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Brush Correctional Facility
Brush, Colorado
GRW
July 18, 2009 Honolulu Advertiser
An investigation into sex assaults involving Hawai'i and other female inmates at a private Kentucky prison has widened and now includes 19 alleged attacks over the past three years. Honolulu attorney Myles Breiner is representing three Hawai'i women who allege they were sexually assaulted at Otter Creek Correctional Center within the past 12 to 18 months. The most recent sex assault was reported June 23 and allegedly involved a male corrections officer. Meanwhile, Kentucky officials say they have launched an investigation into 16 alleged sex assaults at Otter Creek involving Kentucky women. Some of the allegations date back to 2006. Breiner said he expects more allegations of sex assault involving Hawai'i women to surface during investigations under way by the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety, which sent a team to Otter Creek last week to speak to female inmates from the Islands and look into the allegations. The developments are spurring new discussions about whether the state should end its contract with Otter Creek and bring the 165 Hawai'i women at the privately operated prison back to Hawai'i. State Senate Public Safety Committee Chairman Will Espero, D-20th ('Ewa Beach, Waipahu), said he will hold a public hearing in August on the assault allegations, during which he plans to call on state officials to halt the practice of shipping Hawai'i female inmates to the Mainland. "This might be a good opportunity for (Public Safety Director) Clayton Frank to show some leadership and ... bring the women home," Espero said, adding that he also believes more assault allegations will come to light in the coming months. "We might have heard ... the tip of the iceberg." Tommy Johnson, deputy director of DPS, would not say how many allegations the state is investigating because the cases are ongoing. But he said he was at Otter Creek all last week to speak to Hawai'i women in groups and to talk to some in one-on-one sessions. He also toured the facility and looked at its "operational security." He would not discuss what the Hawai'i female inmates told him in the sessions, saying that "it would be premature and inappropriate to do so." Otter Creek, in Wheelwright, Ky., is operated by Corrections Corporation of America. A spokesman for the company said it is conducting its own investigation into the assault allegations. Hawai'i has had a contract to house female inmates at Otter Creek since October 2005. Breiner said the three Hawai'i women at the prison whom he represents allege they were sexually assaulted within the past 18 months. The most recent assault was reported on June 23, and is under investigation by Kentucky state police, who said it involved a male corrections officer. Kentucky state police spokesman Mike Goble said a detective investigating the June 23 sex assault was also informed of other assault allegations. It's unclear whether those assaults involved Hawai'i women, and Goble said police have not yet decided how to proceed on those allegations. Meanwhile, the Kentucky Department of Corrections said Thursday that it is investigating allegations that 16 Kentucky women were sexually assaulted at Otter Creek as far back as 2006. Spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said the allegations relate to incidents over the past three years. In a statement, she said some of the allegations were previously reported but are being reinvestigated. She also said the department is sharing information with Hawai'i officials and the CCA. Allegations of sexual misconduct involving corrections workers and Hawai'i inmates have surfaced before at Otter Creek and in other private prisons, including in Oklahoma in 2000 and Colorado in 2005. In 2007, a Hawai'i inmate at Otter Creek alleged a corrections officer came to her room and demanded she perform sex acts. The officer was convicted on a misdemeanor. Following the incident, Otter Creek prison officials said they would change their procedures to require that a female correctional officer be paired with a male officer in housing units. Breiner, the Honolulu attorney, said that from his discussions with Hawai'i inmates it doesn't appear that's happening at Otter Creek. He said there are not enough female corrections officers at Otter Creek. He also said that in the wake of the publicity following the allegations, some Hawai'i inmates have expressed concerns about retaliation and he said he's worried about the safety of his clients. The cost of exporting Hawai'i inmates is cheaper than building new facilities or expanding existing ones, but advocates have long criticized the practice because of its impact on families. They point out that many female inmates have kids who suffer during the separation.

January 8, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
A lawsuit filed on behalf of two Hawai'i female prison inmates who claimed they were sexually assaulted by a corrections officer in a privately run prison in Colorado has been settled for an undisclosed amount of money. Honolulu lawyer Myles Breiner, who sued on behalf of the inmates, said the settlement was for a "significant amount of money," but said he cannot be more specific. "This a private settlement among private parties, and I'm obliged not to disclose the dollar amount," Breiner said. "The parties are satisfied with the agreed upon settlement, and the plaintiffs have been sufficiently compensated. ... It was the right thing to do to take responsibility and acknowledge the injuries of these two jail inmates." Out-of court settlements where the state is required to make payment become public record because public money is involved, but that won't happen in this case. Breiner said the state won't have to pay any share of the settlement because Hawai'i was indemnified against inmate lawsuits under its contract with GRW Corp. to hold the women inmates at the Brush Correctional Facility in Colorado. The inmates, 38 and 26, reported they were assaulted in the Brush Correctional Facility law library the evening of Jan. 8, 2005. The inmates claimed corrections officer Russell E. Rollison pushed one of them against a wall and threatened to write up both inmates for misconduct if they did not perform a sex act for him. One of the inmates saved semen from the encounter that was later turned over to investigators with the Colorado Department of Corrections. Rollison resigned and was charged with two counts of felony sexual contact with an inmate in a penal institution, but pleaded guilty in 2006 to a reduced charge of menacing with a real or simulated weapon, which is also a felony. He was sentenced to two years' probation and 60 hours of community service, according to Colorado court records. Gil Walker, chief executive officer of Tennessee-based GRW, did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the settlement. Brush prison officials have said the sex was consensual and that the inmates planned the encounter as a way to get transferred back to Hawai'i, and as the basis for a lawsuit. The allegations of the two Hawai'i inmates became public when Colorado authorities launched an investigation into charges of sexual misconduct involving prison staff and a total of eight inmates from Colorado, Wyoming and Hawai'i. Another former Brush guard, Fredrick Woller, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment of a Wyoming inmate and was fined $200; and former Brush Warden Rick Soares resigned and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor false-reporting charge in connection with Woller's case. All Hawai'i inmates at Brush were moved to the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., which is operated by Corrections Corp. of America. The two female inmates are now serving sentences at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua, Breiner said. Hawai'i now pays more than $50 million a year to house more than 2,000 men and women inmates on the Mainland because there is no room for them in prisons in Hawai'i.

July 14, 2006 Honolulu Advertiser
Two Hawai'i women convicts who allege they were sexually assaulted in a private women's prison in Colorado last year have sued Hawai'i prison officials, the company that runs the prison and a former corrections officer. The suit filed by Honolulu lawyer Myles Breiner in federal District Court in Denver alleges the state of Hawai'i should have known conditions were unsafe for the Hawai'i women inmates at Brush Correctional Facility, and was negligent for failing to prevent the assaults. Inmates Jacqueline Overturf, 36, and Christina Riley, 25, reported they were assaulted in the Brush Correctional Facility law library on the evening of Jan. 8, 2005. The inmates claim guard Russell E. Rollison, an employee of prison operator GRW Corp., pushed one of the women against a wall and threatened to write up both inmates for misconduct if they did not perform a sex act for him. Breiner said one of the inmates saved semen from the encounter that was later turned over to investigators with the Colorado Department of Corrections. Rollison resigned and was charged with two counts of felony sexual contact with an inmate in a penal institution, but pleaded guilty earlier this year to a reduced charge of menacing with a real or simulated weapon, which is also a felony. He was sentenced last month to two years' probation and 60 hours of community service, according to Colorado court records. Deputy Attorney General Diane Taira declined comment because lawyers for the state have not yet seen the lawsuit. Gil Walker, chief executive officer of the Tennessee-based GRW, also declined comment on the lawsuit yesterday because he had not seen it. GRW operates prisons in Colorado, Missouri and Kansas. Brush prison officials have said the sex was consensual and that the inmates were using the incident to get transferred back to Hawai'i and as the basis for a lawsuit. Walker said yesterday the prison's inquiry into the case revealed that Rollison was "a willing participant, but we know that (the inmates) perpetrated it, that it was planned." Breiner denied the inmates were involved in any "enticement" of the corrections officer. "This was a deliberate criminal conduct by a senior correctional officer against my clients. They were raped, and it makes no difference whether they were inmates or not, they were raped and abused," he said. The suit also alleges women who complained they had been sexually assaulted at the prison were punished, including Overturf and Riley. The two Hawai'i inmates were locked in solitary confinement for 37 days, according to the suit. The allegations of the two Hawai'i inmates became public when Colorado authorities launched an investigation into charges of sexual misconduct involving prison staff and a total of eight inmates from Colorado, Wyoming and Hawai'i. Another former Brush guard, Fredrick Woller, pleaded guilty in February to misdemeanor harassment of a Wyoming inmate and was fined $200; and former Brush Warden Rick Soares resigned and pleaded guilty in August to a misdemeanor false reporting charge in connection with Woller's case. The Hawai'i inmates were moved last year from the Colorado prison to the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., which is operated by Corrections Corp. of America. Overturf was returned to Hawai'i, where she is serving a sentence at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua for drug offenses. Riley has been released on parole after serving prison time for theft, forgery, burglary and fraudulent use of a credit card. Both are undergoing counseling for the assault, Breiner said. The lawsuit does not specify how much in monetary damages the women are seeking, but does say the amount sought is larger than $150,000.

October 13, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
The Colorado Department of Corrections has dramatically improved its oversight of private prisons in the state, prisons officials told lawmakers last week. In giving the Legislative Audit Committee an update on changes it has made in how it manages the state's five private prisons, DOC director of prison operations Nolin Renfrow told lawmakers that all is well. That audit he was referring to was a scathing report released in June that criticized the department for being lax in its oversight of private prisons and ignoring problems with them for years. Prompted by a riot at the Crowley County Correction Facility in Olney Springs last year, the audit said DOC knew or should have known about numerous problems concerning the operations of the prisons but did little to nothing to correct them. The state audit said the department diverted DOC workers whose job was to monitor private prisons to other duties, and failed to enforce operations rules and regulations. And in those instances when the department's private prison monitoring units did discover problems, the department failed to follow up to ensure that corrections were made, the audit said. Four of those facilities are operated by the same Nashville-based company, Corrections Corporation of American. In additional to the Crowley County facility, CCA also operates private prisons in Bent, Huerfano and Kit Carson counties. A fifth private facility that houses female inmates is located in Brush. It is owned by the Brentwood, Tenn.-based GRW Corporation.

October 7, 2005 The Gazette
Private prisons in Colorado could face cash penalties for failing to meet minimum safety standards under new contracts negotiated by the Department of Corrections in the wake of a stinging audit. In June, an audit of Colorado's private prisons, which house about 2,800 of Colorado's 18,000 prisoners, found numerous problems, including inadequate staffing levels, unlicensed medical clinics, employees with criminal backgrounds and poor food services. Thursday, corrections officials gave state lawmakers an update on their response to the audit. For instance, private prisons will be fined if staffing levels do not meet minimum standards or if the meals they feed prisoners are not up to par. "I'm not sure the liquidated damages have enough hammer to them," said Rep. Fran Coleman, D-Denver. Corrections officials said they need time to see if the new penalty system works.

October 2, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
A decade ago, Hawai'i began exporting inmates to Mainland prisons in what was supposed to be a temporary measure to save money and relieve overcrowding in state prisons. Now, the state doesn't seem to be able to stop. With little public debate or study, the practice of sending prisoners away has become a predominant feature of Hawai'i's corrections policy, with nearly half of the state's prison population - 1,828 inmates - held in privately operated facilities in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arizona and Kentucky at a cost of $36 million this year. Hawai'i already leads all other states in holding the highest percentage of its prison population in out-of-state correctional centers, and if Hawai'i policymakers continue on their present course, by the end of 2006 there likely will be more inmates housed in Mainland prisons than at home. Although public safety officials say the private companies that house Hawai'i inmates have generally done a good job, the history of Mainland prison placements is pockmarked with reports of contract violations, riots, drug smuggling, and allegations of sexual assaults of women inmates. Former prisons chief Keith Kaneshiro says years in Mainland prisons have instilled a dangerous gang culture in Hawai'i inmates that has spread back to the Islands and will present problems for local corrections officials for years to come. There is also concern that inmates who are incarcerated on the Mainland lose touch with their families, increasing the likelihood they will return to crime once they are released. Robert Perkinson, a University of Hawai'i assistant professor of American studies, called the state's prison policy "completely backward." "None of this makes sense if your goal is to make the citizens of Hawai'i safer and use your tax dollars as effectively as you can to make the streets safer, based on the best available research that we have," said Perkinson, who is writing a book on the Texas prison system. Marilyn Brown, assistant professor of sociology at UH-Hilo, said Hawai'i's out-of-state inmate transfers are a strange throwback to corrections policies of two or three centuries ago, when felons were banished to penal colonies in Australia or the New World. Most of the $36 million being spent this year on out-of-state prison accommodations will go to Corrections Corp. of America, a pioneer in the private corrections industry. The company holds about 62,000 inmates nationwide, including about 1,750 men from Hawai'i in prisons in Oklahoma, Arizona and Mississippi. Last week the state transferred 80 Hawai'i women inmates from a prison in Brush, Colo., owned by GRW Corp. to Otter Creek Correctional Center, a CCA prison in Wheelwright, Ky. Those selected for Mainland transfers generally are felons with at least several years left on their sentences who have no major health problems or pending court cases that would require their presence in Hawai'i. Private prison contractors have the final say, and can reject troublesome inmates with a history of misconduct. Ted Sakai, who ran the state prison system from 1998 to 2002, said it will always be cheaper to house inmates on the Mainland because of labor costs, which are considerably lower in the rural communities where many prisons are. But there are benefits to keeping prison jobs here, he said. In 2000, state House Republican leaders scolded then-Gov. Ben Cayetano for proposing to lease more prison beds on the Mainland. House Minority Leader Galen Fox said doing so would be bad for the state's economy and the inmates' families. An Advertiser poll of Democrats and Republicans before the start of the Legislature's 2003 session found a majority of state lawmakers opposed the practice. Republican Gov. Linda Lingle also has said she is opposed to sending more prisoners away. Yet spending on Mainland prisons has steadily increased over the past 10 years, and politicians have failed to take action on alternatives. The Cayetano administration explored several options for privately built or privately operated facilities on the Big Island and O'ahu, but each proposal was thwarted by political resistance or opposition from communities near suggested prison sites. Lingle campaigned in 2002 on a promise to build two 500-bed secure "treatment facilities," but three years later, no specifics have been provided on when or where the projects might be built. As Hawai'i's policy of out-of-state incarceration becomes more entrenched, other states are moving in the opposite direction. Connecticut and Wisconsin both recently brought home almost all of their inmates who had been housed elsewhere, and Indiana returned 600 convicts from out-of-state prisons. Alabama, meanwhile, doubled the number of convicts on parole to allow inmates to return from a Corrections Corp. of America-run prison in Tutwiler, Miss., last year. The vacancies at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility were filled by more than 700 Hawai'i inmates. Wyoming plans to open a new prison in 2007 that would allow the state to bring back 550 inmates now held out of state, and lawmakers in Alaska last year authorized planning for a new prison of their own.

September 29, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
About 80 Hawai'i women prison inmates boarded an airplane in Colorado yesterday for a trip to the small rural town of Wheelwright, Ky., where they will be housed in a prison run by Corrections Corporation of America. The women had been held for the past 14 months in the Brush Correctional Facility in Brush, Colo., a private prison run by GRW Corp. that was plagued by problems including allegations of sexual misconduct between staff at the prison and eight inmates from three states, including Hawai'i. The inmates are among 1,828 Hawai'i convicts who are housed at privately run prisons on the Mainland because there is no room for them in Hawai'i prisons. Colorado Department of Corrections officials launched investigations into Brush Correctional Facility earlier this year that resulted in a number of criminal charges against staff and inmates in Colorado. Two prison employees were indicted on charges of alleged sexual misconduct with inmates, and two more prison workers were charged along with five inmates in connection with an alleged cigarette-smuggling ring. Brush Warden Rick Soares resigned in February, and was later indicted as an alleged accomplice in one of the sexual misconduct cases. In March the Colorado Department of Corrections revealed that five convicted felons were allowed to work at the prison because background checks on some staff members had never been completed. Colorado authorities later released an audit that was highly critical of the prison, and contract monitors from Hawai'i reported the prison failed to comply with its contract with the state in a number of areas.

July 28, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
They're out of sight, but must not be out of mind. Hawai'i's overflow inmate population, housed at private prisons on the Mainland, remain our responsibility. And making sure they are treated humanely while serving their time must be our concern. That's why state officials are right to demand an investigation into the sudden opening of cell doors in the predawn hours of July 17 at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility that resulted in a riot. More than 700 Hawai'i inmates have been housed since last year at the Mississippi prison, owned by Corrections Corp. of America. Two inmates were injured in the fight. Kane'ohe resident Sandra Cooper, the mother of one inmate, has her doubts that an internal probe will be enough to bring out the truth about how the cell doors opened. She called on the FBI to do a thorough inquiry, and that indeed would be the ideal way to proceed here. There's precedent for the FBI to take jurisdiction in a case where inmates are brought across state lines. At the very least, an independent authority should drive the investigation, rather than the prison's private owners. And state officials here must continue to ride herd to see that the investigation proceeds to a satisfactory conclusion. In a separate prison issue, it's a relief to see that the state has decided to pull the plug on its contract with the troubled Brush Correctional Facility, a northeastern Colorado prison housing 80 women inmates from Hawai'i. Because of ongoing investigations into alleged sexual misconduct between staff and prisoners, it's imperative that the move be made as soon as possible, while allowing for careful scrutiny of the prisoners' next destination. The end-of-September target date for the move seems reasonable, assuming that the state maintain its careful monitoring of Brush in the meantime. These painful episodes clearly illustrate that housing inmates on the Mainland is merely a short-term response to our critical prison shortage here, and creates its own additional problems. Hawai'i must continue to: work toward expanded prison capacity in the Islands, where we can retain better control of conditions; strengthen the probation system to keep some first-time offenders out of prison; and work on preventive strategies aimed at stemming the tide in drug abuse, which fuels so much of the state's crime problem. Sending inmates to the Mainland is just a stopgap solution.

July 27, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
Hawai'i plans to move 80 women inmates out of a troubled private prison in Colorado by the end of September but is unsure where they will go, prison officials said.  Hawai'i prison spokesman Michael Gaede confirmed the state is requesting bids from facilities to house the Hawai'i inmates and that the request in effect requires they be moved out of the Brush Correctional Facility, a 250-bed prison in northeastern Colorado.  The Brush prison has been under close scrutiny since Colorado authorities disclosed in February they were investigating allegations of sexual misconduct between staff at the prison and eight inmates from three states, including Hawai'i.  Brush Warden Rick Soares resigned in February, and was later indicted as an alleged accomplice in one of the sexual misconduct cases.  Two other prison employees also were indicted on charges of alleged sexual misconduct with inmates, and two more prison workers were indicted along with five inmates in connection with an alleged cigarette smuggling ring.  Those disclosures were followed by reports in March that five convicted felons were allowed to work at the prison because background checks on some staff members had never been completed. Since then Hawai'i monitors have filed reports noting that the prison failed to comply with its contract with the state in a number of areas, and Colorado authorities released an audit that was highly critical of the prison.  Contract monitors and other reports this year cited a litany of concerns about the prison, including:   GRW for many months used inmates to teach required rehabilitation classes to other inmates. Colorado corrections officials repeatedly complained about the practice, and Hawai'i contract monitors in February warned the practice was a "serious concern" for Hawai'i as well.  After the sexual misconduct allegations were made public at Brush, virtually all inmate rehabilitative and educational programming was shut down from January to early June, prison officials acknowledged. That violates the state's contract requirement that those services be offered to inmates.  Inmates and state monitors have repeatedly complained the Brush prison was providing inadequate dental and medical care.  Brush prison officials reported in May that the facility was visited by a doctor only once a month, and a Hawai'i contract monitor's report in May called that staffing inadequate.  Hawai'i contract monitors also warned the facility in February that it was obliged by contract to give inmates better access to dental care, and monitors again cited the same problem in a follow-up inspection in May.  Hawai'i monitors complained last year the Brush prison was not conducting drug testing of inmates that is required by contract, and once again criticized the prison in May for not doing the required testing.  A Colorado audit released in June found the Brush prison clinic was not licensed as required under Colorado law, a lapse that also violated the prison's contract with Hawai'i.

June 21, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
Three states could pull their inmates from Colorado's private prisons by the end of the summer, spooked by a recent sexual misconduct scandal and squeezed by Colorado's own rising prisoner population. The state's five private facilities house about 2,700 Colorado inmates. They also contract with three other states - Hawaii, Washington and Wyoming - to hold prisoners those states can't, due to overcrowding. The private prisons have lost or stand to lose nearly 400 out-of-state inmates, which would be an approximately $20,000 per-day hit spread between two Tennessee firms who run them. State officials say they can fill the gap with 400 Colorado inmates waiting for prison beds - contradicting warnings the private firms sounded earlier this year - and suggest that facilities filled only with Colorado prisoners could prove easier to control. Corrections officials say it's easier to manage prisoners from one state, because they are all used to the same rules. Some states, for example allow cigarette smoking or conjugal visits, which Colorado does not. "It is always easier to manage a single jurisdiction population," said Alison Morgan, a corrections department spokeswoman. Later, she said the loss of out-of-state inmates "is not a bad thing."  Officials also have said out-of- state inmates may have fueled or contributed to two riots in the past decade, including one at the Crowley County Correctional Facility last July. Washington once sent more than 200 prisoners to Colorado. The state has moved all but a few to other states, a Washington corrections official said Monday. Wyoming will move its 54 male inmates - already down from a high of 300 - from Colorado by summer's end, a corrections spokeswoman there said. Wyoming has already moved 38 female inmates from a private prison in Brush, in part because of alleged sexual misconduct between prison guards and inmates that surfaced in February. Hawaiian officials are rebidding their contract to house 80 women who are in Brush. Twenty- one state lawmakers urged their governor in April to move those inmates "immediately," the Honolulu Advertiser reported.

April 17, 2005 AP
Lawmakers are petitioning Gov. Linda Lingle to move dozens of female Hawaii inmates out of a Colorado prison where staffers were allegedly involved in sexual misconduct with prisoners. Twenty-one members of the Women's Legislative Caucus want Lingle to increase state monitoring of the Brush Correctional Facility in Colorado and ultimately move the 80 Hawaii inmates to another facility. House Judiciary Chairwoman Sylvia Luke, D-Pacific Heights-Punchbowl, said she is concerned about reports that prison staff may be retaliating against Hawaii inmates following allegations that guards were involved in sexual misconduct earlier this year with inmates from Hawaii, Colorado and Wyoming. Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, said Hawaii inmates have faced unfair administrative punishments and had legal records confiscated. The inmates believe these are examples of retaliatory acts, Brady said. GRW chief executive officer Gil Walker has said he expects Colorado to increase its number of inmates in Brush, so the company won't take a financial hit when Wyoming removes it's inmates. "I don't think it will hurt us at all," Walker said.

April 14, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
Wyoming will remove its women inmates from a privately run Mainland prison that also houses Hawai'i women inmates, the same prison where staff members were accused of sexual misconduct involving Hawai'i, Wyoming and Colorado inmates. Melinda Brazzale, spokeswoman for the Wyoming Department of Corrections, cited a recent series of problems at the prison in the decision to remove the Wyoming inmates from the Brush Correctional Facility in Colorado. Those problems included criminal charges filed against staff members and the former warden in connection with the sexual misconduct allegations, and revelations that the prison allowed five convicted felons to work there because their background checks had not been completed. Investigations by Colorado state prison officials concluded prison staff had been involved in alleged sexual misconduct with two Hawai'i inmates, two Colorado inmates and four Wyoming inmates. Two other members of the prison staff were charged in an alleged cigarette smuggling ring.

March 24, 2005 AP
Colorado prison officials are reviewing background checks for employees at five private prisons run by Tennessee companies after discovering that some employees at one of them had criminal records. State Corrections Department spokeswoman Alison Morgan said Thursday that five convicted criminals and three people whose backgrounds "merited further investigation" had been hired at the Brush Correctional Facility, a privately run women's prison where several guards face charges of having consensual sex with inmates and smuggling tobacco into the facility. Morgan said a former warden for GRW Corp., a Brentwood, Tenn.-based company that has held a state contract to run the prison for 18 months, failed to complete background checks for some employees. The failure was first reported by KCNC-TV of Denver. She said it appears that fingerprints for the guards that were sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation were smudged or otherwise unreadable. The prints were sent back to the prison, which did not follow up, Morgan said. Morgan said the Corrections Department's Private Prisons Monitoring Unit does not have the staff or funding to regularly conduct its own background checks of private-prison employees.

March 23, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
People with criminal records were hired to work at a Brush prison where several employees are facing charges for allegedly having sex with inmates, according to a CBS 4 News investigation. The Brush Correctional Facility is a medium-security prison that holds 250 women. GRW Corp., a private company headquartered in Tennessee, runs the prison and hired several employees with criminal records to watch over the inmates, according to CBS 4 News. The company has fired six employees with criminal histories so far. Four guards have resigned from the prison, and one has been put on administrative leave. The warden, Rick Soares, resigned Feb. 18, a month after the Department of Corrections first received reports of sexual misconduct. Three prison guards are facing criminal charges for allegedly having sex with seven inmates. Two other guards and an inmate are accused of smuggling contraband cigarettes into the facility. The list of the prison employees with questionable backgrounds includes 28-year-old Angela Gallegos, CBS 4 News said. A prison guard, she was arrested on a felony charge three years ago and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment. Heather Henry, 24, was also hired as a guard. Her record includes arrests for harassment, domestic violence-assault, violating protective orders and child abuse. Richard Fairchild, 42, was convicted of domestic violence and violating a restraining order. Gil Walker, president of GRW, said these are the last people who should be working in a prison and should have never been hired. "We don't hire questionable people, and that's the embarrassing part," Walker told CBS 4 News. Walker said the company never finished its background checks on potential employees and didn't know their full histories.

March 10, 2005 Fort Morgan Times
Morgan County District Attorney Bob Watson filed additional charges Wednesday in connection with the prison sexual misconduct scandal in Brush. The new indictments include a charge of unlawful sexual conduct in a penal institution lodged against a second guard, charges of being an accessory to a crime against the former warden and charges against another nine current or former prison employees related to introducing contraband cigarettes into the prison and conspiracy to commit introduction of contraband. According to Watson, the new charges are not necessarily all that will result from his office's ongoing investigation of the GRW-owned private prison. According to case filings made Wednesday in Morgan County District Court, corrections officer Fredrick Henry Woller, 32, of Brush is charged with unlawful sexual conduct in a penal institution, a class five felony. Specifically, Woller is alleged to have engaged in sexual conduct with prisoner Cristie Maez. Also charged Wednesday was former Warden Richard "Rick" Soares Jr., 57, of Sterling, who was allegedly an accessory to the crime of unlawful sexual conduct in a penal institution, also a class five felony. He is accused of hindering the investigation. The pair joins corrections officer Russell Rollison, 31, of Brush, who was charged last week with unlawful sexual conduct in a penal institution. Other charges resulting from the criminal probe to date regard prison food service and other prison employees allegedly conspiring with inmates to bring cigarettes into the prison. Cigarettes have been banned from Colorado penal institutions since 1999. Those charged with introducing contraband in the second degree, a class six felony, and conspiracy to commit introduction of contraband, also a class six felony, are: Pania Akopian, 31, Pisa Tuvale, 35, Annette Cummings, 38, Janice Crockett, 47, and Jeannette Dillon, 38, all of whom have the Brush Correctional Facility listed as their address; Gail Guerrero, no age listed, and Maria Ramirez, 46, both of Brush; Charmayne Kalama, 28, of Kapolei, Hawaii, and Stannie T. Muramoto, 46, of Honolulu, Hawaii. According to Gil Walker, CEO of Tennessee-based GRW, which owns the 250-bed private prison, an internal investigation uncovered only consensual sex between the guards and prisoners. Alison Morgan, a state corrections department spokeswoman, said the DOC investigation revealed at least some of the sex as having been initiated by inmates. She said inmates from both Hawaii and Wyoming admitted to initiating the encounters either so they could be returned home or in an effort to sue the prison. However, a Hawaii attorney representing two of the inmates has alleged his clients were raped. The case was referred to DA Watson's office by the state corrections department's inspector general's office. The Brush prison, which became the first private prison for women in Colorado, opened in August, 2003. It houses 80 inmates from Hawaii, 73 from Colorado and 45 from Wyoming. Colorado pays $50 a day to GRW to house its prisoners.

March 10, 2005 The Denver Channel
The former warden and 10 other people at the privately run Brush Correctional Facility for Women face felony charges for conduct ranging from having sex with inmates to smuggling tobacco into the prison. Filings released by District Attorney Robert Watson show 32-year-old Fredrick Henry Woller faces a felony charge for allegedly having sex with an inmate. Former warden Rick Soares, 57, faces charges of being an accessory for allegedly hindering the discovery of Woller's conduct. Earlier this month, two correctional officers and seven female inmates were charged with several offenses, including introducing contraband in the form of tobacco. Watson said other investigations are pending. Soares last month resigned from Tennessee-based GRW, which owns the 250-bed prison in Morgan County, after a month-long investigation implicated several officers. The department's inspector general's staff reported to Watson last month that three officers had sex with four inmates from Wyoming, two from Colorado and two from Hawaii. Some of the women alleged they were raped, but investigators concluded the sex was consensual. Having sex with an inmate is a felony for guards. The facility became the first private prison for women in Colorado in August 2003.

March 4, 2005 Star Bulletin
Female inmates from Hawaii will remain at a privately run women's prison in Colorado where five officers face sexual misconduct and contraband charges, Hawaii officials said yesterday. A visit to the prison by state monitors last month shows Hawaii does not need to transfer its inmates to an alternate facility, said Richard Bissen, interim director of Hawaii's Department of Public Safety. "Incidents like this happen at facilities," Bissen said. "But that place is being more closely monitored than ever, and the women themselves say they are safe." Three prison officers had sex with a total of four Hawaii inmates, two Colorado inmates and one Wyoming inmate, according to Alison Morgan, a spokesperson for the Colorado corrections department. Two of the officers have resigned, and a third is on administrative leave. Investigations show the sex was consensual, said Gil Walker, founder and chief executive of Tennessee-based GRW, which owns the Brush Correctional Facility for Women, located in Colorado. One case involved two Hawaii inmates and a guard, who admitted to engaging in sexual activity in January in the prison library. Some civil rights advocates argue that there is no such thing as consensual sex between an inmate and an authority figure. "We have a law that says it's a felony. It's not consensual when someone is in custody," said Kat Brady, an advocate with the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii. Myles Breiner, a Honolulu lawyer who is representing the Hawaii inmates, has said the women were forced to perform a sex act for Rollison. Morgan said some Hawaii and Wyoming inmates admitted they believed having sex with the guards would help them get transferred to their home states, where they would be closer to relatives.

February 25, 2005 Denver Post
The warden resigned and five correctional officers at the privately run Brush Correctional Facility for women face sexual misconduct and contraband charges in the wake of a criminal probe. Warden Rick Soares resigned from Tennessee-based GRW, which owns the 250-bed prison in Brush, on Feb. 18 after a month-long investigation implicated the five officers, said Alison Morgan, state Department of Corrections spokeswoman. The warden was not implicated in the wrongdoing. The department's inspector general's office referred contraband allegations involving two staff members and one inmate and sexual misconduct allegations involving three staff members to District Attorney Robert Watson on Thursday. Three officers who were not named had sex with four Hawaiian inmates, two Colorado inmates and one Wyoming inmate, Morgan said. Two of the officers resigned, and a third is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal case. Some of the women alleged they were raped, but investigators concluded the sex was consensual, sometimes initiated by inmates, Morgan said. It's still a felony offense for correctional officers, she said. She said some Hawaiian and Wyoming inmates acknowledged they had sex with correctional officers because they believed they would be returned home, where they would be closer to relatives. Others hoped to file lawsuits against the prison. Two officers and an inmate were caught sneaking tobacco into the prison, Morgan said.

Diamondback CF
Watonga, Oklahoma
CCA
July 18, 2009 Honolulu Advertiser
An investigation into sex assaults involving Hawai'i and other female inmates at a private Kentucky prison has widened and now includes 19 alleged attacks over the past three years. Honolulu attorney Myles Breiner is representing three Hawai'i women who allege they were sexually assaulted at Otter Creek Correctional Center within the past 12 to 18 months. The most recent sex assault was reported June 23 and allegedly involved a male corrections officer. Meanwhile, Kentucky officials say they have launched an investigation into 16 alleged sex assaults at Otter Creek involving Kentucky women. Some of the allegations date back to 2006. Breiner said he expects more allegations of sex assault involving Hawai'i women to surface during investigations under way by the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety, which sent a team to Otter Creek last week to speak to female inmates from the Islands and look into the allegations. The developments are spurring new discussions about whether the state should end its contract with Otter Creek and bring the 165 Hawai'i women at the privately operated prison back to Hawai'i. State Senate Public Safety Committee Chairman Will Espero, D-20th ('Ewa Beach, Waipahu), said he will hold a public hearing in August on the assault allegations, during which he plans to call on state officials to halt the practice of shipping Hawai'i female inmates to the Mainland. "This might be a good opportunity for (Public Safety Director) Clayton Frank to show some leadership and ... bring the women home," Espero said, adding that he also believes more assault allegations will come to light in the coming months. "We might have heard ... the tip of the iceberg." Tommy Johnson, deputy director of DPS, would not say how many allegations the state is investigating because the cases are ongoing. But he said he was at Otter Creek all last week to speak to Hawai'i women in groups and to talk to some in one-on-one sessions. He also toured the facility and looked at its "operational security." He would not discuss what the Hawai'i female inmates told him in the sessions, saying that "it would be premature and inappropriate to do so." Otter Creek, in Wheelwright, Ky., is operated by Corrections Corporation of America. A spokesman for the company said it is conducting its own investigation into the assault allegations. Hawai'i has had a contract to house female inmates at Otter Creek since October 2005. Breiner said the three Hawai'i women at the prison whom he represents allege they were sexually assaulted within the past 18 months. The most recent assault was reported on June 23, and is under investigation by Kentucky state police, who said it involved a male corrections officer. Kentucky state police spokesman Mike Goble said a detective investigating the June 23 sex assault was also informed of other assault allegations. It's unclear whether those assaults involved Hawai'i women, and Goble said police have not yet decided how to proceed on those allegations. Meanwhile, the Kentucky Department of Corrections said Thursday that it is investigating allegations that 16 Kentucky women were sexually assaulted at Otter Creek as far back as 2006. Spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said the allegations relate to incidents over the past three years. In a statement, she said some of the allegations were previously reported but are being reinvestigated. She also said the department is sharing information with Hawai'i officials and the CCA. Allegations of sexual misconduct involving corrections workers and Hawai'i inmates have surfaced before at Otter Creek and in other private prisons, including in Oklahoma in 2000 and Colorado in 2005. In 2007, a Hawai'i inmate at Otter Creek alleged a corrections officer came to her room and demanded she perform sex acts. The officer was convicted on a misdemeanor. Following the incident, Otter Creek prison officials said they would change their procedures to require that a female correctional officer be paired with a male officer in housing units. Breiner, the Honolulu attorney, said that from his discussions with Hawai'i inmates it doesn't appear that's happening at Otter Creek. He said there are not enough female corrections officers at Otter Creek. He also said that in the wake of the publicity following the allegations, some Hawai'i inmates have expressed concerns about retaliation and he said he's worried about the safety of his clients. The cost of exporting Hawai'i inmates is cheaper than building new facilities or expanding existing ones, but advocates have long criticized the practice because of its impact on families. They point out that many female inmates have kids who suffer during the separation.

September 17, 2007 KITV 4
Another lawsuit has been filed against the mainland prison corporation that houses thousands of Hawaii inmates. This lawsuit claimed the company knowingly hired sexual predators as guards to torment inmates. Convicted car thief Nelson Abiley said he was subjected to repeated homosexual sexual harassment and battery at the Diamondback Prison in Oklahoma. He said Corrections Corp. of America did not respond to his complaints. CCA had a history of hiring predatory homosexuals in order to control inmates, according to the lawsuit. The company has been sued in several cases recently in which inmates beat other inmates.

March 6, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
Monitoring reports by state prison officials describe gang violence, drug dealing and other problems at the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Oklahoma where hundreds of Hawai'i inmates are being held. The situation was so bad that Department of Public Safety officials who visited the privately run prison in September recommended that nearly 800 Hawai'i convicts be removed unless conditions improve. State officials and representatives of prison operator Corrections Corp. of America said last week the situation at Diamondback has improved in recent months, but the critical monitoring reports provide further evidence of troubles with Hawai'i's practice of shipping inmates to Mainland facilities. Just last week, the head of the GRW Corp., which owns the Brush Correctional Facility near Denver, Colo., appeared in Honolulu at the request of state officials to explain sexual misconduct allegations made against prison staff by two Hawai'i women and six other female inmates. The two Hawai'i inmates have been returned to the Islands, and a corrections officers in Colorado has been charged with a felony in the case. In Oklahoma, state monitors' reports from 2003 and 2004 indicate increasing concern about conditions at the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, including drug dealing by gangs, inmate attacks on corrections officers and other inmates, and rising tensions in the prison. The portions of the reports that were released describe inexperienced line staff and supervisors struggling to cope with gang members, including some whom the monitors' believed should have been transferred to prisons designated for more dangerous inmates. The monitors also criticized prolonged use of administrative segregation. The state's contract with CCA requires that disciplinary segregation not exceed 60 days, but Shimoda said some inmates were left in administrative segregation for a year or more. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the company did not receive copies of the Oct. 22 monitors' report until mid-December. He said the company provided a written response to state officials on Jan. 20 that outlined what it is doing about the problems. Owen declined to release the details of the CCA response, saying that information should come from Hawai'i prison officials. The Department of Public Safety did not answer an Advertiser request last week for a copy of the company's Jan. 20 response. The monitors' reports from 2003 and 2004 show that Hawai'i officials were alarmed about operations at the Oklahoma prison for at least 18 months. Problems cited included alarm that female corrections officers were "falling in love" with Hawai'i inmates, and smuggling drugs into the prison for them. The chief of security at Diamondback told Hawai'i monitors in June 2003 that prison staff believed 2 ounces of crystal methamphetamine were being smuggled into the prison each week. In April 2003, more than one out of every four inmates who underwent drug testing came up positive for drug use, according to the Oct. 17, 2003, report. That same report said six corrections workers had been fired for "inappropriate relationships" with inmates and activity related to drug use within the prison. Monitors' reports also indicated 30 to 40 Hawai'i inmates were involved in a disturbance in one of the prison modules on July 20, 2003. A far more serious disturbance broke out last May 14 when 500 inmates from Arizona rioted for several hours, demolishing fences and battling one another with construction equipment and other improvised weapons. About 100 inmates were injured. An investigation by Arizona corrections officials found that inadequate staffing at Diamondback made it difficult to prevent the disturbance, and Arizona reduced the number of its inmates there from about 1,200 to about 750.

February 9, 2005 KOTV
Hawaii inmates at an Oklahoma prison plan will get to celebrate an ancient Hawaiian festival this weekend. About 100 men at the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga plan to mark Makahiki with chanting, hula, a cleansing ritual and a feast with laulau, fish and poi. Makahiki was an annual period of peace celebrated in ancient Hawaii with sports and religious activities. The festival also honors Lono, the Hawaiian god of agriculture, peace and fertility.The Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the Oklahoma prison, refused to allow the inmates to hold the event two years ago, but a 2003 lawsuit challenged that decision. Attorneys for all sides have met to discuss a possible settlement.

Florence Correctional Center
Florence, Arizona
CCA

September 3, 2011 ABC 15
Officials say two correctional officers at a Florence prison were injured when they were assaulted by two inmates Friday afternoon. The incident happened at the Florence Correctional Center as the officers were escorting two State of Hawaii inmates back to their cells from the segregation recreation yard. Staff responded immediately and ended the assault quickly, according to officials. The facility was placed on lockdown as a precaution and law enforcement and Hawaii Department of Public Safety authorities were notified. The officers were taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

January 28, 2011 Star-Advertiser
The Abercrombie administration is starting to make good on the governor's promise to bring all state prison inmates incarcerated on the mainland back to Hawaii. The state returned 243 inmates from Arizona last week and sent back just 96 to take their place. Of the 243 returning inmates, 54 are getting paroled, 28 are about to complete their prison terms and three are back for court hearings. When Gov. Neil Abercrombie promised swift action last month to bring back all Hawaii inmates serving time in mainland prisons, state Senate Public Safety Chairman Will Espero was not expecting action so soon. "I was pleasantly surprised," he said. Espero said he learned of the returning inmates yesterday from state Public Safety Director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata. He said the state conducts prison transfers quarterly, but it usually sends at least the same number of prisoners to the mainland as it returns. He applauded Abercrombie's plan to bring back all Hawaii inmates. "If we're going to spend $60 million a year to house inmates, I'd rather spend it here in Hawaii than on the mainland," Espero said. The state returned 152 inmates to Hawaii on Jan. 19, sent 96 to Arizona on Jan. 20 and returned an additional 91 last Friday. The transfers leave 1,759 Hawaii inmates in Arizona: 1,705 in Saguaro Correctional Center, 51 in Red Rock Correctional Center, two in Florence State Prison and one in Central Arizona Detention Center. Central Arizona, in Florence, and Saguaro and Red Rock, both in Eloy, are private prisons operated by Corrections Corp. of America, which houses Hawaii inmates under contract with the state. Abercrombie made his promise after 18 Hawaii inmates at Saguaro sued CCA, the state and the state's contract monitor. The inmates claim they were beaten and assaulted and their families threatened by prison guards. The Public Safety Department sent a team to examine practices at Saguaro last year after two Hawaii inmates died in February and June. The state returned all but one of the 169 women serving time in a CCA prison in Kentucky in 2009 after the inmates reported widespread sexual abuse by guards and prison employees.  The Abercrombie administration is starting to make good on the governor's promise to bring all state prison inmates incarcerated on the mainland back to Hawaii.

December 29, 2010 AP
State Auditor Marion Higa on Wednesday blasted the Hawaii Department of Public Safety's management of a contract to house prisoners in privately owned Arizona prisons. In a 77-page report, Higa also criticized the financial data about the arrangement the department has provided legislators and the public for using a flawed methodology and containing inaccurate or insufficient figures. "Without clarified guidance by policymakers, the department has no incentive to perform better and will continue to evade accountability by providing unreliable and inaccurate reporting of incarceration costs," Higa wrote in the audit's conclusion. "In addition, the department has misused its procurement authority to circumvent the process designed with safeguards to protect the state's interests," she added. There was no immediate response to a request for comment from department officials or Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office. Much of the audit's findings are critical of actions taken by the administration of Abercrombie's predecessor, Linda Lingle. Abercrombie has said he wants to stop exporting inmates to other states but hasn't spelled out whether that would mean building more prisons in Hawaii or releasing less-dangerous inmates to free up existing beds. According to the audit, about 2,000 male Hawaii prisoners currently are housed in the Florence, Red Rock and Saguaro correctional centers owned by the Corrections Corporation of America. The state in 2006 signed an "intergovernmental agreement" with Eloy, Ariz., where the facilities are located, but deals almost exclusively with CCA, the report contended. The arrangement allowed agency officials to circumvent and manipulate the state's competitive procurement process to steer business to CCA, the audit found. The department also treated CCA as a government agent instead of a private vendor operating for a profit, it contended. The CCA contract is set to expire on June 30. But the report concluded the state as of early October had no plan to address that looming deadline. Without such a plan, "the department is shirking its responsibility to provide for the safety of the public through correctional management, and leaves the operational staff ill-prepared to contract for private prison beds and services," the audit stated. The report also aimed fire at the department's reporting to the Legislature. It asserted that agency officials reported "artificial cost figures" that were derived from a calculation that itself was "based on a flawed methodology." "Because funding is virtually guaranteed, management is indifferent to the needs of policymakers and the public for accurate and reliable cost information," the audit said. "As a result, true costs are unknown." In addition to improving its financial and program data, and its monitoring of operations at the CCA prisons, the auditor called on the state's chief procurement officer to suspend the public safety department's contracting authority for private prisons until its practices and policies are changed and staff have been better trained.

July 11, 2006 Honolulu Advertiser
Hawai'i inmates who worked in the kitchen of an Arizona prison have been disciplined for allegedly smuggling methamphetamine and marijuana into the facility. Shari Kimoto, administrator of the Mainland branch of the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety, said prison operator Corrections Corp. of America began investigating the alleged drug ring at the Florence Correctional Center after a number of inmates tested positive for drug use. The kitchen supervisor and several truck drivers with a food service company that makes deliveries to the prison in Florence, Ariz., were fired in connection with the case, and one or two corrections officers also may have been involved, Kimoto said. She said she expects to learn more when CCA officials file additional reports about the investigation.

April 17, 2003
The family of a Hawaii inmate who died in an Arizona prison alleges in a lawsuit that he died after packets of drugs he was smuggling for a prison gang burst in his stomach.  According to the suit filed yesterday in Circuit Court, Iulai Amani, then 24, died of a heart attack on April 15, 2001, at the Florence Correctional Center in Florence, Ariz.  The lawsuit attributes the heart attack to "a drug overdose, the mechanism of which was inconsistent with recreational use but consistent with drug smuggling under the direction" of a Hawaii gang that controlled the prison.  As a result of overcrowding in its prisons, the state contracted with private mainland prisons to take inmates.  Hawaii contracted with the Florence facility, which is managed by Corrections Corp. of America, a publicly traded prison company based in Nashville, Tenn.  The Florence prison is a medium-security facility with about 1,600 beds which houses both men and women. As a private prison, it is not subject to regulations governing other Arizona prisons. It also takes some of the toughest and most violent Hawaii prisoners.  Last week, another inmate, Victoriano Ortiz, sued the state and CCA alleging failure to protect him from being beaten up by USO members in a prison yard fight involving 23 inmates.  (Star Bulletin)

April 15, 2003
Victoriano Ortiz was 24 years old when he beat his wife to death in the abandoned bus the two shared as a home.  He broke her jaw and several ribs before he wrapped her body in a blanket, loaded it into a shopping cart and dumped it into the stream next to River Street in downtown Honolulu.  Last week, Ortiz sued the state of Hawaii and the owners of the Arizona prison where he was held, alleging failure to protect him from being beaten up by a gang of Hawaii inmates that controlled the prison to the point that guards smuggled drugs to gang members in return for protection.  Ortiz's federal lawsuit and other documents obtained by the Star-Bulletin give a glimpse into a rough era in the recent history of the Florence Correctional Center, a privately run prison in Florence, Ariz., managed by Corrections Corp. of America, a publicly traded company based in Nashville, Tenn.  Ortiz's suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona, names members of USO, the state of Hawaii, CCA and others as defendants. He alleges reckless or gross negligence and "a callous disregard" for his safety.  Ortiz alleges in his complaint that Pablo Sedillo, then warden of the Florence prison, "told the USOs that they could do whatever they wanted as long as they don't hurt the guards." Ortiz alleges that "in doing so Sedillo made the USOs ... managers of the facility, jeopardizing the safety of all non-USO-affiliated residents."  (Star Bulletin)

April 14, 2003
The state of Hawaii is among the defendants in a lawsuit filed by an inmate at Florence Correctional Center who claims he was badly beaten by a prison gang that was given unprecedented privileges by the warden and guards.  In a complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, Victoriano Ortiz said correctional officers smuggled drugs to members of the so-called United Samoan Organization and allowed them to assault nonmembers without interference.  Ortiz, who was convicted of second-degree murder 15 years ago, claims he was attacked by members of the gang in April 2001. The Honolulu native alleges that the prison warden told members of the gang "they could do whatever they wanted as long as they don't hurt the guards."  A spokesman for the Florence Correctional Center couldn't be reached for comment.  Ortiz's lawsuit names Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the private facility, along with two alleged gang leaders and the state of Hawaii, which has a contract to send inmates to the prison.  Ortiz requests damages for cruelty, negligence, failure to protect and other civil rights violations.  (AP)

March 21, 2003
A 74-year-old Gold Canyon man was killed yesterday in a one-vehicle accident on Interstate 10.  Layton Mowrey was driving a van for Correctional Services Corp., eastbound on I-10 about two miles west of the Trico-Marana Road exit when he lost control at 11:30 a.m., said officer David Kleinman of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. CSC runs a prison for the state in Florence.  (Tucson Citizen)

September 4, 2001
For years, Hawaii's prisons have been free of the violent gangs that plague many Mainland facilities, but inmates returning from prisons on the Mainland are showing more signs of gang involvement, according to the head of the state prison system.  Among the convicts returned to Hawaii to finish their sentences, prison officials are seeing more gang tattoos, gang "code words" and inmates who acknowledge other prisoners with gang affiliation as leaders, said Ted Sakai, director of the state Department of Public Safety.  Prison officials earlier this year demanded that the Mainland operators of the Florence Correctional Center in Arizona stage a crackdown on a Hawaii prison gang.  One Hawaii investigator said the gang is "Hawaii's first bona fide prison gang."  About 1,200 Hawaii convicts are now held in prisons in Arizona and Oklahoma because there is no room for them in facilities here.  (The Honolulu Advertiser)    

September 3, 2001
In the business of privately operated prisons, some states are exporters, and some are importers. That is, some states send their convicted criminals out of state, while others bring them in. And some states, especially those on the receiving end, are getting squeamish about the transfers.  One after another, states have imposed restrictions on the kinds of out-of-state inmates that private prison operators can import. And states that don't limit the types of inmates that can be imported worry that they will become "dumping grounds" for the worst convicts from other states.  The tighter laws can be an easy sell politically because even some corrections experts question the wisdom of importing particularly vicious convicts or sex offenders from other states. As Terry L. Stewart, director of the ARIZONA Dept. of Corrections put it, "We have our own maximum custody inmates. They are dangerous inmates. Why in the world would we want maximum custody inmates from anywhere else?"  (State Net Capitol Journal)

August 7, 2001
About an hour's drive from Tucson sits a ticking time bomb waiting to go off - a private prison in such chaos it has effectively been taken over by the criminals.  Gang members mixed booze-laced beverages in a five-gallon pail in the prison kitchen at the Florence Correctional Facility.  Inmates wandered the corridors with little supervision and had sex with female immigration detainees.  One guard said he even resorted to bringing marijuana to work to give to certain prisoners so that they would protect him from other prisoners.  Yet Arizona's state prison regulators can do nothing about such problems.  Unlike many other states, Arizona's Legislature has given free reign to corporate operators of private prisons like the one in Florence, allowing them to set up shop here with almost no rules in place to monitor their operations.  "Right now you can build a prison anywhere in Arizona, and the only thing you have to meet is the local building code," said Terry Stewart, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections.  It doesn't take a degree in corrections to know this is absurd public policy.  The Florence facility is run by Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, the largest private prison firm in the nation.  It's what is known in the industry as a "speculative" prison - one built outside the purview of the normal regulatory system, with no guarantee that there will be prisoners available to fill it.  (Arizona Daily Star)

August 5, 2001
The state's prison director wants lawmakers to give him more control over private prisons following reports that a Hawaii gang had effectively taken over a Florence prison.  Hawaii auditors determined in late April that a gang called United Samoan Organization was essentially running the Florence Correctional Facility, which houses 550 of that state's inmates -- 300 of whom are sex offenders.  The prison, operated by the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America -- or CCA -- is about an hour outside both Tucson and Phoenix.  After the deaths of two inmates, six inmate assaults and a riot that left one officer with six stitches - all of which happened in April -- Hawaii dispatched four auditors to inspect the prison, which opened in 2000.  Two female auditors were not allowed to tour the facility because of fears for their safety. Auditors determined that gang members were having sex with female Immigration and Naturalization Service inmates. Gang members were using drugs and making an alcoholic drink called "swipe," which the monitoring team found in a five-gallon bucket in the kitchen.  Staff, who reportedly had been calling the Hawaiians "beach niggas," were taking cultural training.  If Arizona cracks down, Hawaii officials have few options. Their inmates were moved out of Texas because of tighter restrictions there. Oklahoma does not accept sex offenders. California and many other states don't allow any out-of-state prisoners.  Red flags started waving for Sen. Pete Rios, a Hayden Democrat, on primary election night last September. While he was awaiting election returns in the Pinal County seat, police vehicles suddenly blocked the major highways out of Florence. Someone at CCA's prison had called 911, saying there was a hostage situation, but, when law enforcement responded, CCA refused to provide information.  In the end, three guards were injured after inmates smashed windows, computers, televisions and food carts during a 90-minute riot that started in a dispute over how rice was cooked.  (The Arizona Daily Star)

July 29, 2001
Hawaii may be forced to build a new prison because other states are imposing restrictions on the kinds of out-of-state inmates they will accept, according to state Public Safety director Ted Sakai.  Officials in Arizona are considering limiting the types of out-of-state inmates Arizona will accept.  They were prompted by escalating violence and gang activity by Hawaii inmates serving time in one Arizona prison.  Hawaii officials who inspected the Florence prison reported that they found a "facility in turmoil," with a gang of Hawaii inmates involved in drug smuggling and assaults against prisoners and corrections officers.  Terry L. Stewart, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, said he will ask the Arizona Legislature for new authority over companies such as Corrections Corporation of America.  (AP) 

July 21, 2001
Medical officials in Arizona say a prison inmate from Hawaii died in April from an accidental overdose of methamphetamine and that another Hawaii inmate died a few days later of natural causes.  (AP) 

July 1, 2001
A team sent to check on conditions at an Arizona prison that holds more than 560 Hawaii inmates conducted only a limited inspection because of the "hostile environment," including the potential for violence, according to state reports obtained by The Advertiser.  The desert prison, where two Hawaii inmates have died in recent months, was described in the April 30 report as "a facility in turmoil," and officials described lax security conditions, reports of widespread drug use and domination by members of a prison gang.  The reports by the monitoring team highlight problems with an inexperienced prison staff and refer to "widespread" drug smuggling into the facility by prison staff.  One prison official admitted to the Hawaii inspectors that he smuggled marijuana into the prison because he was afraid of gang members incarcerated there, according to the reports.  Sgt. Patrick Kawai, a Hawaii gang intelligence officer who was sent to inspect the Florence facility, reported in April that "I never once while at FCC observed an officer frisk search or strip search an inmate.  I never once observed an officer go through any inmate's property, or search anything an inmate was carrying."  That lack of "simple security measures" allows inmates to move weapons and other contraband, Kawai said in his report.  The Advertiser has been seeking reports about the Florence inspections for some time but state officials have been reluctant to provide them.  When the April report was first released, most of it was blacked out by officials citing security concerns.  After further requests from the newspaper and intervention by the governor's office, the reports were released.  The monitoring reports also reveal that a year after the Hawaii prisoners were sent to Florence, the prison still does not offer educational and rehabilitation programs to inmates that are required by CCA's contract with state.  When asked if CCA is now providing the programs required by the contract, Sakai replied: "I don't think so, but again we understand it's going to take some time. ...For example, they've committed to starting the substance abuse treatment program.  They're going to have to get the staff together.  I don't know if they have it yet, and then it takes time to build these programs up."  Inmates have complained about the lack of educational, sex offender and drug treatment programs at Florence, in part because parole often depends on whether inmates complete required programs.  Sakai acknowledged virtually no inmate programs were available for the 100 inmates who were shipped to Florence about a year ago.  The June report also quotes a Florence prison official as admitting the prison medical unit is "grossly understand."  (The Honolulu Advertiser)

May 25, 2001
More than three dozen Hawaii inmates have been transferred from an Arizona prison to one in New Mexico.  State Public Safety Director Ted Sakai said at least some of the inmates who were transferred were part of a prison gang.  Last month the state sent an inspection team to review the operations of Florence, and state officials expressed concerns about problems there.  CCA replaced the warden at Florence earlier this month, and asked Hawaii officials if they could temporarily move about 40 disruptive inmates to a New Mexico prison "to get Florence settled down," Sakai said.  (AP)

May 11, 2001
The Florence Correctional Center in Arizona, where two Hawaii inmates died last month and three others were severely beaten, has named a new warden.  Frank Luna, 38, moves over from Corrections Corporation of America's Huerfano County Correctional Center in Colorado where he had been warden of the medium-security prison since August 1999.  Louise Green, vice president of marketing and communications for CCA, said the previous warden at Florence, Pablo Sedillo, is on administrative leave.  (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

May 9, 2001
Complaints from Hawaii corrections officials have led to the replacement of the warden at a privately run Arizona prison.  The Hawaii officials said that management problems at the facility were jeopardizing the safety of Hawaii inmates serving time there.  State Public Safety director Ted Sakai said the warden of Florence Correctional Center was replaced late last week or early this week.  Incidents at Florence include inmate gangs, serious beatings of several inmates, a riot last September and the death of a Hawaii inmate on April 16th from what prison officials suspect was a drug-induced heart attack.  CCA now holds about 1,100 male inmates from Hawaii, including about 550 at Florence.  The state will pay the company about $17 million this year to house the 1,100 prisoners and provide educational and other programs.  (AP) 

May 3, 2001
Two deaths in a private prison in Florence led to a lockdown and search for contraband.  In one instance, Steve Owen spokesperson for Corrections Corporation of America said, Iulai Amani, 23, died April 16 while being taken to a hospital after he began coughing up blood in his cell at the Florence Correctional Center.  Cause of death had yet to be determined Wednesday, but officials said he may have overdosed on cocaine or methamphetamine.  Amani's knuckles reportedly were bloody at the time of his death, suggesting he may have been in a fight.  And on April 25, John Kia, an inmate with a history of health problems died from a bacterial infection, Owen said.  (AP)

April 27, 2001
State corrections officials have sent a team to investigate the recent deaths of two Hawaii inmates held at a private prison in Florence, Arizona.  "There's no evidence at all that there was any physical altercation that led to the deaths, so that's been ruled out," Public Safety Director Ted Sakai said Thursday.  Sakai has been told John Kia, 41, died of a heart attack Wednesday at the Florence Correctional Center, while Iulai Amani, 23, died of either a heart attack or asphyxiation April 15.  "We know that two inmates died, and we also know that we had several (Hawaii) inmates who were assaulted by other inmates at the same facility," Sakai said.  "I understand that there were a couple of inmates who were beaten up pretty bad, bad enough that they had to be rushed to the emergency room."  (AP)

Hawaii Department of Corrections
Sep 8, 2016 civilbeat.org
The Secrecy Surrounding Hawaii Prisons Has Got To Stop
With each new story about Hawaii’s management of its prison system and oversight of its relationship with private mainland prisons, we have new and growing concerns over how little we know about these facilities — and how much we’re prevented from knowing by the State of Hawaii.
In recent weeks, Civil Beat’s Rui Kaneya has uncovered, among other things, the involvement of a questionable subcontractor on the planning and design work for a new Oahu Community Correctional Center. Louis Berger of New Jersey has a history of shady dealings that in recent years have resulted in fines totaling more than $90 million over allegations of fraud and bribery. Architects Hawaii, which brought on Berger, won’t comment on the subcontractor, which stands to earn at least $1.3 million on this job. Kaneya also reported in late August on the shocking level of secrecy allowed in legal settlements involving the Corrections Corporation of America, the mainland prison company whose private facilities hold about 1,400 Hawaii prisoners in Arizona at any given time. The state agreed to an indemnity clause in its deal with CCA that neatly removes the legislative oversight brought to bear on legal settlements involving Hawaii prisons and other state offices under the guise that CCA is liable for all litigation costs and attorney fees. That sort of secrecy and lack of oversight has unfortunately become a recurring theme for a wing of state government that gets far less attention and scrutiny than it should. Even in the best of circumstances, voters and taxpayers typically don’t care much about prisons and prisoners. When both are conveniently thousands of miles away, the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” is sadly operative and we certainly see that dynamic at play in the CCA relationship. For years, state lawmakers have deferred any meaningful efforts to muster the political will let alone the money to replace the decrepit, 100-year-old OCCC or make any meaningful advances on efforts to community programs or alternatives that would keep people out of prison. And when things go bad for any of those inmates in Arizona, it can be difficult if not impossible to find out what’s gone wrong and what’s being done to correct any problems. Both CCA and the state Department of Public Safety refuse to release any data related to lawsuits filed by Hawaii prisoners and their families and CCA employees — even though that information is already shared between the contractor and DPS — with the company calling it “proprietary and confidential.” Confidentiality clauses seem to be the rule rather than the exception with CCA cases. Plaintiff’s attorneys can balk at the secrecy requirements, but as one told Kaneya, “agreeing to confidentiality helps move the cases forward.” State lawmakers have deferred any meaningful efforts to muster the political will leta lone the money to replace the decrepit, 100-year-old OCCC. That sort of secrecy gives CCA little incentive to change any practices that may have led to the complaint or lawsuit and gives taxpayers no information on how its state government is addressing incarceration issues on its behalf. That latter point is a particularly big problem, according to Paul Wright, director of the Vermont-based Human Rights Defense Center, which has challenged CCA’s confidentiality provisions in Texas, Tennessee and other jurisdictions in recent years. “The thing to remember is that every penny these private prison companies get is taxpayer money,” Wright said. “They have no private customers. Every penny is from taxpayers somewhere. And I think the public has the right to know how it’s costing us.” All of this, of course, is unfolding in an environment in which the U.S. Justice Department recently decided to end its use of private prisons for federal inmates. Now, the Department of Homeland Security is evaluating whether it should follow suit with its immigration detention centers, with a report expected by the end of November. As we said last month, the Justice Department’s action alone should compel the State of Hawaii to examine whether there is an opening for Hawaii to bring new accountability to its relationship with CCA, given the issues raised by Justice — uncertainty around cost savings and inferior levels of safety, security, services, programs and resources. With new information emerging, however, DPS and Gov. David Ige must move beyond simply re-examining its contract with CCA. First, DPS must bring on independent monitors at the prisons where Hawaii inmates are incarcerated in Arizona. Those monitors’ work must be made public in its entirety, without the extensive redactions that obviate any ability to hold DPS and CCA accountable. Civil Beat has currently been given records for only one “sample month” of that work rather than what we requested — the totality of monthly monitor records that span two years. Unacceptable. Second, state lawmakers must be ready with draft legislation in January that limits confidentiality in the DPS-CCA relationship and that allows more to be known regarding both the services CCA is providing Hawaii taxpayers and any problems Hawaii inmates are encountering in CCA custody. Lastly, the state Department of the Attorney General must look into the design contract for replacement of the OCCC. Specifically, the AG must look at whether there are any issues that would prevent Louis Berger from participating in the OCCC design project, given its troubling track record in other government jobs. DPS must also make details of its OCCC design project publicly available, including information on subcontractors, their pay and their performance. Contractors who don’t want to be held accountable for their work should look elsewhere for business. We’re sure that there are others who can provide the services that Louis Berger has agreed to perform while meeting a level of accountability that taxpayers have every right to expect.

Apr 29, 2016 civilbeat.com
CCA Submits The Only Bid For Hawaii’s Private Prison Contract
After Hawaii sought bids last month for a lucrative new contract to house hundreds of its prisoners on the mainland, no rivals stepped up to challenge the state’s current contractor. The Hawaii Department of Public Safety announced Thursday that Nashville, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, the largest for-profit prison company in the country, was the sole bidder for the contract. The department released the bidder information in response to Civil Beat’s request — three weeks after we began asking for it. As we reported Monday, the department initially refused to disclose the names of any bidders — or even how many bids had been submitted — saying that the information was “confidential.” But the department changed course after Civil Beat brought to the department’s attention a 1994 decision by the Hawaii Office of Information Practices, which declared that the bidder information should be made public, once the deadline for submitting bids passed. According to the department’s request for proposals, the deadline for the pending contract was March 31. In 1998, Hawaii began sending its prisoners to facilities operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, of Nashville, Tennessee, the country’s largest for-profit prison company. Under the current contract, signed in 2011, CCA houses nearly 1,400 Hawaii prisoners — about a quarter of the state’s overall inmate population — at the Saguaro Correctional Center, a 1,926-bed facility in Eloy, Arizona, about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix. CCA charges the state a daily rate of $70.49 per prisoner, for a total of more than $30 million in fiscal year 2015. Toni Schwartz, public safety spokeswoman, said the department has not yet selected the bid winner, even though the “provider selection” was supposed to be made by April 18. Schwartz noted that the schedule in bid documents was tentative, but she declined to provide more details. “We are still in the process of awarding a contract, so we are not releasing any further information at this time,” she said. CCA spokesman Jonathan Burns declined to comment on the pending contract. “In deference to the process, we reserve comment at this time,” he said.As of April 25, 2016, Corrections Corporation of American was housing 1,389 Hawaii prisoners — almost a quarter of the state’s overall inmate population — at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona.Hawaii has a longstanding relationship with CCA dating back to 1998, when it first began sending prisoners to the CCA-run Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Minnesota. The state has gone on to use eight other CCA-run facilities across six states. For years, the state retained CCA’s services through the use of inter-governmental agreements, a tactic that allowed the Department of Public Safety to bypass the state’s competitive bidding requirements in the Hawaii Public Procurement Code. But, in 2010, the practice came under fire from Hawaii State Auditor Marion Higa, who accused the department of circumventing the procurement rules in an attempt to steer a noncompetitive contract to CCA. The following year, the department decided to turn to a standard procurement process — for the first time since the state began shipping prisoners to the mainland in 1995. In the end, though, CCA was the sole bidder and easily secured the 2011 contract. Five years later, the department appears to be on the same track with the pending contract — which takes effect when the 2011 contract expires at the end of June. Troubles at Saguaro in recent years have included the murders of three Hawaiian inmates and several lawsuits over prison conditions. It isn’t clear what new conditions, if any, the department will seek to impose in a new contract, once negotiations begin after the bid winner is selected. Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, finds the process troubling, noting that the state has no choice but to deal with CCA — and CCA knows it. “We are basically being taken hostage,” Brady said. “CCA knows they are in a great negotiating position. And, once the contract is signed, they know they can get away with a lot of stuff because we have no other option. That’s a recipe for disaster.”

Apr 14, 2013 staradvertiser.com
The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii claims the state Department of Public Safety is illegally withholding public records that attorneys representing families in wrongful prison death lawsuits have paid thousands of dollars to receive. The ACLU of Hawaii filed a lawsuit Thursday, saying that a California law firm has paid more than $5,300 in fees but the state hasn't released a single document. The firm — Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld LLP — wants access to documents concerning the state's oversight of private mainland prisons where inmates from Hawaii are being held because of a lack of space in aging Hawaii facilities. Among the requested records are documents concerning gang activity and segregation in the Arizona prison where two Hawaii men were killed. Clifford Medina was strangled and Bronson Nunuha was stabbed in 2010 while at Saguaro Correctional Center. Their families say the deaths would have been prevented if the state didn't ship prisoners to a mainland facility that neglects them. The families' lawsuits are in the discovery phase. The ACLU's lawsuit details an attorney for the families making repeated requests for the documents and allowing for numerous extensions since September. At one point the state tells the attorney that lawyers for Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the prison, instructed the Public Safety Department not to produce any government records, in violation of state law, according to the complaint. The firm paid $5,327.50 in fees and costs the department required to produce the requested records. But instead of releasing any documents, the department has "responded with empty promises to produce some government records at some undetermined point in the future, along with vague, unsubstantiated objections to producing broad categories of government records," the complaint states. Public Safety spokes­woman Toni Schwartz said in a statement Friday, "We were served the lawsuit and it is being reviewed. We have been advised by our deputy attorney general to refrain from commenting on the case since it is pending litigation." Daniel Gluck, senior staff attorney for ACLU of Hawaii, said, "Hawaii's open records law is expansive and clear; agencies have an obligation to respond
to requests for records in a thorough and timely manner. We have done all we can to resolve this matter outside the courts, but when the state ignores its obligations under the law, we have to step in."

February 20, 2012 Honolulu Civil Beat
Last week the ACLU of Hawaii and human rights advocates filed suit against the state and Corrections Corporation of America over the death of an inmate in the Arizona prison operated by CCA. We decided to dig out the December 2010 state audit of the deal between Hawaii and CCA to house prisoners in the Saguaro facility. You may recall the report by State Auditor Marion Higa was extremely critical of the Department of Public Safety (under the Lingle administration) for the way the contract was handled and overseen. But we were struck by another section. It described how difficult it was for the state's own auditors to access public information they needed to figure out whether the taxpayers were paying too much to keep prisoners on the mainland. We already knew it's difficult for reporters and members of the public to access "public" information in Hawaii. But for the auditor, the state's own watchdog appointed by the Legislature, to run into the same kinds of problems. Wow! Here's much of what Higa had to say on DPS' stonewalling: Our audit was marked by numerous roadblocks to our access to information. Department officials repeatedly attempted to deny us direct access to individuals and documents, define our audit scope, and stop us from conducting an audit at all, among other issues. At the onset of our audit, we provided our request for information to the department, a standard procedure during the preliminary planning phase of an audit. Our first request for documents was made to the department on June 22, 2010. We repeated this request on July 13, 2010 and July 21, 2010. Documents were provided piecemeal and oftentimes, had been filtered through management, as opposed to directly by the responsible individual. For requests specific to Offendertrak, the department’s inmate tracking system, the deputy director of administration questioned our need for the information, maintaining that it was not pertinent to the scope of our audit. The management information system administrator was instructed not to meet with our analyst or provide answers to questions about Offendertrak. Instead, all inquiries were directed to the business management officer and the deputy director of administration ... During the preliminary planning phase of this audit, the department director and the Mainland/FDC Branch administrator invited members of the audit team to accompany the contract monitors on their quarterly site visit— from June 29 to July 1, 2010 — to observe the monitoring practices in place. On the second day of observation, the Saguaro warden informed us that he would not allow us to obtain copies of any documents on instructions from the department director. The director questioned our legal authority to proceed with the audit because of the governor’s veto of House Bill No. 415, House Draft 1, Senate Draft 2, Conference Draft 1 of the 2010 legislative session which had called for a prisons audit that included the closure of Kūlani Correctional Facility. The director wanted requests to be routed through his office for review and final release of documentation. On several occasions, the director screened our requests, raised questions, and denied access in an attempt to define our scope and control our workflow, thus causing delays in fieldwork. For example, on July 14, 2010 we sent an email to the director requesting the documents previously reviewed by the audit team at Saguaro. On July 21 and July 27, 2010 we followed up on that request, and on July 30, 2010, we received notice that the director would not provide the documents because he deemed them confidential and beyond the scope of our audit objectives. We proceeded, anticipating that the supporting documentation would be included in the final audit report by the department’s own contract monitoring audit team that we had been invited to join. We again experienced some delays in our fieldwork because the final audit report was not released until the director authorized the branch administrator to do so. Lastly, towards the end of our fieldwork, the Institutions Division administrator issued an advisory email to all wardens to submit any response to our inquiries to management first for approval. Higa went on to point out that the auditor has constitutional as well as statutory authority to obtain "foundational" information necessary to be a "fearless watchdog of public spending." DPS' efforts to withhold information caused unnecessary delays, Higa said. Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, the current director of DPS who as interim director in December 2010 had to respond to the audit, conceded in a letter to Higa: "I'm a little perplexed by the lack of cooperation your Team received." She promised to use the experience with the audit to improve relations with "your team, the Legislature and more importantly the community."

Hawaii Legislature
January 28, 2011 Star-Advertiser
The Abercrombie administration is starting to make good on the governor's promise to bring all state prison inmates incarcerated on the mainland back to Hawaii.The state returned 243 inmates from Arizona last week and sent back just 96 to take their place. Of the 243 returning inmates, 54 are getting paroled, 28 are about to complete their prison terms and three are back for court hearings. When Gov. Neil Abercrombie promised swift action last month to bring back all Hawaii inmates serving time in mainland prisons, state Senate Public Safety Chairman Will Espero was not expecting action so soon. "I was pleasantly surprised," he said. Espero said he learned of the returning inmates yesterday from state Public Safety Director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata. He said the state conducts prison transfers quarterly, but it usually sends at least the same number of prisoners to the mainland as it returns. He applauded Abercrombie's plan to bring back all Hawaii inmates. "If we're going to spend $60 million a year to house inmates, I'd rather spend it here in Hawaii than on the mainland," Espero said. The state returned 152 inmates to Hawaii on Jan. 19, sent 96 to Arizona on Jan. 20 and returned an additional 91 last Friday. The transfers leave 1,759 Hawaii inmates in Arizona: 1,705 in Saguaro Correctional Center, 51 in Red Rock Correctional Center, two in Florence State Prison and one in Central Arizona Detention Center. Central Arizona, in Florence, and Saguaro and Red Rock, both in Eloy, are private prisons operated by Corrections Corp. of America, which houses Hawaii inmates under contract with the state. Abercrombie made his promise after 18 Hawaii inmates at Saguaro sued CCA, the state and the state's contract monitor. The inmates claim they were beaten and assaulted and their families threatened by prison guards. The Public Safety Department sent a team to examine practices at Saguaro last year after two Hawaii inmates died in February and June. The state returned all but one of the 169 women serving time in a CCA prison in Kentucky in 2009 after the inmates reported widespread sexual abuse by guards and prison employees.  The Abercrombie administration is starting to make good on the governor's promise to bring all state prison inmates incarcerated on the mainland back to Hawaii.

December 29, 2010 AP
State Auditor Marion Higa on Wednesday blasted the Hawaii Department of Public Safety's management of a contract to house prisoners in privately owned Arizona prisons. In a 77-page report, Higa also criticized the financial data about the arrangement the department has provided legislators and the public for using a flawed methodology and containing inaccurate or insufficient figures. "Without clarified guidance by policymakers, the department has no incentive to perform better and will continue to evade accountability by providing unreliable and inaccurate reporting of incarceration costs," Higa wrote in the audit's conclusion. "In addition, the department has misused its procurement authority to circumvent the process designed with safeguards to protect the state's interests," she added. There was no immediate response to a request for comment from department officials or Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office. Much of the audit's findings are critical of actions taken by the administration of Abercrombie's predecessor, Linda Lingle. Abercrombie has said he wants to stop exporting inmates to other states but hasn't spelled out whether that would mean building more prisons in Hawaii or releasing less-dangerous inmates to free up existing beds. According to the audit, about 2,000 male Hawaii prisoners currently are housed in the Florence, Red Rock and Saguaro correctional centers owned by the Corrections Corporation of America. The state in 2006 signed an "intergovernmental agreement" with Eloy, Ariz., where the facilities are located, but deals almost exclusively with CCA, the report contended. The arrangement allowed agency officials to circumvent and manipulate the state's competitive procurement process to steer business to CCA, the audit found. The department also treated CCA as a government agent instead of a private vendor operating for a profit, it contended. The CCA contract is set to expire on June 30. But the report concluded the state as of early October had no plan to address that looming deadline. Without such a plan, "the department is shirking its responsibility to provide for the safety of the public through correctional management, and leaves the operational staff ill-prepared to contract for private prison beds and services," the audit stated. The report also aimed fire at the department's reporting to the Legislature. It asserted that agency officials reported "artificial cost figures" that were derived from a calculation that itself was "based on a flawed methodology." "Because funding is virtually guaranteed, management is indifferent to the needs of policymakers and the public for accurate and reliable cost information," the audit said. "As a result, true costs are unknown." In addition to improving its financial and program data, and its monitoring of operations at the CCA prisons, the auditor called on the state's chief procurement officer to suspend the public safety department's contracting authority for private prisons until its practices and policies are changed and staff have been better trained.

December 16, 2010 Star Advertiser
Gov. Neil Abercrombie promised swift action to bring back all Hawaii inmates serving sentences in mainland prisons in light of a new lawsuit alleging their mistreatment by guards at an Arizona facility. "I intend to work as quickly as I can to bring all prisoners back," Abercrombie said yesterday at a news conference in his office. "I don't want to send anybody out of the state." Abercrombie this month named Jodie Maesaki-Hirata, acting warden of the Waiawa Correctional Facility, as head of the Department of Public Safety and said yesterday he would need more time to put together the team to examine the problem. "I will be working with the Department of Public Safety and with the Judiciary and with the Legislature to forge a comprehensive and integrated program to deal with the question of incarceration," he said. Kat Brady, coordinator for the Community Alliance on Prisons, applauded Abercrombie's plan, saying most of the state's inmates are nonviolent offenders or qualify for minimum security. "They should be back in Hawaii preparing to successfully re-enter their communities," she said. "Nobody can successfully re-enter from Arizona. "To me, they've got to come back to Hawaii with a year or two left on their sentences to get in touch with their families and that kind of thing." The Circuit Court lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of 18 island inmates at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., a 1,897-bed prison owned by Corrections Corp. of America. Saguaro is home to about 1,800 male inmates from Hawaii. About 50 more are at a separate CCA prison in Arizona. The lawsuit filed this week by Honolulu attorneys Michael Green and John Rapp alleges inmates were abused and their families in Hawaii threatened in retaliation for a guard being injured while trying to break up a fight. Inmates were "beaten and assaulted, including by having their heads banged on tables while they were stripped of their underwear and while their hands were handcuffed behind their backs," according to the lawsuit. Guards also threatened to harm the inmates' families, saying they had all of their emergency contact information and knew where to find them, the complaint states. The lawsuit names CCA, the state of Hawaii and the state's contract monitor, John Ioane, as defendants. The Saguaro facility has come under scrutiny before. Earlier this year, the public safety department sent a team to examine practices at the site after deaths of two Hawaii inmates in February and June. Three inmates, all from Hawaii, have been charged in the deaths and could face the death penalty if convicted in Arizona. The lawsuit alleges the latest mistreatment occurred in July. Hawaii spends about $61 million a year to house male inmates on the mainland because there is not enough space for them in prisons here. Last year, after female inmates from Hawaii alleged widespread sexual abuse by guards and employees at a CCA facility in Kentucky, the state pulled all 168 of them from the prison and brought them back to the islands to serve their time. Former Gov. Linda Lingle this year vetoed a bill that called for a financial and management audit of the state's contract to house prisoners at Saguaro, saying the measure would force the auditor to go beyond her duties and make a policy judgment about whether the state should continue to send prisoners to the mainland. Abercrombie called the policy of sending prisoners away "dysfunctional." "It costs money. It costs lives. It costs communities," he said. "It destroys families. It is dysfunctional all the way around -- socially, economically, politically and morally. "We want to do a lot more in the way of intervention. We want to do a lot more in the way of programs."

June 28, 2010 Hawaii Reporter
I am the associate editor of Prison Legal News, a non-profit publication that reports on criminal justice issues, and I am contacting Hawaii lawmakers in reference to HB 415, which was recently vetoed by Governor Lingle. HB 415 would, among other provisions, require that the State Auditor conduct an audit of Hawaii’s contract to house over 2,000 prisoners in mainland facilities operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). I ask that you vote to override the governor’s veto, to ensure that an audit is conducted into the state’s $60 million annual contract with CCA to house Hawaii inmates on the mainland. As you are likely aware, last year the State of Hawaii withdrew its female inmates from CCA’s Otter Creek Correctional Facility in Kentucky following a sex scandal in which at least six CCA employees were charged with sexual abuse or rape, including the prison’s chaplain. I was quoted in the New York Times concerning that egregious situation; a copy of the article is enclosed. You are also likely aware that two Hawaii inmates recently were murdered at the CCA-operated Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona – Clifford Medina was strangled to death on June 8, while Bronson Nunuha was stabbed to death on February 18, 2010. Two homicides within a four-month period is unusual in any prison system and is indicative of major problems. Most importantly, an audit of the State’s contract with CCA is necessary because CCA can not be relied upon to assess itself. Although CCA conducts its own internal audits, according to a March 13, 2008 TIME magazine article based on the reports of a corporate CCA whistleblower, the company produces two types of internal audit reports: A general audit report is provided to contracting government agencies, while an audit with specific comments and notations by the CCA auditors is retained for in-house use only. A copy of the TIME article is enclosed. In fact, the company’s then-General Counsel Gus Puryear admitted, in response to questions by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, that CCA “did not make customers aware of these documents,” and specifically said CCA does not share “the separate commentary made by auditors.” An excerpt from Mr. Puryear’s written responses is attached; the full document is too large to fax but can be accessed at the following web link or I can email you a copy upon request: www.privateci.org/private_pics/Puryear%20Sen%20Feinstein%202.pdf Based on the sex abuse scandal at CCA’s Otter Creek facility, in which a number of Hawaii inmates were sexually abused, as well as the recent murders of two Hawaii prisoners at CCA’s Saguaro facility, and CCA’s admission that it does not share all of its internal audit documents with its customers, I ask that you vote to override Governor Lingle’s veto of HB 415. An audit of the State’s $60 million contract with CCA is necessary to ensure that Hawaii taxpayers are getting the value they are paying for when housing inmates in mainland private prisons. For full disclosure purposes, I also serve as president of the Private Corrections Institute, which opposes prison privatization, and am a former prisoner who served six years at a CCA-operated facility in the 1990s. Since my release in 1999 I have extensively researched private prisons, and have testified before legislative committees in two states and the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security in regard to that topic. Thank you for your time and attention. Alex Friedmann is the Associate Editor of PLN

June 26, 2010 AP
Gov. Linda Lingle has vetoed legislation that called for an audit of a state contract with a private prison firm that houses Hawaii felons. In a statement Friday, Lingle said HB 415 would be costly, duplicative and would force the state auditor to go provide a legal opinion and make a policy judgment outside the scope of a normal audit. The state's contract with the Corrections Corp. of America has come under scrutiny lately in part because of the deaths of two Hawaii prisoners at the firm's Arizona facility. Two female inmates from Hawaii serving time at the company's Kentucky prison are suing the company and Hawaii. One of the inmates claims she was raped by two guards. Hawaii removed its female inmates from that facility last year.

June 22, 2010 KITV
State lawmakers said Tuesday they are seriously considering a veto override if Gov. Linda Lingle (R) vetoes a bill calling for a cost-benefit audit of a privately run Arizona prison. The state spends more than $60 million a year to send nearly 2,000 Hawaii inmates to Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., because of prison overcrowding in Hawaii. Saguaro is run by the Corrections Corp. of America. Two Hawaii inmates have died at Saguaro Prison in Arizona in less than four months. Inmate Clifford Medina's cellmate admitted to Arizona police he strangled Medina June 8th. Bronson Nunuha died Feb. 18 after multiple stab wounds to his neck. Two Hawaii inmates have been indicted in the case on first degree murder and gang related charges. State Sen. Will Espero (D) said Tuesday, in light of the deaths at Saguaro, it's time for an audit. "If the governor does veto this bill. I think it would be a big mistake," said Espero. "I think it would be unwise considering in the last several months there have been two murders at Saguaro plus the fact that we pay $61 million a year to CCA to keep our inmates in there." The Corrections Corp. of America also runs Otter Creek Prison in Kentucky where after allegations of rape and inmate abuse, all Hawaii's female inmates were returned to Hawaii. Lingle in her potential veto message said an audit of mainland prison operations is expensive and unnecessary. But Espero said that's not so. "The governor said it would be too expensive, but in the bill we do not have an appropriation so the auditor's office would be using funds it already has," said Espero. State Auditor Marion Higa said she is operating under the assumption Lingle will let the audit bill become law. Higa said next week two analysts from her office will spend the week at Saguaro working beside prisons officials from Hawaii as they do their quarterly quality control inspection. Higa said that will help her analysts begin planning for the audit Hawaii lawmakers requested. Higa said she expects the prisons audit will be inexpensive because she will use in-house staff and money that has already been appropriated for her department. Espero said that if the governor vetoes the prisons audit bill, he will recommend a veto override. House Public Safety Chairwoman Faye Hanohano was a prison guard at Hawaii's Kulani Prison for 25 years. Hanohano said she will also recommend an override if the governor vetoes the prisons audit bill. Hanohano said more needs to be known to determine if Hawaii taxpayers are getting their money's worth by sending prisoners to the mainland instead of incarcerating them in Hawaii. "There is a lot of missing data that needs to be brought out and hopefully an audit will flush it out," said Hanohano.

June 16, 2010 Star-Advertiser
Two Hawaii inmates charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of a fellow Hawaii inmate at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona could face the death penalty if convicted. The two are the first to face capital punishment for a crime committed in a private prison on the mainland since Hawaii started housing inmates out of state in 1995. Because Hawaii has no death penalty, some legal advocates say the case could be unprecedented in the nation. Some also argue the situation raises new questions about the practice of sending inmates out of state to serve their sentences. State Department of Public Safety officials say they are monitoring the case, but it doesn't appear they plan to step in to urge Arizona to take the death penalty off the table. "When you commit a crime in a different state, it's a crime that is addressed with that state," said DPS Director Clayton Frank. "We abide by the laws of that respective state." The two inmates -- Miti Maugaotega Jr., 24, and Micah Kanahele, 29 -- were indicted on first-degree murder and gang-related charges May 20 in the killing of Bronson Nunuha, 26, who was found in his cell at Saguaro on Feb. 18 with multiple stab wounds. Maugaotega was serving a life sentence for first-degree attempted murder in the June 2003 shooting of Punchbowl resident Eric Kawamoto. Kanahele was serving two 20-year sentences for the October 2003 shooting deaths of Greg Morishima at his Aiea home and Guylan Nuuhiwa in a Pearl City parking lot a week later. Nunuha was behind bars for three counts of second-degree burglary. News that Maugaotega and Kanahele could face the death penalty comes as the state is investigating a second killing of a Hawaii inmate at Saguaro. Clifford Medina, 23, was killed June 8 at Saguaro, and his cellmate, also a Hawaii inmate, is in custody in connection with the case. Yesterday, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the acting governor while Gov. Linda Lingle is traveling in Asia, said the killings highlight the need to take a closer look at security at Saguaro and could prompt the state to move inmates from the facility. But he said he would have to do more research before weighing in on whether the state should voice opposition on the two inmates facing the death penalty. Some 1,871 male Hawaii inmates are at Saguaro, a 1,897-bed prison in Eloy, Ariz., owned by Corrections Corp. of America. About 50 more are at a separate CCA prison in Arizona. The state spends about $61 million a year to house male inmates on the mainland because there is not enough room for them at Hawaii prisons. Last year, allegations by female Hawaii inmates of widespread sexual abuse by guards and employees at a CCA facility in Kentucky prompted the state to pull all 168 of its female inmates from the prison and bring them back to the islands to serve their time. A spokesman with the Pinal County Attorney's Office, which is prosecuting the Nunuha case, said the death penalty is within sentencing guidelines in a first-degree murder case. He declined further comment because the case is ongoing. Fifteen states, including Hawaii, do not have the death penalty. State Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee, said the Nunuha case could prompt more discussion on the implications of shipping Hawaii inmates out of state. Espero added he wants to learn more about the killing before trying to determine whether the state should stand in the way of a death penalty sentencing. "Quite frankly, it was a cold-blooded murder," he said. "I'm sure you will find people in Hawaii that say they deserve (to face) the death penalty." But, he added, "these cases really do show the need to come up with a plan to bring home our prisoners one day." Opponents of the death penalty say the case raises legal questions. In a statement, ACLU Hawaii said it hopes Arizona will "respect Hawaii's history and tradition of rejecting capital punishment in their treatment of Hawaii's inmates." ACLU also said Nunuha's killing is "just one of a morbid series of events showing the need for independent oversight" of CCA's contract with Hawaii. The group urged the governor to sign a bill into law that calls for an audit of the state's contract with CCA.

May 19, 2010 Honolulu Weekly
When Hawaii inmate Bronson Nunuha was stabbed to death in his cell at Corrections Corporation of America’s Saguaro Correctional Facility in Elroy, Arizona, on February 18, he had only about eight months left to serve on his full sentence for three counts of burglary. Normally, at that stage of a prisoner’s sentence, he or she would expect to be out on parole or serving in a minimum security facility and enrolled in programs to help him or her transition to life in the outside world. But Nunuha was in a high-security program that placed him under lockdown for all but two hours of each day. Nunuha was among about 1900 Hawaii inmates kept at CCA facilities–most at Saguaro, but about 50 at nearby Red Rock Correctional Center and one woman still at CCA’s Otter Creek facility in Kentucky (most Hawaii women inmates were transferred back to the islands after allegations surfaced of rape and other misconduct at Otter Creek). Nunuha’s death, along with the sudden closure of the Big Island’s Kulani Correctional Center last year, have helped to fuel calls for an independent audit of the state’s Public Safety Department and its dealings with CCA. A bill requiring such an audit passed the Hawaii Legislature in its 2010 session and HB415 is now awaiting Gov. Linda Lignle’s signature.. It received support from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Community Alliance on Prisons, the Drug Policy Forum, the United Public Workers, the Hawaii Government Employee’s Association, and various attorneys and social workers. Among the very few to testify against: Public Safety Director Clayton Frank. De-paroling for profit? “Private prisons are for-profit corporations, accountable as most of those businesses are to their shareholders and investors; with profits as their primary motive. They have a self-serving interest in keeping their census up to capacity, and their costs low, much like hotels and other lodging businesses,” testified Jean Ohta of the Drug Policy Forum. “It is because of this self-interest on the part of private prisons that an audit should be conducted.” “We have received numerous reports suggesting that CCA is not meeting its most basic of constitutional obligations in housing inmates. We have also received several reports suggesting that CCA may be keeping inmates longer than necessary; because Hawaii pays CCA per inmate per day of incarceration, the longer inmates are held, the more money CCA receives,” testified ACLU attorney Daniel Gluck. Gluck wrote that his organization had received “numerous reports” of inmates who’d been granted parole being “held for four months or more by CCA (based on vague and unsubstantiated reasons for ignoring the Paroling Authority’s orders)” and of Saguaro inmates, including those with no previous records of infractions, being “written up for spurious rule infractions shortly before their parole eligibility dates,” disqualifying them for parole. “One month of additional incarceration at CCA can easily cost the State and the taxpayers nearly $2,000–money that is sorely needed for other programs like drug rehabilitation, mental health care, and education–and the Legislature need not (and should not) allow these reports to be ignored,” he added. Asked about infractions at CCA, Franks told Honolulu Weekly, “I don’t believe that they receive anymore disciplinary writeups than what we have here.” At the legislature, Frank maintained that an independent audit was unnecessary. “These contracts and agreements referenced in this measure are already audited on a regular basis by an independent auditor,” he testified. But when the Weekly checked the department’s records for an audit of the Saguaro facility, all that turned up was a checklist. Shari Kimoto, who filled out that checklist, is the Public Safety Department’s Mainland Branch Manager, the state employee in charge of managing the department’s relations with CCA. She is also the wife of Republican Party Chair Jonah Kaauwai, who is himself a former Public Safety official. CCA has been a heavy contributor to Republican Party candidates and causes, including Republican Governor Linda Lingle, who received the maximum legal donation of $6,000 for each of her gubernatorial campaigns. Kimoto checked the “compliant” box for every one of the audit checklist’s 115 categories, covering everything from the temperatures of the freezers to the presence of “inmate property forms.” But the audit did not appear to monitor whether inmates were being kept overtime. HW asked Frank about the “independent audits” he referred to in his testimony. He said he would check. Later in the interview, he said that CCA facilities were audited and accredited by the American Correctional Association. Frank told the legislature that prisoners in CCA facilities cost the state about half as much to maintain as those at the state’s own correctional facilities. He told HW that those figures were based on the state’s contracts and included transportation costs to the mainland. But neither his figures, nor the ACA audits, nor Kimoto’s, include an examination of such factors as the length of time inmates served before parole in different facilities, the costs of lawsuits by inmates or their families, or the recidivism rates of inmates–factors that the department’s critics want examined. Services and sentences Frank said prisoners were selected to go to the mainland based on a series of criteria: They must have sentences of “a minimum of 24 months,” they must have “no major medical or health care problems, and “They don’t have any pending criminal cases here.” Apparently, though, that system doesn’t always work. “I’ve had clients who’ve been transferred to AZ who still have cases pending,” attorney Daphne Barbee said. “I’ve had to have them brought back.” One client, she said, didn’t get back in time for his own hearing; he only got his day in court because the judge granted an extension. Bronson Nunuha was in the 22-hour lockdown, Frank said, because of “disciplinary conduct.” How fast an inmate such as Nunuha goes through the system, he maintained, “depends on the inmate what the level of participation he wants.” Sometimes, he said, “Rather than participate in the program they just choose to max out on their sentence.” But the department’s critics say that often services just aren’t available, that the programs at CCA were sparse, and that the closure of Kulani Prison had aggravated the problem.

July 12, 2009 Star-Bulletin
State officials are on the mainland to investigate accusations that female prisoners from Hawaii have been sexually assaulted by guards at a privately run prison in Kentucky. "It's a very serious issue, a serious charge," Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday. "We have a very large contract with this company, and we're going to have to sit with them when we get the report." The Community Alliance on Prisons, which pushes for humane treatment of Hawaii prisoners, held a protest at the state Capitol on Friday, demanding that the state bring back female inmates held in mainland prisons. They cited the alleged sexual assaults of five women at the Otter Creek Correctional Facility in Wheelwright, Ky. But Lingle noted the costs involved in housing the prisoners in Hawaii. "It's a concern because there's no where to put them," she said. "If there's a desire to bring prisoners home -- whether they're male or female prisoners -- we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that we don't have right now. ... We don't have a facility right now where we can house them." The state has spent $3.9 million to transfer and house female inmates in Otter Creek since October 2005. Otter Creek currently houses 169 women from Hawaii. The protesters cited a letter from inmate Pania Kalama-Akopian of Kapolei, who accused guards of sexual assault. "Our fears are that nothing will change," she wrote. "Nothing has changed. ... The only thing that changed was the attitude of retaliation against the inmate population. We are not safe. Where does the nightmare end?" Protesters alleged that five Hawaii women and 21 Kentucky women have been sexually assaulted at Otter Creek. Honolulu attorney Myles Breiner said he is representing three women who were sexually assaulted at Otter Creek, including Kalama-Akopian. "Hawaii's failed to account for their responsibility to Hawaii's women," Breiner said. "Women occupy a unique place in the criminal justice system. They come into the system already having been abused by either childhood experiences or later on in their developmental years." At the protest, Regina Dias Tauala, a mother of one of the victims, described her daughter's ordeal at the prison. Totie Nalani Tauala was serving part of her 20-year sentence at the prison for manslaughter when she allegedly was sexually assaulted by a male guard. "It's hard to sleep sometimes, because I do not know what is going on," Dias Tauala said tearfully. "Yes, my daughter has to pay for being in prison. However, taking them out of the state and so far away is inhumane, because they're cutting the hearts of us mothers; we cannot see or touch our children." Otter Creek officials declined to comment on the alleged attacks. But Hawaii Public Safety Director Clayton Frank said a team of four investigators, including deputy director Tommy Johnson, was sent July 5 to investigate the allegations. Frank said investigators are working with the Wheelwright Police Department and the Corrections Corporation of America, the prison's operator. "The Department of Public Safety treats these kind of incidents very seriously," Frank said.

April 3, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
State lawmakers have tentatively approved a bill to audit a privately run Arizona prison that holds more than 1,800 Hawai'i convicts. House Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro said state Auditor Marion Higa likely would need to contract with a Mainland auditing firm to conduct the performance audit of Saguaro Correctional Center, a new 1,896-bed prison in Eloy, Ariz., that houses only male prisoners from Hawai'i. The audit is expected to cost $150,000 or more, but Oshiro said it will be "money well spent" to scrutinize the Saguaro operation and the state contract with Corrections Corporation of America. Hawai'i pays CCA more than $50 million a year to house more than 2,000 male and female convicts from Hawai'i in private prisons in Arizona and Kentucky. Hawai'i first began sending prisoners to the Mainland in 1995 as a temporary measure to relieve in-state prison overcrowding. About half of the state's prison population is now held in out-of-state facilities. According to Senate Bill 2342, "there has never been an audit of the private Mainland prisons that Hawai'i has contracted with to house the state's inmates, despite the fact that deaths and serious injuries have occurred at several of the contract prisons on the Mainland." Oshiro said, "I think it's prudent to spend some monies for the audit and review to make sure that we're getting the best services for our money." The bill goes to the full House for a floor vote, and if approved will be sent to a House-Senate conference committee to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The Senate proposed auditing both Saguaro and the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Kentucky, where about 175 Hawai'i inmates are being held. However, Oshiro said supporters of the bill told him the Saguaro audit was more important because more inmates are there, so the audit of Otter Creek was dropped from the House draft of the bill. Clayton Frank, director of the state Department of Public Safety, has opposed the bill because state prison officials already conduct quarterly audits of the Mainland prisons that check up on programs, food service, medical service and security, among other areas. "The department already has the expertise in place and is currently providing a thorough and ongoing auditing process to ensure contract compliance is being met," the department said in a written statement Monday. For situations that require immediate attention, "we have dispatched appropriate senior staff and Internal Affairs investigators to the facilities," the statement said. The bill for an audit is advancing after recent Mainland media reports cited a former CCA manager who said he was required to produce misleading reports about incidents in CCA prisons. Time magazine interviewed former CCA senior quality assurance manager Ronald T. Jones, who said CCA General Counsel Gus Puryear IV ordered staff to classify sometimes violent incidents such as inmate disturbances or escapes as if they were less serious events to make the company performance appear to be better than it was. Jones alleged more detailed reports about the prison incidents were prepared for internal CCA use, and were not released to clients. CCA denied the allegations, which Time published as Puryear is being considered for a post as a federal judge. Oshiro said he is aware of those reports. "There's questions being raised right now, given what you read about nationally about the CCA organization maybe having two sets of books, and I think it causes some concerns, especially since we don't get to observe and watch or communicate with our inmates being that they are way out there in the Mainland," Oshiro said. The statement Monday from Department of Public Safety noted that the department "does not solely rely on CCA reports or internal audits. As the customer, we feel it's not only our right, but also our responsibility to Hawai'i offenders housed in CCA facilities, to send our own staff to the Arizona and Kentucky facilities."

March 31, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
State lawmakers today will consider ordering an audit of two Corrections Corporation of America facilities in the wake of national media accounts alleging that the huge private prison company misrepresented statistical data to make it appear that CCA facilities had fewer violent acts and other problems than was actually the case. Hawai'i pays CCA more than $50 million a year to house more than 2,000 men and women convicts in CCA prisons in Arizona and Kentucky. Senate Bill 2342 calls for the State Auditor to conduct performance audits of two of the three Mainland prisons that house Hawai'i inmates, including reviews of the food, medical, drug treatment, vocational and other services provided to Hawai'i inmates. The audit also would scrutinize the way the state Department of Public Safety oversees the private prisons and enforces the terms of the state's contracts with CCA. According to the bill, "there has never been an audit of the private Mainland prisons that Hawai'i has contracted with to house the state's inmates, despite the fact that deaths and serious injuries have occurred at several of the contract prisons on the Mainland." Clayton Frank, director of the state Department of Public Safety, testified against the proposed audits in Senate hearings last month, calling the audits "unnecessary and repetitive" because his department already conducts quarterly audits to make sure CCA is complying with its contracts with the state. Frank also suggested his department was being singled out, arguing that if lawmakers want performance audits to provide more accountability and transparency to the public, "then it should apply to all state contracts and not be limited to just the Department of Public Safety." Critics of the Mainland prison contracts contend the audits are needed because the private prisons are for-profit ventures designed to keep costs as low as possible. During the decade that Hawai'i has housed inmates on the Mainland, the state itself has criticized private prison operators when the companies failed to provide Hawai'i inmates with programs that were required under the contract. Now, supporters of the audit bill say an independent review is necessary to scrutinize what is one of the state's largest ongoing contracts of any kind with a private vendor. "Are we getting what we pay for? We'd like to know," testified Jeanne Y. Ohta, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai'i. The audit would cover the 1,896-bed Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., which houses only male prisoners from Hawai'i, and the 656-bed Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., which holds about 175 Hawai'i women inmates. The House Finance Committee hearing on the bill today comes in the wake of Mainland media reports citing a former CCA manager who said he was required to produce misleading reports about incidents in CCA prisons. The company operates about 65 prisons with about 75,000 inmates. Time magazine interviewed former CCA senior quality assurance manager Ronald T. Jones, who said CCA General Counsel Gus Puryear IV ordered staff to classify sometimes violent incidents such as inmate disturbances, escapes and sexual assaults as if they were less serious events to make the company performance appear to be better than it was. Jones said more detailed reports about the prison incidents were prepared for internal CCA use, and were not released to clients. CCA denied the allegations, which Time published as Puryear is being considered for a post as a federal judge. The Private Corrections Institute Inc., an organization opposed to private prisons, wrote to Hawai'i prison officials urging them to investigate CCA's reporting procedures in the wake of the Time report. Alex Friedmann, vice president of the institute, said most state monitors who are overseeing CCA prisons "largely rely on information and data provided by CCA; further, the accuracy of incident reports is entirely dependent on whether those incidents are documented by the company's employees." Hawai'i Public Safety officials did not respond to requests for comment on the allegations in the Time article.

October 17, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser
State prison officials say it's possible all of Hawai'i's women inmates on the Mainland — 175 convicts now held in a private prison in Kentucky — could be brought back and housed at the Federal Detention Center on O'ahu. Tommy Johnson, deputy director for corrections of the state Department of Public Safety, said negotiations could begin with the federal Bureau of Prisons to house the women at the federal center near the Honolulu airport, provided state lawmakers approve extra money for their care. Housing the women in Hawai'i would double the cost of holding them in Kentucky, Johnson said. There is no room at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua for the Mainland inmates, but the detention center may have room for all 175 inmates, he said. The decision to house women inmates out of state has been sharply criticized by lawmakers and prison reform advocates who say most of the women were convicted of nonviolent crimes, and some are single mothers. Some of the women convicts were the sole caregivers for their children before they were sent to prison, and lawmakers and others have questioned the impact that long separations without visits may have on the children and families back in Hawai'i. Both the House Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee and the Senate Public Safety Committee passed bills this year instructing the Department of Public Safety to draft plans to return the women inmates to Hawai'i. The bills were not approved by the full Legislature, but state lawmakers are expected to revisit the subject in the 2008 session. Senate Public Safety Committee Chairman Will Espero said he has heard the state may rent an entire floor of the Federal Detention Center to house 120 of the women now on the Mainland. "If that's the case, then great. We'll be very supportive of it, but of course we have to provide them the programming and other services that the inmates will need," Espero said. NO ROOM IN HAWAI'I Hawai'i holds a larger percentage of its prison population outside the state than any other state in the nation. As of last week the state was holding 2,027 convicted felons in private prisons operated by Corrections Corporation of America in Arizona and Kentucky, which is more than half the total state prison population. Prison officials have said they would prefer to house those inmates in Hawai'i correctional facilities, but there is no room here because Hawai'i has not built a new prison in the past 20 years. State prison officials had planned to move the women prisoners on the Mainland from the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., to the new Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., this year, but that plan has been delayed, Johnson said. Now, Hawai'i prison officials are negotiating a one-year extension of the Otter Creek contract, and are considering moving the women to the federal lockup as "one option," Johnson said. The state now pays about $54 per day per inmate to house the women at Otter Creek, and that is expected to increase to about $56 per day under the new contract being negotiated with CCA. The state pays $80.54 per inmate per day to house about 150 prisoners in rented beds at the Federal Detention Center, and Johnson said he expects the detention center would house the women for a similar rate. However, the state would also have to put up money to provide rehabilitative programming for the women that is now available at Otter Creek, such as drug treatment and parenting classes. Those programs would not be provided under a federal contract, which means the state would have to establish those services at the detention center. 'IT'S ABSURD' Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, said many of the women now in prison do not need to be held in secure settings such as Otter Creek, the Federal Detention Center or the Women's Community Correctional Center. Brady cited Department of Public Safety statistics that show 40 percent of Hawai'i's sentenced women inmates in 2006 were classified as community custody, meaning they were eligible for work furlough, extended furlough or residential transitional living centers outside of the prison system. Additionally, about 21 percent of the women inmates were classified as minimum custody inmates. According to the Department Public Safety, minimum security prisoners can be placed in less restrictive minimum security prison settings, or can be supervised in the community. "Instead of extending the contract for that coal pit, why don't they instead get more transition beds in the community, and let those women out who are community custody, who the department itself says can be in the community with no supervision?" Brady said. "It's absurd that we keep using the most expensive sanction to deal with people who are community custody. It's absurd, it's immoral, it's expensive and it doesn't help anybody."

February 10, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser
House and Senate lawmakers who say it's time to rethink the state's practice of sending Hawai'i inmates to the Mainland are advancing a bill aimed at bringing 175 Hawai'i women prison inmates back from a privately run Kentucky prison. The Senate Public Safety Committee approved a bill last week instructing state corrections officials to develop a plan for returning the inmates by July 1, 2009. The House Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee approved an identical bill late last month. The proposal rekindles a debate about how best to house Hawai'i's inmate population, with the chairs of both the Senate and House public safety committees saying the Mainland option needs reviewing. "I feel that looking at the re-entry and the reintegration of prisoners eventually into our society, we need to have them close to their families here in Hawai'i, where I think that they'd be better served," said Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Public Safety Committee. House Public Safety Chairwoman Cindy Evans said some of the women were the sole caregivers for their children before they were sent to prison, and it is important for the women to maintain their family ties. "By removing her, that removes her access to the family, and we don't think that's a good idea," Evans said. "We're also finding that most female prisoners are not the real violent ... types; they're in there maybe for drug abuse, and the types of crimes they committed were to feed their habits." "These women are going to go back into our community and go back home, and we feel it's better to have them here instead of on the Mainland," she said.

July 6, 2006 Honolulu Advertiser
The state is expected to spend more than $50 million annually to house prison inmates on the Mainland, and will have an entire Arizona prison dedicated to Hawai'i convicts under newly signed contracts with the Corrections Corp. of America. The state has been paying $40 million annually for CCA to confine about 1,900 convicts on the Mainland because there is no room for them in Hawai'i prisons. State lawmakers this year authorized corrections officials to boost that total to more than 2,500 inmates. When the additional prisoners are sent to the Mainland, Hawai'i will have more convicted felons serving their sentences on the Mainland than in prisons here. Hawai'i already holds almost half of its prison population out of state, a larger percentage than any other state. Shari Kimoto, administrator of the Mainland Branch of the state Department of Public Safety, said the 1,896-bed Saguaro Correctional Center under construction in Eloy, Ariz., will house all of the women and most of the men Hawai'i holds in other CCA prisons on the Mainland. Saguaro will be a "treatment-intensive" prison with an array of drug treatment and other rehabilitation programs that exceed anything available in Hawai'i prisons, Kimoto said. The state also plans to rent nearly 500 beds in the new Red Rock Correctional Center next to the Saguaro site. That will consolidate Hawai'i prisoners serving sentences in Arizona, Kentucky, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Kat Brady, coordinator for the Community Alliance on Prisons, said inmates have a better chance if they maintain ties with families, and those bonds suffer when convicts are thousands of miles away. "It's those kinds of connections and the connections with the community ... that's going to keep people out of prison," she said. "The more we banish people, the worse it gets."

October 13, 2005 Star Bulletin
HAWAII'S surging economy is resulting in a state budget surplus even larger than expected, setting the scene for a tug-of-war among competing interests in the next Legislature. Education and the prison system are most in need of increased funding, but the budget is large enough to accommodate significant tax relief. The state has experienced a shortage of prison space for years and now pays for incarceration of more than 2,000 inmates in private mainland prisons. Ninety percent of inmates held in those facilities go on to commit more crimes, compared with a recidivism rate of 47 percent to 57 percent for those held in island prisons. The budget surplus provides an opportunity to fight crime by building new prisons in Hawaii.

October 3, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
This tiny town has a slow feel to it. Some of that is a testament to southern graciousness, when people make time for one another. Some of it is due to a menacing apathy that festers when people are out on the street with nowhere to go. This community in the North Delta region, described in federal reports as one of the most depressed areas of the country, is where the Corrections Corp. of America built the 1,104-bed Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in 2000. The prison holds more than 850 Hawai'i inmates. The 325 jobs at the prison offer the best-paying work around, said chief of security Danny Dodd. CCA's starting pay in Tutwiler is about $8.40 an hour, considerably less than the $13.20 an hour for new corrections officers in Hawai'i, but Dodd said there is no shortage of applicants. There is significant staff turnover, which means the prison is often short-handed. Tutwiler resident Mary Meeks said her husband pulls double shifts at the prison as often as twice a week because people quit or don't show up for work. Some residents said they were led to believe the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility would hold only Mississippi lawbreakers, and were alarmed to learn the company was importing prisoners. Contract monitors last year described the Mississippi staff as young and inexperienced, and said most had never worked in a prison before. CCA requires five weeks of training, compared with eight weeks for Hawai'i corrections officers. According to monitoring reports, in the first six months after the Hawai'i inmates arrived, several employees were fired for smuggling cigarettes into the prison and having inappropriate relationships with inmates - a problem that has arisen at other Mainland prisons where Hawai'i prisoners have been held. Inmates complain about the medical and dental services at Tallahatchie, gripes that were confirmed last year when Hawai'i prison monitors warned CCA the prison was failing to meet National Commission on Correctional Health Care Standards because a doctor was there only eight hours a week to care for almost 1,000 convicts. In May, the monitors warned that dental services were insufficient because a dentist was available only eight hours a week, but the backlog of inmates waiting for dental care had been somewhat reduced when inspectors returned last month. CCA does not attempt to separate gang-affiliated prisoners, and inmates said keeping rival gang members in the same unit can be dangerous when things go wrong. There has already been one disturbance in a unit that houses gang members at Tallahatchie. On July 17, 20 cell doors in a SHIP unit popped open unexpectedly at around 2:45 a.m., freeing inmates. Ronnie J. Lonoaea, 32, of Hawai'i was severely beaten in his cell before guards released tear gas and restored order about 90 minutes later. Scott Lee of Hawai'i, who suffered a broken jaw in the incident, recalled how some prisoners in the unit frantically tried to close their jammed cell doors because they feared an attack by fellow inmates. A CCA investigation concluded the cell doors probably opened because a corrections sergeant hit the wrong control button. Komori said the sergeant and a captain who supervised the unit no longer work at the prison.

October 3, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
Monitoring reports and inmate accounts from the years Hawai'i has been sending inmates to Mainland prisons reveal a long and continuing history of riots, assaults, gang activity, drug trafficking and repeated contract violations for failing to provide adequate healthcare and rehabilitative programs. Fires and disturbances at the privately run prisons have caused substantial damage, injuries and even death. Wardens have been fired or replaced, and federal civil rights investigations launched. Inmates have been transferred from one prison to another because of poor service. Kat Brady, coordinator of the Hawai'i-based Community Alliance on Prisons, contends the state did not properly research the privately run prisons before sending inmates to the facilities and doesn't adequately monitor the operations. "I think it's outrageous, and the thing that really concerns me is the state sends our people to places where they've done no due diligence," said Brady, who is probably the most outspoken critic of the Mainland placements. "They just seem to say, 'Well, it's cheap, so let's turn our inmates over to the lowest bidder.' It seems that in Hawai'i when we send our people away, it's almost 'out of sight, out of mind.' " Nearly 1,830 Hawai'i inmates are being held in facilities run by the Corrections Corporation of America. CCA is holding approximately 1,750 men from Hawai'i in prisons in Oklahoma, Arizona and Mississippi, and about 80 Hawai'i women in a facility in Wheelwright, Ky. The company is the state's sole provider of Mainland prison beds, with contracts worth about $36 million a year. Since the first batch of 300 prisoners was shipped to two correctional centers in Texas in 1995, there have been at least 11 riots involving Hawai'i inmates at Mainland facilities. By contrast, veteran prison workers said they cannot recall a single riot at Halawa Correctional Facility, the largest state-run prison, during the past 10 years. One national study found that privately operated prisons had 49 percent more inmate-on-staff assaults and 65 percent more inmate-on-inmate assaults than government-run facilities. CCA argues on its Web site it is a "myth" that private companies experience higher rates of assaults and escapes, saying that "historical, statistical data for related incidents actually reveal that public and private sector performances are comparable." Howard Komori, supervisor of the Department of Public Safety contract monitors who oversee conditions in the private prisons, said there may have been a greater number of disturbances at the Mainland facilities because of their more relaxed "campus atmosphere," and that Mainland corrections officers often are less experienced than prison workers in Hawai'i. Former prisons chief Keith Kaneshiro believes years in Mainland prisons have instilled a dangerous gang culture in Hawai'i inmates that will present problems for corrections officials for years to come. Kaneshiro, a former Honolulu prosecutor who has no interest in coddling convicts, exported hundreds of inmates to the Mainland to relieve crowding when he was public safety director from 1996 to 1998, but he is now counted among critics of the arrangement. He said the inmates were supposed to be returned to Hawai'i as soon as a new prison opened, but a new prison was never built. When the inmates realized they would be serving long stretches out of state, they banded together to protect themselves from rival gangs from other states, he said. State reports describe activity by the Hawai'i gangs at CCA's Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, Okla., and at Florence Correctional Center in Arizona. Suspected gang members also are housed in special disciplinary units at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Miss. Department of Public Safety officials say the Mainland prison companies generally respond quickly when concerns are raised about their operations, but the state has often had to prod them to deliver on educational, job-training or drug-treatment programs that are required by contract. This has been a particular problem for women inmates. The state transferred its first group of female inmates to the Mainland in May 1997, when 64 prisoners were sent to Crystal City Correctional Center near San Antonio, operated by the Bobby Ross Group. Concerns about sanitation and the contractor's failure to deliver mental-health and other treatment programs led the state in 1998 to move the women from Texas to the Central Oklahoma Correctional Facility, operated by the Correctional Services Corp., based in Sarasota, Fla. The prison was taken over by Dominion Correctional Services and sold in 2003 to the state of Oklahoma. When the Oklahoma prison failed to provide required drug treatment and work opportunities, Hawai'i moved its women inmates in 2004 to GRW Corp.'s 250-bed facility in Brush, Colo. Then, early this year, Colorado authorities announced a criminal investigation into allegations that prison staff had sexual contact with eight inmates, including two women from Hawai'i. Two corrections officers were charged with felony sexual misconduct with inmates. The warden resigned, and was later indicted as an alleged accomplice in one of the cases. All three men are awaiting trial. When the sexual misconduct allegations surfaced in January, virtually all rehabilitative and educational programs were shut down until early June, prison officials acknowledged, violating a contract requirement that those services be provided. Gil Walker, president of GRW Corp., said the prison needed all of its resources to cope with security problems and the sexual misconduct scandal, and didn't have staff to spare for programs. The programs resumed when new staff was hired. But there were other problems with contract compliance at Brush. For a period of months, inmates taught required rehabilitation classes to other inmates. Colorado corrections officials who regulate private prison operations repeatedly complained about the practice, and Hawai'i contract monitors warned in February that it was a "serious concern." Inmates and state monitors complained repeatedly that adequate dental and medical care was lacking at Brush. GRW officials reported in May the facility was visited by a doctor only once a month, and a contract monitor's report called the staffing inadequate. Monitors warned the company in February and again in May it was obliged to provide better access to dental care. A Colorado audit released in June found the clinic at Brush was not licensed as required under Colorado law, a lapse that also violated the Hawai'i contract. Hawai'i monitors complained last year that the prison was not conducting required drug testing of inmates, and complained of the same deficiency in a May report. Colorado authorities also discovered that background checks were never completed on a number of Brush employees, including five convicted felons who worked there and two others who had arrest records. Failure to complete background checks was a breach of the Hawai'i contract. Last week, the women inmates were moved from Brush to the 656-bed Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky. Hawai'i monitors also have noted problems with delivery of required programs to male inmates. Their reports show that a year after the first Hawai'i inmates were placed at the CCA's Florence prison in Arizona, the facility still was not offering educational and rehabilitation programs required by its contract. An October 2004 audit of the Lifeline substance-abuse treatment program at Diamondback Correctional Facility in Oklahoma rated it as "unsatisfactory," in part because there was no program director, and counselor caseloads were triple the recommended levels. At the company's Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility, monitors concluded in May that dental services for the inmates were insufficient, with a dentist or dental assistant on site for only eight hours a week to serve the 700-plus Hawai'i inmates who were there at the time. Tallahatchie also was not providing a cognitive skills rehabilitation program required by the Hawai'i contract.

October 3, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
Starting pay for a corrections officer at CCA's Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippi is about $8.40 an hour, compared with $13.20 in Hawai'i. The company operates prisons in high- unemployment areas that need jobs, which helps reduce labor costs. Corrections Corp. of America, a pioneer in the private prison industry, has control over nearly half of Hawai'i's prison population in what may be the state's biggest venture into privatization. The company is expected to collect $36 million from Island taxpayers in mostly nonbid contracts this year. All but one of the prison contracts were awarded without formal competitive bidding because, technically, they are government-to-government agreements, which are exempt from state procurement rules. The contracts are with governmental entities such as Pinal County in Arizona, the Watonga Economic Development Authority in Oklahoma and the Tallahatchie County Correctional Authority in Mississippi, which subcontract the work to CCA. The company has been dogged by controversy over its financial stability and management, labor practices, and safety problems that led to escapes and deadly violence. Some critics argue it is wrong for a business to profit from the imprisonment of human beings. The company's most notorious incidents occurred at Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown, which opened in 1997. During the first year of operation, when the prison held 1,500 inmates from the District of Columbia, there were 13 stabbings, including two fatalities. The prison was supposed to hold only medium-security inmates, but more than 100 had to be moved after it was discovered they actually had higher security classifications. The deaths of several inmates while under prison medical care brought additional scrutiny, and when a group of five murderers and another inmate escaped, Ohio Gov. George Voinovich wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno in July 1998 saying he wanted the prison closed. A lawsuit filed by inmates alleging unsafe conditions at the Ohio prison resulted in a $1.65 million settlement with CCA. The prison closed in 2001 when the District of Columbia withdrew its inmates, but CCA reopened the facility last year to accommodate federal detainees. More recent CCA troubles include a five-hour riot involving inmates from Washington, Colorado and Wyoming at Crowley County Correctional Facility in Colorado in July 2004. Nineteen inmates were injured in that melee. A Colorado Department of Corrections report found prison staff were inexperienced, undertrained and spread too thin to control the inmates. The night of the riot, fewer than 35 corrections officers were on duty for more than 1,100 prisoners. There also have been problems at CCA prisons holding Hawai'i inmates, including violence, drug smuggling and contract violations. Still, state prison officials say CCA has generally done a good job and has been quick to make changes when deficiencies are pointed out. CCA's formula for success includes buying or building prisons in rural or depressed communities such as Tutwiler, Miss., and Wheelwright, Ky., providing needed jobs in areas with high unemployment. That strategy helps CCA keep its wages relatively low, which is critical because labor is the primary cost in operating a prison. The starting pay for a CCA corrections officer at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler is about $8.40 an hour, compared with $13.20 for a new guard in Hawai'i. Since CCA relies on government contracts, it has not shied away from playing politics. The company last year contributed $100,000 to the DeLay Foundation for Kids, a charity established by U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay. DeLay resigned as Republican majority leader last week after he was indicted in connection with a Texas political fundraising scandal. In Montana, which is a CCA client, the company donated $10,000 to help finance an inauguration ball for Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer. In the state of Washington, another client, CCA has made political contributions to Republican and Democratic organizations and candidates. Hawai'i Gov. Linda Lingle accepted a $6,000 corporate contribution from CCA in 2002, the maximum allowed in a four-year campaign cycle, and an identical sum in February of this year for her 2006 re-election race.

October 2, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
A decade ago, Hawai'i began exporting inmates to Mainland prisons in what was supposed to be a temporary measure to save money and relieve overcrowding in state prisons. Now, the state doesn't seem to be able to stop. With little public debate or study, the practice of sending prisoners away has become a predominant feature of Hawai'i's corrections policy, with nearly half of the state's prison population - 1,828 inmates - held in privately operated facilities in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arizona and Kentucky at a cost of $36 million this year. Hawai'i already leads all other states in holding the highest percentage of its prison population in out-of-state correctional centers, and if Hawai'i policymakers continue on their present course, by the end of 2006 there likely will be more inmates housed in Mainland prisons than at home. Although public safety officials say the private companies that house Hawai'i inmates have generally done a good job, the history of Mainland prison placements is pockmarked with reports of contract violations, riots, drug smuggling, and allegations of sexual assaults of women inmates. Former prisons chief Keith Kaneshiro says years in Mainland prisons have instilled a dangerous gang culture in Hawai'i inmates that has spread back to the Islands and will present problems for local corrections officials for years to come. There is also concern that inmates who are incarcerated on the Mainland lose touch with their families, increasing the likelihood they will return to crime once they are released. Robert Perkinson, a University of Hawai'i assistant professor of American studies, called the state's prison policy "completely backward." "None of this makes sense if your goal is to make the citizens of Hawai'i safer and use your tax dollars as effectively as you can to make the streets safer, based on the best available research that we have," said Perkinson, who is writing a book on the Texas prison system. Marilyn Brown, assistant professor of sociology at UH-Hilo, said Hawai'i's out-of-state inmate transfers are a strange throwback to corrections policies of two or three centuries ago, when felons were banished to penal colonies in Australia or the New World. Most of the $36 million being spent this year on out-of-state prison accommodations will go to Corrections Corp. of America, a pioneer in the private corrections industry. The company holds about 62,000 inmates nationwide, including about 1,750 men from Hawai'i in prisons in Oklahoma, Arizona and Mississippi. Last week the state transferred 80 Hawai'i women inmates from a prison in Brush, Colo., owned by GRW Corp. to Otter Creek Correctional Center, a CCA prison in Wheelwright, Ky. Those selected for Mainland transfers generally are felons with at least several years left on their sentences who have no major health problems or pending court cases that would require their presence in Hawai'i. Private prison contractors have the final say, and can reject troublesome inmates with a history of misconduct. Ted Sakai, who ran the state prison system from 1998 to 2002, said it will always be cheaper to house inmates on the Mainland because of labor costs, which are considerably lower in the rural communities where many prisons are. But there are benefits to keeping prison jobs here, he said. In 2000, state House Republican leaders scolded then-Gov. Ben Cayetano for proposing to lease more prison beds on the Mainland. House Minority Leader Galen Fox said doing so would be bad for the state's economy and the inmates' families. An Advertiser poll of Democrats and Republicans before the start of the Legislature's 2003 session found a majority of state lawmakers opposed the practice. Republican Gov. Linda Lingle also has said she is opposed to sending more prisoners away. Yet spending on Mainland prisons has steadily increased over the past 10 years, and politicians have failed to take action on alternatives. The Cayetano administration explored several options for privately built or privately operated facilities on the Big Island and O'ahu, but each proposal was thwarted by political resistance or opposition from communities near suggested prison sites. Lingle campaigned in 2002 on a promise to build two 500-bed secure "treatment facilities," but three years later, no specifics have been provided on when or where the projects might be built. As Hawai'i's policy of out-of-state incarceration becomes more entrenched, other states are moving in the opposite direction. Connecticut and Wisconsin both recently brought home almost all of their inmates who had been housed elsewhere, and Indiana returned 600 convicts from out-of-state prisons. Alabama, meanwhile, doubled the number of convicts on parole to allow inmates to return from a Corrections Corp. of America-run prison in Tutwiler, Miss., last year. The vacancies at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility were filled by more than 700 Hawai'i inmates. Wyoming plans to open a new prison in 2007 that would allow the state to bring back 550 inmates now held out of state, and lawmakers in Alaska last year authorized planning for a new prison of their own.

June 25, 2003
Legislators passed bills this session directing Gov. Linda Lingle to begin talks for a new correctional facility at Halawa and study the possibility of a fixed-rail transit system on O'ahu.  But Lingle doesn't want lawmakers tying her hands on either of the issues, vetoing both bills.  House Bill 298 would have directed the administration to develop a replacement facility for O'ahu Community Correctional Center on a vacant portion of Halawa Correctional Facility.  "This bill is objectionable because it prevents the consideration of alternative, possibly more appropriate sites and because it requires expensive soil testing and a feasibility and planning study without appropriating funds to do so," Lingle wrote in her veto message last week.  If the Halawa site is later determined to be the best site for an OCCC replacement, Lingle said, "existing laws already allow the administration to take steps necessary to pursue that option."  Former Gov. Ben Cayetano had begun negotiations with an unnamed contractor for an OCCC replacement at Halawa, but, after failing to complete a deal before Lingle took office in December, left it up to his successor to deal with the issue.  The administration has said it is looking at various options for correctional facilities, including a treatment center on the Big Island.  (Honolulu Advertiser.com)

May 28, 2003
Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle wants to build three new correctional facilities in an effort to kill a plan for a new private prison in Hawaii, which she opposed during her recent campaign.  Interim Public Safety Director James Propotnick said the administration plans to build a secured treatment facility, a detention center to replace Oahu Community Correctional Center, and a transition center for inmates leaving the prison system.  He urged legislators to stall action on a bill that requires the administration to negotiate a privately-built prison in Halawa.  The outgoing governor had tried to secure the private project before leaving office.  (Corrections Professional)

May 20, 2003
The cost of running the state's correctional system and sending inmates to Mainland prisons is steadily rising as officials work on long-range plans that will likely involve building new facilities.  In the meantime, a nascent policy shift to emphasize drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs is slowly building momentum, despite limited financial support.  There are more than 5,000 inmates in Hawai'i's correctional system, including about 1,350 in private Mainland prisons. All the state's jails and prisons are at or over capacity.  The state has been spending more than $25 million per year on the Mainland prisoners alone, including transportation and medical expenses.  And those costs will almost certainly rise this year because state contracts with the Corrections Corporation of America will soon expire. The department's budget for the coming year includes $28.3 million for Mainland prisoner transfers.  Former Gov. Ben Cayetano had considered a plan to replace OCCC by leasing space in a new jail that private developers would build beside the Halawa prison.  But the plan stalled after the proposal exceeded the state's $130 million estimate. Gov. Linda Lingle also asked that the plan be shelved so her administration could weigh more comprehensive and long-term plans for the entire correctional system.  (Honolulu Advertiser)

February 2, 2003
Plans for three separate new prisons are under way at the state Department of Public Safety, but it is too early to say when, where or how these facilities will be built.  Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona is spearheading a public-private prison deal to help Hawaii inmates on the mainland who need substance-abuse treatment rather than incarceration.  But that is just one of the three new facilities envisioned by state Public Safety Director James Propotnick: a new secure drug treatment facility, a transition center for inmates nearing scheduled release and a prison to replace the Oahu Community Correctional Center .
  Lawmakers also questioned Propotnick about the 90 percent recidivism rate of Hawaii parolees who served their time in mainland prisons. He said most of those parolees returned to jail for technical violations, such as testing positive on drug tests that are part of their probation. He believes these inmates would have a better chance if there were treatment facilities locally to help them with their substance abuse problems.  (Star Bulletin)  

January 22, 2003
Most of the Hawaii inmates serving time at mainland prisons have violated parole and are now back in custody, says interim state Public Safety Director James Propotnick.  As a result, there is a 90 percent recidivism rate for Hawaii parolees from mainland prisons, compared with a rate of between 47 percent and 57 percent for Hawaii parolees incarcerated locally.  (Star Bulletin)

January 13, 2003
A majority of legislators oppose sending more Hawai'i inmates to Mainland prison facilities, and favor instead building a prison here and expanding community-based drug treatment programs to help reduce prison crowding.  But it remains to be seen whether hurdles that continue to block movement on the prison issue — such as cost and location — can be overcome in this year's Legislature, which opens on Wednesday.  The issue of what to do about Hawai'i's crowded prisons has been hotly debated since the state began paying to board inmates in Mainland facilities in 1995. The Legislature authorized the governor several years ago to negotiate with developers directly for a new correctional facility, but former Gov. Ben Cayetano abandoned negotiations on a jail days before his term ended in December.  Gov. Linda Lingle, who opposes sending inmates to the Mainland, promised voters during the campaign that she would build two privately financed, 500-bed drug treatment correctional facilities in Hawai'i.  Many lawmakers — most of them Democrats — declined to indicate whether they supported such a proposal.  (The Honolulu Advertiser.com)

November 26, 2002
Gov. Ben Cayetano's efforts to cut a deal for construction of a new 1,100-bed jail in Halawa before he leaves office next week are going down the drain-literally.  An unexpected $7 million to $8 million added cost to upgrade the sewage system at the proposed Halawa prison complex has hindered closing the deal with the unidentified developer, Cayetano told reported Monday.  "I told Governor (Linda) Lingle I'm handing it off to her," Cayetano said after meeting with the governor-elect Monday evening.  "I gave her our perspective and I think that in the end it'll be up to the new administration as to what is to be done.  Two weeks ago, Lingle said a proposed private prison on Hawaiian Homes land on the Big Island prompted her to ask Cayetano to discontinue negotiations for the Halawa facility.  (AP)

November 25, 2002
Politics, little money and a "not in my backyard" attitude stopped efforts to build a new correctional facility in Hawai'i despite years of debate and an inmate population that nearly doubled in the past eight years.  Gov. Ben Cayetano said the argument is over cost, location and what type of facility have managed to kill proposals during his tenure.  "Nobody wanted it in their backyard.  And we had a tough time with the unions because they oppose privatization."  Gov.-elect Linda Lingle has asked Cayetano to drop negotiations and wants to explore options.  Until a new facility is built, Cayetano said he believes the only solution is to continue shipping inmates to Mainland prisons, a situation which Lingle said she is opposed to.  The state began dealing with prison crowding in 1995 by paying to board inmates in Mainland prisons.  There are 1,294 Hawai'i inmates in three correctional facilities in Oklahoma and Arizona.  (The Honolulu Advertiser.com)

November 13, 2002
A proposal for a new private prison on Hawaiian Home Lands prompted Gov.-elect Linda Lingle to ask the Cayetano administration to halt prison facilities on other islands also should be considered, she said.   continue negotiations with a private vendor despite her objections.   Earlier this week, Lingle and Lt. Gov.-elect James Aiona publicly asked Cayetano and Attorney General Earl Anzai to refrain from committing the state to a multimillion dollar prison construction contract before he leaves office.   Lingle said she wants her administration to be able to consider other options. Both she and Aiona support rehabilitation programs for offenders.   Lingle said she supports the idea of a privately operated prison, but said any new facility should work in conjunction with the planned University of Hawaii medical school to rehabilitate offenders and provide drug and alcohol treatment where needed.  (AP)

November 13, 2002
Governor-elect Linda Lingle is asking Gov. Ben Cayetano not to sign a multimillion-dollar contract to build a new prison before he leaves office.   "If the contract you are considering is a good one, it will also be a good one three weeks from now when our administration will have an opportunity to review it," Lingle said in a letter faxed yesterday to Cayetano and state Attorney General Earl Anzai.   Cayetano has been negotiating with a private developer over a $100 million contract to build a 1,100-bed prison in Halawa Valley.   The governor said he will not issue a formal response to Lingle's letter until he sees it, said spokesman Cedric Yamanaka.   "He also says we've come a long way up to this point and will continue to negotiate," Yamanaka said.   Lingle also questioned why there was only one bid for the project and after the initial bid was rejected, why the project was not put out to bid again. "No information has been released about whether the Office of the Governor is negotiating with only one entity or more than one, what the financing arrangement is or whether the new prison includes substance abuse treatment," Lingle wrote.   "We want the opportunity to make the final decision in light of what   envision for the corrections system," said lieutenant governor-elect James Aiona, who said he has been asked to oversee prisons, the state's drug problem and other crime-related issues in the Lingle administration.   At a news conference yesterday, Aiona said it would be a tragedy to build another prison without providing facilities for substance abuse treatment.   "We have real people with real problems who need real solutions," he said.   Aiona is a former Family Court and Circuit Court judge who set up the state's Drug Court program.   Aiona and Lingle learned of the governor's plans for the new prison from the media. "We haven't had direct contact from him," Aiona said.   He also said he wants to split up the law enforcement and the corrections functions of the Public Safety Department.   The corrections department deals more directly with inmates and rehabilitation, and the sheriffs are more concerned with law enforcement, such as issuing bench warrants and protecting judges, according to Aiona.   "The head of public safety has to wear two hats and has conflicting interests," he said.  (Star-bulletin)

September 3, 2002
Police have arrested one of 10 girls who escaped on Saturday from the Hawaii youth Correctional Facility in Kailua.  Meanwhile, the search continues for the other nine girls who escaped overpowering two workers at the Hoopipa Makai cottage.  Private and state employees plan to meet this week to "find out what needs to be done to avoid this from happening again," said Bert Matsuoka, executive director of the state Office of Youth Services.  "Obviously, there are some glitches.  There are some bumps that need to be worked out," Matsuoka said.  According to Sgt. Wong, one of the girls notified a female residential specialist that another girl was feeling ill and needed medication.  The residential specialist and a man, who was on his first day of training as a staff member, were overpowered by the girls who escaped from the cottage.  (Star Bulletin)

September 2, 2002
One of the ten teenage girls who escaped from the Hawai'i Youth Correctional Facility in Kailua Saturday was apprehended yesterday, police said.  The other nine remained at large last night.  Officials said the girl escaped at 12:33 p.m. Saturday after overpowering two guards and stealing an unmarked white 1998 Ford Windstar van with license number GXT 744.  (The Honolulu Advertiser)

August 19, 2002
State public safety director Ted Sakai said he has strong reservations about allowing a private company to operate a new jail planned for Halawa Valley, but that the facility is sorely needed to replace the O'ahu Community Correctional Center in Kalihi.  Many mainland prisons are privately operated, but few jails are because the inmate population is very different and requires different skills to manage, he said.  The new jail would be designed more securely, be several stories tall, and less expensive to operate because fewer guards would be needed, Sakia said.  But the project's cost remains a sticking point.  The state on Monday rejected a proposal from a development group led by Durrant-Media Five because the price was significantly more than the $130 million officials had estimated.  Some GOP legislators yesterday said they are concerned that only one group bid on the project, and they questioned that state's plan to finance the jail with certificates of participation rather than lest costly bonds.  The method would increase the cost of bank rolling the project by $1.6 million for every $100 million that's needed, and the cost would be spread over 30 years, he said.  But Tax Foundation of Hawai'i president Lowell Kalapa said the estimate appears low and that the actual cost would depend interest rates and the health of the economy.  (The Honolulu Advertiser)

August 14, 2002
The Cayetano administration should known within a month whether it can reach agreement with a contractor over a new state prison to replace the overcrowded Oahu Community Correctional Center.  House republicans, however, want more information about it before the deal is done.  Gov. Ben Cayetano said yesterday he hopes a deal will be struck with Durrant-Media Five within the four months he has left as governor.  Durrant is a design firm with Hawaii offices and the only bidder on the project.  The contract, Cayetano said, would be to build and possibly operate a new 1,100-bed prison in Halawa Valley.  He said the state is negotiating the cost per inmate, the kind of programs the facility would offer and other details.  In January, Durrant had proposed building a $116 million, 10-story, 1,1000-bed replacement for OCCC in return for $4.8 million in annual lease payments from the state, with an option to buy after 30 years.  And the fact that there was only one bidder does not trouble him, considering there are few companies nationwide that do this kind of specialized work, he said.  "Every time we try to find a prison and put it someplace, there's nothing but opposition," Cayetano said.  "And this is an opportunity for us to do something.  That's why we're looking at it seriously.  It's not a done deal yet because the terms are subject to negotiation."  House Republicans said they have questions about the Durrant plan, in part because there has not been a lot of public information about it.  House Minority Leader Galen Fox (R, Waikiki) said yesterday Halawa is as good a place as any to built a much-needed new prison.  But he said others have concerns because the negotiations over the contract are being done outside the public arena.  And there are concerns because only one company submitted bids for it, he said.  Charles Djou (R,Kaneohe), House minority floor leader, said he is concerned about how the state will finance the plan.  According to Djou, the state proposal calls for Durrant to build the prison and the state to pay a set fee for 20 years.  If at any time the state government fails to make a payment, the prison ownership would divert to Durrant, he said.  Theoretically, if that happens, Djou said the company would be able to import prisoners to Hawaii from other states.  (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

August 10, 2003
The state is moving rapidly to relieve crowded jails by building a new facility, but the project is expensive and relies on a financing method that is more costly than conventional schemes.  The interest rate for such borrowing is higher than that of general obligation bonds, which are more commonly used to raise cash for government projects, so it will cost tax payers more to pay off the debt.  The financing plan would create a trust entity to own the facility, sell the certificates of participation to investors and pay off the debt with state lease payments over 30 years.  With annual lease payments of $8.4 million for 30 years, the total cost would be $252 million, according to an outline of the plan.  The group is headed by the Hawai'i branch of Durrant, an architectural and construction management firm with offices in 10 states.  The company has worked on jail and prison projects in Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.  Alvin Bronstein, director emeritus of the ACLU's National Prison Project, said building a new jail would waste money and fail to alleviate capacity problems.  "No state and no country have ever built their way out of an overcrowding problem," he said.  "Courts, prosecutors and police don't look for less costly alternatives when they've got prison beds.  This new building will be a Bain-Aid that will be overcrowded the moment it opens."  A better approach would be to invest in serious drug abuse treatment programs, an expanded probation system and community half-way houses and job-training programs, he said.  Lowell Kalapa, head of the independent Hawai'i Tax Foundation, questioned why officials had not sought bond financing from lawmakers this year if the project was so vital.  "Is this in the best interest financially for the taxpayer, or are they trying to skirt legislative debate?" he said.  "I don't think this is accountable, because the people have not voted on it through their representatives in the Legislature."  Miyahira said that although the project itself would not require legislative approval, the lease payments to retire the debt would be part of future operating budgets that go before lawmakers.  Gov. Ben Cayetano felt certificates of deposit would be a good way to finance the jail because the Legislature has been reluctant to approve bonds for other projects, including schools, his press secretary said.  Certificates of deposit have become a popular vehicle to pay for government projects in jurisdictions where the debt capacity is limited by law or voter approval is needed for bonds, financial experts say.  And the approach is especially popular for prison construction.  Cayetano would prefer that a private company run the new facility instead of the state, but that issue has yet to be decided.  (The Advertiser) 

Halawa Correctional Center
Durrant-Media Five, Municipal Capital Markets Group Inc., Foresite Capital Facilities Corp. and Group M, LLC. 
April 2, 2002
Fearing continued prison overcrowding, state officials are exploring building a new 1,100-bed prison in Halawa Valley next to the existing 1,200-bed correctional institution.   The move comes after a private group pitched a plan in January to build a prison without cost to the state and lease it to the state.   Yesterday, the state called for proposals to design and build a prison at Halawa.  "What we are doing is asking for developers to front the money with the state coming in later to pay it off," Sakai said.  (Honolulu Star-Bulletin)

January 17, 2002
The state is reviewing "promising" proposals from private companies wanting to build and run prisons on Oahu and the Big Island, Gov. Ben Cayetano said Thursday.   "They don't require any money up front," he said. "They require perhaps (state) land, and it's possible we may be able to do in two years if there's an agreement struck."   A development and investment team headed by Honolulu architectural firm Durrant-Media Five has proposed building a $116 million 10-story, 1,100-bed prison adjacent to the Halawa Correctional Center to replace the Oahu Community Correctional Center in Kalihi, according to an outline given state lawmakers.   (AP)

Hilo Rehabilitation Facility
Maranatha Corrections
January 17, 2002
A privately run Hilo rehabilitation facility for up to 1,000 inmates is one of a handful of prison proposals the state is considering, Public Safety Director Ted Sakai said.  Gov. Ben Cayetano has stopped pushing a traditional prison and now favors a rehabilitation center in the hope of reducing the number of repeat offenders, Sakai said.
  "If we build anything, we want it to be treatment - oriented," he said.   Sakai noted a Big Island site is attractive due to the availability of land and because it would allow local offenders to stay here.   Maranatha Corrections of Bakersfield, Calif., wants to build a 250,000 - square - foot facility on about 30 acres of Hawaiian home lands near Hilo International Airport.  In its proposed contract, Maranatha states it could use force against inmates, provided the level does not exceed federal and state laws, under a policy requiring state approval.  (Hawaii Tribune Herald)

Kahului Airport
Maui, Hawai'i
Wackenhut (Group 4)

June 17, 2008 Maui News
A federal grand jury in Honolulu has indicted Robert “Butchie” Tam Ho, a former Wackenhut supervisor, for tampering with a witness to an arrest and alleged assault by Tam Ho at Kahului Airport in 2005. Tam Ho has pleaded not guilty to the two felony counts, which carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison. He could not be reached for comment. The former assistant police chief already was being sued in a civil action in 2nd Circuit Court over the same events. Phil Lo-wenthal — the Maui lawyer who, with his lawyer son, Ben, is representing the plaintiffs — said Monday, “We didn’t even know about the tampering” until the indictment was handed up earlier this month. However, he said, the grand jury account tracked closely with the narrative given by his clients: Greg Kahlstorf, president of Pacific Wings; Kahlstorf’s business partner, Frank Ford; William Goshorn, then a pilot for the airline; and Kahealani Reinhardt, then also an airline employee. The name of the witness is given in the indictment as “J.W.,” a Wackenhut employee. On Oct. 20, 2005, Kahlstorf had demanded a meeting with Airports Division and Wackenhut managers after one of his pilots was cited and detained by Wackenhut for being in a restricted operating area — an offense Kahlstorf denied. The airline and the guard company had had uneasy relations since at least February 2004, when Wackenhut guards apparently pressured Pacific Wings to board a passenger who had been turned back by airline security because she did not have acceptable identification. The grand jury reported that Tam Ho left the meeting after a shouting exchange with Kahlstorf. When he returned with two other Wackenhut employees, they made a “citizen’s arrest” and tried to handcuff Kahlstorf for harassment. Kahlstorf did not cooperate, and he and the two other guards fell to the floor. Tam Ho ordered the other Pacific Wings employees out. They left, but one, identified as W.G. (Goshorn, who related his story to reporters in 2005), came back to witness what was happening to his boss. Tam Ho “adopted an aggressive fighting stance and struck W.G. about the head and shoulders several times with his fists,” according to the grand jury report. Goshorn did not fight back, and others (not identified) pulled Tam Ho off Goshorn. Maui police arrived, and Tam Ho, a former assistant police chief, demanded that they arrest Goshorn. After an investigation that included an interview with J.W., they did. Meanwhile, the private guards moved Kahlstorf and Goshorn to the Wackenhut offices, which provides the basis for the civil suit’s allegations of kidnapping. According to the grand jury, J.W. also went to the offices, where Tam Ho told her “she should simply say she was heading home for the day . . . and that she didn’t see what happened.” Although that was not so, that is what J.W. told police. The second count refers to the following day, when, the grand jury said, Tam Ho dictated a written statement to J.W., who entered it into a Wackenhut computer. The jurors said Tam Ho falsely had her write that Goshorn had stopped the door and did not comply with Tam Ho’s request; and that J.W. could not see what was happening but had “observed Tam Ho and him in a scuffle.” The Airports Division investigated the incident and concluded that there was “no evidence that the actions taken by its airport security contractor . . . were inappropriate.” Tam Ho tried to get county prosecutors to charge Kahlstorf and Goshorn with resisting arrest or assault, but the prosecutors declined. They also dropped the initial complaint against the pilot for entering a restricted area. The next month, a Wackenhut guard confronted a Pacific Wings pilot about a parking spot and in a lengthy, videotaped incident spat on and threatened the pilot. That guard was barred from state facilities, and Wackenhut was ordered to train its employees about conduct. The feud did not end there. In another confrontation, Pacific Wings called Maui police, who declined to intervene in what they determined was a civil matter. “This is what the feds are supposed to do” when local police and prosecutors are involved so closely in a dispute, Lowenthal said of the tampering indictment. The civil suit alleges that Tam Ho and other Wackenhut employees “assaulted, battered, kidnapped, unlawfully restrained and intentionally inflicted emotional distress” on the four Pacific Wings people. In April, Tam Ho and Wackenhut separately denied those claims and asserted that the airline group contributed to the incident themselves. Wackenhut could not be reached for comment, but the company has demanded a jury trial. Lowenthal later also asked for a jury trial, but he said Monday his suit will have to hold until the criminal trial is settled, because of the Fifth Amendment implications if Tam Ho were to be deposed for his clients. Tam Ho is free on $10,000 unsecured bail.

June 13, 2008 KITV
The former head of security for Wackenhut at Kahului Airport pleaded not guilty to federal charges on Friday. Authorities charged Robert Tam Ho with two counts of witness tampering. Tam Ho told a subordinate to lie and file a false report about an altercation between Tam Ho and an executive of Pacific Wings, prosecutors said. Tam Ho joined Wackenhut after leaving the Maui Police Department, where he was assistant chief. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.

June 8, 2008 Star Bulletin
A former Wackenhut of Hawaii security officer is facing federal charges in connection with an altercation between Wackenhut employees and Pacific Wings airline employees at Kahului Airport in 2005. A federal grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging Robert Tam Ho with two counts of witness tampering. Tam Ho instructed a subordinate Wackenhut employee to tell Maui police that she did not see Tam Ho assault Pacific Wings security coordinator William Goshorn in an airport conference room on Oct. 20, 2005, when in fact she did, according to the indictment. Tam Ho also directed the worker to write a false statement about the assault, the indictment says. Maui police arrested Goshorn on third-degree assault charges and Pacific Wings President James Greg Kahlstorf for alleged harassment and resisting arrest based on statements from Tam Ho and other Wackenhut employees. Less than a month later, Maui police arrested Wackenhut security officer Eric Brown for allegedly threatening another Pacific Wings employee at Kahului Airport. Wackenhut suspended Brown, and the state Department of Transportation banned him from working on any state property or facility.

November 24, 2005 The Maui News
The Maui County prosecutors office is continuing an investigation into allegations of assault, harassment and violations of airport security rules by personnel with Pacific Wings, a county official said Wednesday. Prosecutors have not "dropped" the case, which involves conflicting claims by the Pacific Wings staff and airport security guards with Wackenhut Corp. "On the contrary, the prosecutor is still in the process of gathering all the reports," the county statement said. "The prosecutor intends to fully investigate both sides of the controversy, to talk to various state personnel who may have knowledge of the case or some particulars thereof."

November 15, 2005 KGMB 9
A Wackenhut security guard was arrested Sunday after threatening to kill a pilot at the Kahului Airport. Pacific Wings pilot Gabriel Kimbrell caught the incident on videotape. "Don't take picture of me!", yelled guard Eric Brown as he lunged toward Kimbrell, and then spit at the camera. "I'm going to kill this (expletive). I don't care," said Brown. "Give me your (expletive) gun. I'm going to shoot this (expletive) in the head." Maui police arrested Brown for second degree terroristic threatening. "The only thing I could think of was to keep filming," said Kimbrell. "I was pretty traumatized." Because of an ongoing beef with the guards, Kimbrell had been ordered by his company's lawyer to videotape any encounters. Sunday's incident stemmed from a parking ticket Kimbrell got when he left his silver truck in this loading-zone at the Kahului airport. KGMB called Wackenhut officials five times today. They did not return our calls. But the Department of Transportation says Kimbrell had been ticketed in that same spot last month. And this time, according to the DOT, as the guard was about to write the ticket, Kimbrell could have just moved his truck but he went to get his video camera instead. "We believe that at this point Wackenhutt has followed proper security procedures and we think they've done the job in checking on any security violations," said Scott Ishikawa, spokesperson for the DOT. While the state's Airports Division investigates the case, the Maui Police Department has about 45-minutes of this tape. The Pacific Wings airline only gave the media less than three minutes worth. The airline's president says the rest of it shows a pattern of harassment. The airline's president refers specifically to a meeting last month in which he says security guards attacked him and handcuffed him. In the end, the airline's president was charged with harassment and resisting arrest. Complaints were filed, investigations launched, and there's still no sign of a resolution.

Otter Creek Correctional Center
Wheelwright, Kentucky
CCA

April 15, 2010 AP
Gov. Steve Beshear signed legislation Thursday allowing prison guards to be charged with felony rape for having sex with inmates The action came four months after Beshear ordered 400 women removed from the privately run Otter Creek Correctional Complex in Floyd County, where allegations of sexual misconduct were widespread. “The inherent power disparity between correctional officers and inmates precludes there from ever being a consensual sexual relationship between the two,” Beshear said in signing Senate Bill 17. “This legislation offers greater protection for inmates in our custody, and helps eliminate circumstances that can create security risks in our prisons.”

March 21, 2010 AP
Prison guards could face charges of felony rape for having consensual sex with inmates under legislation that received final approval Monday, some three months after Kentucky ordered 400 women removed from a lockup where allegations of sexual misconduct had become widespread. Gov. Steve Beshear said he intends to quickly sign the measure into law. "This legislation offers greater protections for inmates in our custody, and helps eliminate activities that can create security risks in our prisons," Beshear said. "Additionally, this measure, which has been a priority for my administration since I took office, further bolsters our commitment to ensure the safety of female inmates." Earlier this year, Beshear ordered all the female inmates removed from the corporate-run Otter Creek Correctional Complex in eastern Kentucky after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against the predominantly male corps of corrections officers. State Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, said the Kentucky Department of Corrections sought unsuccessfully to get the legislation passed last year. With the Otter Creek controversy fresh on lawmakers' minds, the measure passed both the Senate and House unanimously. Denton said Otter Creek "underscored the problem and showed that we really do need some additional weapons in the arsenal to deter this." When the law takes effect later this year, prison guards, jailers and other staffers who oversee inmates could be charged with felony rape and sodomy for having consensual sex with prisoners. Under current law, corrections officers face only misdemeanor charges for consensual sex with inmates. Beshear ordered the women moved from Otter Creek, which is operated by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, to the state-run Western Kentucky Correctional Complex. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin said the inmate transfer is expected to be complete by September. The transfer came four months after the Department of Corrections called for security improvements at Otter Creek in a report that detailed 18 alleged cases of sexual misconduct by prison guards there. The report called for Corrections Corporation of America to take action to protect women inmates at Otter Creek by making basic changes, like assigning female guards to supervise sleeping quarters, hiring a female security chief, and shuffling staffing so that at least 40 percent of the work force is female. Beshear said finding enough women willing to work as corrections officers at Otter Creek had been difficult. Perched on a mountainside above Wheelwright, the Otter Creek prison came under public scrutiny when female inmates from Hawaii complained that they had been subjected to sexual assaults by their male guards. Corrections officials in Hawaii removed 165 inmates from Otter Creek last year, citing safety concerns. Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen previously said that his company had taken steps to prevent sexual assaults in the prison. Those steps, he said, included installing video cameras to deter sexual misconduct and to help investigators determine the validity of future allegations. Owen had said "the rogue actions of a few bad apples" led to an unfair characterizations of Otter Creek prison guards.

October 18, 2009 Honolulu Advertiser
A female inmate who was housed at the Otter Creek Women's Prison in Kentucky has filed a lawsuit against the state of Hawaii and the company that operates the prison, alleging she was sexually assaulted by a guard while incarcerated. Pania Kalama, 35, alleges in her Circuit Court lawsuit that the state and Corrections Corporation of America knew about improper behavior by corrections staff at Otter Creek, but took no actions to ensure the safety of inmates. Kalama said she was sexually assaulted on June 13 by corrections officer Charlie Prater, according to the lawsuit. Last month, Prater, 54, was indicted in Kentucky on a charge of first-degree rape. Hawaii corrections officials sent 165 women inmates to Otter Creek, a private prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America. State officials removed the inmates from the facility following allegations of sexual assaults of inmates by staff. The lawsuit, which was filed by attorney Myles Breiner, seeks an undetermined amount in damages.

October 13, 2009 KGMB 9
All of the Hawaii inmates in a troubled Kentucky women's prison have been brought home, except for one. That prisoner, Totie Tauala, happens to be a whistleblower who helped expose sex assaults by the guards. Her family wonders if she is being punished for speaking out, but a state official said she was left behind for misbehaving in prison. "I don't know what's going on. She's far away. If she was here in Hawaii at least I could comfort her," said Tauala's mother, Regina Dias Tauala. Tauala was convicted of manslaughter for killing Hayward Julio in 2002. She is serving a 20-year sentence. While at the Otter Creek Women's Correctional Facility in Kentucky in 2007, Tauala was sexually assaulted by a guard who was later convicted of the crime. After investigating similar complaints from other inmates, state officials decided to bring the women home. Out of 168 inmates, Tauala was the only one who didn't return last month. She was moved to Colorado. "It had nothing to do with her being a whistleblower or anything that she did regarding the incidents that took place. It had to do with her classification," said Clayton Frank, director of the Department of Public Safety. Frank said Tauala was the only one classified as maximum custody because of her misconduct while in prison in Hawaii and Kentucky. "You may have individuals that may have committed the same crime as Ms. Tauala, but their custody and classification may be medium so they would be eligible to return," explained Frank. Tauala just filed a lawsuit against the state and the Corrections Corporation of America for failing to protect the Otter Creek inmates. "They're using my daughter as a scapegoat. Why are they punishing? She's the only one. Why they single that out?" said Dias Tauala

October 6, 2009 Star-Bulletin
A female inmate from Hawaii who says she was sexually assaulted by a male guard while incarcerated in a privately run prison in Kentucky is suing the state and the prison operator, Corrections Corp. of America. Totie Tauala, 35, who is serving a 20-year state prison sentence for manslaughter, filed the lawsuit in Circuit Court yesterday. The lawsuit identifies the prison guard but does not name him as a defendant. Tauala claims the guard sexually assaulted her on Oct. 17, 2007, while she was incarcerated at Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky. The state returned all 128 female inmates it housed at Otter Creek last month following the indictments of six prison employees for first-degree rape. The state moved its female inmates to Kentucky in 2005 after a similar scandal at a privately run prison in Colorado.

September 14, 2009 Courier-Journal
Authorities at a troubled private women’s prison in Eastern Kentucky failed to investigate seven alleged incidents of sexual contact between workers and inmates dating to 2007, according to a Department of Corrections report released Monday. In four of the cases, the workers were fired. But while the state report found there was sufficient evidence to have warranted an investigation under the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, that was not done. Nevertheless, department officials have finalized a one-year contract extension with the prison's owner and operator, Corrections Corp. of America, or CCA. Justice Cabinet spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin said the Nashville-based CCA agreed to conditions aimed at curbing the number of sexual incidents between staff and inmates at the prison, the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Floyd County. She said the department decided to extend the contract for one year, instead of the normal two, to make sure problems at the prison are resolved. The extension does not increase the $53.77 daily rate per inmate — a total of more than $8 million last year — that the state pays to house some 425 prisoners at the Wheelwright facility. The report, which was based on allegations made in July, included 14 recommendations. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in a statement that the company has implemented or is in the process of implementing the recommendations made in the report. Many of those recommendations also are conditions for the contract renewal. A recent Courier-Journal review of a state monitor’s monthly reports found that the prison, which has been plagued by allegations of sexual assaults by officers, has also been chronically understaffed and has suffered from poor employee morale and security concerns. The report released Monday was obtained by The Courier-Journal under the state's open records laws. All names of individuals were removed. As part of its review, the department examined internal investigative files from Otter Creek and found the four incidents in which it found sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation under the Prison Rape Elimination Act. During interviews and subsequent reviews, the department found three more incidents that should have been investigated by prison officials, according to the report. Incidents that should've been investigated as possible violations include: *The firing of a worker for violations of inappropriate correspondence. A review of the prison's investigative file revealed that the worker made sexual comments toward an inmate. *The firing of a worker for misconduct/destruction of property. The worker was seen kissing an inmate, according to the department's review of documents. *The firing of a worker for inappropriate contact with a former resident. *The firing of a worker for bringing an inmate cigarettes and frequently talking to her. *A witness account of a worker trying to get an inmate into the staff bathroom. *An inmate's report that a worker made sexual remarks to her and touched another inmate's breast. *A witness account of a worker and inmate kissing. The report does not determine whether the incidents in question actually occurred — only that prison officials failed to investigate the allegations. Such an investigation would lead to a finding that the allegations were either substantiated, unsubstantiated or unfounded. Brislin said it will now be CCA's responsibility to investigate the alleged incidents and report to the state. The conditions that the state has established for renewing the contract include: *Providing female staff and officers for direct supervision of inmates in any housing and medical units. *Maintaining a security staff that is at least 40 percent female. *Conducting a security assessment of areas in the prison where assaults have been reported and submitting and implementing a plan to increase the use of cameras and other measures to enhance security. *Instituting uniform reporting of all sexual contact to the department. *Providing therapy for inmates who have had traumatic experiences. Owen said CCA is “united with our government partners in a commitment to zero-tolerance policy for sexual victimization of any kind.”

September 10, 2009 AP
House Speaker Greg Stumbo is calling for the Kentucky Justice Cabinet to consider a proposal to lease a private women's prison and operate it with state corrections officers. Stumbo sent a letter to Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown on Thursday proposing the arrangement at Otter Creek Correctional Complex, which is the focus of investigations into alleged sex crimes against inmates. Six workers at the prison have been accused of sex crimes in the last three years at the prison that houses about 420 women. Stumbo said the state could lease the prison from Corrections Corporation of America and use it exclusively to house Kentucky inmates. Brown has already said the state won't renew its contract with the Nashville, Tenn.-based company unless it hires a female security chief and maintains a security staff that is at least 40% female.

September 7, 2009 Herald-Leader
A privately run prison in Eastern Kentucky plagued with allegations of sexual improprieties involving guards and inmates did not report all sexual abuse incidents to the state. A Herald-Leader review of sexual-incident reports dating to 2006 showed that at least one alleged assault involving Otter Creek Correctional Center staff and a Kentucky inmate was not reported to the state by Corrections Corporation of America. Also, state correction officials said, Otter Creek hasn't followed the same reporting standards for sexual assaults as the state's 13 state-run prisons. State prison officials confirmed that they never received a report from CCA about Randy Hagans, the prison's former chaplain. Hagans was charged with third-degree sexual abuse for alleged contact with an Kentucky inmate. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 21, court records show. Steve Owen, a spokesman for the Nashville-based prison company, did not answer questions about what happened to the report on Hagans. Over the past three years, about a half-dozen corrections officers at Otter Creek have faced sex-related charges for inappropriate contact with female inmates. On Tuesday, Charles Prater, 54, a former corrections officer at Otter Creek, was charged by a Floyd County grand jury with first-degree rape, a felony. Otter Creek's reporting requirements for sexual assaults are more lax than the state's 13 state-run prisons, which must report all sexual assaults — including assaults among inmates — to the state Department of Corrections. CCA has been required only to report incidents involving Kentucky inmates and officers, said Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. The company's policy must change or Kentucky probably will not agree to continue its contract with CCA, state Department of Corrections officials said last week. CCA had contracts with both Kentucky and Hawaii to house female inmates, but reports about sexual abuse involving Hawaii inmates were not submitted to Kentucky. Therefore, it was difficult for Kentucky authorities to get a count of how many inmates were alleging sexual abuse at the hands of prison workers, Brislin said. Prater, for example, was charged with raping a Hawaii inmate. "We wanted to see the bigger picture and how they were handling these situations," Brislin said. "We want to know that we are getting all the details. This is going to give us more complete information." Both Kentucky and Hawaii launched investigations in July into improprieties at Otter Creek. Hawaii ultimately removed 128 prisoners from the facility. Kentucky is expected to complete its investigation sometime this week. Still, Kentucky authorities said they probably won't move the state's female inmates, noting that CCA is working to make changes at the prison. "We are continuing to work with our customers so that they are comfortable not only that they are getting full reporting of incidents but also that their inmates are in the safest environment possible," said Owen, the spokesman for CCA. Clayton Frank, director of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, said Friday that he had no problem with Kentucky having access to incident reports involving Hawaii inmates. Hawaii has removed all of its prisoners from the prison in Wheelwright, Frank said. The state was at the end of its contract with CCA at the time it removed its prisoners, he said. "We just felt that it was in the best interest of everyone to bring them home," Frank said. Improving reporting requirements is just one of many conditions that CCA must meet if it wants its contract with Kentucky renewed, corrections officials said last week. CCA has had a contract to house Kentucky prisoners since 2005. The state and the company are negotiating another contract. In a letter to House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown outlined some of the conditions CCA must meet. The company must increase the number of female guards at the prison, hire a woman as chief of security, conduct a security assessment and increase some of its treatment programs. "These conditions are non-negotiable," Brislin said. "We believe that Corrections Corp. will agree to these conditions because it's in their best interest to do so." Stumbo and eight other house members had sent Gov. Steve Beshear a letter asking that the state assume operation of Otter Creek. Corrections officials have said that it's not possible to transfer the more than 400 women at Otter Creek because the Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women — the only other state-run prison for women — is at capacity. Otter Creek was built and is owned by CCA, so it would not be possible for the state to take it over, Brislin said. Owen said he would not elaborate on whether CCA is likely to agree to the conditions. However, the company has agreed to increase the number of female correction officers there. Owen said the negative publicity generated by the "rogue actions" of individual employees is overshadowing "OCCS staff's dedication and professionalism every single day in keeping the public safe and treating the inmates entrusted to our care with dignity and respect." Brian Wilkerson, a spokesman for Stumbo, said Stumbo is researching the matter and might have a response to Brown's letter sometime this week. Meanwhile, at least one Kentucky inmate has filed a lawsuit against CCA and the state after she was sexually assaulted by Kevin Younce, who was convicted in absentia of second-degree sexual abuse. There is an outstanding warrant for his arrest. CCA has asked that the case be dismissed. Lawyers who represent both Kentucky and Hawaii inmates said they plan to file other suits in coming weeks.

September 6, 2009 Courier-Journal
An inmate with severe mental illness died last year at a troubled private women's prison in Eastern Kentucky after being allowed to refuse medical treatment. Beverly Ford Murphy, 54, of Louisville, was serving an eight-year sentence for second-degree manslaughter in the 2005 stabbing death of her youngest daughter when she died, on June 18, 2008, at the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Floyd County. Her death certificate lists her cause of death as heart disease, with Hepatitis C and diabetes noted as underlying causes. Federal health privacy laws bar the department and the prison’s owner and operator, Corrections Corp. of America, from disclosing Murphy's medical records — and it’s unclear whether her refusal of treatment contributed to her death. But a state investigative report, which The Courier-Journal obtained through the state’s open records law, found that Murphy refused medication for diabetes. The case raises questions about the circumstances under which an inmate with serious medical conditions should be compelled to receive treatment. While the corrections department fined CCA $5,000 last year for failing to report Murphy's death to the state in a timely manner, it did not impose fines relating to the circumstances surrounding her death. In fact, department officials defend the prison's handling of the case, saying Murphy had the right to refuse treatment because she had not been declared incompetent by a judge. “I can evaluate them, and I can feel that they may not have sufficient capacity to make informed decisions,” said Dr. Scott Haas, medical director for the department. “I may feel they have diminished capacity due to various mental illnesses or various states of mind caused by a medical condition, but that does not make them incompetent.” But Elizabeth Alexander, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project, which litigates on behalf of inmates, said prison and state officials can't allow prisoners to refuse treatment just because they haven't been declared incompetent. She said officials have the responsibility to determine whether inmates are refusing medication for rational reasons or for reasons connected to their mental health. “If in fact those reasons stem from her mental health issues, then it was the responsibility of the facility to consider getting a treatment order,” she said. CCA spokesman Steve Owen declined to comment on the specifics of Murphy's case, citing federal health privacy laws. “CCA's health care professionals continue to provide a wide range of services to the inmates entrusted to our care,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with (department) officials to ensure that all inmates have appropriate access to care.” According to Murphy’s autopsy report, she had Prozac and two other antidepressants in her blood, as well as anti-seizure medication. She had a history of seizures, the report said. The state’s investigative report says that Murphy, who was becoming less cooperative and more “withdrawn,” was taken from the medical area five days before her death and placed in segregation, where she missed a “substantial number” of insulin dosages. The report also found: *A “significant lack of communication” among mental health and medical workers and security staff. *Inconsistent diabetic monitoring. *A failure by nurses to notify clinicians of abnormal glucose levels. *The inconsistent use of forms to document testing and treatment refusal. *A lack of intervention techniques in response to her refusal of insulin. *Failure to put medical and mental health documentation into Murphy's file in a timely manner. According to the report, a comprehensive mental health contact dated June 18, 2008, was not entered into the record until after her death. Signed by four department officials, the report notes that such issues create “a perception that it was acceptable to permit a patient to refuse medical treatment despite diagnosed mental health concerns and impaired reasoning brought about by a worsening medical condition.” The department recommended that “inmates with serious active mental health and/or medical issues” no longer be placed at Otter Creek until reforms suggested the company were made. By that time, however, the company had made the changes, and such inmates continued to be sent to Otter Creek. Murphy's oldest daughter, Tiffany Ford, 34, of Louisville, said in a recent interview that her mother was bipolar and had anger issues. She also was addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine, she said. “My mother was very sick, even before she went to prison,” she said. Ford said officials sent her the autopsy report and told her that her mother refused her medication. She said she doesn't understand much of what is documented in the report and didn't have the time or emotional energy to follow up after losing her sister and mother in a three-year period. “It was just so much,” she said. A host of problems at Otter Creek have surfaced in recent months, including numerous allegations of sexual abuse by workers and chronic understaffing that has led to low worker morale and security concerns. Six workers there have been charged in the past three years for inappropriate sexual contact with inmates, including one corrections officer who was indicted last week on a felony rape charge. The prison houses roughly 420 Kentucky inmates and until recently held 168 inmates from Hawaii. That state, however, announced last month that it was removing its inmates from Otter Creek. Murphy is one of four inmates at Otter Creek who have died since 2005. The family of a Hawaiian inmate who died in late 2005 recently settled a lawsuit against the prison and state of Hawaii. CCA's Owen said the terms of the settlement are confidential. According to The Honolulu Advertiser, Sarah Ah Mau's family sued because the prison failed to treat Mau, who had been complaining of severe abdominal pain and respiratory problems. The two other inmates, who died in 2007 and 2008, were from Kentucky. But department officials did not investigate the circumstances surrounding those deaths. Department officials said they review all deaths but only conduct in-depth investigations when questions arise during the initial reviews. Officials said they could not recall what triggered their investigation into Murphy's death.

September 3, 2009 Courier-Journal
Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown said Thursday that the state won't renew its contract to house female inmates at a troubled private prison in Eastern Kentucky unless the operator agrees to several new conditions. Brown outlined the conditions in a letter to House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, who asked Gov. Steve Beshear last week not to renew the state's contract with Corrections Corp. of America. The state has about 420 inmates at the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright. A former corrections officer at the prison was indicted Tuesday on one count of first-degree rape — the sixth worker there in the last three years to be accused of a sex-related crime involving an inmate but the first to be charged with a felony. Kentucky State Police plan to present another case to a Floyd County grand jury the next time it meets. The Department of Corrections is wrapping up its own investigation into sex abuse allegations at the prison and expects to release its findings next week. Brown said in his letter that the state won't sign a two-year extension with the Nashville-based CCA unless it agrees to the new conditions. “I share your deep concern,” Brown wrote in his letter to Stumbo. “Let me be clear — such conduct is inexcusable and will not be tolerated by the Department of Corrections, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet or the Beshear administration.” Brown said any contract extension will require CCA to: *Hire a female security chief at Otter Creek. *Provide female staff and officers for direct supervision of inmates in any housing and medical units. *Maintain a security staff that is at least 40 percent female. *Conduct a security assessment of areas in the prison where assaults have been reported and submit and implement a plan to increase the use of cameras and other measures to enhance security. *Institute uniform reporting of all sexual contact to the department. *Provide therapy for inmates who have had traumatic experiences. Brown said the department also would work with CCA to strengthen staff training, repair the facilities, improve recruitment and retention and remove barriers to effective monitoring of the facility by the department. He also said that it’s not feasible to send the Otter Creek inmates to local jails or out-of-state facilities, and that the only state-run prison for women, the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Shelby County, does not have enough space to accommodate them. “The best course is to correct these issues, mitigate their re-occurrence and move forward constructively,” Brown said.

September 3, 2009 Star-Bulletin
After allegations of sexual assaults on 23 women by staff at a Kentucky prison, 128 Hawaii women returned to Oahu Tuesday night. Among the 128 were two women who alleged they were sexually assaulted at the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., said Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Tommy Johnson. The move came on the same day as the indictment of a sixth worker at the private women's prison on charges of first-degree rape. The indictment alleges that ex-corrections officer Charles Prater, 54, raped an inmate from Hawaii on June 13. That inmate says that Prater planned the rape, bursting into her cell in the Medical Segregation Unit, and savagely attacking her while the medical staff was dispensing medication. Another inmate, who also reported being sexually assaulted and whose sentence was up, returned Aug. 17 with a group of 40 inmates. Hawaii had sent 168 women to be housed at Otter Creek to cut costs. The cost to house an inmate at Hawaii's Women's Community Correctional Center is $86 a day compared with $58.46 a day in Kentucky. Female inmates from Hawaii have been housed at Otter Creek since 2005. The Kentucky prison is owned and operated by the Corrections Corp. of America, which is based in Tennessee. A task force from Hawaii visited the prison in July to investigate the allegations.

August 28, 2009 Courier-Journal
House Speaker Greg Stumbo and eight other legislators sent letters Friday to Gov. Steve Beshear asking him to end the state's contract at a private women's prison in Eastern Kentucky that has been plagued by allegations of sexual assaults by corrections officers. But Beshear spokesman Jay Blanton rebuffed the request, saying the state has no other place to house the 425 inmates at the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright. “…We are confronted with the reality that the commonwealth does not have enough space in facilities it owns to meet the existing — and growing — population of inmates,” he said in a statement. “...That is a simple and inarguable fact.” The only state-run women's prison, the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Shelby County, was operating at 100.6 percent capacity Friday. In the past three years at least four workers at Otter Creek have been convicted, and another — a former chaplain — has been charged with having sex with inmates. Kentucky State Police are expected to present another case to a Floyd County grand jury soon. The state of Hawaii announced earlier this month that, for safety reasons, it was pulling out all of the 168 inmates that it houses at the facility. Forty have been sent back to Hawaii, and the rest are expected to be relocated by the end of September, according to Hawaii Department of Public Safety spokesman Tommy Johnson. In addition to the sexual assault allegations, other issues at the prison have emerged. The Courier-Journal recently reviewed monthly reports dating to 2005 and found chronic understaffing, leading to poor employee morale and security concerns. And Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson last month told the Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, which operates Otter Creek, that the state would not grant its request for a rate increase because of the sex-abuse allegations, inmate fights, improper reporting of an inmate death and other problems. The state is negotiating a two-year contract extension with the company. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in a statement Friday that the company would be willing to meet with legislators to address their concerns. “CCA has been working very closely with (department) officials regarding (Otter Creek) to ensure that the facility is performing at the level expected by the (department) and CCA,” he said. Stumbo, a Prestonsburg Democrat whose district includes the Floyd County prison, was inspired by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, to write the letter, his spokesman Brian Wilkerson said. “The documented cases of sexual assault and allegations of rape taking place at Otter Creek have cast Kentucky in a poor light nationwide,” Stumbo said in his letter. “I cannot condone continued association with the private contractor running this prison.” Marzian and seven other Democratic legislators wrote a separate letter to Beshear Friday, calling for the state to not renew its contract for Otter Creek. “There have been eight sex-abuse incidents at the facility since 2007, compared to one at the state-run Kentucky Correctional Institutional for Women in Shelby County, and they want a raise!” the letter said. “To continue this private company arrangement seems unconscionable.” The state has two other contracts with CCA — to house prisoners at the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary and the Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville. Last week, the state moved 200 inmates to Marion from the Northpoint Training Center after a riot badly damaged that state-run facility. The state paid CCA nearly $20million to house inmates at all three private prisons last year. The other House members who signed the letter were Jim Wayne and Darryl Owens, both of Louisville; Joni Jenkins of Shively; Susan Westrom and Ruth Ann Palumbo, both of Lexington; Linda Belcher of Shepherdsville; and Jody Richards of Bowling Green. Marzian said she intends to file a bill during the next session to make it a felony for corrections workers to have sexual contact with inmates. Kentucky is one of just three states in which the offense is a misdemeanor. A similar bill, filed last session by state Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, failed to pass. Blanton said a contract extension with CCA must “contain an explicit list of enforcement measures and requirements that further ensure the safety of everyone involved with the facility and help prevent future occurrences. We will not sign a contract unless we have such assurances in writing in the strongest possible terms.” However, the state's current contract with CCA contains provisions for fines — and even allows the state to cancel the contract if the company doesn't meet its requirements. Since 2005, the state has fined the company only once: $5,000 for conducting an investigation into an inmate's death without the department's participation. Despite contract provisions that require CCA to maintain certain staffing levels, state monitors at the prison have repeatedly noted in monthly reports to department administrators since 2005 that the prison is understaffed. Most reports, however, do not detail exactly how many positions are vacant or whether they have been vacant for longer than 60 days — which would be another contract violation. The state pays CCA $53.77 a day for each inmate at Otter Creek.

August 25, 2009 New York Times
Hawaii prison officials said Tuesday that all of the state’s 168 female inmates at a privately run Kentucky prison will be removed by the end of September because of charges of sexual abuse by guards. Forty inmates were returned to Hawaii on Aug. 17. This month, officials from the Hawaii Department of Public Safety traveled to Kentucky to investigate accusations that inmates at the prison, the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, including seven from Hawaii, had been sexually assaulted by the prison staff. Otter Creek is run by the Corrections Corporation of America and is one of a spate of private, for-profit prisons, mainly in the South, that have been the focus of investigations over issues like abusive conditions and wrongful deaths. Because Eastern Kentucky is one of the poorest rural regions in the country, the prison was welcomed by local residents desperate for jobs. Hawaii sent inmates to Kentucky to save money. Housing an inmate at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua, Hawaii, costs $86 a day, compared with $58.46 a day at the Kentucky prison, not including air travel. Hawaii investigators found that at least five corrections officials at the prison, including a chaplain, had been charged with having sex with inmates in the last three years, and four were convicted. Three rape cases involving guards and Hawaii inmates were recently turned over to law enforcement authorities. The Kentucky State Police said another sexual assault case would go to a grand jury soon. Kentucky is one of only a handful of states where it is a misdemeanor rather than a felony for a prison guard to have sex with an inmate, according to the National Institute of Corrections, a policy arm of the Justice Department. A bill to increase the penalties for such sexual misconduct failed to pass in the Kentucky legislature this year. The private prison industry has generated extensive controversy, with critics arguing that incarceration should not be contracted to for-profit companies. Several reports have found contract violations at private prisons, safety and security concerns, questionable cost savings and higher rates of inmate recidivism. “Privately operated prisons appear to have systemic problems in maintaining secure facilities,” a 2001 study by the Federal Bureau of Prisons concluded. Those views are shared by Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News, a nonprofit group based in Seattle that has a monthly magazine and does litigation on behalf of inmates’ rights. “Private prisons such as Otter Creek raise serious concerns about transparency and public accountability, and there have been incidents of sexual misconduct at that facility for many years,” Mr. Friedmann said. But proponents say privately run prisons provide needed beds at lower cost. About 8 percent of state and federal inmates are held in such prisons, according to the Justice Department. “We are reviewing every allegation, regardless of the disposition,” said Lisa Lamb, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Corrections, which she said was investigating 23 accusations of sexual assault at Otter Creek going back to 2006. The move by Hawaii authorities is just the latest problem for Kentucky prison officials. On Saturday, a riot at another Kentucky prison, the Northpoint Training Center at Burgin, forced officials to move about 700 prisoners out of the facility, which is 30 miles south of Lexington. State investigators said Tuesday that they were questioning prisoners and staff members and reviewing security cameras at the Burgin prison to see whether racial tensions may have led to the riot that injured 16 people and left the lockup in ruins. A lockdown after a fight between white and Hispanic inmates had been eased to allow inmates access to the prison yard on Friday, the day before the riot. Prisoners started fires in trash cans that spread. Several buildings were badly damaged. While the riot was an unusual event — the last one at a Kentucky state prison was in 1983 — reports of sexual abuse at Otter Creek are not new. “The number of reported sexual assaults at Otter Creek in 2007 was four times higher than at the state-run Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women,” Mr. Friedmann said. In July, Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii, a Republican, said that bringing prisoners home would cost hundreds of millions of dollars that the state did not have, but that she was willing to do so because of the security concerns. Prison overcrowding led to federal oversight in Hawaii from 1985 to 1999. The state now houses one-third of its prison population in mainland facilities. The pay at the Otter Creek prison is low, even by local standards. A federal prison in Kentucky pays workers with no experience at least $18 an hour, nearby state-run prisons pay $11.22 and Otter Creek pays $8.25. Mr. Friedmann said lower wages at private prisons lead to higher employee turnover and less experienced staff. Tommy Johnson, deputy director of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, said he found that 81 percent of the Otter Creek workers were men and 19 percent were women, the reverse of what he said the ratio should be for a women’s prison. Mr. Johnson asked the company to hire more women, and it began a bonus program in June to do so.

August 19, 2009 Honolulu Advertiser
Women inmates from Hawai'i will be removed from a Kentucky prison for safety reasons after allegations that some were sexually abused by prison guards, the state Department of Public Safety announced yesterday. Clayton Frank, the department's director, said 40 women inmates were transferred back to the Islands on Monday and most of the 128 women remaining at Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright will return within a month. Several women serving lengthy sentences will be moved to other Mainland prisons, according to the department. Frank said many inmates wanted to stay at Otter Creek because they believe they are benefiting from its prison services. "The decision to bring them back was not an easy one, because not only cost, but also what these inmates would also be losing," Frank told a joint briefing of the state Senate Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee and the House Public Safety Committee. "They will be coming back but they are not going to get everything what was provided for them at Otter Creek." State lawmakers who have been calling for the department to return the women inmates praised Frank's decision. "It's good news. The Legislature has been pushing for this for a few years now," said state Sen. Will Espero, D-20th ('Ewa Beach, Waipahu), chairman of the Senate Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee. "The women will be in our prisons, in our jurisdiction, where we'll have much better control over the whole situation. Of course, in terms of rehabilitation and re-entry, it's better when the families are close together where they can assist each other." Overcrowding at state prisons has led the state to spend $50 million a year to house about 2,000 Hawai'i inmates at Mainland prisons operated by the private Corrections Corporation of America. The state spends $3.6 million a year to house the women inmates at Otter Creek. Frank said it costs $58 a day to keep a woman inmate at Otter Creek, compared with $86 a day in Hawai'i. Abuse allegations -- Authorities have looked into nearly two dozen claims of sexual abuse at Otter Creek over the past few years, including seven involving Hawai'i inmates. One Hawai'i inmate's sexual abuse claim was substantiated in 2007 and the prison guard was fired and convicted of a misdemeanor. Department investigators who visited the prison in July said the claims of three other Hawai'i inmates are under investigation by Kentucky authorities; one has been dismissed as unfounded; and two inmates denied they had been abused. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported this month that at least five prison workers have been charged with having sex with inmates at Otter Creek over the past three years. Frank said bringing the female inmates back to Hawai'i will put the state system at near capacity. The women will be housed at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua and the Federal Detention Center near Honolulu International Airport. Women from the Neighbor Islands who are close to completing their sentences may be sent to facilities near their homes. Louise Grant, vice president of marketing and communications for the Corrections Corporation of America in Nashville, Tenn., said she had not yet heard of the state's decision to remove the women from Otter Creek. "We've been proud of the relationship we've had with Hawai'i for more than a decade and have been proud of our services for the women in our care," she said. Frank said the department will likely continue to send female inmates to the Mainland but will look for prisons on the West Coast. Prison problems -- Previous problems involving female inmates, including questions about prison conditions, adequate treatment services and sexual abuse, have led the state to move women from prisons in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. Lawmakers urged Frank to thoroughly examine prison conditions and state laws covering sexual assault before sending more female inmates to the Mainland. Under questioning from state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, D-12th (Waikiki, Ala Moana, Downtown), Frank acknowledged the department was unaware that sexual assault against an inmate was a misdemeanor in Kentucky. "I don't think there's any doubt that we like our inmates to pay their debt to society, but it's our responsibility to provide them with a safe environment to do that," Galuteria said.

August 18, 2009 Courier-Journal
The Department of Corrections has rejected a private prison company's request for a rate increase at a women's prison in Eastern Kentucky, citing allegations of sex abuse by corrections officers, inmate fights, improper reporting of an inmate death and other problems. Commissioner LaDonna Thompson said in a July 24 letter to the Corrections Corp. of America that the state intends to renew its contract for the Otter Creek Correctional Center — but at the current rate of $51.17 a day for each inmate, excluding extraordinary medical costs. The company had requested a 3.8 percent increase, to $53.11. Otter Creek “has not performed to a level that warrants a rate increase,” she said in the letter, a copy of which The Courier-Journal obtained under the state's open records law. The state has agreed to extend for 60 days its current contract with CCA to house up to 476 inmates at the facility while it negotiates a new two-year agreement. Thompson said in a written statement Monday that although the company's performance doesn't warrant a rate increase, “a review of its performance does not indicate that the inmates are in any imminent danger.” At least five corrections officers at the Wheelwright facility have been charged with having sex with inmates in the past three years. Four were convicted, one case is pending and Kentucky State Police are expected to present another to a Floyd County grand jury later this month. A Courier-Journal review of monthly reports by a state monitor also found the prison is chronically understaffed, leading to poor employee morale and security concerns. Thompson said the department is working with the Nashville-based company to resolve the problems. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in a statement Monday that the company shares a “goal of safe, secure operations with (the department) and (has) been working very closely with our customer to ensure that we address any concerns they have to that end.” In her letter, Thompson lists six issues that she cites as “evidence of unacceptable operational performance.” She said the number of sex abuse incidents involving corrections officers and inmate fights has been consistently higher at Otter Creek than at the state-run Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Shelby County. Thompson includes data from both prisons dating to 2007 that show eight sex-abuse incidents at Otter Creek, compared to one at the state prison. She also states that there have been 72 violent incidents involving Kentucky inmates at Otter Creek in that time period, compared to 31 at the facility in Shelby County. As of Monday, there were 429 Kentucky inmates at Otter Creek and 690 at the Shelby County prison. “(Incidents) occurring at OCCC annually are well above the number of incidents occurring at (KCIW) and are of great concern to the department,” she said in the letter. She notes that the department is investigating additional sex abuse incidents that were recently alleged and may “pursue further actions, pending our investigation's results.” Thompson also states that the department fined CCA $5,000 last year for improperly reporting the death of inmate Beverly Murphy on June 18, 2008. She said in her statement that the fine was levied because CCA conducted its investigation without first notifying the department, as required by Kentucky Corrections Policies and Procedures. In the department's follow-up investigation, it was determined that Murphy, 54, of Jefferson County, died of complications from chronic diabetes. Murphy was serving an eight-year sentence for second-degree manslaughter. Thompson's letter also references the suicide of an Otter Creek worker at the prison in January 2008. “The individual successfully circumvented the institution's security and smuggled an unauthorized weapon into the facility, a critical breach of security,” she said. The letter also outlines three areas in which CCA is not in compliance with its contract with the state and has been ordered to submit to the department its plans to correct the issues. They include: Failure to maintain the appropriate number of special responders for emergencies, such as riots. Failure to maintain bathrooms, creating sanitary and hygienic deficiencies that violate the state's environmental health codes. Failure to maintain consistent records for inmates' property when they are placed in segregation. Thompson concludes in her letter to CCA that the department is “very concerned about the number of recurring incidents. When viewed holistically, the number of incidents indicates broader facility security and operational weaknesses.”

August 17, 2009 WKYT
New jobs for women are now available at Otter Creek Prison in Floyd County. Officials with the private correctional facility say they want more officers to help ease some of the problems at the prison for women. Officials say there is a staff shortage there, and this comes after police say several women inmates made sexual or physical abuse allegations against some of the men who work there. Officials believe hiring women can help. State Police have worked several cases at Otter Creek Correctional Facility in Wheelwright ever since the private prison started taking in all women inmates four years ago. “Not only sexual abuse or physical abuse but death investigations also, so they vary. The different cases and situations, they vary,” Trooper Mike Goble said. “We are very committed to making sure we're operating a safe and secure institution and we take any of those allegations seriously,” Prison Spokesperson Steve Owen said.

August 16, 2009 Courier-Journal
A private women's prison in Eastern Kentucky that has been plagued by allegations of sexual assaults by corrections officers is chronically understaffed, leading to poor employee morale and security concerns, according to a state monitor's reports. The monthly reports provide a glimpse into life inside the Otter Creek Correctional Center, where at least five workers have been charged with having sex with inmates in the past three years. Kentucky State Police are expected to present another case to a Floyd County grand jury this month. “The facility continues to experience staff shortage(s), and (officers) have struggled,” state monitor Darrell Neace said in July's report. “Overtime is substantial for the facility and very difficult for staff.” Despite the recurring problems outlined in the reports, the state has not imposed staffing-level sanctions as allowed under its contract with Corrections Corporation of America, a for-profit, Nashville, Tenn.-based company. The state can fine the company up to $5,000 a day for violating terms of the contract, which include maintaining certain staffing levels and filling vacant positions within 60 days. In fact — despite the sexual assault investigation — the state has agreed to extend for 60 days its contract with CCA to house up to 476 inmates at the facility while it negotiates a new two-year agreement. Otter Creek housed 429 Kentucky inmates as of Friday. In response to questions about staffing at the prison, state Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson noted that staff turnover is an issue at all prisons. “Corrections is a difficult and stressful profession,” she said an e-mailed statement. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said it takes recruiting and retaining staff very seriously and noted that turnover costs money. “Anyone who contends that the facility operates with vacancies by design (for cost savings or profit) does not understand sound business practice,” he said in an e-mail. Reports cite staffing -- It is unclear how many workers the prison is required to have. The state has been unable to produce a written staffing-level document, despite a request by The Courier-Journal under the state open records law. However, in 11 of the last 19 monthly monitoring reports obtained by the newspaper, staffing has been cited as a problem. Of particular concern is the number of people trained to handle emergencies at the prison. Neace, in a report dated July 8, cited a major concern about inadequate security staffing in June, adding, “OCCC is on 12-hour shifts and (workers) are struggling.” He wrote that the facility was operating with 168 workers and had 28 vacancies at the end of the month. Five of those positions had been open for more than 60 days, which is a violation of the state's contract with CCA. Many previous monthly reports do not specify how many positions were vacant, or for how long. Thus, it is impossible for the department to know how severe the staffing problem is at a given time and whether the company is in violation of the contract. Many reports, however, include vague references to understaffing and low staff morale because of forced double shifts. “They (officers) are exhausted, and several have expressed their concern to me,” former state monitor Deborah Patrick said in the August 2008 report. Other prisons pay more -- The reports reflect a pattern in which a flurry of hiring is typically followed several months later by a drop in staffing, indicating retention problems. Owen, the CCA spokesman, said many people hired in prisons soon realize it isn't the type of work they want to do. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said recently that her agency has begun sending inspectors to the prison without giving CCA advance notice and has sent two corrections experts there to help the state's on-site monitor. The state's only other women's prison — the state-run Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Shelby County — — is nearly full most of the time. “Our assessment is that it is more effective to rectify the situation there at Otter Creek than find alternative forms of incarceration for our inmate population housed there,” Lamb said. She partly blamed problems with attracting and retaining staff on the fact that a federal prison employing roughly 400 people in nearby Inez pays more. Starting pay there is $18.18 an hour for workers with no corrections experience, and $19.17 an hour for those with experience. Starting pay at Otter Creek is $8.25 an hour. In addition, the state pays corrections workers at two nearby state-run prisons $2.97 more an hour than Otter Creek employees receive. The state's contract with CCA for Otter Creek does not specify minimum pay, because, Thompson said, such internal business decisions could affect the company's competitiveness. Owen said CCA raised starting pay at Otter Creek by 5 percent last year and “we will continue to monitor their situation as we do with all our other facilities.” Kentucky pays CCA $53.77 a day to house each inmate, a total of more than $8million last year. Most employees are male -- Tommy Johnson, a spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, which contracts with Otter Creek to house 175 inmates from that state, said CCA might need to consider paying more to attract and retain workers at Otter Creek, particularly female officers. He said a recent review found 81 percent of the workers were male, and 19 percent were female. “The ratio really should be almost the opposite,” he said. Johnson said his department has asked CCA to hire more women and consider making certain jobs at the prison female-only. Owen said the company instituted a bonus referral and retention program in June in an effort to hire more female employees. Neace also noted in his May report that the facility had only 24 staff members trained and certified to respond to incidents such as riots. The contract requires Otter Creek to have 30 workers with that training. By June, Otter Creek was down to 22 so-called special responders, with no new applicants, according to that month's report. The facility also lacked proper special response equipment, it said. But by last month, Otter Creek had two more special responders than required, Neace said. Owen said CCA has launched a companywide campaign to get workers at its prisons to undergo special response training. Lamb said special response teams from the privately run Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville and state-run Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in West Liberty could get to Otter Creek quickly if there was an emergency. “We do not believe this issue compromises the safety and security of the inmate population housed at Otter Creek,” Lamb said. But both prisons are roughly two hours from Otter Creek. Disturbances reported -- Incident reports show corrections officers occasionally have to deal with disturbances at the women's facility, although no deaths or serious injuries have been reported as a result. In 2006, six inmates surrounded a female corrections officer and refused to return to their dorm. “These inmates were aggressive and made threatening remarks toward the officer,” the report said. A special response team was dispatched to assist during that incident. Also that year, special responders had to lock down the prison because inmates were planning to have a sit-down protest when it was time to clear the yard. The treatment of inmates by corrections officers also has been an issue at the prison in recent months, according to the reports. Neace said in his June report that “residents being placed in segregation which are not a threat to security, staff, visitors or themselves has been an issue that (the department) has been concerned with.” He said proper documentation for segregation was missing and that the number of grievances filed by inmates was high, with up to 27 having been filed that month. In his May report, Neace said inmates “continue to complain about staff cursing, threatening segregation.” Lamb said “a change in the number of grievances and the inmate morale could be attributed to a change in administration.” Thompson said in her statement that she couldn't comment on any leadership issues at Otter Creek until the sex abuse investigations are complete. Warden Jeff Little referred questions to CCA. Owen said staff turnover at Otter Creek has decreased since Little took the helm in March 2008.

August 11, 2009 Lexington Herald-Leader
State corrections officials have hired a veteran Kentucky warden to monitor a private prison in Wheelwright where several sexual assaults of inmates by prison staff have been reported. Gary M. Beckstrom, the former warden at Little Sandy Correctional Complex in Elliot County, will be an on-site monitor for Otter Creek Correctional Complex. The action "is a result of the recent allegations of sexual incidents at the facility," said Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. Beckstrom also will review the operational procedures at Otter Creek, Brislin said. The $42,000 contract runs from July 30 to Jan. 30, 2010. Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the prison, has agreed to reimburse the state. Otter Creek is at the center of investigations by Kentucky and Hawaii into allegations of repeated sexual assaults by prison staff. CCA has contracts with both states to house prisoners at Wheelwright. The allegations include the reported rape of a Hawaiian woman at the prison in June. Additionally, a former prison guard was convicted last year in Floyd County of second-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor, for a July 3, 2008, sexual assault of an inmate from Kentucky.

August 2, 2009 Courier-Journal
At least five workers at the private women's prison in Eastern Kentucky have been charged with having sex with inmates in the past three years, and investigations into more alleged assaults are under way. Despite that, the state has agreed to extend for 60 days its contract with Corrections Corp. of America to house up to 476 inmates at Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright. The state is continuing to negotiate a two-year extension of the contract it has had with CCA since 2005, according to Finance Cabinet officials. The 60-day extension does not increase the $53.77 CCA is paid per day to house each inmate. Last year the state paid CCA more than $8 million for its Otter Creek operation. “Our assessment is that it is more effective to rectify the situation there at Otter Creek than find alternative forms of incarceration for our inmate population housed there,” Kentucky Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said in a statement. The prison housed 427 Kentucky inmates as of Friday. The department has begun sending inspectors to the prison without giving CCA advance notice and has sent two corrections experts there to help the state's on-site monitor. “The occurrence of staff and inmate sexual involvement is one of the most unfortunate aspects of prison life,” Lamb said. “It is, however, a fact that it happens both in the private institutions and in ours.” Kentucky State Police are expected to present one sexual abuse case to a Floyd County grand jury this month and begin investigating another complaint this week, spokesman Mike Goble said. “We have investigated more than one or two sexual abuse cases of some fashion or another by multiple (corrections) officers,” Goble said. “And there are investigations continuing. Is there a problem at Otter Creek right now? Definitely so.” CCA officials did not return calls seeking comment. The Department of Corrections and the Hawaii Department of Public Safety both are investigating sexual abuse allegations by as many as 19 inmates — 16 from Kentucky and three from Hawaii. That state has a $3.6 million contract to house up to 175 inmates at Otter Creek. Hawaii department spokesman Tommy Johnson said the state has confirmed one case from 2007, in which a corrections officer was found guilty of misdemeanor sexual abuse for subjecting an inmate to sexual contact. Darren Green, 41, of Hi Hat, was fired from Otter Creek and ordered to serve 120 days of home incarceration. Johnson said investigators are examining the case that will be sent to the grand jury and one other possible assault. He said four other alleged assaults either have not been substantiated or the inmates deny they occurred. Earlier this month, a former Otter Creek inmate filed a federal lawsuit against CCA and the state for failing to prevent a corrections officer from raping her in July 2008. The former corrections officer, Kevin Younce, was charged with misdemeanor sexual abuse in the second degree and sentenced to a year in jail and a $500 fine, according to Floyd County Circuit Court records. He was tried in absentia, and a bench warrant has been issued for his arrest. According to the lawsuit, Younce woke the inmate in her cell on July 3, 2008, forced her to an area outside the cell and demanded sex. He threatened and coerced her and ultimately dragged her into a staff bathroom and raped her, the suit says. CCA has asked a federal judge to dismiss the suit, saying the inmate failed to file a formal grievance as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The law requires inmates to exhaust administrative remedies before bringing an action in court. Younce and Green are two of at least five workers at Otter Creek who have been charged with having sexual contact with inmates in the past three years, according to records provided by Floyd County Circuit Court and the Department of Corrections. In 2006, corrections officer Elden Tackett pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and was sentenced to 12 months' probation. Documents state Tackett received oral sex from an inmate and later confessed to the incident. In 2007, maintenance worker George Hale pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and was sentenced to 60 days of home incarceration and two years of probation. Documents state Hale had sex with an inmate 12 times in exchange for tobacco, which is prohibited at the facility. Last year employee Randy Hagan was charged with sexual abuse for allegedly subjecting an inmate to sexual contact without her consent between Feb. 14 and Aug. 4. Hagan pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 10.

July 31, 2009 Lexington Herald-Leader
A private prison company has asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit of a Kentucky woman who says she was raped while a prisoner at Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright. The facility, run by Corrections Corporation of America, is at the center of investigations by Kentucky and Hawaii into allegations of repeated sexual assaults. The inquiries were prompted in part by the reported rape of a Hawaiian woman at the prison in June. CCA has contracts with both states to house prisoners at Wheelwright. In documents filed this week in federal court in Pikeville, CCA says the Kentucky woman never filed a formal grievance about the rape and therefore the civil lawsuit she filed July 2 should be dismissed. The Herald-Leader does not generally identify people who allege sexual abuse. The woman is suing the company, several of its officials and the Kentucky Department of Corrections for failing to prevent the rape. Kevin Younce, a former prison guard, was convicted of second-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor, for the July 3, 2008 sexual assault of the woman in Floyd County. A bench warrant is outstanding for his arrest, according to court records. He moved to North Carolina before he was convicted. The case of the woman from Hawaii is scheduled to be presented to the Floyd County grand jury next month, said Kentucky State Police Trooper Mike Goble. Kentucky prison officials are investigating alleged sexual assaults at Otter Creek going back to 2006, said Lisa Lamb, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Corrections. "These include allegations or incidents that were previously reported," she said. "We are reviewing every allegation regardless of the disposition." Otter Creek houses 430 Kentucky inmates, according to the Kentucky Department of Corrections. Lamb said she could not comment on the lawsuit brought by the Kentucky woman because the department has not seen it yet. CCA said in a statement Thursday that it is cooperating with the investigations. "CCA has a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate contact between staff and inmates and takes any such allegations seriously," said Steve Owen, a spokesman for the company, which is headquartered in Nashville. "We will support full prosecution under the law for any criminal activity detected." The Kentucky woman, who has been moved to another facility, is suing for unspecified damages. She said that Younce woke her up, pulled her out of her cell and demanded sex. He took her into a staff bathroom where the assault occurred, court documents say. She was later taken to the Pikeville Medical Center, where she was examined for evidence of rape, and Kentucky State Police were called. Younce was convicted in absentia on Oct. 7, 2008, fined $500 and sentenced to one year in jail. The federal lawsuit alleges that CCA knew of repeated sexual assault or harassment by prison staff at Wheelwright but did not do anything about it. Floyd County court records show that other prison guards have been charged with sexual assault of prisoners, including the former chaplain. In court documents filed this week, CCA argues that the Kentucky woman never reported the sexual assault to the prison. After the July 3 rape, she filed nine grievances, but none of them involved sexual assault or Younce, the company's lawyers say. The lawsuit should be dismissed, the company says, because, under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, prisoners have to exhaust all administrative remedies before filing a claim in federal court.

July 26, 2009 Courier-Journal
Kentucky is one of just three states that consider sexual contact between prison guards and inmates a misdemeanor rather than a felony offense. The Department of Corrections has tried in recent years to push a bill through the legislature that would increase the penalty from a maximum of 12 months in jail to a maximum of five years. “We strongly believe there is no such thing as consensual sex (between guards and inmates),” spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said. Other than Kentucky, only Iowa and Maryland consider custodial sexual contact a misdemeanor, according to a survey by the National Institute of Corrections and American University's Washington College of Law. Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, said the department's bill, which she sponsored, had support in both the House and Senate during this year's regular session but time ran out before changes made by the House could be examined in the Senate. She said she doesn't remember there being much, if any, opposition. “We need to not lag behind (other states), but take a lead and catch up,” she said. The department is currently investigating sexual-abuse allegations involving as many as 16 Kentucky women housed at the privately run Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright. Kentucky State Police also are investigating allegations, reported June 23, that a Hawaiian inmate was sexually assaulted by a corrections officer at the women's-only facility in Floyd County. A Floyd County grand jury is expected to hear that case next month, state police spokesman Mike Goble said. In addition, the Hawaiian Department of Public Safety is investigating two alleged incidents at the prison. The 656-bed facility is owned and operated by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America. The company has contracts with Kentucky and Hawaii; 433 women from Kentucky and 165 from Hawaii are housed at Otter Creek. A corrections officer at the facility was found guilty of misdemeanor sexual abuse for subjecting an inmate to sexual contact in September 2007, according to court records. Darren Green, 41, of Hi Hat, was fired from Otter Creek and ordered to serve 120 days of home incarceration. No further details regarding the incident were included in the records. The department was not immediately able to say how many corrections officers have been charged with inappropriate sexual contact in recent years.

July 24, 2009 WZTV
Hawaii's public safety director says 23 female inmates, including seven from Hawaii, are alleging they were sexually assaulted at a private prison in Kentucky. Clayton Frank said Friday that one Hawaii case, from 2007, resulted in the conviction and termination of a corrections officer at Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky. Frank says the other cases are still being investigated so he can't elaborate on them. The state this month sent the Department of Public Safety's deputy director, Tommy Johnson, and two other officials to Kentucky to probe the allegations.

July 18, 2009 Honolulu Advertiser
An investigation into sex assaults involving Hawai'i and other female inmates at a private Kentucky prison has widened and now includes 19 alleged attacks over the past three years. Honolulu attorney Myles Breiner is representing three Hawai'i women who allege they were sexually assaulted at Otter Creek Correctional Center within the past 12 to 18 months. The most recent sex assault was reported June 23 and allegedly involved a male corrections officer. Meanwhile, Kentucky officials say they have launched an investigation into 16 alleged sex assaults at Otter Creek involving Kentucky women. Some of the allegations date back to 2006. Breiner said he expects more allegations of sex assault involving Hawai'i women to surface during investigations under way by the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety, which sent a team to Otter Creek last week to speak to female inmates from the Islands and look into the allegations. The developments are spurring new discussions about whether the state should end its contract with Otter Creek and bring the 165 Hawai'i women at the privately operated prison back to Hawai'i. State Senate Public Safety Committee Chairman Will Espero, D-20th ('Ewa Beach, Waipahu), said he will hold a public hearing in August on the assault allegations, during which he plans to call on state officials to halt the practice of shipping Hawai'i female inmates to the Mainland. "This might be a good opportunity for (Public Safety Director) Clayton Frank to show some leadership and ... bring the women home," Espero said, adding that he also believes more assault allegations will come to light in the coming months. "We might have heard ... the tip of the iceberg." Tommy Johnson, deputy director of DPS, would not say how many allegations the state is investigating because the cases are ongoing. But he said he was at Otter Creek all last week to speak to Hawai'i women in groups and to talk to some in one-on-one sessions. He also toured the facility and looked at its "operational security." He would not discuss what the Hawai'i female inmates told him in the sessions, saying that "it would be premature and inappropriate to do so." Otter Creek, in Wheelwright, Ky., is operated by Corrections Corporation of America. A spokesman for the company said it is conducting its own investigation into the assault allegations. Hawai'i has had a contract to house female inmates at Otter Creek since October 2005. Breiner said the three Hawai'i women at the prison whom he represents allege they were sexually assaulted within the past 18 months. The most recent assault was reported on June 23, and is under investigation by Kentucky state police, who said it involved a male corrections officer. Kentucky state police spokesman Mike Goble said a detective investigating the June 23 sex assault was also informed of other assault allegations. It's unclear whether those assaults involved Hawai'i women, and Goble said police have not yet decided how to proceed on those allegations. Meanwhile, the Kentucky Department of Corrections said Thursday that it is investigating allegations that 16 Kentucky women were sexually assaulted at Otter Creek as far back as 2006. Spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said the allegations relate to incidents over the past three years. In a statement, she said some of the allegations were previously reported but are being reinvestigated. She also said the department is sharing information with Hawai'i officials and the CCA. Allegations of sexual misconduct involving corrections workers and Hawai'i inmates have surfaced before at Otter Creek and in other private prisons, including in Oklahoma in 2000 and Colorado in 2005. In 2007, a Hawai'i inmate at Otter Creek alleged a corrections officer came to her room and demanded she perform sex acts. The officer was convicted on a misdemeanor. Following the incident, Otter Creek prison officials said they would change their procedures to require that a female correctional officer be paired with a male officer in housing units. Breiner, the Honolulu attorney, said that from his discussions with Hawai'i inmates it doesn't appear that's happening at Otter Creek. He said there are not enough female corrections officers at Otter Creek. He also said that in the wake of the publicity following the allegations, some Hawai'i inmates have expressed concerns about retaliation and he said he's worried about the safety of his clients. The cost of exporting Hawai'i inmates is cheaper than building new facilities or expanding existing ones, but advocates have long criticized the practice because of its impact on families. They point out that many female inmates have kids who suffer during the separation.

July 16, 2009 Courier-Journal
The state Department of Corrections is investigating allegations of sexual abuse against as many as 16 Kentucky women housed at the privately run Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright. Kentucky State Police also are investigating allegations, reported June 23, that a Hawaiian inmate was sexually assaulted by a corrections officer at the women's-only, Floyd County facility. State police expect to present that case to a Floyd County grand jury in the next several weeks, spokesman Mike Goble said, adding that detectives also are looking into allegations made by inmates since the June 23 report. In addition, the Hawaiian Department of Public Safety is investigating two alleged incidents at the prison, according to The Honolulu Advertiser. The 656-bed facility is owned and operated by Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America. The company has contracts with Kentucky and Hawaii; 433 women from Kentucky and 165 from Hawaii are housed there. Lisa Lamb, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, said in a statement that officials traveled to the prison last week and returned this week to investigate allegations of "inappropriate sexual contact or assault involving Kentucky inmates." Lamb said officials are reviewing reports dating to 2006, including incidents that were previously investigated. "We are re-investigating every allegation regardless of the disposition," she said. "In some instances this requires interviewing inmates who have been released." Lamb said Kentucky officials are sharing information with Hawaii officials. Officials in Hawaii could not be reached for comment Thursday. Otter Creek Warden Jeff Little referred questions to Corrections Corp. spokesman Steve Owen. Owen said the company, which has owned the facility since 1998, is cooperating with Kentucky and Hawaii officials and is conducting its own investigation. "We certainly have been in very close communication and constant communication with officials at the (Kentucky) Department of Corrections," he said. "We are obviously going to continue to fully support and cooperate with their investigation." Owen said the company is reviewing an anonymous list of allegations sent to Hawaii officials to determine whether they are new or are allegations that already have been reviewed. An October 2007 report of a sexual assault of a Hawaiian inmate led to the firing of a corrections officer. He was subsequently charged with a misdemeanor sex offense.

July 12, 2009 Star-Bulletin
State officials are on the mainland to investigate accusations that female prisoners from Hawaii have been sexually assaulted by guards at a privately run prison in Kentucky. "It's a very serious issue, a serious charge," Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday. "We have a very large contract with this company, and we're going to have to sit with them when we get the report." The Community Alliance on Prisons, which pushes for humane treatment of Hawaii prisoners, held a protest at the state Capitol on Friday, demanding that the state bring back female inmates held in mainland prisons. They cited the alleged sexual assaults of five women at the Otter Creek Correctional Facility in Wheelwright, Ky. But Lingle noted the costs involved in housing the prisoners in Hawaii. "It's a concern because there's no where to put them," she said. "If there's a desire to bring prisoners home -- whether they're male or female prisoners -- we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that we don't have right now. ... We don't have a facility right now where we can house them." The state has spent $3.9 million to transfer and house female inmates in Otter Creek since October 2005. Otter Creek currently houses 169 women from Hawaii. The protesters cited a letter from inmate Pania Kalama-Akopian of Kapolei, who accused guards of sexual assault. "Our fears are that nothing will change," she wrote. "Nothing has changed. ... The only thing that changed was the attitude of retaliation against the inmate population. We are not safe. Where does the nightmare end?" Protesters alleged that five Hawaii women and 21 Kentucky women have been sexually assaulted at Otter Creek. Honolulu attorney Myles Breiner said he is representing three women who were sexually assaulted at Otter Creek, including Kalama-Akopian. "Hawaii's failed to account for their responsibility to Hawaii's women," Breiner said. "Women occupy a unique place in the criminal justice system. They come into the system already having been abused by either childhood experiences or later on in their developmental years." At the protest, Regina Dias Tauala, a mother of one of the victims, described her daughter's ordeal at the prison. Totie Nalani Tauala was serving part of her 20-year sentence at the prison for manslaughter when she allegedly was sexually assaulted by a male guard. "It's hard to sleep sometimes, because I do not know what is going on," Dias Tauala said tearfully. "Yes, my daughter has to pay for being in prison. However, taking them out of the state and so far away is inhumane, because they're cutting the hearts of us mothers; we cannot see or touch our children." Otter Creek officials declined to comment on the alleged attacks. But Hawaii Public Safety Director Clayton Frank said a team of four investigators, including deputy director Tommy Johnson, was sent July 5 to investigate the allegations. Frank said investigators are working with the Wheelwright Police Department and the Corrections Corporation of America, the prison's operator. "The Department of Public Safety treats these kind of incidents very seriously," Frank said.

July 5, 2009 Honolulu Advertiser
Two female inmates from Hawai'i allege they were sexually assaulted by one or more corrections officers at a Kentucky prison, and police are investigating one of the incidents. Honolulu attorney Myles Breiner said he is representing the two women, who allege the sexual assaults occurred while they were in isolation in a medical unit at the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky. One of the assaults was reported June 23 and allegedly involved a male corrections officer, Kentucky police said. The other incident, earlier this year, also allegedly involved a male corrections officer at the same prison, Breiner said. Kentucky state police spokesman Mike Goble said last week that no arrests have been made in the June 23 case. He added that forensic tests have been conducted and that other evidence has been collected. An October 2007 report of another sexual assault of a Hawai'i female inmate at Otter Creek by a corrections officer led to his firing. There are 165 Hawai'i women at Otter Creek, a private prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America. In an e-mailed statement, spokesman Steven Owen said, "CCA has a zero-tolerance policy for any form of sexual misconduct and takes any such allegations very seriously." He said the company is "in the process of thoroughly reviewing" the allegations, adding that "any public discussion" of the allegations before the completion of an investigation "would be premature and inappropriate." Tommy Johnson, deputy director of the state Department of Public Safety, said investigations are under way at the prison in two separate incidents. He would not say whether those incidents are sex assaults, but confirmed that one stems from something that was reported June 23. "At this point, they're just allegations," Johnson said. Other incidents -- The investigations come more than a year after Otter Creek officials said they would change their procedures following a sex assault case involving a Hawai'i inmate and corrections officer. In the October 2007 incident, the inmate alleged the corrections officer came to her room and demanded she perform sex acts. The officer was fired, and subsequently convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense. Johnson told that inmate's relatives in a September 2008 letter that after the incident Corrections Corporation of America immediately changed its operating procedures at Otter Creek to require "whenever possible, a female correctional officer is paired with a male correctional officer in the housing dorms/units." The state renewed its $3.6 million annual contract to house Hawai'i inmates at Otter Creek in November. Johnson said the contract is set to expire in October. Allegations of sexual misconduct involving corrections workers and Hawai'i inmates have surfaced before in other private prisons, including in Oklahoma in 2000 and Colorado in 2005. Those allegations were followed by the felony conviction of a corrections officer in Colorado and inmate lawsuits in both states. Otter Creek Correctional Center, a 656-bed prison that houses minimum- and medium-security men and women, was also under scrutiny last year after a secretary got a .22-caliber pistol through the facility's security system, including a metal detector, and then committed suicide in the warden's office.

October 2, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
A male corrections officer has been fired and a privately run Kentucky prison has changed some of its housing unit procedures after a Hawai'i female prison inmate accused the officer of sexually assaulting her in her cell last fall. According to a written statement by the 34-year-old inmate that was provided by a family member, the inmate alleges the corrections officer came to her room in the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., between 4:15 and 4:45 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2007, and demanded that she perform sex acts. The inmate alleged she saved evidence from the encounter and turned it over to prison officials the same day. In a letter to the family, Tommy Johnson, deputy director of the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety, said the Kentucky State Police investigated the incident and referred the case to prosecutors. The corrections officer was "immediately terminated," and is scheduled to go on trial in Floyd County District Court on a misdemeanor sex offense, Johnson said in the Sept. 16, 2008, letter to the inmate's family. The Advertiser does not identify victims of alleged sexual assaults, and is also withholding the name of the family member to protect the privacy of the inmate. Johnson said in a written statement that prison operator Corrections Corporation of America immediately changed its operational procedures at Otter Creek to require that "whenever possible, a female correctional officer is paired with a male correctional officer in the housing dorms /units." "In addition, the Department of Public Safety has reviewed the changes and approved them with further modifications that are specifically designed to ensure that at least two correctional officers (preferably females) are always posted in the housing dorms/units," Johnson wrote. Previous incidents -- Allegations of sexual misconduct involving corrections workers and Hawai'i inmates have surfaced before in private prisons in Oklahoma in 2000 and Colorado in 2005, and were followed by a felony conviction of a corrections officer in Colorado and inmate lawsuits in both states. Prison officials transferred some of the inmates who made sexual misconduct allegations against prison staff in the past back to Hawai'i, but that didn't happen in this case. "Since the officer was the only staff person implicated by (the inmate) and given the fact that he was immediately removed from the facility, CCA quickly addressed her security and took corrective action," Johnson said in his written statement. "Her safety was not in question, nor was there a need to relocate (the inmate) to another facility. Further, (the inmate) did not request protective custody and therefore, the department determined that moving her was not warranted." The inmate's aunt disagreed, and the female prisoner who allegedly was assaulted has been placed in lockdown for about 50 days since she reported the sexual assault. The aunt contends the lockdown punishment was retaliation against the inmate for reporting the alleged assault. Concerns arise -- However, Johnson wrote in his letter to the family that the inmate was placed in lockdown because of a confrontation with another prisoner. Johnson said the allegation of a confrontation between the inmates was later dismissed, and the female inmate was released back into the general population. The aunt also questioned the misdemeanor charge against the former corrections officer, pointing out that even consensual sexual contact between a corrections worker and an inmate would be a felony in Hawai'i. State Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee, said he is also concerned that the case is being treated as a misdemeanor offense. "Obviously, whether he was enticed or lured or not, we've got a major breakdown in training with the staff at Otter Creek, and a problem with accountability up there of guards if a person can go in there and commit this type of act against one of our inmates," Espero said. State prison officials are considering moving at least some of the 150 Hawai'i female convicts housed at Otter Creek back to Hawai'i and putting them at the Federal Detention Center near Honolulu International Airport.

April 3, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
State lawmakers have tentatively approved a bill to audit a privately run Arizona prison that holds more than 1,800 Hawai'i convicts. House Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro said state Auditor Marion Higa likely would need to contract with a Mainland auditing firm to conduct the performance audit of Saguaro Correctional Center, a new 1,896-bed prison in Eloy, Ariz., that houses only male prisoners from Hawai'i. The audit is expected to cost $150,000 or more, but Oshiro said it will be "money well spent" to scrutinize the Saguaro operation and the state contract with Corrections Corporation of America. Hawai'i pays CCA more than $50 million a year to house more than 2,000 male and female convicts from Hawai'i in private prisons in Arizona and Kentucky. Hawai'i first began sending prisoners to the Mainland in 1995 as a temporary measure to relieve in-state prison overcrowding. About half of the state's prison population is now held in out-of-state facilities. According to Senate Bill 2342, "there has never been an audit of the private Mainland prisons that Hawai'i has contracted with to house the state's inmates, despite the fact that deaths and serious injuries have occurred at several of the contract prisons on the Mainland." Oshiro said, "I think it's prudent to spend some monies for the audit and review to make sure that we're getting the best services for our money." The bill goes to the full House for a floor vote, and if approved will be sent to a House-Senate conference committee to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The Senate proposed auditing both Saguaro and the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Kentucky, where about 175 Hawai'i inmates are being held. However, Oshiro said supporters of the bill told him the Saguaro audit was more important because more inmates are there, so the audit of Otter Creek was dropped from the House draft of the bill. Clayton Frank, director of the state Department of Public Safety, has opposed the bill because state prison officials already conduct quarterly audits of the Mainland prisons that check up on programs, food service, medical service and security, among other areas. "The department already has the expertise in place and is currently providing a thorough and ongoing auditing process to ensure contract compliance is being met," the department said in a written statement Monday. For situations that require immediate attention, "we have dispatched appropriate senior staff and Internal Affairs investigators to the facilities," the statement said. The bill for an audit is advancing after recent Mainland media reports cited a former CCA manager who said he was required to produce misleading reports about incidents in CCA prisons. Time magazine interviewed former CCA senior quality assurance manager Ronald T. Jones, who said CCA General Counsel Gus Puryear IV ordered staff to classify sometimes violent incidents such as inmate disturbances or escapes as if they were less serious events to make the company performance appear to be better than it was. Jones alleged more detailed reports about the prison incidents were prepared for internal CCA use, and were not released to clients. CCA denied the allegations, which Time published as Puryear is being considered for a post as a federal judge. Oshiro said he is aware of those reports. "There's questions being raised right now, given what you read about nationally about the CCA organization maybe having two sets of books, and I think it causes some concerns, especially since we don't get to observe and watch or communicate with our inmates being that they are way out there in the Mainland," Oshiro said. The statement Monday from Department of Public Safety noted that the department "does not solely rely on CCA reports or internal audits. As the customer, we feel it's not only our right, but also our responsibility to Hawai'i offenders housed in CCA facilities, to send our own staff to the Arizona and Kentucky facilities."

March 31, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
State lawmakers today will consider ordering an audit of two Corrections Corporation of America facilities in the wake of national media accounts alleging that the huge private prison company misrepresented statistical data to make it appear that CCA facilities had fewer violent acts and other problems than was actually the case. Hawai'i pays CCA more than $50 million a year to house more than 2,000 men and women convicts in CCA prisons in Arizona and Kentucky. Senate Bill 2342 calls for the State Auditor to conduct performance audits of two of the three Mainland prisons that house Hawai'i inmates, including reviews of the food, medical, drug treatment, vocational and other services provided to Hawai'i inmates. The audit also would scrutinize the way the state Department of Public Safety oversees the private prisons and enforces the terms of the state's contracts with CCA. According to the bill, "there has never been an audit of the private Mainland prisons that Hawai'i has contracted with to house the state's inmates, despite the fact that deaths and serious injuries have occurred at several of the contract prisons on the Mainland." Clayton Frank, director of the state Department of Public Safety, testified against the proposed audits in Senate hearings last month, calling the audits "unnecessary and repetitive" because his department already conducts quarterly audits to make sure CCA is complying with its contracts with the state. Frank also suggested his department was being singled out, arguing that if lawmakers want performance audits to provide more accountability and transparency to the public, "then it should apply to all state contracts and not be limited to just the Department of Public Safety." Critics of the Mainland prison contracts contend the audits are needed because the private prisons are for-profit ventures designed to keep costs as low as possible. During the decade that Hawai'i has housed inmates on the Mainland, the state itself has criticized private prison operators when the companies failed to provide Hawai'i inmates with programs that were required under the contract. Now, supporters of the audit bill say an independent review is necessary to scrutinize what is one of the state's largest ongoing contracts of any kind with a private vendor. "Are we getting what we pay for? We'd like to know," testified Jeanne Y. Ohta, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai'i. The audit would cover the 1,896-bed Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., which houses only male prisoners from Hawai'i, and the 656-bed Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., which holds about 175 Hawai'i women inmates. The House Finance Committee hearing on the bill today comes in the wake of Mainland media reports citing a former CCA manager who said he was required to produce misleading reports about incidents in CCA prisons. The company operates about 65 prisons with about 75,000 inmates. Time magazine interviewed former CCA senior quality assurance manager Ronald T. Jones, who said CCA General Counsel Gus Puryear IV ordered staff to classify sometimes violent incidents such as inmate disturbances, escapes and sexual assaults as if they were less serious events to make the company performance appear to be better than it was. Jones said more detailed reports about the prison incidents were prepared for internal CCA use, and were not released to clients. CCA denied the allegations, which Time published as Puryear is being considered for a post as a federal judge. The Private Corrections Institute Inc., an organization opposed to private prisons, wrote to Hawai'i prison officials urging them to investigate CCA's reporting procedures in the wake of the Time report. Alex Friedmann, vice president of the institute, said most state monitors who are overseeing CCA prisons "largely rely on information and data provided by CCA; further, the accuracy of incident reports is entirely dependent on whether those incidents are documented by the company's employees." Hawai'i Public Safety officials did not respond to requests for comment on the allegations in the Time article.

January 26, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
A secretary at a privately run Kentucky prison where Hawai'i women inmates are housed apparently smuggled a handgun into the facility Tuesday and shot herself in the warden's office, according to the investigator handling the case. The apparent suicide of Carla J. Meade, 43, represents a major security breach at the Otter Creek Correctional Center, and Kentucky state police detective Mike Goble said prison owner Corrections Corp. of America is investigating how Meade got the .22-caliber pistol through the facility's security screening system. Clayton Frank, director of the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety, said the shooting took place away from the portions of the prison where the 175 Hawai'i women prisoners are housed at Otter Creek, but that it does raise concerns about the CCA operation. "What I emphasized to them is what occurred is a security breach," he said. "Once I got word of the suicide and how it occurred, my initial reaction was, how did a gun get in there?" A statement by CCA said the 656-bed prison in Wheelwright, Ky., was locked down in the wake of the apparent suicide at about 9 a.m., and said the company is cooperating with Kentucky State Police investigators. CCA spokesman Steve Owen declined to comment further on the case or the company response to the shooting until the police investigation is complete. Goble said Meade got a small pistol past the facility metal detector, and that company officials are examining the screening equipment to determine if it is functioning properly. Company security protocol includes checks of hand-carried clothing and random pat-downs of employees, and all workers must pass through a metal detector each day, he said. "Evidently when she went through the metal detector, it didn't go off, or she got it past the guard that searched her clothing items," Goble said. Meade shot herself in front of Warden Joyce Arnold, possibly because of a personnel change at the facility, Goble said. "There was some internal movement going on there, and I don't think she (Meade) was satisfied with it," he said. Hawai'i Senate Public Safety Committee chairman Will Espero said the incident raises concerns about the prison. "I'm not hearing good things about it," he said. "It makes one wonder about the facility and the staffing and the training and the ability of someone to bring a dangerous weapon within the secured area." The state pays more than $50 million a year to CCA to house more than 2,000 men and women inmates in private prisons on the Mainland because there isn't enough room for them in Hawai'i prisons, but the practice of exporting women inmates has been criticized in recent years. Many of the women inmates have young children, and prisoner advocates and some lawmakers are concerned that long separations without family visits may negatively affect the children and families back in Hawai'i.

January 22, 2008 WKYT
A employee at the Otter Creek Correctional Facility is dead after an apparent suicide. This release was issued earlier today from Corrections Corporation of America. Wheelwright, KY, January 22, 2008 – It is with great sadness that Corrections Corporation of America’s Otter Creek Correctional Facility reports the death of an employee at the facility earlier this morning. At approximately 9:00 a.m. eastern standard time, an employee died from a self-inflicted injury in an apparent suicide. The name and title of the employee along with further details regarding the circumstances of the incident are not being released at this time pending proper notifications of relatives and an ongoing investigation by Kentucky State Police. Currently, the facility is on lockdown status, which means that inmate movement is restricted to their housing areas. Facility management is cooperating fully with KSP investigators. Additionally, CCA management has deployed a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team to provide any needed counseling and support to facility staff. “We are very saddened by what has occurred this morning,” stated CCA’s Division Managing Director of Operations Kevin Myers. “Our condolences go out to the family, friends and coworkers of this employee. We will continue to work closely with investigators and our customers while also ensuring that we provide the needed support to our employees.” Questions regarding the investigation should be directed to the Kentucky State Police. The Otter Creek Correctional Facility is a 656-bed female prison owned and operated by CCA. Through management contracts, the facility houses adult female inmates for the state corrections systems of Kentucky and Hawaii.

January 2, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
The family of a Hawai'i woman prison inmate who died at a privately run prison on the Mainland in late 2005 has sued the state and the prison operator, alleging the facility failed to give their relative proper medical treatment in the month before she died. Sarah Ah Mau, 43, had been complaining of severe abdominal pain and respiratory problems — probably caused by a heart condition that caused fluid to accumulate in her lungs and resulted in a condition called passive congestion of the liver, said lawyer Michael Green, who is representing the family. The suit alleges the prison showed "deliberate indifference" to Ah Mau's health problems, and Ah Mau filed an inmate grievance complaining about the poor care. Instead of helping her, prison officials "ignored her, insisted she was faking and threatened to put her in segregation if she continued to complain," according to the suit. In November 2005, and in the weeks before Ah Mau died, the prison medical staff at the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., gave her antihistamine, cough syrup, castor oil, stool softener and antibiotics, but prison medical workers officials "continued to ignore the serious medical problems" that were causing Ah Mau's severe abdominal pain, according to the suit. "The evidence is that Miss Ah Mau was having progressive heart failure with classical clinical signs that had been documented in the progress notes," Green said. "Our expert told me that they could have saved this woman." Ah Mau was rushed to a local hospital on Dec. 29, 2005 after the prison medical staff was unable to get a blood pressure reading. She died at the Hazard Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospital on Dec. 31. The prison is owned by Corrections Corporation of America, which has been the subject of a number of inmate complaints alleging substandard medical care. After Ah Mau died, Hawai'i prison officials sent a team to assess the medical treatment being given to inmates at Otter Creek. They never publicly released the results of that inquiry. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Darryl K. Ah Mau, who was Sarah Ah Mau's husband, and Sarah Ah Mau's father, Bartholomew Yadao, against the state of Hawai'i, Corrections Corporation of America and CCA nurse Iris Prater. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety said the department has not received a copy of the lawsuit, and therefore could not comment on it. CCA has said that its own review of Ah Mau's medical records found she received prompt and appropriate care.

October 17, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser
State prison officials say it's possible all of Hawai'i's women inmates on the Mainland — 175 convicts now held in a private prison in Kentucky — could be brought back and housed at the Federal Detention Center on O'ahu. Tommy Johnson, deputy director for corrections of the state Department of Public Safety, said negotiations could begin with the federal Bureau of Prisons to house the women at the federal center near the Honolulu airport, provided state lawmakers approve extra money for their care. Housing the women in Hawai'i would double the cost of holding them in Kentucky, Johnson said. There is no room at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua for the Mainland inmates, but the detention center may have room for all 175 inmates, he said. The decision to house women inmates out of state has been sharply criticized by lawmakers and prison reform advocates who say most of the women were convicted of nonviolent crimes, and some are single mothers. Some of the women convicts were the sole caregivers for their children before they were sent to prison, and lawmakers and others have questioned the impact that long separations without visits may have on the children and families back in Hawai'i. Both the House Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee and the Senate Public Safety Committee passed bills this year instructing the Department of Public Safety to draft plans to return the women inmates to Hawai'i. The bills were not approved by the full Legislature, but state lawmakers are expected to revisit the subject in the 2008 session. Senate Public Safety Committee Chairman Will Espero said he has heard the state may rent an entire floor of the Federal Detention Center to house 120 of the women now on the Mainland. "If that's the case, then great. We'll be very supportive of it, but of course we have to provide them the programming and other services that the inmates will need," Espero said. NO ROOM IN HAWAI'I Hawai'i holds a larger percentage of its prison population outside the state than any other state in the nation. As of last week the state was holding 2,027 convicted felons in private prisons operated by Corrections Corporation of America in Arizona and Kentucky, which is more than half the total state prison population. Prison officials have said they would prefer to house those inmates in Hawai'i correctional facilities, but there is no room here because Hawai'i has not built a new prison in the past 20 years. State prison officials had planned to move the women prisoners on the Mainland from the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., to the new Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., this year, but that plan has been delayed, Johnson said. Now, Hawai'i prison officials are negotiating a one-year extension of the Otter Creek contract, and are considering moving the women to the federal lockup as "one option," Johnson said. The state now pays about $54 per day per inmate to house the women at Otter Creek, and that is expected to increase to about $56 per day under the new contract being negotiated with CCA. The state pays $80.54 per inmate per day to house about 150 prisoners in rented beds at the Federal Detention Center, and Johnson said he expects the detention center would house the women for a similar rate. However, the state would also have to put up money to provide rehabilitative programming for the women that is now available at Otter Creek, such as drug treatment and parenting classes. Those programs would not be provided under a federal contract, which means the state would have to establish those services at the detention center. 'IT'S ABSURD' Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, said many of the women now in prison do not need to be held in secure settings such as Otter Creek, the Federal Detention Center or the Women's Community Correctional Center. Brady cited Department of Public Safety statistics that show 40 percent of Hawai'i's sentenced women inmates in 2006 were classified as community custody, meaning they were eligible for work furlough, extended furlough or residential transitional living centers outside of the prison system. Additionally, about 21 percent of the women inmates were classified as minimum custody inmates. According to the Department Public Safety, minimum security prisoners can be placed in less restrictive minimum security prison settings, or can be supervised in the community. "Instead of extending the contract for that coal pit, why don't they instead get more transition beds in the community, and let those women out who are community custody, who the department itself says can be in the community with no supervision?" Brady said. "It's absurd that we keep using the most expensive sanction to deal with people who are community custody. It's absurd, it's immoral, it's expensive and it doesn't help anybody."

May 10, 2006 In These Times
It has been an arduous, surreal journey for eight Hawaiian female prisoners sent to do their time on the mainland. The plight of this group of women housed, most recently, in a prison in the small eastern Kentucky town of Wheelwright, would have escaped unnoticed, had it not been for the death of 43-year-old Sarah Ah Mau, on New Year's Eve 2005. Mau, serving a life sentence for second-degree murder, had been incarcerated since 1993 and had a shot at parole eligibility in August 2008. She never got that chance. Instead she died of as-yet-unexplained "natural causes" after two days in critical condition--and a month after first complaining of severe gastrointestinal distress. Family members and fellow prisoners say that Ah Mau's pleas for medical care were ridiculed, downplayed or ignored by prison employees. As her stomach distended--and other body parts began to swell visibly--prisoners say that Ah Mau was fed castor oil and told to stop complaining unless she wanted to face disciplinary action. What was Hawaiian resident Ah Mau doing in Kentucky in the first place? She was a commodity in an increasingly common practice: interstate prison transfers. Prison transfers, while not unusual, have a profound effect on inmates and family members alike. Children and spouses of "shipped" prisoners have little, if any, opportunity to see their loved ones. And due to special contracts with phone companies, telephone calls are prohibitively expensive. Prisoners themselves are sent to culturally unfamiliar facilities where they are supposed to be treated according to the laws and regulations granted by their home states--but rarely are. Home state law and prison regulation books are rarely available, making the prisoners' appeals or grievance requests even more difficult to file. Most of the prisoners transferred out of their home states (which include but are not limited to Alabama, Colorado, North Dakota, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming) end up in privately run facilities in rural communities. Many of the guards hired for such prisons are under-trained, ill-prepared for their stressful work environments, and are paid "fast-food restaurant wages," according to Ken Kopczynski, executive director of Private Corrections Institute (PCI), a prison watchdog group. "This is a major issue," says Kopczynski. "The private prison companies have found a real niche for themselves." (click here for complete article)

April 8, 2006 Lexington Herald-Leader
A guard at Otter Creek Correctional Center has been charged with sexual abuse after he allegedly gave food and candy to a female inmate for oral sex, Kentucky State Police say. Eldon Tackett, 43, of Melvin, who no longer works at the prison, was arrested Monday and released from the Floyd County jail that night after posting a $1,000 bond, a deputy jailer said. Detective Byron Hansford said in a March 28 criminal complaint that the alleged offenses occurred on Jan. 22 and Feb. 10. Otter Creek is a privately owned prison operated by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America. It was converted last year into a women's facility. Warden Joyce Arnold could not be reached for comment. Tackett is scheduled for arraignment in Floyd District Court on April 26.

February 19, 2006 Courier-Journal
It harkens back to centuries past, when felons were banished to penal colonies on distant continents. One hundred and nineteen Hawaiians -- all women -- are locked behind razor-wire fences at an isolated private prison in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, 4,500 miles from their homes and families. Most will never get a visitor, no matter how long they're incarcerated. "The cost per bed may be cheaper, but not when you include the cost of broken families," said Kat Brady, coordinator for the Community Alliance on Prisons in Honolulu. "It is hard for a woman to come home after three or five or 10 years and say, 'I'm your mom,' when her child has never been able to visit her." The Hawaiians have been held at Otter Creek since September, when CCA reopened it as a women's prison; 399 Kentucky women also are held in the facility, which once housed about 600 men from Indiana and also was the scene of a nine-hour riot in July 2001. But the Hawaiians went unnoticed outside of Wheelwright, a former coal camp, until Sarah Ah Mau, 43, died mysteriously Dec. 31 after complaining for a month of a stomachache. The cause of her death is still under investigation. Hawaiian news organizations reported that she'd told family members before her death that her pleas for medical attention went ignored. CCA said in a statement that her care was appropriate. A Courier-Journal reporter was allowed to interview 10 of the Hawaiians but barred from asking any questions about Ah Mau's death; Warden Joyce Arnold also insisted that the prison's security director monitor the interviews. Otter Creek is the fourth stop for many of the Hawaiian women. They were removed from prisons in Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado after other private companies allegedly violated contracts by refusing to provide promised vocational training and drug treatment. In Colorado, two of the inmates allegedly were sexually assaulted, and inmates had to teach their own vocational classes.

January 15, 2006 Courier-Journal
The state of Hawaii is sending a medical team to Kentucky to investigate the Dec. 31 death of a Hawaiian woman who became ill at a private prison in Floyd County, where she was being held. Hawaii, which suffers from severe prison overcrowding, houses more than 2,000 inmates on the mainland, including 119 women at the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky. The private prison, run by Corrections Corp. of America, also houses 399 Kentucky inmates. Sarah Ah Mau, 43, was taken to the Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospital at McDowell on Dec. 30 and transferred that night to the ARH Medical Center in Hazard, where she died the next morning, Deputy Perry Coroner Clayton Brown said. A spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, Michael Gaede, said an autopsy found she died of natural causes. Dr. Tracey Corey, a state medical examiner, said in an interview that her death had no public health implications for other inmates. Hawaiian news organizations reported last week that before her death Ah Mau had told relatives in Hawaii that her pleas for medical attention were ignored. Gaede said medical records show Ah Mau complained twice between Thanksgiving and Christmas of stomach pain and was treated with castor oil for constipation. He said Hawaii's investigators would be coming to Kentucky on Jan. 23. Otter Creek, which previously housed male inmates from Indiana, was converted into a women's prison last fall. In 2001, Hoosier inmates being held there staged a nine-hour uprising.

January 4, 2006 Honolulu Advertiser
State prison officials plan to send medical staff to Kentucky soon to investigate the death of a Hawai'i inmate confined at the Otter Creek Correctional Center. Inmate Sarah Ah Mau, 43, was taken early Friday from the prison to a local clinic after suffering what officials believe was a "serious heart attack," said Hawai'i Department of Public Safety spokesman Michael Gaede. The woman was having trouble breathing and had an irregular heart rhythm, he said. "The key for us is the medical treatment received, that's what we're looking into," Lopez said. "First of all, we have to find out what kind of treatment she did receive, and who she received her treatment from." Kat Brady, coordinator for the Community Alliance on Prisons, yesterday called for an independent inquiry into the medical care being provided to inmates at the Otter Creek prison. Although Brady has not visited the facility, she said inmates there told her that Ah Mau had been complaining about stomach pain for four weeks, and that prison medical staff gave her laxatives and other medications. Brady said inmates told her that Ah Mau tried to convince Otter Creek officials that she was seriously ill, but that the woman was threatened with confinement in isolation if she continued to complain. Brady said she is aware of at least two other cases in which women with serious medical problems allegedly were misdiagnosed by prison staff. One had pneumonia and another had a heart condition, and both eventually were hospitalized, she said. Otter Creek records provided to Hawai'i officials yesterday show only that Ah Mau was treated with castor oil for constipation, but there is no record of her returning for follow-up treatment, Gaede said. Hawai'i officials are concerned about communications with the Kentucky prison, Gaede said. Otter Creek staff notified Hawai'i officials that Ah Mau had been hospitalized, and later that she had been placed on life support, but Hawai'i officials didn't know she died until hearing the news from her sister, he said. "There's some sort of chink in the communications there," Gaede said.

January 3, 2006 Honolulu Star Bulletin
State public safety officials say they are planning to investigate Saturday's death of a Hawaii inmate at a prison in Kentucky. Relatives of Sarah Ah Mau, 43, allege that her pleas for medical attention were ignored by officials at the Otter Creek facility. Frank Lopez, interim state director of public safety, said he was told by prison officials that Mau's death resulted from a heart attack. Lopez said state officials could fly to Kentucky this week to investigate Mau's death. Mau's sister, Julie Frierson, said Mau had been complaining of severe stomach pains for more than a month. A prison doctor called it "constipation" and gave her castor oil, her relatives said. They said Mau had told an inmate on Friday that she could not catch her breath. She was hospitalized but died on Saturday, according to family members.

November 3, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
Hawai'i prison officials signed a new contract with a private prison operator this week that for the first time allows the state to financially penalize the company if the prison operator fails to deliver on promised drug treatment or other programs for inmates held on the Mainland. Frank Lopez, acting director of the state Department of Public Safety, said the financial sanctions included in the new contract with Corrections Corp. of America were prompted by problems the state had in Oklahoma, when required drug treatment services for Hawai'i women inmates abruptly ended after the prison was sold in 2003. Inmate programs were interrupted again for more than four months this year at another privately operated women's prison in Brush, Colo., after allegations of sexual misconduct by the staff surfaced, triggering staff resignations, firings and an investigation by the Colorado Department of Corrections. Lopez said that interruption in programs at Brush might have triggered financial penalties if the new contract provisions had been in place at the time. "Our problem before was that we weren't able to address the (contractors') failure to deliver certain services in the past," Lopez said. "It wasn't specific enough. Our contract wasn't tight enough." Neither the Oklahoma nor the Colorado women's prison was operated by CCA, but state monitors have complained in the past that CCA also failed to provide inmate programs that were required by contract. The state prison system on Tuesday transferred another 53 women inmates from the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua to CCA's Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., bringing the number of women inmates on the Mainland to 120, said Shari Kimoto, the department's Mainland branch administrator. In all, Hawai'i houses about 1,850 men and women inmates in private prisons in Arizona, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Kentucky because there is no room for them in state-run prisons in Hawai'i. About half of the state's prison population is housed on the Mainland. The new contract covers only the 120 women inmates at Otter Creek, but Lopez said he sees it as a model for new contracts the state will negotiate with CCA next year covering male inmates held out of state.

October 28, 2005 Lexington Herald-Leader
Angry Wheelwright residents are calling it a sign of things to come in the winter of 2005-06 -- a record leap in natural gas prices that should send shivers across Kentucky. For one day this month, a Pittsburgh-based gas company shut off service to the entire city -- including a private prison for women -- because the city was behind on its bills. Then, despite protests and now a lawsuit, city commissioners in this old Floyd County coal camp approved a natural gas rate increase that will nearly triple rates from about $7 per thousand-cubic-feet a year ago to $20 per mcf starting Wednesday. Wheelwright, built in a narrow hollow along Otter Creek at the base of Abner Mountain, was once perhaps the state's most prosperous and modern coal camp, but today it has only 1,042 residents. Many are on fixed income, except for those who work at a private women's prison with 480 inmates from Hawaii. The vote this week came after Equitable Gas Co. shut off service to the community and prison for a day on Oct. 17 after it said city officials gave "inadequate" responses to several shut-off warnings, citing a $96,000 debt from last year. The shut-off forced Otter Creek Correctional Center to prepare inmates' food on an electric grill. Prestonsburg attorney Ned Pillersdorf, who has sued to halt the rate increase, was both bemused and angered. "These Hawaiian women apparently have to be kept warm," he said ruefully. "Meanwhile, we have one of the poorest communities in the state being forced to pay one the highest utility rates in the state."

October 2, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
A decade ago, Hawai'i began exporting inmates to Mainland prisons in what was supposed to be a temporary measure to save money and relieve overcrowding in state prisons. Now, the state doesn't seem to be able to stop. With little public debate or study, the practice of sending prisoners away has become a predominant feature of Hawai'i's corrections policy, with nearly half of the state's prison population - 1,828 inmates - held in privately operated facilities in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arizona and Kentucky at a cost of $36 million this year. Hawai'i already leads all other states in holding the highest percentage of its prison population in out-of-state correctional centers, and if Hawai'i policymakers continue on their present course, by the end of 2006 there likely will be more inmates housed in Mainland prisons than at home. Although public safety officials say the private companies that house Hawai'i inmates have generally done a good job, the history of Mainland prison placements is pockmarked with reports of contract violations, riots, drug smuggling, and allegations of sexual assaults of women inmates. Former prisons chief Keith Kaneshiro says years in Mainland prisons have instilled a dangerous gang culture in Hawai'i inmates that has spread back to the Islands and will present problems for local corrections officials for years to come. There is also concern that inmates who are incarcerated on the Mainland lose touch with their families, increasing the likelihood they will return to crime once they are released. Robert Perkinson, a University of Hawai'i assistant professor of American studies, called the state's prison policy "completely backward." "None of this makes sense if your goal is to make the citizens of Hawai'i safer and use your tax dollars as effectively as you can to make the streets safer, based on the best available research that we have," said Perkinson, who is writing a book on the Texas prison system. Marilyn Brown, assistant professor of sociology at UH-Hilo, said Hawai'i's out-of-state inmate transfers are a strange throwback to corrections policies of two or three centuries ago, when felons were banished to penal colonies in Australia or the New World. Most of the $36 million being spent this year on out-of-state prison accommodations will go to Corrections Corp. of America, a pioneer in the private corrections industry. The company holds about 62,000 inmates nationwide, including about 1,750 men from Hawai'i in prisons in Oklahoma, Arizona and Mississippi. Last week the state transferred 80 Hawai'i women inmates from a prison in Brush, Colo., owned by GRW Corp. to Otter Creek Correctional Center, a CCA prison in Wheelwright, Ky. Those selected for Mainland transfers generally are felons with at least several years left on their sentences who have no major health problems or pending court cases that would require their presence in Hawai'i. Private prison contractors have the final say, and can reject troublesome inmates with a history of misconduct. Ted Sakai, who ran the state prison system from 1998 to 2002, said it will always be cheaper to house inmates on the Mainland because of labor costs, which are considerably lower in the rural communities where many prisons are. But there are benefits to keeping prison jobs here, he said. In 2000, state House Republican leaders scolded then-Gov. Ben Cayetano for proposing to lease more prison beds on the Mainland. House Minority Leader Galen Fox said doing so would be bad for the state's economy and the inmates' families. An Advertiser poll of Democrats and Republicans before the start of the Legislature's 2003 session found a majority of state lawmakers opposed the practice. Republican Gov. Linda Lingle also has said she is opposed to sending more prisoners away. Yet spending on Mainland prisons has steadily increased over the past 10 years, and politicians have failed to take action on alternatives. The Cayetano administration explored several options for privately built or privately operated facilities on the Big Island and O'ahu, but each proposal was thwarted by political resistance or opposition from communities near suggested prison sites. Lingle campaigned in 2002 on a promise to build two 500-bed secure "treatment facilities," but three years later, no specifics have been provided on when or where the projects might be built. As Hawai'i's policy of out-of-state incarceration becomes more entrenched, other states are moving in the opposite direction. Connecticut and Wisconsin both recently brought home almost all of their inmates who had been housed elsewhere, and Indiana returned 600 convicts from out-of-state prisons. Alabama, meanwhile, doubled the number of convicts on parole to allow inmates to return from a Corrections Corp. of America-run prison in Tutwiler, Miss., last year. The vacancies at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility were filled by more than 700 Hawai'i inmates. Wyoming plans to open a new prison in 2007 that would allow the state to bring back 550 inmates now held out of state, and lawmakers in Alaska last year authorized planning for a new prison of their own.

September 29, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
About 80 Hawai'i women prison inmates boarded an airplane in Colorado yesterday for a trip to the small rural town of Wheelwright, Ky., where they will be housed in a prison run by Corrections Corporation of America. The women had been held for the past 14 months in the Brush Correctional Facility in Brush, Colo., a private prison run by GRW Corp. that was plagued by problems including allegations of sexual misconduct between staff at the prison and eight inmates from three states, including Hawai'i. The inmates are among 1,828 Hawai'i convicts who are housed at privately run prisons on the Mainland because there is no room for them in Hawai'i prisons. Colorado Department of Corrections officials launched investigations into Brush Correctional Facility earlier this year that resulted in a number of criminal charges against staff and inmates in Colorado. Two prison employees were indicted on charges of alleged sexual misconduct with inmates, and two more prison workers were charged along with five inmates in connection with an alleged cigarette-smuggling ring. Brush Warden Rick Soares resigned in February, and was later indicted as an alleged accomplice in one of the sexual misconduct cases. In March the Colorado Department of Corrections revealed that five convicted felons were allowed to work at the prison because background checks on some staff members had never been completed. Colorado authorities later released an audit that was highly critical of the prison, and contract monitors from Hawai'i reported the prison failed to comply with its contract with the state in a number of areas.

August 16, 2005 WYMT
The Otter Creek Correctional Facility is officially open again. The Kentucky Department of Corrections started sending female inmates to the prison Tuesday. Many people have bee anticipating this day. After a couple of months of being empty, Otter Creek Correctional Facility now has 42 female Kentucky inmates. Many people were glad to see them here. After weeks of preparing and waiting, Otter Creek employees and officials finally got what they had been waiting for, inmates. The female inmates are a first at Otter Creek because it used to hold men. That means some things will be different, but employees say just having inmates again means things can get back to normal. The new inmates mean more than just opening the prison again, they mean a lot for the local economy. So officials agree they are glad to see the new inmates at Otter Creek. The 42 female inmates are just the first ones to arrive. Officials say more will arrive in the next five weeks and there will be 400. Otter Creek officials are still waiting to see if they will be getting more female inmates from Hawaii.

Red Rock Correctional Facility
Eloy, Arizona
CCA
August 10, 2011 Arizona Republic
Corrections Corp. of America is proposing to use two of its existing prisons in Eloy to provide new private-prison beds for Arizona. Nashville-based CCA, the country's largest operator of private prisons, would empty its Red Rock and La Palma facilities of the inmates from Hawaii and California they now house to create space for 4,500 Arizona inmates. CCA is one of four companies bidding to contract with Arizona's Department of Corrections for up to 5,000 private prison beds. It provided details of its plans at a standing-room-only meeting Tuesday evening in Eloy. Under the proposal, CCA wouldn't expand either private prison; rather, the Hawaiian and Californian inmates would move to one of the more than 60 other prisons elsewhere in the CCA system, likely in other states.

January 28, 2011 Star-Advertiser
The Abercrombie administration is starting to make good on the governor's promise to bring all state prison inmates incarcerated on the mainland back to Hawaii.The state returned 243 inmates from Arizona last week and sent back just 96 to take their place. Of the 243 returning inmates, 54 are getting paroled, 28 are about to complete their prison terms and three are back for court hearings. When Gov. Neil Abercrombie promised swift action last month to bring back all Hawaii inmates serving time in mainland prisons, state Senate Public Safety Chairman Will Espero was not expecting action so soon. "I was pleasantly surprised," he said. Espero said he learned of the returning inmates yesterday from state Public Safety Director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata. He said the state conducts prison transfers quarterly, but it usually sends at least the same number of prisoners to the mainland as it returns. He applauded Abercrombie's plan to bring back all Hawaii inmates. "If we're going to spend $60 million a year to house inmates, I'd rather spend it here in Hawaii than on the mainland," Espero said. The state returned 152 inmates to Hawaii on Jan. 19, sent 96 to Arizona on Jan. 20 and returned an additional 91 last Friday. The transfers leave 1,759 Hawaii inmates in Arizona: 1,705 in Saguaro Correctional Center, 51 in Red Rock Correctional Center, two in Florence State Prison and one in Central Arizona Detention Center. Central Arizona, in Florence, and Saguaro and Red Rock, both in Eloy, are private prisons operated by Corrections Corp. of America, which houses Hawaii inmates under contract with the state. Abercrombie made his promise after 18 Hawaii inmates at Saguaro sued CCA, the state and the state's contract monitor. The inmates claim they were beaten and assaulted and their families threatened by prison guards. The Public Safety Department sent a team to examine practices at Saguaro last year after two Hawaii inmates died in February and June. The state returned all but one of the 169 women serving time in a CCA prison in Kentucky in 2009 after the inmates reported widespread sexual abuse by guards and prison employees.  The Abercrombie administration is starting to make good on the governor's promise to bring all state prison inmates incarcerated on the mainland back to Hawaii.

December 29, 2010 AP
State Auditor Marion Higa on Wednesday blasted the Hawaii Department of Public Safety's management of a contract to house prisoners in privately owned Arizona prisons. In a 77-page report, Higa also criticized the financial data about the arrangement the department has provided legislators and the public for using a flawed methodology and containing inaccurate or insufficient figures. "Without clarified guidance by policymakers, the department has no incentive to perform better and will continue to evade accountability by providing unreliable and inaccurate reporting of incarceration costs," Higa wrote in the audit's conclusion. "In addition, the department has misused its procurement authority to circumvent the process designed with safeguards to protect the state's interests," she added. There was no immediate response to a request for comment from department officials or Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office. Much of the audit's findings are critical of actions taken by the administration of Abercrombie's predecessor, Linda Lingle. Abercrombie has said he wants to stop exporting inmates to other states but hasn't spelled out whether that would mean building more prisons in Hawaii or releasing less-dangerous inmates to free up existing beds. According to the audit, about 2,000 male Hawaii prisoners currently are housed in the Florence, Red Rock and Saguaro correctional centers owned by the Corrections Corporation of America. The state in 2006 signed an "intergovernmental agreement" with Eloy, Ariz., where the facilities are located, but deals almost exclusively with CCA, the report contended. The arrangement allowed agency officials to circumvent and manipulate the state's competitive procurement process to steer business to CCA, the audit found. The department also treated CCA as a government agent instead of a private vendor operating for a profit, it contended. The CCA contract is set to expire on June 30. But the report concluded the state as of early October had no plan to address that looming deadline. Without such a plan, "the department is shirking its responsibility to provide for the safety of the public through correctional management, and leaves the operational staff ill-prepared to contract for private prison beds and services," the audit stated. The report also aimed fire at the department's reporting to the Legislature. It asserted that agency officials reported "artificial cost figures" that were derived from a calculation that itself was "based on a flawed methodology." "Because funding is virtually guaranteed, management is indifferent to the needs of policymakers and the public for accurate and reliable cost information," the audit said. "As a result, true costs are unknown." In addition to improving its financial and program data, and its monitoring of operations at the CCA prisons, the auditor called on the state's chief procurement officer to suspend the public safety department's contracting authority for private prisons until its practices and policies are changed and staff have been better trained.

February 22, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
Hawai'i inmates at the Red Rock Correctional Center in Arizona have been locked down for 10 days during a top-to-bottom shakedown of the prison prompted by two recent drug overdoses of Alaska inmates, according to the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety. About 65 Hawai'i inmates are housed at the private prison, but are kept separate from the Alaska prisoners, said Public Safety Deputy Director Tommy Johnson. Teams provided by prison owner Corrections Corporation of America used drug dogs as part of the search of all staff, program, recreational, medical, kitchen and living areas. Investigators discovered three grams of black tar heroin and a list detailing prices within the prison for cigarettes, marijuana and other drugs, Johnson said. The drugs were found in a part of the prison occupied by Alaska prisoners, and no Hawaii inmates were involved in any illegal drug activity, he said. Three Alaska inmates were placed in disciplinary segregation for introducing contraband. Johnson said CCA investigators suspect the drugs were being smuggled into the 1,596-bed prison via the mail, and have tightened up on mail room procedures. The prison is expected to return to normal operations Monday.

July 22, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser
The private prison company that holds Hawai'i convicts on the Mainland acknowledged that multiple cell doors accidentally opened on four occasions at one of the company's new Arizona prisons, including one incident where alleged prison gang members used the opportunity to attack a Hawai'i inmate. The state's highest prison official said he's troubled that Corrections Corporation of America did not immediately notify the state about the incidents. The statement released by CCA announced that "appropriate disciplinary action was taken on officers in regard to four separate inadvertent cell door openings" at the Red Rock Correctional Center. The statement did not offer any specifics, and a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail that CCA would not provide additional details. Hawai'i Department of Public Safety interim director Clayton Frank said CCA did not tell Hawai'i prison authorities about some of the incidents until Wednesday night, after The Advertiser published complaints from inmates about repeated cases where doors opened unexpectedly and improperly, leaving protective custody prisoners vulnerable to attacks by prison gangs. Frank said he is "troubled" that CCA did not tell Hawai'i about some of the incidents. The company explained it did not immediately report some cases where doors opened because those incidents did not involve attacks on Hawai'i inmates, Frank said. "Right now, I have some serious concerns and doubt of whether they are providing us with everything," he said. "If it involves our inmates, I want to make sure that what they're giving us is true and accurate. "I want something to go directly to corporate office up there that says you guys have got to be candid when we ask questions." The state pays about $50 million a year to house 2,100 convicts in Mainland CCA prisons because there is no room for them in Hawai'i facilities. INMATE STABBED In the most serious of the incidents at Red Rock, Hawai'i inmate John Kupa was stabbed with a homemade knife on June 26 after more than half of the cell doors abruptly opened in his housing unit. That incident is being blamed on an error by a corrections officer. Protective custody inmates are housed in that prison pod along with general population inmates. That mix requires that prisoners there be separated constantly, and the doors there are never supposed to open simultaneously, prison officials said. Hawai'i Public Safety officials say that when the doors opened, Kupa and a 44-year-old inmate allegedly attacked Hawai'i convict Sidney Tafokitau. During the struggle, prison officials say Tafokitau allegedly stabbed Kupa. Tafokitau, a protective custody inmate, has said he acted in self-defense, and said he got the knife by taking it away from one of his attackers. Kupa, 36, was stabbed in the lower left back, and was treated and released from an Arizona hospital. The Red Rock stabbing marks the second time in two years a Hawai'i inmate has been injured when cell doors unexpectedly opened in a CCA prison living unit where inmates were supposed to be locked down. In the earlier case, 20 cell doors in a disciplinary unit of the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippi suddenly opened at 2:48 a.m. on July 17, 2005, releasing about three dozen Hawai'i convicts from their cells. Inmates then attacked Hawai'i inmate Ronnie Lonoaea, who was beaten so badly he suffered brain damage, and is now confined to a wheelchair. Hawai'i prison officials this week revealed the doors opened in Mississippi in that 2005 disturbance because a corrections officer had been "compromised" by a prison gang. Lawyer Myles Breiner, who is suing the state and CCA on behalf of Lonoaea and his family, said Lonoaea will need extensive medical care for the rest of his life, care that is expected to "easily" cost $10 million to $11 million. Breiner said he is also gathering information about attacks triggered by doors that improperly opened at Red Rock, and is considering filing suit on behalf of inmates that were attacked or injured in those cases. DELIBERATE ERROR? "Their doors are opening, and the only people responsible for the management and security is CCA," Breiner said. He said some of the lapses at Red Rock seem to be caused by human error or problems with the equipment, while the inmates suspect some of the other incidents have been deliberate. "Whether it's corruption or construction, CCA is still responsible," Breiner said. The statement from CCA said the company has taken corrective measures. "We stand by our reputation as a provider of quality corrections management services, and will continue to assess our operational activities to further refine and improve our safety processes," the company said.

July 18, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser
For the second time in two years, improper actions by a corrections worker caused cell doors to unexpectedly open in a Mainland prison where Hawai'i inmates were supposed to be kept separated, triggering violence that injured a Hawai'i convict, prison officials said. In the first incident at a Mississippi prison in 2005, Hawai'i convict Ronnie Lonoaea, 34, was beaten so severely that he suffered brain damage and is now confined to a wheelchair. Lonoaea's family sued the Hawai'i prison system and Corrections Corp. of America last week in connection with the case. In a second incident last month at Red Rock Correctional Center in Arizona, an error by a prison staffer caused cell doors to abruptly open, prison officials said. Hawai'i inmate John Kupa, 36, was stabbed in the left lower back, according to a police report. The two incidents raise concerns about the treatment of Hawai'i inmates in Mainland prisons run by a private company, said an expert on prisons and a state legislator. In the Arizona case, cell doors abruptly opened on June 26 in a prison pod where protective custody inmates are housed in some cells and general population inmates including gang members are held in other cells. Kupa was stabbed with a homemade knife after the doors opened at about 6 p.m., according to a report from the Eloy, Ariz., police department. The injured inmate was treated and released at a local hospital, according to a prison spokeswoman. In the Mississippi prison incident, 20 cell doors suddenly opened at 2:48 a.m. on July 17, 2005. About three dozen Hawai'i inmates were released from their cells when the doors opened, touching off a melee that lasted for 90 minutes in a disciplinary pod in the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility. Corrections officers finally used tear gas grenades to regain control of the pod. Hawai'i Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy said an internal investigation of the Mississippi case found the doors opened because a corrections sergeant had been "compromised" by prison gang members. Corrections Corp. of America, which owns both the Mississippi and the Arizona prison, terminated the sergeant, McCoy said in a written response to questions. Steve Owen, director of marketing for CCA, declined to discuss the specifics of the June 26 incident and also declined comment on the lawsuit over the Tallahatchie incident. PRIVATE VS. PUBLIC Byron E. Price, assistant professor of public policy and administration at Rutgers University and author of a book on the private prison industry, said Hawai'i has reason to be concerned about the incidents at Tallahatchie and Red Rock. Private prison operators make money by holding down costs, which is often accomplished by reducing labor costs, said Price. The companies tend to rely heavily on technology as a way to keep the officer-to-inmate ratios down, Price said. Private prison staff members are typically inexperienced, he added. "By cutting labor costs, you get a less qualified individual, and there's high turnover rate in the private prisons, and they conduct less training for their corrections officers" compared with publicly run prisons, said Price, who is author of "Merchandizing Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization?" Corrections Yearbook statistics show the staff turnover at private prisons averages 52 percent a year, while the turnover at public prisons is about 16 percent, he said. Hawai'i spends more than $50 million a year to house inmates in CCA prisons on the Mainland, and Senate Public Safety Committee Chairman Will Espero said he is concerned about reports of security problems "that appear to be similar, and that haven't been resolved." "Considering the millions of dollars that we are spending on the Mainland, we would expect to get excellent service, excellent facilities, and ... I would expect that with their experience, they should be able to minimize any problems," he said of CCA. LIFETIME CARE NEEDED When the cell doors opened in Mississippi, prisoners attacked Lonoaea. His attackers tore or cut off his lips and broke bones in his face, said Honolulu lawyer Michael Green, who is suing CCA and the Hawai'i prison system on behalf of Lonoaea's family. Green said Lonoaea, who is approaching the end of his prison sentence, will need intensive healthcare for the rest of his life that will likely cost $10 million to $11 million. The lawsuit alleges Hawai'i prison officials were negligent for failing to properly oversee the prison, and alleges CCA failed to properly train or supervise TCCF staff. Inmates at Red Rock who were interviewed by The Advertiser complain that multiple cell doors there have repeatedly opened without warning at times when prisoners are supposed to be locked down, leaving protective custody inmates open to danger. Officials at the privately owned Red Rock facility have disarmed the fuses in the electrical systems that operate the doors to some cells in the facility since the June 26 incident, and corrections officers at Red Rock have been manually opening the doors with keys, said McCoy of the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety. In a written response to questions, McCoy confirmed inmate accounts of the attack in Echo-Delta pod, a housing unit where inmates are supposed to remain separated from each other at all times. After the doors opened, Kupa and a 44-year-old inmate allegedly attacked Sidney Tafokitau, 28. During the fight that followed, Tafokitau allegedly stabbed Kupa with a homemade knife. Tafokitau said in a telephone interview this is the second time his cell door at Red Rock has opened without warning. Tafokitau said he acted in self-defense on June 26 and said he obtained the homemade knife by seizing it from one of his attackers during the fight. Tafokitau also alleged that corrections officers initially fled from the fight instead of intervening to break it up and only returned later with pepper spray after Tafokitau's attackers had thrown him to the ground and were beating him. "I telling you, this ... place is sloppy, cuz," said Tafokitau, who is serving a life sentence for robbery. "They make so much mistakes ... it's just a matter of time before another mistake. I telling you right now, somebody gonna get killed, brah." Tafokitau said he was in the pod because he was involuntarily placed in protective custody after he clashed with a prison gang. EARLIER INCIDENTS Hawai'i inmates at Red Rock claim multiple cell doors have opened simultaneously and unexpectedly before. Inmate Chris Wilmer, 29, recounted an incident on Feb. 2 when all of the doors in Echo-Delta unit again opened, releasing general population inmates into a dayroom occupied by protective custody inmates. Wilmer, who also said he was involuntarily placed in protective custody because of conflicts with gang members, said he immediately became involved in a fight with two alleged members of a prison gang who were released into the dayroom. Wilmer said a Hawai'i prison official was notified of that incident and spoke to Wilmer about it. Wilmer said he also witnessed a similar incident where the doors opened in Echo-Bravo pod at about 6:30 p.m. on April 7, and Wilmer and another inmate both alleged there was another example of doors opening unexpectedly between June 21 and June 23 in the Echo-Bravo pod. The growing sense of insecurity in the pods encourages inmates to try to obtain weapons, and Hawai'i needs to pressure CCA to fix the problem, said Wilmer, who is serving prison terms for robbery, attempted murder and other offenses. "For here and now, something needs to be said and done," he said. "They don't have room for that kind of mistakes." The officer who erred in the June 26 incident meant to open doors in another pod used by Alaska inmates and instead opened the doors to Hawai'i inmates' cells, McCoy said. She said the officer has been disciplined. A female corrections officer who made a similar mistake by opening multiple doors in a living unit elsewhere in the prison earlier this year also was disciplined, McCoy said. McCoy could not immediately confirm the other inmate reports of other cases where multiple cell doors opened unexpectedly in February, April and June. RE-EVALUATING UNIT Part of the problem on June 26 was that the pod involved was not designed to operate with "serious violent offenders" who are locked in their cells for 23 hours each day, but those kinds of offenders ended up there because they couldn't be held in Oklahoma or Mississippi, McCoy said. Those inmates are now awaiting transfer to the newly opened Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona, which has a segregation unit designed to house them, she said. CCA responded to the June 26 incident by re-evaluating the staffing patterns for the unit that included the pod, and adding more experienced officers, McCoy said. The prison operator also had the door system manufacturer update the control panel software to add an extra safeguard to the system and is providing more intensive training for all staff assigned to the units, McCoy said. Hawai'i was holding more than 600 inmates last month at Red Rock, which opened last year. In all, the state houses more than 2,100 men and women convicts in CCA prisons on the Mainland because there is no room for them in prisons in Hawai'i.

June 29, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser
A Hawai'i inmate at the Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz. was stabbed in an altercation Tuesday, according to a corrections spokeswoman. Three Hawai'i inmates were involved in the incident, which is still under investigation, said Louise Kim McCoy, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety. McCoy said the inmates were separated after the incident, and the injured inmate was treated and released at a local hospital. McCoy would not say what sort of weapon was involved, how the inmates came into contact with each other, or where in the prison the assault occurred.

April 5, 2007 Eloy Enterprise
Justin Michael Borden, 28, was arrested for possession of 1.8 grams of marijuana and promoting prison contraband as an employee at the Corrections Corporations of America (CCA) Red Rock Facility located at 1750 E. Arica Road. There was still an outstanding valid warrant for Borden out of Tucson for failure to appear for arraignment.

Saguaro Correctional Center
Eloy, Arizona
CCA
Jun 20, 2016 civilbeat.org
Hawaii Doesn’t Know If Inmates Sent To Mainland Are Likelier To Reoffend
Hawaii Doesn’t Know If Inmates Sent To Mainland Are Likelier To Reoffend. Here’s the harsh truth about the roughly 900 prisoners released each year in Hawaii: The odds are, more than half of them will end up back in trouble. According to the state’s latest study, 47 percent of parolees released in 2012 “recidivated” — either rearrested or in violation of parole conditions — within three years of their release. Those who had served maximum terms fared even worse: Nearly 62 percent were rearrested by 2015. The grim statistics were compiled by the Interagency Council on Intermediate Sanctions, a state agency created in 2002 with the ambitious goal of reducing the recidivism rates by 30 percent. The interagency council published the study in May as part of a series of research papers, which analyze recidivism rates based on an array of variables — such as offender demographics, the type of offenses and how much time elapsed before they reoffended. But the council hasn’t studied one question: What’s the effect of housing prisoners on the mainland, thousands of miles away from their family and friends? In 2014, 67 percent of inmate visitations at the Oahu Community Correctional Center were canceled. In 2015, no visitation was canceled because of staffing shortages. At the Oahu Community Correctional Center, visitations are allowed two days a week. National studies have shown that inmates who maintain close ties to family and friends are more likely to stay out of trouble once they are released. That’s something that advocates have long been asking; it’s a salient question, they say, given that many of the state’s prisoners are housed by the mainland contractor, Corrections Corporation of America. At the end of May, CCA housed about 1,400 Hawaii inmates — more than 40 percent of the state’s prisoners — at the Saguaro Correctional Center, a 1,926-bed facility in Eloy, Arizona. Some point to a cause for concern: A number of studies have shown that prisoners who don’t maintain close ties to family and friends are more likely to commit a new crime. “We’re actually spending millions of dollars to send our guys to Saguaro, and we don’t know how it’s working out.” — Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons “If you look at all the social-science research, one of the major factors that can determine how well people do when they are released is family unity and having that support system,” said Caroline Isaacs, program director of the American Friends Service Committee in Tucson, Arizona. “Everybody from Hawaii is automatically denied that when they are sent to the mainland.” But the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, which plays an integral role in the interagency council, hasn’t shown much interest in studying the issue on a regular basis. Instead, it punts the task to the interagency council, saying that recidivism research is its domain. The department “is responsible for the safe housing of criminal offenders … (and it) tracks inmates’ rehabilitation progress while they are in the system. (But it’s) not responsible for the tracking of inmates once they leave our jurisdiction,” said Toni Schwartz, public safety spokeswoman. Tammy Mori, spokeswoman for the Hawaii State Judiciary, where the interagency council’s coordinator is administratively housed, said the agency is open to suggestions for new areas of research, but she’s “not aware of any requests … to specifically track recidivism rates targeting inmates at specific corrections facilities.” Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, said all this shows that the state isn’t serious about evaluating its own performance. “It’s a problem, because we’re actually spending millions of dollars to send our guys to Saguaro and we don’t know how it’s working out,” Brady said. “The lack of accountability is a huge problem. The community ends up paying for this.” A 2011 study found that Hawaii prisoners housed at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, aren’t any more likely to reoffend once released than those kept in Hawaii. But the study’s authors noted that more research was needed. Hawaii began taking a hard look at recidivism rates in 2002, when the Hawaii State Judiciary took the lead in gathering the stakeholders — judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and representatives from public safety and health departments — to create the interagency council. At the time, the three-year recidivism rates among probationers and parolees topped 63.3 percent, a situation that the interagency council set out to reduce — to about 44 percent within 10 years. To achieve the goal, the interagency council went on to adopt several national “best practices,” including an assessment tool called LSI-R — the Level of Service Inventory-Revised. LSI-R is used to assess each offender’s risk of recidivism based on 54 different factors — such as criminal history, education, and family and marital status — so that appropriate levels of treatment and supervision can be determined. By 2015, the new practices appear to have led to a 16 percentage-point drop in recidivism among probationers and parolees — to 47.3 percent — meaning that overall recidivism declined by 25.3 percent from the 2002 level. The decline was due in large part to a precipitous drop in parolees’ recidivism rate, which went from 72.9 percent in 2002 to 47.1 percent in 2015. The recidivism rate among probationers, meanwhile, fell much less — to 47.4 percent in 2015, only 6.3 percentage points lower than in 2002. Among prisoners who “maxed out” of their sentence, the recidivism rate remained far higher: 61.9 percent, even though the rate declined from 80.6 percent when the interagency council began tracking it in 2005. Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, says tracking the recidivism rate for mainland prisoners should be the routine work of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety. Over the course of its 14-year history, the interagency council hasn’t directed its attention specifically to recidivism among mainland prisoners. But, in 2011, the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office stepped in to fill the knowledge gap by sponsoring a study that compared the recidivism rates of parolees who had served their sentence on the mainland and those who had not. The main takeaway: Among 660 parolees released in 2006, the study found no significant difference in the recidivism rates between the two groups. Among the 168 parolees who had served their sentence on the mainland, the study found that 53 percent were rearrested or in violation of parole conditions within three years of their release, compared with 56.1 percent of those who had never spent time at mainland prisons. In the end, the study concluded that the difference wasn’t statistically significant. In response to Civil Beat’s inquiries, the Department of Public Safety also looked into recidivism outcomes for “maxed out” prisoners and parolees released in 2012 — the same group analyzed for the interagency council’s May study — and came up with similar findings. The department found that the recidivism rates for the 139 “maxed out” prisoners and the 106 parolees who had spent time at Saguaro were 57 percent and 42 percent, respectively. Both rates were slightly lower than the overall recidivism rates — 61.9 percent for all “maxed out” prisoners and 47.1 percent for all parolees released in 2012. Halawa prison visitor area on tour of prison. 17 dec 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat. A 2008 study in Florida found that prison visitation reduced recidivism by as much as 31 percent. But there are several reasons why these findings shouldn’t be taken at face value. For one thing, prisoners sent to the mainland differ markedly from those who are kept in Hawaii. According to Schwartz, before sending them to the mainland, the Department of Public Safety screens prisoners to make sure that they are in good health and don’t pose management problems. Critics call this “cream-skimming” — a process that essentially weeds out troublesome prisoners who are more likely to reoffend once released. Indeed, the 2011 study found that the parolees who had spent time on the mainland had “significantly lower” LSI-R scores, meaning that they were considered to be at lower risk of recidivism. “In some ways, we’re trying to compare apples to oranges, because we’re keeping our worse offenders here,” said Janet Davidson, the co-author of the study. “To improve the system, all of our decisions should be evidence-based. That’s just a no-brainer. And, for that, we need to know more.” — Janet Davidson, assistant professor, Chaminade University. It’s also difficult to tease out the effect of being housed at mainland prisons, since very few prisoners serve the entirety of their sentence on the mainland. The 2011 study found that, out of the 168 parolees who had spent time at mainland prisons, only 22 percent served more than three-quarters of their sentence on the mainland.  Schwartz said that partly explains why her department doesn’t regularly track the recidivism rate for Saguaro prisoners. “‘Recidivism’ is not solely attributable to having been at Saguaro,” Schwartz said. “The pathway to parole can, and usually does, run through many facilities and programs in Hawaii.” But Davidson, an assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at Chaminade University, said the situation calls for more research, not less. “To improve the system, all of our decisions should be evidence-based. That’s just a no-brainer,” Davidson said. “And, for that, we need to know more.” To state Sen. Will Espero, vice chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, the lack of recidivism research shows that the department isn’t focusing enough on developing strong re-entry programs. “The fact that they don’t have the recidivism number for Saguaro inmates — I mean, really? That speaks volumes,” Espero said. “They haven’t had the leadership, expertise and knowledge to develop and establish these programs that inmates need. And that’s where we need to improve.” Brady said the department’s mindset needs to change before that can happen. “This department is all about incarceration, and that’s what they see their role as,” Brady said. “But that’s not their only role. Their role is to rehabilitate people, so that they can come back into the community. They really need to remember that.”

May 25, 2016 civilbeat.com
Is Hawaii Saving Millions By Using A Mainland Prison?
To hear the state’s prison officials tell it, Hawaii is saving millions of dollars by sending hundreds of its excess prisoners to the mainland. At first glance, the numbers seem to bear out the claim: The state’s for-profit contractor, Corrections Corporation of America, houses about 1,400 prisoners in Arizona for roughly half of what it would cost in Hawaii.Civil Beat is examining how the state manages its troubled, overcrowded prison system, which includes four prisons and four jails in Hawaii, and a contract private prison in Arizona. This story looks in more detail at the cost of sending Hawaii prisoners to Arizona. Under the current contract, the state pays CCA a per-diem rate of $70.49 per prisoner — an arrangement that amounted to just under $31 million in fiscal year 2015. By contrast, it costs an average of $137 a day to house an inmate at the Halawa Correctional Facility, the state’s medium-security prison, which has an inmate population comparable to that of CCA’s Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona. But a closer inspection shows that the deal isn’t as much of a bargain as it seems. That’s because, on top of the per-diem payments to CCA, the state has to spend millions more on an array of other expenses — including the costs of transporting the prisoners and conducting site inspections 3,000 miles away.It costs an average of $137 a day to house an inmate at Halawa Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison on Oahu. By contrast, Corrections Corporation of America charges the state $70.49 a day for housing each of about 1,400 Hawaii prisoners at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona. But those numbers don’t tell the whole story.So, what’s the true cost of the state’s mainland prison operation? The truth is, no one — including the Hawaii Department of Public Safety — even compiles a comprehensive list of all the specific extra expense items, let alone tallies how much they all cost. The closest thing to a tally is in the state’s budget bill, which sets aside about $50 million for “non-state facilities” — a line item intended to cover, at a minimum, the $30 million payments to CCA. But the bill, which is awaiting the governor’s signature, doesn’t specify what other expenses should be covered by the fund. Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, says the dearth of information should be troubling to lawmakers. “What they need — and the public needs access to — is real numbers. It’s when you start really calculating all the costs that you see how entangled we have become in the corporate web,” Brady said. “Good public policy is based on sound data and research that is thoughtfully, openly and inclusively debated. It is time to rethink what we are doing.” Hawaii prisoners are transported to the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, on chartered flights from Honolulu. The state pays for the cost of the flights. Until a few years ago, the Department of Public Safety presented the Legislature with a far more detailed financial description of the state’s mainland prison operation — including a breakdown of some of the extra expenses — on an annual basis. But the department hasn’t compiled the information since 2008, when the Legislature stopped adopting a resolution or inserting a budget proviso requesting it. Civil Beat filed a public-records request last week for updated information, but the department hadn’t provide the records by Tuesday evening; under the state’s Uniform Information Practices Act, it has 10 business days to respond. Still, the 2008 report to the Legislature is instructive; it teased out two primary sources of extra expenses:One is the operating costs of the Mainland and Federal Detention Center Branch, which oversees the state’s contract with CCA. According to the report, the mainland branch’s expenditures exceeded $660,000 in fiscal year 2007 — including an annual payroll of nearly $300,000 for its eight employees. Litigation costs “would have the biggest impact on per-capita costs for housing inmates in out-of-state facilities.” — Hawaii State Auditor Jan Yamane The tally also included more than $186,000 in expenses for conducting quarterly inspections at four CCA-run prisons across four states — Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Mississippi — where about 2,000 Hawaii prisoners were housed at the time. The remainder — about $178,000 — was used for administrative costs, such as bills for phones and office supplies, as well as “other” costs, including funeral expenses. According to Toni Schwartz, public safety spokeswoman, the mainland branch’s payroll topped $400,000 for fiscal year 2015. The department paid an additional $66,267 to a contractor who serves as the state’s on-site monitor at Saguaro. Civil Beat’s request for an up-to-date tally of other mainland branch expenses is pending. The 2008 report also broke down the costs of providing an array of services to the mainland prisoners that, under the terms of the contract with CCA, the state is responsible for covering. For one, the state must pay for any medical services not considered “routine” — such as emergency care and hospitalizations. For fiscal year 2007, such non-“routine” medical expenses for the 2,000 prisoners at Saguaro added up to nearly $3.5 million. According to Schwartz, the amount was much lower — about $1.36 million — for fiscal year 2015, but it has reached $2.2 million so far in fiscal year 2016, which ends June 30. The CCA contract also specifies that the wages for the prisoners’ “workline” assignments — such as jobs in the commissary or laundry facilities — are to be paid for by the state. Such wages amounted to nearly $765,000 in fiscal year 2007. According to a monthly report by Warden Joseph Taylor, more than 970 Hawaii prisoners held various “workline” assignments at Saguaro in January 2016 — but the report didn’t specify how much the prisoners were paid for their work. Finally, the cost of transporting the prisoners to and from the mainland on chartered flights also goes on the state’s tab. For fiscal year 2007, the cost amounted to more than $1.6 million; Civil Beat’s request for an up-to-date tally for fiscal year 2015 is pending. Hawaii has about 1,400 prisoners housed at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona. Under the definition of the U.S. Census Bureau, they are counted as Arizona residents. The Department of Public Safety’s reports to the Legislature didn’t address other hidden expenses for the state: in 2013, then-acting Hawaii State Auditor Jan Yamane identified one such expense in her report: The cost of litigation. Yamane’s report, which was a follow-up to a scathing audit published three years earlier, didn’t tally the legal expenses incurred by the state or CCA, but she noted: “According to the department, these costs, if included, would have the biggest impact on per-capita costs for housing inmates in out-of-state facilities, since the biggest lawsuits involve these facilities.” At Saguaro, three Hawaii prisoners have been murdered since the facility opened in 2007. Those killings have so far led to two wrongful-death lawsuits, against the state and CCA, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Both cases were eventually settled, but the terms of the settlements have not been disclosed.Through a public-records request, Civil Beat sought a copy of a compilation of CCA’s litigation history, which the company submitted in 2011 as part of its bid for the current contract with the state. While it released the bid documents, the department redacted CCA’s litigation history entirely, saying its disclosure would constitute “the frustration of a legitimate government function.” Because of outdated designs, more correctional officers are required to run Hawaii’s prisons than newer mainland prisons. The Halawa Correctional Facility is guarded by 410 correctional officers. By contract, 297 full-time employees work at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona. Hawaii is also losing out on a big chunk of federal funds by having prisoners housed on the mainland. That’s because the U.S. Census Bureau determines people’s residence based on “where a person lives and sleeps most of the time” and counts prisoners in the state where they are incarcerated. “The intent behind sending our inmates to the mainland was not to save money. If that were the simple reason, we close up Halawa and send everybody there.” — state Rep. Gregg Takayama The bureau’s practice has a significant financial impact for states like Hawaii that send their prisoners out of state — since the decennial population counts help determine each state’s share of more than $400 billion in available annual federal funds, such as Medicaid and highway subsidies. According to a study by the Brookings Institution, based on fiscal year 2008 figures, states lost an average of more than $1,450 a year for each person not counted — though the actual amounts varied widely by state. Momi Fernandez, director of the Census Information Center/Data and Information at the Native Hawaiian advocacy group Papa Ola Lokahi, says an estimate for Hawaii’s per-capita loss in federal funds could be as high as $2,500 a year. That means the amount of lost federal funds, based on Census 2010, could be up to $5 million a year, given that about 2,000 prisoners were housed in mainland prisons that year. I think this shows that state officials really need to come up with solutions to the problem of (prison) overcrowding,” Fernandez said. Critics also point out that the debate over which prison type — private or public — is cheaper often gets skewed because the comparisons usually aren’t done on a level playing field — since for-profit prisons typically accept only low-risk, easy-to-handle inmates. According to Schwartz, Hawaii prisoners are sent to the mainland only after they’re screened to make sure that they are in “good health” and not prone to “management problems.” “Private prisons cherry-pick. They take the cheapest people to house to begin with,” said Caroline Isaacs, program director of the American Friends Service Committee in Tucson, Arizona. “So you’re stuck with the sickest, most needy, most troubled people. All of those costs get pushed back on the state.” In Arizona, a 2009 report found that, when controlled for the different variables, it was cheaper on average to house medium-custody inmates in state-operated facilities than in private ones — $48.13 vs. $55.89. “The privatized prisons that Arizona has contracts with — there’s no evidence of cost savings, and there’s no evidence that they’re doing as good or better a job than the state Department of Corrections,” Isaacs said. In the end, though, the per-capita cost of incarceration at Saguaro still seems likely to come out less than what it would cost to house the prisoners in Hawaii — even if all the extra expenses were added up. That’s largely because payroll and other operating costs are so high at the state’s four prisons. At Halawa, for instance, such costs amounted to $93 out of the $137 daily rate for housing each prisoner — a far cry from the per-diem rate of $70.49 that CCA charges. The main reason is down to the prisons’ outdated design, which requires more correctional officers to manage the facilities than at Saguaro. Halawa, which holds about 1,100 prisoners, is managed by 410 correctional officers. By contrast, Saguaro only has 297 full-time employees. Senator Will Espero during a Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force meeting at the Hawaii State Capitol on September 9, 2014. State Sen. Will Espero says the state should focus on bringing back the prisoners from Arizona — regardless of savings. But state Rep. Gregg Takayama, chair of the House Public Safety Committee, said that, when considering the state’s mainland prison operation, any discussion on the cost effectiveness of for-profit prisons misses the point. “The intent behind sending our inmates to the mainland was not to save money. If that were the simple reason, we close up Halawa and send everybody there,” Takayama said. “The intent was to buy us the time to build a new prison here in Hawaii. But that fell by the wayside under Gov. Cayetano, Gov. Lingle, and subsequent administrations.” Both for inmates and their families, as Civil Beat has reported, being housed thousands of miles away imposes heavy burdens, financially and psychologically, and can make it harder for prisoners to re-enter society successfully. State Sen. Will Espero, vice chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, said the state should be focusing on finding ways to bring the prisoners back — regardless of how much savings could be made by keeping them on the mainland. “The bottom line is, we’re still exporting $30 million to $40 million, which should be spent here in Hawaii. If we’re going to spend that much, I’d rather have that in our economy, circulating among our workers, versus theirs,” Espero said. “The only way we can do that is by being creative: Look at what’s going on around the country, then come up with some serious alternatives to incarceration.”

May 19, 2016 civilbeat.com
Hawaii Keeps Secret What Happens In Its Private Prison
It was Aug. 7, and the department had learned that a 21-year-old prisoner from Maui turned up dead in his cell at the Saguaro Correctional Center, an Arizona prison where about 1,400 Hawaii inmates are housed. In a brief statement, the department passed on some scant details: The prisoner, Jonathan Namauleg, was found “unconscious and face-down” on the floor by his cellmate. Rushed to a nearby hospital, he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival. It seemed a sure bet that more news would be forthcoming — after all, Arizona authorities had launched an investigation, and the department was about to dispatch its own team of investigators to the scene. Indeed, a week later, local medical examiners declared Namauleg’s death a homicide, concluding that he had been strangled. And, in February, prosecutors indicted Jason McCormick, Namauleg’s cellmate, on a first-degree murder charge. But the department has yet to even acknowledge any of the developments. In fact, for more than nine months, it hasn’t released a single follow-up statement — or the results of its investigation into Namauleg’s death. In many ways, the episode is a perfect illustration of the department’s attitude toward transparency: When it comes to troubling news out of Saguaro, it prefers to stay tight-lipped. The Hawaii Department of Public Safety has a nine-person unit overseeing the state’s contracts with Corrections Corporation of America, which houses about 1,400 Hawaii prisoners in Arizona. Five years before Naumaleg’s death, the murders of two other Hawaii inmates at Saguaro sparked concerted efforts to improve oversight and bring transparency to the state’s mainland prison operation. But no one in a position to impose accountability, then or now, has meaningfully done so — not the governor, not legislators, not the Department of Public Safety. Critics say the continuing lack of transparency makes it virtually impossible to assess how well the department monitors the performance of the state’s contractor, Corrections Corporation of America, despite a long history of problems. “They’re loving this arrangement, because they know they don’t really have anybody looking over their shoulders.” — Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons. “They can control what information comes out of there; as long as they can do that, there’s never going to be true oversight,” said Carrie Ann Shirota, a Maui lawyer who has examined the for-profit prison industry as a fellow at the Open Society Foundations. “When you’re out of sight, out of mind.” Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, says the arrangement ultimately lets CCA off the hook. “They’re loving this arrangement, because they know they don’t really have anybody looking over their shoulders,” Brady said. Howard Komori, acting administrator of the Mainland and Federal Detention Center Branch, which oversees the state’s contracts with CCA, declined to comment for this story. For his part, state Sen. Will Espero, vice chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee, says he sees little choice but to keep faith with the department’s monitoring efforts — unless, he says, “someone tells me there’s a massive cover-up and corruption in the mainland branch.” “The reality is that there’s a plethora of things for us to be looking into. So, unless we hear otherwise, we have to trust as lawmakers that the people we pay to do the job are doing their jobs,” Espero said. “If they’re not, give us the evidence and let us look into it. That’s the best we can do.” The Hawaii Department of Public Safety blacked out most of this monthly report by its on-site monitor at the Saguaro Correctional Center. The department cited concerns over privacy and “the frustration of a legitimate government function.” The Department of Public Safety first established the mainland branch as a “special program” in 2004, at a time when Hawaii had become increasingly dependent on for-profit prisons on the mainland to serve as a release valve for the state’s dangerously overcrowded prisons. The nine-person unit has since become a regular fixture within the department, with an annual payroll of more than $400,000. All along, the mainland branch has operated under little public scrutiny — shielded by the department’s insistence that most of its work must be kept confidential because of privacy and security concerns. But, in April 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii challenged the department’s lack of transparency in a lawsuit filed in the state court. The case stemmed from wrongful-death lawsuits brought a year earlier by a San Francisco law firm representing the families of two Hawaii prisoners murdered at Saguaro in 2010. The firm, Rosen Bien Galvan and Grunfeld, had filed public-records requests for 31 different categories of documents — later narrowed down to 28 — to establish a pattern of negligence and mismanagement by CCA, such as the practice of “grossly short-staffing prisons and cutting corners in every way possible to make its private prisons profitable.” Hawaii has about 1,400 prisoners housed at the Saguaro Correctional Center, which sits in the Arizona desert about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix. In 2007, Corrections Corporation of America opened the Saguaro Correctional Center, a 1,896-bed facility in Eloy, Arizona, to house Hawaii inmates. But the firm was given the runaround by the department for nearly seven months — even after it paid more than $5,300 in fees and expenses for the documents. The ACLU of Hawaii stepped in and sued the department, arguing that its actions violated the state’s Uniform Information Practices Act. “The defendant has responded with empty promises to produce some government records at some undetermined point in the future, along with vague, unsubstantiated objections to producing broad categories of government records,” Daniel Gluck, legal director of the ACLU of Hawaii, wrote in the complaint. “These are public agencies, and the public has the right to know what’s going on in them.” — Michele Deitch, senior lecturer at the University of Texas. After five months of litigation, a judge gave the plaintiffs a partial win, ordering the department to start producing seven out of the 28 categories of documents. But the judge also allowed the department — at least for the time being — to continue withholding many of the key documents, such as the findings of the investigations into the two prisoners’ deaths, as well as records on gang-related violence at Saguaro. That isn’t to say that all of the released documents were trivial. Among the released documents were monthly reports submitted by wardens at Saguaro and seven other CCA-run prisons that previously housed Hawaii prisoners — a valuable tool for getting a statistical overview of each facility on a wide range of topics, from inmate population and programming to grievance and medical care. The reports for Saguaro also tally the number of “incidents” in more than 100 subcategories — such as “escape (under CCA supervision),” “use of deadly force” and “fight with weapon requiring admission to hospital, inmate on inmate.” But the reports are devoid of any detailed descriptions of individual incidents — effectively preventing any independent effort to examine them in-depth. In 2010, then-Hawaii State Auditor Marion Higa also had to fight an uncooperative bureaucracy to get necessary information for her report on the state’s mainland prison operation. In her report, Higa detailed “numerous roadblocks” that her team had encountered: “Department officials repeatedly attempted to deny us direct access to individuals and documents, define our audit scope, and stop us from conducting an audit at all, among other issues.” That came as a surprise even to Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, who had to respond to Higa’s findings as the newly appointed director of the Department of Public Safety. “I’m a little perplexed by the lack of cooperation your team received,” she wrote. Kat Brady testifies on prison issues during House judiciary hearing. Kat Brady, coordinator of the Community Alliance on Prisons, says the state’s lack of transparency ends up harming prisoners. Higa also found a number of other problems with the department’s monitoring efforts, noting in particular the absence of any formal policies dictating how to properly evaluate CCA’s performance. The lack of such policies, Higa noted, led the mainland branch to accept CCA’s statements at face value. “We observed the contract monitoring team take the testimony of (CCA’s) staff without verifying their statements against documentary evidence,” Higa wrote. “The audit team would benefit from having specific guidance as to what to test or how to validate, such as an independent sample of items to substantiate testimony, to show greater evidence of compliance.” It appears that, six years after Higa’s report, the department hasn’t fixed the problem. According to Toni Schwartz, public safety spokeswoman, the department bases all of its monitoring efforts on a policy called, “Management Control and Assessment System.” But the policy, which was created two years before Higa’s report, only spells out what the department is responsible for monitoring — not how it should go about doing that monitoring, as Higa advised. “This is the policy and procedure all of our corrections branches and divisions follow when it comes to performance evaluations, reporting, monitoring and planning,” Schwartz said. In August 2014, the department ramped up its monitoring efforts by hiring a contractor, Jennifer Bechler, to be its on-site monitor at Saguaro. Before Bechler’s hiring, the position had been vacant since January 2010. Bechler, a former contract monitor at the Arizona Department of Corrections, is responsible for conducting a daily review of Saguaro’s operations, as well as responding to grievances and incidents involving Hawaii prisoners. Bechler declined to comment for this story. But, in response to Civil Beat’s ongoing public-records requests, the department provided a sample copy of Bechler’s monthly report from January 2016. It contains aggregate statistical information — similar to the warden’s reports — on topics ranging from disciplinary charges to staffing level. Civil Beat has requested, but not yet received, all of the reports Bechler has produced during her tenure. Bechler’s report differs from the warden’s reports in one significant way: Under one category, “Reportable Incidents,” it provides narratives of problems encountered by Hawaii prisoners. But Civil Beat couldn’t assess the report’s utility — because the department blacked out the narrative portion of the report entirely, saying that it must remain confidential to protect privacy and to avoid “the frustration of a legitimate government function.” Michele Deitch, senior lecturer at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, says the hiring of an on-site monitor is a step in the right direction, but it’s no match for having independent monitors. The goal, Deitch says, should be to bring both transparency and accountability. “These are public agencies, and the public has the right to know what’s going on in them. So you’d want some entity that write reports that are publicly available,” said Deitch, a national expert on prison oversight. “Citizens can then find out what’s going on at these facilities, and families of inmates can find out what’s going on when they are hearing about medical care at the facility being really problematic — or use-of-force incidents being on the rise.” Nolan Espinda, the director of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety at the Capitol. Nolan Espinda, the director of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, says he’s open to considering an idea of bringing in outside auditors to monitor the Saguaro Correctional Center. In one sense, such system already exists within Hawaii’s prison system. Every year, the Department of Public Safety brings in auditors from other states to get at least a third of the state’s prisons and jails audited for compliance with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act — so that all facilities could be certified once every three years, as mandated under the law. Hawaii, in turn, sends its certified auditors to other states to assist in their auditing process. Nolan Espinda, the director of public safety, says he’s open to applying a similar system to monitoring Saguaro. “That might be a good idea. We contract with someone else — kind of an exchange process. Our guys go to theirs, and they come to Saguaro,” Espinda said. “That’s something worth exploring, absolutely.” Brady says she’d love it if Espinda followed through on the idea. “I would find that to be interesting. I hope he’s serious,” Brady said. “But what would actually come to pass? I don’t know. All I can say is that I’m hopeful.”

May 3, 2016 civilbeat.com 
Hawai’i: CCA has state over a barrel
Hawaii’s dependency on for-profit prisons on the mainland shows no signs of waning. Within weeks, if not days, the Hawaii Department of Public Safety is expected to award a new contract to continue housing hundreds of the state’s excess prisoners on the mainland — for up to five more years. By all accounts, the department is now down to a final step in the process: hammering out the terms of the contract with Nashville, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America — the sole bidder. Civil Beat is examining how Hawaii manages its troubled, overcrowded prison system, which includes four prisons and four jails in Hawaii, and a contract private prison in Arizona. This story looks in more detail at the existing contract with Corrections Corporation of America and how it could be improved. Hawaii has little choice but to ink the contract with CCA, despite a history of problems at the company’s Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona — including the murders of three Hawaii prisoners and other legal troubles. But some experts caution against rushing into the deal. Instead, they say, the state should take this golden opportunity to negotiate for new conditions — not only to better guard against contract violations, but also to guarantee the safety of prisoners. Shahrzad Habibi, research and policy director at In the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C., think tank, said having a strong contract is crucial when dealing with for-profit prison companies. “When you introduce private interests and profit motives into a public service that directly deals with people’s lives, you’re opening a door to neglect, abuse, companies cutting corners to reduce their cost,” Habibi said. “So, when you have a weak contract, you’re leaving yourself completely vulnerable to all of that.” Michele Deitch, senior lecturer at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, concurred. “The bottom line is that, if it’s not in the contract, they are free to do whatever they want,” said Deitch, a national expert on prison oversight. Caroline Isaacs, program director of the American Friends Service Committee in Tucson, Arizona, said the stakes are even higher for Hawaii, given its dependence on mainland prisons. “This gets to the heart of one of the problems you have in Hawaii: They have nowhere else to go,” said Isaacs, who has long opposed prison privatization in Arizona. “If you want to incarcerate people at the same rate that you have been, you’re stuck. So you get in this very dependent relationship with these corporations. That’s a very dangerous place to be.” Marc Yamamoto, the Department of Public Safety’s point man for the bidding process, declined to comment for this story. Hawaii has about 1,400 prisoners housed at the Saguaro Correctional Center, which sits in the middle of an Arizona desert about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix. To be sure, the state’s current contract, signed in 2011, isn’t entirely toothless. For one thing, the state managed to avoid one common misstep: agreeing to have occupancy guarantees built into the contract — in the form of either a minimum quota of prisoners or a payment of monetary penalties for empty prison cells. This means that the state only pays CCA a per-diem rate — currently at $70.49 — for each of about 1,400 prisoners who are actually housed at Saguaro, instead of covering for 80 percent or more of the prison’s cell space, as commonly dictated under occupancy guarantees. The contract also follows best practices by spelling out the “scope of services” that CCA is required to provide, including the following: Provide prisoners with access to legal material, including the Hawaii Revised Statutes, as well as teleconferencing equipment for remote court hearings. CCA also has to accommodate parole hearings at Saguaro. Establish a procedure to allow prisoners to file grievances, have them considered by “an impartial party,” and provide avenues for appeal
. Abide by CCA’s own use-of-force policy, which is referenced but not attached to the contract. (The Department of Public Safety has denied Civil Beat’s request for a copy of the policy.) Offer educational programming, such as classes on basic literary skills, GED and anger management, as well as vocational courses and training Provide a range of “routine” medical, mental health and dental services that are detailed in six pages of the contract, as well as personnel required to meet the National Commission on Correctional Health Care Standards Make available non-“routine” medical services, including emergency care and those requiring hospitalizations — at the state’s expense Offer both outpatient and residential substance abuse treatment programs, with a staff-to-participant ratio not exceeding 1 to 30 Provide guards and other personnel according to the approved staffing pattern. (The Department of Public Safety has denied Civil Beat’s request for the copy of the staffing pattern.) CCA also has to give each guard 160 hours of basic training within three months of employment and perform criminal background checks and random drug testing. Caroline Isaacs, program director of the American Friends Service Committee in Tucson, Arizona, said having a strong contract is one way to prevent for-profit prison companies from cutting corners. But it is clear from Civil Beat’s interviews with a number of experts, as well as prison-reform advocates, that the contract has plenty of room for improvement. One area in particular was singled out by many: It’s important to have a strong provision for “liquidated damages” that lays out monetary penalties, should CCA fail to abide by the contract. Isaacs said the provision comes in handy in deterring understaffing — something that for-profit prison companies are prone to do, she said. “When you have a weak contract, you’re leaving yourself completely vulnerable.” — Shahrzad Habibi, research and policy director at In the Public Interest “These companies are responsible for care and feeding of thousands of people everyday. It’s a small city that you have to maintain; that’s not cheap. And they have to make a profit on top of that, after they promised to do it for less than the state,” Isaacs said. “So the main place they cut corners is staffing.” As it happens, Hawaii’s current contract does contain a liquidated damages provision, which is triggered when CCA fails to man the mandatory posts; it penalizes the company for a prorated amount equal to the salary and benefits of missing employees. But Justin Jones, a former director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, said the provision would be much stronger if it were applied to an array of other situations — such as security breaches and prisoners’ injuries or deaths. Jones added that Oklahoma’s contracts, which served as the model for Hawaii’s in 2011, also have “a matrix of liquidated damages” that increases the damages based on repeated cases of noncompliance. Deitch said liquidated damages can serve as the main source of leverage for states like Hawaii, where contract cancellation isn’t a realistic option. “If the only thing that’s in there is the nuclear option of pulling out the inmate altogether, CCA knows you’re not going to do that because you have nowhere to put them,” Deitch said. Carrie Ann Shirota, a Maui lawyer who has examined Hawaii’s mainland prison operation as a fellow at the Open Society Foundations, said none of this is of any use unless the state has a robust system of monitoring in place. “You can make the contracts more stringent, but the issue always comes back to who will enforce it,” Shirota said. “The history over the past two decades has shown that, even when people are murdered, it hasn’t changed the conditions that led to it.” Shirota said the state can ramp up the system by allowing unannounced inspections to take place. The state’s current contract doesn’t explicitly call for such inspections; it only notes that the Department of Public Safety can inspect Saguaro “at all reasonable times,” and provides it with an option to place an onsite monitor. Hawaii’s current contract with Corrections Corporation of America doesn’t explicitly call for unannounced inspections at the Saguaro Correctional Center.Jones said the system could be further improved by getting an independent monitor to conduct additional inspections. “Monitoring is critical, and it behooves Hawaii to look at some kind of ombudsman or an independent auditor to compliment what the state is already doing,” Jones said. In Ohio, such a system has been in place since 1977, when a legislative oversight body called the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee was created. Made up of a bipartisan group of seven legislators and six full-time staffers, the committee is technically part of the Ohio Legislature, tasked to be the “public eye” into the state’s correctional facilities. By statute, the committee is authorized to conduct unannounced inspections at all 27 adult prisons — including those owned or operated by for-profit companies — as well as three juvenile facilities. And it’s mandated to visit to each facility at least once every fiscal biennium and post the findings from each inspection on its website. “Monitoring is critical, and it behooves Hawaii to look at some kind of ombudsman or an independent auditor to compliment what the state is already doing.” — Justin Jones, a former director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. The committee also puts together a biannual report for the Legislature that rates each facility in areas such as security, health, rehabilitation and fair treatment of inmates using a four-grade system: exceptional, good, acceptable and “in need of improvement.” In the latest report, many facilities received the “in need of improvement” rating for one or more of the inspection areas. Daniel Gluck, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, said a similar system should be installed in Hawaii. “We definitely support having an additional independent audit, whether it by the state auditor or outside agency,” Gluck said. “I don’t think the Legislature now has all the information it needs to make accurate decisions about how to best manage our criminal justice system.” In 2010, Hawaii came close to adopting such system under House Bill 415, which directed then-Hawaii State Auditor Marion Higa to play the role of an independent monitor. The Legislature passed the bill, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Linda Lingle. Since then, no similar bill has been introduced at the Legislature. But state Rep. Gregg Takayama, chair of the House public safety committee, said he’s open to considering such bill. “I do know it’s difficult to monitor even the facilities here in Hawaii, much less a facility thousands miles away. So I’m interested in looking at a bill like that,” said Takayama, who was first elected in 2012. “But it hasn’t surfaced in the time I’ve been here. I should do a better job of keeping an eye out for it. It falls on me as the chairman on the House side.” Ultimately, Deitch said, the Department of Public Safety is also likely to see upsides from extra oversight; the goal, after all, isn’t about embarrassing the agency — or playing “the game of gotcha,” as she puts it. “A lot of times, they are the ones asking the Legislature for more money — for more staff, for a new roof that doesn’t leak or more money for programs — and the Legislature doesn’t necessarily listen to them,” Deitch said. “But, if you’ve got an independent entity that is saying the same thing, it gives more credibility to those requests. So a lot of agencies come to realize the benefit that comes with oversight.”

Mar 7, 2016 civilbeat.com
Prison Operator Wants Native Hawaiian Inmates’ Suit Wrapped Up
Corrections Corporation of America is asking the federal court to force a final settlement in a class-action lawsuit over religious rights of Native Hawaiian inmates in Arizona. The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by eight inmates at the Saguaro Correctional Center, a CCA-run prison in Eloy, Arizona, that, at the end of January, housed nearly a quarter of Hawaii’s 5,936 inmates. The inmates alleged that CCA officials prevented them from gathering for daily outdoor worship and confiscated objects they said were vital to their religion. The Hawaii Department of Public Safety is also a defendant in the case. The case was supposed to be all but settled in May, when the two sides agreed to the basic terms of a settlement, with the details to be hammered out by October, according to court records. According to CCA and the state, what remained was “a mere technicality” — committing the settlement terms to writing. Nine months later, no written agreement has yet to materialize — a situation that CCA attorney Rachel Love argues is caused by the plaintiffs’ attorney, Sharla Manley. 2015 Makahiki ceremony at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona. After the federal class-action lawsuit was filed in 2011, the officials at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, began allowing Native Hawaiian inmates to celebrate Makahiki twice a year. Love is accusing Monley of “embark(ing) on a nine-month trek of delay and additional unreasonable settlement demands that exceed the scope of what was already agreed to.” Last week, Love filed a motion asking the court to grant preliminary approval of the terms of the May settlement. In essence, the motion argues that the terms were “fair, reasonable and adequate” and address all of the plaintiffs’ claims. Specifically, the motion says, “registered Native Hawaiian inmate practitioners” in Saguaro would be allowed to: observe the annual season of Makahiki — a four-month period dedicated to the Hawaiian god Lono — twice a year; participate in 90-minute outdoor worship classes six times a year; keep Native Hawaiian garments, sea salts, written religious materials and ti leaf in their cells; participate in weekly group gatherings, as well as classes to make Native Hawaiian garments; loan out bamboo nose flute; purchase coconut oil and one amulet per inmate for religious use; have access to a spiritual advisor, as well as communal religious items stored in the chapel. Manley, staff attorney at the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, declined to comment, saying settlement negotiations are ongoing. Her reply to Love’s motion is due to be filed before the next hearing, which is scheduled for April 11.

October 23rd, 2012 Hawaii Reporter
CCA Prison Guards Listen to Prisoners’ Privileged Conversations: ACLU Files Amicus Brief on Attorney-Client Confidentiality: REPORT FROM THE ACLU: The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i Foundation (“ACLU”) has filed an amicus curiae brief (also known as a “friend of the court” brief) in United States District Court supporting the Constitutional rights of attorneys and their clients to speak privately, without monitoring and eavesdropping by prison personnel. The Corrections Corporation of America (“CCA”) is a for-profit company that has a Hawaii government contract worth roughly $60 million a year to house approximately 1,600 Hawaii prisoners on the mainland. CCA maintains a practice of having a guard stand right next to a prisoner when he speaks on the phone with his attorney(s) – a practice which violates the prison industry's own standards.  CCA says that this practice does not violate attorney-client privilege because – in their own words – “[a]ny conversation overheard is one-sided and only the inmate’s part of the conversation, not the attorney-client communications.” In other words, because CCA personnel only listen to one side of the conversation, CCA claims to have not interfered with the attorney-client privilege.  CCA’s other proposed option is for prisoners to make their confidential attorney calls with other prisoners listening to the calls.  This practice poses constitutional concerns as well, and further violates American Bar Association guidelines concerning privacy in phone calls.  The ACLU contends the practice of requiring prisoners to reveal confidential information to other prisoners (or to prison staff) is both unconstitutional and a threat to public safety. CCA is under fire for its onerous cost, geographical isolation and its numerous civil rights violations. The new ACLU amicus brief comes in the context of a lawsuit by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (“NHLC”) against CCA for CCA’s interference with prisoners’ Hawaiian religious practices.  NHLC was forced to make a formal request to the court to prohibit CCA from monitoring their phone calls; a hearing on that motion is scheduled for November 8, 2012. Senior Staff Attorney Daniel Gluck said: "Due process includes the right to privacy in communications with legal counsel. Simply put, government officials are not allowed to eavesdrop on private conversations with your lawyer. When I personally visited the Saguaro facility in 2009 to meet with prisoners, a CCA lawyer expected to sit four feet away from my interview table and monitor my conversations. Hawaii officials, aware of the phone-monitoring practice, tried to justify it rather than correct it. CCA’s and the State of Hawaii’s disregard for this fundamental right is unacceptable." The amicus brief is offered in the case of Davis (et al.) v. Abercrombie (et al.), the brief and supporting documents can be found at: http://acluhi.org/2011/09/30/aclu-of-hawaii-speakers-bureau/ The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii (“ACLU”) has been the state’s guardian of liberty for 47 years, working daily in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties equally guaranteed to all by the Constitutions and laws of the United States and Hawaii. The ACLU works to ensure that the government does not violate our constitutional rights, including, but not limited to, freedom of speech, association and assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, fair and equal treatment, and privacy. The ACLU network of volunteers and staff works throughout the islands to defend these rights, often advocating on behalf of minority groups that are the target of government discrimination. If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everyone’s rights are imperiled.

May 23, 2012 Hawaii Reporter
The family of another Hawaii prison inmate murdered in his has sued the state and private prison operator Corrections Corporation of America. Clifford Medina, 23, was strangled in 2010 by cellmate Mahinauli Silva in a segregation cell at Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona. The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU and a Mainland lawfirm in state court, accused the state Department of Public Safety and CCA of “deliberate indifference” and “gross negligence” in their oversight and operation of the Saguaro facility. CCA is under contract to house more than 1,000 male Hawaii prison inmates at Saguaro in Eloy, Arizona. Steve Owen, spokesman for CCA, said the company had not yet seen the lawsuit. “CCA’s top priority is the safety and security of our facilities, employees and the inmates entrusted to our care. We take all allegations seriously and act swiftly if our standards have not been met,” Owen said in an emailed statement. Toni Schwartz, public information officer at the Department of Public Safety, said, “We have been advised not to speak about pending litigation until the Deputy Attorney General assigned to the case has had some time to look it over.” The lawsuit said Medina lived “a short and troubled life.” Diagnosed as mildly mentally retarded and developmentally disabled, Medina spent his teenage years in foster care and “various institutions for the mentally disabled,” the suit said. He was easily influenced by others and lacked “social awareness needed to escape from trouble created by poorly chosen companions,” the family’s lawsuit said. Court and law enforcement records show that Medina committed a series of felony and misdemeanor offenses, including burglary, shoplifting, trespassing and bail jumping, on the Big Island from 2006 to 2008. While on probation in 2009, Medina was convicted in Honolulu Circuit Court of assaulting a law enforcement officer. His probation was revoked and he was sentenced to a five-year prison term. In prison, the lawsuit said, Medina “was the victim of systematic failures to protect prisoners with developmental disabilities.” Inmates “with mental retardation are vulnerable to being manipulated and victimized by other inmates” and are preyed upon by prison gangs, the suit said. “CCA records allege that at the time of his death Medina was considered a 'recruit' for the dominant gang at SCC,” the suit said. Medina was housed in a special section of Saguaro that segregated inmates from the general population, sharing a cell with Mahinauli Silva, described in the suit as “a reluctant member of the dominant Hawaii prison gang.” Silva "told CCA officials … that they should move Medina to another cell because he would instigate a fight and beat up Medina if he remained in their shared cell,” the plaintiffs alleged in the suit. On the morning of June 8, 2010, Silva and Medina argued, then engaged in a physical altercation which ended when Silva killed Medina with a “guillotine choke hold,” the plaintiffs charged. Four months before Medina’s death, another Hawaii inmate at Saguaro, Bronson Nunuha, was murdered in another incident of gang violence there. Nunuha's family filed their own lawsuit against the state and CCA earlier this year. That suit is pending in federal court. Two Hawaii inmates, Miti Maugaotega Jr. and Micah Kanahele, were convicted of first-degree murder in Nunuha's death and are facing the death penalty in Arizona. Silva pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of Medina and prosecutors did not seek the death penalty in his case.

February 20, 2012 Honolulu Civil Beat
Last week the ACLU of Hawaii and human rights advocates filed suit against the state and Corrections Corporation of America over the death of an inmate in the Arizona prison operated by CCA. We decided to dig out the December 2010 state audit of the deal between Hawaii and CCA to house prisoners in the Saguaro facility. You may recall the report by State Auditor Marion Higa was extremely critical of the Department of Public Safety (under the Lingle administration) for the way the contract was handled and overseen. But we were struck by another section. It described how difficult it was for the state's own auditors to access public information they needed to figure out whether the taxpayers were paying too much to keep prisoners on the mainland. We already knew it's difficult for reporters and members of the public to access "public" information in Hawaii. But for the auditor, the state's own watchdog appointed by the Legislature, to run into the same kinds of problems. Wow! Here's much of what Higa had to say on DPS' stonewalling: Our audit was marked by numerous roadblocks to our access to information. Department officials repeatedly attempted to deny us direct access to individuals and documents, define our audit scope, and stop us from conducting an audit at all, among other issues. At the onset of our audit, we provided our request for information to the department, a standard procedure during the preliminary planning phase of an audit. Our first request for documents was made to the department on June 22, 2010. We repeated this request on July 13, 2010 and July 21, 2010. Documents were provided piecemeal and oftentimes, had been filtered through management, as opposed to directly by the responsible individual. For requests specific to Offendertrak, the department’s inmate tracking system, the deputy director of administration questioned our need for the information, maintaining that it was not pertinent to the scope of our audit. The management information system administrator was instructed not to meet with our analyst or provide answers to questions about Offendertrak. Instead, all inquiries were directed to the business management officer and the deputy director of administration ... During the preliminary planning phase of this audit, the department director and the Mainland/FDC Branch administrator invited members of the audit team to accompany the contract monitors on their quarterly site visit— from June 29 to July 1, 2010 — to observe the monitoring practices in place. On the second day of observation, the Saguaro warden informed us that he would not allow us to obtain copies of any documents on instructions from the department director. The director questioned our legal authority to proceed with the audit because of the governor’s veto of House Bill No. 415, House Draft 1, Senate Draft 2, Conference Draft 1 of the 2010 legislative session which had called for a prisons audit that included the closure of Kūlani Correctional Facility. The director wanted requests to be routed through his office for review and final release of documentation. On several occasions, the director screened our requests, raised questions, and denied access in an attempt to define our scope and control our workflow, thus causing delays in fieldwork. For example, on July 14, 2010 we sent an email to the director requesting the documents previously reviewed by the audit team at Saguaro. On July 21 and July 27, 2010 we followed up on that request, and on July 30, 2010, we received notice that the director would not provide the documents because he deemed them confidential and beyond the scope of our audit objectives. We proceeded, anticipating that the supporting documentation would be included in the final audit report by the department’s own contract monitoring audit team that we had been invited to join. We again experienced some delays in our fieldwork because the final audit report was not released until the director authorized the branch administrator to do so. Lastly, towards the end of our fieldwork, the Institutions Division administrator issued an advisory email to all wardens to submit any response to our inquiries to management first for approval. Higa went on to point out that the auditor has constitutional as well as statutory authority to obtain "foundational" information necessary to be a "fearless watchdog of public spending." DPS' efforts to withhold information caused unnecessary delays, Higa said. Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, the current director of DPS who as interim director in December 2010 had to respond to the audit, conceded in a letter to Higa: "I'm a little perplexed by the lack of cooperation your Team received." She promised to use the experience with the audit to improve relations with "your team, the Legislature and more importantly the community."

February 15, 2012 Hawaii Reporter
The family of a Hawaii prison inmate who was savagely attacked and murdered in his Arizona prison cell in 2010 have filed suit against the state and private prison operator Corrections Corp. of America. The suit, filed just days before the second anniversary of Bronson Nunuha’s death, alleges that CCA understaffed and inadequately trained workers at the Saguaro Correctional Center. The deficiencies show CCA’s “indifference” to inmate safety and display the company’s “unchecked hunger for profits,” said the suit, filed by the ACLU of Hawaii and a Mainland law firm. CCA houses some 1,800 Hawaii prison inmates in its Arizona prisons under a $10 million per-year contract with the Hawaii Department of Public Safety. CCA public affairs director Steve Owen said the company “cannot comment on the specifics of this lawsuit” but added that Saguaro “is staffed by well-trained, dedicated professionals who operate at the highest standards of the industry.” The complaint, filed in state Circuit Court, also accuses the Public Safety Department and numerous state officials and CCA employees of liability in Nunuha’s death. Public Safety Department director Jodi Maesaka-Hirata said, “We cannot comment on the lawsuit until we have had time to look it over with the Deputy Attorney General assigned to it. We are saddened by the tragic situation that happened at Saguaro and we are working on ways to improve the prison system.” Nunuha, 26, was serving time for burglary and criminal property damage and had previously been threatened and attacked by prison gang members in Arizona, the suit alleged. The morning of February 18, 2010, “two prisoners punched, kicked and stomped on Bronson.They stabbed him more than 140 times with two different weapons and carved the name of their gang into his chest," the lawsuit charged. One of the inmates, Miti Maugaotega Jr., has a long history of violence both in and out of prison. Maugaotega had assaulted Nunuha earlier at Saguaro and was implicated in a 2005 brutal assault of another Hawaii inmate at a CCA facility in Mississippi, according to the suit. “Maugaotega was a ‘shot caller’ in a dominant, violent prison gang at SCF,” said the suit. "A ‘shot caller’ is a high-ranking gang member who directs the activities of other gang members, and authorizes the use of violence,” said the suit. Nunuha was held in a special housing area of Sauguaro that improperly mixed violent and non-violent inmates, the suit alleged. The fatal attack occurred during “morning day room” hours when prison cells were unlocked, the complaint alleged. While the sole CCA employee on duty at the time was “distracted by a group of prisoners,” the suit alleged, Nunuha was fatally assaulted in his cell. “As he lay dying, other prisoners mopped up the bloody footprints leading away from his cell” and the killers showered, changed clothes, and re-mingled with the other prisoners,” said the suit. Another Hawaii inmate, Clifford Medina, was murdered inside Saguaro several months after Nunuha’s death. Nunuha’s mother, Davina Waialae, said at a news conference today that her son had less than a year left on his sentence and was looking forward to his release. “He wanted to do the best that he could, get a job, get back into the community and try to make things right with his chld.” Nunuha’s seven-year-old son lives with his mother on Maui. Waialae and the lawyers representing her said Nunuha should have been transferred back to Hawaii months before he was killed because he had less than year remaining on his sentence. Governor Neil Abercrombie has been critical of the state’s use of private prison facilities on the Mainland, saying one of the top priorities of his administraton is to bring home as many of the 6,000 1,800 Mainland inmates as possible.

July 27, 2011 Courthouse News
Guards for Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's biggest private prison company, continue to abuse prisoners who sought a protective injunction after CCA guards stripped, beat, kicked and threatened to kill them, and "the warden himself" threatened their families, according to a new complaint in Federal Court. Five Hawaiian inmates serving their sentences on the mainland say the co-defendant Hawaii Department of Public Safety is failing to protect Hawaiian prisoners from brutal private prison guards. The five inmates at CCA's Saguaro prison in Eloy, Ariz., say they have suffered continuing retaliation and physical abuse from CCA guards, after the July 2010 prison fight that led to the original lawsuit. Eighteen Hawaiian inmates sued CCA in December 2010, seeking a protective injunction; the five inmates who sued this week have asked one too. The new complaints echo the complaints made in the first lawsuit, involving a fight in which "a lieutenant or other employee of CCA was injured." CCA gives its workers military-style ranks and titles. The plaintiffs claim that guards stripped, beat, kicked and threatened to kill them, banged their heads on tables while they were handcuffed. The original complaint claimed that "the warden himself" threatened inmates' families. The new complaint adds that "Inmates were told that if they did not provide written statements, their beatings would continue. Beatings, in fact, continued for those who refused to provide statements." The men say CCA "deliberately destroyed and failed to preserve evidence of their wrongdoing, including videotapes ... intercepted mail, delayed mail, denied mail and interfered with phone calls to family and attorneys" and "deliberately falsified reports." They say that Saguaro's Warden Todd Thomas participated in the abuses, Hawaii's on-site Public Safety monitor, John Ioane, did nothing to stop it. According to the new complaint: "Plaintiffs were stripped of nearly all of their clothing while being beaten, questioned, and humiliated. "Plaintiffs were threatened with harm to themselves and their families, including through such statements as: "a. 'We have your emergency contact information;' "b. 'We know who your family is and where they live and we are going to harm them;' "c. 'We are going to kill you;' "d. 'We will continue to beat you and the only way to stop that is to commit suicide;' "e. 'We will send you to hell;' "f. 'We will stick something up your ass.' "g. 'We will smash all the bones in your face.'" To conceal the abuses, CCA violated its own policy by refusing to videotape the acts, the complaint states. "Inmates were told that if they told anyone what had happened, they would be killed or beaten further. "CCA personnel, including the warden himself, threatened parents of some inmates, including with longer incarceration. ... "Inmates were required to get on their knees with their hands handcuffed behind their back, whereupon they were beaten by multiple officers employed by defendants. "Inmates were kicked while on the ground. ... "Inmates were denied prompt medical treatment for their injuries in an effort to conceal what had happened. "Inmates were told that if they did not provide written statements, their beatings would continue. "Beatings in fact continued for those who refused to provide statements." In January this year, a Hawaiian inmate sued CCA in Honolulu, claiming CCA prison guard Richard Ketland forced the inmate to give Ketland a blow job in his cell at the Saguaro prison in Arizona. Ketland, 64, was charged with felony unlawful sexual contact, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to probation.

February 12, 2011 Star-Advertiser
Six Hawaii inmates in private prisons in Arizona are suing the state of Hawaii and the prison operator for allegedly violating their constitutional rights by denying them free exercise of their native Hawaiian religious practices. Inmates Richard Kapela Davis, Michael Hughes, Damien Kaahu, Robert A. Holbron, James Kane III and Ellington Keawe say the staffs at Saguaro and Red Rock correctional centers, both in Eloy, Ariz., have consistently denied written requests to practice their religion, to establish a sacred place in the prison yard and to have access to a spiritual adviser and sacred items. The operator of both facilities, Corrections Corp. of America, houses the inmates in two facilities in Arizona under contract with the state of Hawaii. One of the practices the inmates say they have been denied is a daily gathering outdoors with other native Hawaiian inmates at sunrise for chanting, dancing and prayer. CCA says it puts a lot of effort into accommodating the cultural and religious needs of Hawaii inmates "within the parameters of the safety and security of the inmates, prison staff and the public," said Steve Owen, CCA public affairs director. Saguaro Warden Todd Thomas said, "We're in full compliance with federal law." Owen said the state periodically sends native Hawaiian religious and cultural practitioners to Arizona to provide guidance. Andrew Sprenger, a lawyer with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the six inmates, said the person whom the state approved to visit the Arizona prisons does so infrequently and does not provide the inmates spiritual guidance. CCA said some inmates participate in a Hawaiian spiritual and cultural group and in opening and closing ceremonies for makahiki. The Arizona inmates say in their lawsuit that the closing ceremony for this past makahiki season was conducted six weeks early. They also allege that prison staff authorizes only certain inmates to supervise, lead, control and teach educational classes concerning Hawaiian culture, language and history. In Hawaii, inmates at Halawa Correctional Center are allowed to celebrate makahiki and to construct an outdoor altar for the ceremonies, said Michael Hoffman, Institutions Division director of the state Department of Public Safety. Sprenger said no inmates in Hawaii prisons have complained about not being able to observe religious practices.

January 28, 2011 Star-Advertiser
The Abercrombie administration is starting to make good on the governor's promise to bring all state prison inmates incarcerated on the mainland back to Hawaii.The state returned 243 inmates from Arizona last week and sent back just 96 to take their place. Of the 243 returning inmates, 54 are getting paroled, 28 are about to complete their prison terms and three are back for court hearings. When Gov. Neil Abercrombie promised swift action last month to bring back all Hawaii inmates serving time in mainland prisons, state Senate Public Safety Chairman Will Espero was not expecting action so soon. "I was pleasantly surprised," he said. Espero said he learned of the returning inmates yesterday from state Public Safety Director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata. He said the state conducts prison transfers quarterly, but it usually sends at least the same number of prisoners to the mainland as it returns. He applauded Abercrombie's plan to bring back all Hawaii inmates. "If we're going to spend $60 million a year to house inmates, I'd rather spend it here in Hawaii than on the mainland," Espero said. The state returned 152 inmates to Hawaii on Jan. 19, sent 96 to Arizona on Jan. 20 and returned an additional 91 last Friday. The transfers leave 1,759 Hawaii inmates in Arizona: 1,705 in Saguaro Correctional Center, 51 in Red Rock Correctional Center, two in Florence State Prison and one in Central Arizona Detention Center. Central Arizona, in Florence, and Saguaro and Red Rock, both in Eloy, are private prisons operated by Corrections Corp. of America, which houses Hawaii inmates under contract with the state. Abercrombie made his promise after 18 Hawaii inmates at Saguaro sued CCA, the state and the state's contract monitor. The inmates claim they were beaten and assaulted and their families threatened by prison guards. The Public Safety Department sent a team to examine practices at Saguaro last year after two Hawaii inmates died in February and June. The state returned all but one of the 169 women serving time in a CCA prison in Kentucky in 2009 after the inmates reported widespread sexual abuse by guards and prison employees.  The Abercrombie administration is starting to make good on the governor's promise to bring all state prison inmates incarcerated on the mainland back to Hawaii.

January 14, 2011 Star Advertiser
A Hawaii prison inmate is suing the state and private prison operator Corrections Corp. of America over a sexual assault he allegedly suffered at the hands of a prison guard in Arizona. His lawyers filed the lawsuit Wednesday in state court. The inmate, serving a five-year prison term for drug and drug paraphernalia possession at the Saguaro Correctional Center, said a prison guard sexually assaulted him in his cell on Oct. 27, 2009. An Arizona grand jury indicted the prison guard, Richard Ketland, last February for felony unlawful sexual conduct involving a person incarcerated in a state or private prison. Ketland, 64, pleaded guilty in July to a lesser charge in a plea agreement with the prosecutor and was sentenced the following month to probation.

December 29, 2010 AP
State Auditor Marion Higa on Wednesday blasted the Hawaii Department of Public Safety's management of a contract to house prisoners in privately owned Arizona prisons. In a 77-page report, Higa also criticized the financial data about the arrangement the department has provided legislators and the public for using a flawed methodology and containing inaccurate or insufficient figures. "Without clarified guidance by policymakers, the department has no incentive to perform better and will continue to evade accountability by providing unreliable and inaccurate reporting of incarceration costs," Higa wrote in the audit's conclusion. "In addition, the department has misused its procurement authority to circumvent the process designed with safeguards to protect the state's interests," she added. There was no immediate response to a request for comment from department officials or Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office. Much of the audit's findings are critical of actions taken by the administration of Abercrombie's predecessor, Linda Lingle. Abercrombie has said he wants to stop exporting inmates to other states but hasn't spelled out whether that would mean building more prisons in Hawaii or releasing less-dangerous inmates to free up existing beds. According to the audit, about 2,000 male Hawaii prisoners currently are housed in the Florence, Red Rock and Saguaro correctional centers owned by the Corrections Corporation of America. The state in 2006 signed an "intergovernmental agreement" with Eloy, Ariz., where the facilities are located, but deals almost exclusively with CCA, the report contended. The arrangement allowed agency officials to circumvent and manipulate the state's competitive procurement process to steer business to CCA, the audit found. The department also treated CCA as a government agent instead of a private vendor operating for a profit, it contended. The CCA contract is set to expire on June 30. But the report concluded the state as of early October had no plan to address that looming deadline. Without such a plan, "the department is shirking its responsibility to provide for the safety of the public through correctional management, and leaves the operational staff ill-prepared to contract for private prison beds and services," the audit stated. The report also aimed fire at the department's reporting to the Legislature. It asserted that agency officials reported "artificial cost figures" that were derived from a calculation that itself was "based on a flawed methodology." "Because funding is virtually guaranteed, management is indifferent to the needs of policymakers and the public for accurate and reliable cost information," the audit said. "As a result, true costs are unknown." In addition to improving its financial and program data, and its monitoring of operations at the CCA prisons, the auditor called on the state's chief procurement officer to suspend the public safety department's contracting authority for private prisons until its practices and policies are changed and staff have been better trained.

December 16, 2010 Star Advertiser
Gov. Neil Abercrombie promised swift action to bring back all Hawaii inmates serving sentences in mainland prisons in light of a new lawsuit alleging their mistreatment by guards at an Arizona facility. "I intend to work as quickly as I can to bring all prisoners back," Abercrombie said yesterday at a news conference in his office. "I don't want to send anybody out of the state." Abercrombie this month named Jodie Maesaki-Hirata, acting warden of the Waiawa Correctional Facility, as head of the Department of Public Safety and said yesterday he would need more time to put together the team to examine the problem. "I will be working with the Department of Public Safety and with the Judiciary and with the Legislature to forge a comprehensive and integrated program to deal with the question of incarceration," he said. Kat Brady, coordinator for the Community Alliance on Prisons, applauded Abercrombie's plan, saying most of the state's inmates are nonviolent offenders or qualify for minimum security. "They should be back in Hawaii preparing to successfully re-enter their communities," she said. "Nobody can successfully re-enter from Arizona. "To me, they've got to come back to Hawaii with a year or two left on their sentences to get in touch with their families and that kind of thing." The Circuit Court lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of 18 island inmates at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., a 1,897-bed prison owned by Corrections Corp. of America. Saguaro is home to about 1,800 male inmates from Hawaii. About 50 more are at a separate CCA prison in Arizona. The lawsuit filed this week by Honolulu attorneys Michael Green and John Rapp alleges inmates were abused and their families in Hawaii threatened in retaliation for a guard being injured while trying to break up a fight. Inmates were "beaten and assaulted, including by having their heads banged on tables while they were stripped of their underwear and while their hands were handcuffed behind their backs," according to the lawsuit. Guards also threatened to harm the inmates' families, saying they had all of their emergency contact information and knew where to find them, the complaint states. The lawsuit names CCA, the state of Hawaii and the state's contract monitor, John Ioane, as defendants. The Saguaro facility has come under scrutiny before. Earlier this year, the public safety department sent a team to examine practices at the site after deaths of two Hawaii inmates in February and June. Three inmates, all from Hawaii, have been charged in the deaths and could face the death penalty if convicted in Arizona. The lawsuit alleges the latest mistreatment occurred in July. Hawaii spends about $61 million a year to house male inmates on the mainland because there is not enough space for them in prisons here. Last year, after female inmates from Hawaii alleged widespread sexual abuse by guards and employees at a CCA facility in Kentucky, the state pulled all 168 of them from the prison and brought them back to the islands to serve their time. Former Gov. Linda Lingle this year vetoed a bill that called for a financial and management audit of the state's contract to house prisoners at Saguaro, saying the measure would force the auditor to go beyond her duties and make a policy judgment about whether the state should continue to send prisoners to the mainland. Abercrombie called the policy of sending prisoners away "dysfunctional." "It costs money. It costs lives. It costs communities," he said. "It destroys families. It is dysfunctional all the way around -- socially, economically, politically and morally. "We want to do a lot more in the way of intervention. We want to do a lot more in the way of programs."

December 15, 2010 Courthouse News
Guards at a privately run prison in Arizona stripped, beat and kicked inmates and threatened to kill them, banged their heads on tables while they were handcuffed, and "the warden himself" joined in threatening their families, 18 inmates say in state court. Then the Corrections Corporation of America and its employees, who run the prison, "deliberately destroyed and failed to preserve evidence of their wrongdoing, including videotapes," and "deliberately falsified reports," according to the complaint. The beatings and death threats came at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., to which Hawaii sent its prisoners to be held by CCA, the nation's largest private prison company. The inmates say CCA guards beat them to retaliate for a July 26 fight or "disturbance" in which "a lieutenant or other employee of CCA was injured." The guards beat the plaintiffs to coerce "statements" from them, and "when plaintiffs wrote brief statements, defendants demanded that plaintiffs disclose more, and then engaged in the acts alleged herein [in] an effort to coerce further statements," the complaint states. "Plaintiffs were beaten and assaulted, including by having their heads banged on tables while they were stripped to their underwear and while their hands were handcuffed behind their backs. "Plaintiffs were stripped of nearly all of their clothing while being beaten, questioned, and humiliated. "Plaintiffs were threatened with harm to themselves and their families, including through such statements as: "a. 'We have your emergency contact information;' "b. 'We know who your family is and where they live and we are going to harm them;' "c. 'We are going to kill you;' "d. 'We will continue to beat you and the only way to stop that is to commit suicide;' "e. 'We will send you to hell;' "f. 'We will stick something up your ass.' "Inmates were required to get on their knees with their hands handcuffed behind their back, whereupon they were beaten by multiple officers employed by defendants. "Inmates were kicked while on the ground. ... "Inmates were denied prompt medical treatment for their injuries in an effort to conceal what had happened. "Inmates were told that if they did not provide written statements, their beatings would continue. "Beatings in fact continued for those who refused to provide statements. "In an effort to conceal what was happening, defendants violated their own policy that a handheld camera would be used to film inmates whenever they were being handled by the SORT team. "As a result [of] duress, force, and threats of force, some of the plaintiffs provide statements in the hope of ending their beatings. "Inmates were told that if they told anyone what had happened, they would be killed or beaten further. "CCA personnel, including the warden himself, threatened parents of some inmates, including with longer incarceration." The inmates also sued Hawaii, which sent them to the prison. They say: "During many of the occurrences alleged above, defendant State of Hawaii had on site its contract monitor, John Ioane, who had actual knowledge and personally was aware of some of the above occurrences, and yet acquiesced in and permitted them to continue." The inmates demand a protective injunction and punitive damages from CCA, Hawaii and Ioane, for assault and battery, cruel and unusual punishment, coercion and retaliation. They are represented by Michael Jay Green and John Rapp of Honolulu.

September 4, 2010 Star Advertiser
A third Hawaii inmate serving time in an Arizona prison faces the death penalty after allegedly killing a fellow inmate during an argument in June. Mahina Uli Silva, 21, was indicted by a Pinal County grand jury yesterday for allegedly strangling his cellmate from Hawaii, Clifford Medina, 23, on June 8. Medina was found unresponsive in the cell he shared with Silva at Saguarao Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz. Clayton Frank, director of the state Department of Public Safety, said his office was informed of the indictment yesterday. Frank said Silva was sent to prison in 2006 after being convicted for burglary, theft and robbery. He is eligible for parole in October 2011. Silva is the third inmate from Hawaii facing capital crime charges. The other two are Miti Maugaotega Jr., 24, who is serving a life sentence for first-degree attempted murder for the June 2003 shooting of Punchbowl resident Eric Kawamoto; and Micah Kanahele, 29, who is serving two 20-year sentences for the October 2003 shooting deaths of Greg Morishima at his Aiea home and Guylan Nuuhiwa in a Pearl City parking lot a week later. Maugaotega and Kanahele were indicted earlier this year for the stabbing death of fellow inmate Bronson Nunuha, 26, who died Feb. 18. Frank said the two are expected to stand trial in Arizona this month. The three are the first to face capital punishment for a crime committed in a private prison on the mainland since Hawaii started housing inmates out of state in 1995. Hawaii, which abolished capital punishment in 1957, is one of 11 states and the District of Columbia that do not have the death penalty. Maugaotega, Kanahele and Silva are among the 1,871 male Hawaii inmates at Saguaro, a 1,897-bed prison owned by Corrections Corp. of America.

July 30, 2010 KITV
An Arizona prison that is housing about 1,884 Hawaii inmates, remains in lockdown -- five days after a big brawl. The Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, houses Hawaii inmates only. The state hired Corrections Corporation of America to house the inmates at the Arizona facility because of prison over crowding in Hawaii. Public Safety director Clayton Frank said 30 inmates from the high security unit were involved in the scuffle over an Xbox owned by one inmate. When prison staff members intervened to stop the brawl, Clayton said 13 inmates turned on the facility's gang intelligence officer and severely beat him. Public Safety’s mainland branch administrator, Shari Kimoto, said the prison employee suffered a broken nose, broken cheekbones and eye socket damage. He has since been released from the hospital. Prisons officials tell KITV4 the ongoing investigation found gang members were taxing or charging prisoners a fee to use the Xbox. Investigators are also working to positively identify the 13 prisoners who beat the employee. If identified, the inmates could be charged with assault of a prison staff member. Saguaro Correctional Facility has seen its share of violence this year. There have been two murders involving Hawaii prisoners. In June, 23 year old Clifford Medina was found dead in his cell. Arizona police said Medina's cellmate admitted he strangled Medina. In February, another Hawaii inmate died after he was assaulted, just 8 months before his release. It is unclear how long the prison will be in lockdown. Frank said gang involvement and the injury of a staff member have led to fears the violence could bleed into the general prison population.

June 22, 2010 KITV
State lawmakers said Tuesday they are seriously considering a veto override if Gov. Linda Lingle (R) vetoes a bill calling for a cost-benefit audit of a privately run Arizona prison. The state spends more than $60 million a year to send nearly 2,000 Hawaii inmates to Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., because of prison overcrowding in Hawaii. Saguaro is run by the Corrections Corp. of America. Two Hawaii inmates have died at Saguaro Prison in Arizona in less than four months. Inmate Clifford Medina's cellmate admitted to Arizona police he strangled Medina June 8th. Bronson Nunuha died Feb. 18 after multiple stab wounds to his neck. Two Hawaii inmates have been indicted in the case on first degree murder and gang related charges. State Sen. Will Espero (D) said Tuesday, in light of the deaths at Saguaro, it's time for an audit. "If the governor does veto this bill. I think it would be a big mistake," said Espero. "I think it would be unwise considering in the last several months there have been two murders at Saguaro plus the fact that we pay $61 million a year to CCA to keep our inmates in there." The Corrections Corp. of America also runs Otter Creek Prison in Kentucky where after allegations of rape and inmate abuse, all Hawaii's female inmates were returned to Hawaii. Lingle in her potential veto message said an audit of mainland prison operations is expensive and unnecessary. But Espero said that's not so. "The governor said it would be too expensive, but in the bill we do not have an appropriation so the auditor's office would be using funds it already has," said Espero. State Auditor Marion Higa said she is operating under the assumption Lingle will let the audit bill become law. Higa said next week two analysts from her office will spend the week at Saguaro working beside prisons officials from Hawaii as they do their quarterly quality control inspection. Higa said that will help her analysts begin planning for the audit Hawaii lawmakers requested. Higa said she expects the prisons audit will be inexpensive because she will use in-house staff and money that has already been appropriated for her department. Espero said that if the governor vetoes the prisons audit bill, he will recommend a veto override. House Public Safety Chairwoman Faye Hanohano was a prison guard at Hawaii's Kulani Prison for 25 years. Hanohano said she will also recommend an override if the governor vetoes the prisons audit bill. Hanohano said more needs to be known to determine if Hawaii taxpayers are getting their money's worth by sending prisoners to the mainland instead of incarcerating them in Hawaii. "There is a lot of missing data that needs to be brought out and hopefully an audit will flush it out," said Hanohano.

June 17, 2010 KGMB/KHNL
Two Hawaii inmates were murdered in the last four months at a prison in Arizona and tonight we're hearing more complaints about safety. Miti Maugaotega and Micah Kanahele were indicted on first degree murder charges. They're accused of stabbing fellow Hawaii inmate Bronson Nunuha several times in February. Investigators believe it was a gang murder. Nunuha was set to be released in October. Both suspects were already serving lengthy prison terms. Kanahele was serving 25 years for shooting and killing a man in an Aiea carport, then killing another man in the parking lot of the Longs Drugs in Pearl City. Maugaotega was described as a "walking crime wave" by a judge. He is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole for shooting a man in the chest during a home invasion in Punchbowl. Maugaotega was 17 at the time and had a lengthy criminal record. Arizona prosecutors should decide in the next few days if they will pursue the death penalty option, even though Hawaii does not have capital punishment. Earlier this month a second Hawaii inmate was killed. Mahinauli Silva is accused of strangling his cell mate Clifford Medina. Among the complaints from inmates is that there aren't enough guards and they are denied "comfort moves," meaning if cell mates have problems with each other they are not moved until there's an assault or worse. Just today State Senator Will Espero received a letter from an inmate at Saguaro Correctional Facility in Arizona complaining about housing conditions and their safety. "If you get this letter I guess it's an I told you so," Espero read from the letter. "Help before it gets worse and more people die or get hurt. There's a lot to this death that you don't know and may never know." He's got a drawer full of these types of letters. "Inmates are human beings too and have needs and must be dealt with properly or else if you treat them like animals they'll act like animals," said Espero. It's not just letters. We spoke with an inmate by phone who wanted to remain anonymous for his safety. "This facility (Saguaro) is greatly understaffed pursuant to the contract," he said. He also said he's worried about his safety, not necessarily from other inmates but from the prison staff. Nearly 1,900 Hawaii inmates are incarcerated at Saguaro Prison in Arizona. The state says it pays Corrections Corporation of American $60 million a year to lock them up. That's about $43 million a year cheaper than keeping them here in Hawaii. But some feel the savings isn't worth the cost. Meaning with a private company making money the public gets no accountability. "I think the system was broken in the first place. The problem is we contract with a facility or a company that has no incentive to provide rehabilitative services. It's a for profit operation," said Myles Breiner, Attorney. "No one is saying let's coddle these people but you have to balance out. The reality is every single individual, the vast majority are going to return to Hawaii so we have every reason in the world to treat these people in a way where they can come back into the community and not be a risk and we're not doing that. We're closing our eyes. I want accountability." "You know if they really want to complain about it don't do the crime," said Peter Carlisle, Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney.

June 16, 2010 Star-Advertiser
Two Hawaii inmates charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of a fellow Hawaii inmate at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona could face the death penalty if convicted. The two are the first to face capital punishment for a crime committed in a private prison on the mainland since Hawaii started housing inmates out of state in 1995. Because Hawaii has no death penalty, some legal advocates say the case could be unprecedented in the nation. Some also argue the situation raises new questions about the practice of sending inmates out of state to serve their sentences. State Department of Public Safety officials say they are monitoring the case, but it doesn't appear they plan to step in to urge Arizona to take the death penalty off the table. "When you commit a crime in a different state, it's a crime that is addressed with that state," said DPS Director Clayton Frank. "We abide by the laws of that respective state." The two inmates -- Miti Maugaotega Jr., 24, and Micah Kanahele, 29 -- were indicted on first-degree murder and gang-related charges May 20 in the killing of Bronson Nunuha, 26, who was found in his cell at Saguaro on Feb. 18 with multiple stab wounds. Maugaotega was serving a life sentence for first-degree attempted murder in the June 2003 shooting of Punchbowl resident Eric Kawamoto. Kanahele was serving two 20-year sentences for the October 2003 shooting deaths of Greg Morishima at his Aiea home and Guylan Nuuhiwa in a Pearl City parking lot a week later. Nunuha was behind bars for three counts of second-degree burglary. News that Maugaotega and Kanahele could face the death penalty comes as the state is investigating a second killing of a Hawaii inmate at Saguaro. Clifford Medina, 23, was killed June 8 at Saguaro, and his cellmate, also a Hawaii inmate, is in custody in connection with the case. Yesterday, Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the acting governor while Gov. Linda Lingle is traveling in Asia, said the killings highlight the need to take a closer look at security at Saguaro and could prompt the state to move inmates from the facility. But he said he would have to do more research before weighing in on whether the state should voice opposition on the two inmates facing the death penalty. Some 1,871 male Hawaii inmates are at Saguaro, a 1,897-bed prison in Eloy, Ariz., owned by Corrections Corp. of America. About 50 more are at a separate CCA prison in Arizona. The state spends about $61 million a year to house male inmates on the mainland because there is not enough room for them at Hawaii prisons. Last year, allegations by female Hawaii inmates of widespread sexual abuse by guards and employees at a CCA facility in Kentucky prompted the state to pull all 168 of its female inmates from the prison and bring them back to the islands to serve their time. A spokesman with the Pinal County Attorney's Office, which is prosecuting the Nunuha case, said the death penalty is within sentencing guidelines in a first-degree murder case. He declined further comment because the case is ongoing. Fifteen states, including Hawaii, do not have the death penalty. State Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee, said the Nunuha case could prompt more discussion on the implications of shipping Hawaii inmates out of state. Espero added he wants to learn more about the killing before trying to determine whether the state should stand in the way of a death penalty sentencing. "Quite frankly, it was a cold-blooded murder," he said. "I'm sure you will find people in Hawaii that say they deserve (to face) the death penalty." But, he added, "these cases really do show the need to come up with a plan to bring home our prisoners one day." Opponents of the death penalty say the case raises legal questions. In a statement, ACLU Hawaii said it hopes Arizona will "respect Hawaii's history and tradition of rejecting capital punishment in their treatment of Hawaii's inmates." ACLU also said Nunuha's killing is "just one of a morbid series of events showing the need for independent oversight" of CCA's contract with Hawaii. The group urged the governor to sign a bill into law that calls for an audit of the state's contract with CCA.

June 15, 2010 Star-Advertiser
Amid growing scrutiny of the state's practice of shipping inmates to the mainland, a state Department of Public Safety team left for Arizona yesterday to investigate the killing of a 23-year-old Hawaii inmate at Saguaro Correctional Center. Arizona authorities expect to charge a 21-year-old Hawaii inmate in connection with the killing at Saguaro, a private prison in Arizona where nearly 1,900 Hawaii inmates are housed. Eloy, Ariz., police said Mahinauli Silva strangled his cellmate, Clifford Medina, while the prison was in lockdown on last Tuesday. The killing is the second of a Hawaii inmate on the mainland this year and is prompting calls for new attention to the out-of-state prison population. State Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee, said the two inmate deaths raise serious questions about the state's policy of shipping out inmates and will undoubtedly raise the prominence of the discussion in the 2011 legislative session. "Maybe this could give us a reason to pause," he said, adding that the Hawaii team in Arizona to investigate Medina's death needs to answer this question: "Is this prison unsafe, and are there some major security breaches?" Meanwhile, Medina's family said they are not getting any details on the killing from the state Department of Public Safety and plan to travel to Arizona to look into the death themselves. "It's so frustrating," said Loke Medeiros, Medina's aunt. "No one from Public Safety talks to us." Medeiros said that Medina had cognitive disabilities and attention deficit disorder and had recently been placed in isolation. As a result, he could call his family only once a month. "The day of his death was the day he was supposed to call home," said Medeiros, of Puna. "He had told us he was in what they call the hole." DPS Director Clayton Frank said he had not gotten official word yesterday on Medina's cause of death and so could not comment on the case. But he did say the DPS team would be working with Eloy police and with prison officials to investigate what happened and evaluate security at the facility. Some 1,871 male Hawaii inmates are at Saguaro, a 1,897-bed prison owned by Corrections Corp. of America. About 50 more are at a separate CCA prison in Arizona. The state spends about $61 million a year to house male inmates on the mainland because there is not enough room for them at Hawaii prisons. Last year, allegations by female Hawaii inmates of widespread sexual abuse by guards and employees at a CCA facility in Kentucky prompted the state to pull all 168 of its female inmates from the prison and bring them back to the islands to serve their time. Silva, the suspect in the killing last week, remains in custody at the Saguaro Correctional Center and is expected to be charged today or tomorrow, said Sgt. Michelle Tarango, of the Eloy Police Department. Police did not provide information yesterday on a motive in the killing and could not say why the prison was in lockdown. Tarango said Silva confessed in police custody to strangling his cellmate, then waiting a "short while" before pushing an emergency button to call for guards. Medina was sent to Arizona about six months ago and was serving time for first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer, two counts of second-degree burglary, second-degree theft and bail jumping. He would have been eligible for parole in 2012. Silva was serving time for burglary and theft. Saguaro was also the site of the stabbing death of Bronson Nunuha on Feb. 18. Two Hawaii inmates -- Micah Kanahele and Miti Maugaotega Jr. have been indicted on first-degree murder charges in the case. Nunuha was the first Hawaii inmate killed in a private prison on the mainland since the state started housing inmates out of state in 1995, though others have been seriously assaulted. Officials have said Nunuha's death appeared to be gang-related. There are no indications Medina's death was linked to gangs.

June 11, 2010 Star Advertiser
The second death this year of a Hawaii inmate in an Arizona prison is setting off alarm bells with the state Department of Public Safety and lawmakers who want to scrutinize the arrangement of outsourcing local felons to privately operated mainland lockups. Two investigators from the Public Safety Department will leave next week for Eloy, Ariz., where about 1,900 Hawaii prisoners are held at Saguaro Correctional Center. No cause of death has been released yet for Clifford Medina, 23, who was found unresponsive in his cell Tuesday morning. An emergency medical services team tried unsuccessfully to revive him, according to a brief statement from the Corrections Corp. of America, which operates Saguaro. "It is critical for us to find out what the autopsy says," said Public Safety Director Clayton Frank. "If this was something where we knew a person had a health-related reason, it would be one thing. But this is out of the ordinary because of his age. ... From what we got from the facility, the cellmate called officials indicating (Medina) was unresponsive." State investigators also went to Arizona after Bronson Nunuha, 26, was found dead from multiple stab wounds in his cell Feb. 18. He was the first Hawaii inmate killed in a private mainland prison since 1995, when the state began shipping prisoners away. "What we found that time was the facility did whatever it could have done," Frank said. "I think they responded appropriately under the circumstances." Two Hawaii inmates were indicted three weeks ago on capital murder charges for Nunuha's death. They are Miti Maugaotega Jr., 24, serving a life sentence for first-degree attempted murder in the June 2003 shooting of Punchbowl resident Eric Kawamoto, and Micah Kanahele, 29, serving two 20-year sentences for the October 2003 shooting deaths of Greg Morishima at his Aiea home and Guylan Nuuhiwa in a Pearl City parking lot a week later. The judge originally gave Maugaotega 11 life sentences for several charges stemming from the Punchbowl break-in and an earlier burglary in which he sexually assaulted and beat a 55-year-old woman. The state Legislature sent to Gov. Linda Lingle for review a bill calling for an independent audit of the state's contract with Corrections Corp. "We need to re-evaluate the security and safety of Saguaro and our inmates and see if this is the best place and time to house our inmates," said Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee.

June 9, 2010 KITV
State public safety investigators are heading to Arizona to look into the death of a Hawaii inmate at a private prison. Clifford Medina, 23, is the second Hawaii inmate to die at the Saguaro Correctional Facility in Eloy, Ariz., in five months. Public safety director Clayton Frank said Medina was found unresponsive in his cell at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. His cause of death has not yet been determined. Medina was serving time for multiple offenses including assault against a law enforcement officer, second-degree theft, second-degree burglary and third-degree assault. On Feb. 18, Bronson Nunuha, of Maui, was killed at the prison. Two other Hawaii inmates have been charged with murder in Nunuha's death.

May 26, 2010 Honolulu Weekly
Kulani Correctional Facility (KCF) on the Big Island, which was closed last year for financial reasons, specialized in just the sort of rehabilitative services that Bronson Nunuha and others weren’t receiving at Arizona’s Saguaro Prison. Saguaro, a private prison run by Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) in Elroy, Ariz., was contracted to house Hawaii inmates, and it was there that Nunuha was stabbed to death on Feb 18. He only had about eight months left to serve on his full sentence for three counts of burglary. Among other services, Kulani operated the state’s largest program for sexual offenders, whose graduates had a recidivism rate of only 5 percent: the best in the nation. “The hasty closure of KCF has had serious impacts to our clients, and huge subsidiary financial impact to the State,” said James Tabe, supervisor for the State Office of the Public Defender Appeals Division, at a recent hearing on HB145, an audit of the state’s Public Safety Department (PSD). “Any inmate classified as a sex offender is required to complete the rigorous 18-month SOTP [Sexual Offender Treatment program] prior to parole. The vast majority of such inmates completed their SOTP at KCF.” After SOTP is completed, the inmate must complete any other rehabilitative programs, such as work furlough and substance abuse programming–which can take another one to three years to complete.” Kulani inmates, he said, “now face the prospect of having to complete the entire program again, delaying their entry into their post-SOTP programming for substance abuse or work furlough, thus delaying their parole eligibility for another two years.” The delay, he wrote, was not only “emotionally painful for our clients, but they are extremely expensive for taxpayers, with skyrocketing incarceration costs at over $50,000 per inmate, per year.” Public Safety Director Clayton Frank told Honolulu Weekly that after some delays, sexual offender treatment programs had been started up at Halawa Correctional Facility and at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu, where many former Kulani inmates are now housed. Parents of Saguaro inmates have reported that the drug rehab program there has such a long waiting list that many inmates gave up on getting into it. One mother of a Saguaro inmate had hoped to get her son, a non-violent offender convicted on drug charges, into Kulani; she said he had been transferred to other prisons six times in three years, including two stints at Saguaro, making it virtually impossible to get the drug rehab programs and educational courses he’d requested. “He’d just gotten a job at Halawa,” she recalled. “He was finally doing something to make the days go faster, and then they sent him back.” A culture of intimidation? The inmate’s mother requested that her name be withheld for fear that officials in Arizona might retaliate against her son. She wasn’t the only one. At least seven other people–relatives of inmates, state employees, lawyers, social workers–either declined to talk with us or asked to remain anonymous, citing fear of retaliation by PSD officials or CCA employees. Some said they’d already suffered consequences for speaking up in the past. CCA is required to offer inmates an impartial grievance procedure and access to a law library, but critics say inmates who dare to exercise those options suffer consequences. Public defender Karen Tooko Nakasone testified that one Saguaro inmate had suffered “massive retaliation” after complaining. After “a herculean effort to obtain records from Saguaro,” she said, she finally won a parole case. But she added, “I learned during my representation of this client [that] a number of other inmates apparently are experiencing similar treatment, namely with the prison not following its own regulations, or selectively/arbitrarily applying these regulations.” Daphne Barbee, an attorney representing prisoners transferred to Arizona, adds flatly,“When inmates complain, they’re retaliated against. They’re ridiculed by the guards, their legal mail is opened….” In Saguaro, she says, there’s a rule that if one inmate helps another to file a grievance, “They will be written up and put in the hole. They detest inmates who are articulate, who know the law. They retaliate against people who write grievances….” Barbee, Nakasone and others also complained that inmates in Arizona were denied the right to complain to the state ombudsman, as they would be able to if housed in a PSD-run prison. Frank says CCA-housed prisoners still have a number of avenues to lodge complaints: “If there’s an issue that they feel is not being addressed, they can write to any elected official, they can write to myself…” Liability Nunuha was the first Hawaii inmate to die violently at Saguaro, but he was not the first to die. Ken Akinaka of Hepatitus Support Network testified, “We have lost several inmates since we started moving them to the mainland to serve time,” and in all of those cases, “questionable practices” were involved. Serious problems were also reported with the health system at CCA’s Otter Creek facility when Hawaiian women were housed there. Such problems, as well as other allegations of misconduct and abuse, have created another financial problem for the state: liability. “Shouldn’t we be including the cost of lawsuits for the sexual assaults and other civil rights violations at private prisons into the audit considerations?” Kat Brady, of the Community Alliance on Prisons, asked legislators. Frank told HW that CCA already had an indemnity clause in its contract and was paying some of the damages in inmate lawsuits. An audit, however, might uncover another client with a damage claim against the company: the state itself. “Last year, the State of Oklahoma withheld nearly $600,000 from CCA because CCA was not complying with its contractual obligations,” noted ACLU attorney Daniel Gluck. “These payments were only withheld after the Oklahoma Legislature•requested a performance audit of the prisons.”

May 19, 2010 Honolulu Weekly
When Hawaii inmate Bronson Nunuha was stabbed to death in his cell at Corrections Corporation of America’s Saguaro Correctional Facility in Elroy, Arizona, on February 18, he had only about eight months left to serve on his full sentence for three counts of burglary. Normally, at that stage of a prisoner’s sentence, he or she would expect to be out on parole or serving in a minimum security facility and enrolled in programs to help him or her transition to life in the outside world. But Nunuha was in a high-security program that placed him under lockdown for all but two hours of each day. Nunuha was among about 1900 Hawaii inmates kept at CCA facilities–most at Saguaro, but about 50 at nearby Red Rock Correctional Center and one woman still at CCA’s Otter Creek facility in Kentucky (most Hawaii women inmates were transferred back to the islands after allegations surfaced of rape and other misconduct at Otter Creek). Nunuha’s death, along with the sudden closure of the Big Island’s Kulani Correctional Center last year, have helped to fuel calls for an independent audit of the state’s Public Safety Department and its dealings with CCA. A bill requiring such an audit passed the Hawaii Legislature in its 2010 session and HB415 is now awaiting Gov. Linda Lignle’s signature.. It received support from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Community Alliance on Prisons, the Drug Policy Forum, the United Public Workers, the Hawaii Government Employee’s Association, and various attorneys and social workers. Among the very few to testify against: Public Safety Director Clayton Frank. De-paroling for profit? “Private prisons are for-profit corporations, accountable as most of those businesses are to their shareholders and investors; with profits as their primary motive. They have a self-serving interest in keeping their census up to capacity, and their costs low, much like hotels and other lodging businesses,” testified Jean Ohta of the Drug Policy Forum. “It is because of this self-interest on the part of private prisons that an audit should be conducted.” “We have received numerous reports suggesting that CCA is not meeting its most basic of constitutional obligations in housing inmates. We have also received several reports suggesting that CCA may be keeping inmates longer than necessary; because Hawaii pays CCA per inmate per day of incarceration, the longer inmates are held, the more money CCA receives,” testified ACLU attorney Daniel Gluck. Gluck wrote that his organization had received “numerous reports” of inmates who’d been granted parole being “held for four months or more by CCA (based on vague and unsubstantiated reasons for ignoring the Paroling Authority’s orders)” and of Saguaro inmates, including those with no previous records of infractions, being “written up for spurious rule infractions shortly before their parole eligibility dates,” disqualifying them for parole. “One month of additional incarceration at CCA can easily cost the State and the taxpayers nearly $2,000–money that is sorely needed for other programs like drug rehabilitation, mental health care, and education–and the Legislature need not (and should not) allow these reports to be ignored,” he added. Asked about infractions at CCA, Franks told Honolulu Weekly, “I don’t believe that they receive anymore disciplinary writeups than what we have here.” At the legislature, Frank maintained that an independent audit was unnecessary. “These contracts and agreements referenced in this measure are already audited on a regular basis by an independent auditor,” he testified. But when the Weekly checked the department’s records for an audit of the Saguaro facility, all that turned up was a checklist. Shari Kimoto, who filled out that checklist, is the Public Safety Department’s Mainland Branch Manager, the state employee in charge of managing the department’s relations with CCA. She is also the wife of Republican Party Chair Jonah Kaauwai, who is himself a former Public Safety official. CCA has been a heavy contributor to Republican Party candidates and causes, including Republican Governor Linda Lingle, who received the maximum legal donation of $6,000 for each of her gubernatorial campaigns. Kimoto checked the “compliant” box for every one of the audit checklist’s 115 categories, covering everything from the temperatures of the freezers to the presence of “inmate property forms.” But the audit did not appear to monitor whether inmates were being kept overtime. HW asked Frank about the “independent audits” he referred to in his testimony. He said he would check. Later in the interview, he said that CCA facilities were audited and accredited by the American Correctional Association. Frank told the legislature that prisoners in CCA facilities cost the state about half as much to maintain as those at the state’s own correctional facilities. He told HW that those figures were based on the state’s contracts and included transportation costs to the mainland. But neither his figures, nor the ACA audits, nor Kimoto’s, include an examination of such factors as the length of time inmates served before parole in different facilities, the costs of lawsuits by inmates or their families, or the recidivism rates of inmates–factors that the department’s critics want examined. Services and sentences Frank said prisoners were selected to go to the mainland based on a series of criteria: They must have sentences of “a minimum of 24 months,” they must have “no major medical or health care problems, and “They don’t have any pending criminal cases here.” Apparently, though, that system doesn’t always work. “I’ve had clients who’ve been transferred to AZ who still have cases pending,” attorney Daphne Barbee said. “I’ve had to have them brought back.” One client, she said, didn’t get back in time for his own hearing; he only got his day in court because the judge granted an extension. Bronson Nunuha was in the 22-hour lockdown, Frank said, because of “disciplinary conduct.” How fast an inmate such as Nunuha goes through the system, he maintained, “depends on the inmate what the level of participation he wants.” Sometimes, he said, “Rather than participate in the program they just choose to max out on their sentence.” But the department’s critics say that often services just aren’t available, that the programs at CCA were sparse, and that the closure of Kulani Prison had aggravated the problem.

February 25, 2010 Honolulu Advertiser
Arizona police say they are close to making an arrest in the killing of a 26-year-old Hawai'i inmate at Saguaro Correctional Center, a private prison in Arizona where nearly 1,900 Hawai'i inmates are housed. The prison remains in lockdown following the death Feb. 18. Arizona police said Bronson Nunuha, who was incarcerated for three counts of second-degree burglary, died from multiple stab wounds. He was assaulted in his cell sometime before 9:30 a.m. Feb. 18, when prison staff found him. He was pronounced dead about 9:57 a.m. Local police in Eloy, Ariz., where the prison is located, said yesterday they expect to make an arrest soon in connection with the killing, but did not release further details, citing the ongoing investigation. A Hawai'i team from the Department of Public Safety is also investigating the death. Clayton Frank, Public Safety Department director, said the team arrived Saturday and will likely remain in Arizona through the week. "There's still a lot of things that need to be untangled," Frank said. He declined to say what the team had found so far. The team could make security recommendations for the 1,897-bed prison, which is owned by Corrections Corporation of America. Some 1,871 male Hawai'i inmates are at Saguaro, and about 50 more are at a separate CCA prison in Arizona. The state spends about $61 million a year to house inmates on the Mainland because there's not enough space for them in Hawai'i facilities. Nunuha had been behind bars for about four years. He was scheduled to return to the Islands in a few months to prepare for his release Oct. 31. Nunuha is the first Hawai'i inmate killed in a private prison on the Mainland since the state began shipping its inmates out of state 15 years ago. Officials have said his killing may have been gang-related.

February 19, 2010 Honolulu Advertiser
Authorities have started an investigation into the killing yesterday of a Hawaii inmate at Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona, where about 1,900 Hawaii inmates are currently housed. Clayton Frank, state Department of Public Safety director, identified the inmate who was killed as Bronson Nunuha, 26. He was incarcerated on three counts of burglary in the second degree, and was going to be maxing out on his sentence on Oct. 31, 2010, Frank said. Frank said Nunuha had been at the facility for about four years. He said a DPS team will leave for Arizona tomorrow to investigate the death. He also said Corrections Corporation of America, which owns the private prison, has taken steps to increase safety following the death. Frank declined to comment further on the killing, citing the ongoing investigation.

September 3, 2009 Arizona Daily Sun
A lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses the Corrections Corporation of America and an Arizona prison of denying inmates some books. Prison Legal News, a nonprofit criminal-justice publication, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the Nashville, Tenn., company and various officials at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. The Seattle-based publication also publishes, sells and distributes books to about 7,000 prisoners around the world. The nonprofit accuses prison officials of prohibiting at least six Saguaro prisoners from receiving books in the last two years. Calls to Saguaro warden Todd Thomas and Corrections Corporation of America were not returned Wednesday. When refusing Prison Legal books to inmates, prison officials gave them notices saying that the company was not an approved vendor and that their books would "create a serious danger to the security of the facility," according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit says that the prison only allowed inmates to get their books from Barnes & Noble, and when that company didn't have a certain publication, they could use amazon.com. Prison Legal gives inmates books for free if they can't afford them. The lawsuit says Corrections Corporation of America and prison officials are violating Prison Legal's First and 14th Amendment rights. The publisher wants the prison to be ordered to pay unspecified damages and allow inmates to get Prison Legal books.\

July 22, 2009 Arizona Daily Star
A 27-year-old man who died during an apparent home invasion last Friday was a corrections officer, his employer confirmed Tuesday. Danny Torres had worked at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy for about two years, said Louise Grant, a spokeswoman for Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the private medium-security facility. Torres was found wounded outside a home in the 4400 block of East Benson Highway by Pima County Sheriff’s deputies, who were responding to a 911 call from a neighbor who said armed gunmen had entered a nearby house, spokeswoman Deputy Dawn Barkman said. Torres, who was pronounced dead after being taken to University Medical Center, was shot by the neighbor’s son after the gunmen fired at the neighbor, Barkman said. Torres was one of three men involved in the attack, Barkman said. He and two other men arrived in a dark-colored van, entered the house and pistol-whipped a man who lived there while his wife and child were in the home, Barkman said. “He was involved. He was a suspect. I don’t care if he was a corrections officer,” Barkman said. Two others — 19-year-old Manuel Nathan Moreno and 18-year-old Alejandro Salazar Romero — were stopped near South Country Club and East Irvington roads and were later booked into the Pima County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. Arizona law allows those involved in the commission of certain felonies that results in the death of another person, including other felons, to be held responsible for the death.

April 3, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
State lawmakers have tentatively approved a bill to audit a privately run Arizona prison that holds more than 1,800 Hawai'i convicts. House Finance Chairman Marcus Oshiro said state Auditor Marion Higa likely would need to contract with a Mainland auditing firm to conduct the performance audit of Saguaro Correctional Center, a new 1,896-bed prison in Eloy, Ariz., that houses only male prisoners from Hawai'i. The audit is expected to cost $150,000 or more, but Oshiro said it will be "money well spent" to scrutinize the Saguaro operation and the state contract with Corrections Corporation of America. Hawai'i pays CCA more than $50 million a year to house more than 2,000 male and female convicts from Hawai'i in private prisons in Arizona and Kentucky. Hawai'i first began sending prisoners to the Mainland in 1995 as a temporary measure to relieve in-state prison overcrowding. About half of the state's prison population is now held in out-of-state facilities. According to Senate Bill 2342, "there has never been an audit of the private Mainland prisons that Hawai'i has contracted with to house the state's inmates, despite the fact that deaths and serious injuries have occurred at several of the contract prisons on the Mainland." Oshiro said, "I think it's prudent to spend some monies for the audit and review to make sure that we're getting the best services for our money." The bill goes to the full House for a floor vote, and if approved will be sent to a House-Senate conference committee to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The Senate proposed auditing both Saguaro and the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Kentucky, where about 175 Hawai'i inmates are being held. However, Oshiro said supporters of the bill told him the Saguaro audit was more important because more inmates are there, so the audit of Otter Creek was dropped from the House draft of the bill. Clayton Frank, director of the state Department of Public Safety, has opposed the bill because state prison officials already conduct quarterly audits of the Mainland prisons that check up on programs, food service, medical service and security, among other areas. "The department already has the expertise in place and is currently providing a thorough and ongoing auditing process to ensure contract compliance is being met," the department said in a written statement Monday. For situations that require immediate attention, "we have dispatched appropriate senior staff and Internal Affairs investigators to the facilities," the statement said. The bill for an audit is advancing after recent Mainland media reports cited a former CCA manager who said he was required to produce misleading reports about incidents in CCA prisons. Time magazine interviewed former CCA senior quality assurance manager Ronald T. Jones, who said CCA General Counsel Gus Puryear IV ordered staff to classify sometimes violent incidents such as inmate disturbances or escapes as if they were less serious events to make the company performance appear to be better than it was. Jones alleged more detailed reports about the prison incidents were prepared for internal CCA use, and were not released to clients. CCA denied the allegations, which Time published as Puryear is being considered for a post as a federal judge. Oshiro said he is aware of those reports. "There's questions being raised right now, given what you read about nationally about the CCA organization maybe having two sets of books, and I think it causes some concerns, especially since we don't get to observe and watch or communicate with our inmates being that they are way out there in the Mainland," Oshiro said. The statement Monday from Department of Public Safety noted that the department "does not solely rely on CCA reports or internal audits. As the customer, we feel it's not only our right, but also our responsibility to Hawai'i offenders housed in CCA facilities, to send our own staff to the Arizona and Kentucky facilities."

March 31, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser
State lawmakers today will consider ordering an audit of two Corrections Corporation of America facilities in the wake of national media accounts alleging that the huge private prison company misrepresented statistical data to make it appear that CCA facilities had fewer violent acts and other problems than was actually the case. Hawai'i pays CCA more than $50 million a year to house more than 2,000 men and women convicts in CCA prisons in Arizona and Kentucky. Senate Bill 2342 calls for the State Auditor to conduct performance audits of two of the three Mainland prisons that house Hawai'i inmates, including reviews of the food, medical, drug treatment, vocational and other services provided to Hawai'i inmates. The audit also would scrutinize the way the state Department of Public Safety oversees the private prisons and enforces the terms of the state's contracts with CCA. According to the bill, "there has never been an audit of the private Mainland prisons that Hawai'i has contracted with to house the state's inmates, despite the fact that deaths and serious injuries have occurred at several of the contract prisons on the Mainland." Clayton Frank, director of the state Department of Public Safety, testified against the proposed audits in Senate hearings last month, calling the audits "unnecessary and repetitive" because his department already conducts quarterly audits to make sure CCA is complying with its contracts with the state. Frank also suggested his department was being singled out, arguing that if lawmakers want performance audits to provide more accountability and transparency to the public, "then it should apply to all state contracts and not be limited to just the Department of Public Safety." Critics of the Mainland prison contracts contend the audits are needed because the private prisons are for-profit ventures designed to keep costs as low as possible. During the decade that Hawai'i has housed inmates on the Mainland, the state itself has criticized private prison operators when the companies failed to provide Hawai'i inmates with programs that were required under the contract. Now, supporters of the audit bill say an independent review is necessary to scrutinize what is one of the state's largest ongoing contracts of any kind with a private vendor. "Are we getting what we pay for? We'd like to know," testified Jeanne Y. Ohta, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai'i. The audit would cover the 1,896-bed Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Ariz., which houses only male prisoners from Hawai'i, and the 656-bed Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Ky., which holds about 175 Hawai'i women inmates. The House Finance Committee hearing on the bill today comes in the wake of Mainland media reports citing a former CCA manager who said he was required to produce misleading reports about incidents in CCA prisons. The company operates about 65 prisons with about 75,000 inmates. Time magazine interviewed former CCA senior quality assurance manager Ronald T. Jones, who said CCA General Counsel Gus Puryear IV ordered staff to classify sometimes violent incidents such as inmate disturbances, escapes and sexual assaults as if they were less serious events to make the company performance appear to be better than it was. Jones said more detailed reports about the prison incidents were prepared for internal CCA use, and were not released to clients. CCA denied the allegations, which Time published as Puryear is being considered for a post as a federal judge. The Private Corrections Institute Inc., an organization opposed to private prisons, wrote to Hawai'i prison officials urging them to investigate CCA's reporting procedures in the wake of the Time report. Alex Friedmann, vice president of the institute, said most state monitors who are overseeing CCA prisons "largely rely on information and data provided by CCA; further, the accuracy of incident reports is entirely dependent on whether those incidents are documented by the company's employees." Hawai'i Public Safety officials did not respond to requests for comment on the allegations in the Time article.

August 12, 2007 Star Bulletin
The heads of the education and addiction-treatment programs at a private Arizona prison holding Hawaii inmates abruptly quit their jobs complaining of poor management, inadequate facilities and lack of staffing. Their resignations came just days before an Aug. 3 incident in which the staff at Saguaro Correctional Facility inadvertently opened security doors, releasing Hawaii inmates from their cells. Seven inmates left their cells when the doors opened, one was injured in a fight with another inmate and a third inmate had to be subdued for refusing to return to his cell, Hawaii Department of Public Safety officials said. Rich Stokes was the principal at Saguaro Correctional Facility in Eloy. Michael VanSlyke was the facility's addiction treatment manager. "They essentially walked out," said Steve Owen, spokesman for the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the Saguaro facility. "Their leaving was not expected." Stokes and VanSlyke did not explain their departures to CCA officials but instead sent e-mails to Shari Kimoto, state Department of Public Safety mainland branch administrator. In the e-mails, Stokes said upper management at the facility spies on staff, controls all communication with the outside, and devalues and degrades inmates and programs for them. He said water runs into cells when inmates take showers because the drains are higher than the surrounding floors, the air-conditioning system experiences frequent failure and staff are often locked in or out of their units because doors cannot be opened. Gates and doors are opened when they should be closed and closed when they should be open because there are not enough correctional officers, Stokes said, adding that the officers who are there are overworked and undertrained. VanSlyke's e-mail said Saguaro does not have adequate facilities to treat inmates and will never qualify for inpatient licensing as required by CCA's contract with Hawaii. He also said the qualifications required of counselors made it impossible for him to hire an adequately sized staff in time to start an addiction treatment program. Owen said Saguaro already has over half the staff it needs to run the education and addiction treatment programs and expects to have them running by Oct. 1. Owen said Stokes and VanSlyke filed no formal complaints about conditions before resigning. CCA hires people with no prior experience working in corrections, like Stokes and VanSlyke, for their subject-area expertise, Owen said. "Its just one of those things where it didn't work out," he said. Hawaii's Department of Public Safety is sending an inspection team to Saguaro following the Aug. 3 incident. An audit team was already scheduled to be in Arizona last week, said Louise Kim McCoy, state Public Safety spokeswoman. Deputy Director for Corrections Tommy Johnson is also in Arizona for the audit team's visit, she said. McCoy said Johnson will be checking the programs at Saguaro, employee training records, staffing and security features of the facility.

January 25, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser
Eloy Mayor Byron Jackson's employment at CCA as a prison guard has sparked the interest of the Hawaiian Attorney General's Office. The office is looking into whether Jackson's signature on some of the contracts between the city of Eloy and the state of Hawaii might damage their validity. Their government-to-government contracts allow no-bid contracts, in this case with the private prison operator, Corrections Corporation of America. "It doesn't certainly, present well," Hawaii Deputy Attorney General Diane Taira said to the Honolulu Advertiser in a Jan. 21 article. "At worst - and I'm not saying it is at the worst because our inquiry is ongoing - at the worst, perhaps it is a voidable contract, but it does not necessarily make the contract automatically void." Because Hawaii procurement law does not seem to cover this circumstance, the issue may come down to whether Jackson violated Arizona ethics law, Taira told the Advertiser. In a Jan. 11 Eloy Enterprise article about possible conflicts of interest Jackson said the conflict had been discussed and discounted by the city attorney as having any bearing. Jackson said then that he does not receive any financial interest, and the city's attorney looked into the matter. However, the mayor stepped back from recent closed-door discussions on an issue the city has with CCA not paying construction sales tax city officials think the city is due.

January 21, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser
An Arizona mayor who signed off on part of a multi-million dollar government contract to house Hawai'i inmates in prisons on the Mainland also is an employee of Corrections Corp. of America, the company that holds Hawai'i inmates at the privately owned Arizona prisons. The contract was not let out for bid because it was a government-to-government transaction between the state of Hawai'i and Eloy, Ariz., that is exempt from competitive bidding. Hawai'i officials say the "highly unusual" situation involving Eloy Mayor Byron K. Jackson isn't covered by the Hawai'i state procurement law, but does raise questions about the contract. "I think on the surface, the appearance is poor," said Hawai'i Chief Procurement Officer Aaron Fujioka. Jackson works as a corrections officer at the Red Rock Correctional Center, where the Hawai'i inmates are housed. He said he discussed his employment with the Eloy city attorney, who concluded Jackson has no conflict of interest because Jackson does not gain anything personally through the government-to-government contract.

December 21, 2006 Casa Grande Dispatch
City officials are unhappy with the amount of money they are getting for the prisons being built. Corrections Corporation of America is about halfway done with the 1,896-bed Saguaro Correctional Center, the third of its prisons inside a square mile, and the second to be built within the last two years in Eloy. The point of contention is construction sales tax. CCA, just before it started Saguaro, agreed to the city's 3 percent sales tax on construction. City Manager Jim McFellin said the company also agreed to any future rate changes the city put forward. That change occurred in October 2005 when the rate went up from 3 to 4.5 percent. The city thinks CCA was trying to be too clever at the last possible moment in order to avoid the extra tax levied. "CCA instigated a 'change order' to facilitate construction of a new prison (Saguaro) on Sept. 29, 2005," McFellin wrote in an e-mail. "We feel that a change order from an existing contract does not ensure the benefit of the 3 percent. The contract to build a new prison is not a change order or an existing contract. The contractor owes us the 4.5 percent." The general contractor for both Red Rock and Saguaro is Moss & Associates of Florida. The architect of record for Saguaro is DLR Group of Nebraska. McFellin, speaking at a recent City Council meeting, said the city should be prepared for a lawsuit if it comes to that. At least $4.5 million is expected in sales tax for an expected $100 million construction cost. Therefore the difference in percentage from 4.5 down to 3 percent represents about a $1.5 million loss for the city. However, going to court is not the first option, McFellin said, and the matter is still being discussed. Company spokesman Steve Owen confirmed a problem but said Nashville-based CCA prefers to work through issues like this outside media scrutiny. "It's productive to discuss it directly with the party involved," Owen said. "In this case, city officials." He said the company is treating the matter seriously and is looking at the timeline of what happened. Red Rock Correctional Center opened in mid-July after a rapid construction schedule that saw a few delays. Construction for RRCC began in February 2005 and was completed in June this year. Saguaro is expected to be finished about July of 2007. The city, knowing Red Rock and Saguaro were going to be built, anticipated a steady income from construction sales tax. Red Rock cost $83 million to build, to house 1,596 inmates, which yielded about $3.7 million in tax revenue for the city over the completion time. In October, city Finance Director Brian Wright said construction tax from Saguaro and Robson Ranch homes totaled about $150,000 a month. At the same council meeting the discussion of a possible fourth prison was revealed, with Mayor Byron Jackson saying the likelihood of one seemed more remote. Since soon after it opened, Jackson has been employed at Red Rock as a corrections officer by CCA. Owen would not confirm that CCA was looking at a fourth prison in Eloy. He said to refer to previous company news releases. "CCA is a publicly traded company (CXW) so there are issues of how and when things are announced," Owen said.

September 29, 2006 Honolulu Advertiser
Hawai'i prison inmates have been moved into a new prison in Eloy, Ariz., as part of an effort to consolidate nearly 2,000 Hawai'i convicts now held in four Mainland states. The state plans to eventually place almost all of the Hawai'i inmates housed on the Mainland in three privately run Arizona prisons. On Sept. 16, corrections officials moved the first 157 Hawai'i prisoners from the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Miss., and the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, Okla., to the newly opened Red Rock Correctional Center in Eloy. Another 30 Hawai'i inmates were transferred to Red Rock from the Florence Correctional Center in Florence, Ariz. The state has agreed to rent 450 beds in Red Rock from prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, and Hawai'i Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy said more Hawai'i inmates will be moved into those Red Rock beds over the next year. The $82.5 million Red Rock prison opened in June, and can hold up to 1,596 inmates. Alaska officials have a contract to house about 1,000 convicts there. CCA began construction in May on the 1,896-bed Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, which will house both men and women inmates from Hawai'i when Saguaro opens next year. When those transfers are complete, almost all of the Hawai'i inmates housed on the Mainland will be held at Red Rock, Saguaro and Florence. The state now pays about $40 million a year to hold about 1,950 convicted Hawai'i felons in CCA prisons in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arizona and Kentucky because there is no room to hold the inmates in prisons here. State lawmakers this year set aside an additional $12 million to transfer 676 more inmates to the Mainland. When those transfers are complete, the state will have more inmates serving their sentences on the Mainland than in Hawai'i prisons.

Tallahatchie Correctional Facility
Tutwiler, Mississippi
CCA
July 22, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser
The private prison company that holds Hawai'i convicts on the Mainland acknowledged that multiple cell doors accidentally opened on four occasions at one of the company's new Arizona prisons, including one incident where alleged prison gang members used the opportunity to attack a Hawai'i inmate. The state's highest prison official said he's troubled that Corrections Corporation of America did not immediately notify the state about the incidents. The statement released by CCA announced that "appropriate disciplinary action was taken on officers in regard to four separate inadvertent cell door openings" at the Red Rock Correctional Center. The statement did not offer any specifics, and a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail that CCA would not provide additional details. Hawai'i Department of Public Safety interim director Clayton Frank said CCA did not tell Hawai'i prison authorities about some of the incidents until Wednesday night, after The Advertiser published complaints from inmates about repeated cases where doors opened unexpectedly and improperly, leaving protective custody prisoners vulnerable to attacks by prison gangs. Frank said he is "troubled" that CCA did not tell Hawai'i about some of the incidents. The company explained it did not immediately report some cases where doors opened because those incidents did not involve attacks on Hawai'i inmates, Frank said. "Right now, I have some serious concerns and doubt of whether they are providing us with everything," he said. "If it involves our inmates, I want to make sure that what they're giving us is true and accurate. "I want something to go directly to corporate office up there that says you guys have got to be candid when we ask questions." The state pays about $50 million a year to house 2,100 convicts in Mainland CCA prisons because there is no room for them in Hawai'i facilities. INMATE STABBED In the most serious of the incidents at Red Rock, Hawai'i inmate John Kupa was stabbed with a homemade knife on June 26 after more than half of the cell doors abruptly opened in his housing unit. That incident is being blamed on an error by a corrections officer. Protective custody inmates are housed in that prison pod along with general population inmates. That mix requires that prisoners there be separated constantly, and the doors there are never supposed to open simultaneously, prison officials said. Hawai'i Public Safety officials say that when the doors opened, Kupa and a 44-year-old inmate allegedly attacked Hawai'i convict Sidney Tafokitau. During the struggle, prison officials say Tafokitau allegedly stabbed Kupa. Tafokitau, a protective custody inmate, has said he acted in self-defense, and said he got the knife by taking it away from one of his attackers. Kupa, 36, was stabbed in the lower left back, and was treated and released from an Arizona hospital. The Red Rock stabbing marks the second time in two years a Hawai'i inmate has been injured when cell doors unexpectedly opened in a CCA prison living unit where inmates were supposed to be locked down. In the earlier case, 20 cell doors in a disciplinary unit of the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippi suddenly opened at 2:48 a.m. on July 17, 2005, releasing about three dozen Hawai'i convicts from their cells. Inmates then attacked Hawai'i inmate Ronnie Lonoaea, who was beaten so badly he suffered brain damage, and is now confined to a wheelchair. Hawai'i prison officials this week revealed the doors opened in Mississippi in that 2005 disturbance because a corrections officer had been "compromised" by a prison gang. Lawyer Myles Breiner, who is suing the state and CCA on behalf of Lonoaea and his family, said Lonoaea will need extensive medical care for the rest of his life, care that is expected to "easily" cost $10 million to $11 million. Breiner said he is also gathering information about attacks triggered by doors that improperly opened at Red Rock, and is considering filing suit on behalf of inmates that were attacked or injured in those cases. DELIBERATE ERROR? "Their doors are opening, and the only people responsible for the management and security is CCA," Breiner said. He said some of the lapses at Red Rock seem to be caused by human error or problems with the equipment, while the inmates suspect some of the other incidents have been deliberate. "Whether it's corruption or construction, CCA is still responsible," Breiner said. The statement from CCA said the company has taken corrective measures. "We stand by our reputation as a provider of quality corrections management services, and will continue to assess our operational activities to further refine and improve our safety processes," the company said.

July 18, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser
For the second time in two years, improper actions by a corrections worker caused cell doors to unexpectedly open in a Mainland prison where Hawai'i inmates were supposed to be kept separated, triggering violence that injured a Hawai'i convict, prison officials said. In the first incident at a Mississippi prison in 2005, Hawai'i convict Ronnie Lonoaea, 34, was beaten so severely that he suffered brain damage and is now confined to a wheelchair. Lonoaea's family sued the Hawai'i prison system and Corrections Corp. of America last week in connection with the case. In a second incident last month at Red Rock Correctional Center in Arizona, an error by a prison staffer caused cell doors to abruptly open, prison officials said. Hawai'i inmate John Kupa, 36, was stabbed in the left lower back, according to a police report. The two incidents raise concerns about the treatment of Hawai'i inmates in Mainland prisons run by a private company, said an expert on prisons and a state legislator. In the Arizona case, cell doors abruptly opened on June 26 in a prison pod where protective custody inmates are housed in some cells and general population inmates including gang members are held in other cells. Kupa was stabbed with a homemade knife after the doors opened at about 6 p.m., according to a report from the Eloy, Ariz., police department. The injured inmate was treated and released at a local hospital, according to a prison spokeswoman. In the Mississippi prison incident, 20 cell doors suddenly opened at 2:48 a.m. on July 17, 2005. About three dozen Hawai'i inmates were released from their cells when the doors opened, touching off a melee that lasted for 90 minutes in a disciplinary pod in the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility. Corrections officers finally used tear gas grenades to regain control of the pod. Hawai'i Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy said an internal investigation of the Mississippi case found the doors opened because a corrections sergeant had been "compromised" by prison gang members. Corrections Corp. of America, which owns both the Mississippi and the Arizona prison, terminated the sergeant, McCoy said in a written response to questions. Steve Owen, director of marketing for CCA, declined to discuss the specifics of the June 26 incident and also declined comment on the lawsuit over the Tallahatchie incident. PRIVATE VS. PUBLIC Byron E. Price, assistant professor of public policy and administration at Rutgers University and author of a book on the private prison industry, said Hawai'i has reason to be concerned about the incidents at Tallahatchie and Red Rock. Private prison operators make money by holding down costs, which is often accomplished by reducing labor costs, said Price. The companies tend to rely heavily on technology as a way to keep the officer-to-inmate ratios down, Price said. Private prison staff members are typically inexperienced, he added. "By cutting labor costs, you get a less qualified individual, and there's high turnover rate in the private prisons, and they conduct less training for their corrections officers" compared with publicly run prisons, said Price, who is author of "Merchandizing Prisoners: Who Really Pays for Prison Privatization?" Corrections Yearbook statistics show the staff turnover at private prisons averages 52 percent a year, while the turnover at public prisons is about 16 percent, he said. Hawai'i spends more than $50 million a year to house inmates in CCA prisons on the Mainland, and Senate Public Safety Committee Chairman Will Espero said he is concerned about reports of security problems "that appear to be similar, and that haven't been resolved." "Considering the millions of dollars that we are spending on the Mainland, we would expect to get excellent service, excellent facilities, and ... I would expect that with their experience, they should be able to minimize any problems," he said of CCA. LIFETIME CARE NEEDED When the cell doors opened in Mississippi, prisoners attacked Lonoaea. His attackers tore or cut off his lips and broke bones in his face, said Honolulu lawyer Michael Green, who is suing CCA and the Hawai'i prison system on behalf of Lonoaea's family. Green said Lonoaea, who is approaching the end of his prison sentence, will need intensive healthcare for the rest of his life that will likely cost $10 million to $11 million. The lawsuit alleges Hawai'i prison officials were negligent for failing to properly oversee the prison, and alleges CCA failed to properly train or supervise TCCF staff. Inmates at Red Rock who were interviewed by The Advertiser complain that multiple cell doors there have repeatedly opened without warning at times when prisoners are supposed to be locked down, leaving protective custody inmates open to danger. Officials at the privately owned Red Rock facility have disarmed the fuses in the electrical systems that operate the doors to some cells in the facility since the June 26 incident, and corrections officers at Red Rock have been manually opening the doors with keys, said McCoy of the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety. In a written response to questions, McCoy confirmed inmate accounts of the attack in Echo-Delta pod, a housing unit where inmates are supposed to remain separated from each other at all times. After the doors opened, Kupa and a 44-year-old inmate allegedly attacked Sidney Tafokitau, 28. During the fight that followed, Tafokitau allegedly stabbed Kupa with a homemade knife. Tafokitau said in a telephone interview this is the second time his cell door at Red Rock has opened without warning. Tafokitau said he acted in self-defense on June 26 and said he obtained the homemade knife by seizing it from one of his attackers during the fight. Tafokitau also alleged that corrections officers initially fled from the fight instead of intervening to break it up and only returned later with pepper spray after Tafokitau's attackers had thrown him to the ground and were beating him. "I telling you, this ... place is sloppy, cuz," said Tafokitau, who is serving a life sentence for robbery. "They make so much mistakes ... it's just a matter of time before another mistake. I telling you right now, somebody gonna get killed, brah." Tafokitau said he was in the pod because he was involuntarily placed in protective custody after he clashed with a prison gang. EARLIER INCIDENTS Hawai'i inmates at Red Rock claim multiple cell doors have opened simultaneously and unexpectedly before. Inmate Chris Wilmer, 29, recounted an incident on Feb. 2 when all of the doors in Echo-Delta unit again opened, releasing general population inmates into a dayroom occupied by protective custody inmates. Wilmer, who also said he was involuntarily placed in protective custody because of conflicts with gang members, said he immediately became involved in a fight with two alleged members of a prison gang who were released into the dayroom. Wilmer said a Hawai'i prison official was notified of that incident and spoke to Wilmer about it. Wilmer said he also witnessed a similar incident where the doors opened in Echo-Bravo pod at about 6:30 p.m. on April 7, and Wilmer and another inmate both alleged there was another example of doors opening unexpectedly between June 21 and June 23 in the Echo-Bravo pod. The growing sense of insecurity in the pods encourages inmates to try to obtain weapons, and Hawai'i needs to pressure CCA to fix the problem, said Wilmer, who is serving prison terms for robbery, attempted murder and other offenses. "For here and now, something needs to be said and done," he said. "They don't have room for that kind of mistakes." The officer who erred in the June 26 incident meant to open doors in another pod used by Alaska inmates and instead opened the doors to Hawai'i inmates' cells, McCoy said. She said the officer has been disciplined. A female corrections officer who made a similar mistake by opening multiple doors in a living unit elsewhere in the prison earlier this year also was disciplined, McCoy said. McCoy could not immediately confirm the other inmate reports of other cases where multiple cell doors opened unexpectedly in February, April and June. RE-EVALUATING UNIT Part of the problem on June 26 was that the pod involved was not designed to operate with "serious violent offenders" who are locked in their cells for 23 hours each day, but those kinds of offenders ended up there because they couldn't be held in Oklahoma or Mississippi, McCoy said. Those inmates are now awaiting transfer to the newly opened Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona, which has a segregation unit designed to house them, she said. CCA responded to the June 26 incident by re-evaluating the staffing patterns for the unit that included the pod, and adding more experienced officers, McCoy said. The prison operator also had the door system manufacturer update the control panel software to add an extra safeguard to the system and is providing more intensive training for all staff assigned to the units, McCoy said. Hawai'i was holding more than 600 inmates last month at Red Rock, which opened last year. In all, the state houses more than 2,100 men and women convicts in CCA prisons on the Mainland because there is no room for them in prisons in Hawai'i.

April 6, 2007 Honolulu Advertiser
An investigation into whether a Hawai'i inmate had obtained a firearm in a Mississippi prison prompted a lockdown and search of the facility, and led to the firings of five private prison employees, according to Hawai'i prison officials and the Corrections Corporation of America. No gun was found during the search of the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility, but the incident uncovered unspecified prison contraband that triggered state and federal criminal investigations at the prison, according to Hawai'i and CCA prison officials. Victoria Holly, human resource manager and public information officer for the prison, said the 1,104-bed facility was locked down on Feb. 21, and did not return to normal operations until March 15. She said the five prison staff members were fired between March 7 and March 13, but declined to say if the workers were corrections officers or employees in other occupations. Holly declined to say what sort of contraband was turned up in the search of the prison, and did not know which agencies were involved in the criminal investigations. A spokeswoman for the FBI's office in Jackson, Miss., said the agency will not confirm if it is involved in an ongoing investigation. The Mississippi state attorney general's office did not return a call requesting comment.

May 10, 2006 WAPT
About 860 Hawaii inmates at a Mississippi prison were locked down in their cells for a week following a gang-related fight. Hawaii public safety officials said the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility went into lockdown after a dozen inmates from several gangs got into a fight April 30. One of the inmates was armed with a bat. Louise Kim McCoy, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, said the inmates were only allowed out of their cells for meals and a modified recreation time while investigators searched the facility for contraband. The lockdown started immediately after the fight and was lifted Monday. The private company that operates the prison for Hawaii inmates, Corrections Corporation of America, kept all the inmates confined because the incident involved gang activity. There were no serious injuries from the fight. Last year, prison officials moved about 40 Hawaii inmates who were believed to be active gang members from the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Oklahoma to the Tallahatchie location. Hawaii pays Corrections Corporation of America $40 million a year to house more than 1,800 convicts in prisons in Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arizona and Kentucky.

April 2, 2006 Honolulu Advertiser
Two captains and a sergeant at a privately run Mississippi prison were fired after they were allegedly videotaped beating an inmate from Hawai'i, according to the Hawai'i Department of Public Safety. The three were part of a Special Operations Response Team established at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility to quell disturbances and control unruly prisoners. The trouble began when general-population inmate Harry K. Hoopii, 55, allegedly assaulted two corrections officers at the prison at 6 p.m. Feb. 23, said Shari Kimoto, administrator of Public Safety's branch on the Mainland. Kimoto said that Hoopii was then escorted to a disciplinary holding cell in another part of the prison at about 7:50 p.m. and that the incident involving the SORT team occurred in his cell later in the evening. It is regular procedure for the SORT team to use force in responding to a violent inmate, but when the assistant warden and chief of security at the prison reviewed the videotape of what took place in the cell, they "realized that excessive force had been used," Kimoto said. The three were fired for violating the policies of prison owner Corrections Corporation of America, she said. The other members of the SORT team, including the team member who was operating the hand-held video camera, were suspended, she said. Kimoto said the inmate was taken to the hospital with injuries that included multiple facial bruises and swelling and a cut lip. He was later returned to the prison, where he was being held in a disciplinary unit, she said. Concerns arose last year in connection with the Tallahatchie facility after two inmates were injured in a violent disturbance touched off when 20 cell doors in a prison disciplinary unit suddenly opened at 2:48 a.m. July 17. In the melee that followed, Hawai'i inmate Ronnie Lonoaea was attacked and severely beaten in his cell by other prisoners, and the prison staff had to use tear gas to regain control of the unit. CCA said the doors opened because a prison sergeant accidentally pushed the wrong button. The Hawai'i state attorney general's office asked state prison officials to investigate the July 17 incident. Prison officials have said they wanted to look into the possibility of gang involvement and whether prison staff might have cooperated with the inmates in the incident.

December 26, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
Acting Public Safety Director Frank Lopez has ordered a prison system internal affairs investigation into a violent disturbance in a Mississippi prison earlier this year that resulted in injuries to two Hawai'i inmates. The incident at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Center began when 20 cell doors in a prison disciplinary unit abruptly opened at 2:48 a.m. on July 17, releasing about three dozen Hawai'i inmates from their cells. The unit was reserved for particularly unruly convicts or prison gang members, and some of the inmates who emerged from their cells immediately attacked prisoner Ronnie Lonoaea in his cell, prison officials have said. Lonoaea was hospitalized after the attack with head and other injuries, and inmate Scott Lee, 25, suffered a broken jaw in the disturbance. Inmates used a telephone cord to tie shut the entrance to the Special Housing Incentive Program unit to keep corrections officers out, and Tallahatchie prison staff had to drop tear gas grenades from the roof to regain control of the unit about 90 minutes later. Hawai'i Department of Public Safety officials demanded a "high level" investigation of the incident, and Lopez said prison owner Corrections Corporation of America submitted a letter to the state outlining the company's findings. Lopez said the summary of the CCA findings suggested the doors opened because an officer accidentally pushed the wrong button. Prison officials have said a relief sergeant pushed the button that released the inmates, and both the sergeant and the captain responsible for overseeing the unit no longer work at the prison.

October 3, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
This tiny town has a slow feel to it. Some of that is a testament to southern graciousness, when people make time for one another. Some of it is due to a menacing apathy that festers when people are out on the street with nowhere to go. This community in the North Delta region, described in federal reports as one of the most depressed areas of the country, is where the Corrections Corp. of America built the 1,104-bed Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in 2000. The prison holds more than 850 Hawai'i inmates. The 325 jobs at the prison offer the best-paying work around, said chief of security Danny Dodd. CCA's starting pay in Tutwiler is about $8.40 an hour, considerably less than the $13.20 an hour for new corrections officers in Hawai'i, but Dodd said there is no shortage of applicants. There is significant staff turnover, which means the prison is often short-handed. Tutwiler resident Mary Meeks said her husband pulls double shifts at the prison as often as twice a week because people quit or don't show up for work. Some residents said they were led to believe the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility would hold only Mississippi lawbreakers, and were alarmed to learn the company was importing prisoners. Contract monitors last year described the Mississippi staff as young and inexperienced, and said most had never worked in a prison before. CCA requires five weeks of training, compared with eight weeks for Hawai'i corrections officers. According to monitoring reports, in the first six months after the Hawai'i inmates arrived, several employees were fired for smuggling cigarettes into the prison and having inappropriate relationships with inmates - a problem that has arisen at other Mainland prisons where Hawai'i prisoners have been held. Inmates complain about the medical and dental services at Tallahatchie, gripes that were confirmed last year when Hawai'i prison monitors warned CCA the prison was failing to meet National Commission on Correctional Health Care Standards because a doctor was there only eight hours a week to care for almost 1,000 convicts. In May, the monitors warned that dental services were insufficient because a dentist was available only eight hours a week, but the backlog of inmates waiting for dental care had been somewhat reduced when inspectors returned last month. CCA does not attempt to separate gang-affiliated prisoners, and inmates said keeping rival gang members in the same unit can be dangerous when things go wrong. There has already been one disturbance in a unit that houses gang members at Tallahatchie. On July 17, 20 cell doors in a SHIP unit popped open unexpectedly at around 2:45 a.m., freeing inmates. Ronnie J. Lonoaea, 32, of Hawai'i was severely beaten in his cell before guards released tear gas and restored order about 90 minutes later. Scott Lee of Hawai'i, who suffered a broken jaw in the incident, recalled how some prisoners in the unit frantically tried to close their jammed cell doors because they feared an attack by fellow inmates. A CCA investigation concluded the cell doors probably opened because a corrections sergeant hit the wrong control button. Komori said the sergeant and a captain who supervised the unit no longer work at the prison.

August 23, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
A prison sergeant who hit the wrong button probably is to blame for abruptly opening 20 cell doors in a Mississippi prison disciplinary unit last month, releasing about three dozen Hawai'i inmates and triggering a violent disturbance, prison officials said yesterday. Two prisoners in the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility unit were hospitalized after other inmates attacked them when the cell doors opened at 2:48 a.m. on July 17. One of the inmates, Ronnie Lonoaea, remains in a Mississippi rehabilitative hospital with head injuries. After the doors opened, two inmates immediately began fighting and eight others rushed into a single cell to attack Lonoaea, prison officials have said. Other inmates used a telephone cord to tie shut the door leading into the unit in a makeshift barricade to keep prison officials out, according to a report on the incident. The Tallahatchie prison staff dropped tear gas grenades from the roof into the Special Housing Incentive Program, or SHIP unit, and regained control of the unit about 90 minutes after the cell doors opened, according to the report.

July 28, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
They're out of sight, but must not be out of mind. Hawai'i's overflow inmate population, housed at private prisons on the Mainland, remain our responsibility. And making sure they are treated humanely while serving their time must be our concern. That's why state officials are right to demand an investigation into the sudden opening of cell doors in the predawn hours of July 17 at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility that resulted in a riot. More than 700 Hawai'i inmates have been housed since last year at the Mississippi prison, owned by Corrections Corp. of America. Two inmates were injured in the fight. Kane'ohe resident Sandra Cooper, the mother of one inmate, has her doubts that an internal probe will be enough to bring out the truth about how the cell doors opened. She called on the FBI to do a thorough inquiry, and that indeed would be the ideal way to proceed here. There's precedent for the FBI to take jurisdiction in a case where inmates are brought across state lines. At the very least, an independent authority should drive the investigation, rather than the prison's private owners. And state officials here must continue to ride herd to see that the investigation proceeds to a satisfactory conclusion. In a separate prison issue, it's a relief to see that the state has decided to pull the plug on its contract with the troubled Brush Correctional Facility, a northeastern Colorado prison housing 80 women inmates from Hawai'i. Because of ongoing investigations into alleged sexual misconduct between staff and prisoners, it's imperative that the move be made as soon as possible, while allowing for careful scrutiny of the prisoners' next destination. The end-of-September target date for the move seems reasonable, assuming that the state maintain its careful monitoring of Brush in the meantime. These painful episodes clearly illustrate that housing inmates on the Mainland is merely a short-term response to our critical prison shortage here, and creates its own additional problems. Hawai'i must continue to: work toward expanded prison capacity in the Islands, where we can retain better control of conditions; strengthen the probation system to keep some first-time offenders out of prison; and work on preventive strategies aimed at stemming the tide in drug abuse, which fuels so much of the state's crime problem. Sending inmates to the Mainland is just a stopgap solution.

July 27, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
State prison officials said yesterday they are concerned about a security breach at a Mississippi prison that led to a disturbance among Hawai'i inmates and landed two men in the hospital with broken jaws.  The incident began when 20 cell doors in a unit at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility used to confine inmates with suspected gang affiliations popped open unexpectedly at about 2:30 a.m. July 17. About 35 of the 40 inmates in the unit left their cells and two of the prisoners began fighting, said Hawai'i Department of Public Safety spokesman Michael Gaede.
While corrections officers were preoccupied with the brawl, eight inmates rushed into a cell to attack another prisoner, Gaede said.

June 3, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
The 120 Colorado inmates who are serving sentences in Mississippi are being treated inhumanely, according to one inmate. Officials at the Colorado Department of Corrections, however, say they are treated no different than inmates at the Colorado State Penitentiary. According to Colorado inmate Clark Flood, 40, who has been convicted of burglary, criminal trespass and escape charges, the inmates in Mississippi are being held in lockdown in what he described as "inhumane conditions." "They are not giving us property or nothing. It's just solid lockdown and it is ridiculous," Flood said.

February 5, 2005 Honolulu Advertiser
A Hawai'i prisoner at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Miss., was returned to the prison yesterday after a suicide attempt. Convicted murderer Paul Ah Sing, 41, was rushed to the hospital Thursday after he apparently attempted to hang himself in his cell with a homemade rope. The state has a contract with the Corrections Corporation of America to hold about 700 inmates at the Tallahatchie prison because there is no room for them in Hawai'i prisons.

August 13, 2004
Officials at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility have promised to keep residents better informed about disturbances at the prison in the wake of last month's uprising by Colorado inmates. Residents near the prison complained they weren't told about what was happening at the jail during the July 21 riot when prisoners torched mattresses, clothing and a portable toilet. (Sun Herald)

August 2, 2004
Tutwiler prison officials say they will be adding more staff this week and will host a community meeting following a recent disturbance by unruly Colorado inmates at the private facility.  There are no plans to send the trouble-making inmates back to Colorado, as some residents have asked, said Louise Chickering, a spokeswoman for Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America, which operates the prison.  She said the company also won't go along with a request by residents to create an alert system to warn them of future disturbances.  The first major disruption at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility will be discussed at an Aug. 12 meeting between Tutwiler's community relations advisory council and Warden James Cooke. Cooke said the additional staff is not a direct result of the disturbance.  "We will be getting more (inmates) from Hawaii,'' Cooke said. The facility now houses about 850 inmates, with a capacity of a little more than 1,000 inmates. There are about 120 inmates from Colorado, 690 from Hawaii and 40 from Tallahatchie County.  (Clarion Ledger)

July 25, 2004
Coahoma and Tallahatchie counties will pay local expenses involved in dispatching law officers to the uprising at the privately-run prison in Tutwiler.  Coahoma County Sheriff Andrew Thompson Jr. said his department alone spent about $400 on gasoline and overtime July 21.  Officers were called from the Coahoma and Tallahatchie sheriff's departments, Tutwiler and Glendora police departments, the Tutwiler and Tallahatchie County fire departments, the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the State Penitentiary at Parchman.  Steve Owen, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America — the Nashville, Tenn.-based company that runs the prison — called the disturbance in which no one was injured "relatively small."  Owen said his company does reimburse local agencies that respond to prison riots "if the agency feels its resources have been severely tapped."  Finally, as the largest employer in the county, CCA pays its 260 employees — most of whom reside in Tallahatchie and surrounding counties — roughly $3.5 million combined annually.  (Clarion Ledger)

May 23, 2004
The Colorado Department of Corrections violated a state statute by sending 36 of its most dangerous inmates to the Delta, said a prisoner-advocate group that might challenge the move in an attempt to bring the men home.  According to the statute, Colorado cannot permanently place maximum-security inmates in a private prison. But the three dozen men shipped to the privately run Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility near Tutwiler last week are classified as maximum-security, said Stephen Raher, co-director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, calling the move illegal.  Colorado officials countered that assertion, saying the men - many of whom are serving sentences for murder, rape and escape - are not maximum-security prisoners; they are "special management" inmates.  "We have yet to find one of these organizations or individuals who can substantiate any of these claims, except maybe for an isolated incident that may have occurred years ago," Owen said. "I would challenge them to prove any of these allegations."  (Z Wire)

January 7, 2004
Mississippi's corrections commissioner said he hopes the state can house inmates at the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility after 1,424 inmates return to Alabama.  On Tuesday, Alabama Corrections Commissioner Donal Campbell said the inmates should be moved within 90 days.  Meanwhile, Chris Epps, Mississippi corrections commissioner, said he started talking to officials last week to find a way to use the facility and keep about 250 jobs there.  "We're going to work with them any way we can," he said.  Tallahatchie County has a poverty rate of nearly 27 percent and a 12.5 percent unemployment rate.  "We've started looking at the law to see what we have to do to be able to use it," Epps said. "I started talking to (Corrections Corporation of America)."  Nashville-based CCA owns the facility in Tutwiler.  Epps said he's also spoken to Gov. Haley Barbour and legislators "to see how we can do business up there."  In 2001, facility employees lost their jobs after Wisconsin inmates were moved to Minnesota. The facility hired 250 people last summer when Alabama sent prisoners there.  (Clarion Ledger)

September 15, 2003
Elizabeth Martin can thank 1,423 Alabama prison inmates for her job.  Since the inmates landed in the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in June, the economy of the county gained 250 jobs at the facility in a Delta county with a 26.8 percent poverty rate with unemployment at 12.5 percent. The annual payroll: $6 million.  Alabama's decision to pay $27.50 a day per inmate to reduce crowding in its underfunded corrections system led to re-employment for Martin, of Tutwiler.  Martin, who lost her job when Wisconsin inmates were moved from Tutwiler to Minnesota in 2001, went from a retired corrections officer to an administrative clerk at age 33.  "I had taken courses in computers at Coahoma Community College, not knowing if Tallahatchie would ever re-open," Martin said. "Now I have a better job where I make more money and I can spend more time with my husband and four children.  "I am working in a nice place with good people, something that is hard to find in Tallahatchie County."  Richard Lias, 33, of Clarksdale left a job with a casino in Tunica County, nearly 50 miles away, to work closer to home at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility, about 20 miles from home.  "I am saving a lot of money on transportation," said Lias, a safety specialist. "I felt there was more opportunity for advancement.  "I have had excellent training and a lot of doors opened for the future."  Money is also finding its way into the business community with purchases made by the prison and employees.  "Over 80 percent of the employees live in Tallahatchie County and spend money here," said Tallahatchie County administrator Marvin Doss. "We lost Rosewood, an apparel manufacturer (in Charleston) since the 1950s and 134 jobs."  Donna Surholt, owner of Moore Paper and Janitorial Supply Inc. in Clarksdale, has seen the prison dollars trickle through the Delta.  "The prison officials have purchased a vehicle, a steel building and other supplies locally when they can't get them from their vendor," said Surholt, who is also president of the Clarksdale-Coahoma Chamber of Commerce. "They have bought items from my business. They have come in here ready to contribute to our community and have joined our chamber."  Dianna Melton, manager of the State Bank and Trust in nearby Webb, has seen an increase in business.  "I have seen a number of the workers from the prison," Melton said. "When you employ 200 people who didn't have jobs, you will see an increase in business in the county."  The boost should continue for some time because the inmates won't leave soon.  Alabama taxpayers defeated a tax-increase referendum Tuesday that would have helped its education and corrections systems, said Brian Corbett, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections.  Alabama met a court order to reduce state inmates in county jails by sending 300 females to Louisiana and the inmates to Tallahatchie County.  "We still have a total population of 28,100, twice our capacity of 13,500," Corbett said. "Taxpayers said no, so no help is on the way, and we will just have to keep plugging away."  Warden Jim Cook, who has seen Tallahatchie go from 30 county inmates to 1,463 with 276 employees, knows the reason Alabama sent the inmates.  He was once a warden with the Alabama correctional system before going to work in 1995 for Correctional Corporation of America. The private prison company based in Nashville owns Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility. Alabama has no private prisons.  "You can't ask a corrections department with a growing population to operate on the same funds," Cook said. "This is a high-stress job at best, but you can't work people like they are without employee burnout. Your facilities will also deteriorate."  Cook says Alabama inmates like being in Mississippi.  "It is less crowded, facilities are better and they like the food," Cook said.  (The Clarion Ledger)

June 27, 2003
Many workers who lost their jobs at two Mississippi private prisons are going back to work, thanks to a neighboring state.  Alabama, faced with prison overcrowding, is sending 1,400 medium-security male inmates to the Tallahatchie Correctional Facility in Tutwiler at a cost of $27.50 a day per inmate.  Tallahatchie, built to hold 1,100, held 322 inmates from Wisconsin and employed 208 people before those inmates were moved to Minnesota in 2001, forcing layoffs. It has since held 30-40 Tallahatchie County inmates.  Delta Correctional Facility in Greenwood, closed by the state in October 2002, held 800 state inmates and employed 200 workers with a $5 million annual payroll.  "It is good for the economy of the state," said Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps, who said CCA's contract with Alabama is for three years.  Alabama, which has no private prisons, is under two court orders to end overcrowding.  Steve Owens, spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, said his company will help Alabama.  "We are always happy to step up and serve states when they need our help," Owens said. "I always knew we would find someone who could use the Tallahatchie facility."  (The Clarion Ledger)