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Acton, California
Extradition International
January 24, 2000
Three inmates escaped from a private transport company when the private guards stopped at a mini-mart and left the keys in the ignition. When the guards weren’t looking, the inmates jumped in the front seat and the CA Highway Patrol on a high-speed chase that ended in a crash. (Los Angeles Times, 1/24/00)

Adelanto Community Correctional Facility
Adelanto City, California
GEO Group
Mar 20, 2019 sbsun.com

Immigrant detainees stage hunger strike at Adelanto facility About 100 people aren't eating, to raise awareness of mistreatment

Immigrant detainees at the Adelanto Detention Facility, a privately run center that has been criticized for providing inadequate care, are staging a hunger strike to bring attention to conditions there. Their demands: adequate medical care, an end to what they describe as abusive treatment, and access to edible, nutritious food. The hunger strike began in the facility’s west wing on Thursday, March 14, when some 150 men refused to go to the cafeteria, said Lizbeth Abeln, immigrant detention coordinator for the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice. That led to a brief lockdown, with detainees kept in their immediate areas and visits with attorneys and families cancelled. She said some some detainees still were not being allowed visitors as of March 19. It was unclear how many are still participating in the hunger strike, but the number is believed to be at least 100, Abeln said. “They’re trying to highlight the abuses…  The guards at GEO are not respecting their basic human rights,” Abeln said, referring to GEO Group, Inc., the company that owns and runs the facility. The immigrant detainees were particularly upset this week because a young detainee was beaten up by at least one guard and he did not receive immediate medical treatment, according to Abeln. A spokeswoman for GEO referred questions to ICE, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Lori Haley, a spokeswoman for ICE, said she could not reply to the allegation that a teen detainee was injured by a guard without knowing the names of the people involved. The strike comes on the heels of reports that blasted the facility for its care – or lack of care – of people who are in detention while they await for their cases to be processed in immigration court. (Detention centers like Adelanto’s house people who crossed into the United States illegally, and others who arrived legally, many of them seeking asylum. The Adelanto center, which can house up to 2,000 detainees, has long faced criticism for how it treats its detainees. Last year, federal investigators found nooses fashioned from bedsheets in some 20 cells. There was at least one suicide, by hanging, in 2017, and five other deaths, some due to medical neglect, according to the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice. A report released earlier this month by Disability Rights California, a non-profit legal watchdog group, found that people running Adelanto under report the number of suicide attempts at the center, and that detainees are subject to “punitive, prison-like conditions that harm people with disabilities.” The report also found that Adelanto detainees get inadequate medical and mental health care, and that guards have used pepper spray on some mentally ill detainees. Last month, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a separate report that also described detainees getting inadequate access to medical care, legal counsel and family visits at Adelanto and other centers in California that house immigrant detainees. Adelanto is the largest such privately run facility in the state. A former detainee, Carlos Hidalgo, 51, of North Hollywood, said he was being held at Adelanto when he led a hunger strike there in 2016. The goal at the time, he said, was to raise awareness about complaints echoed this week – better medical care, better treatment, decent food. Immigrant detainees in Adelanto were treated like criminals, even though they are not criminal detainees, and often didn’t receive prompt medical treatment, he said. The food, he added, was sometimes beyond gross: “They gave us ground turkey but we found it infected with maggots.” The outcome of that three-day hunger strike? Officials locked down the facility and he was transferred to the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange County, he said. Hidalgo doesn’t expect much will come out of the current hunger strike either, except raising awareness. “It ain’t going to get very far. But it’s a good way to call attention to the situation that everyone turns a blind eye to.”

A nonprofit slams the Adelanto Detention Facility as posing harm to people with mental health issues and other disabilities.

A Nigerian man held last year at Adelanto Detention Center in San Bernardino was pepper sprayed twice while in custody – once because he wouldn’t stand up, and a second time as he attempted to hang himself in his cell. “If I say I am going to hurt myself, why pepper spray me?” said the man identified only as Ugo. “Why not try to help me?” His story was part of a report on the treatment of mentally ill detainees at the Adelanto facility issued Tuesday by Disability Rights California, a non-profit that serves as a legal watchdog to protect the rights of people with disabilities. The 64-page report, “There is no safety here,” is one of a several recent investigations that have found problems at the Adelanto Detention Center and other California facilities that hold migrant detainees. Last month, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued a report that found immigrant detainees – people who typically are held for civil, not criminal actions – are treated like prisoners, kept in their cells up to 22 hours a day, and offered inadequate access to medical care and legal counsel. Other reports, from different groups, have cited the facilities for failing to provide adequate services. At least one report last year noted that at Adelanto, which can hold nearly 2,000 people at any one time, investigators found nooses made by detainees in as many as 20 cells. The year-long investigation from Disability Rights California includes these findings: GEO Group Inc., a private contractor that owns and operates the Adelanto facility, significantly underreports data on the number of suicide attempts at the facility, using a definition that is too narrow: “serious self-harm intended to cause death.”  Whereas the Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines it as “a non-fatal self-directed potentially injurious behavior” with an intent to die. Adelanto detainees are subjected to “punitive, prison-like conditions that harm people with disabilities”  that may be violating their constitutional rights. The San Bernardino County facility has an inadequate mental care and medical care system, which turns to harsh institutional responses, like solitary-type confinement, to people facing psychiatric crisis instead of endorsing therapeutic measures. A spokesperson for the Sacramento-based public relations firm Stutzman Public Affairs, which represents the GEO Group, said Tuesday that their client already has addressed concerns in the report. “While we always appreciate the opportunity to improve processes and procedures, we strongly dispute the claim that suicide attempts were underreported,” the spokesperson said in an e-mail. “Furthermore, many of the recommendations outlined in the report were already in place… In all of the facilities that we manage on behalf of the federal government, we are deeply committed to delivering high-quality, culturally responsive services in safe and humane environments.” Those who find themselves in immigration detention facilities like Adelanto, which can hold nearly 2,000 people, are somewhere in the immigration process, either awaiting deportation or a court hearing.  Some crossed into the United States illegally. Some came into the country legally, seeking asylum.  They are considered civil detainees, not criminal inmates. The report said few detainees, even from third-world countries, are prepared for the conditions they encounter in the facilities, many of which, like Adelanto, are privately run. “The punitive, prison-like conditions disproportionately harm people with mental illness and disabilities.” Since Donald Trump became president, the number of immigrants detained has increased. And a growing number of those detainees are asylum seekers, who say they are fleeing violence and persecution in their homelands: 27 percent of Adelanto’s population was seeking asylum, according to the report. Among recent detainees there is growing population of people with mental health needs and disabilities, a category of asylum seeker that under previous administrations was a lower priority for detention. The report said that includes detainees like Sofia, an asylum seeker from Russia who was detained at Adelanto with her husband in 2017.  Visits with her husband were rare, and her requests to speak with him, or send him a letter, typically were denied, she told Disability Rights California officials. Although Sofia told investigators she previously had no history of suicidal thoughts before detention, after four and a half months at Adelanto she tried to kill herself. “I was tired of being here, of being detained,” she said. “It was just too stressful.” Meanwhile, her husband, Aleksei, said he too became so distraught that he also attempted suicide. But after stints in a suicide watch cell, which he told investigators were like “torture,” he told the medical staff that “everything is fine” because he didn’t want to go back there. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported one suicide attempt in 2016, three in 2017 and none in 2018, according to the report.  But the nonprofit, “without conducting anything close to a comprehensive review of all detainees,” found more. There was at least one suicide, by hanging, in 2017, and five other deaths, some due to medical neglect, according to the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice. The report also found that detainees at Adelanto who show signs of mental illness, or request such services, have only “brief” contacts with mental health experts, and that the treatments they do receive are not individualized. The report added that individual and group counseling is nearly non-existent, and there is little opportunity for detainees to engage in activities like reading. Mario Perez, who lives in San Bernardino County and has lived in the United States since he was 5, said he experienced some of the issues reflected in the report. Perez, 31, was at the Adelanto facility for six months last year, picked up at his home by immigration agents while he was under house arrest following a conviction for driving under the influence. At the time, Perez was taking medication for depression. But he went the first week at Adelanto without his medication, even though he asked for it repeatedly.  Visits with a psychologist and a psychiatrist ran about 5 to 10 minutes each time, once a month. “I was able to advocate for myself,” said Perez, who now works for the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, assisting people who leave the Adelanto facility. “But if you are not bilingual, and can’t speak up for yourself, that’s a whole different issue.” While he didn’t see any nooses mentioned in other reports about Adelanto, Perez said he heard other detainees and inmates talk often about wanting to throw themselves down the stairs or jump off a second floor inside the building. “They would comment: ‘I can’t do do this anymore. I can’t be here for another day.’”

Feb 3, 2019 vvdailypress.com
NPR sues Adelanto over public records access
ADELANTO — In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, National Public Radio alleged the city failed to obey the state’s public records law. The suit alleges the city unlawfully denied NPR reporter Tom Dreisbach access to public records he sought regarding living conditions at the Adelanto Detention Center. The lawsuit asks the court to order the city to release the records. In 2010, Geo Group, one of the two largest private prison corporations in the United States, purchased the prison located on Rancho Road from the city for $28 million. It expanded in 2012 and today reigns as the largest immigration detention center in California. Since 2011, the city has acted as a pass-through agency in an agreement that allows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold immigration detainees at the facility. ICE pays Adelanto for the service, then the city pays GEO Group. The city collects administrative fees for its part. According to the lawsuit, Dreisbach requested public records from ICE in August 2018. He sought information about “emergency grievances” made by detainees, along with the staff’s responses, plus information on the use of force, including audio and visual records. ICE denied his requests, telling Dreisbach to contact the detention center directly. In September 2018, Dreisbach asked for records from Adelanto, the operator of the detention center listed in the agreement. The request was made under the California Public Records Act. On Jan. 1, 2018 the Dignity Not Detention Act became law. It demands any facility detaining “a noncitizen pursuant to a contract with a city, county, city and county, or a local law enforcement agency is subject to the California Public Records Act.” The lawsuit argues this law guarantees Dreisbach access to the records he requested. The city denied Dreisbach’s request, saying it did not possess “public records responsive to the request” because it did not have “actual and constructive possession” of the records, according to the lawsuit. The law firm representing the city acknowledged NPR was entitled to records under the California Public Records Act, but from Geo Group, not the city. In the lawsuit, NPR contends Geo Group possesses the records, and under the agreement between the parties, the city has “unfettered access to the records of the detention facility.” The agreement also requires the city to accurately maintain those records, the lawsuit said. Dreisbach then requested the records directly from Geo Group, which denied his requests and directed him back to ICE. “The contracts between ICE, GEO, and the city all permit the city access to any and all documents related to detainee custody and care,” the lawsuit said. “The city therefore has, at a minimum, an interest in and constructive possession of the records sought by NPR.” Adelanto City Manager Jessie Flores told the Daily Press that “the City previously provided all documents in its possession in response to a Public Records Act request received from NPR. The City received the Writ yesterday and the City Attorney’s office is reviewing it and will be responding.” In a statement emailed to the Daily Press, Geo Group contended that it is “obligated to follow contractual requirements, which provide that information related to the operation of ICE Processing Centers is under the control of the agency. The public disclosure of this information is governed by those contractual requirements and applicable federal laws and regulations. Accordingly, GEO has referred to ICE requests for information that is under control of the agency.” Lori K. Haley, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman, said she is unable to comment on lawsuits.

Dec 24, 2018 newsweek.com
ICE BLOCKS IMMIGRANTS FROM LAWYERS WITH DRACONIAN PHONE RULES IN CALIFORNIA, ACLU SAYS
An immigration detention center in California has effectively worked to keep immigrants from contacting lawyers through phone rules, a lawsuit alleged last week. Advocate groups have said calls for those detained in the Adelanto Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Processing Center calls are prohibitively expensive. And if a detainee is able to scrounge together money for call, then they calls are recorded and it is required that someone answer the phone nearly immediately—voicemails are not an option. "Legal representation is fundamental to ensuring due process for immigrants facing removal, but when our detained clients can't effectively communicate with us, our abilities to be effective advocates are compromised," said Meeth Soni, co-legal director at the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, in a statement released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California. The lawsuit detailed allegations of how difficult it can be for a detained immigrant to reach a lawyer. The suit alleges that an asylum-seeker named Desmond Tenghe has not been allowed to access funds he brought with and previous earnings from a different detention center were not transferred to Adelanto. Making just $1 per day working at Adelanto and denied free calls, the suit alleges, Tenghe has to spend a week's earnings to make a call and has to hope he reaches a person immediately. It took him two months to get ahold of his sponsor in Maryland, the suit alleges. "Over the course of weeks, Plaintiff Tenghe tried to call at least seven different legal organizations, including Catholic Charities, El Rescate, and others. Due to Defendants’ “positive acceptance” requirement for telephone calls, the telephone calls have either disconnected after ringing once or twice or continued to ring without answer. Plaintiff Tenghe has also attempted to call Catholic Charities to obtain documents about current country conditions in his country of origin, but those telephone calls also have not connected because of Defendants’ “positive acceptance” requirement." The GEO Group, a large contractor for ICE that runs the Adelanto facility, told the Miami New Times they are simply following procedures. "As a services provider to ICE, GEO plays no role in establishing immigration law and we comply with the performance-based standards set by the government," a spokesperson told the outlet. "We would refer specific questions about these policies [be addressed] to ICE." The lawsuit from the ACLU of Southern California and the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Stanford Law School further alleges that phone call recording policies at detention centers hinders conversations about legal strategies and that there are just 10 private meeting spaces at Adelanto for nearly 2,000 detainees. "The U.S. government has placed arbitrary barriers between immigrant detainees and their lawyers which must be eliminated if justice is to be served," said Ben Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, in the ACLU press release.

Oct 10, 2018 dailycaller.com
PRIVATE IMMIGRATION DETENTION CENTER SAYS IT HAS ALREADY FIXED PROBLEMS IDENTIFIED IN WATCHDOG REPORT
GEO Group, the operator of an immigration detention center in California, says it moved to address problems identified in a surprise government inspection well before they were detailed in a report released in early October. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General found several deficiencies in its May inspection of the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, including inadequate medical care and improper use of restricted housing. In a letter to ICE officials, Adelanto’s warden said the facility took action as soon as the problems were noted and had corrected the issues by early September. A privately owned immigration detention center in California says it had fixed problems identified in a surprise government inspection by early September, nearly a month before the results of the inspection were released to the public. Inspectors with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) conducted an unannounced inspection of the Adelanto ICE Processing Center in May. The OIG’s findings, which included allegations of inadequate medical care and inappropriate use of solitary confinement, were published Oct. 2 in a memo that sparked outrage among immigration activists and civil rights groups. (RELATED: Watchdog Finds Hanging ‘Nooses,’ Lack Of Medical Care At ICE Detention Facility). But GEO Group, the owner and operator of the Adelanto center, disputed some of the problems noted by OIG auditors and said it took corrective action on others as soon as they were identified. “We take the findings outlined by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding the Adelanto ICE Processing Center very seriously,” company spokesman Pablo Paez said in a statement. “While we believe that a number of the findings lacked appropriate context or were based on incomplete information, we have already taken steps to remedy areas where our processes fell short of our commitment to high-quality care.” GEO Group, one of the country’s largest operators of private prisons and immigration detention centers, bought the Adelanto facility in 2010 and began housing ICE detainees there the following year. Today, Adelanto houses about 1,700 detainees, making it the largest immigration detention facility in California. DHS-OIG’s surprise inspection of the facility turned up three issues the watchdog said were “significant threats” to detainee health and safety. Inspectors discovered braided bed sheets — referred to as “nooses” by staff — hanging in several inmates’ cells, even though detainees had previously used similar sheets in suicide attempts. Additionally, inspectors determined that detainees were being prematurely placed in disciplinary segregation before they were found guilty of a rule violation and were not given “timely and adequate” medical care — both violations of ICE national detention standards. In some cases, detainees had to wait years for basic dental care, leading to tooth loss and “unnecessary extractions,” the OIG report stated. Adelanto managers took steps to correct the problems immediately after the inspection, according to a letter from warden James Janecka to ICE officials obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. In the letter dated Sept. 6, Janecka noted that detainees often used the braided bed sheets as privacy barriers between cell beds and toilets, but added that he had instructed staff to remove “any improvised curtains or any other visual obstructions.” With respect to the improper use of disciplinary segregation at Adelanto, Janecka conceded that detainees had been placed in the center’s restricted housing section while their cases were still in pending status. He said the mistakes were the result of delays in putting disciplinary records into detainees’ files, leading to confusion about whether inmates met the threshold for restricted housing. Under a corrective action plan implemented in May, “timelines will be met, and each detainee’s status in the disciplinary process will be readily discernible,” Janecka wrote. As for concerns about inadequate medical and dental care, GEO Group says it is conducting a review with its medical services subcontractor “to ensure all medical and dental care is provided at the highest quality and in a timely manner, and to hold accountable those who are not meeting these expectations.”As of Sept. 6, there was no longer a backlog for dental cleaning at Adelanto, Janecka said.

Oct 3, 2018 latimes.com
Nooses in cells, rotting teeth — report details harsh conditions at Adelanto immigration facility
A Nicaraguan man who was detained at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center died in March 2017 after he was found hanging in his cell from his bedsheets. Not long after, two other detainees also used sheets in an attempt to hang themselves. When federal officials arrived in May of this year for a surprise inspection of the privately run immigration detention facility, they found nooses made from bedsheets in 15 of 20 cells. “When we asked two contract guards who oversaw the housing units why they did not remove the bedsheets, they echoed it was not a high priority,” officials with the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s office wrote in a scathing report made public Tuesday detailing dangerous conditions found at the facility during their unannounced visit. The nooses are just one of many problems posing “significant health and safety risks” identified by federal inspectors at Adelanto, which can house nearly 2,000 detainees as they await the outcome of their immigration cases Detainees reported waiting “weeks and months” to see a doctor, and inspectors met with a dentist who dismissed the necessity of fillings, and suggested that detainees use string from their socks to floss, the report said. Inspectors also said they found that detainees were commonly subjected to disciplinary segregation before being found guilty of violating rules. The report is the latest from government inspectors to document significant deficiencies at Adelanto since it opened in 2011. It comes one year after immigrant advocates raised alarms about conditions at the facility following the deaths of three detainees in a three-month period in 2017. The Times reported in August 2017 that there had been at least five attempted suicides at the facility in less than one year, according to a review of 911 calls. Lori Haley, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement that immigration officials take the findings seriously and have “agreed to conduct a full and immediate review of the center to ensure compliance with detention standards and expedite necessary corrective actions.” Tens of thousands of ICE detainees have passed through the Adelanto facility since it opened seven years ago. It is owned and operated by the GEO Group, which runs dozens of private prisons and detention centers around the country. Among those held in the facility are asylum seekers, people caught in immigration sweeps and those identified by authorities as potentially deportable after landing in jail. Some detainees arrive at the facility soon after crossing the border; others after having lived in the U.S. for decades. They can stay in detention for months, and in some cases years, as their cases are decided. Pablo Paez, a spokesman for GEO Group, referred questions about the inspector general's report to ICE. According to the report, in the months after Osmar Epifanio Gonzalez-Gadba, 32, of Nicaragua was found hanging from bedsheets in his cell and later died, ICE compliance reports documented at least three suicide attempts by hanging at Adelanto, two of which specifically used bedsheets. Still, when inspectors visited the facility, they found braided sheets that both staff and detainees referred to as nooses hanging from the vents in 15 of the approximately 20 male detainee cells that they visited in four housing units. The guard who escorted the inspectors began removing the nooses but stopped after realizing how many there were, the report says. Some detainees said they use the unfurled sheets for privacy, while others said they used them as clotheslines. One detainee, however, told inspectors that he had seen “a few attempted suicides using the braided sheets by the vents.” “The guards laugh at them and call them ‘suicide failures’ once they are back from medical,” the detainee told officials. Inspectors also found during their visit that all 14 detainees who were in disciplinary segregation at the time were put there before being found guilty of a prohibited act or rule violation. And though ICE standards require face-to-face medical assessments of all detainees in segregation at least once a day, inspectors observed two doctors in the unit stamping their name on detainee records outside their cells “without having any contact with 10 of the 14 detainees in disciplinary segregation." The report also notes that some detainees reported waiting “weeks and months” to see a doctor and said that appointments were canceled without explanation, with detainees placed back on the waiting list. From November 2017 to April 2018, detainees filed 80 medical grievances with the facility for not receiving urgent care, not being seen for months for persistent health conditions and not receiving prescribed medication, according to the report. Inspectors also highlighted serious problems with dental care at the facility, saying detainees are placed on wait lists for months and, sometimes, years to receive basic care, “resulting in tooth loss and unnecessary extractions in some cases.” No detainees have received fillings in the last four years, according to the report. One detainee reported multiple teeth falling out while waiting more than two years for cavities to be filled. One dentist at the facility told inspectors he did not have time to complete cleanings or fillings, according to the report. “The dentist dismissed the necessity of fillings if patients commit to brushing and flossing,” the report states. “Floss is only available through detainee commissary accounts, but the dentist suggested detainees could use string from their socks to floss if they were dedicated to dental hygiene.” This is not the first time government inspectors have noted problems — often related to medical care — at the Adelanto facility. An annual review in November 2011 found that "medical officials were not conducting detainee health appraisals within 14 days of arrival,” and nurses were performing health assessments without proper training or certification. A 2012 report by ICE's Office of Detention Oversight found that many requests for medical care were delayed. That report also said the death of detainee Fernando Dominguez Valdivia in March of that year followed "egregious errors" by medical staff and that a review found it could have been prevented. A report on the 2015 death of Raul Ernesto Morales-Ramos, also prepared by the Office of Detention Oversight, said Adelanto failed to provide Morales-Ramos with timely and comprehensive medical care, among other lapses. More recently, the Office of Detention Oversight’s review of Gonzalez-Gadba’s 2017 suicide also faulted Adelanto for failing to meet national standards. That report said that in the days before his death, Gonzalez-Gadba reported he had been sexually assaulted at Adelanto, but medical staff did not conduct a medical assessment in response to that allegation. It also said that guards failed to check on Gonzalez-Gadba, who was being held in segregated housing, at least every 30 minutes, as required. He was found hanging in his cell 37 minutes after an officer’s last logged security round, according to the review. In its report, the inspector general’s office also noted the medical care deficiencies that were found at Adelanto following the deaths of detainees and urged immigration officials to fix the problems. "ICE must take these continuing violations seriously and address them immediately," the report says. Haley, the ICE spokeswoman, said a contracted inspection firm is scheduled to inspect Adelanto again this month. "Comprehensive medical care is provided from the moment detainees arrive and throughout the entirety of their stay," she said. Speaking about the nooses, she said "ICE recognizes that this can present a dangerous safety vulnerability and will intensify efforts to address this issue."

Jul 15, 2017 vvdailypress.com
Adelanto Detention Facility barred from expanding for another decade
ADELANTO — The Adelanto Detention Facility will be barred from expansion for the next decade, thanks to a recent moratorium passed by state legislators. California’s budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which began July 1, included an action that targets the federal immigration crackdown by requiring that the state attorney general review each county, local or private detention facility where noncitizens are being held. The action also blocks counties and municipalities from signing new contracts or expanding existing contracts to detain immigrants, according to a report from the Associated Press. “The bill isn’t shutting down any centers, but it is preventing the Trump administration from expanding and entrenching immigration detention centers further,” Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) co-founder/co-executive director Christina Fialho said. The Adelanto Detention Facility, privately operated by the GEO group, contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house federal immigration detainees. According to Fialho, the new bill bars city officials from modifying their contract with ICE and the GEO group to expand the detention facility for 10 years. The bill also earmarks $1 million a year for the Attorney General’s office to monitor immigration detention centers in the state, the first law in the country that gives a state agency the power to monitor federal immigration facilities, Fialho said. “Basically, it’s going to ensure that people in immigration detention are treated humanely,” Fialho said. CIVIC and other advocacy groups have regularly called upon ICE and GEO officials to make changes at the facility, citing detainee deaths and poor conditions, according to a previous Daily Press report. While ICE officials declined to directly comment on the bill and CIVIC’s statement, they explained that the agency uses a variety of facilities — including federal, state, local and contractor-owned facilities — across the country to house detainees in an effort to curb costs. The new bill would hinder these efforts while failing to curb immigration detention, they suggested. “Placing limitations on ICE’s detention options here in California won’t prevent the agency from detaining immigration violators,” ICE officials said in a statement. “It will simply mean ICE will have to transfer individuals encountered in California to detention facilities outside the state, at a greater distance from their family, friends, and legal representatives.” ICE officials said the agency seeks to house detainees within the geographical area of their arrest “whenever possible” to reduce the need for transfers to other facilities. This, in turn, leads to lower costs and shorter stays for detainees in ICE custody, they said.


Jul 6, 2017 kqed.org/news
Hunger Strike at California’s Biggest Immigration Detention Center
Activists say that more than 30 people began a hunger strike at the Adelanto Detention Facility on Tuesday, seeking better medical care and release pending their immigration court dates. In the last five years, six people have died while being detained — three of them since March 27 — at the San Bernardino County facility, the largest immigration detention center in California. It can hold about 1,900 detainees and was almost at capacity in March, according to data from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Detainees say this is the fourth hunger strike they’ve conducted at the facility since June 12. During breakfast that morning nine men, mostly asylum-seekers from El Salvador, linked arms and refused to return to their cells until they could speak to guards about their concerns. Guards used pepper spray and physically removed the men to solitary cells, according to Tristan Call, a spokesman for the detainees, and ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice. Then they began the hunger strike. “We are not anyone’s toys,” said Isaac Lopez Castillo, a 27-year-old from El Salvador, in a Facebook video about the strike. The men filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties alleging that they were beaten and denied medical care and access to their attorneys. GEO Group, the private prison company that owns and operates the facility, is investigating the incident, and ICE officials will review that probe, according to Kice. “The claim the men involved in this disturbance were beaten is a gross and regrettable exaggeration,” wrote Kice in an email. On June 14, a group of nearly 30 women refused to eat for about 24 hours — asking for medical care, “basic respect” from jail guards, lower bond rates and to be reunited with their families. Call said that they ended the strike after many of the women received medical care on June 15. Then, on June 22, eight of the same men from the June 12 action began a new hunger strike, after one was deported. Call said that detainees throughout the facility have refused food periodically since they began striking on June 12. Kice says that the agency will implement hunger strike protocols, including medical supervision, if detainees refuse food for more than 72 hours. While the city of Adelanto holds the contract with ICE to detain immigrants in the facility, the city also has a contract with GEO Group to run it. Early last year, GEO Group stopped providing its own medical care and subcontracted with Correct Care Solutions, keeping on many of the same staff.
  ICE’s own investigators found problems at the facility, including health care delays, poor record keeping and failures to properly report sexual assaults. In a federal investigation into one of the California deaths, inspectors noted that the person who died had waited more than a year to see a specialist, that the high turnover of medical staff led to inadequate care and that a dearth of laboratory services led to delays in treatment. Independent medical experts for Human Rights Watch analyzing ICE’s investigation found that the man probably suffered from symptoms of cancer for two years. Detainees are also requesting to be released on their own recognizance, on bond or to receive a monitoring device. Immigrant detainees, including asylum-seekers, can wait weeks, months and even years for their day in immigration court. There are currently 326 immigration judges nationwide — and they’re handling nearly 600,000 pending cases, according to the Department of Justice and data from Syracuse University’s TRAC research center. Even if the immigration courts didn’t accept a single additional case, it would take longer than two years to go through the backlog, according to TRAC. Both ICE and immigration judges can release people. ICE officers make an initial determination about whether people should be detained while their immigration cases are pending. “ICE makes such determinations on an individual basis taking into account all facets of the person’s situation, including the individual’s immigration history and criminal record, if applicable. Likewise, the agency also considers an alien’s family ties, any humanitarian issues that may be involved, and whether the person is a potential flight risk,” wrote Kice. Detainees who have been convicted of criminal activity are mandatorily held in detention. Currently, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rehear a case that could require immigration courts to conduct bond hearings every six months. The named plaintiff in the case, Alejandro Rodriguez, spent three years in ICE detention without a hearing for his release. Court records analyzed by TRAC showed that at least half — and in some years upward of two-thirds — of people are held in ICE detention while the DHS begins court proceedings to deport them. The median immigration bond was set at $8,000 in fiscal year 2016. About one in five people granted bond stayed in detention, presumably because they can’t afford it. In a statement during the first hunger strike, the men wrote that they cannot afford bail: “We are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. We ask for your attention, because Adelanto is one of the prisons which exists for those who are seeking political asylum, and in reality our records are clean, none of us have prior criminal records. The bail is set impossibly high, and it’s a humiliating joke because we are poor, we don’t have that kind of money.”

Jun 13, 2017 motherjones.com
Refugees In a Troubled Private Detention Center Are On Hunger Strike
Update (06/12/17, 10:15PM): On Monday morning, guards at the Adelanto Detention Facility allegedly attacked nine detainees, all members of a refugee caravan which arrived at the US-Mexico border in May. On Monday morning, according to two of the caravan organizers, Tristan Call and Alex Mensing, the group delivered a letter of grievances to prison officials and demanded a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). At that point, say Call and Mensing, who spoke with the refugees after the incident, guards allegedly beat the men, “drenched” them in pepper spray, handcuffed them, and placed them in restrictive housing. It was then, ICE claims, that members of the caravan announced their hunger strike. “They described their shirts as literally being soaked with [pepper spray] and were forced to shower in hot water,” which intensifies the pain, says Mensing. “They also beat them and bashed them against a wall, knocking a dental crown out of one of the guy’s mouth.” Call adds, “They said the other prisoners shouted for the guards to stop but weren’t able to do anything.” In a statement e-mailed to Mother Jones this evening, ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said, “Monday morning nine detainees refused to return to their assigned beds for the morning count, locked arms, and defied commands to submit to mechanical restraints. After repeated efforts to avoid confrontation, a supervisory officer used a one-second burst of pepper spray to subdue the detainees, who immediately complied and submitted to mechanical restraints. No officers or detainees were injured.” The facility’s staff has now begun monitoring the strikers’ food intake. Today, members of a refugee caravan who are seeking asylum in the United States began a hunger strike at the Adelanto Detention Facility in Southern California. “We will not eat until the government responds to our demands and agrees to negotiate,” said Isaac Lopez Castillo, a 27-year-old from El Salvador who is one of the nine refugees participating in the hunger strike, in a statement. They are asking for better food, access to clean water 24 hours a day, and quality medical care. “None of us have prior criminal records,” they note. Though the hunger strike reportedly began today at 5:30 in the morning, after speaking with Adelanto Detention Facility staff, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Virginia Kice stated that “there are no detainees at that center who are on a hunger strike.” The members of the caravan, which arrived at the US-Mexico border in May, are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. They fled their home countries after being targeted by violent criminal organizations, according to Tristan Call, an organizer with the Nashville-based immigrant rights group Sureñxs En Acción. “Most of them have had one or more family members murdered. A lot of them have had direct physical attacks that they survived themselves, and they’ve had extensive death threats,” says Call, who accompanied the caravan in Mexico and is speaking on behalf of the hunger strikers. Under US and international law, border agents must admit asylum seekers to evaluate whether they have “credible fear” of returning to their home country. According to Call, at least seven of the nine hunger strikers have undergone and passed their “credible fear” interviews, a major hurdle before they may pursue their asylum cases outside of detention. Yet the caravan members argue that they are being treated with “humiliation and discrimination” at Adelanto. In addition to demanding better food and clean water, they want new uniforms—specifically, underwear that hasn’t been used by other detainees. The hunger strikers are complaining about unreasonable bond amounts, which they say have been set at “impossibly high levels.” At least one detainee’s bail was set at $20,000, says Call. “If you set a $20,000 bond, and you’re a refugee from El Salvador coming with nothing, there is zero chance you will be able to do that. It’s essentially similar to the kind of extortion they were experiencing from the gangs they just fled from: You flee for your life from a place where you’re being extorted for tens of thousands of dollars that you can’t pay, and then you have a similar experience with the US government.” The detainees are also asking for better access to quality medical care at Adelanto, which is operated by the GEO Group, the country’s largest private prison company. So far three immigrants have died at the facility this year. In a July 2015 letter to ICE and federal inspectors, 29 members of Congress requested an investigation into health and safety concerns at the facility, writing that “egregious” medical errors had caused a 2012 death there. Four months after the letter was sent, 400 detainees began a hunger strike.

Jun 3, 2017 motherjones.com
In 3 Months, 3 Immigrants Have Died at a Private Detention Center in California
A Honduran immigrant held at a troubled detention center in California's high desert died Wednesday night while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Vincente Caceres-Maradiaga, 46, was receiving treatment for multiple medical conditions while waiting for an immigration court to decide whether to deport him, according an ICE statement. He collapsed as he was playing soccer at the detention facility and died while en route to a local hospital. Caceres-Maradiaga's death is the latest in a string of fatalities among detainees held at the Adelanto Detention Facility, which is operated by the GEO Group, the country's largest private prison company. Three people held at the facility have died in the last three months, including Osmar Epifanio Gonzalez-Gadba, a 32-year-old Nicaraguan found hanging in his cell on March 22, and Sergio Alonso Lopez, a Mexican man who died of internal bleeding on April 13 after spending more than two months in custody. Since it opened in 2011, Adelanto has faced accusations of insufficient medical care and poor conditions. In July 2015, 29 members of Congress sent a letter to ICE and federal inspectors requesting an investigation into health and safety concerns at the facility. They cited the 2012 death of Fernando Dominguez at the facility, saying it was the result of "egregious errors" by the center's medical staff, who did not give him proper medical examinations or allow him to receive timely off-site treatment. In November 2015, 400 detainees began a hunger strike, demanding better medical and dental care along with other reforms. The federal government guarantees GEO that a minimum of 975 immigrants will be held at the facility and pays $111 per detainee per day. Yet last year, the city of Adelanto, acting as a middleman between ICE and GEO, made a deal to extend the company's contract until 2021. The federal government guarantees GEO that a minimum of 975 immigrants will be held at the facility and pays $111 per detainee per day, according to California state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), who has fought to curtail private immigration detention. After that point, ICE only has to pay $50 per detainee per day—an incentive to fill more beds. Of California's four privately run immigration detention centers, three use local governments as intermediaries between ICE and private prison companies. On Tuesday, the California senate voted 26-13 to ban such contracts, supporting a bill that could potentially close Adelanto when its contract runs out in 2021. The Dignity Not Detention Act, authored by Lara, would prevent local governments from signing or extending contracts with private prison companies to detain immigrants starting in 2019. The bill would also require all in-state facilities that hold ICE detainees, including both private detention centers and public jails, to meet national standards for detention conditions—empowering state prosecutors to hold detention center operators accountable for poor conditions inside their facilities. An identical bill passed last year but was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown. "I have been troubled by recent reports detailing unsatisfactory conditions and limited access to counsel in private immigration detention facilities," Brown wrote in his veto message last September. But he deferred to the Department of Homeland Security, which was then reviewing its use of for-profit immigration detention. In that review, the Homeland Security Advisory Council rejected the ongoing use of private prison companies to detain immigrants, citing the "inferiority of the private prison model." Yet since President Donald Trump took office, the federal government has moved to expand private immigration detention, signing a $110 million deal with GEO in April to build the first new immigration detention center under Trump. Nine people have died in ICE custody in fiscal year 2017, which began October 1. Meanwhile, private prison stocks have nearly doubled in value since Election Day.

Apr 12, 2017 laist.com
Sexual Assault Claims At Private Immigrant Detention Centers Are Rarely Investigated
A new report shows that sexual assault and harassment claims at immigrant detention centers are rampant, and that the government has little protocol in place for investigating—let alone preventing—those claims. On Tuesday, CIVIC (Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement), a national advocacy and watchdog group, filed a federal civil rights complaint about sexual assault and abuse in the immigration detention system across the country, including at Southern California's Adelanto Detention Facility. The data was compiled through personal interviews with individuals who'd been assaulted and harassed in the system, as well as data received through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and state public record requests. Tens of thousands of immigrants are detained across the country on any given night because of something called the "bed mandate," a little-known congressional directive that requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to keep an average of 34,000 immigrants in their custody per day. As the Trump administration ramps up its deportation machine, the population of America's immigrant detention centers is also likely to grow—a development that has been seen as a massive boon for the private prison industry that manages the majority of those detention centers. The quota policy, which has been in place since 2009, guarantees a steady stream of revenue for those companies: the warehousing of immigrants costs taxpayers $125 per person, per day. About 65% of all immigrant detainees are housed in privately-owned facilities, according to a recent Department of Homeland Security report. Through a Freedom of Information Act request, CIVIC found that a total of 14,693 complaints of sexual and/or physical abuse had been filed against ICE between January 2010 and July 2016, according to the Office of the Inspector General (ICE refused to provide information directly to CIVIC, despite their repeated requests). Forty-four percent of all abuse claims brought against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were filed against ICE, which is more than any other DHS agency (Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol, Transportation Security Administration, Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Protective Service, and the Secret Service also fall under the DHS umbrella). Customs and Border Protection received the second highest level of complaints, at 31% of the total (CBP and ICE combined account for more than 75% of all abuse complaints filed against DHS). Less than 1% of the total complaints of sexual and/or physical abuse filed against DHS and its agencies during this time period resulted in OIG investigations. "By not properly investigating each allegation of sexual assault, our government sends a message that sexual abuse of immigrants will be tolerated," Christina Fialho, an attorney and the co-founder/executive director of CIVIC, told LAist. The OIG received at least 1,016 reports of sexual abuse or assault filed by people in detention between May 28, 2014 and July 12, 2016 alone, according to the report. Only 24 of those complaints were investigated by the OIG. For 92.6% of the complaints, the inspector general's office declined to investigate and merely referred the complaint to the relevant agency (e.g., ICE) without requesting any follow-up. More than 3% of the cases were closed without even being referred to the relevant agency. In addition to the 1,016 complaints of sexual abuse/assault reported by people in detention, there were 402 complaints of “coerced sexual contact,” 196 complaints of “sexual harassment," and 380 complaints of “physical or sexual abuse” lodged against ICE during this time period, according to CIVIC. CIVIC's data collection found that, unsurprisingly, the top five worst immigration detention facilities in terms of sexual assault complaints were all privately-run prisons. These private facilities not only have far less oversight than their government-run equivalents, but "the vast majority of private immigration detention contracts do not include any robust penalty provisions for failing to meet government standards," according to Forbes. "By law, [private prison facilities] actually are less transparent," Fialho told LAist. "They're exempt from FOIA and they're also exempt from state public record requests," she explained, which is part of why it's been so challenging for the organization to compile their data. The largest immigrant detention center in California is housed on a barren desert road 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The privately-owned Adelanto Detention Facility is run, like many other immigrant detention facilities, by GEO Group, the nation's second largest for-profit prison operator. ICE contracts with the city of Adelanto for the physical space, and the city of Adelanto contracts with Geo Group to run the prison. Adelanto, which opened in 2011 and has the ignominious honor of ranking third on CIVIC's worst offenders list, has a history of poor conditions and abuses, as well documented at KPCC. In December 2015, a female detainee at Adelanto was sexually assaulted by another person in the facility during the night. The offender then tried to kiss her during the daytime in view of the GEO Group officers. According to interviews conducted with CIVIC, the woman reported the behavior to GEO Group and ICE personnel, but received no response. She eventually called 911 from inside the facility which, according to Fialho, is part of a troubling pattern of detainees being forced to call 911 to report abuse from inside the facility after being ignored through other channels. The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department responded to the call and conducted an interview with the woman on December 15, 2015. After the questioning was over, "there was no information provided to her from GEO Group or from ICE or from the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department," according to Fialho. "It seemed like the case was either closed without letting [the woman] know, or maybe it's still open, but no one knows." "The M.O. of the immigration detention system as a whole is isolating people from information, and it seems like the same thing occurs when the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department is called as well," Fialho said. The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department responded to at least five calls concerning alleged rape or sexual battery at the Adelanto facility between January 2010 to June 2016, according to a California Public Record Act request filed by CIVIC. The female detainee in question eventually became so depressed that she attempted suicide. ICE subsequently transferred her to the Santa Ana City Jail in March 2016. The recorded complaints are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. “A lot of the girls there had problems like this. Most of them don’t even end up complaining or saying anything about it because they’re scared of retaliation,” Rosanna Santos, a class representative in CIVIC's complaint who was sexually harassed by a corrections officer in immigration detention at Pennsylvania's York County Jail said in a statement. “Since my complaint, nothing has happened. It is like they want to keep me quiet.” ICE fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference and does not retaliate in any way against hunger strikers.”

Mar 29, 2017 vocativ.com
ICE Detainee Hangs Himself In California Jail Cell
A Nicaraguan national being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in California died on Tuesday from injuries he sustained from an attempted suicide six days before, federal authorities said. Osmar Epifanio Gonzalez-Gadba was found hanging from his neck inside his cell at the Adelanto Detention Facility on March 22 by an employee doing a routine evening check, ICE said in a published statement. The 32-year-old was rushed to a nearby hospital, but died after nearly a week on life support. The preliminary cause of his death is heart failure caused from the earlier asphyxiation. Immigration officials said that Gonzalez-Gadba was in a cell by himself and had exhibited no prior signs of being suicidal. The Nicaraguan man had been in ICE custody since December 2016, following his arrest by U.S. Border Patrol agents near San Diego. Homeland Security records show that he had been previously been deported to Nicaragua in April 2016. Aside from the pair of immigration-related arrests, Gonzalez-Gadba had no criminal record in the U.S., Virginia Kice, an ICE spokeswoman, told Vocativ. Gonzalez-Gadba is the fifth detainee to die while in ICE custody in the last year, the agency said. ICE officials said they have been unsuccessful in locating Gonzalez-Gadba’s family members and that he received no visitors while he was in custody. A representative from the Nicaraguan consulate in Los Angeles was unable to provide additional details to Vocativ on Wednesday. Adelanto is a for-profit prison and holds close to 2,000 detainees. Operated by the GEO group, the nation’s second-largest private prison company, the detention center has faced accusations by the ACLU and other groups of providing substandard medical care. A 2015 report by Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement claimed that immigrant detainees at Adelanto faced “extreme abuse.”

Jan 19, 2017 buzzfeed.com
Immigration Officials And Private Prison Company Are Accused Of Denying Access To Detainees
A court complaint accuses one of the largest private prison corporations colluding with federal officials to block detainees’ access to attorneys. Immigration advocates on Wednesday filed a federal complaint accusing one of the largest private prison companies in the US of preventing detainees from meeting with attorneys. Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) said GEO Group, which operates the Adelanto Detention Facility (ADF) in California, frequently violates federal standards regarding social and legal visits to detainees, and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents collude to retaliate against certain attorneys. The complaint was sent to the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security. ICE and GEO Group did not immediately return requests for comment. Christina Fialho, executive director of CIVIC, said prison staff are illegally stopping attorneys like herself from speaking with their clients at ADF, which houses about 1,852 people. “Legal access is crucial,” Fialho told BuzzFeed News. “We do not and will not accept any curtailment of our rights now and in the future.” As it is, immigrants in detention facilities and jails in the US don’t have the right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment because deportation proceedings are considered civil matters. The American Immigration Council found that just 14% of detained immigrants between 2007 and 2012 had legal representation. Fialho believes ICE and GEO Group are retaliating against attorneys and volunteers who have criticized the agency and conditions inside these facilities. Fialho said she was prevented from meeting with her clients twice after leading vigils outside ADF in 2015. That same year, an attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA were told by GEO staff that they were not allowed to conduct visits with clients at ADF who were on hunger strike because they were “on a list” requiring ICE approval before they could see visitors. In 2015, CIVIC and the ACLU filed a cease and desist letter to ICE and GEO Group after attorneys were denied access to people in detention and visitation programs were shut down. That happened after visitors raised concerns about sexual abuse and other conditions at different facilities, according to the letter. Family members, some driving long distances to the remote ADF in Adelanto, California, reported waiting more than three hours to see detainees. A woman, whose family drove for three hours and waited two hours, wasn’t able to see her husband and sons because she wasn’t notified of their arrival until after visiting hours were over. It has always been an issue, Fialho said, but since Donald Trump won the election, attorneys and family members have “witnessed a disturbing increase in wait times and visitation denials” at ADF. “These denials may be indicative of an emerging pattern or practice at ADF, and perhaps even beyond,” the complaint states, noting the same problems at other facilities. “Having access to legal counsel is going to be super critical as Trump moves forward with his deportation force,” Fialho said.

Sep 21, 2016 kqed.org
Governor Weighs Whether to Bar Some Private Immigration Lockups
First, the Department of Justice announced it would stop using them, and soon after, the Department of Homeland Security said it would review whether hundreds of thousands of immigrants should be detained in private lockups overseen by the department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division. The state of California might beat them to the punch. A bill that would bar cities and counties from contracting with private prisons to hold immigrant detainees is sitting on the governor’s desk. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill, three facilities would be impacted by Senate Bill 1289: Adelanto Detention Facility in San Bernardino County, Mesa Verde Detention Facility in Bakersfield and Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Holtville, in Imperial County. Together, the facilities can house around 3,000 people. All three are owned by local governments, but run by private prison corporations that contract with ICE to detain immigrants. The bill by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would also impose more stringent standards on any remaining immigration centers hosted by local jurisdictions, including prohibiting segregated housing for LGBT inmates and requiring access to legal representation, translation services and medical care, including HIV and AIDS care. Grisel Ruiz, a staff attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, said California has distinguished itself as a state that welcomes immigrants and should not allow local governments and corporations to profit off the detention of people waiting to have their immigration cases resolved. “There’s a huge problem when you monetize human beings, and in this case you are monetizing exceptionally vulnerable people,” she said. “Asylum seekers, refugees, people who might have problems with — English might be their second language, they might have very little education, most don’t even have attorneys — it really goes against our values that we have here as a state in California.” The publicly owned, privately run prisons wouldn’t shut down overnight: If Brown signs the bill, cities and counties would be barred from entering into new contracts beginning in 2018. The largest facility, Adelanto, has a contract that runs through 2021.

Apr 13, 2016 scpr.org
California state measure calls for end to profit-making immigrant detention contracts
A new state bill aims to stop California cities and counties from contracting with private prison companies that detain immigrants, but the effort is generating pushback from one locality. The high-desert prison town of Adelanto, a city of roughly 32,000, is home to two jails and one immigrant detention center. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement contracts with Adelanto for detention space for up to 1,455 immigrants at $112.50 per detainee, per day. The city, in turn, contracts with The GEO Group, a private company that runs both the Adelanto Detention Facility and one of the city’s jails. Adelanto officials sold the building that houses the detention center, a former state prison, to GEO in 2010. But the city holds the contract for its operation, and receives a cut of the amount ICE pays for the service. With the Adelanto facility's daily population averaging roughly 1,200 and based on the per-diem rate, ICE pays up to about $4 million a month — and more if the detention center is filled to its 1,940-detainee capacity. But a bill sponsored by state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) could put an end to Adelanto's immigrant detention contract. "For far too long, our immigration system has promoted profits over people," Lara told KPCC. "The goal is to prohibit these for-profit companies from profiting off the backs of immigrants." Cities like Adelanto depend on detention space revenue. In Adelanto, which nearly went bankrupt last year, City Council member John “Bug” Woodard, a self-described Tea Party Republican, said the GEO contracts are vital to the city's economy. "I think a good 25 percent of our income comes from those jailhouses," Woodard said. "GEO is an important part of this community, and any idiot up in Sacramento that would like us not to do business with them, they’ve got their heads where the sun don’t shine." Adelanto has been fighting to stave off bankruptcy in recent years. Last year, Woodard championed a new revenue source — an ordinance that allows medical marijuana cultivation in the city. Proponents of Lara's detention bill say it would affect four local governments in California that work with private detention contractors, Adelanto included. The bill would only bar local governments from working with for-profit detention contractors; it would not prohibit them from contracting detention space directly to ICE, as does the Orange County Sheriff's Department, for example. Immigration authorities have increasingly relied on private contractors and local governments for space to house immigrants awaiting or fighting deportation since the early 2000s, when the detainee population exploded as a result of tighter immigration policies. While its scope seems limited, the bill would affect many more local-government contracts in other ways: a provision of the bill would make it mandatory for all immigrant detention facilities in California to comply with federal standards guidelines that are now optional. "Even if immigrants are in public holding facilities, like say with the sheriff or a local police station, these rules would have to be adhered to, regardless of whether they are private or public," Lara said. The bill would also make it easier for immigrants to sue these detention facilities if they believe their rights are violated. The threat of lawsuits worries the California State Sheriffs' Association, which opposes the proposal. So does the possibility of ICE having to move detainees from private-contract facilities affected by the bill to those that rent space directly to ICE, as many local jails do. "Some of that workload could potentially fall on public facilities that are already fairly overcrowded," said Cory Salzillo, legislative director with the sheriffs' ssociation. The measure requires approval by both houses of the California Legislature and the governor's signature before it could take effect. The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hear the bill next week.

Feb 4, 2016 vvdailypress.com
Debate over jail location in Adelanto revived
ADELANTO — A renewed debate over the location of a proposed 1,000-bed jail could hold up a lucrative deal that one official had trumpeted as officially erasing the city's deficit. The jail plan by private prison operator GEO Group Inc. returned to the Planning Commission on Tuesday night to mull GEO-requested tweaks to the development agreement. But Planning Commissioner Chris Waggener requested the item be revisited next month. The terms for the facility were initially approved 3-2 by the City Council in late October even amid concerns that the jail would be situated just about 1.5 miles from Adelanto High School. On Tuesday, Mayor Rich Kerr revived an argument he made three months ago in opposition to the plan. "I can assure you ... there will not be a prison next to the high school," Kerr said. He had mistakenly believed that the agreement OK'd in October pushed the jail to a location away from the northeast corner of Holly and Koala roads, which is also only a half-mile from residential housing. He and Councilman Charley Glasper shot down the plan at the time. The Commission had recommended the Council deny the plan because of its proximity to the school, and Commissioner Joy Jeannette on Tuesday stood firm in that stance. "I would never vote to have the prison near the high school," she said. Kerr added that he believed the "Council will not bend" from forcing GEO to build the jail elsewhere, but the assumption does not harmonize with last October's vote. Mayor Pro Tem Jermaine Wright, Councilman Ed Camargo and Councilman John "Bug" Woodard approved the plan back then, shifting the focus away from the location and instead toward the extra revenue and police presence provided by the agreement — even if the jail isn't immediately built. Proposed on 22.16 acres of land, the jail came with the condition that GEO immediately up its yearly payment to the city from $400,000 to $963,000 and fund one extra San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputy to patrol the streets, officials said. If the jail is built, the financial implications grow stronger. The annual payment will jump to $1.33 million and GEO will fund another deputy. The company was given two years to pull a permit and afforded five additional years worth of extensions to find a client. If the company were to back out, the city's revenue stream and GEO-paid deputies revert to pre-existing levels. In October, Camargo said the deal was "one way" to increase law enforcement in the city since "nothing (else) is knocking on the door." Saying that the deal officially erased the city's deficit, Wright noted that the jail remained at least 3.5 years from being operational and GEO was agreeable to move it. Yet Waggenger said Tuesday nothing had been formalized to suggest GEO would switch locations. The company operates three correctional or immigration complexes in the city: Desert View, Adelanto East and Adelanto West. Kerr told the Commission he would fight the jail's venue "tooth and nail." "I'm not going to put a bunch of cons out there to drool out the freaking window at our young kids," he said. "It's not going to happen."

Aug 26, 2015 vvdailypress.com
Immigration detainees denied attorney access, groups say

ADELANTO — Federal immigration officials and Adelanto Detention Facility contractors over the last two years have blocked detainee access from attorneys and other visitors who have been critical of operations there or participated in protests, detainee advocate groups said Tuesday. The groups made their claims in a letter Monday to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Florida-based Geo Group Inc., which operates the Adelanto Detention Facility. The letter was signed by representatives of American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California on behalf of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center, with pro bono support of law firm Sidley Austin LLP. The letter urges ICE and Geo Group officials to "stop retaliating against visitors who publicly criticize the U.S. immigration detention system," or prepare to face legal action. "Over the last two years, the Geo Group and ICE have established an unlawful pattern and practice of denying attorney access to clients detained at the facility in retaliation for the attorneys' participation in lawful, peaceful protests outside of the facility," the letter reads, "in contravention of the First Amendment's guarantee that 'debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.'" ICE officials rebutted the claims Tuesday, saying the agency was well aware of the importance of ensuring detainees' access to legal counsel. "ICE is in frequent communication with attorneys and other stakeholders regarding the operation of its detention facilities and is continually making adjustments in response to feedback and any concerns raised," ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said in a statement. "Individuals who fail to comply with the visitation standards applicable to a particular ICE facility may have their visitation privileges suspended. Likewise, individuals who misrepresent the purpose of their visit to such facilities may be denied access." An email inquiry sent to Geo Group officials Tuesday was not immediately answered. On Aug. 6, 2013, attorney and CIVIC co-executive director Christina Fialho was reportedly denied access to consult with a prospective client after participating in a peaceful vigil outside the facility, according to Monday's letter. After a Geo officer asked her whether she took part in the vigil, she said she had and then was told her visitation request was denied. After challenging her denial, Fialho was told by the officer that she was being denied because she did not have on file a G-28, which is a notice of appearance as an attorney. But ICE regulations allow for attorney visits with or without a G-28, the letter said. San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies arrived soon after to question Fialho at the request of Geo officers. Fialho was informed that the Geo officers requested she be removed from the facility or arrested, according to the letter. ICE officials have said, however, that Fialho and members of CIVIC were involved in activities that violated ICE detention standards designed to safeguard detainees' privacy. Officials acknowledged that her visitation privileges were restored shortly afterward once the issue was resolved. But the letter also details a reported account from May, when Fialho was again denied access to consult with existing and prospective clients following a vigil, despite having confirmed with a deputy three times that the deputy had advised ICE and Geo officials of the purpose of her visit. "As Ms. Fialho prepared to leave the facility, she encountered other attorneys whom she knew but who had not participated in the vigil," the letter reads. "(A)ll of them had been permitted to visit with clients." She was then told by a Geo staff member that she could enter the facility should the other CIVIC members and accompanying families leave the scene. Even after they left, a Geo staff member shut the door and locked it in Fialho's face after she attempted multiple times to ask the staff member a question but was met with resistance and "instructed ... to either enter the building or leave," the letter said. The confrontation was reportedly caught on camera. The advocacy groups are demanding ICE and Geo officials confirm in writing by Sept. 24 that they will cease alleged retaliation and clarify policies to reflect this vow. Advocacy groups have regularly called upon ICE and Geo officials to make changes at the facility, citing detainee deaths and poor conditions. But officials have pushed back against suggestions of sub-par care, touting the amenities and liberties available to the 1,255 detainees there during a tour earlier this month.

05/19/2015 huffingtonpost.com

GEO Group Whistleblower Exposes First Amendment Violations, Lack of Officer Training, and Poor Conditions at the Adelanto Detention Center  A former employee of GEO Group - a corporation that operates the Adelanto Detention Center - claims First Amendment violations, lack of proper training for GEO Group staff, extreme work hours, employee intimidation, and overuse of solitary confinement. The former employee, who asked to remain anonymous, recounted in a recording on file with CIVIC that two Muslim men were put into solitary confinement for quietly saying their daily prayers. He attributed these First Amendment violations to a complete lack of officer training. "They are not trained for shit," he said. "I had to learn everything on my own. They put me in a dorm and then they said, 'Alright. Good luck. See you later.'" He cited overcrowded conditions and a work culture that required guards to do back-to-back 12- and 16-hour shifts, or risk being fired. Despite the lack of training and the extreme over-time hours, he claims that he was responsible for supervising over 100 detainees on his own. According to him, he was warned, "If you can't handle it, you will lose your job." He stated that GEO Group is paid a certain amount of money from the federal government, but then GEO Group is given unbridled discretion to "do whatever the hell they want." In his view, this is not fair to the guards or the detainees. The Adelanto Detention Center, in San Bernardino, California, is owned and operated by GEO Group, which contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to imprison 1,300 men on any given day. ICE pays GEO Group up to $111 per person imprisoned at Adelanto each day. GEO Group is one of the largest private prison corporations in the United States. According to a compilation of federal figures by CIVIC, GEO Group receives more taxpayer dollars than any other ICE contractor. GEO Group's revenues climbed from $1.52 billion in 2013 to $1.69 billion in 2014. Last year, GEO Group began operating family immigration detention facilities that house juveniles. Yet, they acknowledge in their most recent annual report that they are unsure whether they can "minimize the risks and difficulties" involved in operating juvenile correctional facilities while still "yielding an attractive profit margin." GEO Group has been the subject of hundreds of lawsuits, ranging from sexual battery to medical neglect to wrongful death. In 2011, a U.S. citizen died at a GEO-run immigration detention facility in England. A jury found that his death was in part due to medical neglect at the Harmondsworth Removal Centre. A report on Harmondsworth by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons in January 2014 found "shocking cases where a sense of humanity was lost." These cases included long periods of solitary confinement - particularly for Muslims - and medical mismanagement. The U.K.'s Home Office ended its contract with GEO Group that September. Back in the United States, another GEO Group whistleblower won a wrongful termination lawsuit, after he divulged illegal activities at a California facility, including sexual and physical assault, fraud, and mishandled incident reports. Numerous questions about oversight and accountability have been left unanswered by GEO Group. A government report found that GEO Group's medical mismanagement at Adelanto directly led to the death of at least one detainee, Fernando Dominguez, in March 2012. There also are significant questions regarding GEO Group's responsibility in last month's death of Raul Ernesto Morales-Ramos, also at Adelanto. Last week, the ACLU of Southern California, CIVIC, and eight other legal service providers and human rights organizations formally voiced concerns about the poor quality of health care offered at Adelanto. Our letter, sent directly to ICE Director Sarah Saldaña and other government officials, describes abhorrent accounts of medical negligence and reveals that financial costs form a basis for medical decisions. For example, GEO Group denied a man treatment for his severe hip infection because "it was too expensive." The infection ultimately developed into a life-threatening condition that required a 6-week hospitalization at an outside hospital not affiliated with GEO Group. Despite GEO Group's embattled reputation, ICE has announced plans to expand the available bed space at Adelanto by 640 beds, and for the first time may house women and LGBTQ individuals at the facility. According to their annual report, GEO Group expects to generate $21 million in additional annualized revenue from this expansion. Learn more here and join advocates, faith leaders, people formerly detained at Adelanto, and family members of people currently detained on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, (starting at 11 a.m.) for a vigil and press conference outside of the Adelanto Detention Center (10400 Rancho Rd, Adelanto, CA).


Feb 28, 2014 vvdailypress.com

SAN BERNARDINO • Attorneys for Geo Group Inc., which operates an immigration detention center in Adelanto, were no-shows in court Tuesday as they face a medical malpractice lawsuit brought forth by the mother of a Mexican national who died in 2012 of complications from pneumonia. A government report following the man’s death said “egregious errors” were made by the facility’s medical staff. Geo Group has denied the claims levied in the suit, court records show. Fernando Dominguez-Valivia, 58, died March 4, 2012, nearly three weeks after he was transferred to Victor Valley Hospital from Adelanto Detention Facility East for treatment, according to previous reports. With a criminal record including forgery and theft, Dominguez-Valivia originally came into ADF custody on Nov. 23, 2011, after he had been detained on unspecified charges in the Rancho Cucamonga area, immigration officials previously said. A U.S. Department of Homeland Security oversight committee noted in its inspection report of the facility in September 2012 that Dominguez-Valivia’s death was the first for the facility, but also preventable. “The investigation disclosed several egregious errors committed by medical staff, including failure to perform proper physical examinations in response to symptoms and complaints, failure to pursue any records critical to continuity of care, and failure to facilitate timely and appropriate access to off-site treatments,” said the report, referencing a Detainee Death Review conducted sometime after the man’s death. The committee concluded “the detainee’s death could have been prevented and that the detainee received an unacceptable level of medical care while detained at ACF,” the report reads. San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner spokeswoman Sandy Fatland confirmed Tuesday that Dominguez-Valivia died naturally of multiorgan failure due to pneumonia, but the committee also listed alcoholic liver disease and sepsis as causes of death. On Oct. 15, Geo Group was served with the lawsuit, which listed several plaintiffs including Dominguez-Valivia’s mother, Juana Lopez. An attempt to reach Lopez’s attorney on Tuesday was not immediately successful. An email address provided on the Geo Group’s website for media inquiries could not receive emails. According to court records, the case is scheduled to be back in court March 27.


Dec 23, 2013 The Sun

Carlos Hidalgo planned to go Christmas tree shopping this past weekend with his two youngest children, Lovette, 16, and Andrew, 9. “This year, it will be Andrew’s turn to buy the tree,” Hidalgo said. Last week, Hidalgo, 46, was bracing himself for not being with his children this Christmas. Earlier last week he was allowed to post $10,000 bond and is now living with his parents in North Hollywood. For about eight months, Hidalgo was an inmate at the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, detention facility in Adelanto. In late November, three female community college students were arrested at the Adelanto facility during a protest that focused on getting Hidalgo and two other inmates out of the privately run detention center and back with their families for the holidays. Neidi Dominguez, program manager at the California Youth Immigrant Justice Alliance, said the protest “was one of many things that led to a decision” by an immigration court judge to allow Hidalgo to post bail. “Everything played out the way it did because so many did something to help,” she said. The other two men that the protest sought to free remained in custody as the weekend commenced, authorities said. Hidalgo came to the United States from El Salvador with his parents at age 11, graduated from Bell Gardens High School in 1985, attended Cerritos College in Norwalk for a semester, got married and began working as a loan processor for a builder and later branched out to doing investigations for criminal and bankruptcy attorneys. He said his detention in Adelanto was the result of an arrest for cashing a check from someone who owed him money. As it turned out, he said, the check he attempted to cash was not from an account belonging to the man who gave it to him. Life in the Adelanto detention facility, run by the private company Geo Group for ICE, is fraught with disease, he said. “Many other prisoners have obvious illnesses including AIDS, rashes and funguses,” he said. But perhaps the biggest concern during detention — and one shared by other inmates — is the fear that he would be awakened in the middle of the night and sent back to El Salvador, he said. “This has been very hard on the kids,” who also feared that their father might suddenly be deported, he said. Hidalgo, who did volunteer work for other Adelanto detainees, said other prisoners were crying when he left the facility. “I see their families (in my mind). This has got to stop,” he said. “These are people trying to make a life be respected for the bread they earn... .America is so compassionate around the world. Why isn’t it that way here?”


Nov 27, 2013 vvdailypress.com

ADELANTO • Three young women were arrested after they locked themselves to a chain-link fence surrounding the GEO Group Inc. Adelanto Detention Center during a demonstration on Monday. In May 2011, the GEO Group contracted with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement through an intergovernmental service agreement with Adelanto to house federal immigration detainees. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Mitzie Perez, 22, of San Dimas, Silvia Dianey Murillo, 20, of Riverside and Lizeth Montiel, 20, of Upland on charges of trespassing and vandalism, sheriff’s spokeswoman Jodi Miller said. All three women are part of the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition, according to Miller. An estimated 50 to 100 protesters gathered to bring attention to the conditions reported inside the facility including allegations of abuse of detainees, inadequate food and poor medical care, according to Fernando Romero, spokesman for the Justice for Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California. “We did this action three days before Thanksgiving on purpose,” Romero said. “The people inside the facility won’t be going home for the holidays to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with their families like you and I will.” The women attached themselves to the fence surrounding the detention facility using U-lock bicycle locks which they placed around their necks. “The fire department had to cut the fence to remove the women,” Miller said. “That’s where the vandalism charge came from.” No other demonstraters were arrested, Warden Neil Clark said. “We asked that they (Perez, Murillo and Montiel) be removed for trespassing,” Clark said. “Other than the three who chained themselves to the fence, it was a peaceful protest.” Approximately 25 law enforcement officers monitored the protest and informed the group, in both English and Spanish, that they were trespassing on private property and they needed to disperse. All of the demonstrators, with exception of the three women, complied, Miller said. Romero said Perez and Murillo are undocumented and knew the risk involved in Monday’s demonstration. “The women are sacrificing their bodies, their livelihood and exposing themselves to separation from their families to make a point,” Romero said. “We want to highlight the injustices ... there are a lot of people who don’t belong there,” Romero said. “There are other solutions to detention. We want to stop the unjust deportations.” Perez, Murillo and Montiel were booked at the West Valley Detention Center, Miller said.

November 26, 2011 The Daily Press
The state has canceled its contract with the privately operated Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility, putting about 150 workers out of a job. Desert View's contract termination officially takes effect Wednesday, though prison employees told the Daily Press that The Geo Group Inc. has been preparing to deactivate the prison at Rancho and Aster roads since May. The 643-bed medium-security prison is shuttering its doors as part of California’s realignment plan, which responds to federal orders to reduce state prison overcrowding by shifting responsibility for tens of thousands of low-level offenders to county governments. To help deal with the new influx of inmates under local supervision, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is encouraging counties to enter into their own contracts with more than a dozen former CCFs. The CCFs had generally housed inmates with sentences shorter than 18 months, parole violators and offenders with scheduled release dates — the same types of nonviolent, non-sexual or non-serious offenders now serving out sentences in county jails instead of state prisons. “We hope that counties contract with these facilities to save jobs and ease inmate housing concerns that many counties may have,” CDCR spokeswoman Dana Toyama said. But San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials say they’re not planning to privatize jail beds. The math just doesn’t pencil out, according to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman. “The issue with taking advantage of private prisons or private jail facilities has come up over and over again throughout the years; however, it’s not something that the county is considering,” Bachman said. “It’s too costly and there’s just not the funding really even to consider something like that.” The California State Association of Counties has created a document outlining potential beds at the former CCFs, but counties statewide have been hesitant to exercise that option. The Geo Group had operated six of the nine privately run CCFs that lost their state contracts, according to CSAC. Five other CCFs were run by local governments. The facilities ranged from around 100 employees to more than 600, according to Toyama.

October 11, 2011 Daily Press
State water quality control officials unnerved city leaders in January by calling for a ban on new sewer connections in Adelanto in the name of protecting public health. State officials had accused the city of violating orders to bring its treatment plant into compliance, making unauthorized wastewater discharges and exceeding its storage pond capacity. In March and again in May, city officials managed to dodge the proposed ban — a move they say would've halted new development, including a new housing tract by D.R. Horton, a planned new prison facility by The Geo Group and an expansion to the county jail. To keep the ban at bay, city officials on Wednesday will try to convince the Lahontan Region's state water board they've made significant progress in cleaning up their wastewater act at a meeting in Victorville. They must prove the Adelanto Public Utilities Authority has sufficient disposal capacity to handle current and increased wastewater flows.

July 17, 2010 Daily Press
Some 100 city prison employees will be out of a job for at least the next several months, since the private operator that bought the city-owned prison for $28 million has yet to land a government contract. The employees of the Adelanto Community Correctional Facility were officially laid off June 4, but city officials agreed to pay them through Aug. 4, in hopes that private prison operator GEO Group, Inc. would land a state or federal contract and quickly rehire them. In mid-May the inmates at the 650-bed correctional facility were transferred out, with GEO Group planning to close it and complete renovations over the summer. Now it’s estimated the renovations will take four to six months, Adelanto City Manager Jim Hart said. It’s also unclear when the Florida-based operator will secure a contract for the prison, on Rancho Road west of Highway 395. “My entire intentions and efforts were to have it set up so that the employees would be able to transition from city employment to GEO employment,” Hart said. “Our hope that there wouldn’t be a gap between when they’re paid and when they get picked up, I think, is now dwindling because it doesn’t appear that GEO will have the renovations done in time to get opened.”

Alameda County
Aug 6, 2016 sfgate.com
After deaths, Alameda County replaces jail inmate health provider
Alameda County will sever ties with its longtime jail health care contractor after grappling with allegations that the company provided inadequate care that may have led to inmate deaths. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Friday voted 4-0 to award the three-year, $135 million contract to California Forensic Medical Group instead of Corizon Health Inc., following a vigorous debate among nurses, former inmates and representatives from the two companies — both of which are giants in prison health care. Supervisor Keith Carson abstained from the vote. Corizon and its various predecessors have run medical services in Dublin’s Santa Rita Jail and Oakland’s Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility since 1988; Corizon inherited the contract after merging with Prison Health Services in 2011. In recent years the company has come under scrutiny, which heightened when New York City’s Department of Investigation found that Corizon had hired employees with criminal histories to work in its Rikers Island Jail complex. In February, the family of an inmate who died in Santa Rita last year filed a federal lawsuit against Corizon, claiming his death, from complications with asthma, could have been prevented easily. But California Forensic Medical Group is also facing lawsuits over allegedly shoddy care in several counties. Its chief executive officer, Kip Hallman, says litigation is routine in the jail health care business because inmates frequently sue over medical issues. Speaking at the supervisors meeting in Oakland on Friday, Hallman noted that his company won the county bid “convincingly,” and vowed to boost the jails’ nursing staffs once the new contract takes effect in October. Representatives of Corizon urged the county to reconsider, arguing that it had failed to fairly evaluate the proposals. Of the three companies vying for the contract, California Forensic Medical Group scored the highest, and Corizon came in last, according to county staff reports. Dr. Harold Orr, chief clinical officer for Corizon’s Western region, said his company has been unfairly disparaged by union representatives who were angered when Corizon laid off 67 licensed vocational nurses early this year — a move that Orr said was required by a recent court settlement. “We deliver complex, multitiered, comprehensive health care,” Orr said at the meeting Friday. “We have physical therapists, eye specialists, kidney specialists — even a unique HIV screening program.” Two former inmates who spoke at the meeting praised Corizon for the care they had received in jail. “I’ve had cancer and many other things,” said Todd Pickens. “The health care that I received from Corizon has allowed me to stand here.” But nurses who spoke at the meeting criticized Corizon for poor management. “I was here in 2012 when Prison Health Services became Corizon, and I can tell you it became more and more difficult to deliver high-quality patient care,” said Maxine Persky, a nurse who has worked in jails for 18 years. She said the company implemented new technology that wasted rather than saved time, and that its managers “had never done any hands-on work in a jail setting.” Persky and other nurses applauded the supervisors’ decision Friday, and the National Union of Healthcare Workers, a labor group that represents the nurses, touted California Forensic Medical Group for promising to increase the jail staffs. Orr released a statement criticizing the county for what he said was a flawed bidding process. It said in part, “We’ll have to take a look at our legal options going forward so that we might be able to continue this partnership we so value.”

American Corrections Association
Feb 7, 2015 vvdailypress.com

Law enforcement professionals from across Southern California planned to gather Saturday in Long Beach to protest the influence of private prison corporations on the American Corrections Association, according to an ACA news release. The protest comes after the recent indictment of ACA’s former president Chris Epps. Epps accepted $1 million in bribes for steering more than $1 billion in business to private prison companies in Mississippi while he served as corrections commissioner for the state. According to the indictment, Epps purchased a beach condominium and had his home mortgage paid off from these dealings. One of the Mississippi prisons he oversaw, Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, was operated by Geo Group, the same for-profit company that operates two correctional facilities in Adelanto. The American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal complaint for the poor and “dangerous” conditions inmates incurred there, which resulted in Geo Group being booted out of operating at least two Mississippi facilities, according to media reports. “For far too long, the American Corrections Association has put its creditability on the line for the benefit of the private prison industry,” said James Baiardi, Chairman of Corrections U.S.A. “The money trail is clear with the recent indictment of Chris Epps. It’s time for the ACA to purge this influence and return to its original mission: the advancement of the corrections profession.” Correctional officers will gather outside of ACA’s 2015 Winter Conference to voice their concerns. Following the protest, Corrections U.S.A. will hold a press conference. The protest was planned for 10 a.m. Saturday at Long Beach Convention Center, 300 East Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach.

Baker Community Correctional Facility
San Bernardino, California
Cornell
November 26, 2011 The Daily Press
The state has canceled its contract with the privately operated Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility, putting about 150 workers out of a job. Desert View's contract termination officially takes effect Wednesday, though prison employees told the Daily Press that The Geo Group Inc. has been preparing to deactivate the prison at Rancho and Aster roads since May. The 643-bed medium-security prison is shuttering its doors as part of California’s realignment plan, which responds to federal orders to reduce state prison overcrowding by shifting responsibility for tens of thousands of low-level offenders to county governments. To help deal with the new influx of inmates under local supervision, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is encouraging counties to enter into their own contracts with more than a dozen former CCFs. The CCFs had generally housed inmates with sentences shorter than 18 months, parole violators and offenders with scheduled release dates — the same types of nonviolent, non-sexual or non-serious offenders now serving out sentences in county jails instead of state prisons. “We hope that counties contract with these facilities to save jobs and ease inmate housing concerns that many counties may have,” CDCR spokeswoman Dana Toyama said. But San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials say they’re not planning to privatize jail beds. The math just doesn’t pencil out, according to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman. “The issue with taking advantage of private prisons or private jail facilities has come up over and over again throughout the years; however, it’s not something that the county is considering,” Bachman said. “It’s too costly and there’s just not the funding really even to consider something like that.” The California State Association of Counties has created a document outlining potential beds at the former CCFs, but counties statewide have been hesitant to exercise that option. The Geo Group had operated six of the nine privately run CCFs that lost their state contracts, according to CSAC. Five other CCFs were run by local governments. The facilities ranged from around 100 employees to more than 600, according to Toyama.

November 18, 2009 Desert Dispatch
The Baker Community Correctional Facility is being closed due to a statewide decrease in low-security inmates. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is opting out of its contract to house inmates at the facility with Cornell Companies, Inc., according to CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thornton. The CDCR has a $4.9 million contract with Cornell to house inmates at the Baker facility and roughly half of that will be lost due to the closure. The contract was set to expire in June, but will end on December 26. The CDCR’s decision comes as the state has seen a drop of around 2,500 low-security inmates from 2008 to 2009, according to Thornton. The Baker facility itself is built to hold 262 inmates living in a dorm setting, but only housed 180 inmates at the end of October. “We’re seeing a demographic shift in the inmate population,” Thornton said. “We are seeing that the trend is moving away from a need for low-security facilities. The state needs more beds for higher-level offenders. It doesn’t make sense to operate the facilities at low housing levels.” The remaining inmates in Baker will be transferred to other facilities in the state before the closure, according to Thornton. The Baker facility currently employs 80 people, according to Cornell spokesman Charles Seigel. Seigel said the employees may face layoffs, but Cornell is looking at other uses for the facility that would allow them to keep their jobs.

October 26, 2009 AP
California officials say a drop in the number of minimum-security inmates is allowing them to end contracts with the companies that operate three private prisons. The move will save the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation about $15 million a year. The private prisons in Baker, Bakersfield and McFarland once housed a total of 822 inmates. Department officials said today they may seek new proposals to use the prisons for female inmates. About 2,500 fewer minimum-security inmates are in prison than a year ago. The department credits a new policy that diverts many parole violators who commit relatively minor offenses to community programs instead of sending them back to prison.

July 4, 2008 The Sun
Two private correctional officers were hospitalized Friday after a fracas at the correctional facility here triggered by unruly inmates, officials said. About 1 p.m., a correctional officer attempted to handcuff an inmate who was being disruptive. The inmate resisted, and several other inmates came to his aid, resulting in a scuffle between the inmates and at least two correctional officers, said Charles Seigel, spokesman for Cornell Corrections, the company that operates the minimum-security Baker Community Correctional Facility. A sheriff's deputy assigned to the Baker station was called in to assist, and patrolled the perimeter of the prison for about an hour until the situation simmered down, sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Beavers said. Two correctional officers were taken to a hospital in Las Vegas for medical care. The severity of their injuries was unclear, although one appeared to be in need of more care than the other, Seigel said. The officer who suffered the more serious injuries was reportedly doing OK. "He's awake. He clearly has some injuries that need to be treated, but he's awake and OK," Seigel said. A lockdown was implemented after the fracas and an inventory taken of all inmates. All were accounted for, Seigel said. The Baker correctional facility, in a dusty outpost between Barstow and the state line, is a minimum-security facility where inmates are typically transferred from other prisons to carry out the last 18 months of their sentences before being paroled, Seigel said.

March 29, 2007 Contra Costa Times
A race-related fight broke out at a minimum-security community prison, sending four inmates to the hospital with minor injuries, state prison officials said. The fight at the Baker Community Correctional Facility in San Bernardino County occurred at 7 p.m. Wednesday and lasted a few minutes, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections. Twelve black and white inmates started brawling in the yard of the all-male prison and guards rushed to break up the melee. About 80 inmates were in the yard at the time. Four inmates were taken to the hospital with minor bumps and bruises. The cause of the fight was under investigation. "They started to fight. They were told to stop and they did," Thornton said Thursday. The 12 inmates were later transferred to state prisons, she said. Baker, with 250 inmates, is operated by Cornell Companies Inc., which provide services to state governments on a contract basis. The facility is 155 miles east of Los Angeles.

December 8, 2003
A prison riot that left 17 inmates injured at a private correctional facility in the Mojave Desert may have been triggered by the arrival of a jailhouse "snitch" just hours before, a transfer that countered normal safety protocols, a prison official said Wednesday.  A preliminary investigation suggests the brawl between white inmates and Latino inmates, broke out after the informant -- who was white -- was attacked in the prison yard, said Marvin Wiebe, a senior vice president of Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc., which operates the prison.  The disturbance escalated into a riot because of a policy that bars guards at privately owned prisons from using force to quell a violent uprising, said Russ Heimerich, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections. Unlike guards at California's 33 state-run prisons, officers at the private lockups are not permitted to carry weapons.  Wiebe said that typically an informant would not be sent to a private prison, which lacks protective custody arrangements for such inmates.  
(Los Angeles Times)

December 8, 2003
A prison riot that injured 16 inmates appeared to be sparked by racial tensions, prison officials said Wednesday. The riot at Baker Community Correctional Facility started around 8 p.m. Tuesday and involved between 30 and 60 white and Hispanic inmates, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections. She said initial reports of a fire in the prison were incorrect. Four inmates were airlifted to hospitals and 12 were transported by ambulance for treatment of stab wounds. All but four were released and taken to the California Institution for Men in Chino. No guards were injured in the brawl. About 270 inmates were in the prison at the time. Inmates used sharpened pieces of metal and plastic and broom handles to assault each other, Thornton said. The prison yard was secured at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday and the prisoners were locked down. The 288-bed facility is run by the privately held Cornell Cos. of Houston and handles minimum-security male offenders under contract with the California Department of Corrections. Baker is about 160 miles east-northeast of downtown Los Angeles.  (AP)

December 4, 2003
Eighteen prisoners were injured when inmates rioted at Baker Community Correctional Center on Tuesday night. About 100 inmates, many with weapons, fought and set a small fire in a yard office while others escaped over the fence of the privately operated prison. Law enforcement officers took back control at 10:30 p.m. Staff members of Cornell Corrections Inc., which operates the prison, called 911 at 8:07 p.m. requesting assistance to break up fights between inmates in the prison yard, according to San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department dispatchers. Sheriff's deputies were called in from Baker, Barstow and Chino, as well as a helicopter crew and officers from the California Highway Patrol, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Beavers. Mutual-aid calls also went out to fire protection services from Newberry Springs, Yermo, Fort Irwin, Adelanto and the county. Five patients were airlifted to Las Vegas-area hospitals for treatment and 13 others were taken by ambulance, said Tracey Martinez, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department. All of the injured were prisoners, most suffering stab wounds, she said. There were no immediate reports of injuries to prison guards. Beavers said the low-security prison didn't have armed guards for its 262 inmates.  (Daily Press)

December 4, 2003
More than 100 inmates were involved in a riot at a private minimum-security prison, injuring 17, officials said. A small fire was set inside a building.  The majority of victims suffered stab wounds, said Tracey Martinez, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department. County fire spokesman Bret Raney said 17 were injured overall, with five airlifted to hospitals for treatment and the others taken by ambulance.  There were no reports of injuries to guards or other authorities who responded to the rioting shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday.  The prison yard was secured at 10:30 p.m. and prisoners were locked down, Martinez said.  A small blaze was confined to a container in a guard's shack.  The 262-bed facility is run by the privately held Cornell Companies, of Houston, one of the country's largest private prison operators. The prison handles minimum-security male offenders under contract with the California Department of Corrections.  The facility, which opened in 1988, has 52 buildings and was once a housing complex for Pacific Bell employees and their families. Inmates at the minimum security prison have bolstered emergency crews that respond to accidents along Interstate 15, the desert highway that is the quickest route to Las Vegas from Southern California.  Baker is a small, rural community about 160 miles east-northeast of downtown Los Angeles.  (AP)

December 16, 2002
A local developer is embroiled in what's now a class-action lawsuit that claims hundreds of workers -- many from Bakersfield -- were grossly underpaid during construction of a prison.  An attorney for the workers claims the Moreland Corporation failed to pay prevailing wages as it was required to while building a $16 million prison in San Bernardino County five years ago.   Prevailing wages -- essentially union scale wage rates -- are substantially higher than non-union wages.  About 300 workers, the majority from Bakersfield, are owed an undetermined amount of money and many don't even know it, said the plaintiff's attorney Richard Donahoo of Santa Ana.  The plaintiffs are seeking back wages and damages.  Terry Moreland, chief executive officer of Moreland Corporation, said Donahoo has all the facts wrong.  The prison was not a "public works" project that required prevailing wages to be paid and he didn't know that was even a possibility until construction was almost finished, Moreland said.   He said Moreland Corporation built the prison on its own -- not under contract with the state or with the state's guarantee it would pay to house inmates there as it eventually did -- so there was no reason to pay prevailing wages.  Only one contract involving the prison exists between a Moreland entity and the state and it had nothing to do with the prison's construction, he said.  Moreland said the California Department of Corrections contracted with Maranatha Production Company simply to provide services at the prison.  Moreland said while he owns a small percentage of Maranatha, it is separate from Moreland Corporation. Donahoo claims they're one and the same.  At issue is construction of the 500-bed, private Victor Valley Community Correctional Facility completed in 1998. Moreland Corporation was the general contractor; Moreland Family LLC was the builder and owns it now.  The lawsuit claims Moreland knew through rulings by the state Department of Industrial Relations and language in Maranatha's contract with the CDC that the people building the prison must be paid prevailing wages. It also claims Moreland withheld that information from subcontractors he hired and that workers were paid as little as $5.25 an hour when they should have been paid more than $25 per hour.  (Bakersfield.com)

June 22, 2002
Embattled emergency response services on Interstate 15 between Newberry Springs and state line may receive a major boost if the governor signs next year's California budget.  The plan calls for the prison in Baker to re-open in August.  The legislature and the governor's office have agreed to fund the prison again, but the budget remains unsigned for other reasons, he said.  The Cornell Correctional Facility in Baker is one of five privately owned community corrections facilities in California that closed near July 1 after their contracts with the state expired.  (The Desert Dispatch)

June 19, 2002
Closure of the minimum security prison in Baker at the end of this month comes as a blow to the small community, but some consequences will be shared by the entire county. Inmates and staff found out last November that the prison had been dropped from the state budget for the Department of Corrections, prison director Brick Tripp said. The last prisoner will be leaving Monday, and the facility will shut down June 30, the final day of the contract between the state department and the private prison. The owners of the facility are seeking alternative tenants, including federal or county prisons, said Ron Baumgarten, spokesman for Cornell Corrections. The Baker Community Correctional Facility is one of five private prisons in California scheduled to close. State officials decided to stop contracting with private entities to house prisoners because of numerous problems with the system, said Youth and Adult Correctional Agency Assistant Secretary Steven Green. He cited numerous lawsuits because of improperly trained staff members and inmates not receiving all the programs they are entitled to at the state s 16 private prisons as one reason for the decision to close the prisons. “The contract prison exercise has been a complete failure as far as we are concerned,? he said. (Privateer News)

June 19, 2002
Live Oak's Leo Chesney Center probably will survive the budget ax, says a state official who Thursday blasted the facility's operator for its "sleazy" public relations campaign. "It's looking much more like it's going to stay open," said Stephen Green, assistant secretary in the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency. "This isn't over until the budget is final. Certainly, the indications are it's going to stay open." The tentative budget deal to keep Chesney open was hammered out Wednesday. "Clearly, we're a little better off today than we were two days ago with the decision made (Wednesday)," said Marvin Wiebe, senior vice president of Cornell Companies Inc., which runs the Chesney Center under a contract with the state. "The legislators had some concerns about the lack of options for women to do their time in Northern California and wanted to see as many options as possible remain and indicated they were willing to fund that," Green said. "The legislators had some concerns about the lack of options for women to do their time in Northern California and wanted to see as many options as possible remain and indicated they were willing to fund that," Green said. "When they are willing to fund it, that makes it a lot easier for us."  "This was just one of just hundreds of government programs that were being looked at to be scaled back or eliminated," Green said. "This one got more attention because Cornell made some of the most outrageous lies imaginable and went around the state accusing us of murder. They behaved in a most unprofessional manner." Cornell "used the Enron playbook," Green said, referring to the bankrupt energy trading company. "They're a Houston-based company, a for-profit concern. They're very interested in protecting their profits. They don't care who they have to malign to do it." Green called Cornell's public relations campaign "sleazy. I don't think it was slick. It bore no relationship to the truth ... "He said there's a chance the state may put the contract out to bid or have the Department of Corrections take over management. "We have an option on the property and therefore control the property," Wiebe said. "The expectation of the community is that Cornell would operate it as we have for the last 13 years." If the state took over, it would cost an additional $1 million for salaries and benefits, he said. (Privateer News)

June 17, 2002
Setting up a potential showdown between lawmakers and Gov. Gray Davis, a legislative budget committee voted Friday to keep open four private prisons the governor had slated for closure. Davis had originally proposed shuttering five prisons, but earlier this week agreed to keep open a women's minimum-security facility. The budget conference committee does not have the final say, however. The prisons will likely be a point of negotiation as the budget moves to the full Assembly and Senate. And Davis can always veto the measure when the budget hits his desk. The San Francisco Chronicle)

June 14, 2002
After a brief reprieve, legislative budget writers have voted to close two small privately operated prisons in Kern County. They are among five minimum-security community correctional facilities Gov. Gray Davis marked for elimination in his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. The Kern County installations are the Mesa Verde facility in Bakersfield and another one in McFarland operated by Wackenhut Corrections. The contracts for all five of the prisons run out June 30. Under an agreement with the governor, the budget committee voted late Wednesday to keep open a women's correctional facility in Northern California but to close the other four. Supporters of the prisons staged an aggressive lobbying campaign to head off the closures. (Bakersfield.com)

June 12, 2002
Gov. Gray Davis, facing pressure from several lawmakers, reversed himself partially and agreed to permit one of five private prisons to continue operating, administration officials said Tuesday. At least two dozen women legislators signed a letter last month urging that Davis keep open the Leo Chesney Correctional Facility at Live Oak, north of Sacramento. Also in doubt is whether the contractor, Cornell Co. of Houston, would continue operating the facility, or whether the contract would be put up for competitive bidding. The administration, trying to close a $24-billion budget deficit, had contended that closing the five private prisons would save the state $2.8 million.

May 6, 2002
Cornell Corrections, a Houston company that owns two of the five private prisons California is planning to close, took its fight to the airwaves this weekend. The company has spent nearly $70,000 to produce and promote a 30-minute video on the prison closures, which will shutter its facilities in Live Oak in Sutter County and Baker in eastern San Bernardino County. This weekend, it paid $10,000 to television stations in Bakersfield, Fresno and Sacramento to air the video in its entirety. Titled "Blood Money," the video accuses Gov. Gray Davis of closing the prisons as a favor to the state prison guards union, which has contributed heavily to Davis' election fund. (San Francisco Chronicle)

August 28, 2001
Autopsy planned in inmate's death Sheriff's homicide detectives are investigating the death of an inmate Sunday at Baker Community Correctional Facility, coroner's officials said Monday.  Jamie Bengtson, 22, of Baker was found dead in his bunk about 7 a.m., the San Bernardino County Coroner's Department reported.  The death was determined to be suspicious and the San Bernardino County sheriff's homicide detail was called to investigate.  (The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)

Border Patrol
Wackenhut (Group 4)

October 24, 2009 San Diego Union-Tribune
A contract worker for U.S. Customs and Border Protection was sentenced to 18 months in prison yesterday for trying to release an illegal immigrant from custody in exchange for money. Christopher Saint-Lucero, who had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of transporting illegal immigrants for financial gain, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller. Saint-Lucero worked as a sergeant for Wackenhut Corp., which contracts with the agency to transport illegal immigrants to Mexico after they are captured. He worked at the Border Patrol station in Chula Vista. Prosecutors said that on June 1, 2008, Saint-Lucero tried to release an illegal immigrant who was in agency custody in exchange for $2,500 in cash.

June 4, 2008 San Diego Union-Tribune
Two Border Patrol contract workers were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to shuttle illegal immigrants from San Diego to Los Angeles for $2,500 apiece instead of returning them to Mexico. Christopher Saint Lucero and Manley Lamont Smith work for Wackenhut Corp., which holds a Border Patrol contract to escort illegal immigrants to Mexico after they are captured by agents in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. According to court documents, Saint Lucero told a colleague that he had been involved in about 10 smuggling attempts. The men were arrested Sunday after Saint Lucero allegedly escorted a group of illegal immigrants from the Border Patrol's Chula Vista station to the border in Tijuana. According to a statement of probable cause, Mexican authorities refused to admit two who identified themselves as Salvadorans. One was an undercover agent. Authorities say Saint Lucero then brokered the deal to get the two men to Los Angeles. Smith allegedly met them at the Border Patrol station in his Wackenhut jeep and offered to hide them. Saint Lucero and Smith were expected to make an initial court appearance today, said Debra Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego. The charge against them, conspiracy to transport illegal immigrants, is a felony.

June 3, 2008 AP
A Border Patrol contractor says 2 of its employees have been arrested for investigation of releasing illegal immigrants from federal custody. Wackenhut Corp. says the employees were arrested Sunday in the San Diego area and are in jail facing felony charges. For about two years, Wackenhut has held a contract to return illegal immigrants to Mexico after they are captured by Border Patrol agents. A senior vice president, Marc Shapiro, told The Associated Press Tuesday that this is the first time Wackenhut employees have been arrested for allegedly releasing immigrants. He said his company has returned more 1 million illegal immigrants to Mexico. Shapiro declined to name the suspects. A Border Patrol spokesman had no immediate comment.

California City Corrections Center
California City, California
CCA
Aug 21, 2014 tennessean.com

The nation's largest private prison company, Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America, has paid more than $8 million in back wages and benefits to current and former employees guarding federal inmates at a prison in California City, officials with the U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday. The payments came after an investigation found that the federal prison subcontractor underpaid 362 employees at the California City Correctional Center under the terms of its contract, where pay rates are established by law, according to federal officials. The company disputed the findings and said it had not violated any laws but was paying its employees under the terms of a pre-existing contract. "This is about the U.S. Department of Labor wanting to retroactively apply a wage standard that wasn't part of the original contractual agreement," company spokesman Jonathan Burns said in a statement. Officials with the Labor Department, however, said that over a period of years employees were paid 30 to 40 percent less than they were supposed to be paid, said Eduardo Huerta, assistant director of the department's wage and hour division. Many employees recouped more than $30,000 in back pay, benefits, overtime and holiday pay, officials said, and had worked at the lesser pay rate for up to five years. The facility houses federal inmates being detained by the U.S. Marshal and federal immigration authorities, as well as state inmates. The back wages applied only to CCA employees working with federal inmates. Corrections Corp. of America will seek a retroactive cost increase for the contract to absorb the additional wages and benefits, Burns said. "We greatly value our employees and the important work that they do to keep our communities safe and secure," he said. The company also wasn't making the required contributions to health and life insurance and retirement accounts, Huerta said. The investigation found record-keeping violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act, include inaccurate recording of breaks, lunches and overall hours worked. "If somebody was supposed to be making $30 an hour, they were making $20 an hour instead," said Huerta. "The people that get these federal monies from a federal agency to get one of these contracts have to abide by the wage rates." Corrections Corp. of America — the fifth-largest prison system in the nation — has come under scrutiny before. In Kentucky, it paid $260,000 last week to settle claims that it denied overtime to shift supervisors and forced them to work extra hours. In Kansas, CCA and a group of collections officers, case managers and clerks settled in 2009 in federal court over allegations of unpaid overtime. CCA agreed to pay a maximum of $7 million but did not acknowledge fault in the case. Idaho, which had contracted with the company for its Boise prison, began the process of returning operations of the facility to state control. The facility was sued and plagued by accusations of violence, gang activity and understaffing after the private prison contractor took it over. Corrections Corp. of America operates detention centers for federal, state and local governments in 20 states in the U.S. and houses nearly 80,000 inmates at 60 facilities. California City is about 110 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

 

Aug 19, 2014 nanaimodailynews.com

CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. - The nation's largest private prison company has paid more than $8 million in back wages and benefits to current and former employees at its federal prison facility in California City. The U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday that Corrections Corp. of America paid the money to staff at the California City Correctional Center after an investigation found it wasn't paying the rates required of federal contractors. A department official says in some cases employees were paid 40 per cent less than required by pay rate regulations established for contractors. The company also wasn't making required contributions to retirement accounts and health and life insurance. Many workers will receive more than $30,000. Messages left with the Nashville, Tennessee-based company spokesmen weren't immediately returned.

June 21, 2010 Bakersfield Californian
California City Correctional Center has notified the state of California that it may lay off as many as 67 employees. Corrections Corp. of America, the private prison operator that runs the 2,304-bed facility, could not be reached for comment Monday. But in a report to financial regulators in February, the Nashville-based company said a contract to house federal offenders will not be renewed after it expires at the end of September. The company said it is "pursuing other opportunities" at the medium-security California City facility. Total revenues at the facility were $68.7 million and $67.7 million during the years ended Dec. 31, 2009 and 2008, respectively, according to the filing.

January 13, 2010 AP
Corrections Corp. of America said Wednesday that its contract to manage federal inmates at a 2,300-bed California prison wasn't renewed and will expire in September. Meanwhile, the nation's largest prison operator said a contract to manage a smaller New Mexico facility was renewed. CCA said it would continue management of California City Correctional Center through September. The renewed contract with the Cibola County Corrections Center in Milan, N.M., will go into effect Oct. 1. That deal at the 1,200-bed facility, has a four-year term with three, two-year renewal options.

July 2, 2009 Ottawa Citizen
The Harper government has denied an Alberta man’s bid for a transfer from a U.S. jail to a Canadian prison on the grounds that he may one day commit a crime. Brent James Curtis, 28, is in a privately-run, for-profit prison in California serving 57 months after pleading guilty to a $1-million U.S. drug trafficking conspiracy in 2007. It was his first offence and he pleaded guilty to it right away, saying he was drawn to so-called easy money. He told his family that he didn’t feel right mounting a defence because he was guilty. The one-time elite hockey player — benched from any chance in the NHL after getting hit by a truck — makes an interesting argument to win a prison transfer, saying not only that he wants to serve the remainder of his sentence — two years — closer to his family and support network, but that if he isn’t transferred, he will return home after completing his U.S. sentence without a criminal record in Canada. The Correctional Service of Canada has confirmed that if Curtis doesn’t get a transfer and serves out his term in the U.S., he will return home “a free man” without a criminal record in the system. But if the Harper government approves the transfer, which the U.S. administration has already done, Curtis would, in fact, have a criminal record in the Canadian criminal system. Curtis has also used the very root of the international prisoner transfer treaty in his request, notably that it was founded on rehabilitation and reintegration into the community — something the Harper government has now dismissed. “This is a tough place. I’m losing everything, every day,” said Curtis, one of a dozen Canadians in the California private prison, known for its warring Mexican drug gangs. He has not been afforded any rehabilitation programs or schooling. “The weird thing about this all is that I am coming home regardless of getting the transfer. My release date is 2011. If I do not get the transfer I will have zero rehabilitation and never get fingerprinted by Canada,” said Curtis, who intends to go back to school upon his return. “Wouldn’t Peter van Loan (Canada’s public safety minister) want me to receive supervision on parole and programs to help me re-integrate into Canada?” If he did get into trouble with the law in Canada, Curtis would be treated as a first-time offender. “The public safety minister’s tough-on-crime stance really seems short sighted to me.” Van Loan has signed a rejection letter saying that because Curtis’s role was a “money man” and “transporter” in the drug conspiracy, he has “already taken several steps down the road towards involvement in a criminal organization offence. Given the nature of the applicant’s acts, I believe that he may, after the transfer, commit a criminal organization offence.” But according to U.S. authorities, Curtis was not, in fact, the “money man” — rather a courier for the money man in the Miami cocaine conspiracy. In a sentencing hearing, U.S. authorities described Curtis as a “minor participant.” His U.S. lawyer, Marc Seitles, has worked on several international transfer cases, and says “Of all the countries, I cannot believe that Canada, a country seemingly known to be more humane than the United States, won’t let one of its Canadian citizens come home, especially a bright kid like Brent.” In Calgary hockey circles, Curtis is known as a former elite player who, despite his career setback, went on to volunteer as a triple-A coaching assistant to help young athletes get good enough to make the NHL. In a letter of support filed with a U.S. court for a sentencing hearing, Jim Finney, a coach for Minor Midget AAA Blackhawks, wrote about the impact Curtis had as a volunteer coach on the team: “The passion that Brent showed for each of the kids will stay with them for the rest of their lives. In a volunteer position such as this one, the rewards were not financial, but rather emotional. Brent was emotionally invested in the team, and that was abundantly clear to anyone that saw him.” Donna Cornaccia, the team’s director, said that Curtis has a “genuineness about him which is imperative when dealing with youth, they have the ability to see through a false presentation and can quickly identify when an adult is not being sincere. Brent has had a huge positive impact on many of these young adults. He has been a confidant and a trustworthy person for whom these youth can go to if needed … Brent is a compassionate, kind and considerate individual whom I am proud to know.” Curtis not only had a reputation as a tough hockey player in Calgary, but made a point of publicly speaking out against drugs — especially when it came to his sister’s “druggie” friends. As an athlete, he repeatedly told his sister to stay clear of drugs. The son of a high school teacher, Curtis became a day trader at the age of 25, only to find out he wasn’t that good at it. “Unfortunately, I had trouble earning a living and made the horrible error of trying to make fast, illegal money,” he said. Through an old friend, Curtis, at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, was recruited in 2007 to be the wheelman for the purchaser. He drove the car to a Miami parking lot, where they met the cocaine dealer who was actually a police informant. Then, after the purchaser tested a sample of the buy, the police swooped in and arrested him, along with Curtis. The Alberta man is one of about 12 Canadians doing time in California City prison, which houses predominantly Mexican criminals, and since the crackdown on drug cartels, warring gangs have rioted, according to Curtis and another Canadian inmate who spoke to the Citizen. The inmates say that in the past three months, the prison has been locked down a total of 47 days, meaning they spend about 23 hours a day inside their cells, where they are also fed. The inmates say all 12 Canadians have written the Canadian government for relief without success. “We have been in the middle of a Mexican drug cartel war which has spilled into the prison. We all fear for our safety and if or when one of us does get hurt, no one can say that we did not warn them,” Curtis said. Van Loan said he is not at liberty to comment on specific cases.

July 19, 2006 LA Daily News
A Tennessee-based company that operates a prison in California City is starting environmental studies for an adjoining 550-bed prison in anticipation of vying for a contract to house state inmates. Corrections Corporation of America is starting environmental studies examining the impacts of a 200,000-square-foot prison. Citing sensitivity for a potential customer and the competitive process, a CCA spokesman said it was too early to talk about costs of such a facility or staffing. "The state issued a request for proposals to build and operate a community correctional facility," said CCA spokesman Steve Owen. "As part of our preliminary work, we are preparing the environmental studies. It is still very preliminary to say what the state will ultimately pursue."

January 13, 2003
With 29 years experience in corrections work for both the government and private sector, Warden Percy Pitzer is looking forward to hanging his hat Monday in the office of his own consulting company.  Pitzer's resignation as warden of the California City Correctional Center became effective Friday, his last day at the prison he has stood watch over since June 2000.  "I'm leaving on very good terms with (Corrections Corporation of America)," Pitzer said. "I want to do something on my own."  On Monday, Warden Charles Gilkey, recently retired from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, begins his stint at the California City Correctional Center.  Also on Monday, Pitzer, who spent 25 years with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and four years with CCA, officially opens Creative Corrections in Las Vegas (email: createcorrection@aol.com). He plans to provide consulting services with corrections departments throughout the West, and establish programs to educate inmates and reduce the cost of incarceration.  (The Bakersfield Californian)

October 10, 2002
In a move hailed as historic by private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America and representatives of the Mexican government, an agreement was signed Monday to establish a Mexican high school program at the California City Correctional Center.  (Bakersfield California)

February 7, 2002
A 42-year-old inmate at the California City Corrections Center was in serious condition Thursday evening at Kern Medical Center after suffering a stab wound to his neck on Wednesday, officials said.  The private facility since September 2000 has operated on a federal contract for inmates, he said. About 95 percent of its inmates are serving sentences for drug and deportation crimes.   The prison is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, which is based in Nashville, Tenn.  (The Bakersfield Californian)

California Department of Corrections
Jun 26, 2019 sacbee.com
California ends its last out-of-state private prison contract

California has ended its reliance on out-of-state private prisons, the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced on Tuesday. Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman for the department, said the final 33 inmates were transferred out of a private prison in Arizona, after hundreds more were redirected to California facilities during the last several months. At its peak, the La Palma Correctional Facility housed 3,100 inmates who were sentences for crimes in California, Waters said. California at one point had contracts with five other out-of-state detention centers. The La Palma site is managed by CoreCivic, a Tennessee-based company that oversees private detention facilities for state and federal agencies. California does not plan to renew the contract, officials from the corrections department said. California corrections Secretary Ralph Diaz called the use of out-of-state prisons a “temporary solution” to substantial overcrowding issues in the mid-2000s. “Due to meaningful prison reforms, we have been able to bring our inmates back to California and closer to their families,” Diaz said in a news release. Following complaints of overcrowding, a special panel of three federal judges ordered California to reduce the inmate population to within 137.5 percent of the state’s total design capacity. In a 5-4 decision in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the court-mandated population limit. California’s total inmate population now stands about 125,000 — 135 percent of design capacity. In 2006, at the peak of overcrowding, California had 173,479 prison inmates. During his inaugural address, Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed to “continue the fight against over-incarceration and over-crowding in our prisons” and “end the outrage of private prisons once and for all.”

Jul 6, 2016 motherjones.com
Former Guard Launches Hunger Strike to Protest Private Prison Company
When the Corrections Corporation of America bought two halfway houses in San Diego for $36 million in 2013, the company seemed committed to maintaining the status quo. CCA said it hoped guards and other employees at the facilities, known as "residential reentry" centers, would stay on. The company also announced that it would continue operating the facilities under the old owner's name, Corrections Alternatives, due to its "strong and positive reputation." Yet according to a former guard, CCA's acquisition led to cutbacks in staff, food, and programming meant to help inmates reintegrate into the community. "The transition was ridiculous," says Mark Bartlett, who worked at the Ocean View reentry facility until he was fired in 2015. "It's turned into a business where they're cutting corners on everything. Whether it's with cutting staff on payroll, cutting food, the lack of nutrition, cutting programming." Bartlett, a 33-year-old who served as an Army prison guard in Afghanistan and grew up near the San Diego facility, kicked off a hunger strike on Tuesday evening to protest what he sees as poor conditions at Ocean View. He and a group of local activists have drawn up a list of demands, complied with the input of current inmates. Their top demand is that San Diego County (as well as federal and state agencies) ends its contracts with CCA. Bartlett says he will not eat until the demands are met. While he was a guard at Ocean View, Bartlett says he began reporting issues, including forged documentation of searches and falsified hours spent training guards, to the facility's director and to CCA's human resources office. He says took a "stress leave" from his job last August after he found that working in the prison was triggering his PTSD. When he couldn't set a date to return to work, he says, the company let him go. Bartlett doesn't have records documenting the alleged conditions inside Ocean View. He is demanding that the federal Bureau of Prisons release its audits of the facility, and that San Diego police and fire departments disclose community complaints about Ocean View, as well as records of emergency calls there. He is also demanding official investigations of staffing levels, narcotics use, sanitation, and medical care at Ocean View. (CCA's spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.) CCA, the country's second largest private prison operator, leases the reentry facility at Ocean View, which houses local, state, and federal inmates. It also owns Boston Avenue, a federal reentry facility in San Diego, and the Otay Mesa Detention Facility, a 1,500-bed federal immigration detention center south of the city. Its acquisition of the Ocean View and Boston Avenue facilities in 2013 was its first foray into the business of halfway houses. Since then, its investment in the sector has grown. It currently owns or runs 25 halfway houses with more than 5,000 beds in six states. Inmates assigned to halfway houses are typically nearing the end of their sentences. Some are allowed to leave the facility to go work, while others prepare for employment in training programs and counseling. Catherine Mendoca, an anti-police brutality activist who will fast alongside Bartlett, wonders whether CCA's San Diego facilities are fulfilling their promise to help inmates prepare for freedom. "If they're getting proper nutrition, if they're getting opportunities to actually get a job—all of these are actually questionable," Mendoca says. "Is this actual rehabilitation? Or is this something to profit off the backs of those incarcerated?"

Jun 2, 2015 latimes.com
Prison overseer says inmate medical care lacking in private lockups

Prison receiver says private operators come up short on inmate care Though healthcare within the state's 34 prisons continues to improve, problems persist in contract prisons where the state pays to house its overflow inmate population. "Little progress has been made in resolving, much less improving," the care provided to 4,200 inmates in seven contracted lockups, medical receiver Clark Kelso said in a report filed Monday with the three federal judges who oversee the state's prison system. Four of the seven prisons in Kern and San Bernardino counties are owned by the GEO Group; three are owned by small communities. California also houses more than 8,000 inmates in private prisons outside the state. To save money, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to move them to the contract prisons within California, a move that Kelso warned could cause even greater problems providing medical care at those facilities. The worst problems were at GEO's women's prison in McFarland, said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for Kelso. The prison holds 231 women who are within a year of release. The state pays GEO $9 million a year to house the inmates at McFarland. Mr. Kelso is making so much money with this receivership job that of course he is going to continue looking for things to study. I bet he'll milk this job for years more to come. According to Kelso's report, inmates at the GEO prison went without a physician for a month. The report cites all seven contract prisons for a "lack of accountability" and failure to employ qualified physicians to meet their state requirements to have doctors available at least five days a week. As a result, Kelso said, inmates with health problems have had to be returned to state-operated prisons for their care. Medical care at the state's own prisons continue to improve, Kelso's report notes, and his office is now preparing to return healthcare management to the state, one prison at a time. The independent Office of Inspector General in April deemed inmate care at Folsom State Prison adequate, positioning it for final review by Kelso's office and a return to state control. The state corrections department provided a brief written response to Kelso's report, saying the agency was "pleased" the document noted progress in overall healthcare. The statement said the agency is "working collaboratively" with Kelso's office "to improve the delivery of care in the" contract prisons. The GEO Group owns or manages 106 prisons in the United States and other countries, holding 85,000 inmates. It reported revenue of $427 million for the first three months of the year. Medical staff at the McFarland prison referred calls to the Florida-based company's corporate offices. A spokesman provided a written statement that the company's prisons "have always strived to provide high-quality medical services consistent with strict contractual requirements and industry-leading standards." The company will work with California to "ensure consistent delivery of quality medical services," the corporate statement said. The state contract with the GEO Group requires the private prison operator to provide inmates with "essential health care services," including basic treatment for illnesses and injuries and medication, as well as 24-hour access to emergency medical and mental health care, daily access to nurses, and a primary care provider available at least five days a week. The contract allows the state to seek damages if the prison operator does not meet minimum healthcare staffing requirements. The corrections department will not seek damages, said spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman. Instead, she said, the agency is asking contract operators to increase the amount of time doctors and nurses are available, while revising training and auditing requirements.

Apr 11, 2015 thinkprogress.org
Hundreds of nurses who work for the for-profit prison health care company Corizon in Alameda County, California are threatening to go on strike if the company refuses to put enough nurses on duty and give them enough resources to adequately care for the thousands of men incarcerated there, especially after inmates have died on the company’s watch. ThinkProgress spoke this week to one of the jail nurses, who we will identify by the pseudonym Clara because she fears losing her job. Clara, who works as a Registered Nurse at the jail, described abysmal conditions including broken or dirty equipment, rushed procedures and severe understaffing. For example, when inmates are first booked, nurses examine them and ask them about their full medical history. Clara said Corizon’s procedures in this phase, designed to save time and money, puts everyone at risk. “The patients come in right off the street. They’re often under the influence of drugs. You don’t know what their mental state is,” she said. “They’ve got three nurses seeing three inmates at once in one little cramped room, maybe 15 by 15 feet. So there’s no confidentiality. One inmate is sitting so close he could touch the next one, and we’re asking them very personal questions, like if they’re HIV positive. HIPAA [privacy] laws are totally violated there.” In a statement to ThinkProgress, Corizon asserted they “meet [their] staffing obligations” in Alameda and are “very proud of the skilled and compassionate staff” who work in these facilities. “While we are not at liberty to discuss ongoing negotiations, we can assure you we are working closely with our union partners, and share a common goal of providing quality healthcare to patients,” the Corizon Health statement said. Clara explained that Corizon keeps the medical team constantly short-staffed, so that a single nurse is in charge of more than 20 “acute” patients at once, all of whom “need to be monitored very closely.” “At any other hospital, we’d be caring for five at the most, but here it’s sometimes 23 patients and one nurse. It’s unsafe,” she said. “Our inmate population is getting older and older and we have a lot of people with hypertension and diabetes, a lot of dental issues, seizure disorders. And, of course, the drug and alcohol issues that people come in with. Right now we’re so severely short-staffed that normally we have a pool of people to call if someone calls off sick, but we’re now using those people as full staff. When someone calls off sick, we have no pool to call from.” Clara said one consequence of not having enough nurses on the cell block floor comes every morning with the distribution of medication. “We’re supposed to give medication to the inmates by 8 a.m., but sometimes they get them as late as 11 a.m., and inmates aren’t getting seen in a timely manner.” Many lawsuits against Corizon from across the country are related to delays in getting proper medication or medical treatment. Though Clara says she’s never seen any intentional abuse like that alleged in a recent investigation in Fresno County, California, she said giving nurses and nurse practitioners the resources they need would make them better able to care for their inmate patients. The negotiation between Corizon and the National Union of Healthcare Workers has dragged on for nearly a year, stuck in disagreements over the high cost of health insurance for nurses, and low staffing levels leading to unsafe conditions for medical staff and jail inmates alike. Hanging over the tense situation is a growing cloud of lawsuits filed against Corizon for abuse, neglect and the wrongful death of those in their care. The National Union of Healthcare Workers filed a strike notice last December, but a federal mediator asked for “cooling off period” to allow both sides to come to the table. Months later, little has progressed, and nurses are once again circulating a petition in support of a possible strike. Within the next week, if the members vote in favor, they will submit the petition to the county sheriff and Board of Supervisors to alert them of their decision. As of now, the union reports “almost 100 percent support” for a strike. The nurses hopes this will pressure Corizon to meet their demands. “Nurses never want to strike, but this is such an extreme situation that they’re willing to that draw attention to bad provider,” union president Sal Rosselli told ThinkProgress. “The staffing situation in the jail is in crisis right now. RNs are responsible for giving medications to more than 100 patients a day, at a time when Corizon’s profits are unprecedented. It’s time for Corizon to make less of a profit.”


Jan 21, 2014 latimes.com

SACRAMENTO -- Labor unions, Hollywood's glitterati, California philanthropists and a private company profiting from Gov. Jerry Brown's fight over prison crowding are among 72 top donors who have maxed out on contributions to Brown's reelection campaign even before he officially runs. Brown's campaign fund reports receiving two $27,200 checks in early January from the GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Fla. The company in September signed contracts with the state worth $150 million to house 1,400 inmates in two low-security facilities within California, in Adelanto and in McFarland. That's more than double the $25,900 that GEO gave to Brown late in the 2010 race, an amount it also gave to Brown's competitor, Meg Whitman. DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife, Marilyn Katzenberg, together have given $108,800 toward Brown's 2014 race, heading a list of 10 maxed-out Hollywood interests that, combined, gave $544,000. Eighteen labor unions have contributed the limit, together providing almost $980,000. Gambling outlets are also betting on Brown. Nevada-based Station Casinos, which seeks to open a casino north of Fresno, gave $54,400 to the governor's war chest as did martial arts promoter Zuffa. Both companies are owned by the same brothers. Brown had approved the casino project, but neighboring tribes oppose it and have put a referendum on the November 2014 ballot to kill the project. Brown continues to be coy about his possible bid for reelection and has yet to officially announce his plans. However, Brown's 2014 campaign fund has been collecting money since late 2010, according to reports filed with the Secretary of State.

 

Jan 15, 2014 latimes.com

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown plans to increase California's use of private prison cells and leases with local jails even if federal judges agree to give the state more time to meet crowding limits within its own lockups, his budget documents show. Detailed expenditure records released after Brown announced the highlights of his proposed budget for 2014-15 show that the governor expects to increase the use of outside prison contracts. His plan sets aside nearly $500 million to pay for and administer prison contracts to take nearly 17,700 inmates, increases of $100 million and 4,700 prisoners over the current year. A little more than half of those prisons are out of state. The rest are community correctional centers, which could be run by local governments or private prison operators. The governor's planning documents show that even with that increase in spending, California prisons would remain 3,000 inmates over what federal judges say they can safely hold and still provide adequate healthcare and psychiatric services. The documents do not show how Brown plans to address further growth of the state's prison population. Projections released by the corrections department show that by 2019 the state will have 26,000 more inmates than its prisons would be able to hold under federal crowding caps. That amount is equivalent to the population of seven of the state's current prisons combined. The state likely would have to rely on private prisons and other alternative placements to house those additional prisoners, a practice already in use. The costs of the governor's planned prison contracts vary, from $26,000-a-year to house a prisoner out of state, to $30,200 within California —  far below the $62,400-a-year California will spend on those in its own prisons. However, contractors take only the healthiest inmates, leaving California with the costlier and higher-risk population. Budget records show California employs one prison worker for every two inmates, while private prisons outside of the state have one worker for every 36 inmates.


October 24, 2013

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown is back on the doorstep of the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking permission to go ahead with contracts that would send thousands more California inmates to private prisons out of state. The governor on Thursday told federal judges in California that he is appealing their order blocking him from leasing the new beds while the administration is in talks with inmates' lawyers on long-term solutions to prison crowding. The governor's lawyers at the same time announced a similar appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that would be taken up if the Supreme Court refuses to hear Brown's case. The governor's filings cite California's recent legislation approving expansion of private prison contracts, along with continued state funding of probation programs meant to lower crime rates. Based on that law, Brown had asked federal judges for an extra three years to end prison overcrowding. The judges have approved only a two-month delay, until late February. They also ordered the negotiations with prisoners' lawyers. "The state is appealing to protect California's right to implement SB 105 [the new law], in the event that California is not granted additional time to comply with the court-ordered prison population cap," corrections spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman said in a written statement. Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he viewed the governor's appeal as a "procedural move" to protect his legal options. "It's my expectation that the administration will continue good faith negotiations to reach a durable solution as we prioritized" in the legislation, Steinberg said in an email. Nevertheless, Steinberg renewed his opposition to more use of private prisons, calling them a "waste of taxpayer resources" that "fails to address the true reason for continuous overcrowding. "Tax dollars will be better spent assuring that people who leave jail and prison have the tools to avoid returning," he said. "That is the end the state should continue to seek with the court's help." The Supreme Court earlier this month refused to hear Brown's second appeal of the prison population cap.


10/15/2013 menafn.com

SACRAMENTO, Oct 15, 2013 (Menafn - Los Angeles Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Gov. Jerry Brown has signed another private prison deal to take inmates out of California's crowded prisons. The arrangement, announced Tuesday morning by Corrections Corp. of America, requires the state to pay 28.5 million a year for what is now a federal detention facility in California City. That prison can hold 2,304 inmates. CCA in a statement to stockholders said the three-year contract requires the Tennessee-based prison operator to pay the first 10 million in needed upgrades to accommodate California's higher-security inmates. After that, the statement said, California taxpayers will foot the bill. The deal will cause CCA to incur operating losses at first as it moves out federal immigration detainees and prisoners held for the U.S. Marshals Service to make room for the California prisoners who will arrive in December. In September, California signed a 30-million, three-year contract with Geo Group for 1,400 prison beds at two facilities within the state. California is under a federal court order to reduce its prison crowding by late January, and judges have threatened to order the mass release of thousands of inmates if the state does not comply. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday morning announced it would not hear Brown's appeal of that order. At the same time, the federal judges who imposed the population cap have temporarily blocked Brown from signing deals to send those inmates to private prisons outside of the state, and ordered the state to negotiate with prisoners' lawyers over other possible remedies. California has almost 9,000 prisoners in lockups owned by CCA in three other states.

 

Aug 23, 2013 Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown is negotiating a deal that would staff a private prison in Kern County with state guards and give California its 35th lockup. "It's a win-win," said Joe Baumann, finance director for the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., the state's powerful union for prison guards. Under the arrangement, the state would lease a medium-security prison in California City, in the Mojave Desert, owned by Corrections Corp. of America, and then operate the prison as if it was a state-owned facility. The prison now houses federal immigration detainees. The proposal to lease the private prison remains under negotiation. If an agreement is reached, it would add a 2,300 beds to the state prison system -- a major step in the state's efforts to abide by a federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding. California is required to remove 9,600 inmates from its existing 34 prisons by the end of the year. Baumann said it would provide some 700 to 800 jobs for corrections officers, but most of those employees would come from other state prisons as the state reduces its staffing needs there. "It's not a huge net gain," he said. The agreement also would reduce the state's need to lease prison beds from non-unionized private prisons. CCA already houses about 9,000 California inmates in its facilities in Mississippi, Arizona and Oklahoma. "CCA has a really long history of not properly staffing its prisons, so it’s better for everybody that we take that facility over," Baumann said. CCA officials were not immediately available for comment Thursday. Brown has until the end of the year to shrink the state's prison population, and his administration has stressed it will try to find enough outside prison beds to meet the court's targets. The state also is discussing potential lease agreements with private prison operator Geo Group as well as Alameda County and the Kern County town of Shafter. The governor has confirmed he will soon ask lawmakers for money to fund that prison expansion, potentially eating into a hard-won budget surplus and offsetting a two-year move by Brown to shrink prison spending. Assembly budget chairwoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) said Thursday she has not yet seen specifics but expects a proposal from the governor soon. Skinner said she opposes any long-term expansion of the state prison system. "My concern would want to make sure it is temporary and not permanent," she said. There was no immediate response from Brown’s press office or from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. [For the record, 3:11 p.m. Aug. 22: A previous version of this post said California had prisoners in private prisons in Arkansas. The correct state is Oklahoma.]


08/06/2013 thereporter.com

SACRAMENTO (AP) -- California will seek to move thousands of inmates to private prisons in a last-ditch attempt to avoid releasing violent offenders to ease prison crowding, the state corrections chief said Monday. The state will take the step after the U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to delay a lower court order requiring California to free nearly 10,000 inmates by year's end, Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard told The Associated Press. Beard said the state will soon ask a lower federal court to permit the state to house at least 4,000 inmates in privately operated cells in California and other states. There are enough additional beds available to avoid most if not all of the early re-leases that would otherwise occur, he said. The beds are in two community correctional facilities within California, in private prisons in other states, and in several county jails with excess capacity, he said. The state already houses nearly 9,000 inmates in private prisons in other states. Although it's expensive to do, Beard says it's a better option than freeing inmates before they complete their full terms. California already reduced its prison population by more than 46,000 inmates since 2006, the majority because of a 2-year-old state law that sentences lower-level offenders to county jails instead of prisons. "We don't have an awful lot of these low risk, less serious people left in our system and so we're very concerned about who we might have to release if we go that way," Beard said in a telephone interview. State officials don't like paying to keep offenders in out-of-state prisons where they are far from home, yet, "I'd prefer to do more of that than to early release inmates," he said. Beard said the lower court would have to give its permission for the state to add more prison beds as an alternative to other approved options that would lead to early releases. The alternatives include expanding good-time credits leading to early release for more than 4,000 inmates and granting early parole to 400 sick and elderly inmates. The state has said it could take those steps along with other measures, including expanding firefighting camps, opening a new health care facility in Stockton, and slowing the return of inmates housed in other states. The options together would be more than enough to meet the courts' requirement that the state reduce the prison population to about 110,000 inmates, yet each also has financial or public safety complications. The court would have to waive state law and the state constitution to permit the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to spend money to house the inmates in private facilities without an appropriation from the Legislature, Beard said. He said the administration is likely to ask lawmakers to approve spending the money. Legislative leaders have said they are reluctant to do so, but Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, told reporters Monday that lawmakers plan to work with Gov. Jerry Brown on the state's response. Leaders of both political parties and in both the Assembly and Senate must discuss with the Democratic governor "what all is possible and what there is the will to get done," Perez said.

July 12, 2012 Sacramento Bee
With severe overcrowding easing in state lockups, California is winding down a controversial deal with the nation's biggest private prison operator and will bring thousands of inmates housed in facilities as far away as Mississippi back to California within the next few years. Currently, some 9,500 state inmates are serving sentences in prisons in Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma operated by the Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America. As part of a strategic plan announced in April, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will transfer those inmates back to California facilities by 2016. The return of the first group, 600 inmates housed in Arizona, will begin "immediately," said Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate. Another 4,000 prisoners will return to California in 2014. Steve Owen, spokesman for the Corrections Corporation, confirmed the company agreed to modify its contract to lower the total number of California inmates housed in out-of-state facilities from 9,588 to 9,038 for this year. The contract guarantees 90 percent occupancy. The revised contract will reduce California's fee to the private prison group by $67 million for the current fiscal year, according to corrections spokeswoman Dana Simas. The state will save another $14 million in 2012 by cutting staff positions for the program, which is administered in Sacramento. California is paying the Corrections Corporation $61 to $72 per prison bed per day, making the original contract worth more than $280 million for 2012-13, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office and corrections department figures.

July 5, 2012 Nashville Scene
As the state of California continues to move forward with its plan to "recall" nearly 9,500 prisoners from out-of-state private correctional facilities, it appears the process doesn't bode well for Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America's bottom line. According to an analysis conducted by the Private Corrections Institute, the move represents a significant loss of revenue for the nation's largest private prison company. Here's an excerpt from the release, authored by Alex Friedmann, longtime CCA critic and president of the PCI (emphasis Pith's): CCA failed to mention that the reduction in contract beds coincided with the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s realignment plan which intends to phase out all 9,588 out- of-state beds within 4 years. According to a CDCR report released last April, the realignment plan will “eliminate the use of all out-of-state contract facilities by 2015-16.” The CDCR report noted that returning all California prisoners from out-of-state CCA facilities would “result in a reduction of $318 million” from the state’s general fund. The report specified that California’s out-of-state prisoner population will be reduced to 9,038 by 2012-13 – which has already occurred according to CCA’s recent press release – then to 4,969 by 2013-14; to 1,864 by 2014-15; and to 531 by 2015-16, with a complete phase out by the end of 2016. According to CCA’s 2011 annual report, California accounted for 13% of the company’s total revenue last year; thus, the loss of 9,588 contract beds to house California state prisoners will represent a significant decrease in revenue for the company. As noted in CCA’s annual report, “The return of the California inmates to the state of California would have a significant adverse impact on our financial position, results of operations, and cash flows.” This piggy-backs on a report by Daily Finance that questions the conventional wisdom of purchasing stock in private prisons, which have historically acted as dividend-generating machines for those shareholders who can stomach the nature of CCA's "product." Citing increased media scrutiny and declining prison populations, the Daily Finance report offers an insight into the company's potential transformation into a real estate investment trust, aka REIT. Since REITs are required by law to funnel 90 percent of their taxable income to investors, it could be now is a good time to take the money and run far away from an industry facing decline for the first time in its history. Corrections Corporation of America (NYS: CXW) and GEO Group (NYS: GEO) hold half of all prison contracts and collectively pulled in $3.3 billion in revenue for fiscal year 2011. In an industry that lives by economies of scale, CCA enjoys a net profit margin of 9% — nearly double that of GEO Group. However, both companies have seen decreases in net profit margins over the last four years, even as revenue has consistently risen. This is due in large part to decreases in prison occupancy rates. Like for Superman, less crime means less business for these companies. As public outcry continues to grow, contracts have already begun to flutter away. More than a third of CCA's contracts and approximately half of GEO's contracts expire in 2012, creating even more opportunities for governments to make their great escape. With no growth and no competitive advantage, it's only a matter of time until financial markets follow suit. Private prisons make neither sense nor cents, so make your break today.

June 29, 2012 Marketwatch
CCA (Corrections Corporation of America), the nation's largest partnership corrections provider to government agencies, announced today that it has agreed to modify its existing contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to reduce the total number of inmates CCA houses for California from up to 9,588 to an average daily population of 9,038 for the upcoming fiscal year ending June 30, 2013. CCA currently houses approximately 9,200 inmates from the state of California. As a result, CCA expects to begin ramping down the California out-of-state population to align with the CDCR's new budgeted level beginning in July 2012. The reduction is expected to be completed by October 1, 2012. The contractual 90% occupancy guarantee will be adjusted to reflect the lower contract capacity. All other terms of the contract remain unchanged. The full-year impact of the contract modification on earnings per share is estimated to be approximately $0.04. However, at the present time, we are not revising our 2012 guidance, but will consider this and other factors when we provide updated guidance as part of our second quarter earnings release in August.

April 23, 2012 Street Insider
Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW) is under heavy pressure early Tuesday which appears to be related to reports that larger customer California announced major overhaul of its prison system. The state is seeking to cut billions in spending, cancel construction projects, close one lockup and bring back 9,500 inmates housed in other states, according to the LA Times. "It's a massive change," said Matthew Cate, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The State of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation accounted for 13% of Corrections Corporation of America total revenue for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2011.

April 23, 2012 AP
California prison officials on Monday released a wide-ranging reorganization plan that calls for halting a $4 billion prison-construction program and bringing back all inmates held out of state. The master plan outlines the department's recommendations for ending years of federal court oversight, overcrowding, poor inmate medical and mental health treatment, and soaring budgets. It comes at a time when the nation's largest state prison system is being transformed by ongoing state budget deficits, federal court orders and a realignment ordered by the governor that shifts its focus to the most violent and dangerous offenders. The plan was to be discussed later Monday at a Capitol news conference. The changes are possible because of a state law that took effect Oct. 1 that shifts lower-level offenders from state prisons to county jails. That shift is the main consequence of a federal court order requiring the state to reduce its prison population as a way to improve inmate medical care. Lowering the inmate population eliminates the need for $4.1 million in construction projects and will let the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reduce its annual budget by $1.5 billion, according to the document. The plan calls for returning to state prisons by 2016 about 9,500 inmates who are currently housed in private prisons in other states. That alone would save the state $318 million a year.

January 25, 2012 The Capitol Morning Report
California's enormous budget problem is making it difficult for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to comply with the court-ordered reduction in its prison population, Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate told 80 Sacramento Press Club luncheon guests Tuesday. But, said Cate, "It's getting done." Cate said the inmate population is 200 percent over capacity, and the goal is to reduce that to 137.5 percent. The major effort now --called Realignment-- is aimed at moving less violent inmates into county facilities. But the state budget problem is getting in the way. Cate said some counties want remuneration from the state for their added costs, and the state doesn't have the money. "There are 58 counties and each has their own way of doing business. But if we can get to the point where we have space to move prisoners, we can operate more efficiently. Right now, if we want to move a prisoner with a less violent history into a facility with similar histories, often there are no available beds." One consequence of overcrowding is more overtime for prison staff, and that increase costs, Cate said, but the realignment program is reducing overtime needs and thus reducing costs. Asked about the Correction Department's treatment of juvenile offenders, Cate said the governor "had expressed concern that we were investing in education, elementary and secondary and the college level, and part of having a leaner, meaner prison system means that we have the ability to spend money on such programs." Another questioner queried Cate on the state program of shipping inmates to prisons in other states. He responded that the department is following the governor's request to end the program because, he said, "People in Arizona, Mississippi and North Carolina are earning a living dealing with these offenders when those jobs could be here.

November 26, 2011 The Daily Press
The state has canceled its contract with the privately operated Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility, putting about 150 workers out of a job. Desert View's contract termination officially takes effect Wednesday, though prison employees told the Daily Press that The Geo Group Inc. has been preparing to deactivate the prison at Rancho and Aster roads since May. The 643-bed medium-security prison is shuttering its doors as part of California’s realignment plan, which responds to federal orders to reduce state prison overcrowding by shifting responsibility for tens of thousands of low-level offenders to county governments. To help deal with the new influx of inmates under local supervision, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is encouraging counties to enter into their own contracts with more than a dozen former CCFs. The CCFs had generally housed inmates with sentences shorter than 18 months, parole violators and offenders with scheduled release dates — the same types of nonviolent, non-sexual or non-serious offenders now serving out sentences in county jails instead of state prisons. “We hope that counties contract with these facilities to save jobs and ease inmate housing concerns that many counties may have,” CDCR spokeswoman Dana Toyama said. But San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials say they’re not planning to privatize jail beds. The math just doesn’t pencil out, according to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman. “The issue with taking advantage of private prisons or private jail facilities has come up over and over again throughout the years; however, it’s not something that the county is considering,” Bachman said. “It’s too costly and there’s just not the funding really even to consider something like that.” The California State Association of Counties has created a document outlining potential beds at the former CCFs, but counties statewide have been hesitant to exercise that option. The Geo Group had operated six of the nine privately run CCFs that lost their state contracts, according to CSAC. Five other CCFs were run by local governments. The facilities ranged from around 100 employees to more than 600, according to Toyama.

May 29, 2011 Fog City Journal
On May 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Plata, affirmed lower court rulings that ordered California to reduce its prison population to 137.5 percent, or to 109,805 from 143,436 prisoners within two years. (California’s prisons are designed to house a population of just under 80,000.) The decision was based on evidence that prisoners were being deprived of basic medical care caused by overcrowding. The Court noted, for example, that there were high vacancy rates for medical care (20 percent for surgeons) and medical health care (54.1 percent for psychiatrists). And the state had not budgeted for sufficient staff and, even if vacant staff positions were filled, there is not enough space for them. The Supreme Court ruled that the state had violated the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the infliction of “cruel and unusual punishments.” Governor Jerry Brown’s response to prison overcrowding is to shift low-risk inmates from state-run prisons to counties as set forth in Assembly Bill 109 signed into law last month. But, of course, the legislature and counties must find the money to move inmates to county facilities, many of which are already overcrowded, to comply with the Supreme Court decision without putting criminals back on the street. AB 109 will be at best a short-term solution to California’s overcrowded prison system. Why is the prison system overcrowded? California’s tough-on-crime policies have led to the passage of hundreds of laws that increased prison terms. One of the most significant was the 1977 policy mandating that every prisoner leaving the system get paroled resulting in thousands of ex-convicts being sent back to jail each year for minor parole violations. Last year’s change in parole laws, which allows some non-violent offenders to avoid parole and others to avoid getting sent back to jail for minor violations, was a step in the right direction. In 1994, California passed the three-strikes law, which requires those convicted of any three felonies be sentenced to 25 years to life. There is also a two-strike provision, as well, which requires hose convicted of a second felony to receive a doubled sentence. As the 25-year-to-life inmates increase, California will be housing a disproportionate share of elderly inmates. California has a 70 percent recidivism rate. What is needed is a support network for inmates reentering society. Unfortunately, rehabilitation and drug treatment are severely underfunded. In 2000, Proposition 36 was passed by the voters that permanently changed state law to allow qualifying defendants convicted of non-violent drug possession offenses to receive a probationary sentence in lieu of incarceration. As a condition of probation defendants are required to participate in and complete a licensed and/or certified community drug treatment program. If the defendant fails to complete this program or violates any other term or condition of their probation, then probation can be revoked and the defendant may be required to serve an additional sentence which may include incarceration. Proposition 36 is not retroactive, meaning that defendants who had to attend unlicensed drug rehabs prior to Prop 36 are not afforded the opportunity to have their cases reheard in court. One UCLA study found that convicted drug users had become more likely to be arrested on new drug charges since the proposition took effect. AB 900, passed in 2000, provides authorization to build up to 40,000 state prison beds and up to 13,000 local jail beds in two phases. Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange, the chairman of a state Assembly committee overseeing the state’s prison construction efforts remarked about AB 900: “The department is a shambles. They couldn’t build their way out of a paper bag. Everyone has a reason to be skeptical. Everyone is holding their breath, hoping that this time they’re successful.” Clearly, AB 900 was not the answer to prison reform. Otherwise, California would not have been a defendant in Brown v. Plata. Prison overcrowding has been a problem for years but the California legislature has lacked the political will to implement necessary reforms. Will California be forced to turn to private, for-profit prisons to help solve its overcrowding prison problem? Many believe that government programs — social security for example — would run more efficiently and cheaply by the private sector. This may or may not be true. However, recent research by the Arizona Department of Corrections indicates that this is not necessarily so for private, for-profit prisons. This research based on Arizona’s own facts and figures shows that privately-operated prisons can cost more than state-run prisons, even though they often do not accept the sickest, costliest inmates. Arizona law stipulates that private prisons must create “cost savings,” but the research shows that inmates in private prisons cost as much as $1,600 more per year, while many cost about the same as they do in state-run prisons. Similarly, a University of Utah team reviewed years of research and concluded in a 2007 report that “cost savings from privatizing prisons are not guaranteed and appear minimal.” For many years, private prisons have been a hot issue in California. While Texas and Florida have embraced privatization as a supplement to state-run institutions, California has resisted. In 2002, former Governor Gray Davis ended California’s experiment with privately operated prisons, fulfilling his promise to the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCOA) that spent $2.3 million to help elect him to his first term. Davis’ budget proposed closing five of California’s nine private prisons almost immediately and phasing out the rest as their operating contracts expire. He cited budget concerns, saying that the state could save about $5 million by closing the minimum-security facilities. Prisons run by private companies was finally discontinued in 2007 after continued lobbying by the CCOA. California does use private, for-profit facilities for community corrections facilities (seven are in operation today) and various contracted services, including education, vocational training, and substance abuse treatment. Private prisons are making a subtle comeback in California. For example, as the prisons’ population swelled to an all-time high in 2006, former Governor.Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a public safety emergency and then used his emergency powers to begin transferring more than 10,000 inmates to private prisons in other states. California now contracts with for-profit private prison companies to house up to 10,468 inmates in out-of-state facilities. Shortly after Schwarzenegger’s declaration of a public safety emergency, the Reason Foundation, a Los Angeles-based libertarian think-tank that promotes the privatization of government services, and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association issued the so called “Reason-HJTA Report,” which advocated sending 25,000 California inmates to out-of-state for-profit prisons, claiming that would save the state up to $1.8 billion over a five-year period. The Report purports to offer a solution to California’s prison overcrowding crisis. The cost savings touted in this Report were severely criticized by the Private Corrections Institute, a non-profit citizen watchdog group that opposes prison privatization: “The joint Reason-HJTA report is based on sources that are so plagued with conflicts of interest that the results would be laughable if they weren’t masquerading as credible research.” I believe that California will turn to private, for-profit prisons as the long-term solution to prison overcrowding and not necessarily for any purported cost savings, but because California may have no other choice. California cannot build new prisons and/or remodel/expand existing prisons fast enough to keep up with new inmates. Lacking the political will, California will likely take the easy way out by shipping the prisoners to private prisons.

April 11, 2011 Michigan Messenger
Budget problems and changing priorities in California threaten to derail plans to send thousands of inmates to the GEO Group’s private prison in Baldwin. Last year California’s overcrowded prison system agreed to pay The GEO Group $60 million a year to house 2,580 inmates at the company’s North Lake Correctional Facility starting in May. But now California is struggling to close a $15.4 billion deficit and the new Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that would reduce the state prison population by transferring prisoners with short sentences into county jails where they could gradually reintegrate into their communities. The bill, however, won’t take effect until a mechanism for funding the program is established and with budget negotiations stalled in the legislature, it’s unclear how or when that will happen. “We are in a very volatile situation with the budget and legal authority to send inmate out of state is in question,” California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation Undersecretary Scott Hernan said in an interview Friday. Hernan said that at this point the dept. is still planning to begin sending 130 inmates a month to Baldwin by plane starting next month, and hopes to be able to continue plans with GEO. Ryan Sherman is spokesman for the California Correctional Peace Officer Association, which represents state corrections officers and opposes plans to ship inmates out of state. “This is a California state department,” he said. “Should they really be trying to send taxpayer dollars and jobs to another state in the middle of a budget crunch?” California is also waiting on delivery of an opinion in a U.S. Supreme Court case that could influence how the state needs to deal with overcrowding issues, he said. This Spring the court is expected to announce it’s opinion in Plata v. Schwarzenegger, a case that examines the legality of a court order that California reduce its prison population in order to address unconstitutional conditions (inadequate medical care) in the corrections system. If the Supreme Court determines that California must reduce its prison population then outsourcing prisoners might be one way to comply with that mandate, Sherman said, though it would be an expensive way to do it. No matter the outcome of the ruling, he said, it may not be wise to begin the process of moving prisoners when a decision is imminent. In Baldwin, training for employees at the prison was delayed last week but the GEO Group refused to give details about the status of plans for the California inmates. The company has said that the deal with California will lead to 500 jobs at the facility by 2014. Joe Baumann is correctional officer at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles and secretary for the group Corrections USA. “I believe there is a very high likelihood that [California inmates] will not go to Michigan,” he said. “A couple county jails — Orange, LA and Fresno — have sizable units empty for budget reasons,” he said. “They’ve got units that are there mothballed. It’s not enough to make a significant dent in prison crowding but it is enough to absorb the inmates that would have gone to Baldwin. LA County has got about 1500 empty beds.” “This puts GEO in a situation where they are fighting counties for money.” The uncertainty around the deal with California is the latest in a series of problems for The GEO Group’s Michigan property. The North Lake Correctional Facility was built as a 500 bed maximum security youth facility but was shut down in 2005 after the state ended its contract with the company amid lawsuits alleging abuse. In 2009 GEO expanded the prison to 1,725 beds in expectation of winning a federal contract to house immigrant detainees but those plans were stopped last year after the federal Bureau of Prisons canceled its request for more space for criminal aliens.

February 10, 2011 Bakersfield Californian
Two Kern County community correctional facilities that were supposed to reopen this month and house hundreds of low-level female inmates will remain closed. The contract awarded last year to The GEO Group to operate the facilities was pulled because of the state's budget woes, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Cassandra Hockenson said Thursday. It costs about twice as much to keep an inmate in a smaller facility compared to a larger one, she said. "It just didn't pencil out and this administration, obviously very concerned about the budget and the cost of reducing the budget deficit, had the programs scrapped," Hockenson said. The McFarland Community Correctional Facility had been slated to reopen Feb. 14 and house 250 inmates. The Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility -- located in Bakersfield -- had been scheduled for a Feb. 7 reopening and was supposed to house 400 inmates. Exact figures on how much the facilities would have cost the state weren't immediately available. GEO Group spokesman Pablo E. Paez was not immediately available for comment.

November 30, 2010 San Francisco Chronicle
California, under pressure to reduce the number of inmates in its crowded prisons, has steadily increased the number of convicts it sends to private institutions outside the state since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger began the program in 2006. The latest deal will ship another 5,800 inmates to private prisons across state lines, bringing the total to more than 15,000. The transfers will begin in May under a contract that runs through June 2013 - nearly halfway through the term of Gov.-elect Jerry Brown. California has a prison population of about 164,000 people, but its corrections facilities are only equipped to house around 100,000. The state is under court order to reduce the inmate population by 40,000 though state officials are challenging the order, and the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case today. Critics of moving prisoners to out-of-state facilities say it does little to relieve the underlying problems that have caused crowded conditions and questioned the timing of the new, no-bid contracts with two private companies. One of the companies houses nearly 10,000 California prisoners. "This is the governor doing what he wants to in the last minutes of his administration," said state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. "It is a way he can, on his watch, knock another 5,000 from the official numbers." When California first signed contracts to ship prisoners over state lines four years ago, it began with 2,260 inmates at a cost of $51 million annually. Now, it is set to pay the companies $360 million a year to house 15,424 prisoners, and spend more than $636 million annually once administrative costs are factored in. The prisons remain woefully crowded: There are 8,200 inmates in "nontraditional" beds such as the gymnasium at San Quentin State Prison. Prison officials hope that, with the new agreements and other efforts, the number could drop to zero. "This has always been viewed as a temporary remedy while we await other fixes, including legislative reform and building additional (prison) capacity," said Scott Kernan, undersecretary for operations at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Consult next governor Critics of California's private prison deals, however, question the timing of the new contracts and whether the state should be using private lockups at all. Don Specter of the Prison Law Office, which filed the crowding lawsuit against the state, said Brown "should be consulted on this important policy development before any long-term decisions are made." It was unclear whether the governor-elect weighed in on the new contracts. A spokesman for Brown declined comment. Kernan, however, said that while the "timing might seem unusual," the state has been in the process of negotiating the new contracts for months. About half of the new inmates - 2,580 - will go to a Michigan facility owned by GEO Group Inc., which signed a new contract with the state earlier this month. The other half are to go to prisons in Colorado and Minnesota, though the state is still negotiating with the owner of those facilities, Corrections Corp. of America. The corrections company already houses 9,941 California inmates and is the nation's largest private prison company. Corrections Corp. of America also was the subject of a recent National Public Radio investigation that alleged that it and other prison companies helped draft and pass a controversial Arizona immigration bill approved earlier this year - a law that could increase inmate population numbers and therefore benefit the private prison industry's bottom line. Corrections Corp. of America denies any involvement, saying in a written statement that the company had "absolutely no involvement whatsoever in drafting or writing the legislation." Alarming practice Still, critics argue that the very practice of making profit-driven companies part of the criminal justice system is alarming. "If you can get over the civil libertarian issue and morality of putting people in prison for profit ... you end up with a market that needs to be fed, which is pretty scary," said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the national Private Corrections Working Group, which advocates against the private prison industry. State lawmakers have also raised questions about safety at the private facilities. According to the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee, which held a hearing on the out-of-state transfer program in January, California prison officials temporarily stationed a staff member at a Mississippi facility, "due to several incidents there including the death of an asthmatic prisoner in 2007 and an incident in October 2009 that left two correctional officers hospitalized, including one with 22 stab wounds." Kernan said a person is no longer stationed full time at the prison, but that teams of state employees travel to all of the facilities almost weekly to monitor conditions. State emergency In 2006, Schwarzenegger issued an emergency proclamation stating that immediate action was needed to prevent "death and harm caused by severe overcrowding." By declaring a state emergency, the governor was able to waive a law that prohibits sending inmates out of state without their consent. The first, three-year contract with Corrections Corp. of America to house about 2,200 inmates was announced just 16 days after the proclamation was signed. At first, state officials said they would only be sending volunteer prisoners over state lines, but within months announced they would begin involuntary out-of-state transfers. Since then, California has systematically increased the number of inmates incarcerated in private facilities. The state employs 199 people at a cost of $276 million a year to oversee the program. Lawmakers approved some out-of-state transfers under AB900, a bill passed in 2007 to provide $7.7 billion in prison construction funds to add 53,000 prison and jail beds around the state. The measure also allowed a limited number of out-of-state transfers without an inmate's consent through July 1, 2011. Since 2007, however, the Legislature has not commented on the program, except in informational oversight hearings and as part of the state budget. Kernan characterized the program as "cost neutral," and stressed that the ultimate goal is to tackle crowding. Sen. Leno said it might "look good" to reduce the inmate population, but there are other factors the government should be considering, such as how to decrease the state's 70 percent recidivism rate. Specter and Leno are also concerned about shipping inmates away from their families and friends. "One documented way to reduce recidivism is with the presence of a supportive family," Leno said. "Sending prisoners across country is what we shouldn't be doing if we want successful re-entry programs." Kernan, however, said that even inmates who remain in California are unlikely to be close to the communities where they will eventually be released.

January 23, 2010 California Progressive Report
This is Assemblymember Hector De La Torre, Chairman of the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee. The Accountability Committee was created last year to investigate California state government programs and agencies to help improve program performance, find efficiencies and save taxpayers' money. This week the Committee investigated a $600-million contract the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation entered into with a private prison company without conducting a competitive bidding process. A key goal of the Committee is to ensure that state government conducts its business in a transparent manner, and does everything it can to ensure that taxpayers are getting the best deal possible. In this case, the Governor's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation failed both of those goals. Due to overcrowding in our state prisons, Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in the corrections system in 2006. Based on that declaration of emergency, his Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation contracted with a private prison company to begin sending some of California inmates to out-of-state facilities to help alleviate the overcrowding problem. The Committee found no fault with the Department's initial effort to sign a $23 million contract. Three years later, however, that contract has been amended multiple times and is now valued at more than $600 million. At no time during this period has the Department conducted a formal, competitive bidding process to ensure the state is getting the best deal it could. No one - not the Department, not the governor, not the Legislature or the public - has any idea if another company or another state could have provided adequate prison beds at a better price. During a period when the state's budget deficit is leading to teacher layoffs and the elimination of important health programs, this careless use of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars is simply unacceptable. Members of the Assembly Committee on Accountability questioned administration officials at an oversight hearing just this week, and concluded that the Corrections Department must do better in the future to ensure that it encourages competition and gets the best price it can for out-of-state prison beds. On a bi-partisan basis, Committee members pledged to reject an expansion of this program without competitive bidding. The Committee will continue to provide much-needed oversight of state government to ensure precious tax dollars are being spent as wisely as possible. This has been Assemblymember Hector De La Torre, Chairman of the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee. Thank you for listening.

October 26, 2009 AP
California officials say a drop in the number of minimum-security inmates is allowing them to end contracts with the companies that operate three private prisons. The move will save the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation about $15 million a year. The private prisons in Baker, Bakersfield and McFarland once housed a total of 822 inmates. Department officials said today they may seek new proposals to use the prisons for female inmates. About 2,500 fewer minimum-security inmates are in prison than a year ago. The department credits a new policy that diverts many parole violators who commit relatively minor offenses to community programs instead of sending them back to prison.

November 10, 2008 Fresno Bee
A private prison company that has been lobbying the Schwarzenegger administration and is a campaign contributor to the governor's causes has made a bid to operate an overhauled inmate medical system, a move that could conflict with court-ordered reforms, according to a document obtained Monday by The Associated Press. The offer by The GEO Group Inc. of Florida caught the court-appointed receiver overseeing reform of California's inmate health care system by surprise. In the five-page internal memo obtained by the AP, the receiver's chief of staff repeatedly makes it clear that he believes the bid was solicited by the Schwarzenegger administration and questions the administration's motives. Chief of staff John Hagar writes that The GEO Group has spent more than $300,000 lobbying the governor's office and Legislature since January. Campaign records on file with the secretary of state's office show the company also made a $50,000 contribution last month to the campaign for Proposition 11, the redistricting initiative on the November ballot backed by Schwarzenegger. "The solicitation is all the more troublesome because the Federal Court has taken responsibility away from the Secretary of Corrections concerning the delivery of medical services," Hagar wrote in the memo to court receiver Clark Kelso. Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Lisa Page denied the administration solicited GEO's bid. She said Hagar may be concerned about the overture by a private firm because "the receiver can't defend his $8 billion boondoggle." That's the amount the court receiver says he needs to build medical facilities for 10,000 inmates. Page said the GEO Group approached the administration but was referred to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Corrections spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said company officials met last month with Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate, who referred them to the receiver's office. "There was no discussion beyond that because of the obvious, I guess: We don't run the prison medical system," Hidalgo said. "All we did was refer them to the receiver's office." Schwarzenegger's political spokeswoman, Julie Soderlund, denied any connection between the governor's policy decisions and the contribution to Proposition 11, which is leading in the vote tally but remains too close to call. Officials with The GEO Group and its lobbyists did not return telephone messages Monday. Hagar said the company has submitted a proposal and said it will meet later this week with Kelso, the court-appointed receiver. He wrote that the bid from GEO could be a way to undermine the reform efforts overseen by the federal courts. That's because the company's bid to run inmate medical services could be less expensive than the state-run medical centers proposed by the receiver's office. "We should be careful that the governor's office does not use the GEO proposal as a diversion, attempting to argue to the public that it is more cost effective, when in fact it will not address the constitutional problem at issue and it may violate California law," Hagar wrote. "The governor's office may use GEO as an attempt to derail our construction program in the public arena." The actual bid could not be obtained Monday, and it was not immediately known whether the company offered a cost estimate. Hagar wrote that GEO is proposing "a generic prison" that "will prove woefully inadequate concerning the day-to-day requirements" of inmate care. Kelso, who is engaged in a court battle with the administration, declined to comment. His reform program is intended to remedy prison medical care that has been ruled unconstitutional because of negligence and malfeasance. In recent years, the receiver's office has boosted pay for doctors and nurses and hired dozens of medical staff members in an attempt to improve conditions. It's not clear how the federal judge in San Francisco would receive a proposal to private inmate medical care, considering the history of poor treatment. The system had been blamed for killing an inmate a week through incompetence. Privatizing those functions also may run afoul of state law because it would take work from state prison guards and other government employees. "The GEO Group has a dismal record of both safety and care and treatment, even worse than the Department of Corrections," said Lance Corcoran, a spokesman for the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which represents most prison guards.

June 5, 2008 San Francisco Chronicle
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was within his rights to declare a state of emergency at California's overcrowded prisons in 2006 and begin transferring inmates out of state, an appeals court ruled Wednesday over the objections of the prison guards union. The ruling by the state Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento overturned a judge's decision and was welcomed by Schwarzenegger, who is separately defending the state against lawsuits by inmates seeking to reduce the overall prison population and improve the prisons' health care system. A federal judge has transferred control of prison health care in California to a court-appointed manager after ruling that the system violated constitutional standards. There are nearly 160,000 inmates in the 33 state prisons, which were designed to hold about 83,000. The state is planning construction that will expand the capacity of state prisons and county jails by 53,000. A referee appointed by a federal court panel has proposed measures to reduce the prison population by 27,000 over four years, to 133,000. The measures would include alternatives to prison for some parole violators and felons facing short sentences. Wednesday's ruling "comes at a critical juncture in our prison reform efforts," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "I am pleased that their decision allows out-of-state transfers to continue while our comprehensive reforms to reduce overcrowding are fully implemented." Laurie Hepler, a lawyer for the prison guards' union and another prison employee union that challenged the inmate transfers, said her clients disagreed with the ruling and would appeal to the state Supreme Court. Schwarzenegger issued the order in October 2006 after a special legislative session on prison overcrowding fizzled, with Democrats seeking changes in sentencing laws and Republicans calling for prison expansion. As the inmate population continued to climb, 16,000 prisoners occupied bunks in prison gyms and other temporary quarters. Schwarzenegger has said as many as 8,000 inmates could be shipped out of state. So far, nearly 3,900 prisoners have been transferred to out-of-state prisons run by private companies under contracts with California. The transfers have continued despite a ruling in April 2007 by a Sacramento County judge that Schwarzenegger had acted illegally. Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian agreed with the unions that state law allows a governor to issue an emergency order only when local officials need state help in responding to a disaster, and that the use of private prison employees violated civil service laws. The appeals court had put Ohanesian's ruling on hold while the state appealed. In its ruling Wednesday, the court said the governor can issue orders to respond to emergencies in state institutions that may endanger residents. In this case, the court said, the lack of space in state prisons was causing overcrowding in local jails, forcing counties to release some inmates who might commit more crimes. Overcrowding also increased the risk of diseases that could spread outside the prisons and had led to local water pollution from sewage spills caused by overtaxed prison wastewater systems, the court said. The court also said California's civil service rules allow the state to employ private contractors when public employees are not available to meet urgent needs. The planned expansion of state prisons will take years to complete, and the prison system will need five years to eliminate staffing shortages, the court said. "California cannot build or retrofit the prisons needed overnight, no matter how much money it invests to solve the problem," Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland said in the 3-0 ruling. The only available lockups are in other states and are staffed by private employees, he said.

August 18, 2007 Sacramento Bee
California corrections officials have begun sending hundreds of foreign national inmates against their will to a private prison in Mississippi as part of a stepped-up, out-of-state transfer plan. The first two flights of prisoners to the Tallahatchie County Detention Facility in Tutwiler, Miss., have taken place without incident, officials said, in spite of fears expressed by the California correctional officers union that the forced transfers would be met with inmate violence. "Many of the inmates had never been on a plane before in their lives," said Scott Kernan, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's chief deputy secretary for adult operations. "They were a little scared. But once they got on the flight, they were fine." Some 200 foreign national inmates, mostly from Mexico, were shipped to the Mississippi prison on flights July 20 and July 27, a state prison spokesman said. A total of 597 inmates -- including 397 volunteers -- have now been sent to private prisons in Mississippi, Arizona and Tennessee. Kernan said the state hopes to move 5,000 prisoners to out-of-state institutions by June 30 to help relieve overcrowding in California. "We have a very aggressive schedule that will include trips of approximately 120 inmates every couple of weeks," Kernan said. Some 173,000 inmates in the state are being housed in space designed for about half that many, with federal judges now considering a motion to place a population cap on the system that could result in early releases for tens of thousands of prisoners. Francisco Estrada, a lobbyist for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said the transfers of the foreign nationals raise a host of potentially problematic legal issues for the corrections agency. If the inmates are legal residents, the transfers figure to separate them from their families and immigration attorneys, and "that's wrong," Estrada said. They also create a prospect for racial targeting on the part of prison officials. "We need to be very careful," Estrada said, adding that he will be discussing the issue with Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund attorneys. Foreign nationals being transferred under the out-of-state program are all subject to holds "or potential holds" placed on them by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said corrections spokesman Bill Sessa. They include both legal and illegal residents, he said. No inmates "with demonstrated family ties" are being transferred for now, Sessa said. Nor are any being moved "if they're in the middle of legal proceedings," including immigration matters, Sessa said. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association in February won a ruling in Sacramento Superior Court stopping the transfer program. The union claimed the program violated state civil service protections guaranteed under the California Constitution. The ruling has since been stayed pending an appeal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. CCPOA leaders also voiced opposition to the transfers during the debate over the recently enacted $7.9 billion prison construction plan, which included legislative approval for moving 8,000 inmates out of state. Union officials said the involuntary transfers would put officers in danger from resisting inmates. CCPOA spokesman Ryan Sherman said Friday that the union is "very grateful" that no officers have been injured in extracting the prisoners from their cells. "We're hopeful that will continue as the governor continues to do these unconstitutional transfers," Sherman said. Sherman characterized the Tallahatchie County prison in Mississippi, operated by the Correctional Corp. of America, as one of "the most troubled" in the country. He based his assessment on newspaper articles detailing assorted disturbances at the prison dating back to 2003. "Private prisons lower the bar for the entire profession by providing extremely limited training and remarkably poor compensation and benefits," Sherman said. "They're in it to make a buck. Public safety is nowhere on their priority list." CCA spokeswoman Louise Grant said her company "is extremely proud of the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility" and that private prisons are no more dangerous than those operated by the state.

July 23, 2007 Fresno Bee
Two federal judges on Monday ordered creation of a special panel to recommend ways to relieve California's overcrowded prisons, a move that could lead to the capping of the inmate population or the early release of some prisoners. In doing so, the judges rejected the main solution set forth by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers to address a crisis that has been building for decades. Last spring, they agreed to an ambitious $7.8 billion program to build 53,000 new prison and jail cells. The judges said that plan, submitted to the courts in June, will only make matters worse for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The state can't hire enough guards and medical professionals to provide proper care and oversight for the inmates it has now, let alone the thousands more who might be added through the building program. "From all that presently appears, new beds will not alleviate this problem but will aggravate it," U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento wrote. Schwarzenegger said he will appeal the judges' decision to create the three-judge panel.

June 4. 2007 LA Times
Two appointees whom Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent to fix California's dysfunctional prison healthcare system pushed a $26-million, no-bid contract for outside medical services while contract reviewers steadfastly maintained it was overpriced and illegal, records and interviews show. But instead of providing a strong step toward reforming the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's $1.8-billion medical system, the handling of this relatively small contract erupted into a fight that forced out the two appointees and highlights what critics say are systemic contracting breakdowns that helped bloat healthcare costs at the state's 33 prisons. The contract for a pilot program at two Southern California prisons was supposed to be a model for improving the care of inmates who need to see specialists — one of the major failings that led a federal judge to seize control of prison healthcare and appoint a receiver last year to oversee it. However, John Hagar, chief of staff for receiver Robert Sillen, said, "This is a classic example of the department looking at a problem and jumping to a solution that, in fact, does not work and increases costs unnecessarily…. "It appears there were outside influences," he said. "It was not being done at the urging of the contract staff who usually negotiate the contract. They were saying 'No.' " After hiring a private prison industry lobbyist, a Florida company successfully submitted a proposal for the three-year pilot program. Although the contract was not finalized, corrections officials last summer gave the company permission to start working and bill the state. After finding out about the deal, Hagar swiftly froze the contract process before Christmas and later halted payments. The appointees who arranged the contract soon resigned. The state inspector general launched a conflict-of-interest investigation of one who held stock in a company listed as a subcontractor. And now the contractor wants the state to repay $2.6 million for inmate medical expenses that company officials say they incurred. This ugly contract dispute has been a distraction in the first year of a long-overdue effort to improve inmate medical treatment, said Don Specter, director of the Prison Law Office, a nonprofit whose lawsuit on behalf of the state's 175,000 prisoners prompted U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson to take over prison healthcare in 2005. The contract uproar centered on Medical Development International, a $100 million-a-year business that arranges medical appointments, handles billing, and contracts with doctors and hospitals to serve inmates. It was founded in 1992 by a father and son, Richard and Ted Willich. MDI has grown into one of the largest medical providers for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, having won contracts at 27 facilities. That work led California lawmakers to invite a company official to testify at a 2004 hearing into skyrocketing prison healthcare costs in the state. About two years ago, MDI officials hired Mark Nobili, a Sacramento lobbyist whose clients included a private prison operator. To date, records show that MDI has paid Nobili at least $170,000. MDI representatives learned that the point people for new prison contracts were Peter Farber-Szekrenyi and Darc Keller — both longtime medical administrators appointed by Schwarzenegger in late 2005 to help reform healthcare. In March 2006, MDI submitted a proposal to deliver up to $26 million in services at the state prisons in Tehachapi and Lancaster, where backlogs for outside medical appointments were acute. Among the providers MDI listed was Mobile Medical International Corp., which supplies surgical and diagnostic facilities in big tractor-trailer trucks. Keller recently had served as a senior vice president at Mobile Medical and, according to his economic interest statement, he owned $10,000 to $100,000 in the company's stock. As MDI was preparing its California proposal, company Vice President Ted Willich said he learned that Keller once had worked at Mobile Medical, so he asked Keller to call the firm because MDI was having trouble contacting it about potential work on a federal contract. However, Willich denied that Keller encouraged MDI to use Mobile Medical for the California pilot program. "To me, it is ridiculous," he said of the inspector general's probe. "There is a whole lot of nothing there." Keller said that, although he called Mobile Medical to help out MDI, he was unaware that his former employer was being lined up as a subcontractor until Mobile Medical later appeared in MDI's proposal. Keller said that he had moved to liquidate his stock in Mobile Medical shortly after his appointment and that the sale was completed Aug. 8 — a few weeks before MDI began work on the project. "There is no conflict because there is no enrichment," he said. "No one got money…. We never did have a [final] contract." Although MDI ultimately did not use Mobile Medical, Keller's participation in the contracting process may have violated the state Political Reform Act, said Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. "The violation could be that he participated in a decision where he had a financial interest: the stock he owned," Stern said. Violations are punishable by a fine or jail term. The state Fair Political Practices Commission, which enforces the conflict-of-interest law, would neither confirm nor deny that it was conducting an investigation. The inspector general's office, an independent corrections oversight agency, declined to comment. The MDI contract mess unfolded as the state controller issued an audit report in early August outlining waste and abuse in medical contracting at prisons. On Aug. 31, Farber-Szekrenyi requested issuance of a $26-million contract to MDI, then the company began work. Farber-Szekrenyi "gave us the green light," said Willich of MDI. "We were given assurances by Darc [Keller] and Peter that we would be paid, and we were told to do the work." To become final, the contract required approvals by contracting and legal staff at corrections as well as attorneys at the state Department of General Services. But interviews and corrections department e-mails reviewed by the receiver's office show that contracting staff raised objections, such as whether the contract should have been competitively bid, whether MDI needed a medical license and whether the rates were too high. When MDI complained about the delays, Hagar said, Farber-Szekrenyi and Keller repeatedly urged the employees to move the contract ahead. "Nobody leaned on them to approve a contract; we asked them the status of the contract," Farber-Szekrenyi said, adding that he told the contractor to start work without a contract because there was an emergency, with hundreds of medical appointments backlogged. Concerned about delays with the contract last fall, Farber-Szekrenyi said he gave MDI and a corrections attorney a couple of weeks to resolve the medical licensing issue — and it was. Meanwhile, employees who process medical contracts were placed under the receiver. A short time later, Hagar learned from one of them that Farber-Szekrenyi and Keller were implementing a pilot program without competitive bidding — and that contracting staff thought the price was exorbitant and that the work required a medical license. Hagar stopped the contract and later asked the inspector general to investigate. Although the receiver said he had been unaware of the pilot program, Farber-Szekrenyi said he personally informed Sillen about it. Farber-Szekrenyi and Keller said that earlier this year they were forced to resign by the governor's office, which declined to comment. Though MDI said it saved the state money and had dramatically reduced backlogs for appointments at the two prisons, Hagar said his investigators found healthcare still in crisis there. Tehachapi Warden Joe Sullivan, who served as interim warden at Lancaster early this year, said MDI had inmates scheduled for appointments but they had not all been seen by doctors. "In my view, they were doing an excellent job," he said. The receiver's office now is developing its own contracts with providers. And MDI is threatening to sue if necessary to recoup $2.6 million not reimbursed by the state. MDI's Willich said the company apparently was caught in a fight between two gubernatorial appointees and a powerful court-appointed receiver. "We were the meat in the sandwich," he said.

June 2, 2007 Sacramento Bee
State corrections officials resumed transferring inmates to out-of-state prisons Friday, moving 38 convicts by bus to Arizona. The transfers had been placed on hold since November, when two public employee unions convinced a Sacramento judge that sending inmates out of state violated California's civil service laws. Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian's ruling has since been stayed pending an appeal to the 3rd District Court of Appeal by the Schwarzenegger administration. Oral arguments have yet to be scheduled. Corrections spokesman Seth Unger said state officials "believe we have statutory authority" to go ahead with more transfers, and he suggested that if the administration lost its appeal, it would not pose a major problem. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Unger said. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger obtained legislative approval in the recently enacted Assembly Bill 900 prison construction and rehabilitation package to transfer up to 8,000 inmates, involuntarily if it comes to that. Only inmates volunteering for the out-of-state placement were transferred Friday, however. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is planning to transfer as many as 400 inmates a month to help ease overcrowding, with 18,000 inmates now living in gyms, dayrooms and other spaces not designed to house them. "Temporary out-of-state inmate transfers will provide immediate relief to California's prison system while the rest of the governor's comprehensive reforms are implemented," Corrections Secretary Jim Tilton said in a prepared statement. Tilton said the transfers "will also give us breathing room" to try to pick up the system's rehabilitation effort and also to help improve its medical delivery system, which a San Francisco federal judge has declared unconstitutional. Friday's transfers to the Florence Detention Center in Arizona increased to 218 the number of California inmates being housed in the prison, which is owned and operated by the Correctional Corporation of America. Another 76 state prisoners have been transferred to the West Tennessee Detention Facility, another CCA-owned prison not far from Memphis. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association and Service Employees International Union Local 1000 were the unions filing the suit last fall that temporarily blocked the transfers. CCPOA spokesman Lance Corcoran said Friday that even though the most recent transfers involved only inmates who the department said wanted to go out of state, the decision to move out prisoners who don't want to go "is absolutely one of the most dangerous things this administration has utilized." Corcoran said the prison system has been "marketing these (out-of-state) institutions much like cruise ships," yet still has fallen short of obtaining anywhere near the 19,000 inmates the corrections agency initially said were interested in the transfers. "Very quickly, they're going to have to move them involuntarily, then we'll see what happens from there," Corcoran said. Union leaders have said they expect inmates who don't want to be transferred out of state to wage intense struggles to keep from being removed from their cells.

April 6, 2007 Sacramento Bee
The Schwarzenegger administration sought Thursday to block a court ruling that the governor's program transferring inmates out of state is "unlawful." In the meantime, the administration is taking the ruling by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian to the state's 3rd District Court of Appeal. Ohanesian ruled against the administration on Feb. 20, but the official order blocking the order wasn't entered until Monday. The state filed its appeal on Tuesday, and on Thursday filed the stay order on Ohanesian's ruling until the appeal is heard. In a statement, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said his office is prepared to "fight to preserve our emergency efforts to address the prison overcrowding crisis." He said the out-of-state transfers, in which hundreds of prisoners already have been moved to private prisons in Arizona and Tennessee, are "imperative to relieve the pressure on our overburdened prison system and improve safety for correctional officers, staff and inmates." Ohanesian's ruling agreed with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and Service Employees International Union Local 1000 that the transfers violated the state's civil service protection laws. Her ruling also said the governor overstepped his authority by issuing an emergency proclamation on the prison overcrowding because the issue remains within the state's ability to control. Moreover, the judge's ruling said, no local authorities asked the state for assistance. The challenge to the governor's authority to declare an emergency created "wider implications" that his appeal will seek to address, Schwarzenegger said in his statement. "It jeopardizes my executive authority to maintain the public's safety, the lives and property of our citizens," Schwarzenegger said. " CCPOA attorney Gregg Adam said the administration is setting itself up for potentially larger problems if it goes ahead with the transfers. He said the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is just about out of inmates who have volunteered for the transfers and that future movements in all likelihood will involve prisoners who don't want to go. As a result, Adam predicted that inmates rights attorneys and other groups will sue the state and push the matter from the state courts into the federal system. "It's reckless for the state to carry on with the transfers (given) the ruling," Adam said. "To continue to send inmates out of state will trigger a ton of litigation, and the administration is going to have more than a couple of disgruntled labor unions to deal with."

February 8, 2007 LA Times
Attorneys for two California prisoners on Wednesday asked a federal court to block Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from forcibly transferring convicts to private lockups in other states. The challenge comes less than a week after the governor ordered the mandatory moves to relieve overcrowding, which he said had reached crisis levels in most of the state's 33 prisons. Close to 400 California inmates already have transferred voluntarily to private prisons in Tennessee and Arizona under a program that began in November. Schwarzenegger authorized the mandatory moves because so few convicts had agreed to go. In papers filed with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Los Angeles civil rights lawyer Stephen Yagman asked for an order barring the forced transfers of inmates David Diaz and Paul Blumberg — and others in similar circumstances. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel issued an order instructing the Schwarzenegger administration to file a response before a hearing Feb. 20. The order also said the court had been assured Diaz and Blumberg would not be forcibly transferred before then. Diaz is incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison, in the San Joaquin Valley, for attempted murder and related charges. Blumberg was sentenced to life for attempted murder and is housed at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe. Both men have filed habeas corpus appeals in federal court, and Yagman argues that because those are pending, the inmates may not be transferred out of state. The mandatory transfers also would violate their constitutional right to due process, he said.

December 31, 2006 AP
California no longer plans to transfer more than 1,200 of its inmates to an Indiana state prison, an official said. Trina Randall, New Castle Correctional Facility's public information officer, on Thursday confirmed to The Courier-Times that the deal had fallen through. The plan was thwarted because of a lawsuit against California over the possible transfer, and a lack of inmates willing to volunteer to make the cross-country move. Gov. Mitch Daniels announced in October a contract between California and Florida-based GEO Group Inc., the company Indiana hired to operate the New Castle prison. He said 1,260 inmates would be transferred to Indiana in a deal that was to have created 200 Indiana jobs. The deal was part of plans to alleviate prison overcrowding in California, and the Indiana prison was to be paid $63 per day to house each of that state's inmates, with $15 of that going to state government. Daniels had said the state would make about $6.2 million in each of the next two years. The medium-security prison in New Castle, 40 miles east of Indianapolis, has a capacity of 2,416 but has only 1,068 inmates. But a news release earlier this week from the Indiana Department of Correction termed the transfer as "not likely." It said that the DOC was working with another state on an agreement similar to the California deal. "We are in the process of reviewing a proposal from that jurisdiction," said DOC Commissioner David Donahue.

December 2, 2006 The Sacramento Bee
California's prison health czar awarded a pharmacy management services contract two months ago "in blatant violation of California law, state competitive bidding requirements and fundamental principles of fair dealing," a losing bidder charged in papers filed this week in San Francisco federal court. In asking U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson to set aside the contract, attorneys for Public Health Service Bureau, LLC, said in their motion filed Monday that prison health care receiver Robert Sillen awarded the contract to Maxor National Pharmacy Services Corp. "in such a way as to create the appearance of collusion and 'cronyism' between himself and Maxor." The motion represents the first legal challenge to the sweeping authority Henderson granted Sillen when he created the receivership earlier this year to oversee and overhaul the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's troubled $1.5 billion prison health care system. Sillen's appointment earlier this year followed Henderson's May 2005 ruling that medical delivery services in the prison system violated constitutional standards. The judge found that the system's shoddy health care was responsible for as many as 34 unnecessary inmate deaths and that the prison system was incapable of stopping the carnage on its own. But in going after prison pharmacy services, Sillen let Maxor tailor the management bid to its own liking, kept the Request for Proposal secret, "refused to answer questions from qualified bidders and ultimately awarded the contract to the one bidder that had the inside track all along," the Oakland-based Public Health group's motion read. "To ratify a public contract awarded in such a manner flies in the face ... of public contract law declared by the Legislature to protect the taxpayers from fraud, corruption and carelessness," it added. Attorneys for Public Health said the contract was worth between $80 million and $100 million. John Ward, the chief executive officer of the Amarillo, Texas-based Maxor, said the contract was worth less than that, but he refused to identify its value. Ward referred questions on the size of the contract to Sillen's California Prison Health Care Receivership Corp., whose spokeswoman, Rachael Kagan, said she didn't know what it was worth and that the people who did weren't in the office Friday. Kagan declined to comment on the motion, saying her office was in the process of reviewing it. Kagan said she didn't know if the contract had been "fully awarded" or officially signed yet. A Jan. 22 hearing has been tentatively scheduled in San Francisco to hear the motion. In creating the receiver's office, Henderson, in his Feb. 14 order, said the appointee "shall make all reasonable efforts" to do the job "in a manner consistent with California state laws, regulations and contracts." The judge also empowered the receiver to seek and obtain court authority to suspend state contracting requirements if they impede his efforts to fix the health care system. On Nov. 16, Sillen jolted the Capitol with his testimony at the Little Hoover Commission where he said he was prepared to have federal marshals put the bite on the state treasury to pay for California's prison health care if that's what it took to get the system on track. He also threatened to waive state laws and civil service protections and seek contempt-of-court citations against prison system officials who tried to impede him. "We're on our way," Sillen told the commission. Long plagued by high vacancy rates and inefficiencies that have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in unnecessary costs per year, the prison system's pharmacy services were one of Sillen's first targets once he took his post. The receiver's office put out the bid for the pharmacy management contract on Aug. 18 to correct what Sillen's office characterized as "particularly grave problems" in the prisons' drug delivery system. The Request for Proposal said the scope of the contract called for a contractor that could implement a "road map" previously outlined in an audit the receiver commissioned Maxor to conduct. On Oct. 20, the contract was awarded -- "not surprisingly," according to the motion -- to Maxor. Key to the "road map," the Public Health Service Bureau's court papers said, was Maxor's recommendation that the prison system administer drugs to inmates out of a "central fill" distribution system, which the Texas company already had up and running in its own state. Ward, the Maxor CEO, denied that his company tailored the audit's "road map" to its own specifications. "We had no way of knowing it would go any further than our recommendation," Ward said. The CEO said his firm has "absolutely not" had any pre-existing relationship with Sillen. Public Health Service Bureau's court papers said the award amounted to "misconduct" on the receiver's part because the bid wasn't published in any newspapers or in the State Contracts Register as required by state law. The motion said the Oakland group didn't find out about the contract until eight days after the bid went out. When the Public Health outfit sent questions to the receiver's office for details on the contract, Sillen never responded, the motion said. "That tells me he didn't want to see any responsive bids because he wanted to issue it to Maxor -- isn't it obvious?" Alton Burkhalter, the attorney for the Public Health Service Bureau, said in an interview. The Public Health Service Bureau is a "pharmacy benefits administrator and information management company," according to its Web site. The firm already administers the state's $250 million AIDS Drug Assistance Program. "We don't think this was a fair contract," said Public Health's president and CEO, Eric Flowers. "We don't think it's fair for the people of California, and we don't think it's an effective solution for the prisoners." Maxor identifies itself in press releases as "a leading expert in correctional health care," with a current and past client list that includes the Texas prison system, for which it re-engineered pharmacy services when the agency was under federal court supervision. Other listed clients include the Denver County Jail and the Colorado Department of Corrections.

November 22, 2006 AP
A state judge decided Wednesday to let California send 2,260 inmates to Indiana and four other states to relieve prison crowding, though she said the transfers may be illegal. Two state employee unions "are reasonably likely" to win their lawsuit against the state next year, but can't prove they are suffering enough immediate irreparable harm to justify a preliminary injunction in the meantime, ruled Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian. Any damages the unions suffer are more than offset by the "extreme peril" created by keeping more than 173,000 inmates in space designed for fewer than 100,000, Ohanesian said.

November 2, 2006 KESP
A Sacramento County judge today rejected state employee unions' attempt to temporarily block California's plans to move more than two thousand inmates to other states. But Judge Patrick Marlette set another hearing for later this month. The judge says that will give the unions another chance to argue that Governor Schwarzenegger is violating the state Constitution by shipping the inmates to private prisons in Arizona, Indiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee this month to relieve crowding in the nation's largest state prison system. The unions say Schwarzenegger is illegally sidestepping the state's civil service system and the usual contracting procedures. Schwarzenegger's attorney says the move is needed to relieve dangerous conditions and the possibility that a judge could order the early release of inmates.

October 31, 2006  Sacramento Bee
Two major public employee unions Monday filed a lawsuit to block the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from transferring more than 2,000 inmates to private prisons in other states. Representatives of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and the Service Employees International Union Local 1000 filed the suit in Sacramento Superior Court. It seeks to stop the transfers on grounds that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger overstepped his legal authority in seeking the moves based on prison overcrowding. Although California has used private prisons for years within its own boundaries, CCPOA Vice President Chuck Alexander said the in-state facilities received approval from the Legislature while the out-of-state plan has not. "I think that's the fundamental difference," Alexander said at a press conference at CCPOA headquarters in West Sacramento. Representatives of the CCPOA and SEIU were joined at the press conference by state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-East Los Angeles, and officials from other labor and community groups. Romero said that private incarceration is "an abdication of the will of the people" and "an abdication of responsibility" on the part of the state.

October 28, 2006 The Star Press
Talking about how inmates re-enter society after serving time in prison is a touchy subject here, as residents worry about the 1,260 California inmates who are headed to the New Castle Correctional Facility. So, when Indiana Department of Correction Commissioner J. David Donahue came to New Castle on Friday for a town hall meeting to talk about the road to re-entry, he knew he'd have to address public concerns about the issue. Donahue, appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2005 as the leader of the DOC, said questions about where and how those California inmates will be released are among the most-frequently asked. And though the deal should bring with it no expense to local taxpayers, Donahue did acknowledge there are some instances when the county has "certain inherent responsibilities" because the prison is located there. That likely means that in the event an inmate is charged with a crime while behind bars, Henry County Prosecutor Kit Crane's expenses would remain the county's responsibility. That's not the answer Henry County officials wanted, as Henry County Councilman Richard Bouslog hoped the county could recoup its court expenses. Bouslog was among the many elected officials in the crowd of the old circuit courtroom inside the courthouse Friday afternoon. Members of the county council and board of commissioners, as well as candidates for political office, made up the majority of the 50-person crowd.

October 21, 2006  Sacramento Bee
The first transfers of California inmates to private, out-of-state prisons are scheduled to take place next month under two no-bid contracts the overstuffed Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation signed Friday. Under the deals worked out with the GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America, the state will move 2,260 inmates out of its jampacked prisons over the next 120 days to private institutions in Indiana, Arizona, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Corrections officials say the separate deals will help stem its emergency overcrowding crisis, but union officials opposed to the transfers contend they will undermine public accountability and shift responsibility for the tough business of prison administration to profit-driven corporate boardrooms. Newspaper reports compiled on a Web site run by the Private Corrections Institute in Florida paint a different picture of the CCA prisons, however. The stories cited riots and inmate drug dealing at Diamondback, more violence and drug issues at Florence, inmate complaints over phone rates at North Fork and the unexplained death of a prisoner at West Tennessee.

October 6, 2006 Courier Journal
Up to 1,200 medium-security prisoners from California will be housed in the state's underused New Castle Correctional Facility, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced yesterday. Daniels said the deal he struck with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will result in a $6.2 million profit for Indiana. Indiana officials initiated the negotiations, which took four or five months, after reading about California's prison-crowding crisis, Daniels said. GEO Group, the private company that runs the prison in east-central Indiana, will hire 200 additional workers to oversee the new prisoners. "We saw an opportunity and contacted California officials several months ago," Daniels said. "We look at every way we can to be creative and businesslike, and this is a win for everyone."

October 6, 2006 Ludington Daily News
A California prison overcrowding emergency declaration could speed up that state’s contract negotiations with GEO Group, which owns the Lake County prison. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Bill Sessa said the agency is continuing to talk with three private prison companies, one of which is GEO, to negotiate contracts to move prisoners to out-of-state facilities. “We’re going to continue contract negotiations with three companies and whoever else jumps in,” Sessa said. Officials from GEO said they are continuing talks with California. “We’re looking forward to working with the state,” said Pablo Paez, director of corporate communications at GEO. “We’re working with them and we look forward to work through the process.” GEO has available beds at three facilities, including the Lake County site, Paez said, noting that California officials have visited the facility sites. Paez said he has no specific timeline for contract talks, but added that the state-of-emergency declaration demonstrates “they have an immediate need to send up to 5,000 inmates out of state.”

October 6, 2006 Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent declaration of an emergency in state prisons will mean two new possibilities for inmates at the California Institution for Men and other prisons: doing time at private prisons and doing time in other states. Special Section: Criminal Neglect Schwarzenegger's proclamation makes it possible for California to contract for prison beds with private operators in other states - a proposal the governor had sought earlier this year but was rebuffed by the Legislature. "Our prisons are now beyond maximum capacity, and we must act immediately and aggressively to resolve this issue," he said Wednesday. But experts questioned the wisdom of the move, noting that placing prisoners in out-of-state facilities has in the past led to violence. "There's been lots of problems with inmates being shipped out, in particular if they're put into a facility with multijurisdictional inmates," said Ken Kopczynski, of the Florida-based Private Corrections Institute. "California inmates are under California law. If they have Oklahoma inmates, or Texas inmates, they all have to be handled separately." Disparity in treatment of prisoners from several states was one cause identified in a 2004 riot where inmates alternately smashed, flooded and torched a private institution in Colorado, Kopczynski noted. In that incident, prisoners from different states -Colorado, Washington and Wyoming - felt they were being treated unfairly, since each state paid different wages for inmate labor. Other problems can arise when inmates from different states get together to form their own gangs, or when the distance from their families and support networks is too great, making rehabilitation less likely. Kopczynski also said the private corrections industry has racked up a less-than-stellar record in the past, mostly due to cost-saving efforts such as using low-wage guards and cutting corners on security.

October 5, 2006 The Press-Enterprise
The governor's emergency order to transfer California inmates to other states to ease crowding sent private-prison stocks soaring Thursday while provoking the ire of Democratic legislators, corrections officers and inmate advocacy groups. The state is poised this month to sign deals with private prison operators to house California inmates in states such as Indiana. The plan would send 2,200 inmates to other states almost immediately. Campaign Money: It has already stirred the frustration of state legislators, who shot down a similar proposal during a special session on prison crowding in August. Amid accusations of cronyism and conflicts of interest, Gov. Schwarzenegger's campaign announced Thursday that he has returned $32,000 in campaign donations to a private prison slated to benefit from his proposal. "The Governor has a strict policy against accepting contributions from persons or entities doing business with the state or seeking to do business with the state and in which he or his office might be negotiating the terms of such state contracts," wrote his attorney in a letter to The Geo Group. The Geo Group is a Florida-based private prison firm, and one of three firms currently negotiating with the state for three- to five-year, no-bid contracts to house inmates out of state. Democrat's Response: It reeks of "pay to play," said Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles. "What it demonstrates is that the governor can't resolve this crisis. He doesn't have the political will, and he doesn't have the stomach for it." Romero questioned the constitutionality of forced transfers and suggested the state concentrate on programs to reduce California's 70 percent recidivism rate.

September 10, 2006 Sacramento Bee
The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is conducting an inmate survey to see how many prisoners might be interested in serving their time out of state -- and a Florida company that has contributed $90,000 over the years to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says it would be happy to accommodate them. Department spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said the agency can administratively transfer inmates out of state if they volunteer for the move and if the contracts with out-of-state operators do not exceed a year. Longer term deals, Hidalgo said, would require legislative approval. "If there's a willing inmate and a vendor, we can do this on our own right now," Hidalgo said. One major private prison company, the GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., has expressed interest in housing California inmates at its facilities in Michigan, Indiana and Louisiana. GEO currently operates four private prisons in California. It also contributed $22,300 to Schwarzenegger on Aug. 25, in the last week of the legislative session, when lawmakers declined to act on proposals designed to ease prison overcrowding in California. One bill would have required inmate approval for out-of-state transfers. In legislative hearings, GEO expressed support for an involuntary transfer plan. Altogether, GEO has contributed $90,300 to Schwarzenegger going back to 2003.

September 7, 2006 Ludington Daily News
A deal that might have supplied California inmates to the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Lake County could be in jeopardy. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) proposed sending inmates to out-of-state facilities — potentially including the Lake County prison — without getting the inmates’ permission. However, the future of the proposal is unclear. The California Assembly refused to vote on the measure despite the California Senate passing a bill allowing the transfers only with the inmate’s permission, which is current California law. The California legislature, a part-time legislature, left session for the year Friday without approving Schwarzenegger’s four-bill package. The bills faced opposition by Republicans in the Assembly as well as the corrections officer union and garnered only lukewarm support from Democrats. In addition, Republican Gov. Schwarzenegger also faces a challenge from Democrat Phil Angelides in the November election. The Baldwin area facility was mentioned as a possible recipient of California inmates, and officials from California reportedly visited the site earlier this summer. Pablo Paez, communications director for GEO Group which owns the Lake County prison, said he had “nothing new to report” with regard to any deal to house inmates there. Paez said GEO has been in contact with California and with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement regarding possibly renting bed space at the facility a few miles north of Baldwin. Refusing to name where else GEO is seeking rentals, Paez said “the company remains active in marketing our facility.”

September 13, 2005 Bakersfield Californian
A company that wanted to reopen a private prison in Bakersfield under a no-bid contract had a clear conflict of interest because it had hired two recent retirees from the Department of Corrections, the state auditor said Tuesday. But the auditor concluded there was no conflict of interest by another company that was awarded a no-bid contract to operate a prison in McFarland, even though it had put Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's former finance director on the board of a subsidiary. Those were the key points in a report by Auditor Elaine Howle's office that was ordered by lawmakers upset about the handling of the department's decision to reopen the two facilities that had been shut down barely a year before. State Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, requested the audit in January because she said the contract for the McFarland facility "smells bad." That contract was awarded to GEO Group Inc., the same firm that had operated it for years before it was shut down. The contract drew fire because the real estate trust that owns the facility and leases it to GEO put former state budget chief Donna Arduin on its board of directors shortly before it was offered the contract late last year. The audit report said that did not involve a conflict of interest because GEO has a 10-year lease on the property from the subsidiary that began long before Arduin joined the company and before the state decided to reopen the facility. Besides, it noted, GEO was the only possible operator because its subsidiary owned the facility. But the department's handling of a contract to reopen the Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility on Golden State Avenue in Bakersfield came in for sharp criticism by the auditor. The bidder, Massachusetts-based CiviGenics Inc., did not disclose the fact it had hired two former high-level department officials, at least one of whom contacted the department about the contract. They had both retired from the department less than a year before. State law bars top officials from being involved with state contracts for at least a year after they leave state service.

September 13, 2005 AP
California's prison population is at a record high, officials said Tuesday, as the state auditor panned the corrections system's last attempt to deal with sudden crowding. The news comes as the state auditor reported that two former high-ranking state corrections employees may have violated conflict of interest laws when they contacted their former colleagues as the state was opening two private prisons. One contract was later rescinded in part because of the conflict allegations. The department wasted an undetermined amount of money on the aborted project before it had permission from the Department of General Services, auditors found. Two high-level department retirees had gone to work for private prison operator CiviGenics Inc. and worked with their former colleagues on the contract within a year after leaving state government, in possible violation of conflict of interest laws, auditors found. They faulted the Marlborough, Mass.-based contractor for not disclosing the employees' background, and the department for not requiring disclosure. Auditors decided there was no conflict of interest by a former state Department of Finance director who went to work for the second prison contractor, GEO Group Inc.

January 2, 2004
Two of Kern County's private prisons are officially shut down, after the state pulled funding and moved all the inmates.  Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility on Golden State Avenue in Bakersfield, and the McFarland Community Correctional Facility in McFarland were finishing closing down Wednesday after losing state funding. One other private prison in Riverside County was also closed.  Former Gov. Gray Davis wanted to shut down the prisons last year, but the Legislature was against the closures. Davis officials had said that the closures would save $400,000 the first year and $900,000 every year after.  But McFarland's city administrator said the closure of the prison will mean lost jobs and a drop in revenue for the city.  The prison industry is one of the city's largest employers, said Anthony B. Lopez, interim McFarland city administrator.  "That (losing jobs) in itself is a detriment," Lopez said.  The water and sewer service that was provided by the city for prison use is also a major revenue source, Lopez said. The city stands to lose $260,000 a year, he said.  The city plans to negotiate reopening the facility and maybe housing federal inmates at the facility "hopefully in the very near future," Lopez said.  More than 100 full and part-time employees will lose their jobs at Mesa Verde which run by Alternative Programs Inc.,, said Gary White, the company's president.  White said the closures were more to appease the state prison guards' union than to save money for the state.  State officials have consistently denied that, saying it was a purely budgetary decision to close the prisons.  Officials with the union, officially called the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.  But the CCPOA has made no secret of its opposition to private prisons. Union officials insist it is due to a belief that prisons should be publicly owned, not run for profit at taxpayers' expense, not anger that they are non-union.  The closed McFarland prison was operated by the former Wackenhut Corrections Corp., and now the GEO Group Inc. The company runs two other prisons in McFarland that will remain open.  The closed prisons housed more than 500 inmates combined. Displaced inmates have been moved to various locations across the state, said California Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Heimrich said.  (Bakersfield Californian)

California Department of Justice
Nov 5, 2019 einnews.com

Assault and discrimination trial starts Nov. 4 over guard’s claims against private prison operator GEO Group

SAN BERNARDINO, CALIF., USA, October 29, 2019 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Private prison company GEO Group goes on trial Nov. 4 for alleged assault, racial discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation against an African American corrections officer. The illegal activity started on Ashly Broussard’s first day of work, and a lieutenant and others increasingly harassed her and even tried to run her over with a car — causing a miscarriage, according to her lawsuit. Trial is set for 11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 4, in Dept. S-26 at San Bernardino Superior Court, 247 W. Third St., San Bernardino. “This is one of the most horrifying cases that I’ve ever seen of a company’s managers targeting and harassing a female employee,” said Raymond Babaian, founding partner of Valiant Law, who represents the plaintiff. “The racist remarks started on Day One, then included sexual harassment and quickly escalated over the next few months — especially after the victim complained to human resources at GEO Group.” According to the lawsuit, a black inmate spat on Broussard on her first day of work inside the prison. She immediately told a supervisor, Lieutenant Laurel Withers, who pulled the inmate into an office where Broussard had been directed to write a report about the incident. “Withers began to aggressively cuss at the detainee and began a pattern of referring to African American detainees as ‘black mother----ers’ and ‘n-----s’,” according to the complaint. Shocked, Broussard shook her head in disbelief. Withers immediately confronted her and demanded to know if she had “a problem,” according to the complaint. Then, after pointing out that the room had no surveillance camera, he encouraged her to take revenge on the prisoner for spitting on her. “What do you want to do about it? I’ll turn around,” he said, according to the complaint. In the following days, other supervisors showed Broussard areas of the prison without cameras where she could assault detainees, the complaint states. A few weeks later, Withers allegedly exposed himself to her when the two were alone in an area near a bathroom. He continued to make sexually suggestive comments and lewd gestures, and created and maintained a hostile work environment, according to the complaint. Three months later, Broussard was walking through the prison parking lot when she noticed a car speeding towards her. Afraid for her life, she ran out of the way and found shelter behind parked cars. Withers was driving the speeding car, according to the complaint. A prison surveillance video of the incident has since disappeared. Other prison staff also threatened Broussard, calling her a snitch and a rat after she filed a report against Withers, the complaint says. The harassment, hostile work environment and assault, “had a significant impact on her health and well being during her pregnancy,” and she was constantly denied proper rest breaks, the complaint states. One day during her shift, Broussard experienced immense pain, cramping and bleeding. She asked for permission to leave work early to seek urgent medical help; she was not only denied, but forced to work an additional six hours without a break, the complaint states. When Broussard finally got to a doctor, she learned she had suffered a miscarriage. When she took leave following the miscarriage, GEO fired her. Broussard is suing Geo Group and Withers for assault, sexual assault, sexual harassment, discrimination, creating a hostile work environment and retaliation, among other causes. “Ashly suffered greatly through a continuous onslaught of harassment, discrimination, and threats, including a very real attempt to cause her bodily harm. The GEO Group and its managers bear responsibility for the loss of her unborn child. She hopes this trial will help bring an end to these kinds of illegal treatment of women prison guards, and show that no agency is exempt from the law,” Babaian said. The case number is CIVDS1722295. Valiant Law of Ontario, Calif., represents various individuals and entities in all aspects of employment claims, including harassment and discrimination, and wage and hour class actions in state and federal courts, with more than a decade of legal practice in Southern California, including the Inland Empire, Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Diego County, as well as Las Vegas


Jun 21, 2017 asianjournal.com 
Lawmakers announce state Justice Dept. to review conditions of immigration detention facilities
SACRAMENTO, CA – Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced recently that the California Department of Justice will begin reviewing the conditions under which immigrants are civilly detained in California while they await immigration hearings. The California Department of Justice will assess the conditions of confinement and due process concerns of immigrants detained in private, city, and county facilities. A California budget bill passed on June 15 calls for the Department of Justice to deliver a report on conditions by March 2019, with ongoing reviews until 2027. The budget action will also block city and county jails from entering into new contracts or expanding existing contracts. This limit will go into effect June 15, 2017, when Governor Jerry Brown signs it into law. “America is a nation of immigrants, and whether you arrived recently or have lived here for generations, you deserve to be treated fairly under our Constitution and laws,” said Lara. “If the federal government won’t ensure the safety and humane treatment of people held in detention in California, we must do that job and stand up for human rights.” California holds the second largest number of individuals civilly detained for immigration purposes, after Texas. The number of people arrested under immigration laws increased 38 percent in the first 100 days of the Trump Administration, thousands of whose only offense was being undocumented. “We need a clear understanding of the conditions of detention facilities housing civil immigration detainees,” said Becerra. “California is once again setting a precedent for others to follow. As chief law enforcement officer, it is my duty to uphold the law. I will always protect the basic rights of all Californians, including immigrants.” Three people have died in the privately operated Adelanto Detention Facility since March, and a report by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspector general found conditions in an Orange County jail that violated national detention standards and posed serious health risks, including solitary confinement of low-risk detainees and rotten meat. The Legislature is working to combat the problem on several fronts. Senator Lara is the author of Senate Bill 29, which would stop California cities from profiting from contracts with private detention facilities and allow the Department of Justice and local prosecutors to take legal action to enforce ICE detention standards, in addition to the review approved today. SB 29 was approved by the Senate and is scheduled for a hearing in the Assembly Committee on the Judiciary. “Now that the Trump administration is seeking to drastically expand immigration detention, immigrants in California need immediate relief,” said Grisel Ruiz, staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Rights Center, a co-sponsor of SB 29. “The budget action boldly responds by preventing the immigration detention machine in California from growing and by casting a watchful eye of oversight on all detention facilities across the state. Our state’s leaders have sent a clear message to Washington, D.C. that California chooses to lead with dignity, not detention.” The detention review provision included in the budget was proposed by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Alameda) during a budget subcommittee meeting. “The budget vote sends a very loud and clear message that we will not allow the Trump administration to operate with impunity behind locked doors,” said Christina Fialho, a California-based attorney and the co-founder/executive director of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), a co-sponsor of SB 29. “California detains the most immigrants after Texas, and about a quarter of all people in immigration detention pass through California detention facilities each year. What we do here in California has a direct effect on the national immigration detention context. We hope that this bill inspires others states to follow.” Immigrant detention is governed by ICE, which has proposed to expand civil immigrant detention in local jails and private prisons.


California Legislature

Private prison company’s growth went hand-in-hand with political influence: Jon Collins September 26, 2011 Minnesota Independent
PRIVATE PRISON GROUP USES UNREGISTERED LOBBYISTS WHILE GIVING MONEY TO SHERIFF GORE

Oct 12, 2019 ijpr.org
California Bans Private Prisons And Immigrant Detention Centers

California is moving to end the practice of allowing private companies to capitalize on mass incarceration. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Friday that bans private, for-profit prisons and immigrant detention centers in the state. The decision comes amid growing consensus around the need to end private incarceration in the U.S. “It’s really important to pass this bill because it protects the health, safety and welfare of Californians,” says Rob Bonta, the California assemblyman who wrote the bill. “And we know from study after study that in for-profit private prisons and detention centers, Californians are getting hurt.” Several Democratic presidential candidates have also responded to calls to close private prisons, which federal and state governments grew to rely on as a result of tough-on-crime initiatives in the 1980s and 1990s, according to The Sentencing Project. Today, 8% of people imprisoned in the U.S. are housed in private prisons, though 21 states don’t house any inmates in private prisons. The California bill will move to close three privately run prisons in the state, which house nearly 1,400 inmates, when their contracts with the state expire in four years, according to Reuters.  “[Private prison companies] are chasing the almighty dollar,” Bonta says. “They’re not investing in the Californians in their detention centers. In fact, they’re doing the opposite. They’re divesting.” Bonta and other supporters of the bill say that for-profit prisons are only looking to maximize profits at the expense of inmate safety. “The data is indisputable,” Bonta says. “It shows that they have less access to health care, higher levels of escape, higher levels of recidivism, lower staffing, less training for staff, higher numbers of assaults on staff. People have died in these facilities.” The private prisons that would be impacted are run by GEO Group and CoreCivic, two of the largest private prison companies in the country. The companies say private prisons are necessary in order to house a ballooning number of inmates. But Bonta says that California is prepared to house all of its inmates without private prisons. In fact, following decades of growth, the percentage of people in American prisons is the lowest it’s been in 20 years. The decline is in part due to criminal justice reform measures at the federal and state level, Bonta says. California will also not renew its contract with private detention centers that hold immigrants. This amounts to four private facilities that hold nearly 4,000 detainees. Critics say that after closing the California detention centers, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement will simply move those inmates to other facilities out of state. Bonta says that’s just one possibility.  “With less capacity, maybe they detain less individuals and decide they don’t need to do it,” he says. “Maybe they build their own facilities in California and also maybe they do move individuals out of state, and that’s why I think it’s important that other states act as California has acted.”


Mar 14, 2019 ai-cio.com
CalPERS Says No to Legislation Forcing It to Divest from Private Prisons
The pension plan’s stance also means it won’t likely voluntarily divest from GEO Group and CoreCivic. Investment officials of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) are opposing state legislation that would require the pension plan to divest of its stock in private prison companies. The opposition has broader implications. Agenda material for the system’s investment committee meeting on March 18 details that not only are the officials opposed to being forced to divest, they also likely don’t plan to voluntarily divest holdings in two American private prison companies, GEO Group and CoreCivic. The two companies have been thrust into the spotlight because of President Trump’s immigrant crackdown. They have housed not only immigrants in their facilities, but entire families in two correctional facilities in the San Antonio, Texas, area—one run by GEO Group and the other by CoreCivic. It’s doubtful that the CalPERS investment committee would choose to overrule investment officials. Investment committee members have generally been philosophically opposed to increasing divestments, which includes tobacco companies, companies that do business in Iran and Sudan, and thermal coal companies. The stance of CalPERS Chief Investment Officer Ben Meng and other system investment officials puts the largest US pension system at odds with some of its large peers, including the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS), the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, and the New York State Common Pension Fund, all which have divested from the two private prison companies. The state legislation by Democratic Assemblyman Ron Bonta of Oakland requires CalPERS to divest of stock or bonds in private prison companies on or before July 1, 2020. CalSTRS is also included in the bill as being required to divest, but the system’s investment committee voted to sell its stock in the two prison companies in November 2018, making the issue moot. The agenda material for the CalPERS March 18 investment committee meeting says that “as a California state agency, CalPERS is sensitive to public policy issues, but recognizes that our primary duty and obligation is to our members. “Divestment almost invariably harms investment performance by compromising investment strategies and increasing transaction costs,” the agenda materials say. It goes on to say that there is considerable evidence that divesting is an ineffective strategy for achieving social or political goals. “This is because the usual consequence is often a transfer of ownership of divested assets from one investor to another. Investors that divest lose their ability as shareowners to influence a company to act responsibly.” CalPERS says in the agenda material that it owns approximately $10 million in stock in GEO Group and CoreCivic. The pension system said it holds both companies in its passively managed stock portfolios that are designed to track their benchmarks with as little deviation as possible. “Divestment represents an active deviation from our benchmarks that, in CalPERS’ experience, has harmed investment performance over time in most cases,” the agenda material says. CalPERS general investment consultant, Wilshire Associates, has estimated that all CalPERS divestments from the first quarter of 2001 through June 30, 2018, have resulted in a 0.7% loss for the $351.1 billion pension system. The pension plan also estimates that if it sold the private prison companies’ stock, it would lose $175,000, which reflects brokerage fees and the market impact of divesting from these companies and reinvesting in new securities. CalPERS’s view of the financial damage it would incur from divestment sharply contrasts to the views of CalSTRS investment officials. Their review late last year said removing the private prison companies from the CalSTRS portfolio does “not pose a significant risk or benefit to the portfolio because they are so small relative to the US equity and fixed income allocations.” CalSTRS had around $12 million invested in CoreCivic and GEO Group, $2 million more than CalPERS. CalPERS had announced back in December that it was engaging the management of GEO Group and CoreCivic. The agenda material does not state the result of the engagement. Bonta had told CIO that the bill he introduced in December came after the Trump administration’s policies earlier this year that resulted in the detention of thousands of children in two facilities run by GEO Group and CoreCivic. “These companies are not only facilitating the Trump administration’s political agenda, but profiting from the cruel, zero-tolerance immigration policies that have torn innocent children from their families,” Bonta said. “This is inhumane and not in line with California’s values.”


Feb 5, 2019 mercurynews.com
Is California closer to closing private prisons with Newsom at helm?
California Democrats think 2019 is their best chance yet to accomplish a long-held liberal goal: shuttering the state’s private prisons. Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed in his inaugural address “to end the outrage that is private prisons,” and now state lawmakers are mounting a renewed effort to turn that applause line into reality. They’re painting the move as an act of resistance against one of the Trump administration’s most important corporate partners. But with California’s corrections system still far over capacity, some state leaders are questioning how far they can go in casting aside the private prison industry. The state’s use of private prisons jumped after a federal court ordered officials to reduce perilous overcrowding in 2009, when inmates were crammed into gymnasium bunk-beds and the suicide rate was nearly double the national average. The prison population has dropped precipitously since then, but California currently has more than 4,000 inmates in private facilities, about half in-state and half in Arizona, costing the state millions of dollars a year. The two companies holding California inmates — CoreCivic and GEO Group, the largest firms in the industry — both have faced numerous lawsuits over the years accusing them of poor medical care and treatment of inmates. Democrats are now pushing Assembly Bill 32, which would block California from approving contracts with the prison companies starting in January 2020 and force the state to remove all inmates from private prisons by 2028. “It’s inconsistent with our values to be putting inmates in prisons where the incentive is to minimize investments and maximize profits for shareholders,” said Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, one of the bill’s authors. Newsom’s office declined to comment on the bill. The state corrections department noted that it has already reduced its reliance on private prisons — including ending the use of several other out-of-state facilities — and plans to pull inmates out of the last Arizona prison later this year. If Newsom backs the effort, it would show a different approach from his predecessor. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a more limited bill in 2017 that would have ended the state’s use of out-of-state private prisons, arguing that while he supported its intent, the corrections department “needs to maintain maximum flexibility in the short term” due to the court mandate. As of last week, California’s public prisons held 117,195 inmates — 130.6 percent of the capacity they were designed to house. Under the court order, the state cannot exceed 137.5 percent of capacity, and adding in the 4,004 inmates currently held in private prisons would raise the level to 134.8 percent. Private prison supporters argue that would be worryingly close to the court-ordered cap. “Not everyone wants to hear this, but (the private prisons) did a really good job of providing us with the capacity we needed,” said Scott Kernan, the former state corrections department chief who retired last year and is currently a member of GEO Group’s board of directors. He described the facilities as “a necessary and integral part of how we managed our population” over the last decade. But he noted that the facilities had become less important as the state’s prison population has declined — down from a peak of more than 173,000 inmates in 2006. The companies — which have donated generously to California politicians of both parties — argued that the bill would undermine the state’s progress. “We’ve been providing safe, secure housing and life-changing re-entry programming for inmates that had faced extreme overcrowding,” said Rodney King, a CoreCivic spokesman. California is one of the top revenue-producing states for both companies. In July 2018, the state renewed contracts for four prisons with the GEO Group. Those contracts, which last through June 2023, will cost the state a total of $306 million. The two private prison companies were major donors to Trump’s inauguration committee, and GEO Group also gave to his campaign and a pro-Trump Super PAC. They also are integral partners for the president’s immigration policies, with both running ICE detention centers around the country, including in California, which would not be impacted by the bill. While the Obama administration moved to stop using private prisons for federal inmates in 2016, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed that directive. In the third quarter of 2018, CoreCivic’s drop in revenue from declining numbers of California inmates was more than made up for by a spike in funds from the federal government, according to the company’s earnings report. The private prison firms’ involvement in the Trump administration’s immigrant detention has only inflamed opposition to them in California. “We’re enriching companies that are taking our children,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, another of the bill’s co-authors. “Who wants our state money to encourage that?” (Both companies hold immigrant families, including children, in some of their facilities, but not minors who have been separated from their parents.The bill would not apply to privately run halfway houses around the state, or a Kern County facility that’s owned by CoreCivic but leased and operated by the state. Another bill sponsored by Bonta and Gonzalez, AB33, would order the state public employees retirement system to divest from private prison companies. The state teachers’ retirement system divested last year. Advocates are especially intent on closing La Palma Correctional Center, a squat private prison surrounded by miles of scrubby desert in Eloy, Arizona, which holds both California inmates and ICE detainees. La Palma overused solitary confinement, provided insufficient services and had numerous security issues, according to a 2010 state inspector general report. Its remote location also makes it difficult for many California families to visit. Martinez resident Annie Santiago visited her husband, Kenneth, who was convicted of robbery, every week when he was at Mule Creek prison in Amador County, she said. But after he was transferred to La Palma, the more than 12-hour journey made it impossible for her and their three children to see him more than once or twice a year. “When they told me they were going to move my husband so far away, my heart broke,” said Santiago, 59. “I was begging for my husband to come back.”

Jan 8, 2019 psmag.com
In his inaugural address, Governor Gavin Newsom vowed to tackle homelessness, criminal justice reform, and inequality.
In his inaugural address on Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom pledged that the state would continue to serve as a bulwark to the Trump administration. "What we do today is even more consequential, because of what's happening in our country," Newsom said from the stage in Sacramento. "People's lives, freedom, security, the water we drink, the air we breathe—they all hang in the balance. The country is watching us. The world is waiting on us. The future depends on us. And we will seize this moment." The progressive governor reiterated several of his most ambitious campaign pledges, vowing to provide more support for parents, address the crisis of homelessness that's plagued the state, and build off of the previous administration's efforts to reform the justice system. Here's a Pacific Standard reading list on the issues that dominated Newsom's opening remarks.
ON HOMELESSNESS
Newsom said that California is facing "a homeless epidemic that should keep all of us up at night." The state's homeless population reached 134,000 in 2017. On the campaign trail, Newsom pledged to create a cabinet-level position dedicated to solving the homelessness crisis—the first position of its kind—which will focus on regional solutions. He also set the ambitious goal of 3.5 million new housing units by 2025 to combat the state's chronic lack of affordable housing. In 2017, Rachel Nuwer wrote for Pacific Standard about the rapidly increasing proportion of elderly homeless people in the United States, and the unique challenges of serving an aging homeless population. Last year, Jack Denton reported from Skid Row in Los Angeles, where the homeless population is facing police abuse and property seizures—despite judicial rulings that should protect them. Despite claims by affordable housing advocates, the California Legislative Analyst's Office, and representatives of the building industry that a state environmental law has stymied housing development in California, a study covered by Candace Butera found that local development regulations, rather than statewide environmental protections, may shoulder more of the blame for the state's housing crisis.
ON PRIVATE PRISONS
"We will end the outrage that is private prisons in the state of California once and for all," Newsom said. Some 6,600 California inmates are currently held in private prisons. The governor also supports plans to end cash bail in the state. In 2017, just after President Donald Trump's Department of Justice reversed the Obama administration's efforts to phase out private prisons, Jared Keller gathered two dozen data points to explain the nation's reliance on private prisons. Rick Paulus chronicled the history of private prisons in the U.S., from the first contract issued by Kentucky to an entrepreneur named Joel Scott for $1,000 to CoreCivic, the private prison and detention center giant that has $1 billion in contracts for housing prisoners and immigration detainees. Last year, Elizabeth King wrote about all the ways the cash bail system discriminates against poor and minority communities, and efforts across the country to dismantle the predatory system.
ON PARENTING
Newsom included several plugs for parents of young children in his inaugural address, and, over the weekend, the New York Times reported that the governor's office has bold plans to increase paid parental leave in the state from six weeks to six months. In 2015, Maya Dusenberry wrote about how America trails behind other developed nations on its parental leave policies, and all the ways in which the lack of support harms working mothers and exacerbates inequality. Last year, Dwyer Gunn compared several leading paid family leave proposals under consideration at the federal level. Tom Jacobs reported on a study that shows how paid family leave can encourage breastfeeding, and all the subsequent health and cognitive benefits the practice confers to infants and their mothers.

Dec 28, 2018 ai-cio.com
The review could lead to divestment of CoreCivic and The GEO Group.
The chairman of the investment committee of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) says investment officials are engaging management of two private prison companies, CoreCivic and The GEO Group, as well as defense contractor General Dynamics. Henry Jones’ comments come as a California state legislator, Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta, has introduced legislation that would force CalPERS to divest from the two prison companies. The companies have been the subject of controversy because of their housing of children and their families caught up in the Trump administration immigration crackdown. Other major pension systems, including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), The New York State Common Fund, and The New York City pension systems, have divested from CoreCivic and The GEO Group. General Dynamics, whose holdings have not been sold off by the other pension systems, does not house prisoners but does provide case management services for youth detained under the Trump administration policies. Advocates want CalPERS to pressure General Dynamics to stop its contracts with the federal government, but generally have not called for outright divestment. Jones made his comments about engaging CoreCivic and The GEO Group at CalPERS’s Dec. 17 investment committee meeting, following speeches by individuals and representatives of several groups supporting divestment. “We appreciate your concerns,” Jones said, noting that CalPERS staff was engaging the companies on issues raised by the speakers and is continuing to follow up on developments in accordance with fund policy. Under the rules of the largest US pension plan, CalPERS must engage companies over its policies before the investment committee can take a formal vote on divestment. One of those speaking on Dec. 17, Emily Claire Godman, the founder and director of Educators for Migrant Justice, said she understood that CalPERS has historically resisted shareholder demands for divestment, arguing that a voice at the table is the best way to change corporate conduct. “This argument doesn’t hold for companies like CoreCivic and The GEO Group, whose for-profit prison model, where the companies have a financial incentive to incarcerate as many people as possible, is inherently incompatible with the concept of corporate social responsibility,” she said. “No amount of pressure from investors can persuade a company to abandon its business model.” Goldman presented the investment committee a petition singed by 240 CalPERS members calling for divestment of the two companies. “This level of divestment makes it more difficult for these migrant abuse companies to underwrite debt, access capital, and lobby for contracts and pro-incarceration anti-immigrant policies,” she said. Another speaker, Mya Dosch, an assistant professor at Sacramento State University and a CalPERS member, expressed concern about Cibola County Correction Center in New Mexico run by CoreCivic, which has a unit housing transgender women. Dosch cited the case of a transgender woman, Roxana Hernandez, who died from complications of HIV, pneumonia, and dehydration at a hospital in May after being detained at the correctional facility. Hernandez was at the CoreCivic facility for 12 hours before being transferred to a hospital after her medical condition became known. “We take the health and well-being of those entrusted to our care very seriously,” he said.  “Whenever there is a death in custody, CoreCivic immediately notifies our government partners and all appropriate authorities with oversight responsibility. We cooperate fully with those investigations.” He also said CoreCivic was committed to providing a safe environment for transgender detainees. “Our ICE-contracted facilities are contractually required and held accountable to federal Performance-Based National Detention Standards (PBNDS), which include guidelines for the safe and appropriate accommodation of transgender detainees,” he said. Hernandez was part of a caravan of migrants from Central America seeking asylum in the US in May. She was detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at the San Ysidro Port of Entry between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and Sen. Kamala Harris of California, have sent a letter to border and immigration officials asking for an investigation into the circumstances leading to Hernandez’s death. Immigration officials say Hernandez wasn’t abused while in custody. “I do not want to invest in this,” said Dosch of the two private prison companies.  “I do not want my retirement tied to those corporations whose profit from the suffering of women of color and the most vulnerable among us. It is not a sound investment, either.” Both private prison companies insist they do not make policies regarding the housing of immigrant detainees but provide services under their contracts with the federal government. The private prison companies also contract with state and local authorities, including the state of California, to hold prisoners because of overcapacity issues in state and local prisons. If CalPERS chooses not to divest from the two private prison companies, officials of the pension system would likely have to make their case in the state legislature at a public hearing. Bonta’s bill to divest from CoreCivic and The GEO Group will begin to be considered by state lawmakers after the state legislature reconvenes on Jan. 7. The bill came after the Trump administration’s immigration detention policies earlier this year shined the spotlight on CoreCivic and The GEO Group. Each company runs a facility housing adults and children detained in the immigration crackdown, as well as facilities housing adult detainees. CalPERS has around $12 million in holdings in the two companies, not major for such a large pension plan, but divesture by the biggest US pension system would shine more attention on issues surrounding the private prison corporations and their for-profit model. Bonta’s bill also calls for CalSTRS to divest from the two private prison companies, but the CalSTRS investment committee already approved divestment in an emotional 6-5 vote last month.

Feb 17, 2018 lasentinel.net
Assemblymember Thurmond Introduces Legislation To Fund Early Education Programs By Taxing Private Prisons
Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), introduced a bill that implements a tax on private prisons that operate in California. The tax revenue generated by the bill will fund preschool and after-school programs. Among other benefits to participants, these programs are known to lower the likelihood of incarceration.  “Every child deserves an opportunity at a high-quality education,” said Thurmond. “Students who have access to early education and after-school programs show higher test scores and increased engagement in school. This bill will invest in programs that promote educational equity.” Current active contracts between private prisons and the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation total over $200 million. The proposed corrections budget this year alone totals $12 billion. In comparison, the state spends relatively little on programs known to prevent incarceration. Studies show that access to high-quality preschool programs results in a 20% lower likelihood of incarceration. Preschool attendance has also been shown to be a key indicator for attending college and results in higher lifetime income earnings compared to those who did not attend preschool. Effective after-school programs bring a wide range of benefits to youth, families, and communities. After-school programs have been proven to enhance academic performance, promote physical health, and provide a safe and structured environment for the children of working parents. This bill supplements existing prison population reduction efforts by focusing on reducing contact with the criminal justice system in the first instance. By providing high-quality early educational opportunities, this bill addresses the school-to-prison pipeline.

Dec 10, 2016 therecorder.com
California: Court reverses bad Wackenhut (G4S) ruling
SAN FRANCISCO — A California state appellate court on Monday reversed a decision by a trial judge that smashed a long-running wage-and-hour class action against security contractor The Wackenhut Corp., ruling that the judge overstretched the U.S. Supreme Court's 2011 decision in Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes. The decision is a loss for the employment law defense bar generally, but is especially a blow for Theodore Boutrous Jr., the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner who argued Wal-Mart and was brought in by Wackenhut in 2011 to wield the then-fresh high court decision in its own case ahead of trial. Second District Court of Appeal Justice Norman Epstein, writing for a panel also joined by Justices Thomas Willhite Jr. and Nora Manella, said the lower court was wrong to agree with Wackenhut's lawyers that Wal-Mart effectively prohibited the use of statistical sampling in establishing class-wide liability. "[T]he use of statistical sampling in this case is distinguishable from the method rejected by the Supreme Court in Wal-Mart because, in that case, the plaintiffs proposed to use representative evidence as a means of overcoming the absence of a common policy," Epstein wrote. The justice added that "here, the results of the statistical sampling … served as a manageability tool—an alternative to burdensome production." He also said that in a ruling subsequent to Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo, the U.S. Supreme Court had made clear that sampling is permissible. The case centers on claims that Wackenhut, a global security contractor now owned by British company G4S, failed to give security guards in California off-duty meal and rest breaks, and also did not provide them with adequate wage statements, as required by state law. In order to establish class liability for the meal break claim in particular, the plaintiffs' attorneys proposed to sample 1,200 of the at least 13,500 security guards in the class period to determine which had signed agreements to take their meal break while still on duty. The sample found that depending on the year, the percentage of employees with valid agreements ranged between 0 and 88 percent. Wackenhut initially agreed to that plan because it did not want to have to dig through its records and produce documents for all of the employees covered by the class period, which stretches back to 2001, and trial court judge William Highberger certified the proposed class in 2010. But the company changed tack after the Wal-Mart decision and sought class decertification, which it won in 2012. "This is a fairly definitive statement as to the limitations of Wal-Mart with respect to class action jurisprudence in the state of California," Jason Marsili, a partner at Posner & Rosen who argued the case on appeal for the plaintiffs, said of the appellate court's ruling on Monday. Marsili said the decision should shift the law on the issue of sampling back in favor of plaintiffs after a decision by the California Supreme Court 2014 in Duran v. U.S. Bank, which held that a class must be decertified if individual issues are later shown to predominate. Boutrous, meanwhile, hinted that he would try to take the case up to the state's highest court. "The trial court was right to decertify this class," Boutrous said in a statement. "The Court of Appeal misinterpreted the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Wal-Mart case and its ruling raises several important issues under state and federal law about class actions and employment law that warrant review by the California Supreme Court."

Dec 7, 2016 endisolation.org
California Introduces Bill to End For-Profit Immigration Detention in 2017
Under Trump’s Impending Expansion of Immigration Detention, Senator Lara Re-Introduces Dignity Not Detention Act to End For-Profit Immigration Detention in California. Today, as part of a broader #Fight4CA legislative package, Senator Lara (D-Bell Gardens) re-introduced the Dignity Not Detention Act, co-sponsored by Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC).  This bill is in line with the Department of Homeland Security’s vote on December 1 to phase out the use of private contracting in its immigration detention operations. The Dignity Not Detention Act directly addresses the findings of Homeland Security’s recent investigation of for-profit facilities.  Homeland Security found the mistreatment of immigrants in confinement to be systemic and especially stark in for-profit facilities.  And DHS voted to shift away from for-profit facilities.  In effect, the Dignity Not Detention Act will prohibit local cities and counties from entering into new contracts with private, for-profit companies to operate immigration detention facilities in California.  It also will require all detention facilities to uphold national humane treatment standards. This bill is especially timely during the transition to the incoming Trump administration. President-elect Trump has promised to expand the United States’ immigration enforcement apparatus as part of his initiative in his first 100 days to target 2-3 million immigrants he has inaccurately labelled “criminals.” “Now more than ever, we must safeguard human rights in immigration detention,” said Christina Fialho, a California attorney and the co-executive director of CIVIC.  “We are confident that the legislature and the Governor will make dignity not detention the law of the land this coming year.” ICE currently contracts with private companies to run immigration detention facilities.  People in detention include undocumented people, asylum-seekers, long-time green card holders, and others who are awaiting their immigration hearings.  In California, there are 10 immigration detention facilities.  Four are privately-run and hold approximately 85 percent of detained immigrants statewide.  Approximately 100,000 people were detained in California’s detention facilities last year, that is about a quarter of the total detained immigrant population nationwide.  There have been consistent reports of human rights abuses in detention facilities, including physical and sexual abuse, poor access to healthcare, little access to legal counsel, and overuse of solitary confinement, and even death. LGBTQ immigrants have reported facing discrimination, harassment, and abuse due to their sexual orientation. In many of these instances, even the Department of Homeland Security has found these deaths were preventable. Tragically, the incidents often go unaddressed and victims have no recourse. Private, for-profit immigration detention facilities present a host of problems. The facilities are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and operate with little to no oversight. Many also operate under contract incentives where they are guaranteed a minimum number of immigrants in their facility at all times, ensuring their billion-dollar profits. Currently, ICE has a set of Performance-Based National Detention Standards in place, but they lack any real enforcement mechanism. The Dignity Not Detention Act would be the first state-level bill to codify these standards into law, and provide redress for immigrants whose rights have been violated. Individuals who have been detained speak out in support of the Dignity Not Detention Act: “Immigration detention in the United States has become a financial market where people’s lives are being treated as profit.  This bill is a clear step in the right direction,” said Sylvester Owino, an asylum seeker from Kenya who spent 9 years in immigration detention, primarily in California. “While in detention, my religious freedoms were often violated.  As a Muslim, my religion calls me to prayer at certain times of the day.  Many times, officers forced me to choose between having breakfast or lunch and practicing my faith.  I would always choose prayer, but this meant that many days I went hungry,” said Mohammed Kamal Deen Ilias, an asylum seeker from Ghana, who was detained at Adelanto Detention Facility from April 17, 2015, to February 5, 2016. “Taking your dignity and pride is one thing, but taking away your dreams, what’s after that?  In immigration detention, you feel helpless.  You feel impotent to the system.  You don’t know what’s going to happen next.  Psychologically, you start deteriorating,” said Carlos Hidalgo, a father and grandfather of U.S. citizens, who was held at Adelanto Detention Facility for over a year. “In the beginning, the Department of Homeland Security sent me together with my daughter to James Musick Facility.  After two weeks, DHS separated me from my daughter. I was sent to the CCA facility in San Diego and then to the GEO facility in Adelanto. They didn’t tell me about my rights and made arbitrary decisions.  They put me into segregation, abused and tortured me and compromised my physical integrity to a point that I was in need of a wheelchair,” said Petra Albrecht, a mother originally from Germany who was held in immigration detention for over 1 year.

Sep 23, 2016 tricountysentry.com
Correa Blasts Nguyen for Hiring Scandal-Plagued Private Jail Operator
Santa Ana, CA – Following newspaper reports by the Orange County Register, former State Senator Lou Correa slams Congressional candidate Bao Nguyen for inviting disgraced jail operator GEO Group into Garden Grove. On June 23, 2015, Mayor Bao Nguyen gave $1.6 million to the GEO Group to run the city’s jail. That same day, 35 leading Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Latino leader Rep. Raül Grijalva and civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis, wrote the Department of Homeland Security expressing grave concern for the deplorable treatment and sexual abuse of LBGT detainees by the GEO Group in its ICE detainee facilities. The GEO Group has been under investigation almost continually since 2001, resulting in over $42 million in fines and damages. “As a member of both the LBGT and immigrant community, Bao’s willingness to work with GEO is unforgivable. The very fact that leading Democrats saw fit to write the Department of Homeland Security the same day as the Garden Grove vote, shows how out of touch Mayor Nguyen is. Either he cannot be trusted to research a critical vote, or worse, he did and did not care about what he found,” Correa stated. “While Democrats were standing together to fight against the GEO Group, Mayor Bao Nguyen invited them into his city. If he is willing to sellout his own city, there is no telling what he will do to his constituents in Congress,” Correa added. The GEO Group is the second largest private prison corporation in the United States and is one of the largest operators of the notorious ICE Detention facilities, responsible for atrocious living conditions, splitting up families, and mentally and sexually abusing LBGT detainees. They run 96 facilities and have been plagued with dozens of accusations of abusive employees, medical negligence, and numerous wrongful death lawsuits over the past 15 years.

Sep 21, 2016 kqed.org
Governor Weighs Whether to Bar Some Private Immigration Lockups
First, the Department of Justice announced it would stop using them, and soon after, the Department of Homeland Security said it would review whether hundreds of thousands of immigrants should be detained in private lockups overseen by the department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division. The state of California might beat them to the punch. A bill that would bar cities and counties from contracting with private prisons to hold immigrant detainees is sitting on the governor’s desk. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill, three facilities would be impacted by Senate Bill 1289: Adelanto Detention Facility in San Bernardino County, Mesa Verde Detention Facility in Bakersfield and Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Holtville, in Imperial County. Together, the facilities can house around 3,000 people. All three are owned by local governments, but run by private prison corporations that contract with ICE to detain immigrants. The bill by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) would also impose more stringent standards on any remaining immigration centers hosted by local jurisdictions, including prohibiting segregated housing for LGBT inmates and requiring access to legal representation, translation services and medical care, including HIV and AIDS care. Grisel Ruiz, a staff attorney with the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, said California has distinguished itself as a state that welcomes immigrants and should not allow local governments and corporations to profit off the detention of people waiting to have their immigration cases resolved. “There’s a huge problem when you monetize human beings, and in this case you are monetizing exceptionally vulnerable people,” she said. “Asylum seekers, refugees, people who might have problems with — English might be their second language, they might have very little education, most don’t even have attorneys — it really goes against our values that we have here as a state in California.” The publicly owned, privately run prisons wouldn’t shut down overnight: If Brown signs the bill, cities and counties would be barred from entering into new contracts beginning in 2018. The largest facility, Adelanto, has a contract that runs through 2021.

Aug 26, 2016 citylab.com
California Pushes to End Private-Prison Management of Immigrant Detention Centers
Last year, Raúl Ernesto Morales-Ramos, an undocumented Salvadoran immigrant, died of intestinal cancer while in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Adelanto Detention Center in Southern California. The center is operated by the private prison company GEO Group, whose medical care provider failed to diagnose or treat Morales-Ramos’ cancer until authorities noticed his “unusual bleeding,” according to the Los Angeles Times. He was taken to a hospital and died three days later.  Ramos’ seemingly preventable death provoked outrage among immigrant-rights activists in California. Now, a week after the U.S. Justice Department announced that it is phasing out contracting with private prison companies, California is looking to follow its lead by ending the operation of detention centers for suspected undocumented immigrants statewide by private prison companies. On Tuesday, the California State Assembly passed the Dignity not Detention Act, which would ban cities and counties from contracting out the management of these detention centers to private prison companies. The bill now returns to the state Senate, where it was initially approved, and will, if passed, go on to Governor Jerry Brown’s office for signature or veto. The bill would also require localities holding undocumented immigrants on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement to adhere to ICE’s best-practice standards. This portion of the law is designed to ensure that those in custody have access to medication and legal counsel, and allow them to sue centers for violations of these standards. The proposed legislation would affect thousands of undocumented immigrant families across California. According to the Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement, 62 percent of all beds in these centers nationwide are operated by for-profit companies. And in California, this proportion is even more pronounced, with 85 percent of all detainees (roughly 3,700 people) stuck in just four privately run detention facilities, according to the LA Weekly. Privately operated detention centers can be major cash cows for cities and counties. ICE contracts with municipalities to hold undocumented non-citizens on its behalf; they, in turn, outsource detention-center operations to private prison companies, whose cost-cutting measures—such as cheap food and scaled-back health care provisions—bring in more municipal revenue. In a public letter opposing the state bill, Adelanto city council member John R. Woodard estimated that the city could lose up to $35 million per year in revenue were its contract with GEO group to end. The bill’s original sponsor, Ricardo Lara, a Democrat and state senator from Southeast Los Angeles, believes that cost is worth it. “The Dignity not Detention Act takes a stand against the mass incarceration of immigrants in detention facilities and inhumane immigration detention conditions,” said Lara to the Los Angeles Times in April. “Our state and local governments should not be complicit in this awful practice of profiting off of human suffering.”

July 10, 2013 latimes.com

Though he has no money in the state budget yet to follow through, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a three-year deal with a private prison contractor that allows the state to continue keeping more than 8,200 inmates out of state. The contract extension with Corrections Corp. of America was announced Wednesday. It gives Brown the latitude to continue his previously announced plans to stop sending inmates out of state by 2016, or change his mind and use those private prisons to absorb at least some of the overflow from the state's crowded prisons. "The plan was always to continue the contract with CCA through 2016," corrections spokesman Jeffrey Callison said. Brown is under pressure from federal courts to reduce the number of inmates in the state's 33 prisons by about 9,600 inmates, releasing them early if need be. The governor is appealing that order before the U.S. Supreme Court, but in the meantime, continues to follow the current order. On Wednesday, that meant providing the judges with a list of state laws and regulations that would have to be waived in order to begin prison releases. Brown's lawyers on Wednesday asked the judges for "clarification" on whether the governor can spend money without approval of the Legislature, and whether the state can create or expand parole programs also without legislative approval. In a June order, a panel of three federal judges said it was waiving all laws that blocked early releases. Brown's lawyers asked for confirmation. "Defendants construe the June 20 order as providing the necessary authorization for defendants to implement all aspects of the amended court-ordered plan. If defendants are mistaken, they request clarification of the court’s June 20 order," they wrote in a request sent to the court Wednesday.

July 12, 2012 Sacramento Bee
With severe overcrowding easing in state lockups, California is winding down a controversial deal with the nation's biggest private prison operator and will bring thousands of inmates housed in facilities as far away as Mississippi back to California within the next few years. Currently, some 9,500 state inmates are serving sentences in prisons in Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma operated by the Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America. As part of a strategic plan announced in April, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will transfer those inmates back to California facilities by 2016. The return of the first group, 600 inmates housed in Arizona, will begin "immediately," said Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate. Another 4,000 prisoners will return to California in 2014. Steve Owen, spokesman for the Corrections Corporation, confirmed the company agreed to modify its contract to lower the total number of California inmates housed in out-of-state facilities from 9,588 to 9,038 for this year. The contract guarantees 90 percent occupancy. The revised contract will reduce California's fee to the private prison group by $67 million for the current fiscal year, according to corrections spokeswoman Dana Simas. The state will save another $14 million in 2012 by cutting staff positions for the program, which is administered in Sacramento. California is paying the Corrections Corporation $61 to $72 per prison bed per day, making the original contract worth more than $280 million for 2012-13, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office and corrections department figures.

January 25, 2012 The Capitol Morning Report
California's enormous budget problem is making it difficult for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to comply with the court-ordered reduction in its prison population, Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate told 80 Sacramento Press Club luncheon guests Tuesday. But, said Cate, "It's getting done." Cate said the inmate population is 200 percent over capacity, and the goal is to reduce that to 137.5 percent. The major effort now --called Realignment-- is aimed at moving less violent inmates into county facilities. But the state budget problem is getting in the way. Cate said some counties want remuneration from the state for their added costs, and the state doesn't have the money. "There are 58 counties and each has their own way of doing business. But if we can get to the point where we have space to move prisoners, we can operate more efficiently. Right now, if we want to move a prisoner with a less violent history into a facility with similar histories, often there are no available beds." One consequence of overcrowding is more overtime for prison staff, and that increase costs, Cate said, but the realignment program is reducing overtime needs and thus reducing costs. Asked about the Correction Department's treatment of juvenile offenders, Cate said the governor "had expressed concern that we were investing in education, elementary and secondary and the college level, and part of having a leaner, meaner prison system means that we have the ability to spend money on such programs." Another questioner queried Cate on the state program of shipping inmates to prisons in other states. He responded that the department is following the governor's request to end the program because, he said, "People in Arizona, Mississippi and North Carolina are earning a living dealing with these offenders when those jobs could be here.

April 11, 2011 Michigan Messenger
Budget problems and changing priorities in California threaten to derail plans to send thousands of inmates to the GEO Group’s private prison in Baldwin. Last year California’s overcrowded prison system agreed to pay The GEO Group $60 million a year to house 2,580 inmates at the company’s North Lake Correctional Facility starting in May. But now California is struggling to close a $15.4 billion deficit and the new Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that would reduce the state prison population by transferring prisoners with short sentences into county jails where they could gradually reintegrate into their communities. The bill, however, won’t take effect until a mechanism for funding the program is established and with budget negotiations stalled in the legislature, it’s unclear how or when that will happen. “We are in a very volatile situation with the budget and legal authority to send inmate out of state is in question,” California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation Undersecretary Scott Hernan said in an interview Friday. Hernan said that at this point the dept. is still planning to begin sending 130 inmates a month to Baldwin by plane starting next month, and hopes to be able to continue plans with GEO. Ryan Sherman is spokesman for the California Correctional Peace Officer Association, which represents state corrections officers and opposes plans to ship inmates out of state. “This is a California state department,” he said. “Should they really be trying to send taxpayer dollars and jobs to another state in the middle of a budget crunch?” California is also waiting on delivery of an opinion in a U.S. Supreme Court case that could influence how the state needs to deal with overcrowding issues, he said. This Spring the court is expected to announce it’s opinion in Plata v. Schwarzenegger, a case that examines the legality of a court order that California reduce its prison population in order to address unconstitutional conditions (inadequate medical care) in the corrections system. If the Supreme Court determines that California must reduce its prison population then outsourcing prisoners might be one way to comply with that mandate, Sherman said, though it would be an expensive way to do it. No matter the outcome of the ruling, he said, it may not be wise to begin the process of moving prisoners when a decision is imminent. In Baldwin, training for employees at the prison was delayed last week but the GEO Group refused to give details about the status of plans for the California inmates. The company has said that the deal with California will lead to 500 jobs at the facility by 2014. Joe Baumann is correctional officer at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles and secretary for the group Corrections USA. “I believe there is a very high likelihood that [California inmates] will not go to Michigan,” he said. “A couple county jails — Orange, LA and Fresno — have sizable units empty for budget reasons,” he said. “They’ve got units that are there mothballed. It’s not enough to make a significant dent in prison crowding but it is enough to absorb the inmates that would have gone to Baldwin. LA County has got about 1500 empty beds.” “This puts GEO in a situation where they are fighting counties for money.” The uncertainty around the deal with California is the latest in a series of problems for The GEO Group’s Michigan property. The North Lake Correctional Facility was built as a 500 bed maximum security youth facility but was shut down in 2005 after the state ended its contract with the company amid lawsuits alleging abuse. In 2009 GEO expanded the prison to 1,725 beds in expectation of winning a federal contract to house immigrant detainees but those plans were stopped last year after the federal Bureau of Prisons canceled its request for more space for criminal aliens.

February 10, 2011 Bakersfield Californian
Two Kern County community correctional facilities that were supposed to reopen this month and house hundreds of low-level female inmates will remain closed. The contract awarded last year to The GEO Group to operate the facilities was pulled because of the state's budget woes, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Cassandra Hockenson said Thursday. It costs about twice as much to keep an inmate in a smaller facility compared to a larger one, she said. "It just didn't pencil out and this administration, obviously very concerned about the budget and the cost of reducing the budget deficit, had the programs scrapped," Hockenson said. The McFarland Community Correctional Facility had been slated to reopen Feb. 14 and house 250 inmates. The Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility -- located in Bakersfield -- had been scheduled for a Feb. 7 reopening and was supposed to house 400 inmates. Exact figures on how much the facilities would have cost the state weren't immediately available. GEO Group spokesman Pablo E. Paez was not immediately available for comment.

November 30, 2010 San Francisco Chronicle
California, under pressure to reduce the number of inmates in its crowded prisons, has steadily increased the number of convicts it sends to private institutions outside the state since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger began the program in 2006. The latest deal will ship another 5,800 inmates to private prisons across state lines, bringing the total to more than 15,000. The transfers will begin in May under a contract that runs through June 2013 - nearly halfway through the term of Gov.-elect Jerry Brown. California has a prison population of about 164,000 people, but its corrections facilities are only equipped to house around 100,000. The state is under court order to reduce the inmate population by 40,000 though state officials are challenging the order, and the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case today. Critics of moving prisoners to out-of-state facilities say it does little to relieve the underlying problems that have caused crowded conditions and questioned the timing of the new, no-bid contracts with two private companies. One of the companies houses nearly 10,000 California prisoners. "This is the governor doing what he wants to in the last minutes of his administration," said state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. "It is a way he can, on his watch, knock another 5,000 from the official numbers." When California first signed contracts to ship prisoners over state lines four years ago, it began with 2,260 inmates at a cost of $51 million annually. Now, it is set to pay the companies $360 million a year to house 15,424 prisoners, and spend more than $636 million annually once administrative costs are factored in. The prisons remain woefully crowded: There are 8,200 inmates in "nontraditional" beds such as the gymnasium at San Quentin State Prison. Prison officials hope that, with the new agreements and other efforts, the number could drop to zero. "This has always been viewed as a temporary remedy while we await other fixes, including legislative reform and building additional (prison) capacity," said Scott Kernan, undersecretary for operations at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Consult next governor Critics of California's private prison deals, however, question the timing of the new contracts and whether the state should be using private lockups at all. Don Specter of the Prison Law Office, which filed the crowding lawsuit against the state, said Brown "should be consulted on this important policy development before any long-term decisions are made." It was unclear whether the governor-elect weighed in on the new contracts. A spokesman for Brown declined comment. Kernan, however, said that while the "timing might seem unusual," the state has been in the process of negotiating the new contracts for months. About half of the new inmates - 2,580 - will go to a Michigan facility owned by GEO Group Inc., which signed a new contract with the state earlier this month. The other half are to go to prisons in Colorado and Minnesota, though the state is still negotiating with the owner of those facilities, Corrections Corp. of America. The corrections company already houses 9,941 California inmates and is the nation's largest private prison company. Corrections Corp. of America also was the subject of a recent National Public Radio investigation that alleged that it and other prison companies helped draft and pass a controversial Arizona immigration bill approved earlier this year - a law that could increase inmate population numbers and therefore benefit the private prison industry's bottom line. Corrections Corp. of America denies any involvement, saying in a written statement that the company had "absolutely no involvement whatsoever in drafting or writing the legislation." Alarming practice Still, critics argue that the very practice of making profit-driven companies part of the criminal justice system is alarming. "If you can get over the civil libertarian issue and morality of putting people in prison for profit ... you end up with a market that needs to be fed, which is pretty scary," said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the national Private Corrections Working Group, which advocates against the private prison industry. State lawmakers have also raised questions about safety at the private facilities. According to the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee, which held a hearing on the out-of-state transfer program in January, California prison officials temporarily stationed a staff member at a Mississippi facility, "due to several incidents there including the death of an asthmatic prisoner in 2007 and an incident in October 2009 that left two correctional officers hospitalized, including one with 22 stab wounds." Kernan said a person is no longer stationed full time at the prison, but that teams of state employees travel to all of the facilities almost weekly to monitor conditions. State emergency In 2006, Schwarzenegger issued an emergency proclamation stating that immediate action was needed to prevent "death and harm caused by severe overcrowding." By declaring a state emergency, the governor was able to waive a law that prohibits sending inmates out of state without their consent. The first, three-year contract with Corrections Corp. of America to house about 2,200 inmates was announced just 16 days after the proclamation was signed. At first, state officials said they would only be sending volunteer prisoners over state lines, but within months announced they would begin involuntary out-of-state transfers. Since then, California has systematically increased the number of inmates incarcerated in private facilities. The state employs 199 people at a cost of $276 million a year to oversee the program. Lawmakers approved some out-of-state transfers under AB900, a bill passed in 2007 to provide $7.7 billion in prison construction funds to add 53,000 prison and jail beds around the state. The measure also allowed a limited number of out-of-state transfers without an inmate's consent through July 1, 2011. Since 2007, however, the Legislature has not commented on the program, except in informational oversight hearings and as part of the state budget. Kernan characterized the program as "cost neutral," and stressed that the ultimate goal is to tackle crowding. Sen. Leno said it might "look good" to reduce the inmate population, but there are other factors the government should be considering, such as how to decrease the state's 70 percent recidivism rate. Specter and Leno are also concerned about shipping inmates away from their families and friends. "One documented way to reduce recidivism is with the presence of a supportive family," Leno said. "Sending prisoners across country is what we shouldn't be doing if we want successful re-entry programs." Kernan, however, said that even inmates who remain in California are unlikely to be close to the communities where they will eventually be released.

August 31, 2010 AP
An out-of-state company that contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Capitol politicians – has secured an exclusive contract with the State – worth nearly $700 million. Critics say this deal is a prime example of pay-to-play politics at the Capitol – and it involves California prisoners – who have become a very valuable commodity for Corrections Corporation of America – a private prison operator based in Tennessee. California's prisons are costing taxpayers roughly $8 billion a year. (Proposed 2010-11 Corrections Budget | Proposed 2010-11 California Budget) Overcrowding is so extreme, the Courts have threatened to order the release of up 40 thousand prisoners. Governor Schwarzenegger declared an emergency four years ago, paving the way for ten thousand inmates to be shipped to Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma. But a $23 million contract to send prisoners out of state – has now mushroomed into a nearly $700 million deal for Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). "When you look at a contribution pattern like you see here, it's really a classic case of pay-to-play politics," said Derek Cressman, Regional Director of State Operations for Common Cause, a government watchdog group. Campaign finance records show the Tennessee firm gave $100,000 to Governor Schwarzenegger's ballot measure last year for budget reform. And this year, the same company donated $10,000 to the Meg Whitman for Governor campaign, and $25,000 more to the California Republican Party. Corrections Corporation of America also contributed $5,000 to the Jerry Brown for Governor campaign and more than $17,000 to the California Democratic Party. CCA also gave thousands of dollars to State lawmakers – Democrats and Republicans – most of them incumbents – a total of more than a quarter of a million dollars to elected officials. CCA also spent nearly $300,000 to lobby the Governor's Office, the Legislature and prison officials about the out-of-state prisoner programs. CCA netted a multi-million dollar contract that critics say was no coincidence. "The fact that they're putting money in really looks like they're greasing the skids to get a lot more money out," Derek Cressman of Common Cause told CBS 13. CCA declined our interview request – but sent a statement saying in part, "…we are no different than – and in fact, play a much smaller role in this arena – than many individual Californians, special interest groups and businesses." But the CCA contract has now been amended several times, resulting in today's nearly $700 million price tag. "And so we had a hearing along these lines and found that there was no competitive bidding," said Assemblyman Hector De La Torre, chair of the Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review. The South Gate Democrat told CBS 13 that other firms – and other states – were very interested in housing California's prisoners. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said two vendors did bid for the initial contract – but one dropped out. "CCA was the only one that had the cell capacity with the perimeter security and the programming necessary to take care of the offenders in the way that California takes care of them," said Scott Kernan, Undersecretary of Operations for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The CCA contract expires next year – and there's a call at the Capitol for more transparency. Assemblyman De La Torre told CBS 13, "It has to look like all other competitive bidding processes so that the taxpayer will know that they're getting the best deal when we're sending prisoners out of state." Are taxpayers in fact getting the best bang for the buck? "We have no idea," De La Torre said.

April 27, 2010 Mercury News
How's this for border insecurity? In another swipe at Arizona and its strict new anti-immigration rules, California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg on Tuesday asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to "deliver an unequivocal message" of disgust by tearing up the state's contracts with Arizona businesses and government agencies. Arizona's new law, which allows police to demand identification from anyone reasonably believed to be an undocumented immigrant, has spawned a maelstrom of emotions since its approval last week — from quiet applause from those who support the crackdown to protests and boycott shouts, including San Francisco's move Tuesday to ban city workers from traveling to the state on official business. Steinberg, in a withering letter to the governor, called the new rules "unconscionable" and a recipe for "racial profiling." Noting energy agreements with Arizona as well as deals to send the state California's overflow prisoners, he urged Schwarzenegger to take action. "The state of California should not be using taxpayer dollars to support such a policy," the Sacramento Democrat wrote. The move may largely wind up symbolic. Severing many of the contracts may not be legally possible, although Steinberg also has called for a ban on new contracts. In a quick compilation provided Tuesday, the Department of General Services found deals with 73 Arizona entities worth $10.3 million. But officials said that doesn't include all contracts, including those held by Caltrans, state universities or the prison system, so the real number may be much larger. The state has a $700 million contract with a private prison firm that houses California inmates in several out-of-state prisons, including three in Arizona.

April 22, 2010 LA Times
A company that operates private prisons – and which is hoping to pluck inmates out of California’s overcrowded lockups and into its for-profit prisons – has donated $1,000 each to 10 state lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats alike, in recent days. Private prisons could be a hot-button issue during this summer’s budget talks. In January, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a constitutional amendment to require the state to spend more on universities than keeping inmates behind bars. Privatizing prisons is one way to do that, the governor has said. Schwarzenegger, whose ballot measure efforts last year received $100,000 from the Corrections Corp. of America, has been supportive of sending inmates to private prisons. More than 8,000 state inmates are already housed in the company’s out-of-state lockups, with the governor’s proposed budget funding more than 10,000 private prison beds, according to the Department of Finance. The Tennessee-based company spent more than $175,000 on campaign contributions in 2009. It gave $15,000 to the California Republican Party and $7,500 to the California Democratic Party. Every state legislator – and there are four of them – running to be California’s next attorney general has received at least $1,000 from the prisons operator. Among the recent recipients of $1,000 in Corrections Corp. of America largess: • Assembly: Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco), Jose Solorio (D-Santa Ana), Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) and Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego). • State Senate: Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), Gloria Negrete-McLeod (D-Chino) and Tony Strickland (R-Moorpark). Two of the attorney general hopefuls, Assemblymen Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), also received $1,000 donations.

January 25, 2010 KCRA
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger floated an unusual suggestion Monday on how to cut the state's bloated prison costs with a private venture -- build a private prison in Mexico. "We pay them to build a prison down in Mexico and then we have those undocumented immigrants be down there in a prison and with their prison guards and all this," Schwarzenegger told a gathering of the Sacramento Press Club. "It will halve the costs to build the prisons and halve the costs to run the prisons." The governor's remark came amid alarm from law enforcement and crime victim groups about a new program meant to thin the state's prison population through early release.

January 23, 2010 California Progressive Report
This is Assemblymember Hector De La Torre, Chairman of the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee. The Accountability Committee was created last year to investigate California state government programs and agencies to help improve program performance, find efficiencies and save taxpayers' money. This week the Committee investigated a $600-million contract the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation entered into with a private prison company without conducting a competitive bidding process. A key goal of the Committee is to ensure that state government conducts its business in a transparent manner, and does everything it can to ensure that taxpayers are getting the best deal possible. In this case, the Governor's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation failed both of those goals. Due to overcrowding in our state prisons, Governor Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in the corrections system in 2006. Based on that declaration of emergency, his Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation contracted with a private prison company to begin sending some of California inmates to out-of-state facilities to help alleviate the overcrowding problem. The Committee found no fault with the Department's initial effort to sign a $23 million contract. Three years later, however, that contract has been amended multiple times and is now valued at more than $600 million. At no time during this period has the Department conducted a formal, competitive bidding process to ensure the state is getting the best deal it could. No one - not the Department, not the governor, not the Legislature or the public - has any idea if another company or another state could have provided adequate prison beds at a better price. During a period when the state's budget deficit is leading to teacher layoffs and the elimination of important health programs, this careless use of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars is simply unacceptable. Members of the Assembly Committee on Accountability questioned administration officials at an oversight hearing just this week, and concluded that the Corrections Department must do better in the future to ensure that it encourages competition and gets the best price it can for out-of-state prison beds. On a bi-partisan basis, Committee members pledged to reject an expansion of this program without competitive bidding. The Committee will continue to provide much-needed oversight of state government to ensure precious tax dollars are being spent as wisely as possible. This has been Assemblymember Hector De La Torre, Chairman of the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee. Thank you for listening.

November 24, 2009 Los Angeles Daily Journal
The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inked a deal in October to ship 2,336 additional inmates to out-of-state facilities run by a private prison company, bringing the total number of California prisoners held by the firm since 2006 to roughly 10,500. The contract extension, worth $54.4 million a year, came six months after the company, Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America, donated $100,000 to Budget Reform Now, a group spearheaded by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that sought to pass six budget-related propositions, none having anything to do with private prisons. Because of an emergency proclamation regarding prison overcrowding issued by Schwarzenegger in 2006, the contract extension does not require legislative approval, though lawmakers can still kill it if they don't approve the spending when they re-convene in January. Rachel Arrezola, a spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger, said the contract extension was not related to the donation. "The Governor had nothing to do with it," she wrote in an e-mail. She said the corrections department alone made the decision. Corrections officials have said they increased the number of inmates exported to private prisons because of crowding in California's 33 prisons. A three-judge panel in August ordered officials to reduce the prison population by about 40,000. The agency was closed Friday under a cost-saving furlough and spokesmen did not return messages and e-mails for comment regarding the donation but had said earlier in the week that it was a necessary step to reduce crowding. Corrections Corp. also denied the donation was tied to the contract extension, which brings the total value of its California contract to more than $224 million a year. "We are politically active and make contributions to Democrats and Republicans alike all over the country, as do all companies of our size and reach," said Louise Grant, vice president of communications at Corrections Corp. Corrections Corp. donated $234,500 in 2007-08, and $38,900 so far this year, to several members of the California Legislature and the state Democratic and Republican parties, according to its filings with the Secretary of State. The firm has also reported spending about $45,000 for each of the last three quarters on lobbyists in California. "It's certainly no accident that this company made this contribution and then got awarded the contract extension," said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies. "But I'm convinced there was no quid pro quo here." Rather, Stern said handing out donations merely gives corporations more and easier access to politicians. California pays Corrections Corp. $63 a day to house 7,911 inmates in its facilities in Arizona, Oklahoma and Mississippi. At about the time of the donation, the company reported that it had instituted a hiring freeze and was considering freezing executive salaries and other cost-cutting measures. It had postponed a plan to build a prison in Tennessee. A number of expected contracts were on hold; others never came through. In August, Alaska announced that it would go with a competitor. Minnesota is also pulling back inmates, the company has reported. According to its SEC filings, many of Correction Corp.'s facilities had 100 or more empty beds on Nov. 1, bringing the number of vacancies above 8,800. In December, 765 Alaskan inmates will be removed from the company's Red Rock Correctional Center in Arizona, according to the filings. With the contract expansion, California inmates will be filling those beds, plus others in other facilities. In addition to the daily rate, the contract calls for the state to reimburse medical expenses in excess of $2,500. Neither the original contract with Corrections Corp., nor a subsequent extension that increased the number of inmates to a maximum of about 8,000, have been vetted by the Legislature. Schwarzenegger's 2006 emergency order allows the corrections department to circumvent legislative approval. That first contract was one of two awarded by the state to house up to 2,260 inmates in private facilities. The other contractor was GEO Group Inc., of Florida, which had managed some low-level California prisons on a contract since 1995. Geo Group - formerly Wackenhut - had made $68,000 in campaign contributions to various Schwarzenegger political committees in fiscal year 2005-06, before the contract was awarded. After a major riot and fire occurred at the private prison where the California inmates were slated to go, California rescinded its contract with GEO Group. The company still manages a low-security prison in Adalanto and three in McFarland. One of the McFarland facilities will close in two months, according to corrections officials.

November 10, 2008 Fresno Bee
A private prison company that has been lobbying the Schwarzenegger administration and is a campaign contributor to the governor's causes has made a bid to operate an overhauled inmate medical system, a move that could conflict with court-ordered reforms, according to a document obtained Monday by The Associated Press. The offer by The GEO Group Inc. of Florida caught the court-appointed receiver overseeing reform of California's inmate health care system by surprise. In the five-page internal memo obtained by the AP, the receiver's chief of staff repeatedly makes it clear that he believes the bid was solicited by the Schwarzenegger administration and questions the administration's motives. Chief of staff John Hagar writes that The GEO Group has spent more than $300,000 lobbying the governor's office and Legislature since January. Campaign records on file with the secretary of state's office show the company also made a $50,000 contribution last month to the campaign for Proposition 11, the redistricting initiative on the November ballot backed by Schwarzenegger. "The solicitation is all the more troublesome because the Federal Court has taken responsibility away from the Secretary of Corrections concerning the delivery of medical services," Hagar wrote in the memo to court receiver Clark Kelso. Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Lisa Page denied the administration solicited GEO's bid. She said Hagar may be concerned about the overture by a private firm because "the receiver can't defend his $8 billion boondoggle." That's the amount the court receiver says he needs to build medical facilities for 10,000 inmates. Page said the GEO Group approached the administration but was referred to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Corrections spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said company officials met last month with Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate, who referred them to the receiver's office. "There was no discussion beyond that because of the obvious, I guess: We don't run the prison medical system," Hidalgo said. "All we did was refer them to the receiver's office." Schwarzenegger's political spokeswoman, Julie Soderlund, denied any connection between the governor's policy decisions and the contribution to Proposition 11, which is leading in the vote tally but remains too close to call. Officials with The GEO Group and its lobbyists did not return telephone messages Monday. Hagar said the company has submitted a proposal and said it will meet later this week with Kelso, the court-appointed receiver. He wrote that the bid from GEO could be a way to undermine the reform efforts overseen by the federal courts. That's because the company's bid to run inmate medical services could be less expensive than the state-run medical centers proposed by the receiver's office. "We should be careful that the governor's office does not use the GEO proposal as a diversion, attempting to argue to the public that it is more cost effective, when in fact it will not address the constitutional problem at issue and it may violate California law," Hagar wrote. "The governor's office may use GEO as an attempt to derail our construction program in the public arena." The actual bid could not be obtained Monday, and it was not immediately known whether the company offered a cost estimate. Hagar wrote that GEO is proposing "a generic prison" that "will prove woefully inadequate concerning the day-to-day requirements" of inmate care. Kelso, who is engaged in a court battle with the administration, declined to comment. His reform program is intended to remedy prison medical care that has been ruled unconstitutional because of negligence and malfeasance. In recent years, the receiver's office has boosted pay for doctors and nurses and hired dozens of medical staff members in an attempt to improve conditions. It's not clear how the federal judge in San Francisco would receive a proposal to private inmate medical care, considering the history of poor treatment. The system had been blamed for killing an inmate a week through incompetence. Privatizing those functions also may run afoul of state law because it would take work from state prison guards and other government employees. "The GEO Group has a dismal record of both safety and care and treatment, even worse than the Department of Corrections," said Lance Corcoran, a spokesman for the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which represents most prison guards.

October 5, 2008 San Francisco Chronicle
They're not dueling initiatives. But a pair of anti-crime measures on the Nov. 4 state ballot could hardly be more different in their approach to improving California's criminal justice system. Proposition 5 would divert more drug addicts and nonviolent offenders from prison to rehabilitation programs. Proposition 6 would set aside money for anti-crime agencies and put more convicts - gang members in particular - behind bars. One would shrink the prison system, the other make it bigger. ... Spending boost -- Prop. 6, the other measure, would require the state to spend at least $965 million a year on programs for police and probation departments, prosecutors, jails and juvenile lockups. That's a $365 million increase from current spending, a figure likely to rise to $500 million within a few years, the legislative analyst said. Penalties would increase for some crimes, particularly offenses that are gang-related. Civil injunctions restricting the movement of alleged gang members - like those that San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has pursued in recent years - would become easier to obtain. "It's a response to the growing gang problem, which is affecting all parts of California," said Prop. 6 supporter Scott Thorpe, who leads the California District Attorneys Association. Macallair said Prop. 6 would worsen the crisis in prisons and noted that law enforcement contractors had donated to the Prop. 6 campaign, including Corrections Corporation of America, which builds and manages prisons.

June 5, 2008 San Francisco Chronicle
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was within his rights to declare a state of emergency at California's overcrowded prisons in 2006 and begin transferring inmates out of state, an appeals court ruled Wednesday over the objections of the prison guards union. The ruling by the state Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento overturned a judge's decision and was welcomed by Schwarzenegger, who is separately defending the state against lawsuits by inmates seeking to reduce the overall prison population and improve the prisons' health care system. A federal judge has transferred control of prison health care in California to a court-appointed manager after ruling that the system violated constitutional standards. There are nearly 160,000 inmates in the 33 state prisons, which were designed to hold about 83,000. The state is planning construction that will expand the capacity of state prisons and county jails by 53,000. A referee appointed by a federal court panel has proposed measures to reduce the prison population by 27,000 over four years, to 133,000. The measures would include alternatives to prison for some parole violators and felons facing short sentences. Wednesday's ruling "comes at a critical juncture in our prison reform efforts," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "I am pleased that their decision allows out-of-state transfers to continue while our comprehensive reforms to reduce overcrowding are fully implemented." Laurie Hepler, a lawyer for the prison guards' union and another prison employee union that challenged the inmate transfers, said her clients disagreed with the ruling and would appeal to the state Supreme Court. Schwarzenegger issued the order in October 2006 after a special legislative session on prison overcrowding fizzled, with Democrats seeking changes in sentencing laws and Republicans calling for prison expansion. As the inmate population continued to climb, 16,000 prisoners occupied bunks in prison gyms and other temporary quarters. Schwarzenegger has said as many as 8,000 inmates could be shipped out of state. So far, nearly 3,900 prisoners have been transferred to out-of-state prisons run by private companies under contracts with California. The transfers have continued despite a ruling in April 2007 by a Sacramento County judge that Schwarzenegger had acted illegally. Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian agreed with the unions that state law allows a governor to issue an emergency order only when local officials need state help in responding to a disaster, and that the use of private prison employees violated civil service laws. The appeals court had put Ohanesian's ruling on hold while the state appealed. In its ruling Wednesday, the court said the governor can issue orders to respond to emergencies in state institutions that may endanger residents. In this case, the court said, the lack of space in state prisons was causing overcrowding in local jails, forcing counties to release some inmates who might commit more crimes. Overcrowding also increased the risk of diseases that could spread outside the prisons and had led to local water pollution from sewage spills caused by overtaxed prison wastewater systems, the court said. The court also said California's civil service rules allow the state to employ private contractors when public employees are not available to meet urgent needs. The planned expansion of state prisons will take years to complete, and the prison system will need five years to eliminate staffing shortages, the court said. "California cannot build or retrofit the prisons needed overnight, no matter how much money it invests to solve the problem," Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland said in the 3-0 ruling. The only available lockups are in other states and are staffed by private employees, he said.

March 21, 2008 The California Majority Report
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger -- who railed against special interests during his recall campaign and has since shattered all fundraising efforts -- has quietly been padding his campaign accounts with hundreds of thousands of dollars during the past few weeks. In the last week, Schwarzenegger has added five- and six-figure donations from health care interests, pharmaceutical companies, homebuilders, and private prison companies -- just as he begins reviewing legislation being passed in the legislature reviewing those industries. For example, he has received $25,000 from Pacific West Pharmacy, $5,000 from the Corrections Corporation of America, and $25,000 from General Motors Corporation. The funds have been funneled to this "California Dream Team" account, one of several the governor has to raise campaign cash. It should be noted, however, that Schwarzenegger cannot run for re-election. Fascinating that Schwarzenegger can shake down the wealthy and contributions from millions in campaign money but rules out Democratic proposals to tax these very same interests to pay their fair share for our kids education.

March 9, 2008 Sacramento Bee
As far as the inmates are concerned, it's fine if California pays tens of millions of dollars more to their private-prison captors. They like the relaxed atmosphere in the private sector, not to mention the satellite TV that on a recent Friday flashed plenty of poolside bikini action from a Spanish-language soap opera. "You're relaxed here," said Don Chandler, 43, of West Sacramento, who was propped up on his bunk at Golden State Modified Community Correctional Facility while finishing up a stint for violating parole on an underlying domestic-violence conviction. "You're comfortable. You can enjoy yourself here." Although California has been contracting with private correctional facilities for 22 years to cope with overcrowding, saving money in the process, costs are about to go up. This year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's state corrections agency is proposing a five-year, $67 million increase to one company, GEO Group Inc. The proposal would bump up the daily rate the state pays per inmate by 50 percent, which the company says it needs to increase the minimum pay of its officers from $10 an hour to $14.70. It is a deal that will require approval from the Legislature and one that figures to attract an added level of scrutiny. State Sen. Mike Machado, chairman of the budget subcommittee that oversees prison spending, promised a "tough look" when he examines the proposed deal for the GEO Group, especially in light of the remaining $8 billion budget deficit projected through June 2009. "Any proposal to spend money with this type of deficit raises serious questions," the Linden Democrat said. Corrections officials say private prisons are crucial to finding more space to house inmates, while critics in the public employee unions castigate them for lower pay scales that they say attract a less-than-professional work force. Private prisons generally house lower-risk, healthier inmates in the final 18 months of their terms. It's a class of prisoner that costs less to incarcerate than the dangerous, the sick and the long-term who require added expenses for things such as security and medical care. On a recent visit to the Golden State facility, 25 miles north of Bakersfield, inmates lauded the prison for its easier feel, which they said contrasts sharply with the oppressive environment of state institutions marked by overcrowding, violence and control. "Right here is love, compared to where I've been," said inmate William Cook, 27, of Newark, who previously walked the yards at San Quentin, Pleasant Valley and Lancaster. "Here you get all the football games, you get movies every day. It's real easy to do your time here. You don't have to worry about nothing – no politics right here." GEO spokesman Pablo Paez said the satellite TV cost is "minimal" and characterized it as a "privilege" that makes inmates want to behave. "It enhances the security and the safety of the facility," Paez said. Two veteran GEO officers, Tim Harrison and Melissa Barrientos, said in interviews that they like their jobs and the company that employs them, even though they have topped out on the firm's pay scales at $15.70 an hour. The hourly base for a top-scale state correctional officer is $35. "We know we work in a private institution," said Harrison, an 11-year employee. "The state has received training in firearms and batons, and we're not allowed to possess those things because we don't have the training." Harrison and Barrientos said they work about 20 hours of overtime a week. They said they get good health benefits and a 401(k), but no pensions. "Some people are embarrassed to admit they work here, because of all the stuff that was said about this place" by former employees, Barrientos said. "It's not that bad. It's a good place." Even though she likes working for GEO, Barrientos disclosed she is taking a test to become a state correctional officer. GEO officials support that, and Golden State Warden Chris Strickland sees his prison as "a great steppingstone." UC Berkeley Labor Center Chairman Ken Jacobs said there should be no surprise in the company's relatively modest salary scales. "That's how they make their profits," said Jacobs, whose research focuses on public employment and living wages, among other topics. "Labor is one of the places where people tend to squeeze." On the non-custody side, teachers in the GEO prisons start out at $18.15 an hour, according to the company. The rate is substantially below most starting categories in the state prisons. Eric Beltran, 31, who teaches a computer class, has been in his current job for about two years, working his way up from the kitchen. His qualifications for the computer job, he said, include working with computers when he was in the motor pool in the Marines and a "couple courses" he took in his one year at Bakersfield College. "I want to keep climbing the ladder," Beltran said. Fewer than 100 Golden State inmates currently are enrolled in educational or vocational classes. GEO officials said they hope to increase that number to 250 inmates with the new contract. Mike Poulson, 48, a drug offender from San Diego, slapped dominoes with fellow inmates – including some of other races, a rare sight in state prisons – and said he likes the GEO prison, compared with sardine cans he's been in such as Solano and Chino. He just wishes the place had more rehab programs, or more job opportunities – such as working in the kitchen – which he said are lacking at Golden State. "I don't like to sit around doing nothing," Poulson said. GEO's deal would apply to three of the five prisons it owns in the state – Golden State, Central Valley Modified Community Correctional Facility, also located in McFarland, and Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility in Adelanto, San Bernardino County. The proposed increase comes as Schwarzenegger seeks to grant early releases over the next two years to 22,000 prisoners. Scott Kernan, the prison agency's chief of adult operations, said the proposed contract increase will be canceled if the releases go through. Corrections officials say the raise is long overdue, that GEO had been operating below market value until the state increased its daily, per-inmate rate from $40 to $60 in December. "I know some people's sensibilities are bruised, but I think it's a reasonable rate increase, and it's going to be for five years into the future," Kernan said. GEO Western Region Vice President Ed Brown defended the contract. According to the company, the deal reflects the increase in minimum officer pay from $10 to $14.70 an hour; added costs for food, health care and utilities; the tab for buying the prisons it formerly leased; and a GEO promise to ramp up inmate rehabilitation. "This was an opportunity for a clean sheet of paper, rebid, with practical figures based on 2007 dollars," Brown said. "It's in my opinion reasonable in all respects." Together, the three facilities house about 1,800 of the 5,600 inmates in the state's 13 community prisons – seven private, six owned by cities. GEO is the second-largest private prison company in the United States, behind Correctional Corp. of America. It contributed $68,000 to Schwarzenegger's campaign committees in 2003 and 2005. Its chief executive officer, George C. Zoley, made $3.7 million last year, not counting stock options, according to Salary.com. GEO's profits jumped 25 percent last year to $41 million on revenue of $1 billion, according to its 2007 annual report. The company's $60-a-day rate per inmate compares with the $118 the state pays on average to accommodate an inmate in one of its own prisons every day; the $77 it pays counties to house state prisoners; and the $63 it pays on its out-of-state contracts. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association voiced strident opposition to the deal. Union spokesman Ryan Sherman called it "corporate welfare." "If GEO is complaining they need extra money to pay their staff more, that's a joke," Sherman said. "If GEO wants to pay them $15 (to start), they can do that right now."

July 23, 2007 Fresno Bee
Two federal judges on Monday ordered creation of a special panel to recommend ways to relieve California's overcrowded prisons, a move that could lead to the capping of the inmate population or the early release of some prisoners. In doing so, the judges rejected the main solution set forth by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers to address a crisis that has been building for decades. Last spring, they agreed to an ambitious $7.8 billion program to build 53,000 new prison and jail cells. The judges said that plan, submitted to the courts in June, will only make matters worse for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The state can't hire enough guards and medical professionals to provide proper care and oversight for the inmates it has now, let alone the thousands more who might be added through the building program. "From all that presently appears, new beds will not alleviate this problem but will aggravate it," U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Karlton of Sacramento wrote. Schwarzenegger said he will appeal the judges' decision to create the three-judge panel.

June 14, 2007 NBC 11
A no-show at a Thursday hearing fueled the controversy over moving prisoners across state lines against their will, NBC11 reported. The state committee on prison operations was ready to ask tough questions of the private company set to transfer inmates out of California during a hearing Thursday. However, the Corrections Corporation of America representative was a no-show. "Here we have a $56 million contract, and it guarantees them payment whether we have one prisoner or 1,000 prisoners -- and it's a guaranteed contract," Assemblyman Todd Spitzer said. "And they can't send one official to California to answer questions of the legislators?" California has already sent 400 inmates to private prisons in Tennessee and Arizona. Those inmates were volunteers. A video used as a recruitment tool encourages prisoners to volunteer to move to less crowded facilities out of state. The Department of Corrections created the video, which tells inmates they will have bigger cells, dozens of cable channels and all night parties if they move to a prison in Tennessee. Under the prison reform package signed last month by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, California will soon begin sending up to 8,000 prisoners out of state -- whether they like it or not -- prompting concerns about potential riots. Bill Sessa of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said there's no safety concern whatsoever. "We move hundreds of thousands of inmates a year against their will," Sessa said. "Moving them to a prison in another state is really no different." Not everyone is enthused about sending prisoners out of state to ease prison overcrowding. Critics said there is a better way to go. Matt Gray of Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety said that the 20,000 foreign national inmates in prisons on "our dime, California's dime," could be transferred into federal custody and begin the deportation process back to their country so Californians would no longer have to pay to keep them housed. Prison authorities said undocumented immigrants would be among the first inmates screened for involuntary transfers. The Corrections Corporation of America told NBC11 it didn't show up because of a scheduling conflict and because it did not receive enough advance notice.

June 2, 2007 Sacramento Bee
State corrections officials resumed transferring inmates to out-of-state prisons Friday, moving 38 convicts by bus to Arizona. The transfers had been placed on hold since November, when two public employee unions convinced a Sacramento judge that sending inmates out of state violated California's civil service laws. Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian's ruling has since been stayed pending an appeal to the 3rd District Court of Appeal by the Schwarzenegger administration. Oral arguments have yet to be scheduled. Corrections spokesman Seth Unger said state officials "believe we have statutory authority" to go ahead with more transfers, and he suggested that if the administration lost its appeal, it would not pose a major problem. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Unger said. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger obtained legislative approval in the recently enacted Assembly Bill 900 prison construction and rehabilitation package to transfer up to 8,000 inmates, involuntarily if it comes to that. Only inmates volunteering for the out-of-state placement were transferred Friday, however. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is planning to transfer as many as 400 inmates a month to help ease overcrowding, with 18,000 inmates now living in gyms, dayrooms and other spaces not designed to house them. "Temporary out-of-state inmate transfers will provide immediate relief to California's prison system while the rest of the governor's comprehensive reforms are implemented," Corrections Secretary Jim Tilton said in a prepared statement. Tilton said the transfers "will also give us breathing room" to try to pick up the system's rehabilitation effort and also to help improve its medical delivery system, which a San Francisco federal judge has declared unconstitutional. Friday's transfers to the Florence Detention Center in Arizona increased to 218 the number of California inmates being housed in the prison, which is owned and operated by the Correctional Corporation of America. Another 76 state prisoners have been transferred to the West Tennessee Detention Facility, another CCA-owned prison not far from Memphis. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association and Service Employees International Union Local 1000 were the unions filing the suit last fall that temporarily blocked the transfers. CCPOA spokesman Lance Corcoran said Friday that even though the most recent transfers involved only inmates who the department said wanted to go out of state, the decision to move out prisoners who don't want to go "is absolutely one of the most dangerous things this administration has utilized." Corcoran said the prison system has been "marketing these (out-of-state) institutions much like cruise ships," yet still has fallen short of obtaining anywhere near the 19,000 inmates the corrections agency initially said were interested in the transfers. "Very quickly, they're going to have to move them involuntarily, then we'll see what happens from there," Corcoran said. Union leaders have said they expect inmates who don't want to be transferred out of state to wage intense struggles to keep from being removed from their cells.

May 24, 2007 California Aggie
A state appellate court gave the go-ahead for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to resume transferring inmates from overcrowded state prisons into out-of-state, privately run correctional facilities earlier this week. The decision came as deliberation over a lawsuit filed by the prison guard's union to end the transfer practice carries on. The May 21 announcement by the court will allow the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to prepare the transfer of up to 300 inmates in June, according to CDCR spokesperson Bill Sessa. Sessa said that by the end of the year, 5,000 prisoners are expected to be shipped out of state, and by March 2009, the number of inmates will reach 8,000. "We think it gives us an opportunity to put some breaking room into the prison system," Sessa said. The governor's plan to send prisoners out of state to alleviate overcrowding in the California state prison system was originally proposed in late 2006 by eliciting prisoners to voluntarily move into correctional facilities managed by the Corrections Corporation of America, located in Tennessee and Arizona. Only 360 inmates opted to relocate to the privately run prisons, prompting Schwarzenegger to make the transfers for selected prisoners mandatory in February 2007. The move brought about a lawsuit filed by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association to block the practice, calling it an unconstitutional and desperate attempt at solving prolonged prison overcrowding. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian ruled in favor of the CCPOA in a Feb. 20 decision, saying the governor inappropriately used his powers to declare that the crowded state prison system was in a state of emergency. The Schwarzenegger administration appealed the judge's ruling and was granted a temporary stay - allowing the transfers to resume. The CCPOA disapproved of this week's decision by the appellate court, saying prison guards will be at higher risk for assaults when forcing inmates who are unwilling to transfer into the out-of-state prisons. "All [the inmates] have to do if they don't want to get transferred is assault the staff," said Ryan Sherman of the CCPOA. "And now they're disqualified from going." Sherman said the governor is resorting to transferring inmates because of the lack of a short-term plan to solve the prison overcrowding problem. He said shipping inmates out of state is inconsistent with recommendations from Schwarzenegger's own staff to establish community-based correctional facilities. "His own experts said that the best chance rehabilitation occurs when the inmates are in their communities," Sherman said.

April 6, 2007 Sacramento Bee
The Schwarzenegger administration sought Thursday to block a court ruling that the governor's program transferring inmates out of state is "unlawful." In the meantime, the administration is taking the ruling by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian to the state's 3rd District Court of Appeal. Ohanesian ruled against the administration on Feb. 20, but the official order blocking the order wasn't entered until Monday. The state filed its appeal on Tuesday, and on Thursday filed the stay order on Ohanesian's ruling until the appeal is heard. In a statement, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said his office is prepared to "fight to preserve our emergency efforts to address the prison overcrowding crisis." He said the out-of-state transfers, in which hundreds of prisoners already have been moved to private prisons in Arizona and Tennessee, are "imperative to relieve the pressure on our overburdened prison system and improve safety for correctional officers, staff and inmates." Ohanesian's ruling agreed with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and Service Employees International Union Local 1000 that the transfers violated the state's civil service protection laws. Her ruling also said the governor overstepped his authority by issuing an emergency proclamation on the prison overcrowding because the issue remains within the state's ability to control. Moreover, the judge's ruling said, no local authorities asked the state for assistance. The challenge to the governor's authority to declare an emergency created "wider implications" that his appeal will seek to address, Schwarzenegger said in his statement. "It jeopardizes my executive authority to maintain the public's safety, the lives and property of our citizens," Schwarzenegger said. " CCPOA attorney Gregg Adam said the administration is setting itself up for potentially larger problems if it goes ahead with the transfers. He said the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is just about out of inmates who have volunteered for the transfers and that future movements in all likelihood will involve prisoners who don't want to go. As a result, Adam predicted that inmates rights attorneys and other groups will sue the state and push the matter from the state courts into the federal system. "It's reckless for the state to carry on with the transfers (given) the ruling," Adam said. "To continue to send inmates out of state will trigger a ton of litigation, and the administration is going to have more than a couple of disgruntled labor unions to deal with."

February 21, 2007 AP
Private prison operator Corrections Corp. of America shares dropped Wednesday morning after a judge ruled California could not transfer thousands of prisoners out of state. In October, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency because of prison overcrowding and ordered that as many as 5,000 prisoners be sent to private prisons around the country. But the prison guard union sued, and Tuesday Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian said the situation was not an emergency, and the order violated the state Constitution, which bans jobs normally done by state workers from being done by a private company. She gave the state until June to reduce overcrowding in its prisons - rather than work with CCA. Banc of America Securities analyst T.C. Robillard said the ruling was not unexpected and would be appealed, though it does create a brief psychological barrier for CCA and, thus, an opportunity for investors. "We continue to be buyers of the stock and would use any near-term weakness as a buying opportunity," he said. Corrections Corp. shares gave up $1.02, or 1.9 percent, to $52.35 on the New York Stock Exchange.

February 20, 2007 Sacramento Bee
A Sacramento judge Tuesday blocked California corrections officials from transferring inmates to out of state, ruling that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's declaration of a prison overcrowding emergency was "unlawful" and that the movement of the prisoners violates the state's civil service principles. Schwarzenegger vowed to appeal the decision issued by Superior Court Judge Gail D. Ohanesian and the state attorney general's office has said it will seek a stay of the ruling. More than 400 inmates already have been transferred to private, out-of-state prisons on contracts that Ohanesian has enjoined. In her five-page ruling, Ohanesian said Schwarzenegger's declaration violated the state's Emergency Services Act because the prison overcrowding is a statewide issue rather than a local disaster that would require a response from state government. "The emergency here is not within the control of any single county or city in California," Ohanesian wrote. "This is so not because of the magnitude of the crisis. It is because control of the state prisons is exclusively within the purview of state government and not local government. The intent of the Emergency Services Act is not to give the governor extraordinary powers to act without legislative approval in matters such as this that are ordinarily and entirely within the control of state government." Ohanesian said Schwarzenegger made a "good faith attempt" to resolve the crisis in which 172,000 inmates are living in space designed for about half that many but that he acted "in excess of his authority" in proclaiming the emergency. She said the state's arguments that the transfers did not violate constitutional civil service protections were "unavailing" because the lack of employee services were never cited as a reason for the transfers. The suit was brought by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and the Service Employees International Union Local 1000.

February 16, 2007 Contra Costa Times
Overcrowding is fueling violence inside California's prisons and creating an atmosphere primed for a major riot, a state attorney said Friday during court arguments over Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision to send prisoners to other states. As an example, Deputy Attorney General Vickie Whitney cited a Dec. 30 brawl by hundreds of inmates at the California Institution for Men in Chino that injured more than 50 inmates. "It's because of very crowded situations, and it's a miracle that something more dangerous hasn't occurred that's going to imperil not only correctional officers but inmates and the public," Whitney told reporters after the court hearing. Severe overcrowding prompted Schwarzenegger to declare an emergency in October and order thousands of inmates to be transferred to private prisons in other states. Two state employee unions, including the one representing prison guards, challenged the order on two points. They said it violates the Emergency Powers Act and a provision in the state Constitution that prohibits using private companies for jobs usually performed by state workers. Union attorney Gregg Adams said state law reserves emergency declarations for unforeseen disasters that overwhelm local authorities. It should not be used to address predictable situations such as crowding in prisons, he said. "It makes no sense to me that an illegality can be justified by a danger to the public," he said. Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian said Schwarzenegger's declaration might have overstepped state law but delayed a decision in the case. The judge said she will consider whether the public safety threat outweighs any harm to the unions.

February 8, 2007 LA Times
Attorneys for two California prisoners on Wednesday asked a federal court to block Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from forcibly transferring convicts to private lockups in other states. The challenge comes less than a week after the governor ordered the mandatory moves to relieve overcrowding, which he said had reached crisis levels in most of the state's 33 prisons. Close to 400 California inmates already have transferred voluntarily to private prisons in Tennessee and Arizona under a program that began in November. Schwarzenegger authorized the mandatory moves because so few convicts had agreed to go. In papers filed with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Los Angeles civil rights lawyer Stephen Yagman asked for an order barring the forced transfers of inmates David Diaz and Paul Blumberg — and others in similar circumstances. On Wednesday, a three-judge panel issued an order instructing the Schwarzenegger administration to file a response before a hearing Feb. 20. The order also said the court had been assured Diaz and Blumberg would not be forcibly transferred before then. Diaz is incarcerated at Corcoran State Prison, in the San Joaquin Valley, for attempted murder and related charges. Blumberg was sentenced to life for attempted murder and is housed at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe. Both men have filed habeas corpus appeals in federal court, and Yagman argues that because those are pending, the inmates may not be transferred out of state. The mandatory transfers also would violate their constitutional right to due process, he said.

December 31, 2006 AP
California no longer plans to transfer more than 1,200 of its inmates to an Indiana state prison, an official said. Trina Randall, New Castle Correctional Facility's public information officer, on Thursday confirmed to The Courier-Times that the deal had fallen through. The plan was thwarted because of a lawsuit against California over the possible transfer, and a lack of inmates willing to volunteer to make the cross-country move. Gov. Mitch Daniels announced in October a contract between California and Florida-based GEO Group Inc., the company Indiana hired to operate the New Castle prison. He said 1,260 inmates would be transferred to Indiana in a deal that was to have created 200 Indiana jobs. The deal was part of plans to alleviate prison overcrowding in California, and the Indiana prison was to be paid $63 per day to house each of that state's inmates, with $15 of that going to state government. Daniels had said the state would make about $6.2 million in each of the next two years. The medium-security prison in New Castle, 40 miles east of Indianapolis, has a capacity of 2,416 but has only 1,068 inmates. But a news release earlier this week from the Indiana Department of Correction termed the transfer as "not likely." It said that the DOC was working with another state on an agreement similar to the California deal. "We are in the process of reviewing a proposal from that jurisdiction," said DOC Commissioner David Donahue.

November 22, 2006 AP
A state judge decided Wednesday to let California send 2,260 inmates to Indiana and four other states to relieve prison crowding, though she said the transfers may be illegal. Two state employee unions "are reasonably likely" to win their lawsuit against the state next year, but can't prove they are suffering enough immediate irreparable harm to justify a preliminary injunction in the meantime, ruled Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian. Any damages the unions suffer are more than offset by the "extreme peril" created by keeping more than 173,000 inmates in space designed for fewer than 100,000, Ohanesian said.

November 2, 2006 KESP
A Sacramento County judge today rejected state employee unions' attempt to temporarily block California's plans to move more than two thousand inmates to other states. But Judge Patrick Marlette set another hearing for later this month. The judge says that will give the unions another chance to argue that Governor Schwarzenegger is violating the state Constitution by shipping the inmates to private prisons in Arizona, Indiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee this month to relieve crowding in the nation's largest state prison system. The unions say Schwarzenegger is illegally sidestepping the state's civil service system and the usual contracting procedures. Schwarzenegger's attorney says the move is needed to relieve dangerous conditions and the possibility that a judge could order the early release of inmates.

October 29, 2006 Robinson County Times
Beginning in November, Corrections Corporation of America will begin receiving up to 1,000 medium-security inmates from the California prison system at its correctional facilities in Tennessee, Arizona and Oklahoma. The contract is worth $22.9 million to the Nashville-based prison builder and operator. The state of California considers it both a bargain — $63 instead of the $90 per prisoner per day it would cost to keep inmates in their state system — and a necessity. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared an emergency in order to speed up no-bid contracts with CCA and Geo Group Inc. of Florida, another private prison operator. California has 172,000 inmates crowded into space designed for 100,000. Adverse reaction began in California, where the prison workers' unions complained it's cheaper to farm out the convicts only because the private firms are allowed to pick the inmates they want — meaning those with fewer discipline and medical problems. The CCA contract is quite advantageous to the state of California, as well. The inmates will be housed at a CCA facility in Tennessee for three years with the possibility of two-year extensions. This is intended to allow California lawmakers time to decide whether to add more cells, more programs to trim the prison population; or do nothing. In Tennessee, the focus is on how an influx of out-of-state convicts will interact with current inmates, and whether the new inmates, if any were to escape, would behave more ruthlessly in a state that is not their own. But perhaps the greatest concern echoes past discussions on this page about who is accountable when a state's prisons are run by a private company. Since the state of Tennessee is ultimately responsible for the safety of its residents, it's critical that government officials scrutinize such a large transfer of criminals who did not pass through Tennessee's legal system. Corporate boardroom decision-makers should not take precedence over state correctional experts when safety is involved.

October 27, 2006 Contra Costa Times
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to relieve overcrowding in state prisons by sending thousands of inmates to private, out-of-state prisons hit an unexpected snag Thursday when a legal opinion suggested the idea may violate the California constitution. The opinion by the state's nonpartisan Legislative Counsel could trigger a lawsuit by the state's powerful prison guards union, which opposes Schwarzenegger's proposal and is upset with him over its stalled bid for a new contract. "Private profit is the wrong reason to make decisions about someone's liberty," said Mike Jimenez, president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. Jimenez added that the union was already assessing whether to file a lawsuit, even before the legal opinion. California crams about 173,000 inmates into its 33 prisons, roughly double the number the facilities were meant to house. Thousands sleep in triple bunks or gymnasiums, and officials say space is so tight that there isn't enough room to provide basic rehabilitation programs. Exporting inmates is one piece of Schwarzenegger's prison strategy. Earlier this month he signed contracts with two private prison companies to send 2,260 inmates to out-of-state facilities. The state expects to begin moving them next month, and ultimately the governor hopes to send 5,000 inmates out of state, to both private and public prisons. The opinion released Thursday was written by attorneys for the Legislative Counsel, the nonpartisan agency that advises the state Legislature. They concluded that in order for the state to contract with private entities to provide services, officials must show that the services "cannot be performed adequately, competently, or satisfactorily by state civil service employees." The attorneys cautioned, however, that they interpreted the law generally and did not specifically evaluate Schwarzenegger's proposal. Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, who opposes Schwarzenegger's private prison plan, asked the counsel to provide a legal opinion. Administration officials said Thursday afternoon they needed more time to digest the opinion before commenting. But one corrections official said that severe overcrowding combined with thousands of prison guard vacancies justify the private prison contracts. "This is not an action we took lightly," said Oscar Hidalgo, an assistant secretary for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. If 5,000 inmates don't volunteer to move out of state, administration officials have said they will try to force some prisoners to go. Illegal immigrants and prisoners scheduled to eventually be paroled in other states would be at the top of the list for involuntary transfers, which would almost certainly trigger a legal challenge. Paying private companies to house California inmates is not a new idea. Some 2,800 inmates currently reside in privately run facilities in California, Hidalgo said, and the state has been housing inmates in those prisons since the 1980s. "It's stood the test of time," Hidalgo said. But Lance Corcoran, a spokesman for the prison guard union, said no one has ever challenged it in court. That may change soon.

October 26, 2006
A nonpartisan legal opinion requested by Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles) has confirmed that state contracts with private prison companies are unconstitutional. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced last week that his Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) signed two contracts for over $153 million to temporarily provide 2,260 beds for California inmates in other states. The contracts, with The GEO Group Inc. headquartered in Florida and the Corrections Corporation of America headquartered in Tennessee, follow the Governor’s October 4 declaration of a state of emergency in California’s overcrowded prison system. In response to a request by Senator Romero, the Legislative Counsel issued a seven-page legal opinion declaring “the state would violate Section 1 of Article VII of the California Constitution by contracting with private entities for security and public safety services traditionally performed by [public employees of] the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.” “This legal opinion confirms what I have long believed: that we should not support prisons for profit,” said Romero, who serves on the Senate Public Safety Committee and chairs the Senate Select Committee on California’s Correctional System. “California has a prison overcrowding crisis, and we cannot privatize our way out of it. This legal opinion brings the responsibility back on us and reaffirms my call for real reforms that reduce overcrowding while ensuring public safety. If the Governor wants to call a special session of the Legislature, he should focus on breaking the cycle of recidivism with parole reforms and effective rehabilitation programs. “Public prisons are morally and fiscally accountable to the taxpayers of California. Private prisons are accountable to their shareholders, with a binding obligation to maximize profits. If the Governor goes through with these private prison contracts, he risks exposing the state to costly civil lawsuits. California can’t afford this mistake. I call on the Governor to do what is ethical and constitutional and withdraw these contracts immediately.” A hard copy of the Legislative Counsel opinion is available via fax. Details of the Administration’s October 19 contracts are athttp://www.cdcr.ca.gov/communications/press20061020.html .

October 2006  Duke Magazine
The governor of Florida combines the savvy of a seasoned politician with a sense of humor that would better befit a junior-high student. No one comes through Jeb Bush's office in Tallahassee without getting at least a gentle ribbing; the man likes to joke around. But when he talks about Donna Arduin, his tone changes, his eyebrows settle, and he begins to celebrate his state and the fiscal health he wholeheartedly attributes to his former budget manager. "What state improved to a triple-A bond rating during these tough times? What state ran an $8.6-billion surplus? She's the budget king." Arduin so effectively revamped Florida's budget, Bush says, that she made it possible for him to make good on almost all his campaign promises, cut taxes, and build a surplus, all despite an economy that continued to lean on tourism even after 9/11 made Americans reluctant to travel. On Tuesday morning at 5:00, Arduin's mind is already moving at 100 miles an hour. As if today's presentation wasn't enough pressure, she sits on the board of Centracore Properties Trust (CPT), a $200-million company that's just entered crisis mode. The company leases correctional facilities to operators like the GEO Group Inc., which issued a statement yesterday that it did not plan to renew its lease with CPT. Investors interpreted the announcement as a vote of no-confidence, and, by the closing bell, CPT shares had taken an 11 percent hit. Arduin's pretty sure she knows what's going on: GEO is trying to sink CPT's stock price so it can gobble up enough shares to take over the company. By 8:00, she's in the Mercedes, whirring south, downloading e-mail and answering calls, simultaneously tweaking today's presentation and coordinating CPT's next move. She gets on the phone with Jeannie Woodford, California's director of state prisons. "I wanted to see if you were interested ..." Arduin leads without a drop of desperation. The plan is to persuade California to lease the prisons directly from CPT, cut out GEO, and "announce it now," to pump the stock back up before GEO can afford to buy a controlling share. There's already been a lot of movement on the stock, and it's fallen steadily from $28. By day's end, shares will be trading at $19.

October 6, 2006 Courier Journal
Up to 1,200 medium-security prisoners from California will be housed in the state's underused New Castle Correctional Facility, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced yesterday. Daniels said the deal he struck with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will result in a $6.2 million profit for Indiana. Indiana officials initiated the negotiations, which took four or five months, after reading about California's prison-crowding crisis, Daniels said. GEO Group, the private company that runs the prison in east-central Indiana, will hire 200 additional workers to oversee the new prisoners. "We saw an opportunity and contacted California officials several months ago," Daniels said. "We look at every way we can to be creative and businesslike, and this is a win for everyone."

October 6, 2006 Ludington Daily News
A California prison overcrowding emergency declaration could speed up that state’s contract negotiations with GEO Group, which owns the Lake County prison. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Bill Sessa said the agency is continuing to talk with three private prison companies, one of which is GEO, to negotiate contracts to move prisoners to out-of-state facilities. “We’re going to continue contract negotiations with three companies and whoever else jumps in,” Sessa said. Officials from GEO said they are continuing talks with California. “We’re looking forward to working with the state,” said Pablo Paez, director of corporate communications at GEO. “We’re working with them and we look forward to work through the process.” GEO has available beds at three facilities, including the Lake County site, Paez said, noting that California officials have visited the facility sites. Paez said he has no specific timeline for contract talks, but added that the state-of-emergency declaration demonstrates “they have an immediate need to send up to 5,000 inmates out of state.”

October 6, 2006 Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent declaration of an emergency in state prisons will mean two new possibilities for inmates at the California Institution for Men and other prisons: doing time at private prisons and doing time in other states. Special Section: Criminal Neglect Schwarzenegger's proclamation makes it possible for California to contract for prison beds with private operators in other states - a proposal the governor had sought earlier this year but was rebuffed by the Legislature. "Our prisons are now beyond maximum capacity, and we must act immediately and aggressively to resolve this issue," he said Wednesday. But experts questioned the wisdom of the move, noting that placing prisoners in out-of-state facilities has in the past led to violence. "There's been lots of problems with inmates being shipped out, in particular if they're put into a facility with multijurisdictional inmates," said Ken Kopczynski, of the Florida-based Private Corrections Institute. "California inmates are under California law. If they have Oklahoma inmates, or Texas inmates, they all have to be handled separately." Disparity in treatment of prisoners from several states was one cause identified in a 2004 riot where inmates alternately smashed, flooded and torched a private institution in Colorado, Kopczynski noted. In that incident, prisoners from different states -Colorado, Washington and Wyoming - felt they were being treated unfairly, since each state paid different wages for inmate labor. Other problems can arise when inmates from different states get together to form their own gangs, or when the distance from their families and support networks is too great, making rehabilitation less likely. Kopczynski also said the private corrections industry has racked up a less-than-stellar record in the past, mostly due to cost-saving efforts such as using low-wage guards and cutting corners on security.

October 5, 2006 The Press-Enterprise
The governor's emergency order to transfer California inmates to other states to ease crowding sent private-prison stocks soaring Thursday while provoking the ire of Democratic legislators, corrections officers and inmate advocacy groups. The state is poised this month to sign deals with private prison operators to house California inmates in states such as Indiana. The plan would send 2,200 inmates to other states almost immediately. Campaign Money: It has already stirred the frustration of state legislators, who shot down a similar proposal during a special session on prison crowding in August. Amid accusations of cronyism and conflicts of interest, Gov. Schwarzenegger's campaign announced Thursday that he has returned $32,000 in campaign donations to a private prison slated to benefit from his proposal. "The Governor has a strict policy against accepting contributions from persons or entities doing business with the state or seeking to do business with the state and in which he or his office might be negotiating the terms of such state contracts," wrote his attorney in a letter to The Geo Group. The Geo Group is a Florida-based private prison firm, and one of three firms currently negotiating with the state for three- to five-year, no-bid contracts to house inmates out of state. Democrat's Response: It reeks of "pay to play," said Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles. "What it demonstrates is that the governor can't resolve this crisis. He doesn't have the political will, and he doesn't have the stomach for it." Romero questioned the constitutionality of forced transfers and suggested the state concentrate on programs to reduce California's 70 percent recidivism rate.

September 11, 2006 LA Times
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was not inspecting the orange crop when he slipped out of the state for a quick trip to Florida, and he wasn't eyeing a new set of wheels when he visited with car dealers. Nor was he parched when he bellied up to liquor dealers in Lake Tahoe, or craving a burger when he chatted with Jack-in-the-Box owners. Rather, he was gobbling up campaign money at each stop. As legislators were approving more than 1,000 bills in August, Schwarzenegger was crossing the state, and the country, soliciting campaign cash. Now, as he decides whether to sign those bills into law or nix them with a veto, he will be cashing checks from scores of contributors whose interests intersect with legislation. In his quest to be reelected, Schwarzenegger is raising money from all manner of businesses: restaurants, insurance companies, banks, financial services providers, construction and real estate interests, farmers, energy producers and car dealers. All have business before the state. On the last weekend in August, as legislators prepared for their final sprint before adjourning for the year, Schwarzenegger traveled to Florida for a fundraiser organized by his brother-in-law, Anthony Shriver. The event was at the home of a major donor to Republican candidates and causes, Randal Perkins, and generated about $500,000. Perkins' firm, Ashbritt Environmental, does cleanup after natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina. According to Perkins' lobbyist, Ronald L. Book, Ashbritt has no state contracts in California. However, several donors who gave at the fundraiser do have business here. Geo Group, a Florida firm that operates private prisons, has long sought more business in California. Geo's Sacramento lobbyists worked to shape the governor's prison overhaul package, which failed in the Legislature on the final day of its session. The package might have increased the number of California inmates housed by private firms.

September 10, 2006 Sacramento Bee
The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is conducting an inmate survey to see how many prisoners might be interested in serving their time out of state -- and a Florida company that has contributed $90,000 over the years to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says it would be happy to accommodate them. Department spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said the agency can administratively transfer inmates out of state if they volunteer for the move and if the contracts with out-of-state operators do not exceed a year. Longer term deals, Hidalgo said, would require legislative approval. "If there's a willing inmate and a vendor, we can do this on our own right now," Hidalgo said. One major private prison company, the GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., has expressed interest in housing California inmates at its facilities in Michigan, Indiana and Louisiana. GEO currently operates four private prisons in California. It also contributed $22,300 to Schwarzenegger on Aug. 25, in the last week of the legislative session, when lawmakers declined to act on proposals designed to ease prison overcrowding in California. One bill would have required inmate approval for out-of-state transfers. In legislative hearings, GEO expressed support for an involuntary transfer plan. Altogether, GEO has contributed $90,300 to Schwarzenegger going back to 2003.

September 7, 2006 Ludington Daily News
A deal that might have supplied California inmates to the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Lake County could be in jeopardy. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) proposed sending inmates to out-of-state facilities — potentially including the Lake County prison — without getting the inmates’ permission. However, the future of the proposal is unclear. The California Assembly refused to vote on the measure despite the California Senate passing a bill allowing the transfers only with the inmate’s permission, which is current California law. The California legislature, a part-time legislature, left session for the year Friday without approving Schwarzenegger’s four-bill package. The bills faced opposition by Republicans in the Assembly as well as the corrections officer union and garnered only lukewarm support from Democrats. In addition, Republican Gov. Schwarzenegger also faces a challenge from Democrat Phil Angelides in the November election. The Baldwin area facility was mentioned as a possible recipient of California inmates, and officials from California reportedly visited the site earlier this summer. Pablo Paez, communications director for GEO Group which owns the Lake County prison, said he had “nothing new to report” with regard to any deal to house inmates there. Paez said GEO has been in contact with California and with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement regarding possibly renting bed space at the facility a few miles north of Baldwin. Refusing to name where else GEO is seeking rentals, Paez said “the company remains active in marketing our facility.”

July 25, 2006 Ludington Daily News
The Baldwin prison could reopen if the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the owners of the prison, GEO Group, can reach a deal. “GEO and California (corrections) officials are in the preliminary stages of exchanging information and determining if there is mutual interest to continue discussions,” said Peter Wills, legislative assistant to State Rep. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart. GEO acknowledged the company is engaged in talks with California about the Baldwin facility. “We’ve had discussions with California for quite a while,” said Pablo Paez, director of communications at GEO Group. “The state has issued a request for information (about available facilities) to send criminal aliens out of state. We’re responding with the information that we have approximately 500 beds available in Michigan.” Paez said California was one of a number of agencies the company has contacted about renting beds at the Baldwin facility, but he refused to name the agencies, stating that the discussions are ongoing. Bill must pass for facility to house out-of-state inmates That legislation, House Bill 5800, would allow GEO to use the facility for uses other than Michigan prisoners. Currently, state law mandates MYCF can only be used to house Michigan youth offenders. Hansen’s bill would allow GEO to house detainees or inmates from other local, state, or federal agencies. HB 5800 passed the House June 15 and the Senate Judiciary Committee June 22 and could go before the full Senate Wednesday. “We’re back in session on Wednesday, and we’re going to try to get it through,” said John Lazet, chief of staff for Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Our goal is Wednesday.” Both Gov. Granholm and the DOC are supportive of the bill. Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opposes the bill because she disagrees with private prison operations and because the bill would allow other state agencies to ship prisoners out of state. “I don’t agree with (any state) transporting prisoners over state lines,” Brater said. “I’m not going to support importing prisoners to Michigan.”

January 15, 2006 Sacramento Bee
Driven by a rising inmate population, prison spending in California is scheduled to exceed $8 billion this year. But the real intrigue in the state's 2006-07 corrections budget is in what it's proposing for the near- and long-term future. Spelled out in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's summary on the spending plan is a proposal "to pursue authority to secure additional inmate capacity through contracts with other providers." The wording is fleshed out in the actual budget bill, which calls for a virtual doubling in the number of private prison beds in California, from the current 8,500 to an estimated 17,000 over the next two years. "I think this proposal means that the governor is taking a pretty courageous stand for good public policy," said Mark Nobili, a lobbyist for Cornell Companies, a private prison firm that currently operates two correctional facilities on contract with the state and is likely take up the administration's invitation to bid this year on some of the upcoming contracts. CCPOA President Mike Jimenez said it is "a pipe dream" for the state to think it can get by building only two new prisons over the next ten years. He said Schwarzenegger's jail-and-private prisons proposals are "payback to us" for taking him on during the special election last year. "Clearly this is a shot back at us for opposing him as well as his reforms that never materialized," Jimenez said.

January 21, 2005 LA Times
The Schwarzenegger administration has quietly moved to reopen two private prisons a year after mothballing them — and after a company that stands to profit retained consultants close to the governor and his inner circle. The administration has decided to reopen two facilities, one of which is a 224-bed prison in the Central Valley town of McFarland. A Florida company ran the McFarland facility for 15 years until Dec. 31, 2003, when the state moved its last prisoners out. Rather than abandon California, the company, the GEO Group Inc., retained a top Schwarzenegger campaign official and a lobby firm that has close ties to the Republican's administration to restore the company's standing in California. A company that is a spinoff of GEO and owns the prison at McFarland placed Donna Arduin on its board of trustees in October, 10 days after she left her job as Schwarzenegger's director of the Department of Finance, which oversees all state spending. "This was an administration that said they weren't going to be influenced by special interests," said Lance Corcoran, executive vice president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., the union that represents state prison guards and opposes private lockups. The state is obligated to pay GEO $3.5 million to operate the prison in 2005, under terms of a one-year, no-bid contract approved earlier this month. "The Department of Finance had to be in the midst" of any negotiations on the prison contracts, said state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), chairwoman of the committees that have jurisdiction over the state's prison system. "This is absolutely amazing; talk about revolving doors." Romero and Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez (D-Norwalk), her counterpart in the lower house, said they were irritated that the administration did not inform legislators that it was reopening private prisons. "It is beyond quiet. I think it has been deceptive," Romero said. Schwarzenegger administration officials say they have not formulated an overall privatization policy. Rather, confronted by an immediate need for beds, officials awarded the contract to GEO and were preparing to make final a contract with a second company, Civigenics, without soliciting bids from other companies. Civigenics stands to receive $5.7 million from the state in the coming year to operate the 340-bed Mesa Verde facility in Bakersfield.
Soon after taking office, Schwarzenegger clashed with the union on a variety of issues. GEO, meanwhile, gave $58,000 to Schwarzenegger's campaign committees in October and November 2003, as the state was making final plans to close the company's prison at McFarland. Executives at Correctional Properties and GEO in Florida did not return calls from The Times this week. But in a 2003 interview, a top GEO executive said: "We want to do everything we can to preserve our business base in California." One step was to hire the Flanigan Law Firm to influence Schwarzenegger's inner circle of advisors — something it is well-positioned to do. The firm consists of four brothers who were close to Wilson and his administration. Several former Wilson aides are high-ranking Schwarzenegger administration members. According to public reports filed with the secretary of state, GEO has paid Flanigan $37,500 for its services. GEO also retained Joe Rodota, a former Wilson aide who was policy director for the Schwarzenegger recall campaign. His role was to provide strategic advice and develop a long-term strategy for GEO's reentry into the private prison business in California, company representatives in Sacramento said.  

February 13, 2004
Even before setting up a commission to study prison closings, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration is planning to shut down two privately run facilities supporters say are among the most cost-effective in the state.  Critics of the plan to close the minimum-security prisons suggest that the Department of Corrections is advancing the agenda of one of the state's most politically powerful labor groups.  ``We know the prison guard union has done as much as they can to get rid of private facilities,'' said state Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Nevada City, whose district includes one of the facilities slated to close. ``There's got to be something political in this. It doesn't make economic sense.''  The Department of Corrections plans to close the small prisons, including the state's only minimum-security facility exclusively for women, when their contracts expire June 30, according to an internal department memorandum obtained by the Mercury News.  After June 30, the state ``has no legal authority to pay any expenditure related'' to the correctional facilities at Live Oak, 60 miles north of Sacramento, and in San Bernardino County, according to the Jan. 29 memo, signed by Suzan L. Hubbard, deputy director of the institutions division.  The memo casts doubt on the impartiality of the proposed closings commission and whether it will push to shut other private facilities where the California Correctional Peace Officers Association doesn't represent workers.  The union, which could not be reached for comment, has come under fire in recent weeks as lawmakers have examined the Department of Corrections and questioned whether the labor group unduly influences policy-setting.  The planned closing also clouds the future of private prisons at a time when the corrections system has been engulfed in controversy over its skyrocketing budget and treatment of inmates at state-run lockups.  Tip Kindel, a deputy secretary to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's corrections chief, said ``the union had nothing to do with it whatsoever.'' While he described the closing plan as ``premature,'' a prison system representative offered a seemingly contradictory statement that the move made economic sense.  In his proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, Schwarzenegger said his administration would create a commission ``that would proactively evaluate and recommend future closures'' because the number of inmates, now around 160,000, is expected to drop. Schwarzenegger has yet to name any members to his commission on closings.  Both of the private facilities -- Leo Chesney, the prison for women at Live Oak, and a prison for men at Baker in Southern California -- previously have been targeted for closing but have escaped the budget knife. Both facilities are run by Houston-based Cornell Corrections and employ officers who are not members of the prison-guard union.  At Chesney, 190 women who have less than 18 months left on their sentences are able to take classes to prepare them for life on the outside. At the 262-inmate Baker facility east of Los Angeles, prisoners are taught basic rescue skills and help provide emergency services for a barren stretch of desert roadway.  The contracts, which expire later this year, for the two facilities are worth $7.1 million annually.  Two years ago, a legislative analysis of a plan to close private facilities could not determine whether such a move would save money, partly because a comparison of per-inmate costs is difficult.  The per-inmate cost at state prisons runs between $22,000 and $50,000, depending on the type of facility, according to figures compiled by a state Senate committee.  Mark Nobili, a Cornell lobbyist, said his firm's costs are considerably lower, between $16,000 and almost $19,000 per inmate.  The use of private prisons to save money increased during the 1980s and 1990s under Republican Govs. George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson.  Officials of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association have praised past efforts to scrap private prisons.  Nobili contended the ``union wanted them closed, so the department moved to close them. That's how this works.'' But, he quickly added, he doesn't believe that the proposal was approved by Schwarzenegger's advisers and predicted that the governor would reverse course.  ``I don't think this administration will close these facilities once they're reviewed,'' he said. ``You can't cut your best and cheapest prison beds.''  Bob Martinez, assistant communications chief for the department, said the number of less-violent prisoners is declining, so the state doesn't need the private facilities and can accommodate the inmates in state-run institutions. So, the idea of renewing the contracts is ``not cost-effective,'' he said.  Aanestad plans to urge Schwarzenegger to keep open the prison inside his district at the postage-stamp-sized town of Live Oak. ``Just keep the doors closed,'' he quickly added.  (Mercury News)

November 26, 2003
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who rejects donations from the state prison guards union, accepted $53,000 last week from a corporation that operates private prisons and has clashed with the union over private lockups. The money came as the state prepared to close a 224-bed Wackenhut Corrections Corp. facility Dec. 31 in the Central Valley town of McFarland. Wackenhut made the donation after its president read a news report in which Schwarzenegger voiced support for prison privatization, the executive said. The firm also gave $5,000 to Schwarzenegger's recall campaign. The $58,000 amounts to the largest contribution the company has given to any California politician. In a telephone interview, Wayne H. Calabrese, president of Wackenhut, based in Boca Raton, Fla., said Schwarzenegger did not solicit the contribution and might know nothing about the company and its dealings in California. "We have a large investment in California, in infrastructure and our employees," Calabrese said. "We want to do everything we can to preserve our business base in California." Last year, in a move fought by Wackenhut and other prison companies, former Gov. Gray Davis canceled state contracts with three private prisons — to save money, he said. The California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. had pushed for the closure. The union has long opposed private prisons and was one of Davis' biggest benefactors, giving him $1.4 million during his first term. "We were frustrated with the previous administration," Calabrese said. "We thought we should support a candidate and governor who has articulated support for public-private partnerships." The company gave to Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign and to a separate fund he established to support the recall of Davis, a top company executive said. Schwarzenegger spokesman Vince Sollitto, asked whether the donations would affect the administration's decision on the Wackenhut contract, said, "Of course not." The contract won't "rise to the level of the governor's consideration," he said. Corporations operate nine private facilities in California that house 3,000 minimum-security inmates, although three of the lockups are slated to close next month. Wackenhut has four, including the one in McFarland. Payments from the facility represent less than 1% of Wackenhut's revenue. Whether or not the state continues to send inmates to McFarland, the company is obligated to make $5 million in lease payments, according to a recent Wackenhut filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company holds out hope that it can reverse the decision to close the facility. The firm's Florida lobbyist, David L. Ericks, is close to Schwarzenegger's finance director, Donna Arduin, who was Florida's budget director before coming to Sacramento. Ericks was in Sacramento last week when the governor was sworn in. He could not be reached Tuesday for comment Schwarzenegger spokesman H.D. Palmer said California's Department of Finance would have no role in deciding whether to extend Wackenhut's contract. "We don't do line approval," he said. "That is handled by agencies." Palmer said Ericks' relationship with Arduin would have "zero" impact on such a decision. "He is a registered lobbyist in the state of Florida," Palmer said. "He is not registered in California." The governor has raised more than $1.2 million since the Oct. 7 recall election and plans fund-raisers starting next week to repay $4.5 million in bank loans he took out to help finance his campaign. Schwarzenegger has a policy of refusing campaign donations from public employee unions, including that of the guards. He has said he does not want to take donations from such unions because he must negotiate pay and other labor issues with them. "It sounds to me that Wackenhut is doing exactly what they accuse us of doing — getting involved in 'pay to play,' " said Lance Corcoran, executive vice president of the guards union. "Wackenhut is a savvy corporate entity," he added. "They have great influence in other states. I'm sure they are bringing that playbook to California." Corcoran said he doubted that Schwarzenegger would be influenced by the donations: "Ultimately, he will do the right thing for public safety." Corcoran said the union opposed private prisons because "corrections is a public function and should not be sold to the lowest bidder." Advocates of private prisons have said that the union opposes their efforts because it fears that they could reduce the need for state-employed prison officers.  (Privateer News)

California Youth and Adult Correctional Agency
January 5, 2004
When the experiment began in the 1980s, it promised to reshape the way America housed its prisoners. The concept was simple: Shift some inmates into the hands of private industry.  Critics argued that the sensitive job of imprisonment should not be shared with for-profit companies. But advocates promised lower costs, and states — faced with swelling inmate populations — needed beds, fast.  Texas, Florida and the federal government signed on with gusto. In California, however, the growth of private lockups has been stifled by resistance from the powerful prison guards union.  Now comes Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican said to favor privatization. With his election, private prison operators found hope of expanding their reach in the state's $5-billion-a-year penal system — the largest in the nation.  So far, the prospects look bleak. Of the state's 49 prisons and community correctional facilities, only nine are private, each of them a minimum security unit. And three of them will close by month's end, their contracts terminated by former Gov. Gray Davis. Their demise will cut the number of California convicts in private cells to 2,457 — a tiny fraction of the total inmate count of 160,000.  Operators of the three facilities — in Eagle Mountain in Riverside County and Bakersfield and McFarland in Kern County — have spent the waning days of December in a flurry of negotiations with the new administration, hoping to win reprieves. Eagle Mountain residents even sent a personal plea for the prison — futilely, it now seems — to Schwarzenegger, who worked there a decade ago while filming "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."  "I understand we are small potatoes in the California state budget," said Al Murphy, vice president of corrections for Management & Training Corp., the Utah firm that runs the 438-bed Eagle Mountain prison. Had Schwarzenegger had more time, Murphy said, the firm believes he "would have recognized the value privatized corrections can have in this state."  Officials at the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, which oversees corrections, confirmed that the three prisons would close as scheduled. What the future holds for the six other private lockups, they said, is unclear.  "These facilities were mostly opened at a time when we had severe overcrowding," said Tip Kindel, assistant secretary of the agency. "Some of those needs they've served just aren't there anymore."  The private prisons' fight for survival has been complicated by two recent riots. The first, at Eagle Mountain on Oct. 25, raged for 90 minutes and left two inmates dead. The second, at a Cornell Cos. Inc. prison in Baker on Dec. 2, sent four inmates to a hospital, one with multiple stab wounds.  (LA Times)

Calipatria, California
GEO Group

December 30, 2005 Imperial Valley Press
The prospect of placing a privately owned and operated prison here has stirred some local unions and created controversy in the community. Though no official steps have been taken, a Calipatria City Council public hearing on the subject sparked vivid discussion Tuesday night. The Geo Group, Inc. - a private company based in Boca Raton, Fla., that operates more than 50 private correctional facilities nationally - may propose a new prison in Calipatria, pending a request for proposals from the state Department of Corrections. The request is expected to come because of a need for more prisons in California. "State prisons are overcrowded," said Ken Fortier, a representative from Geo. In an information packet presented to the City Council, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association cites several instances where the Geo Group had problems with operation of its facilities. "What they do is lower the standards of the corrections profession," said CCPOA representative Ryan Sherman. "They are responsible to their corporations while state facilities are responsible to the public." Sherman said employees of private prisons do not receive proper training to deal with serious felons. Another issue raised is how the availability of more jobs will affect the community. With an already high unemployment rate in the county and the need for increased revenue and property taxes, the private prison could prove a valuable financial resource. Sherman said Calipatria State Prison has a shortage of people to fill its positions and a new prison would cut into the pool of much-needed employees. "We have a couple hundred vacancies, and triple the pay," he said. "I don't see where Geo is going to get the people they need." On the flip side, training to become a guard at the private facility would involve less time than at the state prison, which would be of benefit to those seeking more immediate position. Yet some think less training creates a more dangerous situation of unprepared employees.

CalSTRS, California Teacher’s Union
Nov 9, 2018 pionline.com
CalSTRS to divest from private prison companies CoreCivic, GEO Group
CalSTRS' investment committee Wednesday approved the divestiture within six months of its investments in private prison operating companies CoreCivic and GEO Group. The $229.2 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento, began a study in July about whether to keep investments in private prisons due to the increased risk to CalSTRS' portfolio. Christopher J. Ailman, CalSTRS' chief investment officer, said at the time that the increase in risk was with respect to violations of human rights by private prisons that are now being used to house immigrants and children of immigrants who have been separated from their parents. CalSTRS heightened engagement with CoreCivic and GEO Group regarding their business practices, which included "visits to various detention facilities and face to face meetings with senior management concerning operational processes and risk management efforts," a CalSTRS news release said. As of Nov. 6, CalSTRS' combined holdings in the two companies in its global equities and fixed-income portfolios was $12.1 million. CalSTRS picks new corporate governance chiefCalSTRS puts $5 billion to work in first half of 2018CalSTRS reveals 2017 portfolios costs "The board conducted a review of the staff research. We agreed that the engagement efforts were thorough and listened to our expert investment consultants. Based on all the information and advice we were provided, the board decided to divest according to the policy criteria," said Harry M. Keiley, chairman of the investment committee, in the news release. Mr. Ailman, in a memo to the investment committee, addressed members' concerns regarding General Dynamics Corp. and United Rentals: "Staff has engaged General Dynamics and determined they only provide case management services and training not physical detention, which is a de minimis portion of the company's revenue. United Rentals has been alleged to support the administration's detention polices by providing equipment for temporary detention facilities. Staff has been unable to confirm the company's involvement, and it would be a de minimis portion of the company's revenue." The risk factors to which CalSTRS' staff referred in the pension fund's environmental, social and governance policy included "respect for human rights," Mr. Ailman wrote in the memo. "While staff has been informed by both companies that they were not directly involved in the separation of the family, they did provide capacity for the detention of the parents," Mr. Ailman wrote. "The companies do not have control over which detainees are sent to their facility or nor do they have knowledge on arrival if the detainees have children that had been turned over to (the Department of Homeland Security). While neither Geo Group nor CoreCivic have facilities to house unaccompanied minors, both have a facility to house detained families." "These two facilities operate outside San Antonio, Texas, (and) are designed to keep children with one of their parents," Mr. Ailman write. "As part of staff's research, staff and senior leadership toured both facilities. Staff confirmed that in both facilities detainees are open to roam the grounds, the living units were not locked, and there was no razor wire or weapons carried by staff (ICE and other law enforcement agents at the facility could carry their firearms on parts of the grounds). These detention facilities would not violate the CalSTRS respect for human rights; however staff has not nor is able to trace every family affected by these firms. While staff was not able to obtain evidence that these companies violate the respect for human rights, private prisons do add capacity, and help facilitate a system, that may be viewed as violating the risk factor." Other ESG policy risk factors affected included respect for civil liberties and respect for political rights. In a statement emailed by a spokesman for GEO Group, the company said: "We believe this decision was based on a deliberate and politically motivated mischaracterization of our role as a long-standing service provider to the government. Our company has never played a role in policies related to the separation of families, and we have never provided any services for that purpose. We are disappointed that misguided, partisan politics were able to jeopardize the retirement security of California's educators." Amanda S. Gilchrist, CoreCivic spokeswoman, said in an email: "With this disappointing and purely political decision, a group representing educators has voted against a company that passionately believes in educating those who need it most. Hundreds of CalSTRS members' fellow educators work in our correctional facilities every day to help prepare inmates for success after prison."

Canteen Corrections

March 13, 2003
It tastes like toilet water. It can make you severely ill. And now it's alleged to have caused a Kern County detentions officer to quit his job.  It's called jailhouse pruno. The alcoholic drink is secretly made by inmates looking for a quick buzz while behind bars. As with liquor sold on the outside, drinking the jailhouse brew can make people belligerent and violent.  A Kern County detentions officer has filed a lawsuit against a jail food service company after he was severely injured in a drunken brawl that broke out after inmates at the county's Lerdo Jail made the brew from the food served there.   Jeffrey Reynolds, 35, is suing Canteen Corrections, a company contracted to provide food service for inmates, alleging that the firm provided the raw materials to make the booze. Those materials included fruit and snacks such as popcorn and candy bars. He said the company should be monitored when distributing the food.  He is also suing several inmates who participated in the fracas.  Reynolds, who filed the suit in February, said his injuries were so severe that he's been unable to return to work.  (The Bakersfield Californian)

Canteen of Fresno
Fresno, California
Aramark
March 10, 2003
Fresno County Sheriff Richard Pierce and a cadre of his captains control a charitable foundation that solicits contributions from businesses that provide major services to the county jail, which the sheriff runs.  In one case, The Sheriff's Foundation for Public Safety received $50,000 in contributions from Canteen of Fresno, which contracts with Fresno County to sell snack foods, shaving items and writing materials to jail inmates.  Experts in fund raising and public policy say companies with government contracts cannot help but feel pressure to give money to a charity run by a government official who has influence in awarding their contracts. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors makes final contract decisions, but the sheriff recommends contractors for his department.  The sheriff said he has received no complaints from companies that contributed after being asked to give: "I believe they're doing this willingly and with good conscience, knowing that we're going to put that money to good use in this community."  Has Pierce made visits to businesses or individuals? "Never have, that I recall," he said.  But some of his top staff members have. One of them, Capt. Douglas Papagni, helps oversee the jail. He spends 10% to 15% of his work time on foundation business and also serves on the foundation's board of directors.  Papagni said he solicited contributions from Canteen of Fresno and Aramark Correctional Services Inc., which provides meals to nearly 2,900 inmates in the county jail. Papagni said he does not make solicitation pitches during meetings about a company's county contract.  Richard Kriegbaum, however, sees problems with law enforcement pitches at any time. Kriegbaum, former president of Fresno Pacific University, a Christian college, is president of United Way of Fresno County. He also has consulted for 25 years with the governing boards of nonprofit organizations.  Kriegbaum said sheriff's officers seeking contributions from county contractors has, "as the biblical expression says, 'the appearance of evil.' "  He added: "It could feel like law enforcement is asking for protection money or they are expecting a gift out of the company in some unspoken quid pro quo for a contract."   Two other corporate donors have direct ties to the county jail. T-Netics, which operates an inmate phone service in the jail, donated $2,500. Aramark contributed $6,500.  The Sheriff's Department has budgeted $3.9 million this fiscal year to pay Aramark for inmate meals. The company provides food service at more than 400 jails and prisons nationwide.  Pierce, 58, has been Fresno County sheriff since January 1999. A 36-year veteran of the department, he was first elected in 1998. Pierce ran without opposition in the June 2 primary election and the Nov. 3 general election that year. Some of the businesses that donated to his election campaign would later become donors to the foundation.  Canteen of Fresno is one of them.  (The Fresno Bee)

Center Point Center
San Diego, California
Center Point

January 12, 2010 CSUN University News
The Fourth District Court of Appeal has revived a lawsuit against the state and the operators of a correctional facility which contracted with the state to house female prisoners with young children based on the alleged failure to provide medical care to an inmate’s two-month-old baby. In its Monday decision, Div. One held that the state and Center Point Inc. were not immune from claims that Denisha Lawson’s daughter Esperanza sustained physical injury from a delay in receiving treatment for a respiratory infection and the mother’s resultant emotional distress. Lawson had been placed in a 40-bed correctional facility in San Diego run by Center Point while pregnant, and gave birth prematurely to Esperanza in March 2007. Esperanza allegedly began suffering from “green discharge, labored breathing and an increasingly more ashen complexion” in late April and ceased breathing on at least three occasions. Lawson claimed that she had asked personnel at the facility to obtain treatment for her daughter for more than a week before an employee took the infant to the hospital. As a result of the delay in obtaining medical care, Esperanza allegedly suffered “hypoxia, double pneumonia requiring double intubation, cardiac arrest, scarring and injury to both lungs, causing permanent injury which will cause future medical problems.” Causes of Action -- Lawson and Esperanza, by and through her guardian ad litem, subsequently filed suit, asserting causes of action for failing to furnish medical care to a prisoner, negligence, emotional distress and false imprisonment against the state, Center Point and several of their employees. It also alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by the facility. The state filed a demurrer as to every claim and Center Point demurred to each cause of action except the false imprisonment claim. San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Styn sustained the state’s demurrer to except for false imprisonment and sustained Center Point’s demurrer except for the Sec. 1983 claim. Writing for the appellate court, Justice Joan Irion explained that public entities cannot be held liable for injuries to a prisoner unless an employee, acting within the scope of his employment, fails to provide medical care to a prisoner and has reason to know that need for medical care is immediate. Not a Prisoner -- She reasoned that Esperanza was not a prisoner since she only resided in the Center Point facility because her mother was housed there, not because she was the subject of any legal restraint. However, Irion posited that the child was “in the same situation of dependence and vulnerability as a prisoner” since her mother was confined to the Center Point facility and was unable to take her to a hospital for treatment and so she was “solely dependent on personnel at the facility to obtain the medical care that she required.” In such a situation, the justice said a special relationship arose that created a duty on the part of jailers at the facility to protect Esperanza from harm by obtaining needed medical care. No Direct Claim --  Irion concluded that the complaint adequately pleaded a cause of action for negligence against the state for the alleged acts and omissions of its employees. But she said that the complaint did not state a direct claim against the state since it failed to identify any mandatory statutory duty which the state itself had breached. As for Center Point, Irion said that governmental immunity does not apply to private entities working under contract for the state and thus the facility and its employees were not shielded from liability. Justices James A. McIntyre and Cynthia Aaron joined Irion in her decision directing the trial court to vacate its order and issue new orders overruling the state’s demurrer to Esperanza’s negligence cause of action against the state and Center Point, as well as Lawson’s negligence and emotional distress claims against the facility. The case is Lawson v. Superior Court (Center Point, Inc.), 10 S.O.S. 126.

Central Valley Modified Community Correctional Facility
McFarland, California
Jul 13, 2019 bakersfield.com

CDCR to stop using 700-bed private prison in McFarland

A 700-bed detention facility in McFarland will close following a decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom to phase out the state’s use of private prisons. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced on Friday that the organization intends to stop using the Central Valley Modified Community Correctional Facility at the end of September. “As CDCR’s inmate population has steadily declined, the department has also reduced its reliance on the use of contract facilities,” a CDCR spokesperson said in a statement. “Last month, CDCR exited its remaining out-of-state facility in Arizona. CDCR will house the inmates in existing state prisons, and reassign staff accordingly.” In 2013, CDCR entered into a five-year lease agreement with the private prison company, Geo Group Inc. as a way to ease the overcrowding state prison system. Currently, there are 641 inmates at the facility, according to CDCR. Geo, which also operates the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center in Bakersfield for the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency, said it was proud of the services provided by the employees of McFarland facility. “We have always strived to be part of the solution, helping meet California’s recidivism reduction goals,” a Geo spokesperson said in a statement. “We are pleased to have been able to provide cost-effective solutions for California’s taxpayers when the state’s prison system faced capacity constraints.” Terms of the lease were not reported at the time of the agreement. At the time, an estimated 145 correctional and administrative officers were expected to be hired to staff the prison. “We are thankful for the dedication of our employees who have faithfully served this mission at the Central Valley facility, and we are committed to assisting them in this time of professional transition,” Geo said. It is unclear where the inmates of the prison will be sent. CDCR does not discuss inmate movement, the spokesperson said. Geo operates at least two other private prisons in McFarland, the Golden State Modified Community Correctional Facility and the McFarland Female Community Reentry Facility. “We recognize that the state’s needs have changed and are committed to a smooth operational transition, which underscores the inherent flexibility for the state to be able to rely on private sector service providers,” Geo said.

GEO Group
November 26, 2011 The Daily Press
The state has canceled its contract with the privately operated Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility, putting about 150 workers out of a job. Desert View's contract termination officially takes effect Wednesday, though prison employees told the Daily Press that The Geo Group Inc. has been preparing to deactivate the prison at Rancho and Aster roads since May. The 643-bed medium-security prison is shuttering its doors as part of California’s realignment plan, which responds to federal orders to reduce state prison overcrowding by shifting responsibility for tens of thousands of low-level offenders to county governments. To help deal with the new influx of inmates under local supervision, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is encouraging counties to enter into their own contracts with more than a dozen former CCFs. The CCFs had generally housed inmates with sentences shorter than 18 months, parole violators and offenders with scheduled release dates — the same types of nonviolent, non-sexual or non-serious offenders now serving out sentences in county jails instead of state prisons. “We hope that counties contract with these facilities to save jobs and ease inmate housing concerns that many counties may have,” CDCR spokeswoman Dana Toyama said. But San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials say they’re not planning to privatize jail beds. The math just doesn’t pencil out, according to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman. “The issue with taking advantage of private prisons or private jail facilities has come up over and over again throughout the years; however, it’s not something that the county is considering,” Bachman said. “It’s too costly and there’s just not the funding really even to consider something like that.” The California State Association of Counties has created a document outlining potential beds at the former CCFs, but counties statewide have been hesitant to exercise that option. The Geo Group had operated six of the nine privately run CCFs that lost their state contracts, according to CSAC. Five other CCFs were run by local governments. The facilities ranged from around 100 employees to more than 600, according to Toyama.

July 11, 2011 Business Wire
The GEO Group ("GEO") announced today that the State of California has decided to implement its Criminal Justice Realignment Plan (the "Realignment Plan"), which is expected to delegate tens of thousands of low level state offenders to local county jurisdictions in California effective October 1, 2011. As a result of the implementation of the Realignment Plan, the State of California has decided to discontinue contracts with Community Correctional Facilities which currently house low level state offenders across the state. This decision will impact three GEO facilities: the company-leased 305-bed Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility, the company-owned 643-bed Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility, and the company-owned 625-bed Central Valley Modified Community Correctional Facility. GEO has received written notice from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation regarding the cancellation of GEO's agreements for the housing of low level state offenders at these three facilities effective as of September 30, 2011, November 30, 2011 and November 30, 2011, respectively. GEO is in the process of actively marketing these facilities to local county agencies in California. Given that most local county jurisdictions in California are presently operating at or above their correctional capacity, GEO is hopeful that it will be able to market these facilities to local county agencies for the housing of low level offenders who will be the responsibility of local county jurisdictions. If GEO is unable to secure alternative customers for these three facilities, GEO estimates that the combined annualized negative earnings per share impact of the cancellations would be approximately $0.10-0.13, including carrying costs while the facilities are idle. The combined annualized revenues for these three facilities were approximately $33-$35 million.

October 26, 2004 Business Wire
Fitch Ratings lowers the rating on McFarland, CA's $1.4 million certificates of participation (COPS), 2001 sewer system financing project, to 'B' from 'BBB-'. Fitch also places the 2001 COPs on Rating Watch Negative. Of additional concern is the December 2003 closing of one of three prisons operated by the GEO Group Inc. In 2001, the prisons accounted for over 40% of sewer system revenues. Subsequently, in August 2004, the city approved a change in the remaining prison's conditional use permit allowing an additional 150 inmates at each facility as requested by the California Department of Corrections. Because wastewater fees are assessed on a per inmate basis, the nine month period of reduced inmate capacity represents a significant revenue loss.

September 7, 2004 Californian
A three-year overtime wage and benefit court battle pitting employees against a private prison company is finally nearing an end. A settlement agreement is set to be finalized Sept. 27 between about 2,700 current and former employees and Wackenhut Corrections Corp., now The GEO Group Inc. The workers, both guards and support personnel, claimed the company did not pay overtime and made them work off the clock without pay. They also claimed they were not given proper rest and meal breaks.
The employees worked at six private prisons in California, four of which are in Kern County. The Kern prisons include the McFarland Community Correctional Facility, Central Valley Modified Community Correctional Facility, and Golden State Modified Community Correctional Facility, all in McFarland, and the Taft Correctional Institution. The total amount of the settlement is about $10 million in cash and non-cash benefits.

Chula Vista
California
Extradition International
March 27, 2000
A convicted murderer and a convicted robber overpowered a private guard, stole his gun and then stole a gun from the other guard who was sleeping in the transport van. The murderer was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. The Nevada inmates were being transported to other states. (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/27/00)

Cornell Oakland Center
Oakland, California
GEO Group (bought Cornell)

November 19, 2010 AP
A former correctional officer has pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a federal inmate at a privately run halfway house. Thirty-nine-year-old Basean George of San Leandro entered the plea Thursday to one count of sexual abuse of an inmate as part of a deal with prosecutors. George admitted to a month-long sexual relationship in 2008 with a female inmate under his watch at the Cornell Oakland Center. The center is a halfway house under contract with the government that houses federal inmates nearing the end of their sentences. George faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when he's sentenced Feb. 2.

Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility
Adelanto, California
GEO Group
November 26, 2011 The Daily Press
The state has canceled its contract with the privately operated Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility, putting about 150 workers out of a job. Desert View's contract termination officially takes effect Wednesday, though prison employees told the Daily Press that The Geo Group Inc. has been preparing to deactivate the prison at Rancho and Aster roads since May. The 643-bed medium-security prison is shuttering its doors as part of California’s realignment plan, which responds to federal orders to reduce state prison overcrowding by shifting responsibility for tens of thousands of low-level offenders to county governments. To help deal with the new influx of inmates under local supervision, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is encouraging counties to enter into their own contracts with more than a dozen former CCFs. The CCFs had generally housed inmates with sentences shorter than 18 months, parole violators and offenders with scheduled release dates — the same types of nonviolent, non-sexual or non-serious offenders now serving out sentences in county jails instead of state prisons. “We hope that counties contract with these facilities to save jobs and ease inmate housing concerns that many counties may have,” CDCR spokeswoman Dana Toyama said. But San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials say they’re not planning to privatize jail beds. The math just doesn’t pencil out, according to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman. “The issue with taking advantage of private prisons or private jail facilities has come up over and over again throughout the years; however, it’s not something that the county is considering,” Bachman said. “It’s too costly and there’s just not the funding really even to consider something like that.” The California State Association of Counties has created a document outlining potential beds at the former CCFs, but counties statewide have been hesitant to exercise that option. The Geo Group had operated six of the nine privately run CCFs that lost their state contracts, according to CSAC. Five other CCFs were run by local governments. The facilities ranged from around 100 employees to more than 600, according to Toyama.

July 11, 2011 Business Wire
The GEO Group ("GEO") announced today that the State of California has decided to implement its Criminal Justice Realignment Plan (the "Realignment Plan"), which is expected to delegate tens of thousands of low level state offenders to local county jurisdictions in California effective October 1, 2011. As a result of the implementation of the Realignment Plan, the State of California has decided to discontinue contracts with Community Correctional Facilities which currently house low level state offenders across the state. This decision will impact three GEO facilities: the company-leased 305-bed Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility, the company-owned 643-bed Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility, and the company-owned 625-bed Central Valley Modified Community Correctional Facility. GEO has received written notice from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation regarding the cancellation of GEO's agreements for the housing of low level state offenders at these three facilities effective as of September 30, 2011, November 30, 2011 and November 30, 2011, respectively. GEO is in the process of actively marketing these facilities to local county agencies in California. Given that most local county jurisdictions in California are presently operating at or above their correctional capacity, GEO is hopeful that it will be able to market these facilities to local county agencies for the housing of low level offenders who will be the responsibility of local county jurisdictions. If GEO is unable to secure alternative customers for these three facilities, GEO estimates that the combined annualized negative earnings per share impact of the cancellations would be approximately $0.10-0.13, including carrying costs while the facilities are idle. The combined annualized revenues for these three facilities were approximately $33-$35 million.

January 19, 2009 Daily Press
A private prison is on a “modified program” after it was placed on lockdown over the weekend following a riot that involved about 100 inmates, officials said on Tuesday. The riot took place around 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Desert View Community Correctional Facility in the 10400 block of Rancho Road in Adelanto, prompting officials to place the medium-security facility on lockdown, according to Paul Verke, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “The facility is currently on modified program,” Verke said Tuesday. “It’s not fully back to normal operations, but it’s not on lockdown any more.” During the riot, some inmates were injured, according to authorities, although the number of those hurt was not released. Verke did confirm that none of the injuries were life-threatening. No staff members were hurt or required medical attention, he said. Officials are investigating the disturbance. In February, 22 of the facility’s inmates were sent to local hospitals during a riot.

February 24, 2008 Daily Press
A riot at the Desert Valley Corrections facility on Saturday in Adelanto sent 21 inmates to local hospitals and one critically injured inmate had to be airlifted to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, according to officials on Sunday. At about 4 p.m. on Saturday, a call went out to American Medical Response who in turn contacted the San Bernardino County Fire Department who responded to the call with assistance from the Victorville Fire Department, according to Otto Schramm spokesperson for the county fire department. “We had a multi-casualty response with three engine companies, about 10 ambulances, a battalion chief and the helicopter,” said Schramm who added that the approximate 20 fire personnel remained on the scene until about 10 p.m. when correctional officers secured the prison. AMR units then returned to the prison at approximately 11:40 p.m. to transport four more inmates with minor injuries to area hospitals, according to Craig Ledesma, AMR supervisor. “After evaluations by prison staff, it was determined four more inmates needed to be transported and required medical attention,” said Ledesma. No prison employees were injured in the incident, according to reports. The nature of the injuries and the identities of the inmates were not released. When rescue personnel arrived at the medium-security federal prison, the riot was still in progress, said Schramm. Personnel treated the injured parties in a safe and secure location within the prison, said Ledesma. “We all worked together as a team to make sure all of the patients were transported where they needed to go,” said Ledesma. It is still unclear what started the trouble. Officials from the privately-run prison had no comment on the situation.

February 24, 2008 LA Times
Nineteen people were injured Saturday in a riot at the Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility in Adelanto, authorities said. San Bernadino County Fire Department officials said one victim suffered serious injuries and needed to be airlifted to a hospital. The others suffered minor injuries and also were taken to area hospitals, said Tim Franke, a fire dispatch supervisor. Franke, who could not specify whether the injured were all inmates, said units arrived at the prison at 4 p.m. in response to a riot in progress. He said firefighters stayed at the facility for six hours as correctional officers secured the prison and identified the injured. Desert View officials could not be reached for comment. A 2006 annual report by Boca Raton, Fla.-based The GEO Group, which owned the facility at the time, described Desert View as a medium-security prison with 643 inmates.

November 7, 2005 CDCR Daily Report
The following event was reported as occurring 10/28/05, according to a CDCR "daily report" dated Friday, 10/29/05. Yesterday at 1218 hours, inmates in the A3 dorm at Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility (a private contracted CCF operated by the Geo Group, Inc.) got in a fight. Hispanic inmates rushed the black inmates believing they were the ones that informed the assistant facility director of the presence of weapons. The initial assessment was that 33 Hispanics and 15 Blacks were involved. The CDCR lieutenant used pepper spray to quell this incident. All inmates were removed from A3 dorm and isolated pending housing decisions. The dorm was placed on lock-down status. One inmate suffered a head injury caused by a blow from a lock in a sock. He was taken by ambulance to St. Mary's Hospital from treatment. He received three staples and his prognosis is good. The inmate was returned to custody this morning and taken to CSP Los Angeles County. One other black inmate sustained a laceration above his eye which required a butterfly suture. Other inmates sustained minor injuries consistent with fighting. No staff was injured. Preliminary information indicates that once the assistant facility director entered the A3 dorm, he went directly to a Hispanic inmate's locker, pulled out a weapon and left the dorm. Subsequently, seven more inmate weapons were found. Arrangements for transportation of the identified participants were made. The Transportation Unit confirmed that 13 blacks were transferred to California State Prison-Los Angeles County and 29 Hispanic inmates were transported early this morning to Chuckawalla Valley State Prison. Additional off-duty contract and uniformed custody CDCR staff have been called in. This staffing level will remain through the weekend. Inmates will not be allowed back into A3 dorm until it has been thoroughly searched. Tensions are still high at the facility and it will remain on lockdown until further notice.

November 14, 2004 Daily Press
A privately run, medium-security prison will get up to 200 additional inmates after the City Council voted to overturn a decision by the Planning Commission.
There are 550 inmates in eight separate dorms holding up to 71 prisoners each at the Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility on Rancho Road. After listening to their request, the City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to overturn an Oct. 5 planning commission decision to keep the jail from expanding. The increase would force the prison to convert many of its beds to bunk beds, Rauschl said, adding 18 of the double beds to each of the bays. The Planning Commission cited safety as its main concern when it denied the prison's request to expand. In October the planning commission heard the prison's request, but did not approve of the increase. "The Planning Commission expressed concerns that the facility was not physically suited for such an increase," according to the City Council agenda. "Adding inmates would increase the security risk to the community and to the surrounding residential areas. Other concerns were overcrowding, number of guards to inmate ratio, internal operations, and impacts to dining, recreation and bathroom facilities."

Eagle Mountain Community Correctional Facility
Eagle Mountain, California
GEO Group (formerly Cornell, Management and Training Corporation)

November 26, 2011 The Daily Press
The state has canceled its contract with the privately operated Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility, putting about 150 workers out of a job. Desert View's contract termination officially takes effect Wednesday, though prison employees told the Daily Press that The Geo Group Inc. has been preparing to deactivate the prison at Rancho and Aster roads since May. The 643-bed medium-security prison is shuttering its doors as part of California’s realignment plan, which responds to federal orders to reduce state prison overcrowding by shifting responsibility for tens of thousands of low-level offenders to county governments. To help deal with the new influx of inmates under local supervision, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is encouraging counties to enter into their own contracts with more than a dozen former CCFs. The CCFs had generally housed inmates with sentences shorter than 18 months, parole violators and offenders with scheduled release dates — the same types of nonviolent, non-sexual or non-serious offenders now serving out sentences in county jails instead of state prisons. “We hope that counties contract with these facilities to save jobs and ease inmate housing concerns that many counties may have,” CDCR spokeswoman Dana Toyama said. But San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials say they’re not planning to privatize jail beds. The math just doesn’t pencil out, according to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman. “The issue with taking advantage of private prisons or private jail facilities has come up over and over again throughout the years; however, it’s not something that the county is considering,” Bachman said. “It’s too costly and there’s just not the funding really even to consider something like that.” The California State Association of Counties has created a document outlining potential beds at the former CCFs, but counties statewide have been hesitant to exercise that option. The Geo Group had operated six of the nine privately run CCFs that lost their state contracts, according to CSAC. Five other CCFs were run by local governments. The facilities ranged from around 100 employees to more than 600, according to Toyama.

March 21, 2007 The Press-Enterprise
Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City, reiterated her opposition Wednesday to reopening a private prison at Eagle Mountain, a remote community in Riverside County. The 500-bed facility closed in 2003 shortly after a riot that killed two inmates and injured dozens. This week, Senate Republicans proposed reopening the prison as part of their plan this week to reduce prison crowding. Garcia, whose district includes Eagle Mountain, said she will only support using the prison as a minimum-security facility staffed by state correctional officers. "I want to be clear and direct -- I am adamantly opposed and will fight any effort to reopen a private prison at Eagle Mountain under any conditions," Garcia wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to Corrections and Rehabilitation Secretary James Tilton.

September 14, 2006 The Press-Enterprise
A Houston-based corrections company hopes to reopen a 500-bed lockup in Eagle Mountain, three years after lawmakers closed the privately operated prison. Riverside County officials confirmed Thursday that they've received a proposal from Cornell Cos. for a 150,000-square-foot correctional facility in the remote community near Joshua Tree National Park. Cornell Cos. officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment this week. The company's Web site says it operates 79 correctional facilities in 17 states, including California. Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the state has asked contractors to submit their plans for operating 8,500 prison beds for men and women. Information about the bidders and their proposals is confidential until the state awards the contracts Nov. 17, Thornton said. Plans submitted to Riverside County call for $27 million in new construction at the Eagle Mountain site and say the project would create 150 jobs. County Supervisor Roy Wilson, whose district includes Eagle Mountain, said officials have promised to fast-track Cornell's proposal to help it meet strict state deadlines, if the company receives the contract. But Wilson said he expects the project to be vetted before the county Planning Commission before coming to the Board of Supervisors for consideration. "They need some kind of economic development out there," Wilson said. "It's a ghost town. It's in dire straits." Five people live in Eagle Mountain. Mary Zeiler, resident of Eagle Mountain for 36 years, said she was sorry to see the minimum-security prison closed in 2003 when state lawmakers cut funding for the prison run by Utah-based Management & Training Corp. Two months before its closure, the prison, a converted supermarket, fell under scrutiny when two inmates were killed and seven inmates were injured in a riot. Kay Hazen, spokeswoman for Kaiser Ventures, said she had not seen Cornell's proposal but that Kaiser welcomes any opportunity to use the prison as a solution to the state's shortage of prison beds. Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, R-Cathedral City, said she would like to see the state house inmates there but not under a private contractor. "I am not supportive of any private prisons," Garcia said.

July 12, 2005
Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone on Tuesday challenged the sheriff to come up with a better plan than his own for relieving the county's overcrowded jails. Stone's challenge came during his barbed exchange with Riverside County Undersheriff Neil Lingle, in which Stone defended his idea of converting a defunct Eagle Mountain prison into a county jail for $10.8 million. Eagle Mountain resident Larry Charpied said he worked at the prison prior to its closure and experienced several riots there, some of which resulted in multiple inmates' deaths. The Eagle Mountain prison closed in 2003 when its private operator lost state funding. "It was not safe and that's why the state closed it," Charpied said.

November 29, 2004 Desert Sun
What was the result of the preliminary hearing for the eight men accused of killing two fellow inmates during a race riot at the Eagle Mountain Correctional Facility in October 2003?
All eight men were held to answer charges in the deaths of Master Hampton, 36, and Rodman Wallace, 39, both of Los Angeles County, Nov. 1 after a preliminary hearing which stretched over a three-week period, according to Riverside County court records. If the defendants are convicted, they face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. The eight were charged after the 2003 prison riot during which several inmates were injured. One of the injured inmates was Asian and the others, along with Hampton and Wallace, were African-American. Their alleged attackers were Hispanic and Caucasian inmates, according to Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reports. The prison, which was operated by the Utah Based Management and Training Corporation, has since been closed due to budget cuts.

October 15, 2004 Desert Sun
A preliminary hearing got under way this week in what could be the biggest single murder case in California history in terms of the number of defendants. Eight men are charged with murder in the deaths of two fellow inmates at the former Eagle Mountain Correctional Facility during a race riot a year ago.
The eight were charged after the October 2003 prison riot during which several inmates were injured. The prison was closed two months later due to budget cuts, said Margot Bach, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman. Eagle Mountain was operated by the Utah-based Management and Training Corporation. Several of the defense attorneys contend the deaths could have been avoided. "Nobody from MTC was authorized to use force or weapons," said Arnold Lieman, Mayfield’s attorney. A Department of Corrections officer had a key to the prison’s weapons arsenal but worked days and was gone when the riot broke out, Lieman said.

March 5, 2004
Fourteen men charged in an allegedly racially motivated prison riot that killed two men in the Eagle Mountain Correctional Facility in October made their first court appearance in the case Wednesday.  Judge B. J. Bjork set a March 17 arraignment date for the men whose charges range from murder to assault.  All 14 were arrested on warrants Tuesday.  Three of the men -- David Olivares, Peter Morales and Jason Hernandez --are charged with two counts of murder each by the Riverside County District Attorney’s office, reported Riverside County Sheriff’s Sgt. Frank Taylor of the Central Homicide Unit.  Anthony Rimoldi, Eric Lewis, Byron Mayfield, Jose Rodriguez and Hector Careyo were each charged with one count of murder, he said.  Those eight also face special allegations that the crimes were race related.  Six others who participated in the melee at the now closed Desert Center facility about 30 miles east of Indio were arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon along with an allegation for committing the offense while housed in state prison.  The men were charged after a four-month investigation conducted by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in which more than 500 interviews were conducted, Taylor said.  During the investigation into the riot, which killed two and injured six African-American inmates and injured one Asian inmate, officials learned the incident was race related.  (The Desert Sun)

March 4, 2004
Eight inmates at a privately run prison were charged with murder Wednesday in an October riot that left two convicts dead, officials said.  The four-month probe of Eagle Mountain Community Correctional Facility by Riverside County sheriff's investigators and the district attorney's office also resulted in six additional inmates being charged with assault with a deadly weapon.  "The evidence will show the defendants' behavior was animalistic, primitive and racially motivated," said Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Ulli McNulty, who is handling the case. "The crime scene they left behind was death and devastation."  The 90-minute fight involving 150 inmates pitted a group of Hispanic and white inmates against a group of black prisoners. They fought with barbecue skewers, meat cleavers, table and chair legs, and two-by-fours. Others fought with mop and broom handles.  (AP)

January 5, 2004
The Eagle Mountain Community Correctional Facility, which used to house more than 430 minimum-security prisoners, is one of three private prisons forced to shut down as part of a decision by the Davis administration and the state legislature.  The private prison on Wednesday ended its 15-year run as the Chuckwalla Valley's biggest employer.  The empty facility, which was run by Centerville, Utah-based Management & Training Corp., is owned by Kaiser Ventures, the former steel and iron ore mining company that also owns the town of Eagle Mountain and land around it.  "This is it," prison security chief Clay Lambert said by phone.  "It's kind of sad. The people who lived and worked here are realizing now that it's like breaking up a big family almost."  Most of the employees and their families lived in the town of Eagle Mountain, a community created by Kaiser when it operated its mine here until the early 1980s. The town had been boarded up for several years before the prison opened.  The families now living in housing subsidized by MTC and Kaiser have to be out by Jan. 15, said Jan Roberts, who manages Kaiser's mine reclamation project. "We can't operate the town on an individual base without a cluster of people."  (Press Enterprise)

January 5, 2004
A company-owned mining town that died once in the early ’80s will become a ghost town again today when the sole employer -- a private prison -- closes its doors for good.  "It’s sad to see Eagle Mountain go into a ghost town twice," said Michael Keegan, facilities foreman for Kaiser Ventures Inc.  The industrial giant built Eagle Mountain in 1944 to house miners and their families.  When the iron mines closed nearly 40 years later, the town’s church, store and 337 company homes were left to a slow decay.  "A lot of people come back to reminisce, they bring their grandchildren, and they’re sad to see how things have become," Keegan said.  When the private Eagle Mountain Correctional Facility opened in 1988, portions of the town gasped back to life.  Kaiser Ventures made some of Eagle Mountain’s homes inhabitable for prison workers and their families. Under a contract with the prison’s operator, Management & Training Corporation, families paid as little as $145 a month for a three-bedroom home. Utah-based MTC provides about 16,000 prison beds nationwide.  While some prison employees found the isolated location to be a sort of hell, others fell in love with the desolate desert and its silence. The closest supermarket is about 60 miles away.  "I love it here. It’s a nice place for your kids. There is peace and quiet and at night you can see every star," said correctional officer Lisa Reynolds. She will hang up her uniform today after nearly 13 years at the prison. Reynolds is moving with some of her friends and family to Redding, but says she will miss Eagle Mountain.  "I guess this pretty much puts a lid on it," she said, stepping through the empty prison barracks. Prison employees have 15 days to evacuate their homes. Keegan, who works for Kaiser overseeing infrastructure for the community, estimated it will take 90 days to fully shut down the Eagle Mountain community. Then he, too, will be out of a job.  A kindergarten through eighth-grade school will remain open at least until June for the 20 or so children whose families live in the outskirts of Eagle Mountain.  Without this major employer in the area, the school, the only school in the Desert Center Unified School District, will likely have to lock its doors.  If the school closes, students remaining in the district will likely have to be bused to the Palo Verde Valley, which means a three-hour round trip for the K-8 students.  Whether or not the hard scrabble mining-turned-prison town will get a third crack at life remains to be seen.  Los Angeles County might eventually fill in the 1,500-foot-deep mining craters with its trash if it can work through the technical and environmental challenges.  But as of Tuesday there were no takers for the bleak rows of boarded-up houses, a secondhand prison and broken-down roads with red winter weeds pushing stubbornly through the cracks.  Riverside County Supervisor Roy Wilson said he is hopeful the old prison might be used for a drug rehabilitation center or something similar.  "It’s a crying shame. That private prison could handle prisoners more cost-effectively than the state," Wilson said of the prison’s closure. At the prison -- a converted strip mall with free-standing buildings circumscribed with razor wire -- prison employees and a handful of inmates worked to clear out boxes of records, furniture and prison supplies. Bitterness over the closure was tangible Tuesday.  "We had been holding out hope, even up to today, but it does not look good," said Clay Lambert, chief of security at Eagle Mountain for 15 years.  All of the minimum-security prison’s 432 inmates were either shipped to state-run prisons or paroled to community-based programs. Some of the 98 employees will go to work for other out-of-state prisons operated by MTC.  Many in Eagle Mountain blame pressure from the powerful California Correctional Peace Officer’s Association union for the closure of the facility, the only private-run prison in the state where inmates have died. Two men were killed when racial tensions broke out into a riot in October, in a situation Lambert called "extremely unfortunate."  Two other privately operated prisons in California also will be closed today in Baker and Mesa Verde. Those three prisons and two others -- Live Oak’s Leo Chesney women’s prison and Wackenhut’s McFarland Community Correctional Facility -- were targeted by the state Department of Corrections and former Gov. Gray Davis for closure back in 2001. The Davis administration proposed closing the five privately operated prisons as a budget-cutting move to save $5 million from the state’s multi-billion dollar budget deficit.  The move to close the prisons fell apart shortly before they were then scheduled to close on June 30, 2002.  Jan Roberts, director of Eagle Mountain Operations for Kaiser Ventures, said she was surprised at the prison’s closure, despite its long struggle to stay open.  "I have a deep, profound disappointment," said Roberts. She has been in Sacramento several times over the past three months lobbying for Eagle Mountain’s survival.  "I am working every day to find a use for our facility and town site," she said.  Roberts said she is outraged the state would close down a prison that costs $38 a day less per prisoner than state-run facilities. Each prisoner in state facilities costs taxpayers an average of $28,000 a year.  Prisoners at Eagle Mountain were employed by Kaiser as day laborers at minimum wage to perform work in the community. Some of that money was returned to victims’ assistance programs and 20 percent to the state to cover their room and board.  "We are getting a double whammy," Roberts said.  While Tip Kindel could not deny the union has been pressuring the state to close private operations like Eagle Mountain, the acting assistant secretary for external affairs of the California Youth and Adult Correctional Agency said union pressure was not the deciding factor in its closure.  Most of the prisoners in Eagle Mountain were minimum-risk parole violators serving short-term sentences, Kindel said.  Many, he said, would be better served in community programs that cost the state about $2,100 a year, near their family support systems and jobs.  "The Department of Corrections is trying to assist parolees to success. We want to find community-based ways of taking care of them in a way that does not jeopardize the community," Kindel said.  Facilities like Eagle Mountain could be operated for less, Kindel said, because they did not take in ill, or high-risk inmates with greater needs and demands.  As residents prepared Tuesday to turn out the lights on Eagle Mountain, however, there was a weariness with the bureaucracy they believed was forcing them from their homes and jobs.  "What town?" asked correctional officer Ruben Hirst, when talking about the future of Eagle Mountain. "This prison was the only thing that kept this area alive."  (The Desert Sun)

November 30, 2003
The gas station is shuttered and the old savings and loan long gone. The movie house is dark, too. Some folks – driving through the quiet community – no longer bother braking at stop signs.  There's not much life left in Eagle Mountain, a former mining camp deep in the Riverside County desert.  In a few weeks, the tumbleweeds may claim it for good.  At the end of December, state corrections authorities plan to shut off funding for the community's last remaining industry – a privately managed prison.  And that, locals say, will mean the end of this once-vibrant company town.  "It just makes me want to sit down and cry," says longtime resident Connie Ottinger.  The facility is among three private prisons in California due to close Dec. 31 as part of what former Gov. Gray Davis and legislators portrayed as a cost-cutting move.  Officials with the California Department of Corrections say fewer low-security prisons – including a wave of private facilities that opened in the late 1980s – are needed because of a steady decline in non-violent offenders statewide.  The Eagle Mountain facility, which houses 240 men, is run by Utah-based Management & Training Corp. under contract with California officials.  Many around town believe the closure demonstrates the political muscle of the state prison guards union – the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. The association has long opposed privately run, nonunion prisons.  Jeannette "Jan" Roberts of Kaiser Ventures, which owns the community, notes that privately managed prisons cost less to operate per inmate than public facilities.  "It does not make economic sense to close this prison and close this town," says Roberts, operations director with Kaiser and a longtime Eagle Mountain resident. "We shouldn't let the union rule this state."  Hoping for an 11th-hour reprieve, Roberts and others are trying to persuade Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers to keep the prison afloat. The rookie politician filmed one of his action flicks – "Terminator 2: 3D" – in Eagle Mountain about a decade ago.  "GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER: PLEASE SAVE OUR SCHOOL AND TOWN," reads a sign on the edge of the community.  But with the closure weeks away, folks here figure they may have little more than a fool's hope.  "All of our best efforts may not be enough," Roberts says.  The town has faced extinction before.  In 1983, Kaiser Ventures shut down an iron mine that had been in operation since World War II. Hundreds of miners left town, forcing the closure of a movie house, gas station and other businesses.  The prison opened five years later during a statewide crackdown on crime.  Today, about 350 people reside in the remote community, renting houses provided by Kaiser. Most work at the prison.  Eagle Mountain is roughly 125 miles northeast of San Diego.  Savings to state  Terry Thornton, a state Department of Corrections spokeswoman, says the closure of Eagle Mountain, along with two private jails in central California, will save the state nearly $900,000 over the next four years.  She dismissed concerns that the closure is part of a power play by the guards' association, while a union official called the idea "utterly ridiculous."  Lance Corcoran, a spokesman with the guards' association, says allowing a private corporation to house state inmates only benefits the business, not the public.  "The commitment of private business is to the bottom line, to a corporate board of directors," Corcoran says. "Public safety should not go to the lowest bidders."  According to state corrections officials, the cost of housing an inmate in a privately managed prison is $17,000 a year, compared to $28,000 in a state facility.  But Corcoran and others say the cost gap isn't as wide as it appears. Unlike state prisons, private facilities are not required to fund the cost of transferring prisoners and other key expenses.  Dozens of Eagle Mountain inmates were transferred out in October following a jailhouse riot that left two convicts dead. The violent incident is under investigation.  The riot is believed to be the first of its kind at a privately managed prison in California.  Folks around Eagle Mountain call the riot unfortunate, but hope state officials don't see it as another excuse to close the prison down.  Tears fall  Ottinger, 45, has lived in the area 35 years and is secretary at Eagle Mountain School, a K-through-8 campus. She remembers when the iron mine shut down and tears up at the prospect of the prison closure.  "I can't stand the idea of that happening again," she says.  She believes Eagle Mountain was an ideal place to grow up. Neighbors looked out for neighbors. Kids biked around town and few worried for their safety. Weekends were for barbecues.  "People ask me why I would stay in a place like this. And I say you don't know what it was like growing up here."  The school, which has about 50 students, has enough state funds to stay open for the rest of the academic year.  Kaiser has proposed converting part of the old mine into a landfill, giving the community another lease on life. But the proposal has been slowed by environmental challenges.  Carl Stuart, a spokesman with Management & Training Corp., said his business has proposed the creation of a drug rehabilitation center at Eagle Mountain.  In the meantime, his company is in discussions with the governor's office to save the prison. "We haven't given up hope," he says.  Roberts tries to stay upbeat too, but knows the days may be numbered. Some prison employees are moving out. Others have stopped watering their yards.  "I've been the eternal optimist," she says. "But it's very difficult to remain optimistic."  (The San-Diego Union-Tribune)

October 29, 2003
More than 130 inmates have been transferred out of a privately run state prison in eastern Riverside County after a weekend riot there left two convicts dead and tensions at the low-security lockup unusually high. State corrections officials said a melee Saturday night at the prison in Eagle Mountain involved about 150 inmates and raged for 90 minutes before a warning shot fired into the ground by an off-duty correctional officer quelled the fighting.  The deaths were the first violence-related fatalities at any of the nine California prisons run by private corporations under contract with the state, a corrections official said.  The victims, both from Los Angeles County, died after being stabbed and bludgeoned by other inmates, according to early reports. They were identified as Rodman Wallace, 39, serving two years for burglary, and Master Hampton, 34, serving a 16-month term for a drug offense.  Four other inmates wounded in the riot were taken by helicopter to hospitals for treatment, and 50 prisoners had less serious injuries and were cared for on site. No staff members were hurt.  Dozens of Riverside County sheriff's deputies and officers from the two state prisons in Blythe were called in to help end the melee, which broke out in a recreation room while inmates were watching the World Series — and spread quickly.  Because guards at private prisons do not carry any weapons — not even pepper spray — they were forced, according to protocol, to retreat from the fighting until additional officers arrived. After the brawling stopped, witnesses described a scene of widespread destruction, from broken windows to torn fencing and smashed furniture.  "I walked onto the yard when it was over, and it looked like Beirut," said Lt. Warren Montgomery, one of those who traveled 60 miles from Chuckawalla Valley State Prison in Blythe to assist.  Montgomery said inmates attacked one another with knives and meat cleavers seized from the kitchen, as well as table and chair legs and mop handles — "anything they could get their hands on."  He said the fight was predominantly between African American and Latino inmates, and that prisoners of both ethnic groups, as well as some Asian and white inmates involved in the fighting, were moved to other prisons to prevent a recurrence.  The brawling caused about $15,000 in property damage, but nothing severe enough to force the closure of the prison, its operators said.  Nevertheless, the riot is likely to rekindle debate over the use of private institutions to incarcerate some of the state's low-risk prisoners. Eagle Mountain and the eight other privately run community correctional facilities house about 3,600 inmates in all, mostly drug offenders, burglars, parole violators and other nonviolent criminals.  The powerful state prison guards union has long opposed private lockups, over which it has no jurisdiction. Union leaders have argued that "prisons for profit" are less secure and that their staffs are not adequately trained.  In a move described as a money-saving step, the state plans to close three of the private prisons in the coming year. Eagle Mountain is one of them, scheduled for closure Dec. 31.  A spokesman for the Utah-based company that operates Eagle Mountain and 15 prisons in other states defended the 438-bed facility, noting that these were the first deaths since it began operating in 1988.  Management & Training Corp. spokesman Carl Stuart said that although the cause of the melee was not yet known, tensions at the normally quiet facility had been surging in the last six weeks. During that period, he said, the Department of Corrections transferred out about 200 inmates with longer sentences and brought in a group scheduled to be paroled before the end of the year.  (La Times)

October 28, 2003
Two men were killed and seven others were injured during a riot at Eagle Mountain Community Correctional Facility.  The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said Sunday that the riot occurred shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday night.  Deputies reported that one man died at the prison and the other man died at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio.  The other injured inmates were taken to JFK, Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs and Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, according to the sheriff’s department.  Deputies said the riot started with an altercation between a group of white and Hispanic inmates who reportedly attacked a group of black inmates at the facility.  The names of the two dead men have not been release pending notification of their families. Autopsies have been scheduled for this week on the bodies of the two inmates who were killed.  Sheriff’s Department Central Homicide Unit is investigating the case with help from deputies in the Blythe, Indio and Palm Desert sheriff’s stations.  Eagle Mountain Community Correctional Facility is a private prison that houses male prisoners for the state of California.  (The Desert Sun)

June 3, 2002
Eagle Mountain, named for the rose-colored peaks on its northern edge, fears it is on the brink of disappearing. Founded in 1947 as an outpost to mine iron ore, the town managed to outlast the mine by converting old miners' dormitories into a state prison in 1988. But now the Eagle Mountain Community Correctional Facility is one of five prisons scheduled to close at the end of June, signaling not only the possible end of this windswept desert community of 300 residents, but also the waning of a national boom in prison building. After decades of growth, state prisons have become a prime target of cutbacks. The reasons: the national drop in crime, state budget shortfalls, the easing of some strict prison policies, and changing public opinion about how to handle criminals, particularly those convicted of drug-related offenses. Nationally, $1 of every $14 in states' general funds is spent on corrections, according to Vincent Schiraldi, president of the Justice Policy Institute, a Washington-based organization that advocates reducing incarceration rates. So-called three-strikes laws, requiring violent offenders convicted of a third felony to be held for 25 years to life without parole, also being reconsidered. Throughout the nation, states are finding ways to reduce the inmate population. (The Bradenton)

April 25, 2002
Eastern Riverside County residents pleaded with lawmakers Wednesday not to shut down Eagle Mountain's sole industry, a private prison.  "This community will close," warned Jeanette "Jan" Roberts of Desert Center.  A Senate budget panel voted 2-0 to keep open the Eagle Mountain prison, another in Baker in San Bernardino County and three in the Central Valley.  But the powerful state prison guards' union and Gov. Davis want the five private lockups shut down after June 30, when their contracts with the state expire.  Craig Brown, a lobbyist for the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which represents guards who work at state prisons, said the nine private prisons mask their true cost by shipping chronically ill inmates back to the state Corrections Department for care.  (The Press-Enterprise)

December 3, 2001
There is the "possibility" that the Department of Corrections could reduce or pull on funding for the 438-bed Eagle Mountain Community Correctional Facility.  The stated reason is fiscal belt-tightening.  (The Press Enterprise)

El Cajon Boulevard
San Diego, California
Group 4

April 3, 2007 Union-Tribune
A City Heights man accused of using his security guard badge to lure victims and then rape them was sentenced yesterday to 12 years in prison. Robert James Purdy, 42, pleaded guilty in San Diego Superior Court to rape under color of authority and kidnapping charges involving two teenage girls. He agreed to the 12-year prison term in February under the terms of a plea bargain. Purdy was accused of a dozen felonies corresponding to three attacks in September and November in Normal Heights, Southcrest and North Park. Prosecutors said Purdy, a Wackenhut security employee, got the girls into his car by showing his badge and then demanded sex. He was arrested at his home on Nov. 9.

February 1, 2007 10 NEWS
A security guard who used his badge to lure young girls into his car and then forced them to have sex pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of rape under the color of authority and one count of kidnapping. Under the plea deal, Robert James Purdy, 42, will receive a 12-year prison sentence. He must also register as a sex offender and has agreed to give up all property seized by police, including his Ford Escort, according to prosecutors. The defendant, who will be formally sentenced on April 2 by Judge Stephanie Sontag, would have faced more than 40 years behind bars if convicted of a dozen felony charges, including sodomy and false imprisonment by violence. Purdy, of City Heights, pleaded guilty to raping two 15-year-old girls last Nov. 7 and Nov. 8. One of the victims was moved from one location to another, according to the plea agreement. Deputy District Attorney Evan Kirvin said Purdy was an employee of Wackenhut Corp. when he used his badge to lure the victims into his car. The victims were in an area known for prostitution when they were victimized, but it was not established that either actually worked as prostitutes, Kirvin said. Purdy was tracked down and arrested after an officer recalled putting a citation on a vehicle that fit the description given by one of the victims.

November 21, 2006 North County Times
A City Heights man accused of using his position as a security guard to lure young girls into his car, where he allegedly forced them into sex, pleaded not guilty today to 12 felony counts, including rape and kidnapping. Deputy District Attorney Evan Kirvin said Robert James Purdy, 41, is charged with raping two girls under the age of 16 on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8. Kirvin said there may be additional alleged victims, which could lead to more charges. Anyone who thinks they may have been victimized by Purdy should call San Diego police, the prosecutor said. Judge David Szumowski set bail at $500,000 and scheduled a readiness conference for Jan. 11. Purdy, a Wackenhut Corp. employee, allegedly used his security guard's badge to persuade women and girls to get into his car, where he forced them into sex acts. The alleged victims "were in areas known for prostitution when they were victimized," San Diego police public information officer Monica Munoz said. Kirvin, who would not comment on whether the alleged victims were prostitutes, said at least one girl was moved from one location to another. The defendant was tracked down and arrested Nov. 9 after an officer recalled putting a citation on a vehicle that fit the description given by one of the alleged victims. As charged, Purdy faces more than 17 years in prison if convicted.

November 11, 2006 KFMB
A suspected serial rapist is behind bars Saturday morning, being held on $325,000 bail. Police have identified the suspect as Robert James Purdy. Authorities say the 41-year-old man is a security guard who works for Wackenhut Security Services. He’s a man who officers say used his badge and his fake cop talk to target women working the streets along El Cajon Boulevard. Investigators tell News 8 that so far they know of four rape victims. All are prostitutes and two are minors.

El Monte Center
El Monte, California
GEO Group

February 1, 2012 San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Despite backlash from residents, the City Council tonight gave a halfway house operator the green light to allow 15 more federal pre-release inmates to move into the Ramona Boulevard facility, under pre-negotiated conditions. The decision followed a public hearing that was held over the course of two meetings, in which community members argued that the addition would negatively affect the city's image. The expansion request was denied by both the Planning Commission and City Council in 2010. The City Council's denial spurred former operator Cornell Companies, which has since been acquired by GEO Group, to launch a lawsuit against the city. If councilmembers didn't approve the request, GEO Group planned to proceed with litigation.

January 5, 2012 Whittier Daily News
Operators of a halfway house will come before the City Council again to ask it reconsider a proposal that would allow 15 more pre-release inmates to move into its facility at 11750 Ramona Blvd. Last year, council members backed the Planning Commission's 3-2 decision to reject the request, which would have increased the number of residents at the facility from 61 to 76. The move prompted the operator, Cornell Companies, to file a lawsuit. If council members don't reconsider their position after a public hearing Tuesday, the litigation will proceed, according to Isabel Birrueta, an attorney representing El Monte. "It will go up to the Superior Court again, and the Superior Court will decide whether to request that the city review it again or it will decide that Cornell's writ of mandate has no merit," she said. Those who oppose the expansion have voiced concerns that the addition of more pre- release inmates from federal correctional facilities could hurt property values and negatively affect El Monte's image. Councilman B. Bart Patel originally voted against the proposal while he served on the city's Planning Commission. "I think the community is concerned because whether it was one bed, two beds or 15 beds, the community feels where does it stop?" he said. The home helps both male and female inmates transition from prison life back into society. If approved, the proposal wouldn't increase the square- footage of the building, but it would allow 15 more residents. Representatives from the company, which has since been acquired by the GEO Group, have said they needed to take in more residents in order to respond to requests by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. According to the Megan's Law website, there are no sex offenders residing at the home.

Fresno County Jail
Fresno, California
Aramark
Sep 22, 2018 norcalrecord.com
Nurses formerly employed by Corizon Health allege they were not paid lawful wages
FRESNO – Several nurses previously employed by a health care company allege they are owed unpaid wages. Bruce Morrelli, Jose Rojas, et al., individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, filed a complaint on Sept. 5 in the Fresno County Superior Court against Corizon Health Inc. and Does 1-25 alleging that they violated the California labor code and the business and professional code. According to the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that they were damaged by the defendant during their employment because of violation of labor codes. The plaintiffs hold Corizon Health Inc. and Does 1-25 responsible because the defendants allegedly failed to pay lawful minimum and overtime wages, failed to provide off-duty meal and rest breaks, failed to provide accurate wage statements and failed to pay all wages due and owing at termination of employment. The plaintiffs request a trial by jury and seek unpaid minimum and overtime wages, with interest, attorney's fees, costs, expenses and such other just and proper relief. They are represented by Daniel F. Kopfman and Lawrence M. Artenian of Wagner, Jones, Kopfman & Artenian LLP in Fresno. Fresno County Superior Court case number 18CECG03296

Jul 28, 2018 independent.com
California: All better after Corizon leaves
The number of grievances filed by inmates at County Jail because of the medical treatment they’ve received has dropped dramatically in the past year while the number of inmates seeking medical treatment has gone significantly up. Accounting for this dramatic turnaround is a combination of factors: The jail has a new medical treatment provider ​— ​CFMG ​ (California Forensic Medical Group) — ​which is now entering its second year. In addition, the Sheriff’s Office is entering its second year of operating a more formalized grievance process, run by a 32-year veteran of jailhouse operations, Lt. Mark Mahurin, who has won major praise by mental-health activists who in the past were among the jail’s most relentless critics. “It’s really quite remarkable,” said Suzanne Riordan of Families Act!, which has watchdogged mental-health care at the jail for more than 10 years. “We call Mark or Lt. Shawn Lammer with a complaint, and they’re inside the jail cell almost immediately checking it out. We still have problems. They just get resolved a lot faster now.” Families Act! helped get the new grievance program started a few years ago when they released a dossier of medical horror stories from the jail. In the first three months of 2018, the jail received a total of 477 grievances, of which 87 were related to dental care, mental health, medications, or general medical care. In the first three months of the prior year, there were 520 total complaints, of which 138 related to health-care concerns. In the first quarter of 2018, 2,244 inmates sought medical treatment; the first quarter of the prior year, the number was 1,852. In 2018, all 87 grievances were resolved in an average of 3.8 days. The prior year, it took 5.6 days for resolution to be achieved. Last year, 15 cases required some form of follow-up before they were settled, and three went to appeal. This year, no cases required any follow-up, and none were appealed. Resolution, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the complaint was settled to the liking of the inmate; it means the complaints were investigated and a determination was made. Resolution could mean getting painkillers to an inmate experiencing chronic dental issues or scheduling an appointment with a gynecologist for an inmate complaining of an ovarian cyst. In another case, it could mean denying hormones to an inmate undergoing a gender change because there’s no history of the inmate receiving such a prescription. Mahurin said once the county supervisors gave the boot to the jail’s prior health-care contractor ​— ​Corizon ​— ​the opportunities for improvement abounded. Corizon’s response to complaints, Mahurin said, were too often “too vague and too general.” Corizon professionals cited medical confidentiality rules for divulging so little information, frustrating inmates, advocates, and jail custodial staff trying to get answers. Once CFMG took over, Mahurin said the county changed to a grievance procedure, asking inmates to sign confidentiality waivers so that health-care providers could no longer hide behind vague generalities. “It used to be, ‘We’ll look into it,’” Mahurin recounted. “Now we’ll get, ‘You’re right, that should never have happened, and we’re dealing with it.’” Mahurin praised several ideas proposed by task-force members. Thanks to Esther Lim of the ACLU Southern California Jails Project, he said, the jail website now allows inmates’ relatives to provide pertinent information to the health-care workers in the jail. Many inmates, especially those experiencing mental illness, are less than forthcoming or accurate about their conditions and the medications they need. Likewise, he gave credit to Families Act! for posting a volunteer-run informational table in front of County Jail every weekend to help inmates’ family members navigate what can be a confounding and intimidating system. Information gleaned by those volunteers, he said, has formed the basis of grievances in addition to the ones submitted by inmates themselves. In 2017, volunteers processed 33 grievances; this year it was 15.

Oct 11, 2017 fresnobee.com
The inmate needed a wheelchair to get around. Doctor accused of taking it away
The California Medical Board has accused a doctor who provided care at the Fresno County Jail with repeated negligent acts, including denying a wheelchair to an inmate who could not walk. The medical board investigation found Dr. Michelle A. Thomas negligent in the care of five patients she saw at the jail in 2014 and 2015. If the accusations are upheld, the board could reprimand Thomas, place her on probation or revoke her medical license. In one case, Thomas is accused of deciding that an inmate could use a walker instead of a wheelchair. The board said she ordered the chair removed on July 25, 2014, before a physical therapy examination had been done to determine if the inmate could walk using a walker, and before he had been given instructions on how to transition from a wheelchair to a walker. The wheelchair was removed on Aug. 27, 2014, the board said, and the inmate was not able to get around with the walker. He fell when he was taken from his cell for an appointment to have his eyeglasses repaired, the board said. The inmate filed a grievance with the jail, requesting the return of his wheelchair, the board said. A camera was installed in his cell to observe whether he could walk, and after about a week, the wheelchair was returned to the inmate, the board said. The medical board identified the patient only with his initials, D.T., but federal court records show a Daniel Trebas has filed a lawsuit for damages he alleges he suffered in the jail, including injuries caused by the removal of a wheelchair. The lawsuit is against Thomas; Corizon Healthcare, her employer at the time; Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims; Sgt. Betty Moreno; and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. Trebas’ lawyer, Walter Riley of Oakland, confirmed his client is the D.T. in the medical board accusation. The accusations made by the medical board will be part of his lawsuit, Riley said. The alleged removal of the wheelchair cited by the medical board occurred about a month after Fresno County, under fire in 2013 over the health care for inmates and the target of a federal lawsuit, turned jail medical services over to Corizon, a Tennessee-based inmate medical services company. The county had been accused of improperly diagnosing and meeting medical and psychiatric needs of jail inmates, which was chronicled in August 2013 by The Fresno Bee in its “Locked in Terror” watchdog report. David Pomaville, director of the Fresno County Department of Public Health, said he could not comment about the medical board’s investigation, but Thomas has not provided services at the jail or at the county’s juvenile justice campus since May 2015. Thomas, reached by telephone, said she continues to work for Corizon. She referred questions about the medical board accusation to her lawyer, Matt Grigg of Walnut Creek, California. Grigg said in an email that he could not discuss the allegations due to the pending legal proceeding and patient privacy rights. But Grigg said: “We do anticipate Dr. Thomas will be fully exonerated.” Corizon spokeswoman Martha Harbin said Thomas is not an employee, but has signed an agreement with the company as an independent contractor to do work on an as-needed basis. In August, at the time of the agreement, a review of the National Physician Database reported no actions against her license, Harbin said. Harbin said Corizon cannot comment on the specific board findings, but will monitor the case. However, she said: “We provide health care services to an extremely litigious patient population and as such find it necessary to review litigation, grievances or complaints on a case-by-case basis.” Corizon also is confident Thomas will be exonerated, she said. According to medical board records, Thomas graduated from the University of California at Davis School of Medicine in 1995. The medical board accusation against Thomas also includes alleged negligence in the care of a patient identified only as K.C., who could not swallow food or water and who had a gastric feeding tube that allowed him to be fed liquids directly into his stomach. According to the accusation, the tract on the inmate’s feeding tube split and contents of his stomach spilled out. The inmate vomited and was in pain, the board said. A nurse told Thomas about the opening in the tube and Thomas told the nurse that the tube should be taped shut, the board said. The nurse taped the opening and told another nurse to use a catheter to change the tube. The right size catheter could not be found and the tube was not replaced. An on-call doctor had the inmate taken to a hospital to have the tube replaced, the board said. Thomas’ order to have the nurse to attempt to change the tube was an extreme departure from the standard of care, the board said. Three of the patients Thomas saw in the jail were women who were pregnant. In one case, the medical board said a nurse practitioner noted that an inmate, identified as C.S., had a history of high-risk pregnancy and blood clots. Thomas did not see the inmate when she was seen for the first time in the jail on March 24, 2015, and instead the inmate was seen by a nurse practitioner. The inmate was referred to an obstetrician outside of the jail, and the nurse practitioner continued to follow the inmate until she was released on May 20, 2015. The nurse practitioner made medication orders, ordered laboratory test and gave other care. Thomas did not sign any notes or orders, the board said. A nurse practitioner needs additional obstetric training or needs to be a nurse-midwife to provide care to a pregnant patient, the board said. And a high-risk patient should be under the care of an obstetric specialist after 12 weeks gestation. The board said the inmate was 14 weeks pregnant when she was first seen at the jail.Another inmate was six weeks pregnant when she was jailed on Oct. 24, 2014. The inmate had Rh-negative blood and problems can occur in pregnancy when a mother’s blood is Rh-negative and the baby has Rh- positive blood. An immunoglobulin injection at 28-weeks can prevent problems. In the inmate’s case, the board said when Thomas ordered the immunoglobulin she did not give an exact date for the shot to be given and she did not know the exact weeks of the pregnancy. In the case of a third pregnant inmate, there was a note saying the inmate had syphilis and had completed four injections for treatment. However, there was no lab report showing a positive test for syphilis and no note regarding the shots, the board said. In addition to gross negligence and repeated negligent acts, the board said Thomas is subject to disciplinary action for having inadequate and inaccurate medical records.

Jul 16, 2017 abc30.com
A jailhouse lawsuit could cost millions for taxpayers in a couple Valley counties. (KFSN)
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- UPDATE: Corizon Health representatives on Wednesday sent Action News evidence of a second vote by registered nurses in which they chose to accept the alternative workweek. Unlike the documents Action News uncovered related to the August 2014 vote in which they rejected working three 12-hour days, the November 2014 vote was not filed with the Department of Industrial Relations under Corizon's name, but in the name of its attorneys, Littler Mendelson. In the second vote, 70% of the jail's RNs voted to accept the alternative workweek, which is above the two-thirds threshold required under state law to exempt the workers from overtime laws. The company also says it indemnifies Fresno County in case it gets sued. The plaintiff's attorney says he's not sure the vote was proper since it was only about 60 days after the rejection vote. He adds that he can't find any vote allowing the alternative workweek in Tulare County, and there are other issues with payment by Corizon, so the lawsuit will move forward. A jailhouse lawsuit could cost millions for taxpayers in a couple Valley counties. Registered nurses say the health care contractor is breaking state laws. Corizon Health took over as health care providers at the Fresno County jail in 2014 and they do the same thing in Tulare County. A new lawsuit says they're cheating nurses out of overtime pay and they know they're doing it. Inside the Fresno County jail, about three dozen registered nurses tend to the inmates' medical needs. Some of them say they've been getting ripped off for the last few years, but not by accused criminals wearing jail uniforms. "What we've learned is that the registered nurses are working well beyond eight hours in a day and they're not receiving overtime as required by California law," said plaintiffs' attorney Joshua Richtel of Tuttle & McCloskey. Richtel filed what could become a class action lawsuit against Corizon Health, the company in charge of health care in the jail. It claims RNs are forced to work 12-hour shifts, three days a week. State law says anything over eight should be paid as overtime, with some exceptions -- like if two-thirds of the workers chose an alternative workweek. But Action News uncovered public records showing Corizon held an election in 2014, and the RNs rejected 12-hour work days. Three years later, nurses say they still work long days and get no OT pay. Corizon's online job postings in Fresno County and Tulare County even describe jobs with 12-hour shifts. "It's pretty blatantly disregarding the election and blatantly disregarding the will of the employees and under state law the employees have to agree to 12-hour days," said legal analyst Tony Capozzi. Capozzi says if Corizon's been ignoring the law for years and in as many as four counties, as the lawsuit claims, it could be facing penalties of between $6 million to $8 million-- and the counties themselves could be on the hook as well. "If there's some kind of requirement of that supervision that they should've been watching over Corizon to make sure they were following the state law, the county may be liable, not only for part of it, but for all of this," he said. As it stands, the lawsuit does not name any county as a defendant. The Fresno County administrative officer, Jean Rousseau, told us the county "has no comment at this time." As for Corizon, director of external affairs Martha Harbin sent us this statement late Tuesday: "Because a lawsuit has been filed, we unfortunately are unable to comment in detail on the litigation except to say that we strongly believe our employment policies meet the letter and spirit of California law and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves against this frivolous lawsuit."

Mar 28, 2015 abc30.com/news
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno County jail inmate is claiming abuse at the hands of a jail doctor, and sheriff's detectives are looking into whether the new medical contractor tried to cover it up. Daniel Trebas hasn't had an easy time in the Fresno County jail. The convicted sex offender has served his punishment, plus about 15 extra years after he was deemed mentally disordered. And after seven years in a wheelchair, he says a doctor ordered it taken away as retaliation for his previous complaints against her. Jail staff overrode the doctor's order and gave it back after 37 days, and then a detective started digging into whether his rights were violated. What he found, according to a search warrant Action News uncovered, was a man who was a victim of dependent care abuse whose medical records had been falsified and altered. "Was there fraud in covering up the fact that a wheelchair was taken away?" said ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "And if it was taken away, was it for medical reasons or was it for some kind of punishment or retribution?" Capozzi says a cover-up could be as bad as the original crime, forcing prosecutors to file felony charges. But he says the case could be hard to prove. Although the detective says jail administrators acknowledge the records appear to be altered, tracking down who did it could be hard. And then there's Trebas. "The problem in this case may be the inmate himself," Capozzi said. "If he's at Atascadero [State Hospital] he may have some issues himself in whether or not he is accurately seeing the facts here in a very objective manner." State regulators have no record of any prior administrative actions against the doctor. She works for Corizon Health, which took over jail medical services not even four months before on a contract worth as much as $100 million. The deal was supposed to clean up inmate medical care and save the county money, but it may not last long. "I'm sure there's something in the contract that says if there's any kind of criminal acts or any kind of fraud, the county has the right to rescind the contract," Capozzi said. "That may happen." The sheriff's office told us they couldn't comment on the case beyond what we already found in the warrant because it's an ongoing investigation. Corizon spokesman Stuart Ramsey told us : ""Out of respect for patient confidentiality, we are not able to discuss details of the care provided to any individual or actions taken in any individual case. What we can say is that, as a physician-led company, our top priority is providing the highest-quality care to our patients. This is both our ethical responsibility and the core of our business."

September 23, 2008 Fresno Bee
Fresno County is looking for a new vendor to supply food to jail inmates. Aramark Correctional Services notified the county that it is terminating its contract and will stop providing meals to the jail Nov. 20. A company spokeswoman said the contract is no longer profitable because of rising food costs. Spokeswoman Sarah Jarvis said the cost to purchase food has tripled. Last November, board members signed off on a five-year, $30.2 million deal with Aramark. The deal lowered the per-meal cost, from $1.24 to $1.12, and required Aramark to pay utility costs associated with use of the county's central kitchen. The company recently tried to increase its profits by proposing a program called "Fresh Food for Inmates" that would allow inmates to purchase a special hot meal once a week. Inmates would have been able to purchase items such as cheeseburgers, nachos, chili cheese fries and burritos. But Board Chairman Henry Perea called the proposal "ridiculous." "It's insane to even be considering such a program," he said. "I can't tell you how much this upsets me." County supervisors said they would allow other companies to bid on the contract. Aramark said it's interested in rebidding, but county officials said they want to see whether they can exclude the company from the process. Aramark also provides meals to the juvenile detention facility and the county's psychiatric units. County supervisors indicated that they may look for separate vendors to supply food to those areas. Supervisor Bob Waterston also wants the county to consider having inmates cook and prepare their own meals.

Fresno County Juvenile Hall
Fresno, California
Aramark

June 28, 2006 KFSN
An investigation is underway into a troubling discovery at Fresno County's juvenile hall, where a rodent head was found inside a dinner meal. The current juvenile hall in southeast Fresno has been plagued with concerns about overcrowding and other unsafe conditions. A new $142 million facility is set to open south of Fresno to take its place. Juvenile hall officials are confirming a rodent head was found in a meal served there. They are investigating just how the foreign object got into the dinner meal served to a young offender. Chief Probation Officer Linda Penner tells Action News, "It looked to be like a small mouse head between bread that was served to a minor at the facility." Environmental health officials are investigating how the rodent head may have gotten into a dinner meal served on Sunday, June 18th. Meals are prepared at the Fresno County central kitchen by a company named Aramark. The county memo sent to employees says, "There have been no similar allegations from the jail facilities ... and the county regularly inspects the operation to ensure proper handling of food."

Glenn Dyer Jail
Oakland, California
Prison Health Services

March 10, 2010 AP
Health care workers at both jails in Alameda County were locked out Wednesday, a day after they staged a one-day strike to protest stagnant contract negotiations. "It's just another intimidation tactic," said Maxine Persky, a nurse for 10 years at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin who was told she would not be allowed back to work until next week after showing up at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. "How is this bargaining in good faith?" Nearly 140 health care workers — members of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West — held a one-day strike Tuesday at both Santa Rita Jail and the North County Jail in Oakland after working more than two months without a contract and making minimal headway on a new one with Tennessee-based Prison Health Services. That company has a contract with Alameda County to provide both jails with health care staff and workers, such as nurses and medical record technicians. On Wednesday, Prison Health Services released another statement, saying it "will continue to fulfill its contract with the county and to maintain patient care through the use of temporary replacement employees through 6 a.m. March 16 or until we reach a settlement with the union, whichever comes first." Persky said the union and management are set to meet again today to try to work out a new contract, but in the meantime are concerned about the inmates. "We're concerned for them," Persky said.

March 9, 2010 Oakland Tribune
Nearly 140 health care workers at both jails in Alameda County took to the picket lines Tuesday to protest six months of stalled contract negotiations and what they call unfair labor practices. The workers, members of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, approved the one-day strike last month after working more than two months without a contract and making minimal headway on a new one with Tennessee-based Prison Health Services. That company has a contract with Alameda County to provide health care staff, such as nurses and medical record technicians, to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and the North County Jail in Oakland. "This is to show we mean business and we're not going to give in," said Kim Tovar, a medical records technician at North County Jail. Tovar and about two dozen others protested outside North County Jail while a much larger procession marched in front of the county's largest jail, Santa Rita Jail. Although workers called for a one-day strike, rumors swirled Tuesday that Prison Health Services was expected to lock out the workers for a week starting at 6 a.m. today. Prison Health Services officials would not comment Tuesday but did issue a statement Friday that said, "PHS regrets SEIU's decision to walk out and remains committed to negotiate a fair, reasonable and competitive contract" and said it would "ensure patient care is uninterrupted." Temporary workers did replace union workers at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said no problems at either facility had been reported. A memo from the company to staff was circulated last week saying the union workers would not be allowed back to work until March 16 or until a new contract was signed — whichever happened first. "I think it's dirty," Tovar said of the potential lockout. "I think it's low." Carrie Singleton, a licensed vocational nurse at North County Jail, said that if the company locks out workers, workers still must stand their ground. "If they do it, they do it," Singleton said. "We have to make a commitment to fight." The main sticking point in negotiations, according to the union, is what they see as a huge increase in health care costs employees must pick up. According to Blaire Behrens, a nurse at North County Jail for 19 years and member of the union's negotiating team, any proposed wage increase is more than eaten up by the 30 percent health care cost increase.

February 25, 2010 Oakland Tribune
Health care workers at both jails in the Alameda County have agreed to strike as early as next month if negotiations for a new contract remain stalled. About 140 workers — members of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West — have voted to strike if their representatives cannot come to a settlement with Tennessee-based Prison Health Services. That company has a contract with Alameda County to provide health care staff and workers — such as nurses and medical record technicians — to both Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility in Oakland. The current plan by the health care workers union is to hold a one-day strike March 9, according to Blaire Behrens, a nurse at Glenn Dyer jail for 19 years and member of the union's negotiating team. There are two bargaining sessions scheduled for next week. "It would certainly be better if both sides could come to an agreement," Behrens said. "It would be better for management, the inmates and the workers. "We work in a very difficult environment," Behrens continued. "But it's a job we want to do. We don't want to strike." Behrens said the main sticking point is what the union sees as a huge increase in health care costs employees must pick up. She said even though Prison Health Services is offering 3 percent wage increases, those are more than offset by the 30 percent health care cost increase. Starting nurses at the facilities make approximately $40.50 an hour. Behrens said the union has been negotiating with management for nearly six months with little movement. The current contract expired in December. The union has sought the help of both county supervisors and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office to help break the stalemate. Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, said if the union members do strike, it will be up to Prison Health Services to provide the county with replacement workers. Prison Health Services did not return multiple requests for comment.

February 6, 2007 The Daily-Californian
The medical center at a county jail that some say has poor medical care will hire additional personnel this year following the jail’s settlement of negotiations with the health care providers’ union. The health contractors said the conditions before the agreement led to potentially unsafe conditions for the 4,000 inmates in Santa Rita Jail, the primary jail facility for Alameda County. The facility’s safety has been questioned by inmates’ relatives in the last several years. In 2006, eight Santa Rita Jail inmates died. Most recent was the death of Berkeley resident and inmate Cedrick Pinkney’s, suspected to be related to longstanding health issues. Jail officials said Pinkney’s death was not due to medical negligence. That mortality rate is lower than both that of the general population and that in jails and prisons nationwide, said Bill Wilson, the jail’s health services administrator Regardless of the circumstances of those deaths, health care workers at Santa Rita Jail said the new agreement will mitigate what they considered to be unsafe levels of staffing. “It’s an excellent agreement for both the jail and the nurses as well,” Wilson said. The agreement, which officials expect to finalize next week, is the product of a settlement reached in December between Prison Health Services, the firm contracted by Alameda County to provide care to the inmates, and the union representing the jail’s 120 health care workers. Union officials said the health workers were ill-equipped to respond to the inmates’ medical needs. “There were many days when the staffing levels were as low as 50 percent of the staffing levels that Prison Health Services had committed to provide in their contract,” said Dana Simon, spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union-United Health Care Workers-West. “Absolutely, it was affecting the basic care.” Understaffing put inmates with chronic conditions in particular danger, Simon said, because they cannot administer their own medicine. “There were many days when they just cancelled pill call in particular houses,” Simon said. But Prison Health Services representatives denied this claim.

January 5, 2007 Inside Bay Area
Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker is probing accusations that severe understaffing of medical personnel at two Alameda County jails is endangering their safety and inmates' health. The inquiry by Lai-Bitker, the board's Health Committee chairwoman, came in response to complaints by Prison Health Services workers that staffing was 30 to 50 percent below contract requirements from August to December. Nurses were forced to work overtime, and inmates' access to medical care was denied because too few nurses were available, according to Service Employees International Union-United Health Care Workers-West, the union that represents about 120 of the employees. "We are constantly plagued with understaffing in the Santa Rita jail," a registered nurse and union member said in a statement provided by the union on condition of anonymity. "We are all tired." Prison Health Services has contracted with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office since 1989. The company's current $51 million three-year contract, which serves about 4,000 inmates at Santa Rita jail in Pleasanton and Glenn E. Dyer jail in Oakland, expires in June.

December 20, 2006 Mercury News
Health care workers at two Alameda County jails late Monday night withdrew notice of a planned two-day strike that would have begun Tuesday, as negotiations continued to address staffing issues, according to a jail administrator. Leaders of the union that represents about 120 nurses, physicians and other health workers at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and the Glenn E. Dyer jail in Oakland called the strike early Monday after a bargaining session failed to produce a new contract. But by evening, they called off the plan because of progress in contract talks. The workers are employed by Prison Health Services Inc., a Tennessee-based firm that staffs more than 300 prisons and jails nationwide, including the two in Alameda County. "We're continuing to negotiate with the union this evening, and we're optimistic that we'll come up with a collective bargaining agreement," said Bill Wilson, administrator for the Alameda County jails. The workers claim the agency's failure to recruit and hire enough workers has endangered the health of inmates, said Dana Simon, a spokesman for Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers-West. Workers and their supporters had planned to picket outside the jails in Dublin and Oakland beginning at 6 a.m. and return to work at 6 a.m. Thursday.

December 5, 2006 CBS 5
Healthcare workers negotiating a new contract with a firm that provides health services at two jails in Alameda County were threatening to give formal notice of a strike on Wednesday if talks failed to deliver an agreement tonight. Employees represented by Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers-West are seeking a new contract with Prison Health Services, Inc., a Tennessee-based firm that serves Santa Rita and Glenn Dyer jails in Alameda County, among hundreds of other correctional facilities across the country. Union representatives and healthcare professionals allege the jails have a shortage of healthcare workers causing detrimental conditions for the patients they serve. A nurse working at Santa Rita Jail, Donna Chatman, said a recent example of substandard care she heard of was "that an inmate with a colostomy bag was not seen for days to get his bag changed because the nurse had to many patients to take care of. So he used a Pepsi bottle for a colostomy bag until he could see a nurse. That is what is happening in our jails." David Wolf, a spokesman for Prison Health Services, said he had no information on that allegation, or another alleged by a healthcare worker, in which an inmate with an infected foot saw his condition worsen due to lack of rudimentary care. Wolf said short staffing in the healthcare profession is common, but no more so at the Santa Rita Jail than anywhere else. "We are proud of the hard work that these nurses and the rest of the staff provide for the inmates," said Wolf. Union spokeswoman Dana Simon said that in addition to desiring a greater salary increase, "The main issue here is PHS is staffing the jails with 50 percent of the required number of healthcare workers as is required per the contract they submitted to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office." However, Santa Rita jail administrative Captain Wilkinson denied these allegations. "PHS is not violating their contract and they are providing adequate staffing when they are dealing with a shortage of nurses."

November 10, 2006 PR News Wire
Healthcare workers at Alameda County's Santa Rita jail in Pleasanton and Glenn Dyer jail in Oakland announced today that they will give formal strike notice to their employer, Prison Health Services (PHS), on December 2, if a new contract agreement is not reached. The caregivers are represented by SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) and include RN's, LVNs, certified nursing assistants, technicians, and clerical workers. The workers point to wages that are 35% to 40% below area averages, resulting in dramatic understaffing. They consider the low staffing levels to be so serious that the facilities are no longer safe for the caregivers or the inmates/patients they care for. Workers also highlight the fact that under the contract with the Sheriff's Department, PHS is paid a rate based on specific staffing levels, but on most days reaches only about half those levels. "Staffing at half the level that is required by the contract between the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and Prison Health Services is not only unsafe for the caregivers and the patients, but PHS is also breaking its commitments to taxpayers and the Sheriff's Department," said SEIU UHW President Sal Rosselli. PHS, a Tennessee-based for-profit corporation, was the subject of a three- part New York Times expose in February, 2005 for practices harmful to the well-being of patients/inmates, issues similar to those cited by the healthcare workers in Alameda County. Access the entire article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/27/nyregion/27jail.html?ex=1163307600&en=339 a81 097e61fe2c&ei=5070 SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West, with more than 130,000 members, is the largest and most powerful healthcare union in the Western U.S. We represent every type of healthcare worker, including nursing, professional, technical and service classifications. Our mission is to achieve high quality healthcare for all.

Leo Chesney
Live Oak, California
GEO Group (bought out Cornell
)
July 11, 2011 Business Wire
The GEO Group ("GEO") announced today that the State of California has decided to implement its Criminal Justice Realignment Plan (the "Realignment Plan"), which is expected to delegate tens of thousands of low level state offenders to local county jurisdictions in California effective October 1, 2011. As a result of the implementation of the Realignment Plan, the State of California has decided to discontinue contracts with Community Correctional Facilities which currently house low level state offenders across the state. This decision will impact three GEO facilities: the company-leased 305-bed Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility, the company-owned 643-bed Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility, and the company-owned 625-bed Central Valley Modified Community Correctional Facility. GEO has received written notice from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation regarding the cancellation of GEO's agreements for the housing of low level state offenders at these three facilities effective as of September 30, 2011, November 30, 2011 and November 30, 2011, respectively. GEO is in the process of actively marketing these facilities to local county agencies in California. Given that most local county jurisdictions in California are presently operating at or above their correctional capacity, GEO is hopeful that it will be able to market these facilities to local county agencies for the housing of low level offenders who will be the responsibility of local county jurisdictions. If GEO is unable to secure alternative customers for these three facilities, GEO estimates that the combined annualized negative earnings per share impact of the cancellations would be approximately $0.10-0.13, including carrying costs while the facilities are idle. The combined annualized revenues for these three facilities were approximately $33-$35 million.

July 10, 2011 Appeal-Democrat
The Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility for women will close Sept. 30 when the state contract with a Florida-based corporation ends, says a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman. "There is no appropriation in the state budget to continue funding that contract," Ralph Jackson said Friday. Live Oak City Manager Jim Goodwin said the loss of the community's largest private employer will be significant: Sixty-five full-time employees along with 12 part-time workers. A decade ago, an effort to close such facilities spurred communities to rally in a successful effort to keep them open, Goodwin said, although he acknowledged state finances are now much different. "It's a different time — a different budget climate," he said.

May 23, 2011 Appeal-Democrat
The director of the Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility for women has said the Live Oak site may be closed, Jim Goodwin, city manager of Live Oak, said Monday. Director Paula Ford referred questions Monday about the status of the facility to Florida-based GEO Group Inc., which has a contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to operate the facility. Pablo E. Paez, vice president of corporate relations, said in an email that he would not comment on the status of the Live Oak facility that opened in 1989. Ralph Jackson, a spokesman for the state department of corrections, said Monday that no decision has been made about Leo Chesney's fate. "We don't know," Jackson said. Live Oak Mayor Gary Baland has heard accounts that the facility will close as the state faces its financial crisis but he said that the city has no official word about its status. "I haven't seen anything in writing yet," Baland said. "We have to see if this is really going to happen. "The women's prison is an icon here in the city," the mayor added. He said of its possible closing that, "I just don't think that's a good thing to do." City manager Goodwin said that the community of Live Oak rallied in 2002 when state spending cuts threatened to close the facility and that he expects residents will do so again if the site is planned to shut down. "Leo Chesney is really considered a valued community asset," Goodwin said. The privately run minimum security facility for women is one of the largest employers in Live Oak, he said. Paez in an email said the site has 305 beds but added that "as a matter of policy, our company does not disclose facility-level occupancy or staffing information."

May 23, 2008 Appeal-Democrat
A Linda man convicted of having sex with a female inmate when he was a corrections officer in Live Oak was sentenced Friday to 120 days in jail. The lawyer for Mark Stephen Susoeff called the crime "stupid." Sutter County Judge Chris Chandler said it was "beyond stupid. It's disgusting." Susoeff, 45, who worked at the Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility, received oral sex in January 2007 from an inmate near her locker in the early morning at the facility, according to Susoeff's probation report. Chandler said Susoeff's actions undermine "every bit of legitimacy that the system has." "You're going to have make amends for the institution that you have let down," said Chandler. Texas-based Cornell Companies contracts with the California Department of Corrections to house about female offenders in the minimum-security facility. "We feel strongly that any improper conduct should be punished," said Cornell spokesman Charles Seigel. Cornell hires people who have work experience but are new to corrections, Seigel said. The $10-an-hour pay Susoeff is said to have received is in the range of entry-level compensation, Seigel said. Susoeff worked from 1993-2006 as a custodian for the Yuba County Superintendent of Schools and was paid $16 an hour, the probation report said. Defense attorney Donald Wahlberg said Susoeff, who also was placed on three years probation, needs help with an alcohol problem. Susoeff's probation requirements include his completing alcohol counseling. For the past 15 years, the Linda resident has consumed a case of beer on weekends and four to five beers after work, according to the probation report. "Maybe if I quit drinking beer, I'll quit smoking, too," Susoeff said in the report. Susoeff provided cigarettes and a Bic lighter to a female inmate who had witnessed his receiving oral sex, the probation report said. He supplied the contraband in exchange for her silence, according to the report. The probation report also detailed Susoeff's actions in March 2007 with another inmate with whom he is said to have had oral sex and intercourse. Susoeff initially denied allegations that he had sex with inmates and said he was angered by rumors from inmates at the facility. In an April 29 interview at the county Probation Department, Susoeff admitted to the first sexual encounter with the female inmate but denied sex with the second inmate in March 2007. He said family problems and a stressful job left him "out of it." "I didn't have a brain left," Susoeff stated. He said he plans to move to the state of Washington but that his house here isn't selling. "It's been one hit after another," Susoeff said in the probation interview. "You can only take so many hits and now my wall of defense is gone."

November 17, 2007 Appeal-Democrat
A male correctional officer of the Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility for women in Live Oak was arrested on suspicion of having sex with an inmate, a Sutter County prosecutor said Friday. Mark Steven Susoeff, 45, of the 1700 block of Deborah Lane, East Linda, was arrested at 1 p.m. Thursday at his residence and booked into Yuba County Jail, where bail was set at $15,000. He was no longer being held Friday. Susoeff was arrested after an investigation by the Internal Affairs Division of the California Department of Corrections, said Sutter County Assistant District Attorney Fred Schroeder. The minimum security facility is owned and operated by a private firm, Cornell Companies Inc. of Houston, Tex., but overseen by the state. Susoeff allegedly had sex with the inmate, who was not named, on two occasions, once in January and once in March. Leo Chesney Director Paula Ford said she could not comment and referred questions to Cornell spokesman Charles Seigel. Seigel said the company and state officials began investigating after the inmate reported the incidents. Susoeff was then placed on administrative leave, he said. Like other employees, Susoeff underwent a background check before being hired, said Seigel. “We believe they’re good but you can’t prevent everything like this,” he said. Seigel declined to say how long Susoeff worked at the facility.

June 19, 2002
Live Oak's Leo Chesney Center probably will survive the budget ax, says a state official who Thursday blasted the facility's operator for its "sleazy" public relations campaign. "It's looking much more like it's going to stay open," said Stephen Green, assistant secretary in the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency. "This isn't over until the budget is final. Certainly, the indications are it's going to stay open." The tentative budget deal to keep Chesney open was hammered out Wednesday. "Clearly, we're a little better off today than we were two days ago with the decision made (Wednesday)," said Marvin Wiebe, senior vice president of Cornell Companies Inc., which runs the Chesney Center under a contract with the state. "The legislators had some concerns about the lack of options for women to do their time in Northern California and wanted to see as many options as possible remain and indicated they were willing to fund that," Green said. "The legislators had some concerns about the lack of options for women to do their time in Northern California and wanted to see as many options as possible remain and indicated they were willing to fund that," Green said. "When they are willing to fund it, that makes it a lot easier for us."  "This was just one of just hundreds of government programs that were being looked at to be scaled back or eliminated," Green said. "This one got more attention because Cornell made some of the most outrageous lies imaginable and went around the state accusing us of murder. They behaved in a most unprofessional manner." Cornell "used the Enron playbook," Green said, referring to the bankrupt energy trading company. "They're a Houston-based company, a for-profit concern. They're very interested in protecting their profits. They don't care who they have to malign to do it." Green called Cornell's public relations campaign "sleazy. I don't think it was slick. It bore no relationship to the truth ... "He said there's a chance the state may put the contract out to bid or have the Department of Corrections take over management. "We have an option on the property and therefore control the property," Wiebe said. "The expectation of the community is that Cornell would operate it as we have for the last 13 years." If the state took over, it would cost an additional $1 million for salaries and benefits, he said. (Privateer News)

June 12, 2002
Gov. Gray Davis, facing pressure from several lawmakers, reversed himself partially and agreed to permit one of five private prisons to continue operating, administration officials said Tuesday. At least two dozen women legislators signed a letter last month urging that Davis keep open the Leo Chesney Correctional Facility at Live Oak, north of Sacramento. Also in doubt is whether the contractor, Cornell Co. of Houston, would continue operating the facility, or whether the contract would be put up for competitive bidding. The administration, trying to close a $24-billion budget deficit, had contended that closing the five private prisons would save the state $2.8 million.

June 8, 2002
Gov. Gray Davis' plans to close five private prisons, including two in Kern County, by next week have been halted as the Legislature's budget negotiators debate whether some or all of the facilities should remain open. Negotiators are split on the prisons' future, with the Assembly voting to close them and the Senate voting to restore $2.8 million to Gov. Gray Davis' budget to keep them operating. More than half the private prisons' 1,400 inmates have been paroled, sent to firefighting camps or transferred to prisons operated by the state Department of Corrections, he said. The plan had been to move the remaining inmates, staff and equipment by June 15. Contracts of all five of the facilities expire June 30 and the Department of Corrections does not want to renew them. All of the 340 inmates once housed at the Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility in Bakersfield have been moved or paroled, said Durwood Sigrest, head of the firm that operates the facility. Sigrest said the staff of 80 has been trimmed down to about 20 and staffers are waiting to hear about the next move in the stalled closure plan. A few inmates remain at the facility operated by Wackenhut Corrections Corp. in McFarland, said a spokesman for the corrections department. The delay creates staffing problems for Cornell Cos. Inc., which operates the Leo Chesney Community Correctional Facility for Women in Live Oak, north of Sacramento, and the Baker Community Correctional Facility east of Los Angeles, said company spokesman Don Fields. The Chesney center has laid off employees anticipating the closure, while the Baker facility plans to shut down its inmate-staffed fire and rescue team as of midnight Sunday. (Bakersfield.com)

Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Wackenhut/Group 4

June 26, 2007 PR Newswire
The City of Los Angeles is launching an investigation into security contractor Wackenhut Corporation/G4S' compliance with the city's Responsible Contractor Policy, a probe that could result in debarment from city contracts for five years. Prior to the investigation, Wackenhut had more than US$5 million annually in contracts with the City of Los Angeles to guard at least two dozen buildings and public places including Los Angeles City Hall East; Mount Lee -- the home of the famous Hollywood sign; the Ed Davis Training Facility, which is the newest and most elaborate LAPD training facility; other parks, performing arts centers, and the Watts and Van Nuys city halls. In addition to launching the investigation, Los Angeles did not select Wackenhut for future city work worth up to an estimated US$20 million over three years. Wackenhut Corporation formerly had the largest piece of this city account. They were first selected in 2004 for a three-year contract along with four other contractors for the Los Angeles security work. In its Notice of Investigation, the Los Angeles City Bureau of Contract Administration (BCA) determined, "after researching [a] complaint (regarding [Wackenhut's] contractor responsibility status) that the issues raised are valid." Accordingly, Wackenhut "[has] been placed under investigation for violations of [the Contractor Responsibility Ordinance] of Los Angeles." Under the Responsible Contractor Program (RCP), the City determines whether the prospective contractor is one that has the necessary quality, fitness and capacity to perform the work set forth in the contract. Irresponsible contractors with poor performance of other contracts; failure to comply with relevant laws and regulations; and shoddy record of business integrity are not eligible for city contracts for up to five years according to the Los Angeles Administrative Code Section 10.40.2(a), Ordinance No. #17367. In March 2007, U.S. Congresswoman Diane Watson co-chaired a public hearing where she heard current and former Wackenhut employees testify to the company's long record of workplace discrimination, labor violations, and management incompetence. In response to charges of racial discrimination by Wackenhut within the Department of Energy's elite anti-terrorist Protective Force, Congresswoman Watson declared, "I'm appalled that we have contractors here with Federal government contracts being paid by taxpayers' dollars ..... practicing the behavior of the 1950's and the 1960's." California Assembly member Mervyn Dymally (D-52) and California Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-26) also co-chaired the Commission on Wackenhut and Security Standards that included Los Angeles City Council member Wendy Greuel and Dr. Maulana Karenga, Professor, California State University, Long Beach and National Chairman of the Organization US. The Los Angeles Commission on Wackenhut and Security Standards, a group of prominent religious, community leaders and trade unionists, conducted the hearing. In addition to the hearing, the group sent a letter to Los Angeles' head of the Bureau of Contract Administration, John L. Reamer, expressing their concerns about the company's "well documented record of racism, discrimination and poor security that appears to violate the City of Los Angeles' Responsible Contractor Policy." The March 28, 2007 letter was signed by Rev. Eric P. Lee, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles and Rev. Dr. Lewis E. Logan II, senior Pastor of the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles BCA received evidence that Wackenhut Corporation's answers on the contractor responsibility questionnaire in January 2007 were less than truthful. With respect to early termination of contracts within the past five years, Wackenhut failed to mention losing contracts at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant (August 2006), Indian Point #2 Nuclear Power Plant (2003), and Utah Transit Authority (2002). In addition, Wackenhut's contract to guard Dept. of Homeland Security Headquarters and Army Bases was not renewed. As for recent employment litigation brought by workers, Wackenhut overlooked a number of race discrimination and civil rights cases, including an US$80,000 settlement in a sexual harassment case. Wackenhut also failed to mention governmental investigations for violating laws and rules including investigation leading to the loss of the Dayton Transit contract in Ohio. Problems and failures there included missing incident reports, sleeping on the job, concerns about officers' qualifications, lack of supervision, and unprofessional conduct. As for current investigations of false claim(s) and material misrepresentation(s), Wackenhut neglected to tell the City of Los Angeles about a fraud suit for services allegedly not performed on the Miami-Dade County Transit contract and the County's Juvenile Assessment Center. An ongoing investigation by the NBC affiliate in Miami on parts of a preliminary Miami-Dade county audit revealed that "Wackenhut owes taxpayers up to US$12.1 million for what it calls 'questioned hours' and 'questioned billings'" in addition to various other contract violations. The company also omitted an ongoing investigation by the Department of Energy's Inspector General of falsification of training records. After the hearing, the coalition presented additional materials to the city in the period of the last several months. While Wackenhut had been the incumbent choice for more years of work, the city recently decided not to choose the company for new work. This is in addition to beginning the investigative probe toward potential debarment. Faith Culbreath, president of SEIU Local 2006, which represents security officers at other companies in the Los Angeles area said, "Security workers want to be accountable to the community they serve. That means working for companies that do the right thing by their workers and by the citizens of Los Angeles. Wackenhut abused the public trust and the trust and safety of its workforce."

Los Angeles County Jails
Los Angeles, California
Canteen Services

April 30, 2007 Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
The corporation that runs the inmate stores at Los Angeles County's jails underpaid the county nearly $650,000 in profits while wining and dining Sheriff's Department employees, auditors said Monday. Compass Group USA Inc., which does business as Canteen Services, improperly spent $640,213 from 1999 to 2005 that should have instead been spent on inmate services, says a report by Auditor-Controller Tyler McCauley. The expenses included travel costs for Compass employees, meals and entertainment, along with $169,465 for "client hospitality," McCauley wrote. The same audit also questioned why Compass contributed $304,291 to the sheriff's Youth Foundation, a crime-prevention program designed to reduce recidivism; and paid $147,233 to the Sheriff's Department for retirement parties, golf tournaments and the Baker-to-Vegas relay, an annual long-distance run in which Sheriff Lee Baca and other law-enforcement officials participate. The audit drew immediate criticism from taxpayer advocates, who questioned whether sheriff's employees are complying with the county's Political Reform Act. "Somebody in the Sheriff's Department should know better than to receive all these goodies and perks," said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. "It seems like $170,000 is a lot of gifts, a lot of client hospitality." Melinda Bird, senior counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, criticized both the sheriff's department and its contractor. "The inmates in the jail are quite literally captive consumers," she said. "They have no way other than through Compass to get a pad of paper or a bag of chips. "Now within that framework, we find it a sad commentary that a vendor would claim that contributions to sheriff's sporting events or free dinners to deputies are necessary expenses." Officials at the $8.4 billion company, a prominent food-management company that has a facility in Canoga Park, issued a response saying some of the money had been spent for meals and other events with sheriff's officials, but couldn't say specifically who had been entertained. "They don't know who was dined," Stern said. "And the question is, was it top sheriff's people? "My assumption is it probably was top people in the Sheriff's Department, the people who make the decisions. Was the sheriff involved? Were any of his top deputies involved?" Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said the department will review the audit and discipline employees, if warranted. "If there is something being pointed out where we need to review our policies, we will certainly act accordingly," he said. But McCauley said that without records detailing which sheriff's officials had been entertained, auditors could not determine compliance with the Political Reform Act. That requires county employees to disclose gifts of more than $50 and limits gifts that may be accepted from any one source up to $360 a year. The county's contract with Compass requires the contractor to share a percentage of its profits on the sale of snacks, beverages, personal-care products, over-the-counter medications, stationery, cosmetics and clothing. That money provides some of the revenue for the Inmate Welfare Fund, which is designed to be used only for inmate services. However a grand jury report issued in 2000 found that sheriff's officials had used it for "pet projects" and other expenses. At the time, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky accused the Sheriff's Department of using it as a "slush fund," and demanded the money be used for inmates' medical and mental-health needs. In their response, Compass officials also disagreed with some of the findings, and noted that the company had not previously charged the county for certain overhead costs. As a result, the company contends it doesn't owe the county anything.

McFarland Community CF
McFarland, California
GEO Group
November 26, 2011 The Daily Press
The state has canceled its contract with the privately operated Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility, putting about 150 workers out of a job. Desert View's contract termination officially takes effect Wednesday, though prison employees told the Daily Press that The Geo Group Inc. has been preparing to deactivate the prison at Rancho and Aster roads since May. The 643-bed medium-security prison is shuttering its doors as part of California’s realignment plan, which responds to federal orders to reduce state prison overcrowding by shifting responsibility for tens of thousands of low-level offenders to county governments. To help deal with the new influx of inmates under local supervision, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is encouraging counties to enter into their own contracts with more than a dozen former CCFs. The CCFs had generally housed inmates with sentences shorter than 18 months, parole violators and offenders with scheduled release dates — the same types of nonviolent, non-sexual or non-serious offenders now serving out sentences in county jails instead of state prisons. “We hope that counties contract with these facilities to save jobs and ease inmate housing concerns that many counties may have,” CDCR spokeswoman Dana Toyama said. But San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials say they’re not planning to privatize jail beds. The math just doesn’t pencil out, according to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman. “The issue with taking advantage of private prisons or private jail facilities has come up over and over again throughout the years; however, it’s not something that the county is considering,” Bachman said. “It’s too costly and there’s just not the funding really even to consider something like that.” The California State Association of Counties has created a document outlining potential beds at the former CCFs, but counties statewide have been hesitant to exercise that option. The Geo Group had operated six of the nine privately run CCFs that lost their state contracts, according to CSAC. Five other CCFs were run by local governments. The facilities ranged from around 100 employees to more than 600, according to Toyama.

February 10, 2011 Bakersfield Californian
Two Kern County community correctional facilities that were supposed to reopen this month and house hundreds of low-level female inmates will remain closed. The contract awarded last year to The GEO Group to operate the facilities was pulled because of the state's budget woes, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Cassandra Hockenson said Thursday. It costs about twice as much to keep an inmate in a smaller facility compared to a larger one, she said. "It just didn't pencil out and this administration, obviously very concerned about the budget and the cost of reducing the budget deficit, had the programs scrapped," Hockenson said. The McFarland Community Correctional Facility had been slated to reopen Feb. 14 and house 250 inmates. The Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility -- located in Bakersfield -- had been scheduled for a Feb. 7 reopening and was supposed to house 400 inmates. Exact figures on how much the facilities would have cost the state weren't immediately available. GEO Group spokesman Pablo E. Paez was not immediately available for comment.

October 26, 2009 AP
California officials say a drop in the number of minimum-security inmates is allowing them to end contracts with the companies that operate three private prisons. The move will save the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation about $15 million a year. The private prisons in Baker, Bakersfield and McFarland once housed a total of 822 inmates. Department officials said today they may seek new proposals to use the prisons for female inmates. About 2,500 fewer minimum-security inmates are in prison than a year ago. The department credits a new policy that diverts many parole violators who commit relatively minor offenses to community programs instead of sending them back to prison.

September 13, 2005 Bakersfield Californian
A company that wanted to reopen a private prison in Bakersfield under a no-bid contract had a clear conflict of interest because it had hired two recent retirees from the Department of Corrections, the state auditor said Tuesday. But the auditor concluded there was no conflict of interest by another company that was awarded a no-bid contract to operate a prison in McFarland, even though it had put Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's former finance director on the board of a subsidiary. Those were the key points in a report by Auditor Elaine Howle's office that was ordered by lawmakers upset about the handling of the department's decision to reopen the two facilities that had been shut down barely a year before. State Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, requested the audit in January because she said the contract for the McFarland facility "smells bad." That contract was awarded to GEO Group Inc., the same firm that had operated it for years before it was shut down. The contract drew fire because the real estate trust that owns the facility and leases it to GEO put former state budget chief Donna Arduin on its board of directors shortly before it was offered the contract late last year. The audit report said that did not involve a conflict of interest because GEO has a 10-year lease on the property from the subsidiary that began long before Arduin joined the company and before the state decided to reopen the facility. Besides, it noted, GEO was the only possible operator because its subsidiary owned the facility. But the department's handling of a contract to reopen the Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility on Golden State Avenue in Bakersfield came in for sharp criticism by the auditor. The bidder, Massachusetts-based CiviGenics Inc., did not disclose the fact it had hired two former high-level department officials, at least one of whom contacted the department about the contract. They had both retired from the department less than a year before. State law bars top officials from being involved with state contracts for at least a year after they leave state service.

August 6, 2005 Mercury News
Less than two months after giving $10,000 to an initiative campaign committee tied to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a well-connected private prison company was tentatively awarded a $20 million contract by the state of California to operate a San Joaquin Valley correctional facility. Altogether over the past two years, GEO Group has donated $68,000 to various Schwarzenegger committees, according to campaign reports. Officials with the state prison system insist there is no tie between the donations and the contract, which is part of a broader strategy to use less-expensive private beds to relieve severe overcrowding in the 33 state-run prisons. Todd Slosek, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said GEO was actually the only bidder for the 200-bed facility in McFarland, between Fresno and Bakersfield. Perhaps for good reason. GEO had operated the prison at McFarland for a decade -- before the state terminated its contract in December 2003 as there was a push to phase out use of these community correctional facilities. Its contract canceled, GEO brought in a well-connected lobbying firm with ties to the new Schwarzenegger administration. They also hired a consultant who had worked in the Schwarzenegger campaign. GEO continues to lease the property from a spinoff company, Correctional Properties Trust. Last November, the trust named Donna Arduin, Schwarzenegger's former finance director, to its board. Six months later, during a Florida fundraising sweep in May, the GEO Group donated $10,000 to a Schwarzenegger campaign committee. At the time, Schwarzenegger attended three fundraisers in two days, all hosted by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Arduin -- who was also Bush's former budget chief -- attended the Miami fundraiser at the invitation of Bush's team, but she did not contribute to Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team. She became a board member for the trust shortly after she left the Schwarzenegger administration to return to her home in Florida. She said she played no role in California's contract with the GEO Group. The GEO Group and Correctional Properties Trust are ``absolutely separate'' businesses, Arduin said, so she has no conflict of interest. And, because the GEO Group's lease with the trust runs through 2008, GEO would have continued making payments to the trust regardless of whether it got the California contract. ``I don't have anything to do with GEO,'' she said Friday. ``We don't go to state governments on their behalf. That's their business. I found out yesterday, through my company, that their lease had been extended.'' Schwarzenegger critics complain that the agreement appears to be an example of how the celebrity governor, who assailed Gov. Gray Davis' aggressive fundraising, seems to be mimicking his disgraced predecessor. ``The nexus is particularly troubling because it's an initiative campaign committee that is ostensibly controlled by the governor and, within a short time, a decision is made that benefits that donor,'' said Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause.

February 4, 2005 San Francisco Chronicle
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration this week abruptly canceled a no-bid contract it was set to award to a private prison company that employs two former high-ranking state corrections officials. After pursuing a deal with the company for several months, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections said the department decided Wednesday that it was no longer interested in finalizing a $5.7 million contract that would have reopened the Mesa Verde Community Corrections Facility in Bakersfield. The contract would have been with a Massachusetts-based company called CiviGenics, which recently hired two retired Department of Corrections officials. The company and administration insist the two hires had nothing to do with the company nearly getting the contract. On Wednesday, The Chronicle requested information about the contract, including communications between corrections officials and the company. Todd Slosek, a corrections spokesman, said the decision to shelve the deal was made late Wednesday after the department decided it didn't need extra beds after all. The aborted deal is one of two the administration had been advancing to pay private prison companies to run previously shuttered facilities and help alleviate overcrowding at state prisons. The state has finalized a contract with GEO Group Inc. to reopen a prison in McFarland (Kern County). In both cases, the administration chose not to allow other interested companies to bid for the jobs, a typical procedure used to ensure that taxpayers get the best deal. Instead, prison officials said they were facing emergency overcrowding and needed to strike quick deals with the two firms without going through the lengthy bidding process. Both contracts have come under fire, however, because both companies have hired people with ties to the corrections department or Schwarzenegger's administration. State Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, called for a state audit of the deals last week after the Los Angeles Times reported that Schwarzenegger's former finance director, Donna Arduin, was appointed to the board of directors of a trust that owns the facility that GEO Group plans to use. CiviGenics employs Michael Pickett, a former warden and deputy director for health services at the Department of Corrections, and David Tristan, a former deputy director of operations for the department. "The revolving door is spinning so fast it's now hit the department in the rear end,'' Romero said in an interview Thursday. CiviGenics CEO Roy Ross was formerly director of administration for the Shriver Center, a biomedical research center founded by California first lady Maria Shriver's mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. A spokeswoman for the first lady said Maria Shriver had no knowledge of the contract.

January 25, 2005 LA Times
State Sen. Gloria Romero on Monday called on the Bureau of State Audits to investigate the Schwarzenegger administration's decision to reopen two private prisons, one of which employed a consultant and lobbyists close to the governor's inner circle. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger awarded a no-bid $3.5-million contract to a Florida firm to reopen a 244-bed private lockup in the Central Valley this month, a year after his administration closed the facility. The firm, the GEO Group Inc., hired former Schwarzenegger associates in 2004 to lobby the administration for the business. Correctional Properties Trust, the company that owns the prison and leases it to GEO, appointed Schwarzenegger's former finance director, Donna Arduin, to its board 10 days after she left the state payroll. The Department of Finance oversees all state spending. Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat, said in a statement Monday that such arrangements add to the "perception that state government is a revolving door."

January 22, 2005 Press Telegram
The prison guard's union is predictably infuriated with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision to reopen two private, nonunion prisons that were shut down during the Davis administration. But the union does make a good point when it comes to Donna Arduin. Arduin, Schwarzenegger's former director of finance, now sits on the board of trustees for a company that stands to profit from the reopening of one of the private prisons. The union has an agenda behind its criticism, of course, but the ethics of the argument are sound. Arduin insists she was not a party to any decisions involving prisons. Still, the appearance of a conflict exists. Arduin joined the board just 10 days after leaving the Schwarzenegger administration, and one of the company's chief goals was to lobby the state to reopen the prison. Whether or not an actual conflict exists, or merely the appearance, it isn't right for a former top official to go to work for a private company that is awarded a lucrative state contract. It raises ethical questions, hands ammunition to Schwarzenegger's critics, and has the potential to undermine his reform efforts.

January 21, 2005 Bakersfield Californian
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration has quietly taken steps to reopen two privately run prisons in Kern County -- with no-bid contracts -- that were shut down as a cost-saving move barely a year ago. But the move sparked angry outbursts from critics who questioned the prison population figures and said lobbying by former administration insiders persuaded the governor to reopen at least one of the facilities. A Bakersfield man who ran one of the closed prisons sharply criticized the department for taking the facility away from his firm, which had an exemplary record, and giving it to a competitor without taking bids. "That's why I suspect there was some kind of deal somewhere," said Gary White, vice president of the firm that formerly operated the low-security Mesa Verde community correctional facility on Golden State Avenue. "I don't know if it was part of a deal or what. We're trying to find out now." Within days, The Department of Corrections expects to sign a contract that will pay $5.7 million to a Massachusetts-based company, Civigenics, to run the 350-bed Mesa Verde for a year. The other facility being reopened is a similar low-security community correctional facility in McFarland. The department earlier this month signed a $3.5 million no-bid contract with
GEO Group Inc. to reopen the facility and run it for one year. The decision raised eyebrows Friday after it was learned that Donna Arduin, who resigned late last year as Schwarzenegger's finance director, has since joined the board of a GEO spinoff firm that actually owns the McFarland facilities, Correctional Properties Trust. GEO, based in Boca Raton, Fla., operates prisons across the country and makes lease payments to its spinoff, Correctional Properties Trust, according to the Los Angeles Times. GEO announced that Arduin joined the Correctional Properties board in October, 10 days after she left her job as Schwarzenegger's budget chief to return to Florida and open an economic consulting firm. GEO also donated $53,000 to Schwarzenegger's campaign fund in November 2003. Neither Arduin nor officials of GEO Group could be reached for comment Friday. But others voiced deep skepticism about the move. "This is something that I believe truly crosses the line of integrity and ethics," said state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, who heads legislative committees that oversee the prison system. "Donna Arduin was the finance director," Romero said. "To have her, 10 days after she leaves office, go on this board, which it's later revealed has state money directed their way, is very troubling."  

January 21, 2005 LA Times
The Schwarzenegger administration has quietly moved to reopen two private prisons a year after mothballing them — and after a company that stands to profit retained consultants close to the governor and his inner circle. The administration has decided to reopen two facilities, one of which is a 224-bed prison in the Central Valley town of McFarland. A Florida company ran the McFarland facility for 15 years until Dec. 31, 2003, when the state moved its last prisoners out. Rather than abandon California, the company, the GEO Group Inc., retained a top Schwarzenegger campaign official and a lobby firm that has close ties to the Republican's administration to restore the company's standing in California. A company that is a spinoff of GEO and owns the prison at McFarland placed Donna Arduin on its board of trustees in October, 10 days after she left her job as Schwarzenegger's director of the Department of Finance, which oversees all state spending. "This was an administration that said they weren't going to be influenced by special interests," said Lance Corcoran, executive vice president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., the union that represents state prison guards and opposes private lockups. The state is obligated to pay GEO $3.5 million to operate the prison in 2005, under terms of a one-year, no-bid contract approved earlier this month. "The Department of Finance had to be in the midst" of any negotiations on the prison contracts, said state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), chairwoman of the committees that have jurisdiction over the state's prison system. "This is absolutely amazing; talk about revolving doors." Romero and Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez (D-Norwalk), her counterpart in the lower house, said they were irritated that the administration did not inform legislators that it was reopening private prisons. "It is beyond quiet. I think it has been deceptive," Romero said. Schwarzenegger administration officials say they have not formulated an overall privatization policy. Rather, confronted by an immediate need for beds, officials awarded the contract to GEO and were preparing to make final a contract with a second company, Civigenics, without soliciting bids from other companies. Civigenics stands to receive $5.7 million from the state in the coming year to operate the 340-bed Mesa Verde facility in Bakersfield.
Soon after taking office, Schwarzenegger clashed with the union on a variety of issues. GEO, meanwhile, gave $58,000 to Schwarzenegger's campaign committees in October and November 2003, as the state was making final plans to close the company's prison at McFarland. Executives at Correctional Properties and GEO in Florida did not return calls from The Times this week. But in a 2003 interview, a top GEO executive said: "We want to do everything we can to preserve our business base in California." One step was to hire the Flanigan Law Firm to influence Schwarzenegger's inner circle of advisors — something it is well-positioned to do. The firm consists of four brothers who were close to Wilson and his administration. Several former Wilson aides are high-ranking Schwarzenegger administration members. According to public reports filed with the secretary of state, GEO has paid Flanigan $37,500 for its services. GEO also retained Joe Rodota, a former Wilson aide who was policy director for the Schwarzenegger recall campaign. His role was to provide strategic advice and develop a long-term strategy for GEO's reentry into the private prison business in California, company representatives in Sacramento said.  

October 26, 2004 Business Wire
Fitch Ratings lowers the rating on McFarland, CA's $1.4 million certificates of participation (COPS), 2001 sewer system financing project, to 'B' from 'BBB-'. Fitch also places the 2001 COPs on Rating Watch Negative. Of additional concern is the December 2003 closing of one of three prisons operated by the GEO Group Inc. In 2001, the prisons accounted for over 40% of sewer system revenues. Subsequently, in August 2004, the city approved a change in the remaining prison's conditional use permit allowing an additional 150 inmates at each facility as requested by the California Department of Corrections. Because wastewater fees are assessed on a per inmate basis, the nine month period of reduced inmate capacity represents a significant revenue loss.

Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility
Bakersfield, CA
GEO Group (formerly run by CiviGenics)
Oct 5, 2019 therip.com

Jose Bello speaks out about his time in ICE detention

Bakersfield College student and activist Jose Bello visited campus to share his story of detention and arrests by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with an eager classroom. Bello, a pre-law student and business major, was first detained by ICE in May of 2018.  Just hours after his arrest, BC students and faculty rallied around him in support. Representatives from M.E.Ch.A (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Atlan), LUPE (Latinos Unidos Por Educacion), and the Student Government Association protested his arrest outside of the Mesa Verde detention center in Bakersfield. Though Bello made bail with the help of his fellow community members, he was arrested and detained by ICE again in May less than two days after reading a poem at a local Truth Act Forum, an event that requires law enforcement to release data regarding ICE collaborations. Bello garnered national attention for his poem and subsequent arrest. He made headlines once more after being bailed out of Mesa Verde by two NFL players, Josh Norman and Demario Davis. Since his release, Bello has returned to BC and continued his work as an activist, including sharing his story with fellow classmates. Bello described his detention to Professor (BLANK)’s class in vivid detail, calling the Mesa Verde detention center unsanitary and corrupt. According to Bello, detainees had to purchase sanitary items and if they could not afford it, they went without items such as toothpaste and soap. He added that the lack of hygiene lead to an outbreak of disease during his detention. “It was really sad to see,” Bello said. “It’s inhumane. That doesn’t happen in places like county jails.” Bello is currently working with organizations to combat the spread of private prisons and detention centers, including Bakersfield’s own Mesa Verde. “These centers aren’t state or county entities so they don’t have to be transparent in their treatment [of detainees].” Since his detention in a private facility, Bello has taken it upon himself to increase awareness about private prisons and detention centers, hoping that Gov. Gavin Newsom will sign AB32, a bill that would ban private detention centers, into law. Though Bello feels he has been changed by both of his stints in Mesa Verde, he remains hopeful that he will become a lawyer and continue as an advocate for social justice.


Mar 9, 2019 .latimes.com
Immigrant detention center in Bakersfield, thought to be set to close, will stay open
An immigration detention facility in Bakersfield that was expected to close later this month will remain open for another year, according to a federal contract made public this week. On Tuesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement cited “unusual and compelling urgency” in a notice explaining its justification for keeping open the 400-bed Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center. The $19.4-million contract allows private prison company GEO Group Inc. to continue running the facility through March 2020. The Florida-based corporation, which runs 12 other immigrant detention facilities throughout the country, operates Mesa Verde under a subcontract with the nearby city of McFarland. The city voted to end that contract in December and it expires March 18. Immigrant rights advocates said that ICE had kept them in the dark about the fate of immigrants being held there. Before the Mesa Verde contract was extended, advocates had worried that detainees there would be transferred far away from family and legal resources. Mesa Verde is one of eight detention centers in California and — after two Bay Area jails ended their contracts with ICE last year — the only one located between Yolo County and San Bernardino County. “Private prison companies are shielded from so much scrutiny,” said Liz Martinez of Freedom for Immigrants, one of 75 groups that signed a letter last month calling on ICE to explain what would happen to Mesa Verde. “That’s why it’s important to bring attention to this.” Before opening a detention facility, federal law requires ICE to conduct a competitive public bidding process before awarding a contract to a company interested in managing the daily operations. But most ICE facilities operate the way Mesa Verde has, under intergovernmental service agreements. Critics contend that using local governments as middlemen allows ICE to circumvent the lengthy public bidding process in order to quickly expand bed space, and to avoid responsibility in the event of any abuse or harm to detainees, including fatalities. A pair of California laws passed in 2017 block the expansion of immigrant detention facilities in the state by prohibiting local governments from establishing new contracts with for-profit companies and ICE, or expanding existing ones. One of the laws also requires the state attorney general to monitor existing detention facilities. According to a report last month by the California state auditor, the city of McFarland transferred $50 million (between $16 and $17 million a year) in payments from ICE to GEO Group since the facility, a former jail, reopened in January 2015 as a detention center. In return, GEO Group paid the city a yearly fee of about $35,000. Mesa Verde is 26 miles from McFarland. It’s not the only city to oversee detention facility operations from afar: Last year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that Eloy, Ariz., was paid $438,000 a year by the private prison company CoreCivic to manage the 2,400-bed South Texas Family Residential Center — which is 930 miles away in Dilley, Texas. In 2016, ICE’s Office of Detention Oversight found Mesa Verde to be compliant with just four of 16 standards and found deficiencies in areas including sexual assault prevention, use of force, food service and medical care. McFarland’s city manager told the state auditor that he was unaware of that report. And when the California Department of Justice visited the facility last year, it appeared that the only programming available to detainees was an intermittent art therapy class offered by a volunteer organization. The city did not respond to requests for comment. But the Bakersfield Californian reported in December that the McFarland City Council had voted in closed session to pull out of the contract, and that it would take 90 days for the withdrawal to go into effect. City leaders provided no reasoning behind the decision. Mayor Manuel Cantu Jr. told the paper that “GEO is a wonderful and amicable company that continues to operate in our city and is committed to supporting our community.” The news website Capital & Main obtained public records showing that McFarland appeared unprepared for the scrutiny from the state attorney general and auditor. In a September 2018 closed-door City Council meeting, City Manager John Wooner said he had none of the records the state requested. Wooner then advised the council to “threaten GEO with termination of the ICE contract if it didn’t raise the city’s fee to a quarter of a million dollars,” the website reported. The council voted 3 to 2 to accept the plan, but a spokesman for GEO Group denied that the city asked for a higher fee. GEO Group referred a request for comment to ICE. The agency said it is currently in the “pre-solicitation phase” of the competitive bidding process. “Without continued use of the facility, ICE would be required to relocate almost 400 detainees to facilities farther away from their families and attorneys,” said ICE spokesman Richard Rocha. In the contract notice this week, ICE said Mesa Verde is an integral hub, a mile from the Bakersfield ICE office and 10 miles from the nearest airport and hospital. The agency said that relocating detainees — some with serious medical conditions — could “result in serious injury to the detainees as well as incur an unnecessary serious financial burden to cover the cost of relocating such a large population.” Immigrant rights advocates expressed skepticism about that explanation. “It really adds insult to injury when they used the medical conditions of those individuals who are in detention as a basis [for the contract] when they know themselves they could release those individuals if they actually cared about their medical conditions,” said Hamid Yazdan Panah, regional director of the Northern California Rapid Response and Immigrant Defense Network. “It really points to the fact that this agency continues to bend the law as it sees fit.” But Steven Schooner, a government procurement law professor at George Washington University, said that it takes time to plan, draft, advertise and execute a competitive federal contract and that awarding such a contract in less than three months would have been unusual. He said the agency could access several “streamlined alternatives” to a “full and open” competition, especially based on urgency, that would make that timeline long enough. But going that route could open ICE up to criticism. “Without making excuses for them, it sounds like ICE is damned if it does, damned if it doesn't,” he said.


Jan 16, 2019 kvpr.org
Could A State Law Block A Kern County Detention Facility From Operating?
Cars whiz by on Golden State Avenue near downtown Bakersfield as people shuffle in and out of a tan-colored building. It's surrounded by a high wall with fencing and barbed wire. Three tall flagpoles loom above the perfectly cut grass -- there’s the U.S flag, the state flag, and one with the blue and green GEO Group logo. GEO is a private company that contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to operate this building, the Mesa Verde Detention Facility. It's been operated by the GEO Group since 2015. “We have 400 stories here and these men and women have thousands of loved ones who are affected by what’s happening here every day,” says Eddy Laine, a volunteer at Kern Welcoming and Extending Solidarity to Immigrants, or KWESI. “These are the stories that need to be told.” Laine comes to Mesa Verde often to talk with detainees. He’s gotten to know several people here, including a man he visited over a 14-month period who then got deported. Laine says his primary concern is what happens to them inside the facility. But, what’s going to happen to Mesa Verde is unclear. The GEO Group also has an agreement with the City of McFarland to operate in Bakersfield, but in an email, the McFarland City Manager, John Wooner, confirmed the city council voted in closed session to withdraw from that agreement. Wooner says the city sent a notice to the GEO Group in December and it will take 90 days to go into effect. ICE also has an intergovernmental agreement, or IGA, with the City of McFarland to operate in Bakersfield. Under federal law, ICE must have a contract with a public agency if it wants to operate in a county or a city and work with a provider, in this case, the GEO Group. To continue operating, ICE would need to find another local agency to work with. But, a state law that went into effect last year makes this more complicated. They’re going to have to abide by SB-29, or the Dignity Not Detention Act, says Ivy Cargile, an assistant political science professor at California State University, Bakersfield. “The idea behind SB-29 is really to end all of these private detention centers,” she says. SB-29 makes it so any for-profit detention facility, like Mesa Verde, cannot go into new contracts with cities, counties or local law enforcement. “As we know, California has been on the forefront stopping the Trump Administration in doing whatever they want to do, particularly when it comes to the issue of immigration,” Cargile says. “This bill was a response to Donald Trump.” The facilities that had contracts with local agencies before Jan.1, 2018 are still able to operate, but they can’t amend or extend the contracts they had. So the question is: What happens to Mesa Verde after 90 days? “It’s easy to say that, ‘Well the GEO Group is done, ICE is done. They’re not going to operate here anymore,’ Cargile says. “However, I don’t think they’re going to give up that easily given that they’ve been buying land right around Mesa Verde.” That land includes the El Morocco Motel and the Bakersfield Dome, which has been demolished in spite of protests to preserve the concert venue. According to the Bakersfield Californian newspaper, the GEO Group says it has no plans of expanding, but wants to create a buffer around the facility for safety concerns. The GEO Group did not respond to Valley Public Radio’s request for comment. Meanwhile, ICE says it is unable to respond to the media during the government shutdown. Nathan Allen, the warden at Mesa Verde, says he won’t answer specific questions about what happens when the 90 days are up. But he did say there is “opportunity” to have a contract that doesn't go through a public agency. Cargile says her “assumption” is that somewhere in SB-29 there’s a loophole. She can only guess what that might be. No one has tried to fight the legislation yet. “They’re going to have to scrutinize the law or the verbiage of the actual bill in order to be able to find those loopholes,” Cargile says. Mesa Verde’s existence could be up to the Kern County Board of Supervisors, according to Cargile. She says it has the authority to uphold SB-29. The director of communications for Kern County, Megan Person, says the board hasn’t discussed this. She also says ICE has not contacted the county or the sheriff’s department regarding Mesa Verde. David Stabenfeldt, a local pastor, says many people don’t even know Mesa Verde exists. He’s raised his concerns about the facility at a Bakersfield City Council meeting. “It was amazing the response afterward,” Stabenfeldt says. “People came up to me and said, ‘I didn’t realize that was here. We didn’t know it was here.’ One of the reasons why we’re willing to speak up, is we want light to be shown so that people can make a decision about how we feel about having a detention center here.” He says people in the community need to be aware of what goes on inside Mesa Verde. “We then need to ask the question, ‘How are we going to be treating those who are in detention?’” he says. For Stabenfeldt, that’s as important a question as whether Mesa Verde will remain open.


Dec 30, 2018 bakersfield.com
New law could lead to closure of Mesa Verde, but outcome remains unknown after decision by McFarland to end agreement with ICE
A new law may result in the closure of the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility in Bakersfield, although experts say the federal immigration agency could find a workaround to keep the detention center open. State lawmakers passed the Dignity Not Detention Act in 2017, which prevents cities and counties from entering into contracts with federal agencies or private corporations for the purpose of housing noncitizens in detention. “This law was pretty groundbreaking,” said Liz Martinez , director of communications for Freedom for Immigrants, a nonprofit organization that advocated for the bill. “It stops any sort of local governments in being complicit in the creation of new contracts.” That could be bad news for ICE, which houses immigrants in Mesa Verde through a complex network of agreements that could now be in jeopardy due to the new law. ICE entered into a contract, known as an intergovernmental service agreement, with the city of McFarland in 2015 to use the detention facility located in Bakersfield. “They are very, very common,” said Susan Long, co-director of Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, known as TRAC, an organization at Syracuse University that tracks immigration statistics across the United States. “It turns out that this is a source of revenue that some counties and cities rely on.” Since 2015, ICE has paid McFarland about $35,000 a year, and in return, McFarland has contracted Geo Group Inc., a private prison company, to detain immigrants for ICE. All was going well until the McFarland City Council voted in closed session about three months ago to pull out of the agreement, providing no explanation for their decision.  The decision will take effect near the end of March, and it appears to put ICE on a collision course with the Dignity Not Detention Act. The new law seems to prevent the federal agency from partnering with the county or any city in California to keep Mesa Verde open. “It definitely changes the future of the facility,” Martinez said. Neither ICE nor Geo returned requests for comment. The law also prevents immigrant detention centers that have contracts with cities and counties from expanding, which is potentially important in Bakersfield. Geo recently purchased and demolished the Bakersfield Dome, which was next to its facility on Golden State Avenue. Since the purchase, rumors have swirled that the company plans to use the land for additional detainee housing. Geo has denied the rumors, and the law seems to indicate they could not expand even if they wanted to. But despite the new law, many wonder how it will apply in the Mesa Verde case. “It would be unfortunate, but not out of character, for these private prison companies to circumvent state laws,” Martinez said. Long said ICE could directly contract with a private prison company like Geo to run a detention facility, potentially allowing Mesa Verde to stay open. Mesa Verde is one of 10 detention facilities used by ICE in California, according to ICE’s website. It houses 300 men and 100 women in various stages of the immigration legal process. Some in the facility are in the process of applying for asylum, although not all, volunteers who visit Mesa Verde say. If Mesa Verde closed, the detainees would most likely be housed in a different facility elsewhere in the state, potentially farther away from family, friends, lawyers and the site of their legal proceedings.

November 26, 2011 The Daily Press
The state has canceled its contract with the privately operated Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility, putting about 150 workers out of a job. Desert View's contract termination officially takes effect Wednesday, though prison employees told the Daily Press that The Geo Group Inc. has been preparing to deactivate the prison at Rancho and Aster roads since May. The 643-bed medium-security prison is shuttering its doors as part of California’s realignment plan, which responds to federal orders to reduce state prison overcrowding by shifting responsibility for tens of thousands of low-level offenders to county governments. To help deal with the new influx of inmates under local supervision, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is encouraging counties to enter into their own contracts with more than a dozen former CCFs. The CCFs had generally housed inmates with sentences shorter than 18 months, parole violators and offenders with scheduled release dates — the same types of nonviolent, non-sexual or non-serious offenders now serving out sentences in county jails instead of state prisons. “We hope that counties contract with these facilities to save jobs and ease inmate housing concerns that many counties may have,” CDCR spokeswoman Dana Toyama said. But San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials say they’re not planning to privatize jail beds. The math just doesn’t pencil out, according to Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy Bachman. “The issue with taking advantage of private prisons or private jail facilities has come up over and over again throughout the years; however, it’s not something that the county is considering,” Bachman said. “It’s too costly and there’s just not the funding really even to consider something like that.” The California State Association of Counties has created a document outlining potential beds at the former CCFs, but counties statewide have been hesitant to exercise that option. The Geo Group had operated six of the nine privately run CCFs that lost their state contracts, according to CSAC. Five other CCFs were run by local governments. The facilities ranged from around 100 employees to more than 600, according to Toyama.

February 10, 2011 Bakersfield Californian
Two Kern County community correctional facilities that were supposed to reopen this month and house hundreds of low-level female inmates will remain closed. The contract awarded last year to The GEO Group to operate the facilities was pulled because of the state's budget woes, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Cassandra Hockenson said Thursday. It costs about twice as much to keep an inmate in a smaller facility compared to a larger one, she said. "It just didn't pencil out and this administration, obviously very concerned about the budget and the cost of reducing the budget deficit, had the programs scrapped," Hockenson said. The McFarland Community Correctional Facility had been slated to reopen Feb. 14 and house 250 inmates. The Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility -- located in Bakersfield -- had been scheduled for a Feb. 7 reopening and was supposed to house 400 inmates. Exact figures on how much the facilities would have cost the state weren't immediately available. GEO Group spokesman Pablo E. Paez was not immediately available for comment.

October 26, 2009 AP
California officials say a drop in the number of minimum-security inmates is allowing them to end contracts with the companies that operate three private prisons. The move will save the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation about $15 million a year. The private prisons in Baker, Bakersfield and McFarland once housed a total of 822 inmates. Department officials said today they may seek new proposals to use the prisons for female inmates. About 2,500 fewer minimum-security inmates are in prison than a year ago. The department credits a new policy that diverts many parole violators who commit relatively minor offenses to community programs instead of sending them back to prison.

September 13, 2005 Bakersfield Californian
A company that wanted to reopen a private prison in Bakersfield under a no-bid contract had a clear conflict of interest because it had hired two recent retirees from the Department of Corrections, the state auditor said Tuesday. But the auditor concluded there was no conflict of interest by another company that was awarded a no-bid contract to operate a prison in McFarland, even though it had put Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's former finance director on the board of a subsidiary. Those were the key points in a report by Auditor Elaine Howle's office that was ordered by lawmakers upset about the handling of the department's decision to reopen the two facilities that had been shut down barely a year before. State Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, requested the audit in January because she said the contract for the McFarland facility "smells bad." That contract was awarded to GEO Group Inc., the same firm that had operated it for years before it was shut down. The contract drew fire because the real estate trust that owns the facility and leases it to GEO put former state budget chief Donna Arduin on its board of directors shortly before it was offered the contract late last year. The audit report said that did not involve a conflict of interest because GEO has a 10-year lease on the property from the subsidiary that began long before Arduin joined the company and before the state decided to reopen the facility. Besides, it noted, GEO was the only possible operator because its subsidiary owned the facility. But the department's handling of a contract to reopen the Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility on Golden State Avenue in Bakersfield came in for sharp criticism by the auditor. The bidder, Massachusetts-based CiviGenics Inc., did not disclose the fact it had hired two former high-level department officials, at least one of whom contacted the department about the contract. They had both retired from the department less than a year before. State law bars top officials from being involved with state contracts for at least a year after they leave state service.

September 13, 2005 AP
California's prison population is at a record high, officials said Tuesday, as the state auditor panned the corrections system's last attempt to deal with sudden crowding. The news comes as the state auditor reported that two former high-ranking state corrections employees may have violated conflict of interest laws when they contacted their former colleagues as the state was opening two private prisons. One contract was later rescinded in part because of the conflict allegations. The department wasted an undetermined amount of money on the aborted project before it had permission from the Department of General Services, auditors found. Two high-level department retirees had gone to work for private prison operator CiviGenics Inc. and worked with their former colleagues on the contract within a year after leaving state government, in possible violation of conflict of interest laws, auditors found. They faulted the Marlborough, Mass.-based contractor for not disclosing the employees' background, and the department for not requiring disclosure. Auditors decided there was no conflict of interest by a former state Department of Finance director who went to work for the second prison contractor, GEO Group Inc.

February 25, 2005 Bakersfield Californian
SACRAMENTO -- The fate of the now-closed Mesa Verde prison facility on Union Avenue in Bakersfield -- mired in a bureaucratic limbo for the last three years -- has taken another strange turn.  A Massachusetts firm that was almost awarded a one-year no-bid contract to reopen the facility earlier this year has been disqualified from bidding to run the minimum-security prison for at least five years.  State prison officials said the company, CiviGenics, has a conflict of interest because it has two former Department of Corrections officials on its payroll.  However, the state is preparing to award a contract to run a similar prison in McFarland to a Florida company that has Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's former finance director, Donna Arduin, on one of its boards of directors. The firm, Geo Group Inc., is already operating the McFarland institution on a temporary contract.  CiviGenics has officially protested its disqualification, a move that may require a hearing and could presage a lawsuit.  A spokeswoman for state prison officials said the two situations are different. Having former department officials advise a company on its dealings with the department can give it an unfair advantage. But the spokeswoman, Terry Thornton, said Arduin is different, even though she was responsible for the department's entire budget until she resigned last October.  "Donna Arduin is not a former member of the department," Thornton said. "I can't comment on Donna Arduin."  The saga began more than three years ago when the administration of former Gov. Gray Davis began closing privately run prisons as their contracts ran out.  At the time, corrections officials said they did not need so many minimum-security prison beds. But critics charged that the move was influenced primarily by the state prison guards' union. It is opposed to nonunion private prisons and was one of Davis' biggest campaign contributors.  Mesa Verde was shut down for nearly a year, but then reopened when the Legislature gave the prisons a reprieve.  Nevertheless, it and several others were closed at the end of 2003, including the McFarland facility.  Before a year had passed, in the fall of 2004, the Schwarzenegger administration quietly moved to reopen two of the prisons -- Mesa Verde and the McFarland property -- using no-bid, one-year contracts.  Officials said the prison population was climbing again and they needed the beds.  The Mesa Verde contract was offered to the Massachusetts-based CiviGenics, a bitter disappointment to Gary White of Bakersfield, president of the little company that had run it for more than a decade.  But by January of this year, prison officials were being hammered by critics who questioned the decision to offer the McFarland operation to GEO Group because it had put Arduin on the board of a spinoff company that owns the land and buildings. GEO, a successor to Wackenhut Corrections Corp., had operated the facility for years, along with two other prisons in McFarland, which had not been closed. GEO had also hired influential lobbyists and consultants who were close to current officials in the the Schwarzenegger administration.  Lawmakers ordered an audit of the way the department handled the reopenings. It is due for completion later this summer.  Amid the criticism, the Department of Corrections did an about-face -- not on McFarland, but on Mesa Verde. Officials withdrew the offer to CiviGenics. They said at the time that they had found enough beds elsewhere and didn't need to reopen Mesa Verde after all.  About the same time, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that CiviGenics had retained two retired Department of Corrections officials as consultants -- Michael Pickett and David Tristan. Tristan is a former deputy director of operations for the department.  Department officials told the Chronicle that had nothing to do with the fact that it had almost awarded the contract to CiviGenics.  But it had everything to do with CiviGenics' disqualification when the department subsequently called for competitive bids to run five of the closed prisons.  "They have a conflict of interest," Thornton said.  That left Cornell Corrections Inc. as the apparent low bidder to run Mesa Verde, she said.  GEO Group was the only bidder on the McFarland facility, apparently because it owns the property.

February 4, 2005 San Francisco Chronicle
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration this week abruptly canceled a no-bid contract it was set to award to a private prison company that employs two former high-ranking state corrections officials. After pursuing a deal with the company for several months, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections said the department decided Wednesday that it was no longer interested in finalizing a $5.7 million contract that would have reopened the Mesa Verde Community Corrections Facility in Bakersfield. The contract would have been with a Massachusetts-based company called CiviGenics, which recently hired two retired Department of Corrections officials. The company and administration insist the two hires had nothing to do with the company nearly getting the contract. On Wednesday, The Chronicle requested information about the contract, including communications between corrections officials and the company. Todd Slosek, a corrections spokesman, said the decision to shelve the deal was made late Wednesday after the department decided it didn't need extra beds after all. The aborted deal is one of two the administration had been advancing to pay private prison companies to run previously shuttered facilities and help alleviate overcrowding at state prisons. The state has finalized a contract with GEO Group Inc. to reopen a prison in McFarland (Kern County). In both cases, the administration chose not to allow other interested companies to bid for the jobs, a typical procedure used to ensure that taxpayers get the best deal. Instead, prison officials said they were facing emergency overcrowding and needed to strike quick deals with the two firms without going through the lengthy bidding process. Both contracts have come under fire, however, because both companies have hired people with ties to the corrections department or Schwarzenegger's administration. State Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, called for a state audit of the deals last week after the Los Angeles Times reported that Schwarzenegger's former finance director, Donna Arduin, was appointed to the board of directors of a trust that owns the facility that GEO Group plans to use. CiviGenics employs Michael Pickett, a former warden and deputy director for health services at the Department of Corrections, and David Tristan, a former deputy director of operations for the department. "The revolving door is spinning so fast it's now hit the department in the rear end,'' Romero said in an interview Thursday. CiviGenics CEO Roy Ross was formerly director of administration for the Shriver Center, a biomedical research center founded by California first lady Maria Shriver's mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. A spokeswoman for the first lady said Maria Shriver had no knowledge of the contract.

January 31, 2005 Bakersfield Californian
While California's prison population continues to grow, a minimum-security correctional facility on Golden State Avenue in Bakersfield has sat empty for more than a year. Stripped to the bare walls, its closure in late 2003 was actually the second time it had been shut down in the last three years. The minimum-security Mesa Verde Community Correctional Center will probably reopen in a month or two. But it won't be run by the small Bakersfield company that administered it for most of the last 15 years. Instead, it will be operated by a much larger company headquartered in Massachusetts. At least some of the prison's former employees may get their jobs back, but the switch in operators has left the owner of the local company baffled and bitter. "I can't understand why they would do that," said Gary White, head of the Bakersfield outfit, Alternative Programs Inc. Officials of the Department of Corrections say they offered a no-bid one-year contract to API first, but White turned it down. White said it would have been impossible to meet the terms outlined by the department. He said he thought the officials were just staking out an initial negotiating position. "I thought we would have some discussions and negotiations," White said.
The next thing he heard, he said, the proposed contract had been offered to the Massachusetts firm, CiviGenics, which accepted it. Reopening the McFarland prison has generated more controversy statewide than Mesa Verde. Romero and other critics say it "smells bad" because the company that owns it placed Schwarzenegger's former finance director, Donna Arduin, on its board in October, just as the state was about to reopen the facility. No such charges have been leveled at CiviGenics, which is seeking the no-bid contract for Mesa Verde. However, White says he is suspicious that "some kind of deal" was made because he believes the state's original offer to him was not serious. He said his main objection was that the department, which contacted him first in mid-October, wanted the facility activated by Dec. 1. "That would have allowed just 27 working days to reactivate it," he said. "When we reopened it in 2002, it took 40 working days. That's why I knew it couldn't be done." It could not be determined whether the department insisted on the same Dec. 1 activation date. But officials say it is clear they wanted the prison open by Jan. 1 at the latest, and it has not been opened yet. In fact, CiviGenics and the department have not yet signed a contract. Thornton said there has been a delay in that because the original proposal for a $5.7 million no-bid contract with CiviGenics did not include money for the beds and other equipment that had been stripped out a year ago.

January 21, 2005 Bakersfield Californian
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration has quietly taken steps to reopen two privately run prisons in Kern County -- with no-bid contracts -- that were shut down as a cost-saving move barely a year ago. But the move sparked angry outbursts from critics who questioned the prison population figures and said lobbying by former administration insiders persuaded the governor to reopen at least one of the facilities. A Bakersfield man who ran one of the closed prisons sharply criticized the department for taking the facility away from his firm, which had an exemplary record, and giving it to a competitor without taking bids. "That's why I suspect there was some kind of deal somewhere," said Gary White, vice president of the firm that formerly operated the low-security Mesa Verde community correctional facility on Golden State Avenue. "I don't know if it was part of a deal or what. We're trying to find out now." Within days, The Department of Corrections expects to sign a contract that will pay $5.7 million to a Massachusetts-based company, Civigenics, to run the 350-bed Mesa Verde for a year. The other facility being reopened is a similar low-security community correctional facility in McFarland. The department earlier this month signed a $3.5 million no-bid contract with
GEO Group Inc. to reopen the facility and run it for one year. The decision raised eyebrows Friday after it was learned that Donna Arduin, who resigned late last year as Schwarzenegger's finance director, has since joined the board of a GEO spinoff firm that actually owns the McFarland facilities, Correctional Properties Trust. GEO, based in Boca Raton, Fla., operates prisons across the country and makes lease payments to its spinoff, Correctional Properties Trust, according to the Los Angeles Times. GEO announced that Arduin joined the Correctional Properties board in October, 10 days after she left her job as Schwarzenegger's budget chief to return to Florida and open an economic consulting firm. GEO also donated $53,000 to Schwarzenegger's campaign fund in November 2003. Neither Arduin nor officials of GEO Group could be reached for comment Friday. But others voiced deep skepticism about the move. "This is something that I believe truly crosses the line of integrity and ethics," said state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, who heads legislative committees that oversee the prison system. "Donna Arduin was the finance director," Romero said. "To have her, 10 days after she leaves office, go on this board, which it's later revealed has state money directed their way, is very troubling."  

January 21, 2005 LA Times
The Schwarzenegger administration has quietly moved to reopen two private prisons a year after mothballing them — and after a company that stands to profit retained consultants close to the governor and his inner circle. The administration has decided to reopen two facilities, one of which is a 224-bed prison in the Central Valley town of McFarland. A Florida company ran the McFarland facility for 15 years until Dec. 31, 2003, when the state moved its last prisoners out. Rather than abandon California, the company, the GEO Group Inc., retained a top Schwarzenegger campaign official and a lobby firm that has close ties to the Republican's administration to restore the company's standing in California. A company that is a spinoff of GEO and owns the prison at McFarland placed Donna Arduin on its board of trustees in October, 10 days after she left her job as Schwarzenegger's director of the Department of Finance, which oversees all state spending. "This was an administration that said they weren't going to be influenced by special interests," said Lance Corcoran, executive vice president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., the union that represents state prison guards and opposes private lockups. The state is obligated to pay GEO $3.5 million to operate the prison in 2005, under terms of a one-year, no-bid contract approved earlier this month. "The Department of Finance had to be in the midst" of any negotiations on the prison contracts, said state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), chairwoman of the committees that have jurisdiction over the state's prison system. "This is absolutely amazing; talk about revolving doors." Romero and Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez (D-Norwalk), her counterpart in the lower house, said they were irritated that the administration did not inform legislators that it was reopening private prisons. "It is beyond quiet. I think it has been deceptive," Romero said. Schwarzenegger administration officials say they have not formulated an overall privatization policy. Rather, confronted by an immediate need for beds, officials awarded the contract to GEO and were preparing to make final a contract with a second company, Civigenics, without soliciting bids from other companies. Civigenics stands to receive $5.7 million from the state in the coming year to operate the 340-bed Mesa Verde facility in Bakersfield.
Soon after taking office, Schwarzenegger clashed with the union on a variety of issues. GEO, meanwhile, gave $58,000 to Schwarzenegger's campaign committees in October and November 2003, as the state was making final plans to close the company's prison at McFarland. Executives at Correctional Properties and GEO in Florida did not return calls from The Times this week. But in a 2003 interview, a top GEO executive said: "We want to do everything we can to preserve our business base in California." One step was to hire the Flanigan Law Firm to influence Schwarzenegger's inner circle of advisors — something it is well-positioned to do. The firm consists of four brothers who were close to Wilson and his administration. Several former Wilson aides are high-ranking Schwarzenegger administration members. According to public reports filed with the secretary of state, GEO has paid Flanigan $37,500 for its services. GEO also retained Joe Rodota, a former Wilson aide who was policy director for the Schwarzenegger recall campaign. His role was to provide strategic advice and develop a long-term strategy for GEO's reentry into the private prison business in California, company representatives in Sacramento said.  

August 31, 2002
Just two months after the state hauled away 52 truckloads of state-owned equipment and transferred local inmates to other prisons, Bakersfield's Mesa Verde Community Correctional Facility is gearing up to reopen. This year has been a roller-coaster ride for operators of the private, minimum-security prison located just five blocks from downtown Bakersfield. And the ride's not over yet. First it was out; then it was back; then it was out again as budget committees, legislators and lobbyists wrangled over the fate of Mesa Verde and four other privately operated prisons in California. Eventually, state funding was officially cut, and by mid-June, the last inmate was transferred. "The Department of Corrections started taking all the equipment -- kitchen, beds, office, everything," said Durwood Sigrest, president of the company that operates Mesa Verde. Most of the prison's 74 full-time employees and a dozen or so part-time employees were put out of work by the closure. Gov. Davis said the prisons should be closed to help reduce the state's multi-billion dollar budget deficit. But critics -- including Sigrest -- say that real pressure to close the private prisons was coming from the state correctional officers union, which frowns on non-union prisons that don't offer the level of pay and benefits that state prisons offer. (Bakersfield Californian)

December, 1999
On December 12, one inmate escaped from the private prison in Bakersfield. (Offender Information Services Branch, CA Dept. of Corrections, 2000)

June, 1999
One inmate escaped from the private prison in Bakersfield on June 6, 1999. (Offender Information Services Branch, CA Dept. of Corrections, 2000)

Michigan Youth Center Facility (AKA North Lake CF)
Baldwin, Michigan
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)

September 7, 2011 Ludington Daily News
California’s changing plans for its inmates will cost about 144 jobs in Lake County as The GEO Group prepares to transport the 270 Californian prisoners who are currently there back west. Paul Griffith, executive director of Michigan Works! West Central, said the inmates are Californian prisoners who were previously housed in Arizona, so he is not sure where they will ultimately be sent when they leave Michigan. Griffith said about 161 people are currently working at GEO’s Lake County prison, which is named the North Lake Correctional Facility and is located near Baldwin in Webber Township. “They will be keeping 17 key positions on understanding they want to keep a turnkey operation when they serve a new customer,” he said. That leaves 144 employees who will be laid off Oct. 3.

September 6, 2011 9&10 News
The North Lake Correctional Facility just re-opened in May after lying vacant for years. Now it is set to close once again. Today, more than 170 employees were handed their pink slips as the prison's owner, GEO Group, decided not to renew its contract with North Lake. The 270 inmates will begin to be relocated before October 2nd when the current contract ends while Baldwin is left with their hands empty. About 17 employees will be kept on hand for maintenance in case the prison agrees to a new contract in the next few months.

April 11, 2011 Michigan Messenger
Budget problems and changing priorities in California threaten to derail plans to send thousands of inmates to the GEO Group’s private prison in Baldwin. Last year California’s overcrowded prison system agreed to pay The GEO Group $60 million a year to house 2,580 inmates at the company’s North Lake Correctional Facility starting in May. But now California is struggling to close a $15.4 billion deficit and the new Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that would reduce the state prison population by transferring prisoners with short sentences into county jails where they could gradually reintegrate into their communities. The bill, however, won’t take effect until a mechanism for funding the program is established and with budget negotiations stalled in the legislature, it’s unclear how or when that will happen. “We are in a very volatile situation with the budget and legal authority to send inmate out of state is in question,” California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation Undersecretary Scott Hernan said in an interview Friday. Hernan said that at this point the dept. is still planning to begin sending 130 inmates a month to Baldwin by plane starting next month, and hopes to be able to continue plans with GEO. Ryan Sherman is spokesman for the California Correctional Peace Officer Association, which represents state corrections officers and opposes plans to ship inmates out of state. “This is a California state department,” he said. “Should they really be trying to send taxpayer dollars and jobs to another state in the middle of a budget crunch?” California is also waiting on delivery of an opinion in a U.S. Supreme Court case that could influence how the state needs to deal with overcrowding issues, he said. This Spring the court is expected to announce it’s opinion in Plata v. Schwarzenegger, a case that examines the legality of a court order that California reduce its prison population in order to address unconstitutional conditions (inadequate medical care) in the corrections system. If the Supreme Court determines that California must reduce its prison population then outsourcing prisoners might be one way to comply with that mandate, Sherman said, though it would be an expensive way to do it. No matter the outcome of the ruling, he said, it may not be wise to begin the process of moving prisoners when a decision is imminent. In Baldwin, training for employees at the prison was delayed last week but the GEO Group refused to give details about the status of plans for the California inmates. The company has said that the deal with California will lead to 500 jobs at the facility by 2014. Joe Baumann is correctional officer at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles and secretary for the group Corrections USA. “I believe there is a very high likelihood that [California inmates] will not go to Michigan,” he said. “A couple county jails — Orange, LA and Fresno — have sizable units empty for budget reasons,” he said. “They’ve got units that are there mothballed. It’s not enough to make a significant dent in prison crowding but it is enough to absorb the inmates that would have gone to Baldwin. LA County has got about 1500 empty beds.” “This puts GEO in a situation where they are fighting counties for money.” The uncertainty around the deal with California is the latest in a series of problems for The GEO Group’s Michigan property. The North Lake Correctional Facility was built as a 500 bed maximum security youth facility but was shut down in 2005 after the state ended its contract with the company amid lawsuits alleging abuse. In 2009 GEO expanded the prison to 1,725 beds in expectation of winning a federal contract to house immigrant detainees but those plans were stopped last year after the federal Bureau of Prisons canceled its request for more space for criminal aliens.

April 4, 2011 Grand Rapids Press
The GEO Group, the corporation that plans to house California prisoners in the former “punk” prison, told village officials on Monday that it still plans to open May 1. The township contacted the company after rumors started floating around town, Village President Doug Bolles said. He said Kevin Thiel, the public-works superintendent, contacted GEO Group and was assured the company had not changed its plans. “He said, ‘Everything’s still a go,’” Bolles said. A man who was hired to work at the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility said he was supposed to attend orientation on Monday. But a GEO representative called on Friday, and told him not to show up because prisoners would not arrive on the scheduled date, said the man, who did not want to be identified. He hoped the delay was just a last-minute glitch because he and others need jobs. The re-opening of the prison, which closed in 2005, is expected to employ 500 people by 2014. The GEO Group, which owns the facility, signed a $60-million-a-year contract with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to house up to 2,580 inmates from 2011 to 2014. Now known as the North Lake Correctional Facility, it is undergoing a $60 million renovation. Bolles said he has monitored California’s budget problems. He hoped that Jerry Brown’s election as governor after Arnold Schwarzenegger stepped down would not affect the deal. GEO Group did not respond to telephone messages or email by The Press seeking comment.

February 22, 2007 Ludington Daily News
Officials in Lake County had hoped to contract with out-of-state agencies to house prisoners in the Webber Township facility, but that plan may have hit a snag this week. The California Superior Court ruled Tuesday that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s shipment of inmates without their permission to out-of-state prisons was not legal, according to reports in the Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times. The Los Angeles Times reported Ohanesian’s ruling invalidated the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s contracts with GEO and CCA because Schwarzenegger’s declaration was not valid. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian ruled Schwarzenegger’s declaration of a prison overcrowding emergency was “unlawful” after the California corrections officer union filed a lawsuit challenging the declaration and Schwarzenegger’s plan to ease overcrowding by sending inmates to out-of-state prisons. Schwarzenegger proposed shipping inmates out of state to alleviate overpopulation within the California prison system, which stands at nearly 200 percent of capacity. The GEO Group, the Boca Raton, Fla. based company who owns the Lake County prison, had contracted with California to house inmates at one of the company’s facilities in Indiana. California has moved 360 prisoners to private facilities in Tennessee and Arizona owned by the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America. Officials from California visited Lake County for a tour of the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility, but have not contracted to use the shuttered 450-bed prison.

October 6, 2006 Ludington Daily News
A California prison overcrowding emergency declaration could speed up that state’s contract negotiations with GEO Group, which owns the Lake County prison. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Bill Sessa said the agency is continuing to talk with three private prison companies, one of which is GEO, to negotiate contracts to move prisoners to out-of-state facilities. “We’re going to continue contract negotiations with three companies and whoever else jumps in,” Sessa said. Officials from GEO said they are continuing talks with California. “We’re looking forward to working with the state,” said Pablo Paez, director of corporate communications at GEO. “We’re working with them and we look forward to work through the process.” GEO has available beds at three facilities, including the Lake County site, Paez said, noting that California officials have visited the facility sites. Paez said he has no specific timeline for contract talks, but added that the state-of-emergency declaration demonstrates “they have an immediate need to send up to 5,000 inmates out of state.”

September 27, 2006 Ludington Daily News
Rumors abound in Lake County about a timeline for the GEO Group prison to reopen. County officials believe it’s only a matter of time before the company signs a contract, possibly with the state of California, to house inmates in the closed facility, which closed nearly a year ago when Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed funding the state’s contract with the company. Bill Cole, of Custer, a maintenance worker at the former youth prison, said he hasn’t heard anything for sure, but the signs are looking positive. “We are starting to prepare the facility in the event something should happen,” Cole said, noting GEO initiated the work. “They called and talked to me and said we’re not there, we’ve not signed a contract. GEO spokesman Pablo Paez said work at the facility in the last couple of days is in preparation for an official visit from an undisclosed agency.

September 11, 2006 LA Times
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was not inspecting the orange crop when he slipped out of the state for a quick trip to Florida, and he wasn't eyeing a new set of wheels when he visited with car dealers. Nor was he parched when he bellied up to liquor dealers in Lake Tahoe, or craving a burger when he chatted with Jack-in-the-Box owners. Rather, he was gobbling up campaign money at each stop. As legislators were approving more than 1,000 bills in August, Schwarzenegger was crossing the state, and the country, soliciting campaign cash. Now, as he decides whether to sign those bills into law or nix them with a veto, he will be cashing checks from scores of contributors whose interests intersect with legislation. In his quest to be reelected, Schwarzenegger is raising money from all manner of businesses: restaurants, insurance companies, banks, financial services providers, construction and real estate interests, farmers, energy producers and car dealers. All have business before the state. On the last weekend in August, as legislators prepared for their final sprint before adjourning for the year, Schwarzenegger traveled to Florida for a fundraiser organized by his brother-in-law, Anthony Shriver. The event was at the home of a major donor to Republican candidates and causes, Randal Perkins, and generated about $500,000. Perkins' firm, Ashbritt Environmental, does cleanup after natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina. According to Perkins' lobbyist, Ronald L. Book, Ashbritt has no state contracts in California. However, several donors who gave at the fundraiser do have business here. Geo Group, a Florida firm that operates private prisons, has long sought more business in California. Geo's Sacramento lobbyists worked to shape the governor's prison overhaul package, which failed in the Legislature on the final day of its session. The package might have increased the number of California inmates housed by private firms.

September 10, 2006 Sacramento Bee
The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is conducting an inmate survey to see how many prisoners might be interested in serving their time out of state -- and a Florida company that has contributed $90,000 over the years to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says it would be happy to accommodate them. Department spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said the agency can administratively transfer inmates out of state if they volunteer for the move and if the contracts with out-of-state operators do not exceed a year. Longer term deals, Hidalgo said, would require legislative approval. "If there's a willing inmate and a vendor, we can do this on our own right now," Hidalgo said. One major private prison company, the GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., has expressed interest in housing California inmates at its facilities in Michigan, Indiana and Louisiana. GEO currently operates four private prisons in California. It also contributed $22,300 to Schwarzenegger on Aug. 25, in the last week of the legislative session, when lawmakers declined to act on proposals designed to ease prison overcrowding in California. One bill would have required inmate approval for out-of-state transfers. In legislative hearings, GEO expressed support for an involuntary transfer plan. Altogether, GEO has contributed $90,300 to Schwarzenegger going back to 2003.

September 7, 2006 Ludington Daily News
A deal that might have supplied California inmates to the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility in Lake County could be in jeopardy. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) proposed sending inmates to out-of-state facilities — potentially including the Lake County prison — without getting the inmates’ permission. However, the future of the proposal is unclear. The California Assembly refused to vote on the measure despite the California Senate passing a bill allowing the transfers only with the inmate’s permission, which is current California law. The California legislature, a part-time legislature, left session for the year Friday without approving Schwarzenegger’s four-bill package. The bills faced opposition by Republicans in the Assembly as well as the corrections officer union and garnered only lukewarm support from Democrats. In addition, Republican Gov. Schwarzenegger also faces a challenge from Democrat Phil Angelides in the November election. The Baldwin area facility was mentioned as a possible recipient of California inmates, and officials from California reportedly visited the site earlier this summer. Pablo Paez, communications director for GEO Group which owns the Lake County prison, said he had “nothing new to report” with regard to any deal to house inmates there. Paez said GEO has been in contact with California and with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement regarding possibly renting bed space at the facility a few miles north of Baldwin. Refusing to name where else GEO is seeking rentals, Paez said “the company remains active in marketing our facility.”

August 2, 2006 Cadillac News
The fate of Lake County's youth prison could be in the hands of the California Legislature. California's Department of Corrections is considering a proposal that would allow the state to export illegal immigrants to the former Michigan Youth Correctional Facility near Baldwin. A CDC official met with a representative of the GEO Group and Lake County Sheriff Bob Hilts Monday in Baldwin to discuss a possible arrangement to fill the 550-bed maximum-security prison. “It's one proposal we're looking at,” said Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for CDC. “We have historic levels of overpopulation.” Thornton reported 16,000 of the state's inmates are housed in alternative situations, many of those triple-bunked. “If we do nothing, we'll run out of beds in a year,” she said. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has called a special session of legislature to address overcrowding and other prison system issues. The session begins Monday. A series of proposals, including one involving use of the Baldwin facility, will be under consideration by the state's lawmakers, according to Thornton. California is one of several entities facility owners the GEO Group is in negotiation with to enable it to reopen the six-year-old $37 million prison. Gov. Jennifer Granholm closed the facility last October when she withdrew its funding, Before GEO is able to reopen the prison, it must gain legal rights to enter into contracts with the State of California, or other states, federal or local agencies. The State Corrections Code only allows its use as a youth correctional facility under contract with the State. Michigan legislators have shown strong bipartisan support for a bill that would permit GEO to import out-of-state detainees or inmates and contract with other agencies. The House passed the legislation 83 to 20. The Senate approved the bill 36 to 1, said Peter Wills, spokesperson for State Rep. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart. While Granholm had vetoed a version of the bill in May that would have mandated state use of the prison in overcrowding conditions, she has indicated support for the “concept” of the legislation, Wills said. But the bill continues to draw opposition. Rep. Kathy Angerer, D-Dundee, and Rep. Gary McDowell, D-Rudyard, added amendments that would prevent import of inmates. “It will be taken up on Aug. 9. We're working with House leadership to work with members who offered the amendments to see if they would rescind,” Wills said. “We're confident the bill is still a good one.” Even given the authority for filling the prison with a new inmate population, GEO's problems won't end. Before closing, the facility employed 200 workers. “GEO's going to have to do an intensive search for employees,” said Hilts. The bottom line is that operations must be cost effective “Everybody that has visited is interested,” Hilts said. “The question is if they can make a deal. Its always monetary.”

Montebello City Jail
Jul 4, 2017 latimes.com
Montebello jail official arrested in fatal shooting of his children's mother at custody exchange
An administrator at the Montebello Police Department’s jail has been arrested on suspicion of fatally shooting the mother of his two children and wounding another man in South Whittier during a child custody exchange, authorities said Sunday. Efrem Ruben Lozoya, 38, turned himself in to police shortly after the shooting 11:07 a.m. Saturday and was booked on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. Nereida Villanueva, 33, died at the scene of the shooting on the 13900 block of Coteau Drive in the unincorporated community of South Whittier, said Rudy Molano, an investigator with the county coroner's office. Lozoya and Villanueva were “involved in a child exchange” when Lozoya shot her and the male victim “for unknown reasons,” Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Rouzan said. Lozoya and Villanueva were estranged and have two children together, ages 7 and 9, Rouzan said. The children were not injured and it was “unclear if the children witnessed any portions of this crime,” he said. When sheriff’s deputies arrived they found that Villanueva and the male victim had both been shot at least once in the upper torso. Villanueva was pronounced dead at the scene. The male victim was transported to the hospital. His condition is unknown and his identity has not been released. Lozoya was arrested 5 p.m. Saturday and booked at the Norwalk sheriff’s station. He is being held at Men’s Central Jail and his bail is set at $2 million, according to sheriff’s booking records. Sheriff’s officials said Lozoya is employed by a contractor that provides jail services to the Montebello Police Department. The Montebello City Jail is operated by the GEO Group Inc., a private correctional firm, under the oversight of the police department, according to the city’s website. It has a 20-bed capacity.  Past media reports and a 2015 audit of the facility available at the GEO Group’s website identify Lozoya as the jail’s administrator. The city’s jail referred inquiries to a Montebello Police Department watch commander, who declined to comment and referred all questions to the county Sheriff’s Department.

Monterey County Jail

Monterey, California
Aramark
May 10, 2014 montereycountyweekly.com

An independent assessment of medical services at the Monterey County Jail rips into the practices of the jail and California Forensic Medical Group (CFMG), the state’s largest private correctional health care provider. The jail’s health services program, including staffing, clinic space and clinical care, is “inadequate,” concludes Dr. Mike Puisis, a correctional medical expert, in a 72-page report. Puisis toured the jail for his evaluation last October. The report is one of several expert reports released in late April as part of a lawsuit against the Monterey County Jail and CFMG for poor health conditions, overcrowding and other alleged deficiencies. CFMG is contracted to provide medical and mental health services. The medical team, Puisis writes, is understaffed by at least 40 percent. There are 23 full-time equivalent positions, but the staff is so bare-bones there are problems if an employee takes a day off. One registered nurse must regularly evaluate all new inmates in jail custody, evaluate sick-call requests, evaluate inmates in isolation cells and sometimes supervise the licensed vocational nurses. “This is not possible for a single RN to perform in an eight-hour day,” he writes. The doctor also determined that many medical evaluations were either not performed appropriately, or not happening at all. Chronic illnesses are “significantly under-identified,” he reports. Another factor is the layout and structure of the jail itself. “I was told that none of the clinical space was originally constructed for its intended purpose,” Puisis writes. “This results in design features that are mostly not appropriate for clinical care.” The clinic is cramped, and doctors often evaluate patients in a chair. If an examination table is needed, patients are moved to another room, which discourages proper exams, Puisis finds. The clinic examination areas were not hygienic, and the doctor saw no standardization of equipment and supplies. But the jail’s health care provider is defensive. “There’s a lack of foundation as to what [Puisis] says,” CFMG attorney Peter Bertling says. “CFMG has been in the Monterey County Jail for almost 35 years. Their program has been approved and developed by consultants with the Institute of Medical Quality.” Bertling contends Puisis’ staffing concerns are inaccurate. “[He] did not adequately or appropriately evaluate the staffing ratio or understand the staffing patterns because he did not ask the right questions,” he says. An expansion of the jail is expected to be completed in 2018.

January 11, 2006 The Salinas Californian
Illness has spread at the Monterey County Jail, leaving about 75 inmates with diarrhea and stomach cramping in what the county Health Department says might be a food-borne outbreak. Reports of sickness at the jail infirmary started Sunday, and by Monday morning, 20 inmates had complained of diarrhea and bloody stool, the jail announced. As of Monday night, 75 cases had been reported, the Sheriff's Office said. "We can be pretty confident that it's a food-borne illness," said John Ramirez, assistant director of environmental health at the Monterey County Health Department. The jail had another outbreak in June, when at least 112 inmates complained of flu-like symptoms including nausea, diarrhea and high fever. Investigators determined that infection began after some inmates hoarded food to make tamales that later became spoiled, Liebersbach said. As of now, it appears the illness might have started with a chicken dish that was improperly cooked, he said. The jail's Philadelphia-based food provider, Aramark, did not return calls on the incident.

North Fork Correctional Facility
Sayre, Oklahoma
CCA

July 31, 2012 Tulsa World
What's happening in the southwestern Oklahoma town of Sayre is a cautionary tale about community reliance on private prisons. Sayre began enjoying an economic boost several years ago when the North Fork Correctional Facility, owned by Corrections Corporation of America, received more than 2,000 inmates from California. The city enjoyed increased revenue - about $1.3 million annually to the town of 4,000. Business activity increased and employment soared. But now, California is withdrawing its inmates. The inmates were sent to Sayre in the first place because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ordered California to reduce its enormous prison population. There's confusion about how many of the more than 400 jobs linked to the private prison in Sayre will be lost. There are also questions about a riot in October, which injured 46 inmates and resulted in at least 20 charges for violent offenses. Prosecution of these cases has put a strain on the Beckham County district attorney's office. Private prisons offer a pressure valve for state prisons that are at capacity. But in some ways states become the "prisoners" of private prisons. When those companies raise rates, states must come up with extra money. If a crime program - the Justice Reinvestment Initiative - pays off in the next few years, more nonviolent inmates could be handled in the community, thus negating the need for more prisons or contracting with private prisons. If it had to do it over, Sayre probably would not turn down the economic boost of at least $1.3 million annually, nor those 400 extra jobs. But now that economic windfall is headed out of town - at least for the time-being. Take note: The state has other private prisons, which it relies upon heavily. Should it?

July 26, 2012 NPR
When California ran out of space to house its growing inmate population, it turned to Corrections Corporation of America, which owns private prisons in 16 states, including Oklahoma. Now there are more than 2,000 Californians locked up at the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre. The arrangement wasn’t supposed to cost Oklahoma anything, but a recent riot at North Fork is changing that. Forty-six inmates were injured before CCA guards were able to restore order in the October 2011 riot. The company isn’t saying what caused the riot, but prosecutors say some of the California inmates who started it committed crimes in Oklahoma, and will have to face justice here. That task falls to Beckham County District Attorney Dennis Smith’s office. “Now, this riot will create substantial costs to us,” Smith says. “A lot of that is going to depend on how many cases we actually file. It’s already added a strain. So, for me to be able to expound exactly how much it costs — there are so many factors that go into that. How many people are prosecuted? How many are convicted? How many are actually going to serve time.” Smith oversees a five-county district, and his office is still dealing with job cuts resulting from the state budget crisis. Resources are thin, and the possibility of having to prosecute up to 20 riot-related violent crimes won’t help matters. “D.U.I.s, shoplifting, burglary, we see that kind of stuff,” Smith says. “Conversely, you get into cases that we don’t deal with a lot. One of those is prison cases.” Charges are expected to be filed within weeks, but prosecution is only part of the cost to the state. “When we prosecute someone, say it’s for assaulting a guard or assaulting a fellow inmate, and we assign them some length of sentence, they’re not going to serve it in CCA. They’ve suddenly become the property of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections when it’s time to serve their sentence. That’s an additional cost to the citizens, taxpayers of Oklahoma,” Smith says.

July 17, 2012 Oklahoman
Prisoners doing time at the North Fork Correctional Facility in western Oklahoma soon will be headed home to California. All of the inmates incarcerated at the privately owned facility are from the Golden State, which has been sending prisoners to Oklahoma for years to ease overcrowding. The prison, with a capacity to house more than 2,000 inmates, was built in the late 1990s by Corrections Corporation of America. All of the California prisoners are expected to be gone by the end of 2013. If the prison shuts down — as it did in 2003 amid a phone call billing dispute with Wisconsin inmates — it means the loss of Sayre's largest employer. Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the state of California currently has 9,300 inmates doing time out of the state. At its peak, there were 10,400, she said. “This is going to happen by attrition,” Thornton said. “So, as of now, we will stop transporting inmates to out-of-state prisons.” Thornton said the removal of the inmates has nothing to do with a riot that erupted at North Fork in October, leaving dozens of inmates injured.

July 13, 2012 AP
The California Department of Corrections plans to withdraw its inmates out of a private Oklahoma prison where a brawl took place last year. California corrections spokeswoman Dana Simas told radio station KECO Friday that all 2,323 inmates are scheduled to be removed from the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre by December 2013. The prison is operated by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America. At least 46 inmates received medical treatment after prisoners fought at the facility in October. One inmate was stabbed, but no staff members or law enforcement officers were injured. Company officials told the station it's too early to tell whether any of the 400 jobs at the facility will be affected. If there are reductions, officials will first leave vacant positions unfilled before cutting the staff.

May 4, 2012 Oklahoman
An October riot at a private prison in Sayre that left dozens of inmates injured has yielded a 2,700-page report and could lead to several new felony cases being filed in Beckham County. Mike Machak, a spokesman for the private North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, said 19 inmates involved in the Oct. 11 riot could face “attempted murder” charges, although such a crime doesn't exist in Oklahoma. The riot, which is still somewhat shrouded in mystery, left 46 prisoners injured. Sixteen of those were injured badly enough to be taken to local hospitals. Three prisoners were in critical condition, prison officials said shortly after the melee. Corrections Corporation of America, the company that runs North Fork, is based in Tennessee and has prisons sprinkled across the country. In a prepared statement to The Oklahoman, Machak said that “violence between security threat groups is a challenge for every prison system,” although he didn't answer questions about which prison gangs were involved in the riot. All of the prisoners housed at North Fork are from California, which began transferring inmates out of state in 2007 to ease overcrowding. Dennis Smith, district attorney for Beckham County, said he has an experienced prosecutor analyzing the massive report submitted by the prison company but hesitated to confirm that 19 inmates would be charged with serious violent felonies related to the riot. He said the prosecutor also has spent considerable time viewing video footage of the riot during the course of the lengthy investigation. “First of all, we don't even have ‘attempted murder' in Oklahoma ... we have similar charges but not ‘attempted murder' like his statement says,” Smith said. “I believe that charges will be filed, but we have to go through each one and make sure they can be prosecuted.” Smith, who is the district attorney for five counties in western Oklahoma, said his offices are short-staffed and he didn't know when charges would be filed. “It's a lot of information to look at — 2,700 pages is a lot,” Smith said. “My biggest murder case was something like 500 pages, if that tells you anything.” In addition to California prisoners, Machak said inmates from Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Vermont have been housed at the prison over the past 12 years. Lawsuit offers look inside -- A lawsuit filed in federal court by a California inmate being housed at the North Fork Correctional Facility could shed some light on what happened during the October riot. Melvin Fisher filed the lawsuit against the prison's warden, a guard and a California prison system administrator, court documents show. According to the lawsuit, Fisher, who is black, is claiming that the warden of the prison didn't afford him adequate protection by allowing large groups of Sureno gang members to populate the prison. The inmate claims these Hispanic gang members are “troublemakers” and outnumber blacks five to one at North Fork. Fisher claims he broke his nose during the Oct. 11 riot when he and three other black inmates were attacked in a gym by dozens of Sureno gang members. Fisher said the guard named in the lawsuit held the door leading out of the gym closed with her foot, causing him to run into it and break his nose. “We started yelling through the door for her to let us out,” Fisher wrote in the lawsuit. “Finally, she let the door go after the response team instructed her to do so and come to their safety net.” A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation administrator also is named in the lawsuit because she allowed “Northern Mexicans” to be transferred out of North Fork and be replaced by Sureno gang members. “They both knew that by increasing the numbers of Sureno Mexicans, (it) would give them power over other races of inmates,” Fisher wrote. “They both knew that it was an excessive risk of a riot happening.”

January 14, 2012 Oklahoman
A lack of charges filed against inmates involved in an Oct. 11 riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility highlights an ongoing issue between private prisons and authorities, a local prosecutor said. More than three months after the riot, private prison officials have yet to release details about what exactly caused the melee. The nature of the injuries suffered by dozens of inmates also remains a mystery. “When you're dealing with a private entity like that, you're kind of at their mercy,” Beckham County District Attorney Dennis Smith said. “We keep being told that they're going to present charges, but they're just taking time to do it.” Mike Machak, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, said the company had nothing to report as of Wednesday and “any criminal charges brought against inmates would be managed by the Beckham County district attorney office.” Machak said “there are no arbitrary time frames” for wrapping up the investigation and that sharing details of the inquiry “could pose a risk to both inmates and staff.” “Any disclosure of information must be weighed against that important consideration,” he said. Smith acknowledged the challenges of investigating a prison riot, including having to deal with uncooperative witnesses, and said he'd rather “them get it right than do it fast.” “It has been a while,” he said. “But again, there's not a whole lot we can do.” Prison houses out-of-staters -- The riot at the private prison in Sayre, which houses more than 2,000 prisoners from California, sent 16 inmates to the hospital with injuries and required the assistance of local law enforcement agencies to quell the melee. Ralph Jackson, public information officer with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said weapons found at the scene were “weapons of opportunity,” including mops and broom handles. Shortly after the riot broke out, Beckham County Sheriff Scott Jay said it was the worst one he'd seen at the medium-security prison.

December 10, 2011 Oklahoman
Nearly a month after a riot that injured inmates at a private prison in western Oklahoma, prison officials say they do not have a cause that they can release. They will say that 16 of the inmates who were hospitalized after the riot have since been released, but they won't say what types of injuries they suffered in the Oct. 11 melee. Mike Machak, spokesman for Corrections Corp. of America, said it's too early to release details on the riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility. “While we are not aware of any criminal charges that have been filed, we do know that the Sayre Police Department's investigation is ongoing,” Machak said. “To that end, we do not want to release details that might undermine those ongoing efforts.” Sayre Police Chief Ronnie Harrold said he has yet to receive anything from the prison regarding the riot. He said he thinks something is close to happening, but that the prison corporation has “been giving us the runaround.” “It's coming close to the point where we would expect for them to turn it over to us,” Harrold said. “At some point, if they want charges filed, they'll have to turn it over to us.” Prison spokeswoman Michelle Deherrera said the riot erupted just before noon, and the help of local law enforcement agencies was required to subdue the prisoners. In addition to the 16 inmates who required hospitalization, another 30 were treated at a medical facility at the prison, she said. Deherrera said no prison staff members or assisting law enforcement officers were injured. The more than 2,000 prisoners held at the private prison are from California. Machak said inmates from Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Vermont have been housed at the prison over the past 12 years.

October 18, 2011 AP
Four inmates who were injured in a prison riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility last week remain hospitalized. Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Mike Machak (MAY'-chak) said Tuesday the prisoners were still being treated at area hospitals. Machak said he couldn't elaborate on the inmates' medical conditions. A total of 46 inmates were hurt during the riot between prisoners from California. Thirty were treated by prison medical staff and 16 initially were hospitalized. Machak said an investigation into the cause of the riot is still under way and no disciplinary action has been taken. He also said none of the inmates have been returned to California.

October 12, 2011 KFOR TV
There were no deaths, no escapes and no staff members hurt. But there was certainly a lot of stress and fear in Beckham County when a prison riot broke out there Tuesday afternoon. Uncontrolled fights all over the grounds left 46 prisoners injured. Many of them had to be taken to the hospital and at last check, three were still listed in critical condition Wednesday night. North Fork Correctional Facility is a private prison housing only male inmates from California. While covering the the riot Tuesday, KFOR discovered a lot of people are weary of the setup there. Local law enforcement and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections only steps in in a time of crisis. They really have no control over the facility. Now the fighting is over and the prisoners are locked away in their cells. The investigation into what exactly caused the riot will go on for days just like the talk in town. Laurie Fairless lives in Sayre. She said, "I just don't like the prison out there. Never will." She's been against the medium security private prison for some time. She said, "It's scary because you are out in the country and stuff so, you know, you never know somebody might go up to your house and break into your house or whatever. They could do something to you." Beth Mullen just moved into town. She faces her fear of the correctional facility with humor. She said, "You never know. They might escape and something might happen. I have nieces and nephews and a little sister so it kind of scares me, but my uncle has a gun so it's all good." Then there's Nathan Courtney. He lives only a mile from the facility and said it doesn't bother him. Courtney says, "I don't care either way. It's jobs for the people who work out there." We've learned the warden invited the Beckham County Sheriff out to look at the extensive damage to the prison grounds. Sheriff Scott Jay said he hopes to do that in the next few days. A spokesman with the owner of the prison, the Corrections Corporation of America said, "While working on recruitment and retention, all mandatory posts necessary for security are filled."

October 12, 2011 CNN
A total of 46 inmates were injured during a prison riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility in western Oklahoma, but there were no fatalities, prison officials said Wednesday. Multiple fights had broken out in the 2,500-bed facility on Tuesday, but order was restored and the facility was completely locked down, according to a statement by Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the prison. As of Wednesday there were no reports of staff injuries, CCA said. Regarding the injuries, 16 inmates were transported to facilities outside the prison for treatment, including one who has already returned to the facility. Another 30 inmates were treated on-site by medical staff, CCA said. While the riot was taking place, a morgue was set up in a tent outside the prison, though there were no fatalities. Aerial video of the scene from CNN affiliate KOCO showed armed officials holding prisoners at gunpoint.

October 12, 2011 Oklahoman
Beckham County Sheriff Scott Jay said Tuesday's riot at the North Fork Correctional Facility is the worst he has heard about since the private prison opened in 1999. When he arrived at the scene, Jay said. “We saw mass fighting all over the yard.” Sixteen inmates were taken to area hospitals to be treated for injuries, according to a statement released about 8 p.m. by the operator of the private prison, Corrections Corp. of America. One had been returned to the prison by evening. The statement also said that 30 inmates were treated at the facility. No staff injuries were reported, the statement said. Prison spokeswoman Michelle Deherrera said the riot broke out about 11:45 a.m. at the medium-security facility that houses inmates from California. Officers contained riot -- Jay said he saw weapons in use by the brawling inmates, but he couldn't identify what they were. Knowing prison culture, Jay said, he would speculate they were homemade weapons. Smaller incidents have happened at the prison, Jay said, but he was only aware of one other time when local law officers were called in to help. Officers from the Beckham County Sheriff's Department, and the Sayre and Elk City Police Department, as well as the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, helped contain the riot. Ambulance crews from nearby towns such as Elk City and Erick provided medical care. At 5 p.m., after as many as a dozen patients had been taken to the hospital, seven ambulances remained lined up outside the gates. Jay said at least 11 ground ambulance runs were made from the prison. Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes said at least two injured prisoners were taken by medical helicopter to Midwest Regional Medical Center. Midwest City police were asked to provide security until prison employees arrived, Clabes said. Inmates also were airlifted to OU Medical Center, a spokesman said, but he referred further questions to corrections authorities. “Right now, we don't know if this was racially motivated, or they had a beef with the facility or what,” Jay said. Deherrera did not release any information about a possible reason for the riot. Sayre police escorted ambulances to the Sayre hospital, and Elk City police provided security for ambulances that took injured inmates to the hospital in Elk City, Sayre Police Chief Eddie Holland said. “We'll be here as long as it takes,” Holland said about 4 p.m. “Right now, the whole place is a crime scene.” Relatives concerned -- Relatives of prison employees, gathered at the county barn about two miles away shortly after the riot broke out, spent the afternoon pacing and waiting for their cellphones to ring. A Beckham County dispatcher said local law officers and ambulance crews were called about 11:50 a.m. to assist in the riot at 1605 E Main St. Bill Barrett, spokesman for Great Plains Regional Medical Center in Elk City, said multiple patients were taken to that hospital. Deherrera said public safety was never threatened. She did not say how long it took the staff to contain the riot. Dale Denwalt, a reporter for the Daily Elk Citian, said a sheriff's deputy provided details about the riot to the waiting relatives. A source inside the prison said 530 people are employed there but did not release numbers on how many were at work when the riot broke out. Louis Thompson, 20, of Elk City, said his mother, Cherie, is a correctional officer with CCA. He said he heard about the riot from his sister and was pacing across the street from the prison throughout the afternoon, worrying about his mother's safety. “She said they had a couple of small riots, but nothing very big,” Thompson said. “She said she could feel something was about to happen, and it did. I just hope she's all right.”

October 11, 2011 AP
Widespread fighting broke out at an Oklahoma prison Tuesday between black and Hispanic California inmates, sending at least 21 inmates to the infirmary or hospitals before police and prison guards were able to restore order, authorities said. The fighting began shortly before noon at the North Fork Corrections Facility, a privately run medium-security prison in Sayre that houses 2,381 inmates from California. Greg Williams, an official with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, told The Associated Press that the fighting appeared to have been between black and Hispanic inmates, but he didn't know if it was gang-related. No staff members or law enforcement officers were hurt, but 14 inmates were treated at the prison infirmary and seven others were taken to a hospital, Williams said. At least one inmate had been stabbed, he said.

October 11, 2011 Tulsa World
Law enforcement agencies responded Tuesday to a disturbance at the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, officials said. The private prison is run by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America and houses offenders from California. At 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, prison staff responded to multiple inmate fights in various areas of the facility, according to Steve Owen, CCA senior director of public affairs. By 3:30 p.m., the fighting had ceased, Owen said. "Facility management and staff are in the process of systematically going through every area of the facility to secure inmates in those areas and to identify inmates requiring medical treatment for injuries," he said. Multiple inmates were being treated at the prison for various injuries. Five inmates had been taken to area hospitals for further treatment, Owen said. No staff were reported injured; no one was taken hostage; and no offenders escaped, Owen said. As a precautionary measure, the facility's special operations response team was activated, along with additional teams and support staff from other CCA facilities. The facility was placed on lock down, Owen said. "More information is pending further investigation and will be released as it becomes available," he said. Joyce Jackson, Oklahoma Department of Corrections communications director, said she had little information about the situation. "Basically, there is supposed to be a disturbance with approximately 80 to 90 Hispanic offenders and they have barricaded themselves in the dining area," she said. Local law enforcement had secured the perimeter of the facility, said Greg Williams, Department of Corrections administrator of field operations. Capt. Chris West, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said his agency had been contacted for assistance. Officials from the Sayre Police Department and Beckham County Sheriff's did not respond to requests for comment. The facility is medium security and houses males. It has 2,500 beds.

Orange Cove
Orange Cove, CA
CCA
June 19, 2001
It's not likely Orange Cove will get the federal prison that it's competing against Mendota for, but that won't stop Mayor Victor Lopez.  He's courting private prison builders just in case.  Lopez is convinced that a prison would mean salvation for one of California's poorest cities, bringing high-paying jobs, more tax dollars and spin-off development.  Many of the would-be prison's neighbors are equally convinced it will be the city's ruination, draining water from its lifeblood industry, agriculture, putting more high-speed commuters on two-lane roads and scaring off potential development with higher crime.  Orange Cove's leaders would do well to look to places such as Avenal, Delano or Corcoran that still are struggling with soaring unemployment despite the prisons they host.  The San Joaquin Valley, with its plethora of struggling rural towns, has become a prison mecca with no real measurable benefits.  A 1990 state study of Avenal found that there was little financial boost from the state lockup because prison employees were willing to commute long distances rather than relocate to a city they deemed too small, isolated and without amenities.  Avenal's 16% unemployment rate is the same as before the prison was built.  Orange Cove might find itself in the same position.  ( The Fresno Bee)

Orange County District Attorney
Jan 31, 2014 blogs.ocweekly.com

When investigating custody-related deaths, the Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office only looks at the question of criminal culpability. It leaves civil liability alone. The distinction comes into play with the agency's latest clearance in Garden Grove, a city that contracts with The GEO Group, a controversial and lawsuit ridden private for-profit prison firm. Joel Duran came under GEO's watch on August 18, 2012 when cuffed by Garden Grove police officer James Franks for resisting arrest. Duran was pronounced dead by a doctor nearly two-and-a-half hours later at a nearby hospital. The OCDA reports that Franks took the 25-year-old to the Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD) that night with GEO Group correctional/detention officers Camden Drake, Russell Driscoll and Toby Andazola on staff. Drake searched Duran when he noticed something in his mouth. A number of chewed meth baggies were removed though the man denied swallowing any narcotics when asked. Detention officer Driscoll later transferred him to a cell with no drinking fountain or toilet. Duran started sweating and asking for water. Officer Andazola thought he might be under the influence, but when asked again, Duran denied ingesting any meth. The GEO Group officers took him at his word and continued processing. Less than an hour after his arrest, Duran's behavior deteriorated further during booking as he sweated heavily and became increasing edgy. Drake left the jail to alert officer Franks and other Garden Grove police of the potential medical situation at hand. Paramedics arrived to the scene taking Duran to Garden Grove Hospital Medical Center. By that time, his heart raced out of control at a pace of 190 beats per minute. He soon went into cardiac arrest. Life saving measures failed and Duran died an hour after being admitted. The autopsy notes meth overdose as the cause of death. "At no time did any GGPD officer, staff, contractor or other individual under the supervision of GGPD act with malice toward Duran," writes the OCDA in its legal analysis. The agency found no cause for criminal negligence either, clearing all involved in the matter. The OCDA report can be read in its entirety online.

Orange County Jail
Orange County, California
Correctional Medical Services

August 17, 2010 Voice of OC
Another "no-confidence" vote is making the rounds among the staff at the Orange County Correctional Medical Services division, which provides primary and specialty medical care for thousands of inmates across the county's jail system. This is the same division that has triggered a series of grand jury reports in recent years along with a critical look last year from the county performance auditor after two controversial deaths. Both inquiries into the Correction Medical Services division found problems with equipment, staffing and communication from managers. And a year later, the union representing medical workers at the jails says things have gotten worse. The no-confidence vote hovers at 96 percent, officials disclosed this week. Staffers are experiencing historic low morale, union officials argue in official letters sent to the Health Care Agency this summer. Doctors won't take the job, and nurses are being left alone in the field and are confronted nightly with needlessly dangerous situations. County officials, including CEO Tom Mauk, acknowledge communication problems but question the veracity of the 96 percent no-confidence vote. In general, they say, the union is misrepresenting the problems facing nurses and doctors in the jails. Officials point to a low death rate compared to other jail systems in the United States. However, a 2009 performance audit did find that the county has paid out over $1.2 million in recent years to defend 55 claims and lawsuits stemming from problems with jail medical care. Union officials say county leaders are flirting with disaster. "There currently are no regular, full-time physicians employed in CMS [Correctional Medical Services]. Two part-time contract physicians serve the approximately 5,000 inmate patients at the jails," wrote Lisa Major, assistant general manager at the Orange County Employees Association, in a May 13 letter to Heath Care Agency Director David Riley. "This alarming attrition rate creates a hazardous situation not only for the patients and patient safety but also for the nursing staff," Major wrote. The no-confidence petition circulated among the jail medical staff -- the second petition since 2007 -- directly takes aim at the Health Care Agency leadership for failing to address staffing shortages and failing to provide inclusive leadership. "The perception persists that licenses are threatened due to the likelihood of errors as a result of the demands placed upon existing personnel to maintain a high level of care with limited access to physicians and other clinicians for support, direction and assistance." A 2009 performance audit at the jail found that many of the problems facing medical staff are longstanding and have potential for significant problems. "Since the 2002 state budget deficit, which resulted in significant program reductions, CMS [Correctional Medical Services] has had difficulty fulfilling its mission in an efficient and effective manner," concluded the report.

Orange County Sheriff's Office
November 5, 2008 AP A millionaire businessman who helped bring a case against a former Southern California sheriff testified Wednesday that the lawman promised lucrative deals and full access to his department in exchange for help laundering campaign donations. Don Haidl testified he met former Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona in March 1998 and agreed to help the then-underdog launder tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. Haidl, who struck a plea deal with prosecutors, said Carona promised even before he was elected to repay Haidl by funneling him attractive side deals, like a business for private jails that would relieve overcrowding at the county facilities. The county would pay the private facilities per bed, per day to take overflow inmates. "We talked about a get-out-of-jail free card, we talked about owning the Sheriff's Department," Haidl said. "We talked about ... how much money could be made out of the Sheriff's Department and that there would be 1,800 guns and 5,000 employees at my disposal." Other witnesses have testified that the private jails scheme never came to fruition. Prosecutors, however, allege that over several years the three-term sheriff, his mistress, his wife and a close group of friends did accept hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for the power of his office.

Otay Mesa Detention Facility
Feb 12, 2019 latimes.com
More than 70 detainees condemn conditions at San Diego immigration facility
More than 70 people being held at the Otay Mesa Detention Center while they wait for immigration court hearings have signed a letter decrying conditions at the facility. The letter, written in December, alleges that detainees have experienced medical neglect, safety issues, and racism and discrimination, according to Freedom for Immigrants, the group to whom the letter was addressed. The detainees also said their complaints were not being heard at the facility. “I was the object of indifference and medical negligence,” one of the men wrote. “I’m experiencing very bad pain in my left ear and I don’t feel OK because of the deficient attention.” Another detainee reported being called a racial slur by one of the guards at the facility owned and operated by private prison company CoreCivic. “This alarming pattern of neglect and abuse thrives in an environment where secrecy and isolation are the status quo, otherwise known as the U.S. immigration detention system,” said Cynthia Galaz of Freedom for Immigrants. One of the detainees who signed the letter called Galaz recently to tell her that he’s been forced to work extra shifts for the facility’s program that pays $1 a day. CoreCivic denied the allegations made about conditions in its facility. “Otay Mesa opened in 2015 and is a state-of-the art, LEED Silver certified facility that provides a safe, appropriate environment for detainees,” said Amanda Gilchrist, spokeswoman for the company. “It is independently accredited by the American Correctional Assn. and is monitored on a daily basis by onsite ICE officials.” An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said that the Otay Mesa Detention Center scored 100% for the third time in a row on its annual audit last month. It’s not the first time that detainees and the organizations that advocate for them have made such claims about the San Diego facility. A report last week based on letters sent to a Del Cerro-based group called Detainee Allies between July and November of last year makes similar allegations. Forty-nine letters received by Detainee Allies reported contaminated or insufficient food, 22 reported medical neglect, 12 reported unsafe working conditions, 16 reported forced labor and wage theft, and 12 reported denial of access to mail and phone calls. Those letters were given to Cal State San Diego and published last week in an online archive. The report calls on California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to review the facility. He’s required to release a report to the state legislature about immigration detention conditions in the state by March.

Jan 1, 2018 legalreader.com

Illegal Immigrants in San Diego Sue Private Prison Contractor CoreCivic
Illegal immigrants incarcerated in San Diego are suing prison contractor CoreCivic, claiming the company is exploiting their labor and may be violating human trafficking laws. In a class action suit filed Wednesday, plaintiffs have claimed they’re being paid as little as $1.50 per day at Otay Mesa Detention Center. Working as kitchen staff, janitors, and barbers, they’re awarded sparse wages and sometimes not compensated at all. According to The San Diego Tribune, the suit takes accusations a step further, too. Inmates claim they’re regularly denied the necessities of everyday life. Soap, for instance, is apparently a luxury at Otay Mesa, made available only through purchase at the commissary. Unlike many other correctional facilities in the United States, work isn’t treated as a privilege or choice. Inmates say that facility staff regularly threatened and punished those who weren’t willing to labor away for low wages, putting them in solitary confinement and refusing visitation rights. “Our complaint alleges CoreCivic illegally enriches itself on the back of a captive workforce,” said Korey Nelson, a partner at Burns Charest. Otay Mesa, writes the Tribune, holds detainees in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – inmates awaiting trials for immigration offenses. The complaint, according to the Tribune, argues that even if the labor system is similar to that found in prisons, there’s a legal difference between incarceration for convicted criminals and immigration offenders. ICE only has the authority to arrest and hold individuals regarded either as dangerous to society or unlikely to show up for court hearings. Many inmates might not have prior criminal histories or have fully worked their way through the legal system. “They’re supposed to treat you better than jail,” said San Diego civil rights attorney Chris Morris. “If it’s in any level a punishment, that’s a problem.” ICE officials, when pressed for comment, didn’t seem keen to mince words. Tony Cerone, an ICE union chapter adviser who spoke to the Tribune, said all work at Otay Mesa is voluntary. “Detainees are required to keep their quarters and the common area clean,” he said. “They don’t get maid service.” And according to Cerone, some of the voluntary work positions are so popular that they have waiting lists. “Kitchen workers get extra food to consume and can make special concoctions while working,” explained Cerone. “Many detainees enjoy getting out of the units and getting the perks that go along with it.” Yet the plaintiffs and the suit disagree, saying, “The labor is not voluntary in any meaningful sense.” They say that CoreCivic is making an “exponentially higher” profit by exploiting the efforts of captive workers, who’ve little freedom to choose their responsibilities. To make matters worse – if the plaintiffs’ allegations are proven—the five individuals named in the complaint are all asylum-seekers, meaning they’d be afraid of falling victim to violence if they were deported to their home countries. Two of the men – and a father and step-son pair from El Salvador – said they were forced to waive worker’s compensation rights before beginning work in the kitchen. After badly burning his arm on a kitchen stove, the father was denied any form of compensation and compelled to return to the kitchen just a day later. The three other plaintiffs are women, one of whom claims she miscarried in the custody of border security officials.

Nov 12, 2017 buzzfeed.com
At Least 20 Female Immigrants Fainted Or Vomited Because Of A Chemical Used At An Immigrant Detention Center
At least 20 women held at an immigrant detention center in San Diego fainted or vomited after a floor-stripping chemical overwhelmed a unit, forcing an evacuation Friday night. The unit of 118 immigrants, including at least one woman who was pregnant and one who had a recent kidney transplant, were initially kept in their cells by guards at the Otay Mesa Detention Center despite complaints about fumes from the chemicals, said Luis Guerra, a legal representative with the United Farm Workers Foundation who visited the facility Saturday. The female detainees had been using the chemical for cleaning, he said. "They only moved them out once the guards started coughing, even though the women had been telling them they couldn't breathe," Guerra told BuzzFeed News. "It never ceases to amaze me how irresponsible they act." The facility is run by the private company CoreCivic, which runs prisons and detention centers. The company did not reply to a request for comment Saturday. Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said the agency's medical staff were onsite to ensure detainees received medical attention if needed. "There were no serious medical issues resulting from the incident and all the detainees were returned to the unit," Mack said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. Guerra said that only two nurses responded to the incident and that the detainees were told to drink water or given ibuprofen. Female detainees who asked to see a doctor were told they would have to wait until Monday. "I don't know why CoreCivic would have someone who is not trained using such a strong chemical. Also, why were they having them clean at midnight?" Guerra said The exact number of pregnant women in the group is unclear, Guerra said. Detainees are only paid $1 a day by private contractors like CoreCivic to perform labor, like cleaning, at detention facilities, and Guerra said that sometimes the women complain they are not paid. Mack, of ICE, said the immigrant women were evacuated to an outdoor recreation area as a precaution after a strong chemical odor was reported inside their residential unit. "About an hour after being moved outside of fresh air, the detainees were moved back inside the facility due to cold weather," Mack said. "The residential unit was declared safe approximately two and a half hours after the odor was detected" CoreCivic is investigating the chemical emergency and will provide a full report to ICE, Mack said. The findings and solution will be reviewed by the agency. Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He focuses on immigration.

Mar 25, 2017 sandiegouniontribune.com
Mexican man’s widow sues over Otay Mesa jail death, says pleas for help ignored
The widow of a Mexican man who crossed into the U.S. illegally in the trunk of a car is suing the federal government on allegations that staff at a detention facility in Otay Mesa repeatedly ignored his pleas for medical care, causing him to die in a hospital from complications of pneumonia weeks later. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in San Diego federal court, is among a string of similar cases alleging indifference and negligence to the medical problems of unauthorized immigrants being held at such detention centers across the country. A 2007 lawsuit filed by the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union that settled in 2010 addressed similar issues in Otay Mesa. “If these facts in the complaint are true, then this would violate the core principles not only of the Constitution but of the settlement,” said David Loy, legal director for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. The prior lawsuit “addressed precisely this kind of problem of people begging for care and not getting care.” The Otay Mesa Detention Center houses mostly unauthorized immigrants for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as criminal detainees and material witnesses for the U.S. Marshals Service. The lawsuit names the federal government, as well as CoreCivic — the private company contracted to run the Otay Mesa Detention Center and many others across the nation — as well as a CoreCivic guard identified as C.O. Langdon. Health care at the facility is provided by ICE’s Health Service Corps and the federal Public Health Service, according to the lawsuit. A San Diego ICE spokeswoman declined to comment on the case Thursday, saying she didn’t have enough information. A CoreCivic spokesman in Tennessee, where the company is headquartered, said the company has not been served yet and has not had a chance to review the lawsuit. According to court records, Gerardo Cruz-Sanchez, 32, tried to cross into the U.S. in the trunk of a car on Feb. 4, 2016, at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. The driver, Juan Carlos Ortega-Gonzalez, had presented someone else’s U.S. passport to the Customs and Border Protection officer. Cruz-Sanchez and two other unauthorized immigrants were then found in the trunk. Cruz-Sanchez wasn’t charged with a crime but held as a material witness in the case against the smuggler, agreeing to testify against him. Cruz-Sanchez was granted bail — $15,000 with a 10 percent cash deposit — but was unable to pay so he remained detained, according to court records. (The driver eventually pleaded guilty to human smuggling and was sentenced to time served in custody, which was about three months.) Cruz-Sanchez was healthy when he was arrested but contracted pneumonia soon after, according to the complaint. “He would be alive today if authorities had honored their legal and moral duty to care for their own witness,” the lawsuit states. “This lawsuit seeks justice on behalf of Gerardo Cruz-Sanchez and the family that he left behind.” The illness began with flu-like symptoms, and Cruz-Sanchez’s many requests for medical attention were rebuffed, according to the complaint. He then started coughing up blood, “saturating his clothing and bed sheets,” the lawsuit says. He pleaded with Langdon and medical staff members for intervention but received none, the suit says. His condition deteriorated so that he could not talk, move or swallow food, and he suffered from respiratory distress and wheezing, the suit says. His cellmate, Alejandro Chavez, called the Mexican consulate 20 to 30 times asking for assistance, and on Feb. 22 a Spanish interpreter visited Cruz-Sanchez. It is unclear from the lawsuit if the interpreter tried to take action. The cellmate repeatedly begged Langdon — a Spanish-speaking officer — for help for Cruz-Sanchez, but Langdon mocked him, told the two to stop “complaining,” and told Cruz-Sanchez to “man up” and “stop being a chicken,” according to the lawsuit. On the morning of Feb. 26, Cruz-Sanchez’s mattress was soaked in blood from the coughing, and detainees moved him to a table in the common room to try to get him to eat, the lawsuit says. Langdon is accused of scolding them and forcing Cruz-Sanchez to get on the ground. The others were ordered back to their cells, the lawsuit says. Later that day, Cruz-Sanchez was taken to the emergency room at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, where he died Feb. 29. The lawsuit claims Cruz-Sanchez was never examined by a doctor while in custody. His widow, Paula Garcia Rivera, requested her husband’s medical records from the detention center but was ignored, according to the complaint. The lawsuit lists several other alleged examples of detainees at other CoreCivic immigration facilities who died or became seriously ill after being denied medical treatment or medication. In 2002, the government took back medical care duties from CoreCivic, then known as Corrections Corporation of America, at the immigration jail in Otay Mesa at the time, called the San Diego Correctional Facility. But problems persisted, the ACLU alleged. The ACLU class-action lawsuit claimed detainees there had to wait long periods for medical treatment — often times only after their conditions had significantly worsened — did not get medications for chronic illnesses and had poor mental health care. The settlement required ICE practice the standards of care set by the national Commission on Correctional Health Care, as well as eliminate from its written policies that detainees receive only emergency care. The settlement was reached without ICE or Corrections Corporation of America admitting liability or wrongdoing. In a statement in 2010 regarding the settlement, ICE said it was proud of the progress it had made to reform the immigration detention system and that it is committed to providing a high quality of medical care for detainees.

May 13, 2016 sandiegouniontribune.com
Death in immigration hold was heart related
The death of a Russian man who was in an immigration jail on Otay Mesa was caused by hypertension and heart disease, the Medical Examiner has concluded. Igor Zyazin was found not breathing in his bunk May 1 at the Otay Mesa Detention Facility, an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement jail that holds immigration violators. Zyazin was found by a guard just before 9:30 p.m. Personnel at the jail tried to revive him until paramedics arrived. He was pronounced dead around 10 p.m. while en route to the hospital, the agency said. The 47-year-old Russian national had been in ICE custody since April 24, when he was arrested at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. A statement from the agency said he was trying to enter the country after being deported in 2009. The reasons for his deportation aren’t known. At the time of his death, Zyazin’s case was pending and he was awaiting an interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer. The ICE statement said he had no criminal record in the U.S. The Medical Examiner said Zyazin, 47, suffered from aortic valve disease, which was a contributing factor in his death. Zyazin is the sixth person to die in ICE detention facilities around the country since the start of the federal fiscal year on Oct. 1. There were seven deaths reported in ICE detention facilities for the previous fiscal year, according to government data. The Otay Mesa Detention Facility is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private jail company in the country, under a contract with ICE. The facility has a capacity of 1,040. A report by a prison monitoring group last year said there had been five other deaths at the Otay Mesa facility since 2004, all which were attributed to medical issues. Most of them involved cardiac issues, although one was listed as lymphatic cancer. The agency has come under scrutiny from immigrant rights groups and some members of Congress over the number of deaths of immigrants in custody.

May 5, 2016 sandiegouniontribune.com
Russian detainee dies in immigration custody
A Russian man who was being detained in an immigration jail on Otay Mesa died Sunday night after being found not breathing in his bunk, according to the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency. The dead man was identified as Igor Zyazin, who was arrested by ICE on April 24 trying to enter the country at the San Ysidro port, officials said. He was taken into custody after Customs and Border Protection officers determined he had previously been deported in 2009. The cause of death has not yet been determined by the San Diego County Medical Examiner, according to a statement from the agency. Zyazin was found by a guard just before 9:30 p.m.. Personnel at the jail tried to revive him until paramedics arrived. He was pronounced dead around 10 p.m. while en route to the hospital, the agency said. In addition to the death investigation, both the Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility were notified of the death, the agency’s statement said. The Otay Mesa Detention Facility is operated by Corrections Corporations of America, the largest private jail company in the country, under a contract with ICE. The facility has a capacity of 1,040. Zyazin is the sixth person to die in ICE detention facilities around the country since the start of the federal fiscal year on Oct. 1. There were seven deaths reported in ICE detention facilities for the previous fiscal year, according to government data. The agency has come under scrutiny from immigrant rights groups and some members of Congress over the number of deaths of immigrants in custody. A report by Prison Legal News last year counted five deaths at the San Diego facility since 2004, all attributed to underlying medical problems or natural causes. At the time of his death Zyazin’s case was pending and he was awaiting an interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer. The ICE statement said he had no criminal record in the U.S. The reasons for his deportation in 2009 could not be determined. Both his next of kin and the Russian consulate were notified of the death.

Park Place
Irvine, California
Sodexho
August 19, 2002 MJ's Expresso, which has been serving coffee from a cart in the lobby of Park Place in Irvine, Calif., for more than 12 years, has been given the boot. MJ's is literally a mom-and-pop business. Owners Jim and Karen Gattis named the cart for their daughter, Maggie Jean. The lease can be terminated with 30 days' notice. And on July 9, that's what Sodexho, the Washington, D.C.-based food concessionaire for the office building, did. Then on Aug. 2, the Gattises were told to get out immediately. The change is part of Sodexho's bid for a new food contract at Park Place, Aun said. Although acknowledging the company never formally polled Park Place tenants, "we survey people all the time, and they want more choices: bottled water, smoothies, premade salads and sandwiches." Karen Gattis said she and her husband have pleaded for years to widen their selection but could only sell what Sodexho specifically allowed. "We would love to sell smoothies. We even offered to sell their food after the cafeteria closed at 2 p.m.," she said. "They've treated us poorly for several years. They stopped selling us ice. They raised the coffee prices in the cafeteria, then called a meeting to accuse us of undercutting their prices. We've never changed our prices. We've always charged $1 for a 12-ounce coffee." (The Orange County Register)

Prisoner Transport
CSI Court Services, US Extradition

April 2, 2010 Monterey County Herald
A parolee from Texas tried to kill an extradition agent and escaped from a transport vehicle Thursday night on Highway 101 near San Ardo, sheriff's deputies said. The suspect, Nakiea Taishon McAfee, 32, of Marshall, Texas, was later captured after trying to kill himself, a Sheriff's Office statement said. He was being transported with three other inmates when he allegedly took control of vehicle. The other inmates were injured by jumping out of the vehicle, but the extent of their injuries wasn't provided. Deputies were assisted by California Highway Patrol officers and King City police in the search for the escapee. The drama started about 9 p.m. as the vehicle was traveling north on Highway 101 at Alvarado Road. McAfee was being transported to California to stand trial on sexual assault and kidnapping charges, the Sheriff's Office said. The statement said hands and belly-chain restraints were the weapons used in the escape. The suspect took the vehicle and a firearm, the statement said. One person, Sal John Amaya, 25, of Merced, was listed as a victim who suffered cuts to his hand and head and a swollen ankle. The transport vehicle was identified as a CSI Court Services extradition vehicle.

June 18, 2009 Santa Barbara Independent
Authorities believe two men working for a contracted prisoner transportation company forced a female inmate to perform sexual acts on them, while returning her to Santa Barbara County Jail in October of last year. According to court records, Roland Ygelsias, 29, is facing a felony count of forcible copulation, a violent and serious felony. Prosecutors allege he forced a female inmate to give him oral sex during a trip transporting prisoners throughout California, while in a van with seven inmates in it, both male and female. Ygelsias, along with 28-year-old Miguel Jacobo, is also facing a misdemeanor count of sexual activity in a detention facility with a consenting adult who is confined. The two worked for U.S. Extradition Services, a company that contracted with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department to transport inmates among prisons and jails. Ygelsias picked up the victim and one other prisoner at Chowchilla State Prison, according to a report from Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Detective Michael Scherbarth. From there, the van traveled to Jacobo’s sister’s residence to pick up Jacobo. The woman told Scherbarth that not long after, Jacobo was looking at her and smiling, while Ygelsias made comments about her sitting on his lap, which made her feel uncomfortable. Along the way, more stops were made and more inmates picked up. After Ygelsias drove for awhile, according to the victim, he said he wanted to take a nap, and sat next to her in the first bench-row of the van. Then he said he wanted to switch sides, and he lifted her up onto and over his lap, according to Scherbarth’s report. “Ygelsias then began to tug at her gown and proceeded to tell her he was a federal agent and that he could do things to her,” Scherbarth wrote, saying the man then unzipped his pants and felt the woman’s leg. He then allegedly pushed her head down onto his lap and pulled on her hair, “violent in his actions,” and told her, “You’re going to catch this all in your mouth.” The woman told authorities the man’s penis went into her mouth, he ejaculated, and she had to spit the fluid into her gown. “Every time she tried to lift her head up off of his penis he would grab her hair and pull her head down violently,” Scherbarth said in his report. This all occurred during the drive somewhere near San Diego, she claimed. Ygelsias’s version of events, as told to detectives who interviewed him, was that he took four Ambien sleeping pills to fall asleep. “He remembered waking up at one point and the victim was performing oral sex on him,” Scherbarth wrote. The defendant explained that he wasn’t able to do anything about it, or even completely wake up, because of the pills. He told the detectives he was “embarrassed, ashamed, and scared of what had happened.” Contrary to the victim’s claims, he said he never exposed himself and never touched the victim. However, a Sheriff’s detective pointed out that it would have been difficult for the woman to undo Ygelsias’s pants herself, because he was wearing his duty belt at the time. The alleged victim said that although nobody talked about what had happened, she believed everyone knew. But most of the witnesses either couldn’t be tracked down by detectives, or reported that they didn’t see anything. A couple of witnesses said they did see the victim’s head go down into Ygelsias’s lap, but didn’t witness any sexual interaction. They and TK said the contact appeared consensual. Jacobo told detectives he heard about Ygelsias and the victim after the fact, from one of the inmates. Jocobo denied that he himself had any physical contact with the woman, who claimed he made her masturbate him. Jacobo claimed he drove the entire time while Ygelsias, whom he had never worked with prior to this trip, slept. Another agent reportedly told detectives that he knew Jacobo was “easily manipulated and he very well could have ‘got caught up in the moment,’ seen Ygelsias get a blow job, and think to himself that he could do the same thing.” The agent said Jacobo told him he got a “hand job” from the victim, but after being confronted by the agent, said he was just joking. The victim told Scherbarth she consented to Ygelsias touching her legs and penetrating her vagina with his fingers, but that she was not okay with the oral sex and that he forced her to do that. Ygelsias and Jacobo were relatively new employees, having worked for U.S. Extradition Services for less than six months. Ygelsias was fired after the incident, while Jacobo resigned in the face of termination, according to Bill Brees, director of marketing and operations support for the company. “It’s not the type of publicity you want to see when you’re providing a service,” Brees said. “It has a negative effect on everyone.” It is company policy that agents, who are usually armed, not ride in the back of the van. It’s not cost-effective for law enforcement agencies to transport inmates, so companies like U.S. Extradition Services are contracted to do the work. The Sheriff’s Department dropped U.S. Extradition, and now works with another company, Court Services Transport, according to department spokesperson Drew Sugars. The department primarily uses the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Statewide Transport at a rate of 68 cents a mile. If that service is unavailable, or can’t meet a deadline for pickup, the Sheriff contracts with Court Services Transport at a cost of 95 cents a mile. Ygelsias’s attorney didn’t return a call seeking comment, and The Independent’s efforts to locate Ygelsias for comment were unsuccessful. Jacobo, after initially returning The Independent's phone calls, could not be reached for comment. Senior deputy district attorney Joyce Dudley, who is prosecuting the case, didn't have any comment on the case except to say the preliminary hearing was set to begin June 26.

Rancho Cordova
Rancho Cordova, California
Wackenhut (Group 4)

September 13, 2007 Sacramento Bee
As part of an ongoing anti-theft campaign, the Rancho Cordova Police Department baited a trap. They left a popular video game console on the back seat of a car in the parking lot of the Mather Field light-rail station. Monday night at 10:30 p.m., the bait was taken. Using "sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment," hidden in the game console, officers took up the chase. They didn't have far to look. The trail led a short distance away -- to the small building used by the station's security guards. Rancho Cordova Detective Sgt. Pete James said officers confronted the two guards on duty and found the game console stashed inside a trash bag in a file cabinet. The guards, Ashneel Kumar, 18, of North Highlands and Daniil Shevchuk, 19, of Sacramento, admitted breaking into the vehicle and stealing the game system, James said. Both are in custody on three felony charges related to the theft and break-in, according to jail records. The two were employed by the Wackenhut Corp., which provides security at some light-rail facilities, said Sacramento Regional Transit District Deputy General Manager Mike Wiley. A manager at Wackenhut's Sacramento office refused to comment on the incident. Wiley said it is his understanding that Kumar and Shevchuk are no longer employed by Wackenhut. RT and Wackenhut will investigate whether any past thefts were related to the guards, Wiley said.

Redlands Police Department
Redlands, California
Wackenhut (Group 4)
January 5, 2010 Redlands Daily Facts
A man escaped police custody Tuesday afternoon after he was arrested that morning on suspicion of attempted burglary. Police held Kevin Lamont Holmes, 21, for much of Tuesday before he escaped around 3:30 p.m., said city spokesman Carl Baker. Police hold many recently-arrested suspects at the Police Annex, 30 Cajon St. A Wackenhut custody officer was preparing to move Holmes to county jail when he slipped out of leg shackles, overpowered the officer and ran out the front door of the annex, officials said. "He had (hand)cuffs and leg shackles on," Baker said. "He managed, somehow, to get out of the leg shackles."

February 28, 2008 San Bernardino County Sun
A lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted while in police custody was settled earlier this month. Dayle Lewis, 45, of Redlands and her attorney have agreed to settle a suit she filed in 2005 alleging that she was sexually assaulted by a man while in custody. The city of Redlands has agreed to pay $22,500 as part of the settlement, according to city documents. Dayle Lewis will also get another $22,500 from The Wackenhut Corp., a security firm that the Redlands Police Department contracts with to run its jail, according to Tony Jones, Lewis' husband, who has knowledge of the suit. "I just hope no other female will have to go through this," Lewis said. "Because my family had to go through the hurt. I live with that every day." In court documents, Lewis alleged she was arrested on Oct. 29, 2005, on suspicion of burglary and placed in the booking area. While there, officers brought in Jose Inez Garcia Jr. Lewis claims the man appeared to be under the influence. At some point during the process, the Wackenhut security officer monitoring them left, she said. "What appears to have happened is that the Wackenhut officer was a few feet away," said Carl Baker, Redlands police spokesman. "But it was for a very short period of time. They were together in a booking area which is visible to the hallway." As soon as the officer heard a problem arise, he immediately stepped in, Baker said. The Police Department did not find that a sexual assault was committed, he said. A video camera was running in the booking area at the time but malfunctioned, Baker said. The cameras have since been updated, but the change had nothing to do with the suit or the incident, Baker said. For lack of evidence, no charges were filed against Garcia, according to district attorney's officials. Lewis decided to come forward with her story because she said she felt she did not get justice. We didn't get justice at all," she said. "I wanted (Garcia) to go to jail, for one. And for the officers to admit they're wrong and apologize. "But they didn't."

February 27, 2008 The Press-Enterprise
A woman's allegations of sexual assault by a male prisoner while being booked into Redlands Police Department's jail have prompted police and city officials to analyze booking procedures and re-emphasize training. The city also has spent nearly $90,000 to install a new digital surveillance system to monitor its booking room. It replaces older surveillance equipment that wasn't working properly at the time of the alleged incident, said Carl Baker, Redlands Police Department spokesman. Redlands resident Dayle Lewis, 45, claims she was sexually assaulted in a booking area on Oct. 29, 2005, after being arrested for investigation of burglary and theft. Lewis pleaded guilty to the crimes but sued the city for negligence and failing to follow established procedures in the summer of 2006. In December 2007, she agreed to a $22,500 out-of-court settlement. As a practice, The Press-Enterprise does not name people who have told authorities they are victims of sexual assault. The newspaper is publishing Lewis' name at her request. Court records show Lewis' alleged assailant, Jose Inez Garcia, then 37, was arrested Oct. 29, 2005, on suspicion of driving under the influence and hit and run. After Lewis complained that she had been attacked, Redlands police officers arrested Garcia, who was still in custody, for investigation of misdemeanor sexual battery. Garcia pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and hit- and-run charges in May 2006. He was not charged with sexual battery because of lack of evidence, said Susan Mickey, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County district attorney's office. Lewis struggled to hold back tears when describing the incident, which she said has affected her self-esteem, marriage and family. The ordeal has caused her four children, ages 7 to 17, to lash out and question the justice system, she said. "It had a big effect on my kids, that their mom had to go through this," Lewis said. "I'm hurting at the same time, because I know it could have been prevented if I wouldn't have been there." Lewis said she still has nightmares. The city of Redlands has not acknowledged that the sexual assault took place, nor has it admitted any liability, according to settlement documents that describe the $22,500 payment as a compromise in response to "a doubtful and disputed claim." Nonetheless, the incident prompted city officials to study procedures relating to those brief and relatively rare instances when male and female prisoners are together awaiting a holding cell, Baker said. "We can't put a prisoner into a cell until they've been searched and their property has been taken care of," he said. "There are circumstances in which (male and female prisoners) are going to be together. Is it common for that to happen? No." In the incident involving Lewis, an employee with the private security firm Wackenhut Corp. was standing several away but briefly took his eyes off her and the male prisoner, Baker said.

Red Rock Correctional Facility, Eloy, Arizona
July 12, 2012 Sacramento Bee
With severe overcrowding easing in state lockups, California is winding down a controversial deal with the nation's biggest private prison operator and will bring thousands of inmates housed in facilities as far away as Mississippi back to California within the next few years. Currently, some 9,500 state inmates are serving sentences in prisons in Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma operated by the Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America. As part of a strategic plan announced in April, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will transfer those inmates back to California facilities by 2016. The return of the first group, 600 inmates housed in Arizona, will begin "immediately," said Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate. Another 4,000 prisoners will return to California in 2014. Steve Owen, spokesman for the Corrections Corporation, confirmed the company agreed to modify its contract to lower the total number of California inmates housed in out-of-state facilities from 9,588 to 9,038 for this year. The contract guarantees 90 percent occupancy. The revised contract will reduce California's fee to the private prison group by $67 million for the current fiscal year, according to corrections spokeswoman Dana Simas. The state will save another $14 million in 2012 by cutting staff positions for the program, which is administered in Sacramento. California is paying the Corrections Corporation $61 to $72 per prison bed per day, making the original contract worth more than $280 million for 2012-13, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office and corrections department figures.

February 3, 2011 The Eloy Enterprise
An early morning fight broke out in a prison housing unit at the Red Rock Correctional Center last Saturday, escalating to 22 inmates in the fray and injuring one. According to Red Rock public information officer Bobbi Jo Roscoe-Bryan, a disagreement began between two inmates at approximately 8:24 a.m. living in one of the housing pods. Twenty-two total inmates joined the raucous and in less than a minute, were quelled again by prison staff. One inmate was treated at a local hospital for minor injuries and returned to Red Rock three hours later. The exact cause of the brief incident is still under investigation.

December 23, 2010 Tri-Valley Central
At approximately 1:21 p.m. Thursday afternoon, Eloy Fire responded to a call at the Red Rock Correctional Center for an assault victim, which quickly expanded to 10 California inmates after a lunchtime riot at the facility. According to Eloy Fire Div. Chief Danny Lorenz, seven were transported to area hospitals. Three out of the seven had life-threatening injuries and were flown to the Maricopa Medical Center in the valley. The rest were transported by ground to the Casa Grande Regional Medical Center. “It took all the resources of Eloy Fire and then some,” Div. Chief Lorenz said. Casa Grande Engine 501 was called in to assist in the response, as well as five Southwest Ambulance units, several of which were posted at the local Eloy stations and put on standby. There were no other active calls within the district while Eloy Fire units were engaged at Red Rock until 4:30 p.m. The incident, during the lunch hour in an area that only houses California inmates, involved approximately 110 inmates. No staff was hurt during the incident, which drew trained response teams from other areas of the prison, as well as mutual aid from the Eloy Police Department as a precautionary measure.

San Diego Correctional Facility
Otay Mesa, California
CCA

September 15, 2011 Huffington Post
Guillermo Gomez-Sanchez is a 50-year-old legal resident with a mental disability. In 2004, Gomez was detained because of a dispute at a grocery store over a bag of tomatoes. His detention led him into a labyrinth of abuse and neglect -- in an immigration system that increasingly puts profit over justice by handing the reins to private prison corporations. HuffPost LatinoVoices and Cuéntame's Immigrants For Sale campaign have documented the case of Guillermo, who got lost in this system, while his mother Dolores Gomez-Sanchez spent years desperately searching for answers. The problem: Guillermo was sent to a private detention facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). Dolores approached immigration authorities, but time and again was told that because Guillermo was in a CCA facility his case was no longer their problem. At one point the only information immigration officials could offer her was that Guillermo was beaten by guards and hospitalized after requesting to use a bathroom. Private prison corporations like CCA do not care who and how they lock immigrants up. At a rate of up to $200 per inmate per night, this is the "perfect" money scheme. As such, CCA failed to report Guillermo's condition -- why should they? The longer Guillermo was locked up the more money in their coffers. Guillermo spent two years in CCA's detention center. At average contract rates, the operator pocketed an estimated $90,000 off of his incarceration. According to Bardis Vakili, the lawyer handling the Gomez-Sanchez case, this is a typical case where families have a hard time locating their detained relatives. "Getting to these big corporations represents a nightmare for people that don't have a law degree," he said. Detained immigrants also don't have the right to an attorney, which further exacerbates their struggle. CCA along with the GEO GROUP and Management and Training Corporation currently profit close to $5 billion a year -- with immigrant detention revenue representing a strong portion of their income. They view the anti-immigrant movement as a positive step to increase the value of their stock. In fact, this year CCA's share price is at record levels, oscillating around $26. In 2010, CCA CEO Damon T. Hininger received $3,266,387 in total compensation. The more immigrants detained, the more bed spaces they can fill and the more their stock shoots up. It's the perfect money machine and they have no intention of letting that go. Just last year the "major three" spent close to $20 million in lobbying and campaign contribution efforts. These corporations have been tied to the passage of anti-immigrant laws such as Arizona's SB1070 and Georgia's HB87 in an effort standardize the criminalization of immigrants across the country. As Guillermo's story demonstrates, the consequence of this is a system that eats immigrants up in a for-profit scheme. As Guillermo himself puts it, once you are in "it is very hard to get out."

December 16, 2010 Union-Tribune
A federal lawsuit filed against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency over medical care at an immigration jail in Otay Mesa was settled Thursday with an agreement that the government will provide a broader range of treatment and increase mental health care. The settlement covers the immigration jail run by the Corrections Corporation of America under a contract with ICE. The lawsuit, filed in 2007 by the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties, alleged that detainees had to endure lengthy waits for medical treatment, did not get the medications needed for chronic illnesses and had poor mental health care. The settlement applies only to the ICE detention facility at the jail, and as part of the deal the agency did not admit that any of the allegations were true. The settlement requires that ICE meet or exceed specified standards of care detailed by the national Commission on Correctional Health Care. It also requires the agency to hire one full-time psychiatrist and four psychiatric nurses. In a statement the ACLU said the agreement is important because it requires ICE to eliminate from its written policies statements saying detainees will receive only emergency care, and instead mandate detainees will receive care whenever it is necessary to address a serious medical need. In the past, the ACLU said some detainees did not get biopsies or surgeries for medical problems that were deemed to be nonemergencies.

May 27, 2010 AP
A U.S. health official peppered doctors with questions as he toured an often-criticized immigration detention center Wednesday, saying he left impressed by what he saw and heard. Dr. David Rutstein, the acting deputy surgeon general, asked a pharmacist if patients quickly get uncommon psychiatric drugs, whether interpreters are available to explain how the medications work and how immigrants were evaluated for medical services when they arrived. Rutstein said his questions reflected complaints he heard about the facility. He said he didn't learn enough to say whether critics are right but that he liked what he saw. "I can say that the questions that I asked were professionally and correctly answered," Rutstein said in an interview after the one-hour tour. "I can say that the staff seems incredibly competent and professional. ...I can say that the physical facilities that I saw seemed top-notch." U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement typically has more than 30,000 immigrants in its custody at hundreds of facilities nationwide, usually for about a month but sometimes for years. As its detention has grown sharply in recent years, so has criticism of conditions. The surgeon general oversees the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which provides doctors and nurses to ICE detention centers. Rutstein said his office doesn't set broad policies at the jails. Rutstein, who was in San Diego for a conference, said he had never toured an immigration detention center before but hopes to visit others. The San Diego immigration jail sits amid barren hills a short distance from the Mexican border and houses about 650 mostly male detainees. It became a target of criticism from advocacy groups after an illegal immigrant from El Salvador was denied a biopsy for a painful lesion on his penis. Francisco Castaneda was later diagnosed with penile cancer and died in 2008 at age 36. The American Civil Liberties Union sued ICE in 2007, alleging medical care at the detention center was inadequate. The lawsuit, which is pending in federal court in San Diego, says detainees often wait weeks or months to see a doctor or nurse and are denied necessary treatments.

March 3, 2010 New York Times
When the Obama administration vowed to overhaul immigration detention last year, its promise of more humane treatment and accountability was spurred in part by the harrowing treatment of two detainees who died in the Bush years. In one case, captured by security cameras in 2008, a Chinese computer engineer was dragged from a Rhode Island immigration jail and mocked by guards as he screamed in pain from undiagnosed cancer and a broken spine. In the other, a Salvadoran detainee held for two years in a California detention center was denied a biopsy for a painful penile lesion, though government doctors suspected the cancer that eventually required amputation of his penis. But on Wednesday, the administration argued in federal court that the government had no liability for neglect or abuse by private contractors running the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., where the computer engineer was held. And in oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court on Tuesday, federal lawyers maintained that government doctors responsible for the Salvadoran’s care in detention were immune from being personally sued for medical negligence. In both cases, the arguments were made against lawsuits brought by the families of the men who died, Hiu Lui Ng, 34, and Francisco Castaneda, 36. In the Ng case, the government sought to be dropped as a defendant, and in the other, it tried to sharply limit potential monetary damages. But critics of the sprawling immigration detention system, which relies mainly on privately run jails to hold noncitizens facing deportation, said those arguments had broader and more disturbing implications. “The government’s positions both in Castaneda and in the Ng case fly in the face of the stated commitment to overhauling the immigration detention system and bringing to it more transparency and accountability,” said Vanita Gupta, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed an amicus brief in the Castaneda case and through its Rhode Island affiliate supported the lawsuit brought by Mr. Ng’s widow, Lin Li Qu, and two children, all United States citizens who live in New York. “Real reform wouldn’t be about pointing the finger elsewhere,” Ms. Gupta said. “It would be about promulgating legally binding standards and making individualized determinations about whether someone like Ng needs to be detained in the first place.” Brian P. Hale, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, reiterated the agency’s commitment to an overhaul. “This administration takes any allegation of inadequate medical care or ill treatment seriously and will not accept or tolerate any willful misconduct,” he wrote. “We have taken important initial steps to change this system and are committed to finishing the job.” Oral arguments in the Ng case, in Federal District Court in Providence, centered on the federal agency’s role in ordering that the gravely ill man be taken in shackles to a federal office in Hartford and returned the same day to the Wyatt detention center. For that trip, Mr. Ng was dragged from his cell. The government’s lawyer, Helene Kazanjian, argued that it was “completely unfair” to expect an agency “that has no contact with the detainee on a regular basis,” to know that Mr. Ng was in dire condition. But Fidelma L. Fitzpatrick, arguing the other side, pointed out that the agency had been repeatedly notified that Mr. Ng was in terrible pain and unable to walk, and that he had been denied a wheelchair and outside medical care by the detention center, run for profit by a municipal corporation in Central Falls. “The U.S. government cannot just hire someone and then close the file,” Ms. Fitzpatrick said. “The government must take responsibility for the actions of ICE.” Judge William E. Smith said he would rule later, but his questions took up the plaintiffs’ theme. “If you know about the severity of the detainee’s condition, isn’t there an obligation to give him special treatment, to put him on an ambulance?” he asked. Ms. Kazanjian contended that when the agency learned how sick Mr. Ng was, it sent him to the hospital where he died six days later. But the judge corrected her. “I ordered him hospitalized,” he said, referring to his unusual intervention at a habeas corpus hearing the day after the Hartford trip. “I don’t think ICE can take credit for that.” In the Castaneda case, the government has admitted to medical negligence, and a federal judge has said “the word ‘cruel’ is an understatement” for the treatment described in the lawsuit. But on Tuesday, the Supreme Court seemed receptive to the government’s argument that Public Health Service doctors were immune from suit under a 1970 federal law. A government lawyer argued that that immunity reflected “a balance of evils,” adding, “Congress has decided that it would rather protect the P.H.S., make sure that causes of action and liability aren’t hanging over the heads of P.H,S. officers, even if that means some individuals don’t get recovery against certain specific P.H.S. personnel.” Lawyers representing Mr. Castaneda’s teenage daughter have said a ruling for the government would preclude a jury trial in the case and cap any damages at $250,000, which they called insufficient deterrence to the negligence that has been widely documented.

October 1, 2009 Union-Tribune
A lawsuit filed by a now-deceased man over inappropriate medical care while he was in the custody of U.S. immigration officials in San Diego is set to go before the U.S. Supreme Court. Francisco Castañeda, an immigrant from El Salvador, died in February 2008 after a battle with penile cancer. Castañeda had sought medical care for symptoms while in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a contract detention facility in San Diego, and later at an agency facility in the Los Angeles area. Castañeda, who had been in the United States since age 10, had landed in detention after a short drug-related sentence in state prison triggered deportation proceedings. He filed suit against the government and various individual federal medical officials and providers in November 2007, alleging he was denied appropriate medical attention for a painful lesion on his penis for almost a year, though various doctors within the detention system recommended a biopsy. Upon his release from detention in February 2007, Castañeda sought medical attention on his own and was confirmed to have penile cancer, requiring the amputation of his penis. He died a year later at his home in the Los Angeles area at age 36. Allegations in the lawsuit included medical negligence and violation of Castañeda's constitutional rights. Shortly after Castañeda's death, family members were substituted as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Last spring, the federal government acknowledged that there had been medical negligence. However, “we are saying this is not a medical negligence case solely,” said Conal Doyle, an attorney representing Castañeda's family. “This is also a deliberate indifference case, deliberately refusing this guy medical care, which is a constitutional violation.” The federal government has argued that a federal statute makes a lawsuit against the government, not against individual defendants, the only remedy. However, in October, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal officials could be sued for violating Castañeda's constitutional rights. The case is now moving to the Supreme Court after the defendants appealed to the high court. Doyle said the case could be heard as early as January. Castañeda's situation was cited in a 2007 lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union against the federal government and Corrections Corp. of America, the contractor operating the San Diego facility, in which several detainees alleged shoddy medical care. Castañeda was not a plaintiff in that case. Since then, the federal government has announced plans to overhaul its massive immigrant detention system, which houses more than 32,000 people on average daily around the nation. “As part of a major detention reform, ICE is committed to improved detainee health care, which includes hiring a medical expert to provide an independent review of medical complaints and denials of requests for medical services,” said Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego. Mack said she could not comment on pending litigation. The immigration enforcement agency is no longer named separately as a defendant in the case, but remains a defendant as part of the federal government, Doyle said.

January 15, 2009 InjuryBoard.com
The U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Oct. 2 that federal officials can be sued for violating the constitutional rights of an immigration detainee who had his penis amputated and later died from penile cancer that was left untreated and undiagnosed while in detention. This case is typical of the cutting-edge public interest law firm, Public Justice, does for the American people. Francisco Castaneda -- Public Justice, the national public interest law firm, filed a lawsuit last October against the U.S. government, several federal and California state officials, and a California physician, alleging medical neglect and violations of Francisco Castaneda’s due process and equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment. The Oct. 2 ruling applies to the federal Public Health Service (PHS) officials who were named in the lawsuit and sought immunity under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The government had argued that a federal statute makes a lawsuit against the United States the exclusive remedy for illegal actions by the government doctors and other officials, but the appellate court unanimously ruled that federal officials cannot violate the Constitution and avoid accountability. In a sharp rebuke of the defendants’ claim, the appellate court described former detainee Francisco Castaneda’s ordeal as a “Kafkaesque nightmare” stemming from not only the government’s “alleged deliberate indifference, but also from Castaneda’s state-imposed helplessness in the face of that indifference.” Read the full story and learn about the great work of Public Justice the cutting edge public interest law firm for the people. Read the Ninth Circuit Court ruling at: http://www.publicjustice.net/briefs/Castaneda_NinthCircuitOpinion_100208.pdf

June 25, 2008 Press Release
The American Civil Liberties Union today sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for refusing to turn over thousands of public documents in their possession detailing the deaths of immigration detainees held in U.S. custody. The federal lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, comes after repeated rejections by DHS officials of requests by the ACLU for critical information about the deaths of dozens of people in immigration detention. The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring DHS to expedite the processing of the document request and conduct a reasonable search of the records in its possession in an effort to fully comply with the ACLU’s requests. “We know that the medical care provided in many immigration detention centers is grossly inadequate and has resulted in unnecessary suffering and death,” said Elizabeth Alexander, Director of the ACLU National Prison Project. “DHS must not be allowed to keep information about in-custody deaths secret. It is imperative that ICE be held publicly accountable when it fails to provide the health care mandated by the U.S. Constitution.” Deficient medical care is believed to be a leading cause of death in immigration detention, and is the number one complaint the ACLU has received from ICE detainees. The ACLU filed a lawsuit last year against the San Diego Correctional Facility (SDCF), an ICE facility run by Corrections Corporations of America, Inc. (CCA), the country’s largest for-profit correctional services provider. In its lawsuit, the ACLU challenges flawed medical care policies and the denial of needed treatment by ICE and the Division of Immigration Health Services which has led to excruciating suffering and even death of numerous detainees at SDCF. In its Freedom of Information Act request submitted to DHS last year, the ACLU requested information about whether ICE – or any independent monitoring agency – adequately tracks deaths of immigration detainees, who are often housed in county jails around the country alongside criminal detainees, or in one of numerous immigration detention facilities managed by private prison companies. Past OIG reports to Congress have contained only vague and sporadic references to investigations into these deaths, and provide little useful information that would ensure the public that meaningful investigations are conducted into each death and that steps are being taken to guarantee that detainees receive necessary medical services before it is too late. “Unless ICE exhibits full transparency by releasing all of the information that we have requested, we are left little choice but to believe that it has something to hide,” Alexander said. Attorneys on the case include Tom Jawetz of the ACLU National Prison Project, Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, New York-based attorneys Natalie N. Kuehler and Benjamin R. Walker and Washington-based attorneys Margaret K. Pfeiffer and Lee Ann Anderson McCall. A copy of the ACLU lawsuit filed today can be found online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants/detention/35774lgl20080625.html A copy of the original FOIA request filed by the ACLU can be found online at: www.aclu.org/immigrants/detention/30260res20070627.html Additional information about the ACLU National Prison Project can be found online at: www.aclu.org/prison/index.html

June 5, 2008 San Diego Union-Tribune
A class-action lawsuit alleging chronic overcrowding at an immigration jail in Otay Mesa was settled yesterday. The lawsuit said the overcrowding at the facility, run by Corrections Corp. of America for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, subjected immigration violators to health and safety risks. It also alleged the conditions violated due-process rights under the Constitution. Before the suit was filed in January 2007, the jail was so overcrowded it was “triple celling” hundreds of detainees, the suit alleged. That involved putting three people into cells designed for two, with the third sleeping on the cell floor in a plastic shell or “boat.” The facility housed 1,000 people at one point. After the suit was filed, federal authorities moved out more than 100 inmates, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the facility now holds no more than 700 people. The settlement agreement requires that detainee populations not exceed specified limits for the next three years. Corrections Corp. of America will have to show it is within the caps three times between now and January. If the requirements are met, the suit will be dropped. The settlement agreement is subject to approval by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw. A spokesman for Corrections Corp. of America directed requests for comment to the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A spokeswoman for ICE said the agency has not admitted fault. “The parties agree by settling the case that there is no admission of wrongdoing, and ICE maintains that the agency houses its immigration detainee population, including those at the San Diego CCA facility, in a safe and secure environment that is in compliance with its national detention standards,” said Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for the agency in San Diego. David Blair-Loy, legal director for the ACLU in San Diego, said the lawsuit achieved the goal of stopping poor conditions for immigration detainees. “The population was at a very high level before we appeared in the case,” Blair-Loy said. “And after we appeared they reduced it and then maintained that for a year and a half.”

June 1, 2008 Chicago Tribune
Yanira Castaneda weeps at the empty space in her living room where she spent a year caring for her brother, who died last February at 36, a loss for which she blames the U.S. government. Francisco Castaneda had been in a federal immigrant detention center because he was an illegal immigrant with a drug conviction. During his 10-month stay, his signs of cancer went untreated until the facility made him a free, but sick, man. He died a year later. "If they do a crime, they should do their time, but take care of them," said a tearful Yanira Castaneda, 35, whose family in the Los Angeles area is continuing her brother's lawsuit against the government. "I think my brother could have been saved." His death is part of a growing body count linked to the nation's beefed-up detention system, alarming lawmakers and emerging as the newest Immigration controversy in a spate of Capitol hearings and media exposés. Federal Immigration officials say critics are exaggerating the problems. In the case of Castaneda, who fled El Salvador's civil war at age 10 with his family, the U.S. government in April admitted negligence. After federal authorities released him last year with signs of penile cancer, doctors had to amputate that organ in February 2007. But it was too late. Since 2003, when the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was created, 83 deaths reportedly have been linked to detention sites run by ICE or by private contractors and local governments, including one detainee with coronary artery disease in a Chicago detention center and a suicide in McHenry County Jail. ICE said last month that it counted 71 deaths since 2004, but no public reporting requirements exist. Infrastructure expanded -- Unable to resolve what to do with the nation's 12 million illegal immigrants, Congress authorized ICE to build a vast detention infrastructure that now holds more than 300,000 detainees a year. The expansion, to 32,000 beds from 19,444 in 2004, has been fueled by recent crackdowns such as the end of the "catch-and-release" of unauthorized immigrants, experts say. "No bureaucracy can respond quickly to the sort of dramatic change that the country has seen with Immigration enforcement and detention over the last decade or so," said Louis DeSipio, associate professor at the University of California at Irvine. As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE "was ramping up quickly and wanted to show or impress Congress that it was responding rapidly, but it didn't respond to these other needs" such as medical care, DeSipio said. Last month, legislation was introduced to mandate health-care standards — now voluntary—in the more than 300 ICE detention facilities. It also would require all deaths be reported to Congress. But ICE officials contend that "detainees' health care is equal to or better than that provided to U.S. citizens in custody," according to statements in response to news reports. The death rate for detained immigrants is "dramatically lower" than that of U.S. prisons and jails, federal officials say. The 2005 rate was 6.8 deaths per 100,000 in ICE facilities compared with 540.5 per 100,000 in U.S. prisons and jails, according to the agency. Its 2007 death rate dropped to 3.5 per 100,000, officials said. "ICE is committed to providing all detainees in our care with humane and safe detention environments and ensuring that adequate medical services are available," said spokesman Richard Rocha. Last year the government spent almost $100 million on detainee health care, double the amount from five years ago, and did 184,448 medical screenings, with many detainees receiving health care for the first time, Rocha said. But Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), chairwoman of a subcommittee looking at detention medical care, contended that ICE failed to fix its health system even after hearings last October. "If [ICE officials] say they meet these standards, they are not to be relied on. I'm often disappointed that what they say is true turns out not to be correct," said Lofgren, who asserted that some detainees died because staffers withheld required medicine. She said some medical procedures recommended by physicians have to be reviewed in Washington by "a non-physician who's never seen the patient." "The policies themselves foster poor medical care," she said. "No matter where you are on the spectrum of Immigration reform, you got people in custody. You can't kill them." Tom Jawetz, an attorney for the ACLU's National Prison Project, said the ICE figures don't include ill individuals who die after being deported or released. Lawsuits filed -- In the wake of the detention buildup, Jawetz began filing class-action lawsuits against ICE last year, including one alleging overcrowding and another for deficient health care at the same 800-bed facility in Otay Mesa, Calif. That center is operated by the private Corrections Corporation of America, which is seeking a second facility with 3,000 beds there for an as-yet undisclosed use. In court documents, Francisco Castaneda alleged ICE released him "presumably" to avoid the cost of cancer treatment. "I can tell you that Castaneda is a perfect example of why the [death] numbers are skewed," said Castaneda's lawyer, Conal Doyle. Human-rights advocate Homer Venters said ICE's figure of one out of every three detainees having pre-existing chronic conditions shows the agency needs a model for chronic health care, not just acute care. Detainees' average stay of 37.5 days makes comparisons to U.S. prisons' death rates "unduly rosy," according to Venters and Allen Keller, a physician and the director of New York University's School of Medicine Center for Health and Human Rights. To improve care, the federal agency has recruited non-governmental groups and experts to rewrite detention standards, and has hired two firms to inspect how centers are managed. "While a single death of an ICE detainee is a serious matter," ICE spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said, "we strive to maintain safe, secure and humane detention conditions and to ensure that all detainees receive quality health care."

May 11, 2008 Washington Post
At the agency in Washington responsible for foreign detainees' medical care, internal documents reveal a tendency to conceal the truth by withholding complete medical records or by offering misleading public explanations. But e-mail exchanges speak for themselves in the death of Francisco Castaneda. Castaneda's family had fled the civil war in El Salvador when he was 10 years old, but his mother died of cancer before she could obtain legal status for her children. Castaneda began working at 17 and eventually got involved with drugs. After living for nearly a quarter-century in Los Angeles, he was being deported after serving a four-month sentence for drug possession. In March 2006, immigration officers took him into custody. Medical staff members suspected that Castaneda, then 34, had penile cancer. A lesion on his penis was bleeding and oozing. The staff sought approval for a biopsy, but the Division of Immigration Health Services, or DIHS, headquarters in Washington denied the procedure for 10 months. Along the way, as he fought deportation, Castaneda filed several grievances. "I am in a considerable amount of pain and I am in desperate need of medical attention," he wrote in June. "I feel that I am entitled to a healthy life." In July, David Lusche, a physician assistant at the Otay Mesa facility in California, where Castaneda was being held, realized that his grievances were still pending and that an audit of the compound's medical files was approaching. At 2:26 a.m. July 28, he e-mailed a colleague, asking him to retrieve a handwritten grievance from Castaneda that Lusche had left in a drawer in an examining room. "We need to write something different, or make some amendment, on the Grievance for Francisco Castaneda," Lusche wrote. ". . . Your response starts, 'Grievance not resolved.' Those words are going to attract all kinds of attention during an ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] Jail Standards audit. . . . Could you somehow 'patch up' that Grievance with an amendment then put it in my box. I just want to avoid problems when the Auditors show up." Anthony Walker, a physician assistant at Otay Mesa, responded at 10:10 a.m. the next day: "But it is true, unfortunately, this is a case where his grievance is correct and I don't blame the detainee." After pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, a biopsy was finally scheduled for early February 2007. But immigration officials suddenly released Castaneda from custody days before the surgery, sparing the agency the cost. When the DIHS medical director, Timothy T. Shack, was asked to review the case, he concluded: "I looked over about 200 pages of medical records for this case. In my opinion, the care provided to this detainee was, and is, timely and appropriate." One week later after the review, UCLA doctors gave Castaneda a diagnosis of invasive squamous cell carcinoma. On Valentine's Day, surgeons amputated his penis. In October, after rounds of chemotherapy, he testified before a congressional panel looking into detainee medical care. "I am a 35-year-old man without a penis with my life on the line," he said. "I have a young daughter, Vanessa, who is only 14. She is here with me today because she wanted to support me -- and because I wanted her to see her father do something for the greater good, so that she will have that memory of me. The thought that her pain -- and mine -- could have been avoided almost makes this too much to bear." On Feb. 16, 2008, Castaneda died. U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson denied a government request to dismiss the lawsuit brought on Castaneda's behalf. In his March 11 ruling, the judge said lawyers had "submitted powerful evidence that Defendants knew Castaneda needed a biopsy to rule out cancer, falsely stated that his doctors called the biopsy 'elective,' and let him suffer in extreme pain for almost one year while telling him to be 'patient' and treating him with Ibuprofen, antihistamines, and extra pairs of boxer shorts." Pregerson added: "Defendants' own records bespeak of conduct that transcends negligence by miles. It bespeaks of conduct that, if true, should be taught to every law student as conduct for which the moniker 'cruel' is inadequate."

May 11, 2008 Washington Post
Yusif Osman was a U.S. legal resident from Ghana and had been living in Los Angeles for five years. After a companion carrying false ID landed him in immigration detention, Osman was facing deportation on smuggling charges, an allegation he denied. While at an immigration detention center outside San Diego, he died suddenly. His story highlights the poor care some immigrants have received in the scores of immigration facilities across the United States. Near midnight on a California spring night, armed guards escorted Yusif Osman into an immigration prison ringed by concertina wire at the end of a winding, isolated road. During the intake screening, a part-time nurse began a computerized medical file on Osman, a routine procedure for any person entering the vast prison network the government has built for foreign detainees across the country. But the nurse pushed a button and mistakenly closed file #077-987-986 and marked it "completed" -- even though it had no medical information in it. Three months later, at 2 in the morning on June 27, 2006, the native of Ghana collapsed in Cell 206 at the Otay Mesa immigrant detention center outside San Diego. His cellmate hit the intercom button, yelling to guards that Osman was on the floor suffering from chest pains. A guard peered through the window into the dim cell and saw the detainee on the ground, but did not go in. Instead, he called a clinic nurse to find out whether Osman had any medical problems. When the nurse opened the file and found it blank, she decided there was no emergency and said Osman needed to fill out a sick call request. The guard went on a lunch break. The cellmate yelled again. Another guard came by, looked in and called the nurse. This time she wanted Osman brought to the clinic. Forty minutes passed before guards brought a wheelchair to his cell. By then it was too late: Osman was barely alive when paramedics reached him. He soon died. His body, clothed only in dark pants and socks, was left on a breezeway for two hours, an airway tube sticking out of his mouth. Osman was 34. The next day, an autopsy determined that he had died because his heart had suddenly stopped, confidential medical records show. Two physicians who reviewed his case for The Washington Post said he might have lived had he received timely treatment, perhaps as basic as an aspirin. Privately, Otay Mesa's medical staff also knew his care was deficient. On Page 3 of an internal review of his death is this question: Did patient receive appropriate and adequate health care consistent with community standards during his/her detention ...? Otay Mesa's medical director, Esther Hui, checked "No." Osman's death is a single tragedy in a larger story of life, death and often shabby medical care within an unseen network of special prisons for foreign detainees across the country. Some 33,000 people are crammed into these overcrowded compounds on a given day, waiting to be deported or for a judge to let them stay here. The medical neglect they endure is part of the hidden human cost of increasingly strict policies in the post-Sept. 11 United States and a lack of preparation for the impact of those policies. The detainees have less access to lawyers than convicted murderers in maximum-security prisons and some have fewer comforts than al-Qaeda terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But they are not terrorists. Most are working-class men and women or indigent laborers who made mistakes that seem to pose no threat to national security: a Salvadoran who bought drugs in his 20th year of poverty in Los Angeles; a U.S. legal U.S. resident from Mexico who took $50 for driving two undocumented day laborers into a border city. Or they are waiting for political asylum from danger in their own countries: a Somalian without a valid visa trying to prove she would be killed had she remained in her village; a journalist who fled Congo out of fear for his life, worked as a limousine driver and fathered six American children, but never was able to get the asylum he sought. The most vulnerable detainees, the physically sick and the mentally ill, are sometimes denied the proper treatment to which they are entitled by law and regulation. They are locked in a world of slow care, poor care and no care, with panic and coverups among employees watching it happen, according to a Post investigation. The investigation found a hidden world of flawed medical judgments, faulty administrative practices, neglectful guards, ill-trained technicians, sloppy record-keeping, lost medical files and dangerous staff shortages. It is also a world increasingly run by high-priced private contractors. There is evidence that infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and chicken pox, are spreading inside the centers. Federal officials who oversee immigration detention said last week that they are "committed to ensuring the safety and well-being" of everyone in their custody. Some 83 detainees have died in, or soon after, custody during the past five years. The deaths are the loudest alarms about a system teetering on collapse. Actions taken -- or not taken -- by medical staff members may have contributed to 30 of those deaths, according to confidential internal reviews and the opinions of medical experts who reviewed some death files for The Post. According to an analysis by The Post, most of the people who died were young. Thirty-two of the detainees were younger than 40, and only six were 70 or older. The deaths took place at dozens of sites across the country. The most at one location was six at the San Pedro compound near Los Angeles. Immigration officials told congressional staffers in October that the facility at San Pedro was closed to renovate the fire-suppression system and replace the hot-water boiler. But internal documents and interviews reveal unsafe conditions that forced the agency to relocate all 404 detainees that month. An audit found 53 incidents of medication errors. A riot in August pushed federal officials to decrease the dangerously high number of detainees, many of them difficult mental health cases, and caused many health workers to quit. Finally, the facility lost its accreditation. The full dimensions of the massive crisis in detainee medical care are revealed in thousands of pages of government documents obtained by The Post. They include autopsy and medical records, investigative reports, notes, internal e-mails, and memorandums. These documents, along with interviews with current and former immigration medical officials and staff members, illuminate the underside of the hasty governmental reorganization that took place in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The terrorist strikes catapulted immigration to a national security concern for the first time since World War II, when 120,000 Japanese residents and their American relatives were locked away in desolate internment camps. After Sept. 11, the Bush administration transferred responsibility for border security and deportation to the new Department of Homeland Security, which gave it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- a reconfiguration of the decades-old Immigration and Naturalization Service -- in 2003, the year the Post used as the starting point for counting detainee deaths. Each year since, the number of detainees picked up for deportation or waiting behind bars for political asylum has skyrocketed, increasing by 65 percent since July 2005. Government professionals provide health care at 23 facilities, which house roughly half of the 33,000 detainees. Seven of those sites are owned by private prison companies. Last year, the government also housed detainees in 279 local and county jails. To handle the influx of detainees, ICE added 6,300 beds in 2006 and an additional 4,200 since then. They too are nearly full. These way stations between life in and outside the United States are mostly out of sight: in deserts and industrial warehouse districts, in sequestered valleys next to other prisons, or near noisy airports. Some compounds never allow detainees outdoor recreation; others let them out onto tiny dirt patches once or twice a week. Detainees are not guaranteed free legal representation, and only about one in 10 has an attorney. When lawyers get involved, they often have difficulty prying medical information out of the bureaucracy -- or even finding clients, who are routinely moved without notice. The burden of health care for this crush of human lives falls on an obscure federal agency that lacks the political clout and bureaucratic rigor to do its job well. The Division of Immigration Health Services (DIHS), housed in a private office building at 13th and L streets NW several blocks from ICE headquarters, had a budget last year of $61 million. ICE spent an additional $28 million last year on outside medical care for detainees. Medical spending has not kept pace with the growth in population. Since 2001, the number of detainees over the course of each year has more than tripled to 311,000, according to ICE and the Government Accountability Office. Meanwhile, spending for the DIHS and outside care has not quite doubled, ICE figures show. ICE's conflicting population and budget numbers make the trends difficult to determine. The agency is responsible for managing and monitoring detainee medical care, about half of which is provided by U.S. Public Health Service professionals and the rest by contracted medical staff. When doctors and nurses at the immigration compounds believe that detainees need more than the most basic treatment, they have to fax a request to the Washington office, where four nurses, working 9 to 4, East Coast time, five days a week, make the decisions. A proud Statue of Liberty replica stands just beyond the glass doors of DIHS headquarters to remind visitors of the Public Health Service's historical role in screening and treating European immigrants arriving at Ellis Island at the turn of the last century. The mission is accompanied at times by a sense of panic and complicity. Many documents obtained by The Post make clear that the people in charge know that the system is in trouble and that piecemeal fixes are not enough. "The onus is on us if it hits the fan," one official complained during a high-level headquarters meeting about staff shortages late last summer, according to records of the conversation. "We're going to be responsible if something happens, because it's well documented that we know there's a problem, that the problem is severe." "We are putting ourselves and our patients at risk," another official said. Doctors express concerns about violating medical ethics and fear lawsuits. In July, Esther Hui at Otay Mesa sent a memo to DIHS medical director Timothy T. Shack, saying her colleagues were worried that they might be sued because of the substandard care they were giving detainees. The agency's mission of "keeping the detainee medically ready for deportation" often conflicts with the standards of care in the wider medical community, Hui wrote. "I know in my gut that I am exposing myself to the US legal standard of care argument. ... Do we need to get personal liability insurance?" Nurses who work on the front lines see the problems up close. "Dogs get better care in the dog pound," said Catherine Rouse, a contract nurse at an Arizona detention center who quit after two months last year because she saw what she regarded as "scary medicine" in the prison: patients taken off medications they needed and nurses doing tasks they were not qualified to do. In a statement responding to questions raised by The Post, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials pointed out that the federal government spent nearly $100 million in fiscal 2007 on medical care for immigration detainees. About one in four immigrants in the detainee population has a chronic health condition, the statement said. "Among ICE's highest priorities is to ensure safe, humane conditions of confinement for those in our custody," the statement said. "We make every effort to enforce all existing standards and, whenever possible, to improve upon them. When we find standards that are not being met, we take immediate action to correct deficiencies and when we believe that the deficiencies cannot be corrected, we relocate our detainees to other facilities." By their calculations, officials said, the mortality rate among detainees has declined since 2004 to a level that is lower than that in U.S. jails and prisons. The deaths, the statement said, "highlight the tremendous responsibility and potential liability the government faces in providing medical care to a population that often did not have access to adequate health care before coming into our custody." To this end, the agency recently increased its inspections of facilities and is in the process of creating an inspection group at headquarters to review serious incidents, including deaths or allegations that standards are not being met. ICE declined to comment on specific cases, citing internal policies on patient privacy or pending litigation.

May 11, 2008 Washington Post
Neil Sampson, who ran the DIHS as interim director most of last year, left that job with serious questions about the government's commitment. Sampson said in an interview that ICE treated detainee health care "as an afterthought," reflecting what he called a failure of leadership and management at the Homeland Security Department. "They do not have a clear idea or philosophy of their approach to health care [for detainees]," he said. "It's a system failure, not a failure of individuals." A new director for health services arrived six months ago, following a stretch when the agency was run first by Sampson and then by a second interim director. The new boss is LaMont W. Flanagan, who brought with him the credential of having been fired in 2003 by the state of Maryland for bad management and spending practices supervising detention and pretrial services. An audit found that Flanagan had signed off on payments of $145,000 for employee entertainment and other ill-advised expenditures. His reputation was such that the District of Columbia would not hire him for a juvenile-justice position. "Another death that needs to be added to the roster," Diane Aker, the DIHS chief health administrator, tapped out in an e-mail to a records clerk at headquarters on Aug. 14, 2007. Juan Guevara-Lorano, 21, was dead. Guevara, an unemployed legal U.S. resident with a young son, was arrested in El Paso for driving illegal border-crossers farther into the city. He was paid $50. An entry-level emergency medical technician, with barely any training, had done Guevara's intake screening and physical assessment at the Otero County immigration compound in New Mexico. Under DIHS rules, those tasks are supposed to be done by a nurse. After two difficult months in detention, Guevara had decided not to appeal his case. He would go back to Mexico with his family. But on Aug. 4, he came down with a splitting headache, what he called a nine on a pain scale of 10, his medical records show. The rookie medical technician prescribed Tylenol and referred Guevara to the compound's physician "due to severity of headache ... and dizziness," according to medical records. But Guevara never saw a doctor. Eight days after the first incident, he vomited in his cell. The same junior technician came to help but was unable to insert a nasal airway tube. Guevara was taken to a hospital, where doctors determined an aneurism in his brain had burst. His wife, pregnant at the time with their second child, recalled that she rushed to the hospital but ICE guards would not let her inside, until the Mexican Consulate interceded. Guevara's mother waited five hours before they let her in. By then he was brain-dead. "My son is not coming back," sobbed Ana Celia Lozano months later, sitting in Guevara's small mobile home as her grandson played on the floor. "I want to know how he lived and died, nothing more." What appears to be the most incriminating document in Guevara's case has been partially blacked out. Still, what is left shows that he did not receive adequate care. "The detainee was not seen or evaluated by an RN, midlevel or physician. . . . At the time of the incident on 8/12/2007, the detainee was seen and examined by EMTs." Each immigration facility is allotted a different number of positions, and a shortage of doctors and nurses is not unusual at centers across the country. Records from February show that about 30 percent of all DIHS positions in the field were unfilled. ICE officials said last week that the current vacancy rate is 21 percent. Concern about the vacancies is voiced repeatedly at clinical directors' meetings. "How do we state our concerns so that we can be heard? . . . this is a CRITICAL condition. . . . We have bitten off more than we can chew," a physician wrote in the minutes of one meeting last summer. In some prisons, the staffing shortages are acute. The Willacy County detention center in South Texas -- the largest compound, with 2,018 detainees -- has no clinical director, no pharmacist and only a part-time psychiatrist. Nearly 50 percent of the nursing positions were unfilled at the 1,500-detainee Eloy, Ariz., prison in February. At the newly opened 744-bed Jena., La., compound, nurses run the place. It has no clinical director, no staff physician, no psychiatrist and no professional dental staff. Last August, Sampson, who was then DIHS interim director, warned his superiors at ICE that critical personnel shortages were making it impossible to staff the Jena facility adequately. In a vociferous e-mail to Gary Mead, the ICE deputy director in charge of detention centers, he wrote: "With the Jena request we have been re-examining our capabilities to meet health care needs at a new site when we are facing critical staffing shortages at most every other DIHS site. While we developed, executed and achieved major successes in our recruitment efforts we have been unable to meet the demand." The slow ICE security-clearance process forced many job applicants to go elsewhere, Sampson wrote. Of the 312 people who applied for new positions over the past year, 200 withdrew, he wrote, because they found other jobs during the 250 days it took ICE, on average, to conduct the required background investigations. Last week, ICE officials said the average wait had decreased recently to 37 days. These shortages have burdened the remaining staff. In July 2007, a year after Osman's death in Otay Mesa, medical director Hui strongly complained to headquarters about workload stress. "The level of burnout . . . is high and rising," she wrote in an e-mail. "I know that I have been averaging approximately 2-6 hrs of overtime daily for the past 2 months. I will no longer be able to sustain this pace and will be decreasing the number of hours that I work overtime. This being said, more will be left undone because we simply do NOT have the staff." The overcrowding has created a petri dish for the spread of diseases. One mission of the Public Health Service is to detect infectious diseases and contain them before they spread, but last summer, the gigantic Willacy center was hit by a chicken pox outbreak. The illness spread because the facility did not have enough available isolation rooms and its large pods share recycled air, but also because security officers "lack education about the disease and keep moving around detainees from different units without taking into consideration if the unit has been isolated due to heavy exposure," noted the DIHS's top specialist on infectious diseases, Carlos Duchesne. The staff was forced to vaccinate the entire population in mid-July. In one 2007 death, memos and confidential notes show how medical staff missed an infectious disease, meningitis, in their midst. Victor Alfonso Arellano, 23, a transgender Mexican detainee with AIDS, died in custody at the San Pedro center. The first three pages of Duchesne's internal review of the death leave the impression that Arellano's care was proper. But the last page, under the heading "Off the record observations and recommendations," takes a decidedly critical tone: "The clinical staff at all levels fails to recognize early signs and symptoms of meningitis. . . . Pt was evaluated multiple times and an effort to rule out those infections was not even mentioned." Arellano was given a "completely useless" antibiotic, Duchesne wrote. Lab work that should have been performed immediately took 22 days because San Pedro's clinical director had ordered staff members to withhold lab work for new detainees until they had been in detention there "for more than 30 days," a violation of agency rules. "I am sure that there must be a reason why this was mandated but that practice is particularly dangerous with chronic care cases and specially is particularly dangerous with . . . HIV/AIDS patients," Duchesne wrote. "Labs for AIDS patients . . . must be performed ASAP to know their immune status and where you are standing in reference to disease control and meds." Given the frequency with which ICE moves people within the detention network, keeping track of detainees is critical to stopping the spread of infectious illnesses. The purchase of an electronic records system named CaseTrakker in 2004 was supposed to help. But according to internal documents and interviews, CaseTrakker is so riddled with problems that facilities often revert to handwritten records. A study at one site found that it took one-third more time to use CaseTrakker than to use paper. Thousands of patient files are missing. Recorded data often cannot be retrieved. Day-long outages are common. When detainees are transferred from one facility to another, their records, if they follow them, are often misleading. Some show medications with no medical diagnoses, or "lots of diagnoses but no meds," according to Elizabeth Fleming, a former clinical director at one compound in Arizona. After Yusif Osman's death and the discovery of the problem with his computerized records, the DIHS ordered a review of all charts at the Otay Mesa center. During the review, auditors also found that 260 physical exams were never completed as required. The nurse responsible for the error in Osman's case was reprimanded, but the computer problem was not fixed. The CaseTrakker system "has failed and must be replaced," Sampson, the DIHS interim director, wrote to his ICE supervisors in August. In January 2008, medical director Shack told colleagues that CaseTrakker "is more of a liability than the use of paper medical record system," according to the minutes of a meeting. It "puts patients at risk." ICE officials said last week that they are not satisfied with CaseTrakker and are working to replace it. Along with being at the mercy of computer glitches, detainees suffer from human errors that deny or delay their care. And with few advocates on the outside, they are left alone to plead their cases in the most desperate ways, in hand-scribbled notes to doctors they rarely see. "I need medicine for pain. All my bones hurt. Thank you," wrote Mexico native Roberto Ledesma Guerrero, 72, three weeks before he died inside the Otay Mesa compound. Delays persist throughout the system. In January, the detention center in Pearsall, Tex., an hour from San Antonio, had a backlog of 2,097 appointments. Luis Dubegel-Paez, a 60-year-old Cuban, had filled out many sick call requests before he died on March 14. Detained at the Rolling Plains Detention Facility in the West Texas town of Haskell, he wrote on New Year's Day: "need to see doctor for Heart medication; and having chest pains for the past three days. Can't stand pain." Ten days later he went to the clinic and became upset when he wasn't seen. He slugged the window, yelled, pointed at his wristwatch. He was escorted back to his cell. Another of his sick call requests said: "Need to see a doctor. I have a lot of symptoms of sickness ... as soon as possible!" The next was more urgent: "I have a emergency to see the doctor about my heart problems ... for the last couple days and I been getting dizzy a lot." The next day, Dubegel-Paez collapsed and died. His medical records do not show that he ever saw a doctor for his chest pains.

May 4, 2008 San Diego Union Tribune
Issac Kigondu Kiniti, a Kenyan detained since 2004, was photographed last year as the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging overcrowding at the CCA facility. As immigration laws have become tougher, the federal government has found itself with a logistical challenge: where to house a population that has swollen to more than 30,000 detainees. The solution? Turn them over to the private sector. Detention contracts have helped turn once-ailing private prison companies into a multibillion-dollar growth industry with record revenues, healthy stock prices and ambitious expansion plans. One of them, Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, has applied to build a nearly 3,000-bed prison in Otay Mesa, where it now runs a facility holding up to 700 detainees awaiting deportation or decisions on their immigration cases. The company is the nation's largest private prison operator. On average, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement saves more than $31 per day, per person, by using a contract detention facility rather than an agency-run one. For ICE, it's a way to save potentially hundreds of millions of dollars a year while having ready access to more beds. In the past year, ICE and its contractors have come under fire for alleged mistreatment of immigrants. In San Diego last year, the American Civil Liberties Union twice sued the agency and CCA. One lawsuit alleged overcrowding at the Otay Mesa facility, with three detainees housed in cells designed for two. The other alleged inadequate medical care, with detainees complaining of being denied treatment or waiting months for it. The pending lawsuits contend that immigration detainees, who are being held for violations of civil law, must be held in conditions better than those for criminal violators; anything worse amounts to punitive confinement without due process, a constitutional violation. Both ICE and the company, which is based in Nashville, Tenn., have said there was no wrongdoing. A 2006 federal investigation of five facilities used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement – an agency-run center, three San Diego County jails and the CCA facility in Otay Mesa – found flaws with all. Last fall, an ICE-run detention center in San Pedro, near Los Angeles, closed for repairs a few months after losing its prison accreditation. “The problems are not by any stretch of the imagination limited to private companies,” said Michele Deitch, a prisons expert with the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin. “But I think you are going to see more problems there, and less oversight of these facilities.” On the rise -- While private prisons have contracts with other federal agencies and with states to house their inmates, business from immigration authorities has risen steadily. The number of people held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement has jumped 36 percent since 2005, when the agency held a daily average of 19,718 detainees, who include illegal immigrants, asylum seekers and legal U.S. residents facing deportation. By the end of 2007, that number had grown to 30,881. At the end of last year, 13 percent of ICE detainees were held in agency facilities. Seventeen percent were in private facilities that contract directly with ICE; 21 percent were in facilities contracted from local governments, usually with the county acting as middleman for a private company. An additional 46 percent were in county jails, where ICE rents beds, and a handful in other facilities, including rented federal prison space. Many of these jails and prisons, while under government jurisdiction, also are privately operated. In the past three years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has more than tripled what it spends on detention. Its annual appropriation for custody has grown to $1.6 billion this year from $504 million in 2005. The White House has requested funding for 1,000 more beds by Sept. 30. The immigration agency has no plans to build any more of its own detention centers, of which there are eight in the nation, including one in El Centro. Officials say it's easier to contract the beds. “It just provides us with a quicker way to provide detention space,” said Gary Mead, acting director of ICE detention and removal operations in Washington, D.C. The savings are substantial: According to ICE, it cost $87.99 per day on average in fiscal year 2007 to hold someone at a contract detention facility, while it cost roughly $119.28 a day to house a person at an ICE-run facility. Detention increased after 1996, when legislative changes made it easier to deport immigrants residing here legally who had been convicted and served a prison sentence, and made detention mandatory as they awaited deportation. Then the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, occurred, and the federal government intensified its focus on border security. In 2003, there came a new emphasis on tracking down people who had missed an immigration hearing or ignored a deportation order. In fiscal year 2007, ICE fugitive teams made more than 30,000 arrests. Detentions expanded again after late 2005, when the Bush administration called for an end to the practice of “catch and release” for non-Mexican illegal immigrants who were being released with a notice to appear in court. Most Mexican nationals are quickly repatriated at the border. Plastic 'boats' -- Until early last year, the 10-year-old San Diego Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa, built and operated by Corrections Corporation of America, held up to 1,000 detainees. In June 2006, the company lost 200 beds when the lease on part of the county-owned property expired. Yet according to CCA's 2006 financial report, the population of detainees wasn't reduced “as we had the ability to consolidate inmates.” The following January, in its lawsuit, the ACLU cited the per-person fees paid by ICE to the contractor as an incentive for putting three people in a two-man cell. The third slept on the floor in a plastic cot referred to as a “boat.” Lead plaintiff Isaac Kigondu Kiniti, a Kenyan detainee in ICE custody since 2004, said his head was so close to the toilet when he slept on the floor that he was showered with urine when cellmates used it. Kiniti criticized the contractor. “Because they are a for-profit company, they will give you only the bare minimum of things to increase their profits,” said Kiniti, a former student-visa holder, appealing a deportation order stemming from a drug conviction. ICE has since set the facility's maximum capacity at 700. CCA, which like its competitors touts its cost-effectiveness, says there is no skimping at detainees' expense. “We do not cut corners,” said Louise Grant, a spokeswoman. “Safety and security is our highest priority. We are extremely committed to offering strong programming for offenders in our care, as well as the highest medical care.” Grant said costs are reduced by using efficient construction methods. While wages vary depending on the contract, she said, staff salaries frequently reflect the local cost of living. Many private prisons, like public ones, are in low-cost rural areas. Grant said almost 90 percent of the company's facilities abide by the voluntary standards of the American Correctional Association, which includes public and private prisons. However, according to the overcrowding lawsuit, the association's standards for “adult local detention facilities” call for cells housing more than one person to provide 25 square feet of unencumbered space per occupant. At Otay Mesa, when there were three detainees per cell with the cot on the floor, it amounted to no more than 15 square feet for all three, the complaint reads. Oversight concerns -- Critics of prison privatization cite oversight as perhaps one of the biggest concerns when private companies perform public incarceration duties. According to ICE, 71 people have died in the agency's custody since the beginning of 2004. Of these, 57 were in contract facilities that ranged from private detention centers to county jails, raising questions about whether a lack of government oversight played a part. Three people have died at Otay Mesa since 2003, including Yusif Osman, 34, a Ghanian man who died in his cell in 2006 after complaining of chest pain. According to the county medical examiner's report, it took personnel more than an hour to call 911 after Osman's cellmate began asking for help. The report claims that Osman was seen on his knees, and that a medical supervisor, upon finding no medical history on him, “informed the control officer to have Mr. Osman file a request to seek medical assistance.” In the ACLU medical-care lawsuit, plaintiffs complained about delays in getting treatment and prescription refills. One plaintiff is a diabetic man whose requests for care for a small injury to his foot were delayed so long that he developed gangrene. Also cited is the case of Francisco Castañeda, a detainee who had to wait several months to see an off-site oncologist for what turned out to be penile cancer. Castañeda sued the federal government a few months before his death in February. His family has continued the lawsuit. The government recently acknowledged that there was medical negligence, one of the allegations made. Health care at Otay Mesa is provided by the federal government, which according to the ACLU complaint took over health services from Corrections Corporation of America in 2002 after finding the company's health program deficient. However, because company guards are the first to hear requests for medical care, “that does not mean that CCA is off the hook entirely,” said David Blair-Loy, legal director of the ACLU in San Diego. “They may be interfering with access to treatment,” Blair-Loy said. “And they may or may not have a direct financial incentive to prevent people from getting treatment.” There is no way to know, he said, because the public cannot obtain government contract information from private companies. CCA's Grant, whose company earned nearly $1.5 billion last year, said that if the quality of CCA's service to inmates was not meeting expectations, the federal agency would cancel its contracts. In February 2007, the month after the overcrowding lawsuit, Immigration and Customs Enforcement created a new detention-inspection task force charged with responding to complaints at all facilities where it houses detainees.
 

February 24, 2008 Union-Tribune
A privately run immigration jail in Otay Mesa that is already the subject of two lawsuits is under fire again for allegedly mistreating female detainees, then retaliating when they complained to lawyers. One of the women has filed a formal complaint with the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, saying she suffered verbal and physical abuse and poor medical care during her three-week detention this month. The allegations come about one year after a federal lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego alleging severe overcrowding and unsafe conditions at the jail, known as the San Diego Correctional Facility. A second lawsuit alleging poor medical treatment was filed by the ACLU in June. Both are pending in federal court. The latest allegation arose when lawyers for the ACLU interviewed 18 women at the jail Feb. 11. All complained about various degrees of mistreatment or poor conditions, such as backed-up toilets, freezing cells without adequate blankets or clothing, and waits of up to two weeks to get medical attention. One woman complained that her breast implant ruptured and was leaking, but that she was given only ibuprofen by the medical staff, said Andrea Guerrero of the ACLU. The day after the interviews, the women who had spoken to the lawyers were retaliated against, Guerrero said. The section of the jail they lived in was put on lockdown, their cells were searched and they were questioned by guards, she said. “Everything we are hearing out of that facility is alarming,” Guerrero said. “We are very concerned and we are currently assessing how we might proceed.” The jail, about 4½ miles north of the border and adjacent to a county jail, houses Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees caught illegally entering the country, asylum seekers and those challenging deportation orders. The facility is run by a company called Corrections Corporation of America under a contract with the government. A spokesman for the company, citing the government investigation, declined to comment. Martina Romero, 34, was held at the jail for nearly three weeks after being caught by the Border Patrol illegally entering the country Feb. 1. Romero said she complained about difficulty getting medical treatment for a back injury, and the treatment of other female detainees by guards. But she said that when she or other women asked to file a formal grievance with jail authorities, guards discouraged them from doing so and threatened to put them in segregation cells. After Romero was released Wednesday, her lawyer, Karla Kraus, filed the complaint with the Homeland Security inspector general. “I think the government doesn't really know the conditions and what is going on down there,” Romero said during an interview in Kraus' office Thursday. Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Romero's allegations are under investigation. She said some of Romero's complaints “appear to be blatantly untrue,” but that she could not be more specific because of the investigation. A maximum of 700 immigration detainees can be held at the jail. Mack said the daily population there ranges from 615 to 670. The overcrowding lawsuit, filed in January 2007, said the jail at times housed three people in cells designed for two, and that the population sometimes swelled to 1,000. The lawsuit over medical care, filed in June, alleged that detainees have to wait too long for treatment, do not get the medications they need, and receive substandard dental and mental-health care.

July 11, 2007 Government Executive Magazine
In a recent review of federal facilities used to detain suspected illegal immigrants, the Government Accountability Office found a lack of telephone access to be a pervasive problem, potentially preventing detainees from contacting legal counsel, their countries' consulates or complaint hotlines. The GAO review included visits to 23 detention centers housing immigrants awaiting adjudication or deportation. The watchdog agency observed the centers -- run by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency within the Homeland Security Department -- for compliance with nonbinding national detention standards. Of the 23 facilities GAO reviewed, 17 had telephone systems allowing detainees to make free phone calls seeking assistance. In 16 of these 17 facilities, however, GAO found systemic problems hindering phone access. Issues ranged from inaccurate or outdated numbers posted by the phones to technical problems preventing completion of calls, the report (GAO-07-875) stated. The review found instances where the centers fell short of standards in other areas, such as medical care, use of force and food services, but said these instances did not necessarily indicate a larger pattern of noncompliance. "While it is true that the only pervasive problem we identified related to the telephone system -- a problem later confirmed by ICE's testing -- we cannot state that the other deficiencies we identified in our visits were isolated," said Richard Stana, director of homeland security and justice issues at GAO, in the report. GAO recommended that ICE regularly update the posted numbers for legal services, consulates and reporting violations of detainee treatment standards and test phone systems to ensure that they are in working order. In a response to a draft of the report, Steven Pecinovsky, director of the Homeland Security Department's GAO/Office of the Inspector General Liaison Office, said ICE concurred with its recommendations and had taken immediate steps to implement them. In particular, ICE has started random testing to ensure the phones can access the necessary numbers. While GAO did not find evidence of widespread disregard for national detention standards, there have been recent calls for more oversight of immigrant detention facilities and codification of standards. According to the American Bar Association's Commission on Immigration, the fact that the standards are not codified means "their violation does not confer a cause of action in court." On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union called on Congress to codify the standards, expressing concern over the causes of death for the 62 immigrants who have died in ICE custody since 2004. GAO's report cited several instances of noncompliance in the standards for medical care, but almost all were a failure to complete the routine physical exams required for all detainees. The only other issue cited was the failure of one detention center to have a first aid kit available. The ACLU argued there are far more serious medical failures occurring in immigrant detention centers. "Inadequate medical care has led to unnecessary suffering and death," the ACLU said in a statement. "In addition, there is no mechanism in place for reporting deaths in immigration detention to any oversight body, including the [Office of the Inspector General] and, therefore, there are no routine investigations into deaths in ICE custody."

June 22, 2007 San Diego Union Tribune
A lawsuit over conditions at an Otay Mesa immigration jail can continue, a federal judge ruled yesterday in rejecting a government plea to dismiss the case. U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw's ruling means the case filed on behalf of several immigration detainees, alleging that their constitutional rights were violated because of severe overcrowding at the facility, will move forward. The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, alleges that conditions were dangerously overcrowded because three detainees were often housed in cells designed for two people. The facility is operated by the private Corrections Corporation of America under a contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Since the case was filed, two of the detainees named in the lawsuit have been deported and another has been transferred to a facility in El Centro. The government argued that the case should be dismissed because the three no longer are in the facility and don't have a valid claim. In court papers, ICE lawyers argued that the case was moot for the remaining two plaintiffs because detainees are no longer housed three to a cell, and daily jail populations have been well below capacity. Steps to lower the jail population were taken just days after the the ACLU filed its suit. The facility houses asylum seekers and people charged with immigration violations who are awaiting resolution of their cases. Sabraw agreed that the claims of the two deported detainees are no longer valid but said the detainee now in El Centro still has an interest in the case because he remains in ICE custody and could be sent back to Otay Mesa. The government has not made strong enough assurances that it would never allow overcrowding in the future at Otay Mesa, Sabraw said. Moreover, ICE has not acknowledged that overcrowding was a problem or that it violated the detainees' constitutional rights. Under the law, both of those conditions would have to be met for the case to be dismissed, the judge ruled. The ACLU is seeking to turn the case into a class action lawsuit on behalf of all detainees. Hearings on that issue are scheduled for later in the summer.

June 13, 2007 AP
The American Civil Liberties Union sued federal authorities Wednesday to force improvements at a large detention facility for immigrants facing deportation, alleging grossly inadequate medical care. The lawsuit said detainees at the San Diego Correctional Facility have been routinely subjected to long waits before treatment, denied services and refused medication for chronic illnesses — sometimes with deadly consequences. It seeks class action status. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Diego, comes as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement faces heightened scrutiny from some civil liberties and immigration advocates for how it manages its 15 jails, including the one in San Diego. Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for ICE, declined comment on the lawsuit, citing the agency's practice of not discussing ongoing litigation. The suit, which names 11 detainees as plaintiffs, detailed several examples in which it said authorities violated their constitutional rights while in federal custody. A Ghanian man, Yusif Osman, died of a heart condition in June 2006 after officers waited more than an hour to call 911 as his cellmate pleaded for help, according to the suit. Medical staff earlier determined Osman's chest pains did not merit treatment and that he probably just ate too much, the suit said. Another detainee, Francisco Castaneda, suffered pain and bleeding during his time at the jail in 2006, the suit said. He was diagnosed with cancer after his release in February and has undergone three rounds of chemotherapy. The suit said mental health and dental care at the San Diego jail was "systematically inadequate" and vision care was almost nonexistent. The facility is managed under contract by the Corrections Corporation of America Inc., which is named in the lawsuit along with ICE director Julie Myers and other Homeland Security officials.

January 24, 2007 Union-Tribune
Immigration detainees at an Otay Mesa facility live in overcrowded and unsafe conditions that threaten their overall health and are unconstitutional, the American Civil Liberties Union in San Diego alleged in a lawsuit filed Wednesday. Hundreds of detainees are crammed three to a cell in cramped cells built for two, according to the suit. “They are basically stuffing people like sardines in these tiny cells,” said David Blair-Loy, legal director for the local ACLU. “This isn't just saying, we're a little cramped in here. This is systematic, long-term outrageous overcrowding.” The ACLU asked to join in a lawsuit previously filed in San Diego's federal court, contending that people being held for immigration violations ... which are violations of civil and not criminal laws ... are constitutionally entitled to better conditions than criminal defendants. It names officials with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency as well as the Corrections Corporation of America, a private company that operates prisons for governments around the country. The ACLU wants the suit to be designated as a class action. That would make it one of the first in the country that demands better treatment for a large group of immigration violators based on their status as civil detainees. “The main motivation here is to change the system,” he said. “It's not about making money but trying to cure the inhumane conditions down there.” If successful, the lawsuit could have wide-ranging effects on the conditions of confinement for the thousands of people held in immigration centers around the country. The complaint focuses on an immigration facility run by CCA under a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of the Department of Homeland Security known as ICE. About 1,000 people are detained in the facility, Many are asylum seekers who are trying to stay in the country because they fear persecution or worse if returned to their home country. Some have been waiting months or years for their immigration status to be resolved in the courts, which have a huge backlog of cases awaiting review. Among the chief complaints in the suit is the practice of putting three detainees in 12-foot by 6-foot cells built for two. About two-thirds of detainees are housed that way. The suit contends others have to sleep in beds on the floor of the common