[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

SCVNews.com | White House Wants to Eliminate Private Prisons | 08-18-2016
Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
51°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
March 26
1821 - SCV (with the rest of Alta Calif.) becomes territory of Mexico during war for Mexican independence from Spain [story]


prisonbars2[CN] – The Justice Department said Thursday it will try to phase out private prison contracts, after an audit found they have more safety and security problems than government-run prisons.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said she instructed federal officials to significantly reduce reliance on private prisons.

In December 2015, more than 22,000 federal inmates — about 12 percent of them — were in private prisons, according to an August report from the Department of Justice Inspector General.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Tens of thousands of immigration detainees today are in prisons or de facto prisons, some of them run by religious organizations, on private contracts with the government.

Since their inception, “private prisons” have been fiercely contested by human rights attorneys and their clients, who view them, in essence, as federal and state cession of constitutional protections to profit-seeking corporations.

Among the frequently litigated complaints are these:

* that private contracts make it hard or impossible to get information about conditions in the prisons through state and federal Freedom of Information Act requests;

* that federal and state governments and the private contractors use private contracts for precisely this reason — to cover up abuse of vulnerable people, and fight litigation;

* that it’s unclear where liability may lie if, for instance, a private prison guard kills an inmate: With the private corporation? With the Justice Department? With the Bureau of Prisons?

* whether the private contracts skew justice — that federal contracts guaranteeing private companies millions of dollars a year to imprison people encourage state and federal governments to lock up people who are not criminals: because the government paid the bill for it in advance.

The nation’s two largest private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the Geo Group, have been privately sued more than 2,250 times, often on claims of abuse, according to the Courthouse News database. Allegations include rape by prison guards, torture, and denial of access to counsel.

 

How It Started

The federal government began contracting with private prison companies in the 1984, in Houston, to imprison immigration detainees fleeing war in Central America. It issued a second contract to Corrections Corporation of America in 1985, for the first private prison designed to jail mothers and babies seeking political asylum.

In 1986, the Department of Justice contracted with the Bureau of Prisons to jail immigration detainees in Oakdale, La. At the time, “entry without inspection” was a civil infraction — not a crime.

Since then, despite the raft of lawsuits, the U.S. private prison industry has exploded.

Private prisons were a $3.3 billion industry in 2015, according to The Washington Post. More than half of the country’s immigration detainees were in private prisons that year, up from 25 percent in 2005. More than 130 private prisons incarcerated more than 130,000 people that year, according to the Post.

In her memo Thursday, Yates said a decline in prison population in the past three years contributed to her decision not to renew private prison contracts.

Human rights lawyers who have fought private prisons for decades questioned that.

Prison reform has become, surprisingly, a bipartisan effort in Congress during this bitterly contested election year. Members on both sides of the aisle have said that our prison system isn’t working: that early intervention and education would be money better spent.

But human rights attorneys told Courthouse News that the United States’ enormous, and growing, system of private prisons skews justice, toward incarceration. And that private prison companies, in effect, have bought off members of Congress to keep it going.

The GEO Group and CCA have contributed $10 million to political campaigns and spent more than $25 million on lobbying Congress since 1989, according to The Washington Post’s April 28, 2015 story.

Human rights attorneys, and the Post, cited the Corrections Corporation of America’s annual report for 2014: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. … Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior.”

Attorney Patrick Hughes moved to Laredo in 1985 to represent mothers and children in the INS/CCA immigration prison there. Hughes, who charged his clients nothing unless they could afford it, and relied on donations from the Catholic Church, told Courthouse News today: “CCA, a Tennessee company that owned the prison complex, decided that anyone, child or adult, would be stripped and cavity-searched as a condition of my visit. The strip searches happened both before and after the visits with me, an attorney who was experienced in asylum law.

“The private prison company invented a rationale that I might be providing subversive literature or contraband weapons to the immigration detainees, and argued that to merely visit with me was to label oneself as a communist supporter — an enemy of the USA, and thus not eligible for asylum. CCA hired a defrocked priest from Australia to hear confessions and counsel the detainees that I was a communist sympathizer and to avoid me.”

Paul Wright, founder and editor of Prison Legal News, told Courthouse News in an email: “This is a long overdue step by the federal government. But for the federal government’s bailout of the private prison industry in 2000 they would have long ago collapsed under the weight of their own mismanagement ineptitude and corruption. We can now expect a flurry of lobbying, as the industry cannot survive without its federal handouts.”

Prison-watchers told Courthouse News today that they expect pushback lawsuits from states that profit from private prisons, such as Texas and Louisiana.

Several states canceled their contracts with CCA after its abuses were revealed in civil lawsuits.

Deputy Attorney General Yates said in her Thursday memo that the goal of the Department of Justice is to “substantially reduce” private prison contracts when they expire, with the goal of “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates said.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
Loading...
Related Content
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Sunday, Mar 26, 2017
Chowing Down for Charity
The 5th Annual SCV Charity Chili Cookoff attracted a capacity crowd to Wolf Creek Brewery on Thursday to raise funds for SRD-Straightening Reins and Spotlight Arts Center.
Friday, Mar 24, 2017
Anonymous Tip Leads to Arrest of Stolen Vehicle Suspect
An anonymous tip to L.A. Crime Stoppers led to a stolen vehicle arrest Thursday night, deputies said.
Friday, Mar 24, 2017
Crime Blotter: Petty Theft, Vehicle Theft in Castaic, Val Verde
Castaic/Val Verde Crime Report: Week of March 13, 2017- March 19, 2017
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The 5th Annual SCV Charity Chili Cookoff attracted a capacity crowd to Wolf Creek Brewery on Thursday to raise funds for SRD-Straightening Reins and Spotlight Arts Center.
Chowing Down for Charity
1821 - SCV (with the rest of Alta Calif.) becomes territory of Mexico during war for Mexican independence from Spain [story]
1889 - Castaic School District established [story]
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, an anonymous tipster helped lead deputies to a stolen vehicle arrest. Plus, some junior high students got to try their hand at welding. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Friday, March 24, 2017
The New Heights panel for May will discuss how to build a home studio at a free panel discussion on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Centre.
May 3: New Heights to Discuss Setting Up a Home Studio
As Tax Day nears, many seniors may get calls or emails from people identifying themselves as Internal Revenue Service or Franchise Tax Board agents – but, in reality, they are crooks looking to make a quick buck.
Seniors Beware: That’s Not the Taxman on The Phone
An anonymous tip to L.A. Crime Stoppers led to a stolen vehicle arrest Thursday night, deputies said.
Anonymous Tip Leads to Arrest of Stolen Vehicle Suspect
California Credit Union has partnered with four school districts in the Santa Clarita Valley in a new “4th Grade Book Buy Program” aimed at encouraging young readers. Through the program, California Credit Union donated 900 books to 36 public elementary schools in the Castaic Union School District, Newhall School District, Saugus Union School District, and Sulphur Springs School District.
California Credit Union, SCV School Districts Partner for 4th Grade Book Buy Program
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is very proud of one of LASD's own, Ms. Sandra R. Enslow, our Graphic Arts Coordinator and Lead Forensic Artist.
LASD Employee Wins American Academy of Forensic Sciences Field Award
More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to poison centers across the United States, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Half of those calls involve children under 6 years old.
Five Ways to Protect your Child from Household Poisons
“Dust,” a collection of Western-themed large scale paintings by contemporary, figurative painter Jorin Bossen, will be on display in the gallery at The MAIN in Old Town Newhall starting Tuesday, April 4, 2017.
‘Dust,’ a Western Themed Art Exhibit, Comes to Old Town Newhall
Castaic/Val Verde Crime Report: Week of March 13, 2017- March 19, 2017
Crime Blotter: Petty Theft, Vehicle Theft in Castaic, Val Verde
Stevenson Ranch Crime Report: Week of 03/13/17 to 03/19/17
Crime Blotter: Vehicle Burglary in Stevenson Ranch
The ACA woes are long-standing and obvious, and addressing them is long overdue. Both political parties need to face reality and unite for corrections. Democrats offer nothing but criticism and fright, while some recalcitrant Republicans obsess with killing the ACA immediately. Both are foolish.
ObamaScare | Commentary by Betty Arenson
1922 - Wyatt Earp's wife thanks William S. Hart for defending her husband's honor [story]
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, a Castaic man accused of domestic violence and murder against his wife has pleaded guilty.. Plus, Castaic Union School District is looking for new members for the Measure QS Citizens Oversight Committee.. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Thursday, March 23, 2017
At this New Heights Workshop, digital market expert, Sheri Candler, will walk filmmakers through the important process of audience identification with emphasis on where to find an audience (both online and offline) and the key tools available to filmmakers to capture their audience’s attention and compel that audience to watch their film.
April 12: New Heights Workshop to Focus on Marketing Tips for Indie Filmmakers
Castaic resident Amy Juico had the lucky ticket Wednesday night that won her a brand new 2017 Chevy Cruze LT from AutoNation Chevrolet Valencia.
Castaic Woman Wins ‘WiSH’ Car from AutoNation
Retirees ages 62 and older or those looking to retire soon, are invited by the American Family Funding, a division of American Pacific Mortgage Corporation, to dine and be apart of a workshop where they can learn how a reverse mortgage can provide access to home equity without the monthly payments.
Discovering Reverse Mortgage for Homes of Retirees
Shiver me timbers, be ready to set sail for Bunco Hidden Treasures on Saturday, April 1: bring your matey and enjoy an exciting afternoon of Bunco, snacks and a raffle at the The Centre in Santa Clarita.
April 1: Special Olympics Hosts Pirate Themed Bunco Tournament
Valencia's very own Flyers Jr. A Hockey Team, once again had a successful end to the league, by remaining at the top with a 40-9-3 record that is good enough for fourth place in the league and the second place in the whole western division.
Free Admission Offered for Valencia Flyers Jr. Hockey Playoff Game
A Castaic man accused of domestic violence and murder in a deadly attack against his wife pleaded guilty, an official with the District Attorney’s Office reported Thursday.
Castaic Man Accused of Domestic Violence, Murder Takes Plea Deal
NorthPark Community Church will be hosting a variety of events for the week leading up to Easter Sunday.
NorthPark Community Church Hosts Easter Events
Representative Steve Knight (CA-25) introduced a bipartisan bill on Wednesday that would assist women start and grow their own small businesses. This legislation would improve federal program for female small business owners.
Knight Authors Bill to Support Women Entrepreneurs
Disabled veteran-owned businesses have had a $250,000 cap when bidding for California contracts through a streamlined bidding process, weakening their ability to compete with their big business counterparts.
Acosta Introduces Bill to Help Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses
The single-family home median price for the Santa Clarita Valley in February came in at $535,000, up 0.9 percent from 12 months ago and off 4.5 percent from January’s median of $560,000.
Single-Family Home Prices Rise Almost 1 Percent Compared to Last Year
Many flowers are pollinated by insects, so there is nothing unusual there for the poppies, which are indeed fertilized by insects. What is more unusual is the kind of insects that play an important part in doing this job. It seems the actual pollinator is...
Poppy Surprises | Commentary by Evelyne Vandersande
1886 - Film director Robert N. Bradbury born in Washington state; launched John Wayne's career in Placerita Canyon [watch]
After a solid start to the year in closed escrow sales, low housing inventory, eroding affordability, and rising interest rates mildly pulled back pending sales on a year-over-year basis in February, the California Association of Realtors said Wednesday.
Calif. Realtors Report Weakest February in 3 Years
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, the reward for information leading to the suspect involved in the hit-and-run death of a 15 year old girl has been increased. Plus, job seekers can head out to this upcoming Hiring Fest. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Rio Norte students Emily Yago and Khara Bigham are semi-finalists in the National Scripps Spellebrity Video Contest.
Help Send Rio Norte Students to National Scripps Spelling Bee
The Castaic Union School District is seeking four new members for it’s Measure QS Citizens Oversight Committee.
Castaic USD Seeking New Members for Oversight Committee
No. 10 College of the Canyons split a home doubleheader with Riverside City College on Saturday, winning the first game 14-9 and falling 6-4 in the second affair.
No. 10 Canyons Splits Home Doubleheader with Riverside City College
Children spend too much time in front of a screen and too little time exploring nature and having in fun the great outdoors. That imbalance can contribute to bullying, illness, depression and attention deficits.
April 3: CSUN Lecture to Explore ‘How to Raise a Wild Child’
Medical examiners identified the remains of a woman found dead near Golden Valley Road in early March as a 26 year old Tarzana resident.
Body Found Near Golden Valley in March ID’d
Annual tuition for resident undergraduate students will increase by $270 and will generate $77.5 million in net revenue for student success initiatives including Graduation Initiative 2025.
CSU Trustees Approve Tuition Increase