living and working on the street, but it increases exposure to pro-social networks and provides a sense of safety and well-being conducive to participating in treatment and other services.

That not only improves community safety, she says, but it “reduces the economic and human costs of ex-offenders cycling through our jails and prisons just because they do not have a safe place to live.”

While this seems like a common sense strategy, programs that place housing at the forefront of prisoner reentry are actually relatively scarce in the U.S., and have historically been driven by a handful of pioneering non-profits.

Since the 1990s, the New York-based Fortune Society has graduated hundreds of ex-offenders from its transitional housing facility in West Harlem, known as “The Castle.” The program has been so successful — with recidivism rates as low as one percent — that the group received city support to open a second facility, Castle Gardens, in 2010. A similar program run by the Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco, offers housing and support services to drug addicts, many of them ex-offenders, in six cities.

For all their success, access to these programs is limited, and demand regularly exceeds supply. But governments are starting to catch on.

As part of its Returning Home Initiative, New York’s Corporation for Supportive Housing joined with the Department of Corrections and several city agencies to launch the Frequent User Service Enhancement (FUSE) program, which provides apartments to roughly 200 homeless people who had both four jail and four shelter stays over the previous five years.

By limiting trips to jails and shelters, the program generated savings of $15,000 per individual according to a two-year evaluation of the program released in March.

The program is now being replicated in nearly a dozen other cities, including Washington D.C. and Chicago, with a number of other cities in the planning stages.

If its past performance is any metric, in the coming years, FUSE is likely to help thousands of inmates across the country establish roots in the community, stay off the street and, ultimately, keep from going back to prison.

Via NextCity

Another factor we must take into consideration, as in Montana, many inmates are denied for parole because they cannot even establish a residency when they go before the parole board. (A place of residency is required as a condition for parole.)  This is next to impossible!   Countless inmates are clogging up the system because they have no place for them to go.  This is a HUGE problem. 

 

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100,000 View, Milestone Surpassed! Thank You!

100,000 Views Milestone Surpassed!

Thank you to all of our followers and to those that share our website.  We have been spreading and more Montanans are wanting to help others.  More voices are speaking up on the truth, so the truth can be heard.  The system has spread their agenda for too long.  Citizens are standing up to be the voices of those that have no voice.  The parole board cannot try to use the flimsy excuse that these are just a few people that are inmates family’s. That is just not so, it is not the truth. There are thousands.  Just look at the Barry Beach Case.  More and more departments are looking into how the whole system is being operated.  As well as it should be.  When the government know longer listens to the outcry of thousands that are complaining of the same thing, that is when it is time to elect new ones.  Something smells very rotten and it’s time to get to the bottom of it! 

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Colton Wilson – Concerns For The Mentally Disabled

 

PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Just an FYI for Montanans.  We have been following this young man’s story for a few years now.  We will be issuing a follow up story soon.   Issues like this need to change in Montana!

Colton Wilson – Concerns For The Mentally Disabled.

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Judge: Using Pepper Spray on Mentally Ill Inmates ‘Horrific’

mejustice:

Excerpt from article:
The inmates’ attorneys and witnesses also told Karlton during recent hearings that the prolonged solitary confinement of mentally ill inmates frequently aggravates their condition, leading to a downward spiral.

Karlton agreed, ruling that placement of seriously mentally ill inmates in segregated housing causes serious psychological harm, including exacerbation of mental illness, inducement of psychosis and increased risk of suicide.

“He made findings in every area of ongoing constitutional violations,” said Michael Bien, an attorney who represents mentally ill inmates in the long-running class-action lawsuit. “Despite all these years of legal efforts, he found that there needs to be more done.”

Karlton ordered the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to develop a plan to keep mentally ill inmates out of segregation units when there is a substantial risk that it will worsen their illness or prompt suicide attempts.

He found that keeping mentally ill inmates in isolation when they have not done anything wrong violates their rights against cruel and unusual punishment. He gave the state 60 days to stop the practice of holding mentally ill inmates in the segregation units simply because there is no room for them in more appropriate housing.

Originally posted on Prison Reform Movement's Weblog:

  • By Don Thompson, Associated Press

A still image from a video showing California prison guards dousing mentally ill inmates repeatedly with pepper spray.

A federal judge ruled Thursday that California’s treatment of mentally ill inmates violates constitutional safeguards against cruel and unusual punishment through excessive use of pepper spray and isolation.

U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton in Sacramento gave the corrections department time to issue updated policies on the use of both methods but did not ban them.

He offered a range of options on how officials could limit the use of pepper spray and isolation units when dealing with more than 33,000 mentally ill inmates, who account for 28 percent of the 120,000 inmates in California’s major prisons.

The ruling came after the public release of videotapes made by prison guards showing them throwing chemical grenades and pumping large amounts of pepper spray into the cells of mentally ill inmates, some of whom are heard screaming.

“Most of the videos were horrific,” Karlton wrote in his…

View original 577 more words

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America’s Incarceration Machine

Jordan Wiser in his emergency services gear.  (Source: WOIO-TV)

     Teenager Jordan Wiser in his emergency services gear. (Source: WOIO-TV)

Excellent short video for helping the unaware understand the MASS Incarceration problem in the United States.

Abby Martin speaks with Eugene Puryear, author of ‘Shackled and Chained: Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America’, about how the US became the country holding a quarter of the world’s prisoners, the privatization of prisons, and the racial bias inherent in the criminal justice system.

21st Century Slavery: Mass Incarceration In America – Video

Ohio teen faces felony when car searched at school, pocketknife discovered

The young man was given a psych evaluation and tracked with an ankle bracelet, and faces up to a year in jail.

Zero Tolerance

Officials found a pocketknife which Mr. Wiser kept in his EMT jacket that he used as a firefighter. They found stun-gun in his glove compartment which he keeps for self-defense. And they found two plastic Airsoft rifles in his trunk which he uses for sporting purposes with his friends after school.

To the young firefighter, these were ordinary items he was never far away from. But in the eyes of the school and the local prosecutor — these were deadly threats to public safety.

A-Tech’s principal called the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department, and deputies came and arrested Mr. Wiser. He was charged with “illegal conveyance or possession of deadly weapon or dangerous ordnance or of object indistinguishable from firearm in school safety zone.” The charge is a Class 5 felony. It carries a jail sentence of 6-12 months.

Wiser was immediately locked up. His ordeal would only get stranger when he came under the rule of the local judges. The first was Judge Robert S. Wynn, who ordered a psych evaluation.

“I was in jail for almost 13 days,” Wiser said. “The first bond hearing I went to was on December 15. The judge ordered me [to be] held on a half million-dollar bond, pending a psychological evaluation. I did that and passed. They found I was not suicidal, homicidal or a threat to anybody. My attorney brought it up in front of a different judge, who let me out on a $50,000 bond and an ankle monitor. I was released from jail on Christmas Eve.”

Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department procured a search warrant on his home. “They were allowed to look anywhere they wanted and take whatever they wanted,” wrote Wiser.

After being released on bond, Judge Alfred Mackey ordered him to get rid of his guns.

“The one judge I went in front of told me to remove any firearms from my parents’ house and put them at my grandpa’s house,” Wiser said to the Huffington Post. “The next judge freaked out about me even knowing what a gun is and put a no contact order against me and my grandparents. My grandfather is dying right now, and I am not allowed within 500 feet of him.”

“I’ve never met a firefighter who hasn’t carried a pocketknife, and I always use one,” explained Wiser. “I never had any intentions of hurting a soul.”

Yet the prosecutor — who is aspiring to be elected as a judge — is trying to paint Mr. Wiser as a potential killer and plans to throw the book at him.

Specht’s harsh words and harsh prosecution may be an attempt to endear himself to fascist-leaning voters in his upcoming judge’s race. His own campaign website boasts how he has built a career upon crushing violators of these so-called “zero tolerance” policies.

Mr. Wiser joins a number of other students who have been caught up in these zero-tolerance no-weapons policies. Police State USA wrote about multiple Georgia teens who could face a maximum of 10 years in prison for having pocketknives in their parked cars at school. Also covered was a story about an 18-year-old high school senior in Tennessee who was also charged with a felony for the same reason. It would seem that rural states like Georgia, Tennessee, and Ohio would be understanding the common ownership of pocketknives, yet the laws and the stories prove that the injustice of anti-weapon laws has swept into even the most unlikely states.

To Read Full Story Police State USA

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Montana Law And Justice Studying The Board Of Pardons And Parole SJR 3

ImageAccording to the Montana Legislature Website Law And Justice

 

SJR 3: Study the Board of Pardons and Parole

The 2013 Legislature recommended an interim study of the operations of the Board of Pardons and Parole (Board) when it enacted Senate Joint Resolution 3 (SJR 3). Legislators ranked the study tenth out of 17 study resolutions in the post session poll of interim studies. The Legislative Council met in May 2013 and assigned the study to the Law & Justice Interim Committee (LJIC).

The LJIC reviewed a draft study plan and adopted it to guide their work on the plan through the interim. Information related to the study will be posted here as it becomes available.

Staff Reports

Presentation Materials

Other Reports and Related Documents

Law and Justice Interim Committee

The Law and Justice Interim Committee is responsible for monitoring the activities of the Department of Corrections, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the Public Defender. The committee serves as the liaison to the Judicial Branch.

The committee is also responsible for carrying out interim studies as assigned by the Legislature and the Legislative Council. The committee’s adopted work plan outlines its process for completing the interim’s work.

REPRESENTATIVE JENNY ECK (D)
PO BOX 1206
HELENA, MT 59624-1206
459-1082

REPRESENTATIVE ELLIE BOLDMAN HILL (D)
501 DALY AVE
MISSOULA, MT 59801-4412
(406) 218-9608

REPRESENTATIVE SARAH LASZLOFFY (R)
3165 US HIGHWAY 212 S
LAUREL, MT 59044-8911
(406) 530-7013

REPRESENTATIVE STEVE LAVIN (R)
PO BOX 11241
KALISPELL, MT 59904-4241
(406) 212-3820

REPRESENTATIVE DENNIS LENZ (R)
PO BOX 20752
BILLINGS, MT 59104-0752
(406) 671-7052

REPRESENTATIVE MARGARET ( MARGIE ) MACDONALD (D)–Chair
4111 JUNE DR
BILLINGS, MT 59106-1565
(406) 698-4917

SENATOR SHANNON J AUGARE (D)
PO BOX 909
BROWNING, MT 59417-0909
(406) 450-5686

SENATOR SCOTT BOULANGER (R)
PO BOX 733
DARBY, MT 59829-0733
(406) 360-1063

SENATOR ROBYN DRISCOLL (D)
404 HOULE DR
BILLINGS, MT 59102-4861
(406) 272-2403

SENATOR LARRY JENT (D)
1201 S 3RD ST
BOZEMAN, MT 59715-5503
(406) 587-0390

SENATOR TERRY L MURPHY (R)–Vice Chair
893 BOULDER CUTOFF RD
CARDWELL, MT 59721-9605

SENATOR SCOTT SALES (R)
5200 BOSTWICK RD
BOZEMAN, MT 59715-7721
(406) 579-7994

February 2014 Meeting Materials

Materials

The reason for this study can be found in an article at CORRECTIONSONE.com below or at APAI:

Examining whether board may be too stringent on granting or revoking parole for felons within Montana correctional system.

 

You need to make your voice be heard.  The Law And Justice at this time has bill drafts that will reduce the powers of The Board Of Pardons And Parole.  Holding them more accountable.

According to The Missoulian an article

Members of a legislative law and justice panel Friday directed its staff to draft bills to monitor and narrow the powers of the Montana Parole Board when it grants parole to prison inmates.

Sen. Larry Jent, D-Bozeman, said he thinks the Board of Pardons and Parole “does a really good job most of the time.” But members of a committee studying the board’s procedures think it sometimes imposes unnecessary conditions that slow or block the parole of inmates who pose little or no risk to society, he said.

Jent asked staff for the Law and Justice Interim Committee to draft a bill prohibiting the board from imposing conditions for parole that go beyond conditions imposed by the sentencing judge or recommended by prison officials.

He also wants bills drafted to require audio or video recordings of Parole Board proceedings, and to give the Legislature oversight over Parole Board rules.

“We have abundant evidence here of people kept in prison for decades beyond what the professionals believe is reasonable,” added Sen. Terry Murphy, R-Cardwell, a member of the committee and the sponsor of the resolution to study Parole Board procedures.

The bipartisan committee will examine the bill drafts at future meetings and decide whether to support them. The bills could be introduced at the 2015 Legislature.

Continue Reading At The Missoulian

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Thinking About Investing In Prisons For Profit?

This following article was written in February of 2014, by an Investment Management Company, but it can be applied to any time of the year.  According to Strubel Investment Management

Dumb Investment of the Week: For-Profit Prison Industry

Strubel Investment Management‘s Dumb Investment of the Week for this week focuses on the private for-profit prison industry.

Since you know I happily invest in tobacco companies, alcoholic beverage manufacturers, and defense contractors, you know that the private prison industry must be pretty rotten if even I won’t invest in it.

The industry appears to operate a fundamentally flawed business model and seems thoroughly corrupt from top to bottom. We believe it is just a matter of time before Chaucer’s old adage about evil deeds being found out (“Murder will out, certain, it will not fail”) comes true.

Corrections Corporation of America (CXW), referred to hereafter by its better known industry acronym CCA, G4S plc (LSE:GFS), and The Geo Group, Inc (GEO)are the three main publicly traded companies that operate private for-profit prisons and detention centers.

These companies rode the dual wave of the war on drugs and deregulation/privatization (a better term might be “confiscation”) of public property and resources in the 1980s into a prominent political and financial force in the prison industry. A wave of overbuilding and lawsuits threatened the industry in the late 1990s, but the terrorist attacks of September 11 and a new focus on locating and detaining so called “illegal” immigrants have vaulted the private for-profit industry to record profits.

We believe the combination of a flawed business model and rampant abuse in the private prison industry will eventually outweigh the lobbying savvy of the companies and lead to the decline of the industry.

Industry Is Vulnerable to Abuse

The private prison industry stands unique among almost all other sectors of the economy in that the nature of its “customers” brings a very high risk of abuse.

It’s easy to take advantage of incarcerated persons. In many cases, the conviction of a crime strips individuals of certain right, their freedoms are severely restricted, and reduces or negates any sympathy society may feel toward them.

For instance, imagine if some large company perpetrated some abuse on my 80-year-old grandma. Well, let’s take a step back. First, it would be difficult for anyone to take advantage of her. As a free person, no company can truly force her to do anything. In addition, she has many family members, including my father and me, looking out for her. But, let’s suppose something did happen. As a non-convict and non-incarcerated person, she enjoys maximum rights under the law and would have a fairly easy time righting any wrongs through legal means. Also, as an 80-year-old widow and upstanding member of the community she presents a very sympathetic figure. Any media organization would eagerly take up her cause and be happy to publish a story on how some evil, faceless corporation took advantage of her. The community would likely be outraged and rally to her cause. Any local politician would be eager to help as well to show the voters how he’s “standing up for the little guy.”

With incarcerated people, the situation is very different. They are stripped of many rights. The operator of the prison system has almost complete control over their behavior and their daily lives. Many incarcerated people have less robust family support systems than mine, and the media and many politicians are going to be much less likely to champion the cause of a wronged convict than of my grandma.

It’s this dynamic that creates an enormous potential for abuse as we will show later throughout this article. Prisoners are easily taken advantage of and the for-profit nature of private prisons creates an overwhelming incentive to neglect the well-being of prisoners in exchange for increased profits. With public companies, the pressure of meeting investor and Wall Street expectations may make the temptation even greater.

Business Model Depends on Cutting Corners

In many, if not most, businesses there are multiple ways a company can increase profitability. Take Ford Motor Company, for example. Management has many options to increase profitability. They could design and build better cars than their competitors and take market share away. They could try charging more for their vehicles if they thought they were better than the competition. They could develop a new small, urban-friendly vehicle targeted to millennials living in cities, which would increase sales by enlarging the total pool of potential car buyers. They could develop more efficient manufacturing processes and cut costs thereby increasing profitability, or they could spend more money on advertising, which might lead to more sales. The point is that for a company like Ford that makes things that are useful to consumers and that consumers actually need and want, there are many levers managers can pull to improve the profitability of the company.

The private for-profit industry is an entirely different beast. The companies are paid a per diem rate for each prisoner at the prisons they own and operate. From Corrections Corp 10-K: “We are compensated for providing prison bed capacity and correctional services at an inmate per diem rate based upon actual or minimum guaranteed occupancy levels.”

Unlike Ford Motor Company, there is nothing a private for-profit prison operator can do to increase their top line “sales” figure without increasing bed capacity. They are compensated a fixed rate per prisoner. So, the only way that a private for-profit prison operator can increase profitability is cut costs. The less they spend per prisoner the greater their profit.

This means that private for-profit prison companies are highly incentivized to do the following:

  • Incarcerate the maximum number of people for as long as possible
  • Build and maintain prisons as cheaply as possible
  • Staff prisons as leanly as possible
  • Compensate staff as little as possible
  • Minimize the amount of medical care utilized by prisoners

Every dollar saved from staffing costs and prisoner care results in another dollar added to the company’s bottom line. Unfortunately, it seems that this pursuit of profit has led to unsafe conditions and systemic abuse of inmates at private for-profit prisons.

Abuses of the System and Mistreatment of Inmates

The abuses in the private prison industry are literally too numerous to mention. In the following sections we will present several examples and anecdotes in each category of abuse and neglect as well as a summary of any relevant statistical information that shows how that type of abuse is rampant across the entire private prison complex system.

Maximize Incarceration Rates

Private prisons are most profitable when operating at maximum occupancy rates. While many private prison contracts specify minimum occupancy guarantees (an issue we will address later in this article), the rate guarantees are usually less than 100%. Many private prisons have resorted to other tactics to keep their prisons filled.

The most notorious case might be the “kids for cash” scandal where two judges in Luzerne County, PA, were found guilty of and sentenced to 17.5 years and 28 years, respectively, for taking over $2.6M in kickbacks from Mid Atlantic Youth Service Corporation to sentence youths convicted of minor crimes to jail at the their private prison facility.

A study of New Mexico prisons showed that prisoners at private prisons run by CCA lost “good behavior” time, or reductions in their original sentence, at a rate EIGHT times higher than inmates in New Mexico state-run prisons. It’s important to keep in mind that CCA is generally able, through their contracts, to cherry pick the best (meaning, least violent and disruptive) inmates to house in their prisons. For example, a 2004 study found that minimum or medium level security inmates made up 90% of the prison population at private prisons but only 69% of the population at state-run prisons.

The maximization of incarceration rates also runs counter to the public good. By keeping prisoners incarcerated when they otherwise should not be, private prison companies are draining money from the state and federal coffers that could otherwise be spent on more productive uses such as education and infrastructure.

Staff Prisons as Leanly as Possible

Another way that private prison operators maximize profits is by reducing staff and operational expenses to the detriment of prisoner safety.

The most notorious example of lax prisoner oversight and inadequate staffing levels is the escape of three inmates from Kingman state prison in Arizona. Kingman was run by a private company, Management and Training Corp. One of the escaped prisoners, John McCluskey, murdered a New Mexico couple at a rest stop before being recaptured.

Another example is Idaho Correctional Center. This prison operated by CCA was so violent that prison staff and inmates referred to it as “gladiator school.” An investigation showed that the violence at ICC was three times higher than other prisons in Idaho. The reason for the violence was the lack of staff to adequately supervise prisoners. CCA was recently fined $1M by the state of Idaho for violating its contract and falsifying staff records to show that the prison was adequately staffed when, in fact, it was not.

In 2012, the assault rate at four privately run Mississippi prisons was THREE times higher than the average at state run prisons. Tennessee and Idaho also reported higher assault rates at private prisons than public ones.

The most violent prison of them all may be the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional facility in Mississippi. According to the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, the average juvenile facility has one guard for every 10 to 12 inmates. At Walnut Grove, run by The GEO Group, there was one guard for every 60 inmates. This has led to skyrocketing violence. Walnut Grove won the title of Mississippi’s most violent prison in 2012.

The tales of prisoner beatings, rape, and mistreatment are too numerous to mention but are so bad the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit. After a judge stated that Walnut Grove was “a picture of such horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world” and “[the GEO Group] had been derelict in their duties and remain[ed] deliberately indifferent to the serious medical and mental health needs of the offenders” and the US Department of Justice also accused the facility of “systemic, egregious, and dangerous practices exacerbated by a lack of accountability and controls,” the state ended its contract with The GEO Group. (Not having learned their lesson, the facility is now run by another for-profit entity–Management and Training Group.)

Or take the case of a CCA injury settlement for 193 Colorado inmates over a prison riot. In that case, The Colorado Department of Corrections audit found that CCA was plagued by high staff turnover and was slow to correct problems at the Crowley County Correctional Facility.

Because of the fractured nature of the private prison industry and the lack of oversight, it is difficult to find comprehensive data for the entire industry to compare staffing levels. CCA’s 2012 10-K discloses that the company has a capacity of 92,500 beds and 16,620 non-corporate staff. Some of these staff members are employed in the company’s prisoner transportation business. Additionally, not all beds may be occupied or a facility may be filled beyond its rated capacity. In any case, using the disclosed figures, CCA employs only one non-corporate staff member per 5.56 potential prisoners. While prison overcrowding has been a constant issue since the war on drugs began, the Federal Bureau of Prisons had one staff member for every 4.9 inmates, which was regarded as understaffed compared to a 3.7 to 1 ratio in 1997.

Also, a review of the literature, cited throughout this article, regarding audits of private prisons when negative events occur (riots, inmate abuse, escapes, etc.) has found low staffing levels and inadequate staff training to be a contributing factor in each incident.

Reduce Operating Costs

It also should come as no surprise that if private prisons are financially incentivized to cut back on staffing they also appear to cut back on the maintenance and capital expenditures needed to keep prisons operating safely and efficiently.

For example, since CCA purchased the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in 2011 from the state of Ohio, there has been a rash of problems. The purchase audits and inspections by the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee and Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction have detailed poor living conditions and rising rates of criminal and violent activity at the prison. Inmate-on-inmate violence increased by 188% and inmate-on-staff violence increased 300% under CCA’s supervision, both rates well above average. A particularly notable incident came on March 10, 2013, when a supply fan broke and a building was flooded with toxic fumes, sickening 75% of the building’s inmates. The audits also showed that inmates had inadequate food, medical care, and in some cases inadequate housing.

In another example, former ACLU attorney Will Harrell was recently quoted as describing a Coke County, Texas, facility run by The GEO Group as “disgusting” and that “there was an infestation of insects everywhere you looked, including the kitchen. Insects in the food. It was horrible.” In 2007, The Texas Youth Commission, which was responsible for monitoring the facility, eventually fired several of its employees after it was found that they colluded with prison officials to cover up the conditions at the prison. An independent audit found prisoners living in filth (auditors visiting the prison got so much fecal matter on their shoes they had to wipe them off on the grass outside) without adequate access to toilets, denied access to medical care, denied access to legal counsel, and subject to racial segregation.

Minimize Medical Care

In addition to reducing expenses by cutting staffing costs and not properly maintaining capital infrastructure, private prisons also appear to reduce expenses by neglecting to provide adequate medical care to prisoners.

For example, after an inmate died recently, the Colorado Medical Board admonished the physician employed by CCA at Bent County Correctional Facility run by CCA, for providing inadequate medical care.

Another article details a 2005 investigation into Prison Health Services, a for-profit company that was responsible for the death of two prisoners in a two-month period because the company denied the prisoners their medications. The nurse admitted in a court deposition that she had joked to staff, “We save money because we skip the ambulance and bring them straight to the morgue.” There is also the case of Correctional Medical Services, which was the subject of a report that exposed how the company actively discouraged treatment for hepatitis among prisoners. Metro Correctional in Kentucky had seven inmates die in one year, and an investigation by the prison itself found that the prison may have been responsible for two of the deaths.

Comprehensive studies on the privatization of prison healthcare services and prison healthcare in general are very rare. A 1994 study by the Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission of the privatization of healthcare at the Greensville Correctional Center in Virginia found that it was a complete failure. Problems included inadequate care and staffing, cost overruns, and inadequate medical equipment.

The Private Prison Industry Runs Counter to the Public Good

Society benefits from having the minimum number of incarcerated persons, but the private for-profit prison industry does nothing to further this goal. The private prison industry benefits from locking up the maximum number of persons possible.

According to a recent article, 65% of private prison contracts have lockup quotas, meaning that the state guarantees that they will fill the prison to a certain capacity or will pay the difference. The most frequent lockup quota used in contracts is 90%, but three prisons in Arizona have lockup quotas of 100%.

This means that governments are paying to lock up prisoners whether or not there are any actual criminals to fill the jails! State and federal government entities are essentially guaranteeing profits to the private prison industry!

This leads to a grotesque scenario where there is pressure to increase the severity of sentencing laws to keep the prisons full. Private prison companies have been lobbied for three strike laws (mandates of 25 to life for multiple felony convictions) and truth-in-sentencing (keeping prisoners incarcerated for their entire sentence) legislation.

Privatization Deals Are Not Beneficial to Governments

All the abuses perpetrated by private prisons might be tolerable by the general public, since prisoners are usually not sympathetic figures, if the private prison industry lived up to its promises of incarcerating inmates more cheaply than public prisons. This is not the case; numerous studies have shown that incarcerating inmates at private facilities is more expensive than at public facilities or in a best case scenario costs the same.

When examining studies of the cost-effectiveness of private prisons, care must be taken to ensure that the underlying methodology of the study is valid. The private prison industry has a habit of generously donating to politicians and other groups to influence studies, showing the benefits of private prisons. There are enormous amounts of biased and poorly constructed studies that purport to show that private prisons offer cost savings over publicly run prisons. These studies, however, contain many flaws, such as the failure to adjust for differences in inmate populations, failure to include overhead costs, and comparisons to a hypothetical prison rather than actual operating facilities. A final trick used to present privatization as more effective is studies that highlight the cases of severely troubled state institutions after they are put under new, private management. In these cases, the state-run institutions are so poor that any new management, government or private, likely would have improved the prison.

The studies with the soundest methodology compare actual private prisons to actual state prisons with like characteristics (building size, location, prisoner demographics, security level, etc.).

The best study to date is the analysis of the 2010 data released by the Arizona Department of Corrections. This study compared like prisoners in actual, operating private and public prisons. The study found that using private prisons to hold minimum-security prisoners did not save any money, and that for medium-security prisoners was actually more expensive.

Another, albeit old, study that was well done and free from bias was the 1985 study of the transfer of the Florida School for Boys at Okeechobee, a juvenile detention facility, to a private non-profit organization. The study addresses one of the key claims made by the private prison industry that the private sector can provide public goods (in this case incarceration services) more efficiently than government organizations. Despite being a non-profit organization, the private manager was unable to realize any cost savings. Of note is one particular finding: Staff at the facility had much lower morale after the transfer. This finding once again corresponds to the articles cited throughout this report that staff issues including lower morale are one of the prominent downsides to the privatization of detention facilities.

Social Mores and Budget Issues Impact Incarceration Rates

The final issue is the shifting tides of social mores. Society as a whole seems to have grown tired of the “war on drugs” that resulted in the mass incarceration of millions of Americans for non-violent, victimless crimes against the state.

http://strubelim.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/2-10-14_inc_rates.jpg

(Graphic source: Wikipedia)

With the commencement of the war on drugs and emphasis on detaining immigrants, the incarceration rate has risen from a steady 100 persons per 100,000 to an astonishing 500 persons.

The cost to society for this misguided adventure has been enormous. With many states still facing budgetary pressures, reducing incarceration rates is an easy place to save money.

Finally, social mores threaten to reduce the number of persons convicted or held on drug related and immigration offenses, which are the two main drivers of the increase in incarceration rates. The recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington shows that the social mores on drug use are changing. Immigration reform has the potential to wind down the immigration equivalent of the war on drugs. As the social and demographic makeup of the United States changes, society is less likely to view the incarceration of drug users and immigrants as desirable.

With an enormous amount of bed capacity built up in the prison system (both public and private) to house quintupling of inmates, any drop in incarceration rates will radically affect private prison companies’ bottom lines. Almost every other civilized country has incarceration rates ranging from 150 to 50 odd people per 100,000, which is the historic range for the United States as well.

Summary

In summary, we find there is no economic or social reason for the private prison industry to exist. The horrific records of abuse at many private prisons and the changing social mores of the country place the profitability of these companies at risk.

Intense lobbying and generous campaign finance contributions by the private prison industry should keep the corporate coffers and jail cells filled in the short term. Also, with some private prison companies converting to REITs for the tax benefits, shareholders may reap a short-term windfall. Over the next ten years or so, however, the private prison industry is at great risk as its reason for existence begins to fade.

About the author:

Ben Strubel

President and Portfolio Manager of Strubel Investment Management, LLC a value oriented,independent, fee-only Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) based in Lancaster, PA.Visit Ben Strubel’s Website

We asked permission to use this article from Mr.Strubel. His response:
You are welcome to share the article with anyone you like. Glad you liked the article.

Ben Strubel, MBA
President and Portfolio Manager

Strubel Investment Management, LLC

Montana, you have Prisons For Profit in your state. Not only CCA, (Shelby Correctional Institute) and Cascade County Regional Prison, the state has learned how to use this cookie cutter system to make money for the select that have investments in it.  Montana Department of Corrections rents from private industries even, as you see in Cascade County Regional.  Phone fees are astronomical at $14-$15 per 15 minute local phone call and $17-$20 per 15 minute long distance phone call, forcing all inmates to cut ties with their families. Although, it has been proven that inmates with communication and visitation from loved ones will help decrease the numbers of those returning back into the system. Makes you wonder with these fees, canteen fees, visitation restrictions, etc. if they really want an inmate to be successful on the outside.  It makes them more money for them to return to prison.  Look at the Montana Parole Board and their high return rate!  Look at the incarceration rate! Montana, seriously, is this something to be proud of?

 

Categories: Montana DOC/BOPP, Montana Politics | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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