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Abu Ghraib, Iraq

August 6, 2011 AP
The ringleader of Abu Ghraib detainee abuses was released from jail Saturday after serving 6 1/2 years at Ft. Leavenworth military prison. Army Spc. Charles Graner, 42, kicked off an international incident after photos showing him and soldiers under his supervision abusing Iraqi detainees were released in 2004. Graner was convicted of offenses that included ordering prisoners to masturbate while soldiers took photos, stacking naked detainees into a pyramid and knocking out a prisoner with a punch to the head. His release to the supervision of a parole officer shocked Iraqis. "He was charged with a crime that shocked the international community, and then he was released," Hana Adwar, an Iraqi human rights activist, told the Associated Press. "I believe that such an act is an attempt to deceive and blind the Iraqi nation," Adwar said. Seven other members of Graner's 372nd Military Police Company, including Pfc. Lynndie England, mother of a child he fathered while on deployment, and Spc. Megan Ambuhl, who he married after his conviction, also pleaded guilty or were convicted of prisoner abuse. Christopher Graveline, a former Army prosecutor, said Graner was a manipulative bully with bad-boy charisma in his 2010 book "The Secrets of Abu Ghraib Revealed". Graner, who worked as a private corrections officer before his stint as an Army reservist, will finish his obligation to the Army in 2014, said an Army spokeswoman.

May 22, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
A senator has made a Department of Justice review critical of operations at the Santa Fe County jail part of the ongoing controversy over America's management of prisons in Iraq.  A Department of Justice review in March 2003 had harsh words for management of the Santa Fe County jail by Utah-based Management and Training Corp., criticizing MTC's medical care for inmates and concluding some conditions violated their constitutional rights.  Former New Mexico corrections secretary O. Lane McCotter is an MTC executive and was named by Attorney General John Ashcroft to help rebuild Iraq prisons last year.  McCotter's role in Iraq prisons-- including at Abu Grhaib, where abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military personnel has sparked a scandal-- has come under congressional scrutiny.  Senator Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., in particular, is making an issue of McCotter's work in Iraq and why he was chosen to go there. A statement provided by Schumer's office reviews McCotter's employment history, including his resignation as Utah prison director in 1997 after a mentally ill inmate died after spending 16 hours strapped to a chair.  Schumer's news release also calls attention to the Justice report criticizing MTC's management of the Santa Fe County jail, and notes that the New Mexico Corrections Department also raised concerns about the jail.  "While McCotter's company was under state and Department of Justice investigation, Attorney General Ashcroft selected him to serve as one of four civilian advisers to oversee the reconstitution of Iraqi prisons," Schumer noted.  "Why Attorney General Ashcroft would send someone with such a checkered record to rebuild Iraq's corrections system is beyond me," Schumer said.  

May 21, 2004 Miami Herald
Although several cases of prisoner abuse by civilians in Iraq have been referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution, the FBI has not yet been asked to investigate any of them, Director Robert Mueller said Thursday.  What Mueller told the Senate Judiciary Committee seemed to indicate that the probe into whether independent contractors or CIA officers killed prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan is moving more slowly than on the military front, where one soldier has already been court-martialed and others have been charged.  While the faces of military police have been splashed all over the news, the names of almost all civilians involved -- employees of other government agencies and civilian contractors -- were deleted from Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba's report on the abuse at Abu Ghraib.  Mueller also said lawyers for the Justice Department and Defense Department are wrestling with jurisdictional issues. Any crimes at the prison would have been committed on foreign soil against foreign citizens, creating complicated legal questions.  Also Thursday, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called for a Justice Department probe into two members of a U.S. group sent to Iraq in May 2003 to help with the reconstruction of Abu Ghraib. Lane McCotter, a former corrections chief in Utah, and John Armstrong, who led the prison system in Connecticut, were part of a team picked by Attorney General John Ashcroft and others in the Bush administration.  

May 21, 2004 New York Times
The use of American corrections executives with abuse accusations in their past to oversee American-run prisons in Iraq is prompting concerns in Congress about how the officials were selected and screened. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, sent a letter yesterday to Attorney General John Ashcroft questioning what he described as the "checkered record when it comes to prisoners' rights" of John J. Armstrong, a former commissioner of corrections in Connecticut. Mr. Armstrong resigned last year after Connecticut settled lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the families of two Connecticut inmates who died after being sent by Mr. Armstrong to a supermaximum security prison in Virginia. In his letter, Mr. Schumer requested that the Justice Department conduct an investigation into the role of American civilians in the Iraqi prison system. Another official, Lane McCotter, who was forced to resign as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an incident in which a mentally ill inmate died after guards left him shackled naked to a restraining chair for 16 hours, was dispatched by Mr. Ashcroft to head a team of Americans to reopen Iraq's prisons. After his resignation in Utah, Mr. McCotter became an executive of a private prison company, the Management and Training Corporation, one of whose jails was strongly criticized in a Justice Department report just a month before the Justice Department sent him to Iraq.

May 12, 2004 The Nation
In 1997 a 29-year-old schizophrenic inmate named Michael Valent was stripped naked and strapped to a restraining chair by Utah prison staff because he refused to take a pillowcase off his head. Shortly after he was released some sixteen hours later, Valent collapsed and died from a blood clot that blocked an artery to his heart. The chilling incident made national news not only because it happened to be videotaped but also because Valent's family successfully sued the State of Utah and forced it to stop using the device. Director of the Utah Department of Corrections, Lane McCotter, who was named in the suit and defended use of the chair, resigned in the ensuing firestorm. Some six years later, Lane McCotter was working in Abu Ghraib prison, part of a four-man team of correctional advisers sent by the Justice Department and charged with the sensitive mission of reconstructing Iraq's notorious prisons, ravaged by decades of human rights abuse. While McCotter left Iraq shortly before the current scandal at Abu Ghraib began and says he had nothing to do with the MPs who committed the atrocities, his very presence there raises serious questions about US handling of the Iraqi prison system. It's bad enough that the Justice Department picked McCotter--whose reputation in Utah was at best controversial and at worst disturbing. But further, the Justice Department hired him less than three months after its own civil rights division released a shocking thirty-six-page report documenting inhumane conditions at a New Mexico jail, run by the company where McCotter is an executive.
Then, on May 20, in a case of unfathomable irony, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that McCotter, along with three other corrections experts, had gone to Iraq. The very same day, Justice Department lawyers began their first negotiations with Santa Fe County officials over the extensive changes needed at the jail to avoid legal action. 

May 11, 2004 AP
A former New Mexico corrections secretary helped to reopen an Iraqi prison that is now the center of a prisoner abuse controversy. O.L. "Lane" McCotter, who was corrections secretary from the late 1980s to the end of 1990, was in Baghdad from May to September last year overseeing the reconstruction of the Abu Ghraib prison.
The prison is where pictures were taken of naked Iraqi prisoners piled on top of one another and positioned by American soldiers in pretend sex acts. McCotter said his primary duty in Iraq was to evaluate the structural status of the prisons. McCotter's tenure in this state ended with some controversy. In October 1988, a court-appointed prison monitor accused state prison officials of erasing a portion of a videotape of a prison disturbance to cover up acts of brutality against inmates.McCotter left New Mexico to run the Utah Corrections Department. But he resigned in 1997, two months after a mentally ill inmate died after spending 16 hours strapped to a restraining chair. After that incident, McCotter went to work for a Utah-based private prison company, Management & Training Corp., which operates the Santa Fe County jail. 

May 10, 2004 Salt Lake Tribune
The Abu Ghraib prison, where U.S. military police were photographed abusing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners, was rebuilt under the supervision of two former Utah Department of Corrections directors.  Gary DeLand and O. Lane McCotter say they were told the project -- financed with money confiscated within Iraq -- would not be used to detain prisoners of war.  McCotter has first-hand experience with controversy over how prisoners are treated. He resigned as Utah prison director in May 1997, within two months after a mentally ill inmate died after spending 16 hours strapped naked to a restraining chair.

Arizona Department of Corrections
Jan 29, 2015 azcentral.com
An inmate's death Monday at a private prison near Kingman has prompted an investigation from the Arizona Department of Corrections, according to a statement from the agency. Neil Early, 23, was serving a sentence for two counts of organized retail theft and drug paraphernalia charges from 2011 in Maricopa County. Early was sentenced to a 5-year prison term in May 2012 after having previously served less than a year in 2010 for for theft charges.

Arizona State Prison-Kingman
Kingman, Arizona
Management & Training Corporation

2010 escape at Kingman an issue for MTC’s bid: August 11, 2011, Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic. Expose on MTC
Cathy Byus, et al vs. MTC, et al: March 17, 2011, 30 pages: Wrongful death suit involving the murder of Linda Haas by escapees from MTC's Arizona State Prison Kingman.
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Dec 5, 2015 azcapitoltimes.com
Family of man attacked in Arizona prison files lawsuit
PHOENIX (AP) — The family of a man who died after being attacked inside an Arizona prison in January filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Thursday against the state, a private prison in Kingman and others. The suit, filed Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court, alleges that “the actions and inactions of the prison and medical staff at Arizona State Prison in Kingman constitute deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of and the wanton infliction of pain upon Neil Early.” Early had been serving a five-year sentence for theft and possession of drug paraphernalia. He died in a hospital days after being sexually assaulted and beaten in a minimum security unit at the privately run correctional facility near Kingman. In May, Early’s parents and young son filed a claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — seeking $7.5 million in damages from the state. The suit filed Thursday by a Phoenix law firm representing Early’s estate seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and “the additional goal of effecting lasting change in the private prison system.”  Early lay unconscious in his bunk Jan. 16, bleeding with a fractured skull when prison medical staffers were called, according to the claim and suit. They both state that Early’s injuries weren’t properly assessed and emergency responders weren’t summoned for nearly two hours. When he arrived at Kingman Regional Medical Center, doctors had him airlifted to a trauma hospital in Las Vegas where he died Jan. 19. The claim and suit also allege that the state failed to protect Early from a prolonged beating and sexual assault or to care for him properly afterward. Arizona Department of Corrections officials didn’t immediately reply to a call Thursday night seeking comment on the suit. But DOC spokesman Andrew Wilder previously said the department can’t comment because of the pending claim. In addition to the state, the claim also names prison operator Management Training Corporation and a private prison health provider.

Oct 7, 2015 mohavedailynews.com
11 charged in Kingman prison rioting

KINGMAN — Eleven inmates at the Arizona State Prison-Kingman have been indicted on charges relating to the unrest that occurred July 1 in the Cerbat Unit of the private prison in Golden Valley, the first of three days of rioting that heavily damaging the prison. The charges include participating in a riot, a class 2 felony; destruction of or injury to a public jail, a class 5 felony; criminal damage, a class 4 felony; and aggravated assault on corrections officers, class 4 and 5 felonies. The 11, who were not identified in a news release sent Tuesday afternoon by the Mohave County Attorney’s Office, will be transported for arraignments in Mohave County Superior Court in Kingman on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20. Deputy Mohave County Attorney Rod Albright said that while many more inmates participated in the riots, only those who could be positively identified were charged.  Additional charges will be filed in connection with the riots on July 2 and July 4 in the Hualapai Unit, he said. However, fewer inmates in that unit will be charged because the cameras were broken more quickly than those in the Cerbat Unit, according to Albright, preventing authorities from positively identifying many of the participants. Names of inmates charged cannot be released until they are served with the indictments. The cases were investigated and submitted by detectives with the Arizona Department of Corrections based in Winslow and Phoenix. The unrest in the 1,900-inmate Cerbat Unit, for minimum-security risk prisoners, began when guards attempted to break up a fight between inmates. The next day, a disturbance began at the 1,300-inmate Hualapai Unit, for medium-security prisoners, and two days of rioting damaged much of that unit, forced relocation of more than 1,000 prisoners from the Golden Valley facility to prisons elsewhere and ultimately led to the Arizona Department of Corrections ending its contract with prison operator Management and Training Corporation. he prison remains open and the state has taken bids for a new operator.

Aug 28, abqjournal.com
PHOENIX — A report shows five veteran Arizona Department of Corrections officials assigned to monitor operations at a private prison were apparently unaware of brewing discontent among inmates or concerns about guard overtime and understaffing before riots broke out in July. Corrections Director Charles Ryan says the department will assess the role its monitors play in overseeing its six private prisons. But he lays much of the blame for the riots that led to extensive damage at the state prison in Kingman on the operator, Management and Training Corp. The Centerville, Utah-based company disputes many of the findings in a report that led Gov. Doug Ducey to order its contract cancelled. The monitors spent the majority of their time inspecting the facility, dealing with inmate classification and discipline and doing required paperwork.

Aug 26, 2015 kdminer.com
Kingman prison contract canceled in wake of unrest; new operator sought

KINGMAN - The state has canceled its contract with private prison operator Management and Training Corporation and is moving to find another contractor to take over Arizona State Prison-Kingman following a riot and other disturbances at the Golden Valley institution in early July. "I just got off the phone with Director Ryan ... and the recommendation is to cancel the contract with MTC," said state Sen. Kelli Ward on Wednesday. Charles Ryan heads the Arizona Department of Corrections. Ward said the state and MTC came to an "amicable" agreement to end the contract and that ADOC is expected to release the results of its investigation of the riots sometime today. Ward also said the intent is to reassign the contract and all beds at the Cerbat and Hualapai units will remain in place. The agreement also calls on MTC to finish repairs to the prison, which sustained severe damage during three days of unrest beginning July 1. "The good news is the current employees will remain employed. The only thing we don't know at this point is who will be their new employers," said Ward. On Tuesday, the American Friends Service Committee, a nonprofit organization, released its findings regarding the disturbances. The most significant and persistent problem at the prison, which has been plagued by riots and one deadly escape for the past several years, is understaffing, according to the report. Correctional officers and other employees are underpaid, under-trained, have low morale - and are unwilling or unable to properly manage a prison, especially during inmate disturbances. More than a dozen prison employees and inmates were injured in three incidents that were not related. The group, which was founded by Quakers more than 90 years ago, focuses on criminal justice reform. The report said members of the corrections department's Tactical Support Unit were "unnecessarily violent and disrespectful" to prisoners when they responded to a riot and two other disturbances in early July. Members of the unit reportedly injured several prisoners - after the riot was over - and other prisoners did not injure them. Correctional officers also mistreated inmates by relying on pepper spray and other heavy-handed approaches to behavior management, according to the report. "We based our report on letters from inmates, interviews with family members and former staff members," said Caroline Isaacs of the Arizona chapter of American Friends Service Committee in Tucson. Isaacs also said that while officers used overly aggressive tactics to control inmates and caused high levels of resentment by doing so, the guards also were accused of bringing in some of the "readily available" illicit drugs.  The report criticized the department of corrections for failing in its responsibility to "properly manage its contractor, detect and correct problems and hold MTC accountable for persistent problems." Those include a high rate of assaults and frequent lockdowns at the facility. "We must not be fooled again," said Isaacs. "No new contract should be signed until a thorough evaluation of Kingman and the five other privately operated prisons under contract demonstrates that these facilities are safe, cost-effective, humanely run and accountable to the public."  Ward said she had somewhat mixed feelings about contracting management of prisons to for-profit businesses. "There are always pros and cons," she said. "Privatizing generally is better for taxpayers. The government can't manage anything. Look at the VA and Obamacare, so I think privatizing is always better, but only as long as they do it well."

Aug 1, 2015 phoenixnewtimes.com
POOR LIVING CONDITIONS SPARKED KINGMAN PRISON RIOTS

A three-day riot at an Arizona private prison that sent 13 people to the hospital and led to the relocation of more than 1,000 inmates earlier this month was driven, in part, by poor living conditions, according to the prisoner rights organization Middle Ground Prison Reform. In a letter delivered to Governor Doug Ducey on Friday, the nonprofit outlines complaints obtained from family members of inmates housed at Arizona State Prison-Kingman, including allegations of violence and inadequate access to food and medical care. “Contrary to the belief of many in prison administration, government, and media, most prison disturbances are not the result of inmate organization; they are due to administrative disorganization,” writes Donna Leon Hamm, executive director, and James Hamm, director of legal services. “When administrative or program staff are not accessible to inmates, or act as though their attention to the inmate’s issues or problems is a nuisance … tension builds up.” Issa Arnita, director of corporate communications for Management & Training Corp., the Utah-based company that operates the prison, says an initial investigation into the riot shows "it was caused by a small group of inmates attempting to harm another offender." "A full investigation is underway to determine what led up to the unrest," he says. Middle Ground describes a violent atmosphere rife with drug dealing that is enabled by staff misconduct and improper security practices. “Some staff are reported to be regular importers of controlled substances, which are provided to inmates who subsequently sell them on the yard,” they write. “The introduction of drugs on any prison yard facilitates the problems associated with drug dealing, extortion, debt repayment, threats, and assaults.” Fighting among inmates is “routine” at Kingman, Middle Ground reports, which suggests the Arizona Department of Corrections system of classifying inmates “is not working in an acceptable manner.” Private prisons in Arizona are authorized to house only minimum- and medium-custody inmates, but former and current department employees tell New Times that more dangerous inmates are frequently reclassified in order to fill beds the government has contracted to pay for. “Is the department simply ‘winking’ at its own classification scheme?” Middle Ground asks. Staff frequently uses pepper spray, not just to control fighting, but as “acts of cruelty,” and kick inmates when they are handcuffed on the ground, defenseless, according to the report. In one case, a Muslim inmate returning from Ramadan prayers was maced and beaten when he asked for a meal to break his fast. Middle Ground also alleges that food is of poor quality and is not being delivered in a timely manner. If inmates have a visitor, they are not served breakfast or lunch, presumably because family members are expected to purchase them food from a vending machine in the visitation area. “It is an invalid assumption that all prison visitors possess the money to purchase vending machine foods for an inmate, especially at the exorbitant prices charged,” they write. “If an inmate arrives at visitation at 9 a.m. and leaves at noon, he should be provided both breakfast and lunch by the prison.” Inmates are also frustrated about the difficulty of obtaining medical care, according to Middle Ground. One woman tells New Times, for example, that her husband was prescribed Oxygen for severe migraines but was not allowed to use it. When he complained of lockjaw, he was “ignored” and “made to believe that he was being a hypochondriac." Another family filed a legal claim against the state for failing to get Neil Early prompt care after he was sexually assaulted and beaten at Kingman. It allegedly took prison administrators two hours to call emergency responders. He later died from his injuries. In the letter, Middle Ground calls on Ducey to examine, not only “What can we do to punish the perpetrators?” of the riot, but also, “Did we contribute to the cause of this riot?” and “How can we change things to avoid another riot in the future?” In particular, the group asks for an investigation of the Department of Correction’s inmate-classification process, and the private prison administration’s approach to violence, food, temperature control, and visitation practices. “Business as usual is unacceptable now,” they write. “There is strong likelihood that signs of unrest at the Kingman prison had been brewing long before the July 2015 riots. But if administrators don’t care or aren’t skilled enough to notice, then something is terribly wrong and needs to be corrected.”


Jul 18, 2015 havasunews.com
Prison guard at center of Kingman riot kills himself

GOLDEN VALLEY - A corrections officer who was at the center of a riot July 2 at Arizona State Prison-Kingman committed suicide early Wednesday morning at his home in Bullhead City. Bullhead City Police spokeswoman Carina Spotts said officers responded to the 30-year-old man's apartment at about 1:15 a.m. after his wife called to report he wanted to commit suicide. Officers reportedly watched the man walk into his home from the balcony when they arrived at his apartment and then heard a gunshot. The man reportedly used a 30.06-caliber rifle to shoot himself.  Spokesman Issaa Arnita of Management Training Corp., the Utah company that manages the private prison in Golden Valley, confirmed the man was in an altercation with an inmate when he used pepper spray to control the prisoner, an act that may have helped spark the destructive riot that injured nine correctional officers and four inmates over four days of unrest at both the Hualapai and Cerbat units. The most serious incident is the one in which the man was involved. The riot occurred at the medium security Hualapai Unit, which is closed while the facility is cleaned and repaired. Inmates virtually destroyed four of five housing units at the roughly 1,500-bed prison and nearly 1,200 of them have since been moved to other detention centers in and outside of Arizona. "The answer is yes," said Arnita, director of corporate communications, when asked if the man was at the flashpoint of the riot, which broke out at about 8 p.m. and lasted for several hours. What Arnita refused to address, for a number of reasons, is the man's motivation to end his life. Inmates reportedly had a growing list of complaints, including what one recent employee said was their belief officers were engaging in "excessive use of Tasers and pepper spray" when less severe means to respond are available. Her story will be published in Sunday's Daily Miner. Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux said the department was unable to comment on the man's suicide or what might have been his motive, given the ongoing nature of the investigation. "We don't know what led to his death," Arnita said. "It's up to the police to determine that. The state doesn't know because they're still investigating so it seems people are drawing conclusions based on hearsay."  Arnita said in an email that the man's death was tragic. He also refused to comment on what might have led him to commit suicide. "We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our colleague and friend," said Arnita. "Our hearts go out to his family for their great loss. It is not appropriate for us to speculate regarding the motive behind his death. We are fully cooperating with police in their investigation into this tragic situation." The man had been a corrections officer at the prison since December of 2012, said Arnita.


Jul 14, 2015 kjzz.org
Department Of Corrections Delays Bids For New Medium-Security Beds

The Department of Corrections is extending the due date for private prison companies to apply to build more beds. The two-month postponement allows time for the state to further investigate the disturbances at the Kingman State Prison. The Department had planned to start accepting bids for 2,000 new male medium-security private prison beds on July 22. The weekend of July 4, multiple riots at the Management & Training Corporation facility caused such severe damage to the Kingman prison that 1,168 inmates have been temporarily relocated to county jails and other private prisons. The Department of Corrections said in a statement the due date for bids has been pushed back to allow for the assessment of the recent incidents to be completed. Caroline Isaacs is an Arizona Program Director with the American Friends Service Committee, a justice advocacy group. “This is a time to be cautious and deliberate and not rush into another contract so that we can ensure public safety and wise use of taxpayer dollars," she said. “However, 60 days is simply not enough to truly determine not just what occurred at Kingman, but whether the other contracts that we currently hold with private operators might have similar problems.” Isaacs is advocating the request for bids should be canceled altogether. Management and Training Corp did not say whether it plans to submit a proposal for the new medium-security beds. The new due date for proposals is Sept. 22. 

Jul 11, 2015 trivalleycentral.com
Inmate sent to Pinal jail found with 31 meth bags

FLORENCE — Authorities say an inmate recently transferred to the Pinal County jail from the troubled Kingman state prison has been found with more than 30 small bags of methamphetamine. Pinal County Sheriff’s officials say new charges will be filed against 20-year-old Geraldo Beltran-Torres. He’s already serving a four-year sentence for possession of a dangerous drug. The discovery comes a day after a 49-year-old female jail inmate, who admitted using meth, died hours after being arrested. Her name has not been released. Authorities said that while she was being booked into jail she admitted to using methamphetamine before her arrest. The Pinal County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Bureau has not determined if her drug use contributed to the cause of death and no signs of foul play were found.  Beltran-Torres was among some 1,100 prison inmates recently transported from a private prison near Kingman after recent riots rendered the facilities uninhabitable. The Pinal County jail absorbed 380 of those inmates. The Arizona Department of Corrections announced Thursday it has moved another 113 prisoners out of the privately run state prison that was hit with days of unrest and rioting to other county jails. PCSO authorities say each inmate underwent a strip search during the transfer process and officials employed drug-sniffing dogs to detect any contraband. A PCSO detention officer reported seeing Beltran-Torres put something under his mattress and that led to the discovery of the nearly 17 grams of methamphetamine in 31 small plastic bags. Corrections spokesman Andrew Wilder says Wednesday’s transfers bring the number of inmates moved from the Arizona State Prison-Kingman to 1,168. The additional prisoners were sent to county jails in Apache, Navajo and Santa Cruz counties, and nine to state prisons. The unrest began July 1 in a 2,000-prisoner minimum security unit. Prisoners in the medium security side of the prison holding 1,500 men revolted over the following three days, trashing four of five housing units. The moves weren’t unexpected because the prisoners were in temporary quarters. A Department of Corrections team is investigating the unrest. Just 236 men remain in the Kingman medium security facility.

Jul 7, 2015 azcentral.com
Pinal County will take 380 inmates after Kingman prison riot

The Pinal County Jail will absorb 380 state inmates as part of a massive withdrawal of prisoners from a private correctional facility near Kingman where toilets, sinks and windows were destroyed in a series of weekend prisoner riots. The Arizona Department of Corrections on Monday said it had finished transferring 1,055 medium-security inmates from the Management & Training Corp. prison after its private operator was unable to squelch disturbances that required the state to send in a heavily armed special tactical support unit to restore order. The state sent 675 inmates from the Arizona State Prison Complex-Kingman to other private prisons, including one operated by MTC in Texas. Pinal County Jail is the lone publicly funded facility taking in evacuated inmates. Issa Arnita, an MTC spokesman, said the Utah-based company would cover the costs of transferring and housing the evacuated inmates. About 2,500 inmates — both minimum- and medium-security — will remain in undamaged units at the Kingman prison. Arnita said MTC still was investigating what caused the riots. He said air-conditioning units were working properly and all food had been approved by a dietitian and the state, dismissing speculation by families of inmates on what may have triggered the disturbances. The rioting was the latest in a string of problems at the private prison in Golden Valley, about 20 miles west of Kingman. An inmate was beaten to death earlier this year. Also, three inmates escaped in 2010 and were recaptured, but two of them were later sentenced for killing a couple in New Mexico. Records obtained by The Arizona Republic show the MTC facility had the most inmate assaults and fights among the state's private prisons every year from fiscal 2010 to 2014. In fiscal 2014, it accounted for 119 of the 161 inmate assaults in Arizona's six private prisons. The MTC prison also had the most assaults on staff by inmates among Arizona's private prisons every year from fiscal 2011 to 2014 , records show. In fiscal 2014, it accounted for 38 of the 41 private-prison staff assaults. Gov. Doug Ducey's office and corrections officials released photos Monday to The Republic showing extensive damage to sleeping areas, restrooms and showers. The governor's spokesman said much of the MTC medium-security unit was uninhabitable, primarily because of destroyed porcelain toilets and sinks. Ducey has called for a full-scale investigation of the riots. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said porcelain toilets and sinks are less costly than the stainless-steel sinks and toilets his jail uses. "They cost more, but they are designed to withstand some measure of abuse as well as excessive wear and tear," Babeu said. The Maricopa County Jail also uses stainless steel. Arnita said the MTC Kingman facility was built in 2005 in accordance with state corrections standards, adding that "porcelain sinks and toilets are used in prisons all across the country depending on the age of the facility and level of security." Porcelain sinks and toilets are common in state minimum- and medium-security prisons, according to state prison officials. Babeu and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio have been outspoken critics of the state using private prisons, urging it to rely on county jails to ease overcrowding. Arpaio said he wasn't asked to take in any evacuated Kingman inmates. Other critics of private prisons say the facilities are not adequately staffed and that operators build on the cheap to increase profits. "This will make the case on its own that legitimate law-enforcement agencies absolutely can and should be considered as a viable option to house Department of Corrections prisoners," Babeu said. "There are certain aspects of government that can be privatized, but most members of the public have sincere reservations when it comes to privatizing public safety." Babeu said his staff would work overtime to accommodate the extra prisoners, whom he said could stay in Pinal County for two months. He said Pinal County Jail typically houses 650 to 740 inmates. Babeu said incidents like the riots that occurred over the weekend should encourage Ducey and lawmakers to reconsider whether more private prisons are the answer to overcrowding. Arpaio agreed. He said his jail of 8,441 inmates hasn't had a major disturbance in more than 20 years. "Anytime they want to use our facilities, I will do it as a favor for the governor," Arpaio said. The state will begin accepting bids July 22 to bring another 1,000 private medium-security beds into its system in the 2016 fiscal year, which began July 1, and an additional 1,000 the next year, pending legislative approval. Daniel Scarpinato, Ducey's spokesman, said the governor will review the findings of a DOC investigation into the riots before making any decisions. Andrew Wilder, a DOC spokesman, said the department has assembled an "assessment team" in Kingman to determine what caused the riots. The team includes wardens and other officials. "They will be looking at everything from staffing and training to leadership. They will interview inmates and staff as they do a thorough investigation," Wilder said. Wilder said 562 inmates have been shipped to a private prison in Eloy operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Another 113 inmates were sent to a Texas private prison operated by MTC. Problems at the Kingman prison began Wednesday when a small group of inmates tried to harm another inmate in the adjoining minimum-security Cerbat Unit. The next day, inmates in the medium-security Hualapai Unit were "non-compliant and caused significant damage" in two housing areas. On July 4, inmates in the remaining three Hualapai housing units caused additional disturbances and damage, according to MTC.



Jul 5, 2015
abc15.com
Arizona prison hit with 3rd disturbance by inmates in 4 days

KINGMAN - A third disturbance within four days broke out Saturday in a private prison in Kingman, authorities said. Units with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Mohave County Sheriff's Office were helping the Department of Corrections with the unrest at Arizona State Prison-Kingman, officials said. The law enforcement officers are providing security around the perimeter of the prison. Inmates in the Hualapai dormitory were "again refusing to comply with directives this afternoon," said Andrew Wilder, spokesman for the Department of Corrections. By Saturday evening, however, "all inmates were complying with directives," Wilder said. He said he did not have information on whether any inmates were injured. Saturday's disturbance was not a riot, said Wilder, who added that the cause of the disturbance remains under investigation. Corrections officials on Saturday evening were screening the inmates and checking the facility to make sure order was restored, he said. On Friday, about 700 inmates at the prison were moved to new locations after disturbances on consecutive days left their housing units uninhabitable. Nine corrections officers suffered minor injuries in the incidents at the prison, which has had a long history of problems. No inmate injuries were reported. The first disturbance occurred Wednesday at a minimum-security unit, followed by what he described as an unrelated riot Thursday night at a medium-security unit that took several hours to quell, Wilder said. Saturday's incident "was clearly a significant disturbance, but it was not on a scale with what occurred (at the prison) Thursday evening to Friday morning," Wilder said. In 2010, three inmates escaped from the prison after a woman in a getaway car threw cutting tools over the fence and they broke out. The inmates went on a violent crime spree that included the murders of an Oklahoma couple during a camping trip in New Mexico. They were killed, and their bodies were found burned in their trailer. The inmates were caught, tried and received new prison sentences. The Management and Training Corp. continued to operate the prison despite scathing criticism of its lax security during the escape. An inmate at the prison — and the minimum-security unit where the disturbance happened this week — was sexually assaulted and beaten at the facility in January and died at a hospital three days later, according to a legal claim filed by his family. The legal action says emergency responders weren't notified for nearly two hours. The inmate, Neil Early, was serving a five-year sentence for theft and possession of drug paraphernalia after becoming addicted to heroin and stealing video games. Arizona houses thousands of inmates in private prisons, and the industry has come under fire for its large donations to Republican politicians.


Jul 4, 2015

Arizona: State moving inmates out of damaged MTC prison

 

      ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

 

1601 W. JEFFERSON
PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85007
(602) 542-3133

www.azcorrections.gov

 

 

DOUGLAS A. DUCEY
GOVERNOR

CHARLES L. RYAN
DIRECTOR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

 

For more information contact:

Andrew Wilder

awilder@azcorrections.gov

Bill Lamoreaux

blamorea@azcorrections.gov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, July 3, 2015

 

ASP-Kingman Requires Relocation of Approximately 700 State Inmates

 

KINGMAN (Friday, July 3, 2015) – As the result of a riot at the Hualapai Unit at ASP-Kingman, a private facility operated by Management and Training Corporation (MTC), ADC Director Charles Ryan, in accordance with state law, has ordered the relocation of approximately 700 inmates into other correctional facilities. On the evening of July 1, inmates at the ASP-Kingman private prison participated in a major disturbance in the minimum-security Cerbat Unit. On the following evening of July 2, inmates at the medium-security Hualapai Unit engaged in rioting -- unrelated to the July 1 event -- causing severe property damage. The prison is secure and the situation is under control. All employees and inmates are safe and accounted for. However, since two of the five housing units are uninhabitable, inmates will have to be relocated in accordance with the statute. Pursuant to A.R.S. Section 41-1609(E)(2), and following notification of Governor Ducey and Attorney General Brnovich, Director Ryan is exercising the statutory authority to house inmates in either an existing public or private institution. During the two incidents, a total of eight prison staff were treated for minor injuries and released from a local hospital. The private prison at Kingman will remain on lockdown status until further notice.


Jul 2, 2015 azcentral.com
6 guards assaulted in Kingman prison melee

Emily L. Mahoney, The Republic| azcentral.com 10:11 p.m. MST July 1, 2015

Inmates assaulted six prison guards Wednesday night at Arizona State Prison-Kingman and unrest continued into the night, according to the state Department of Corrections. Corrections officers received minor injuries when attacked by multiple inmates just after 6 p.m. Wednesday, said Bill Lamereaux, spokesman for the department. He stopped short of calling the incident a prison riot. Five officers were treated at the prison and one was transported to a local hospital for treatment, Lamereaux said. The unrest was ongoing as of 9:30 p.m., Lamereaux said. Officers were working to put the inmates involved "on lockdown" for the rest of the night. The incident took place in a minimum-security unit that houses about 2,000 inmates, though there was no immediate word on how many inmates were involved, Lamereaux said.

Jul 2, 2015 kdminer.com
Updated: 10 officers injured during Kingman prison altercation

KINGMAN - Ten officers at the state prison complex in Kingman received minor injuries while quelling a disturbance Wednesday, according to the Arizona Corrections Department. The officers were injured Wednesday evening in the 6 p.m. hour while breaking up an altercation in which a group of inmates chased another inmate at the privately operated complex's Cerbat minimum-security unit, Department spokesman Andrew Wilder said. Five injured officers were treated at the scene, Wilder said. One officer was treated at Kingman Regional Medical Center, and after inmates were locked down in their housing another four officers were treated at the hospital. All officers were released Wednesday night. The circumstances of the altercation and number of participating inmates weren't immediately known and the department's security staff is investigating, the spokesman said. Trish Carter from the Mohave County Sheriff's Office confirmed that MCSO, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Transportation and the Kingman Police Department assisted by establishing an outer perimeter in the event an inmate escaped or assistance was needed. Deputy Chief Rusty Cooper confirmed that the Kingman Police Department sent three officers to assist. KPD also doubled its patrol shift as a preventative measure, but "everything was pretty quiet." Golden Valley Fire Department personnel responded to provide medical care and as a "precautionary measure," according to a department statement. The scene was cleared by MCSO at around 1 a.m. The unit has approximately 1,900 inmates.

May 29, 2015 azcentral.com
Family of slain Arizona private-prison inmate seeks $7.5M

Story Highlights

  The family of an inmate slain in private prison near Kingman is seeking millions in damages.

  Claim says inmate was sexually assaulted at Management & Training Corporation private prison.

  Death occurred at the same private prison where three inmates escaped in 2010.

The family of a 23-year-old inmate killed inside a private prison near Kingman is seeking $7.5 million from the state and Management & Training Corp., the correctional facility operator.

The notice of claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — was filed this month, following Neil Early's death in January. Arizona Department of Corrections, which was named in the claim, has ruled Early's death a homicide. The claim said Early was in a minimum-security unit and was sexually assaulted as part of the attack. It also says that the attack "appears to have been premeditated by a well-known criminal gang that engages in illicit activity throughout the ADOC prison system," and that prison personnel failed to adequately treat Early for his injuries. Scott Zwillinger, attorney for the Early family, blamed the attack on a lack of security at the private prison. "They cut corners at every turn because it's a for-profit prison," Zwillinger said. "They are more concerned about the profit margin than doing what they need to do to make sure safety is in place. The amount of violence and gang activity and drug use that goes on there suggests a lack of security and misclassification of inmates." The claim states that Early's tenure at Arizona State Prison-Kingman was "rife with gang violence," and his goal was "simply to survive." Zwillinger said his clients are suing the state because Arizona contracts with Utah-based Management & Training Corp. to house inmates in the Golden Valley facility. Issa Arnita, a spokesman for the company, said MTC could not comment because of potential litigation. Andrew Wilder, a Corrections spokesman, also declined to comment on the claim. But he added that the investigation into Early's death is ongoing. Three inmates escaped from the same prison in 2010. Two of those escapees later were tied to the murder of a couple in New Mexico following the escape. The Early claim also alleges that the Department of Corrections has failed to release "internal investigatory documents and/or findings in connection with the assault and death of Neil Early." Early was serving a five-year sentence for organized retail theft and drug paraphernalia violations. He was scheduled to be released April 1, 2016, the claim said.


Mar 14, 2015 reviewjournal.com

KINGMAN, Ariz. — A woman who aided in a northwest Arizona prison break that led to the 2010 slaying of a vacationing couple in New Mexico said Monday she was too scared at the time to have stopped the violence. But the escape from Arizona State Prison in Golden Valley didn’t go the way she was promised, 48-year-old Casslyn Welch said. She never dreamed the plot to free her fiance, who is also her cousin, and two convicted killers would bring bloodshed. “What happened was never, ever, ever supposed to have happened,” Welch said in a phone interview from the Mohave County jail in Kingman. “There was not supposed to be any harm or any tragedy to any human being whatsoever. “We were supposed to go off into the wild, wild West and disappear,” Welch said. “We would be gone and off the grid and never surface again.” Welch is serving a 40-year federal prison term for her New Mexico convictions on weapons, conspiracy and interference with commerce offenses. She is scheduled to receive a concurrent 20-year sentence Wednesday for her Arizona convictions. Her fiancee, Charlie McCluskey, first spoke of the plan about a month before the getaway, Welch said. On July 30, 2010, she parked away from the prison perimeter to avoid detection before approaching the facility on foot and delivering wire cutters that were used to snip through a fence. McCluskey was serving a 15-year-sentence for attempted murder and other crimes when he and convicted killers Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick fled the prison into the desert darkness. After splitting from the others Renwick ended up locating the 1996 Chrysler Concorde that Welch had stocked with weapons, cash, changes of clothes and other provisions. Renwick drove off alone, only to be captured following a shootout with officers in Colorado some 28 hours after the escape. McCluskey, Province and Welch forced truck drivers they abducted on a highway outside the prison to drive them to Flagstaff where the drivers were turned loose. U.S. Marshalls said McCluskey’s ex-wife picked up the group there and drove them to Payson, Ariz., about 115 miles south of Flagstaff. McCluskey’s mother then drove the trio to Phoenix before they left Arizona. In New Mexico they abducted Gary and Linda Haas, both 61, who were sleeping at an Interstate 40 rest area. McCluskey is serving a life sentence for shooting and killing the retirees, who had been on their annual vacation from Tecumseh, Okla. Their charred remains were found Aug. 4, 2010, in their camper trailer that McCluskey torched after they were killed. “Oh God, and how he put them through torture and terror was unexcusable,” Welch said. “If I would have been brave enough to stand up to Charlie and tell him ‘no,’ it would have been a million times different. They would have had their families and the truck drivers would never have been terrified.” But Welch said her cousin’s demeanor changed noticeably moments before the killings. “I looked at Charlie’s face and he was not the kid that I grew up with,” Welch said. From New Mexico the odyssey headed north to Wyoming where Province was dropped off about a mile outside Yellowstone National Park. After his Aug. 9, 2010, arrest Province told authorities he had intended to ingest heroin then head into the wilderness to be eaten by a bear. Welch and McCluskey were taken into custody at an eastern Arizona campground 10 days later. Just six weeks before the escape, Welch had been caught smuggling drugs into the Golden Valley prison that the Centerville, Utah-based Management & Training Corporation operates through a private contract with Arizona. Welch admitted bringing heroin into the facility three times and that she had agreed to work as an informant before returning to facilitate the escape. Only through escape-related publicity did the general public and local law enforcement authorities learn that 117 convicted killers were incarcerated at the Golden Valley facility originally constructed to house DUI offenders. Embracing spending the rest of her life behind bars, Welch said the state of Arizona shoulders some blame for the Haas murders by tempting killers confined by inadequate security. “Now I’m a lifer. I understand the philosophy now,” Welch said. “You have to keep killing the (inmate’s) hope. You can’t let us have any hope. And when they took those guys and put them over in that little playpen…that gave them hope.”


3/11/2015 kdminer.com

KINGMAN - A tearful Casslyn Mae Welch was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison for her key role in the 2010 escape of three men from Arizona State Prison-Kingman that led to the murder of an Oklahoma couple. Welch was the last of four people to be sentenced and Wednesday's hearing closed the book on a tragic case that began more than four and a half years ago. "I deeply apologize to all of my victims," said Welch in a soft voice, when Judge Steven Conn gave her the opportunity to speak. Welch began to cry and paused for a moment before she added, "Nothing was supposed to go wrong or bad." But bad things did happen in the days following the July 30, 2010 escape of John McCluskey, her cousin and significant other who was serving a 15-year term for attempted murder and other convictions. With him were Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick, both convicted killers who were serving a life sentence and 44 years, respectively. The term Welch received in Mohave County Superior Court was likely academic, as it's possible she will never set foot in an Arizona prison. Convicted last summer for her role in the shooting deaths of Gary and Linda Haas in New Mexico shortly after the escape, Welch was sentenced to a 40-year-term in federal prison. While Conn technically sentenced the 48-year-old woman to a total of more than 40 years - two 20-year terms for armed robbery and a 30-month term for escape, her actual sentence is two decades, because Conn honored the plea agreement Welch signed in 2011. The deal called for her Mohave County sentences to run concurrent with one another, and that also they run concurrent to her federal sentence. According to the federal Bureau of Prisons, Welch is due to be released in 2045. "I wish I stopped it before I even started it," she said. On the night of July 30, 2010, Welch donned camouflage clothing and walked across the desert to the prison fence. She had guns and cutting tools, which she threw over to McCluskey and Province, who spent months plotting the escape. Renwick, who was unaware of the plan, made himself part of it when he saw what was happening. Renwick got to the getaway car Welch parked near the prison and took off before the other three arrived. Left afoot, Welch, McCluskey and Province walked several miles across the desert before they reached Interstate 40, where they hijacked two men resting in a parked tractor-trailer and forced them to drive to Flagstaff. The men were released unharmed. Welch pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery for the crime, one for each victim. While that was a serious offense, Welch's fate was truly sealed when the trio kidnapped the Haas couple, who were pulling an RV as they headed from Oklahoma to Colorado for their annual vacation. McCluskey was convicted of killing the couple and burning their RV with their bodies inside. Welch and Province testified against McCluskey in his federal trial, but prosecutors took little mercy on either of them once they pleaded guilty: Province received a life term and Welch was given four decades. McCluskey avoided the death penalty and was sentenced to life plus more than 230 years. Renwick was captured in Colorado less than two days after the escape following a shootout with law enforcement officers. He is serving more than 60 years. Conn, also per an agreement with attorneys on both sides of the case, gave Welch credit for more than 1,650 days she has spent in custody.


Feb 14, 2015 azcentral.com
Arizona Department of Corrections criminal investigators are treating an inmate death last month at a private prison in Kingman as a homicide. A DOC statement Friday said Neil Early, 23, was injured during an altercation with another inmate in January. He was taken by ambulance to a Las Vegas hospital, where he was pronounced dead, officials said. The death occurred at a medium-security prison operated by Management & Training Corporation, based in Centerville, Utah. The company declined comment. Three inmates escaped from the same prison in 2010. Two of those escapees later were tied to the murder of a couple in New Mexico following the escape. Early was held in a medium-security area where he was housed with other inmates, according to DOC spokesman Bill Lamoreaux. The area where Early was housed was a "dormitory style" housing area meant for non-violent criminals, which according to Lamoreaux "complicates things" in the investigation. Early was serving sentences for organized retail theft and drug paraphernalia violations.​ DOC is working with the Mohave County Attorney's Office in the ongoing investigation, according to Lamoreaux. "The safety of the staff and inmates at all Arizona prisons is ADC's first priority, and criminal assaults are absolutely intolerable," Corrections Director Charles Ryan said. "Every inmate death, no matter the apparent cause, is investigated by the department's Criminal Investigations Unit. Upon review, it is apparent that this inmate likely died as the result of injuries he received in a physical altercation with at least one fellow inmate, which would qualify this incident as a suspected homicide," Ryan said. Gov. Doug Ducey and Ryan are asking the Arizona Legislature to approve $100 million in funding for the next three years for a new medium-custody, 3,000-bed private prison to deal with overcrowding.


Jun 4, 2014 kjzz.org

An inmate who escaped an Arizona prison and murdered a couple from Oklahoma was sentenced to prison Tuesday. Two of his accomplices were also sentenced this week. John McCluskey, 49, and two others escaped from a private prison near Kingman in 2010. McCluskey was charged by federal prosecutors in the carjacking and murder of Gary and Linda Haas in New Mexico after his escape. A U.S. District Judge in Albuquerque sentenced McCluskey to life in prison plus a consecutive term of 235 years. On Monday, fellow escapee Tracy Province was given five consecutive life terms without a chance for release. Casslyn Welch, 44, McCluskey’s girlfriend and cousin, was charged with aiding in the escape. She was sentenced to 40 years behind bars, though local news media report her lawyers say she deserves a shorter term because she pleaded guilty.


Jun 4, 2014 abqjournal.com

Cassie Welch’s testimony for the government didn’t earn her much real world benefit when she was sentenced Monday for her role in the carjacking and murder of the vacationing Oklahoma couple Gary and Linda Haas on Aug. 2, 2010. Despite a defense request for a 20-year sentence and a prosecution acknowledgement that she had provided “substantial assistance” against co-defendants in the case, U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera found a sentence of 40 years to be appropriate. Herrera calculated that Welch, 48 years old next month, would have faced life plus 85 years in prison had she not provided assistance. But Mark Fleming, the San Diego attorney for Welch in what began as a death penalty case against three defendants, told the court that 40 years was a de facto life sentence for his client. He said it amounted to the same as the life sentence for John Charles McCluskey, the explosive prison escapee who was calling the shots when the Haases were abducted from a rest stop in eastern New Mexico, and the one who shot them and burned their bodies. Welch’s de facto sentence was also the same as Tracy Province, who had a prior murder conviction from Arizona. Province was sentenced on Monday to a life sentence, as expected. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty against McCluskey at trial, but when jurors were unable to reach unanimity on the punishment, his sentence automatically became life in prison. His sentence is to be imposed officially today. At Welch’s hearing, statements were made by the victims’ families, including Linda Haas’ sister Sandra Morgan, who sat through most of the three-month trial. Morgan said although Welch may not have pulled the trigger on her sister and brother-in-law, she is as responsible as the others by arranging for the prison escape of McCluskey and Province, and taking other actions related to the carjacking. “She is evil. It’s plain and simple,” Morgan said. Linda Rook, Gary Haas’ sister, called Welch “the enabler” whose actions helped cause the tragedy and who, soon after her arrest, made mocking comments about the murdered couple. But Casslyn Mae Choat Welch came from generations of alcoholism and domestic violence, according to testimony from defense mitigation specialist Laurie Knight and forensic psychologist Eliot Rapoport. Welch was sexually abused by a stepfather when she was in the eighth grade, raped by another family friend and constantly endured isolation, domination or physical abuse. Rapoport diagnosed her with “abandoned person syndrome,” formerly called Stockholm syndrome, in which the abused person comes to identify with his or her tormentor. Welch’s attorneys also played squirm-inducing recorded phone calls from McCluskey in prison to Welch, working for minimum wage at his mother’s store, to underscore the point that he was manipulating, berating and threatening her even while behind bars – and making her apologize for perceived transgressions. McCluskey apparently put out a contract to have the small trailer she lived in next to his mother’s store burned. PROVINCE: Sentenced to life, as expected: Province was sentenced minutes after Welch’s hearing ended to five consecutive life sentences – to be served in a witness protection program for federal prisoners – for his role in the slayings. “I’d like to apologize to the friends and family of the Haases for all the pain I put them through, that’s all I have to say,” Province said in remarks similar to those offered by Welch. In his plea agreement, Province waived his right to apply for compassionate release, so he is guaranteed to spend the rest of his life in prison, said Richard Winterbottom, Province’s attorney. Journal staff writer Ryan Boetel contributed to this report.


Dec 13, 2013 Albuquerque Journal News

Nine jurors voted for death, and three voted for life. That means convicted murderer John Charles McCluskey will receive a life sentence without possibility of release, rather than death. After a process strung out more than five months, the federal jury was in court just five minutes Wednesday as the judge read their verdict form giving a life sentence to McCluskey. A death sentence requires unanimity among the jurors, and they could not reach that level of agreement during four days of deliberation. The 30-page special verdict form asked jurors to look at 160 mitigating factors weighing against death and seven aggravating factors weighing in favor of death in the Aug. 2, 2010, kidnapping and murder of Gary and Linda Haas. The retired couple had left Tecumseh, Okla., headed for a Colorado fishing vacation when they were kidnapped for their travel trailer and pickup at a rest stop on Interstate 40 in eastern New Mexico. They were shot about an hour later at a remote site north of the interstate by McCluskey, according to trial testimony and the jury’s verdicts in other phases of the complicated federal death case. McCLUSKEY: Jury deadlocked after four days. McCluskey, 48, had escaped just days earlier from a state prison in Arizona with Tracy Province, also an inmate, and with the help of McCluskey’s cousin and girlfriend Casslyn Welch, who provided money, supplies and reconnaissance of the prison. Both were codefendants in the federal case charging conspiracy to commit carjacking and murder and testified for the government in exchange for life sentences. U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera, who presided over the trial, invited jurors to meet with her in chambers following the verdict and told them attorneys for the prosecution and the defense would be anxious to hear about their deliberative process. “I think that some jurors saw that John’s life has value,” said Theresa “Teri” Duncan, who was appointed to represent McCluskey within days of the murders. For example, she said witnesses told about what a great friend he was when he was young and about his life in prison in Pennsylvania. McCluskey entered that system in his mid-20s and remained until he was older than 40, during which he was a prized, hard worker and an inmate who counseled others to avoid the kind of trouble that can erupt in that environment. She said other witnesses who knew McCluskey in Arizona “talked about how respectful he was to older people.” Among them was Sissy Honea, who told the jury about McCluskey sending her a card during the trial to offer his condolences when her life partner died. “That meant something to her,” Duncan said. “She brought John’s capacity for kindness up to the present. That was one of the more compelling things that the evidence showed for the right juror.” Gary Haas’ younger sister Linda Rook, reached by phone in Oklahoma following the verdict, said she was in a state of shock after her uncle – one of several family members who attended trial religiously – called to tell her about it. “I’m just going to have to learn to accept it some way,” Rook said. “He (McCluskey) already had a life sentence, so he’s essentially getting nothing for what he did to my brother and sister-in-law.” Rook brought her mother, Vivian Haas, to Albuquerque in August to hear testimony in the guilt-innocence part of the trial. That testimony began with the detailed escape planning from the northern Arizona privately operated facility; the escape itself and subsequent hijacking of two truckers in northern Arizona; the fugitive trio’s acquisition of another vehicle before carjacking the Haases, mostly to get their roomy and air conditioned travel trailer. Codefendants Province and Welch, who have been promised a prison version of the witness protection program, testified about what they called McCluskey’s unexpected, unnecessary and infuriating shooting of the Haases and about their post-escape wanderings to Wyoming and other parts. In a second phase, prosecutors proved the statutory factors required for a death verdict. And in a final, “selection” phase, prosecutors argued that McCluskey was such a danger that he couldn’t be safely housed even in a federal prison and that he deserved to die for killing a special couple. The defense brought in mitigation witnesses about McCluskey’s life and social history. Despite the outcome, Rook said she was appreciative of the jury’s work and that of prosecutors who’ve spent over two years on the case. The official word, however, from acting U.S. Attorney Steve Yarbrough was not disappointment. “The jury decided not to seek death but they found him guilty of every count charged,” Yarbrough said. “The process played out the way it was supposed to.” Asked if the millions of dollars spent on a death penalty prosecution was worth it, Yarbrough said that wasn’t his call. “It isn’t my decision. Congress passed the law and the president signed it,” he said. “It’s ultimately the call of the (U.S.) Attorney General, who looks at it in terms of other cases across the U.S.” in pursuit of uniformity. The extensive jury verdict form asks each juror to certify that race, color, religious beliefs, national origin or gender of the defendant or victim was not a factor involved in reaching their decision. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Greg Fouratt and Linda Mott and Department of Justice Attorney Michael Warbel began selecting a jury in July with Duncan, lead attorney Michael Burt of San Francisco and Ruidoso attorney Gary Mitchell. All of them were paid for by the government. The jury, plus four alternates, was drawn from throughout the state and included some from southern New Mexico, three from northern New Mexico and others from the Albuquerque and Rio Rancho area. There were three men and nine women. McCluskey, who is being held at the Torrance County Detention Facility, is expected to remain there until he is formally sentenced. No date has been set. Mitchell said the defense team understands how tragic the event was for the victim’s family, and offered condolences to them. Duncan said she believes the McCluskey verdict “is consistent with New Mexico attitudes toward the death penalty. “We’re just a state that values life, and the verdict shows that we continue to show our commitment to life,” she said.


Aug 22, 2013 The Washington Post

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The pile of ash and twisted metal looked like what was left of a travel trailer, but a New Mexico sheriff testified Wednesday he had no idea when he first saw the crime scene that the case was a homicide that investigators would later link to two Arizona fugitives and their accomplice. “What was really bad was within about a 100-foot radius of the burned out frame, the trees were completely charred, even parts of the corrals,” Guadalupe County Sheriff Michael Lucero told jurors. “It was a mess.” The sheriff was among several law enforcement agents who took the stand in the capital murder trial of John McCluskey, the last of three defendants to be tried on federal carjacking and murder charges in the 2010 deaths of Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla. The retired couple, on their way to an annual camping trip in Colorado, had been targeted for their pickup truck and travel trailer after they stopped at a rest area near the Texas-New Mexico state line on Aug. 2, 2010. Prosecutors say the couple was forced at gunpoint to drive west along Interstate 40 before being ordered to pull onto a lonely two-lane road. They were shot and then the trailer was taken to a remote ranch in eastern New Mexico, where it was unhitched and burned. Prosecutor Greg Fouratt showed jurors photographs of everything from the trailer to the dirt road that led to the ranch. He also played clips from surveillance video taken from a convenience store near a highway exit that showed the truck and trailer headed toward the ranch that afternoon. Less than 40 minutes later, the video shows the truck heading back toward the interstate with no trailer. A ranch hand testified he discovered the trailer along with three small dogs. Two of the pets were rounded up and their tags led the sheriff to the Haases’ daughter. Lucero testified that he thought he was dealing with a kidnapping. The case changed when James Butterfield, a criminal investigator with New Mexico State Police, got closer to the wreckage. “When I arrived at the wheels of the trailer, I started looking down straight in front of me. Through my training and experience, I recognized a skull and a femur bone,” he testified. Other agents testified about finding the Haases stolen truck hours away in Albuquerque. It was unlocked, the keys were in one cup holder and a bottle of brake fluid was in another. Prosecutors planned to call more investigators to the stand Wednesday afternoon. McCluskey’s accomplices — his cousin and fiance Casslyn Welch and fellow inmate Tracy Province — are expected to testify next week. Both face life sentences after pleading guilty last year to charges stemming from the Haases’ deaths.


August 6, 2013 chron.com

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal prosecutors expect to seat a jury this week in the case of an Arizona inmate who escaped from prison and is accused of killing a retired couple who was traveling through New Mexico. Jury selection is in its third week for John McCluskey. He's the last defendant to face federal carjacking and murder charges in the 2010 deaths of Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla. The Haases were headed to Colorado for an annual camping trip when they were targeted for their truck and travel trailer. So far, prosecutors and defense attorneys have retained 57 prospective jurors for the panel. They are expected to whittle that pool to the final 12 jurors Thursday. Opening statements are scheduled for Aug. 19. Prosecutors have said the trial could last four months.

 

07/31/2013 connectamarillo.com

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Jury selection is in its second week for an Arizona inmate who escaped from prison and is accused of killing a retired couple who was traveling through New Mexico. John McCluskey is the last defendant to face federal carjacking and murder charges in the deaths of Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla. The Haases were headed to Colorado for an annual camping trip when they were targeted for their truck and travel trailer. Lawyers questioned 60 prospective jurors in the first week and retained 25. Some were dismissed because of their firm views either for or against the death penalty. Others had hardships that would prevent them from serving in a trial that could last up to four months. Jury selection is expected to wrap up by Aug. 9.

Jan 16 2013 The Associated Press
KINGMAN, Ariz. • The Utah company that operates the Arizona state prison at Kingman says inmates assaulted two corrections officers in a disturbance that a spokesman says was broken up quickly. Spokesman Issa Arnita of Centerville, Utah-based Management & Training Corp. says fewer than a dozen inmates were involved in the incident Saturday. He says the two officers were released from a hospital after treatment for minor injuries. Arnita says the inmates involved have been taken out of normal housing and placed in detention. He says the Arizona Department of Corrections’ criminal investigations unit will investigate the incident for possible criminal proceedings. A department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for information.

July 25, 2012 Kingman Daily Miner
Around 300 inmates at the Arizona State Prison staged a walkout Saturday over cleanliness requirements, officials said. The 300 inmates were all from the same dorm in the Hualapai unit and walked out into the yard all at once, raising red flags among the guards, said Issa Arnita, information officer for Management and Training Corporation that operates the private prison. He said the walkout occurred during the hours that the inmates are able to move freely between the dorms and the yard The inmates were reportedly upset over what Arnita called "grooming issues," or the cleanliness standards inmates are held to as required by the Arizona Department of Corrections. Arnita said a complex administrator was sent to speak with the inmates, who were reportedly satisfied with his response and returned to their dorm 30 minutes after the walkout started.

May 4, 2012 KPHO
It was a prison break that made national news. Two convicted killers and a third dangerous criminal broke out of a medium security private prison facility in Kingman Arizona in July 2010. The escapees were eventually caught after a nationwide manhunt, but not before an Oklahoma couple was killed. The escape and murders that followed raised some serious questions about private prison safety standards and whether new policies should be put in place to prevent prison breaks from happening again. Two years later, Arizona lawmakers have decided to go in a different direction. Buried in the $8.6 billion budget proposal passed at the state Capitol this week is a plan to "eliminate the requirement for a quality and cost review of private prison contracts." It means there would no longer be an annual review of how private prisons operate. House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, voted against the new provision. "It's insanity, that's the only way to describe this, removing the ability for the state to do a cost and quality analysis of the private prison contracts that are being funded by taxpayer dollars makes absolutely no sense whatever," said Campbell. Arizona currently has about a dozen privately operated prisons. State Rep. John Kavanaugh, R- Fountain Hills, is the lawmaker who proposed the plan to remove the review process. CBS5 asked Kavanaugh why the change is good for Arizona. "Because it's a study that was bias from the beginning and never used," said Kavanaugh."So rather than have a report that is biased and nobody listens to and costs money to produce. We simply eliminated it." According to Kavanaugh, the recent reports on private prisons have been put together by state prison officials, skewing the data.

January 20, 2012 Arizona Republic
One of the three men who broke out of Arizona’s Kingman prison in 2010, and an accomplice, pleaded guilty Friday in a New Mexico federal court to a host of charges in the murder of an Oklahoma couple during the escape. Tracy Province, 44, took a plea agreement under which he’ll serve five consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole. He pleaded guilty to nine charges, including conspiracy, carjacking resulting in death, and three counts of carrying and using a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, among others. Casslyn Welch, 45, pleaded guilty to eight offenses, including conspiracy, carjacking and three counts of using a firearm in a crime of violence. She faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. They previously pleaded not guilty to all changes. If they had been convicted, both could have faced the death penalty. Welch’s cousin and fiancee, escapee John McCluskey, who allegedly shot to death Gary and Linda Haas, is scheduled for trial in federal court in Albuquerque in March 2013. Federal prosecutors said they have not decided whether to seek the death penalty.

September 24, 2011 Arizona Republic
Arizona's Department of Corrections needs to do more to improve security at private-contract and state-run prisons, a report released Friday by the state's auditor general concludes. The report credits the department with making many significant improvements since the July 2010 escapes of three prisoners from the Kingman prison. These improvements include revamping the state's monitoring and inspection programs, which had failed to detect obvious security flaws at Kingman before the escapes; new, tougher annual audits of each prison; better security and reporting requirements in new contracts; and stiffer requirements and better training for state monitors who oversee private prisons.The audit called for further steps to address ongoing security problems.

August 17, 2011 ABC 15
Family members of a couple allegedly murdered by two Arizona prison escapees are speaking out against a proposed prison. The Haas family is on a mission that they never wanted, but feel they need pursue. “It’s something you think about everyday,” said Linda Haas Rook. Rook’s brother Gary Haas and his wife Linda were murdered last year. Investigators believe the killers are two men who escaped from a prison in Kingman just days earlier. The Kingman prison is operated by the Management and Training Corporation, which now has hopes to build prisons in San Luis and Coolidge. The Haas family hopes to prevent the company from doing so. Linda Rook planned to travel more than 1,400 miles with her husband and her mother to the public hearing Tuesday night in San Luis to voice her concerns. “[MTC] needs to right their wrongs,” she told ABC15 from her stopover in Scottsdale. MTC has made several security upgrades to their facility in Kingman, and a spokesperson said the company has a great track record with the state. If MTC is approved to build the new prison, the company stated it plans to bring about 500 jobs to the San Luis area.

August 17, 2011 Arizona Republic
Rep. Chad Campbell, the Arizona House minority leader, asked Gov. Jan Brewer on Tuesday to temporarily halt a proposed 5,000-bed expansion of private prisons in Arizona. Public hearings on the expansion continue this week, with one held Tuesday in San Luis. It is among five communities where four companies are bidding to provide the beds. The Arizona Department of Corrections is expected to issue one or more contracts in late September. But, as The Arizona Republic recently reported, the department has never completed the biannual, cost-benefit analyses required by law to compare private and public prisons. Corrections Director Charles Ryan said he expects the first such analysis to be completed in January. In a letter to Brewer, Campbell, a Phoenix Democrat, asked her to hold off on any new contract until the analysis is ready and "after enhanced security, training and monitoring policies are in place and shown to be effective at all existing private facilities." Brewer could not immediately be reached. At Tuesday's public hearing, the two companies bidding to build prisons near San Luis - Management and Training Corp. and Geo Group Inc. - tried to fight back against criticism of their records in Arizona and elsewhere. MTC, in particular, was criticized for the escapes of three prisoners from its Kingman prison last year. Two of those prisoners are accused of kidnapping and murdering an Oklahoma couple, Gary and Linda Haas. Vivian Haas, Gary's mother, has said little in public in the year since the murders. But at the San Luis hearing, she spoke out. "I've been through a lot of painful times in 81 years, even surviving the terrible tornado that hit Joplin recently. But nothing compares to the pain of having my kids brutally murdered because MTC couldn't do its job of keeping criminals locked up," Haas said. MTC Vice President Mike Murphy, who spoke before Haas, emphasized the 500 jobs and the tax benefits he said the proposed prison would bring, and promised good security. Geo Group similarly focused on jobs and security in its presentation.

June 26, 2011 Arizona Republic
Linda and Gary Haas pulled up at the rest stop on Interstate 40 in eastern New Mexico to walk their dogs and tidy up. It was a sunny morning, already hot, on Aug. 2, 2010. Linda was walking back to the pickup truck and camper when two men came up behind her. One stuck a handgun in her back and warned her in a low voice to keep quiet. As he ordered her in the passenger side, the other man came up on the driver’s side and pointed his handgun at her husband. Gary started to reach beneath his seat. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” the man said roughly. Gary put up both hands. He did have a gun, he said, but it was in the camper. The two men – escaped convicts John McCluskey and Tracy Province, who had broken out of Arizona’s Kingman prison three days earlier – clambered into the back seat of the Chevy crew-cab pickup, shoving the Haases’ three small Shih Tzu dogs, Prissy, Roxie and Bear, to one side. FBI affidavits, which record the later confessions of McCluskey, Province and their companion, Casslyn Welch, detail the story of what befell the Haases that day. “Drive,” ordered McCluskey. Gary and Linda didn’t know it yet, but they had only minutes to live. Documents show lapses | DOC faces security issues The most fundamental duty for those who run prisons is to make sure dangerous criminals stay behind bars. Eleven months after three convicts escaped from Arizona’s Kingman state prison and an Oklahoma couple were murdered, both the Arizona Department of Corrections and Utah-based Management & Training Corp., which manages the prison under contract, have made sweeping changes meant to prevent another escape. MTC says it has worked cooperatively with the state to address problems at Kingman. After the escapes and murders, it took eight months, and a formal threat by Corrections Director Charles Ryan that he would terminate MTC’s contract if it didn’t fix the problems within 90 days, before the company shored up security at Kingman to the department’s satisfaction. Security flaws of the same types as in the Kingman escape were found across the entire Arizona prison system, according to records obtained by The Arizona Republic through Freedom of Information requests. But the department has made some broad changes, imposing tougher and more thorough standards for its annual reviews of all state prisons, including those run by private contractors. A department spokesman says it has improved its security tests, and Ryan now requires that any Corrections employee appointed to monitor a contract prison have experience running a prison unit. McCluskey, Province and Daniel Renwick escaped the Kingman prison on July 30, 2010, with the help of McCluskey’s cousin and girlfriend, Casslyn Welch, who tossed over the fence tools that they used to cut their way out. Prison staff ignored the alarm that sounded when the fence was cut because it had been malfunctioning for 21/2 years, going off up to 200 times a shift. Gary and Linda had been on their way to meet relatives for their 11th straight summer campout at Pagosa Springs, Colo. High-school sweethearts, married for 40 years, they’d spent a lot of time on the road since taking early retirement in 2007 from the General Motors plant in Oklahoma City. They were expecting their first grandchild in four months. Now Gary, at gunpoint, drove west on the interstate. Casslyn Welch followed them in a gray Nissan Sentra. Maybe, Gary suggested, the two men could just leave them off the road somewhere and take his truck. They could unhook the 32-foot Cougar camper, if they wanted. McCluskey said that was just what they’d do. He told Gary to pull off and drive north a couple of miles on an old ranch road. Then he had him turn around and pull up by a big rusty water tank. McCluskey waved them out of the cab with his .40-caliber semiautomatic. Time to get the guns from the camper. As McCluskey and Province got out, the three little brown-and-white dogs jumped out, too. Welch came up from her car. McCluskey ordered Province to round up the dogs while he and Welch took Gary and Linda into the camper to get Gary’s gun. Five days after the escape, a Corrections team scoured Kingman to determine what security flaws led to the escape. Their scathing assessment, described in an internal Corrections memo, listed the broken alarm, eight burned-out perimeter lights, other broken security equipment, and a lax, high-turnover culture in which MTC’s green, undertrained staff and rookie supervisors ignored alarms, left long gaps between patrols of the perimeter, left doors leading out of some buildings open and unwatched, didn’t alert the state or local police until hours after the escape, and failed in all manner of basic security practices. The state’s monitor assigned to Kingman admitted that in 14 months on the job he’d never read MTC’s contract to see what they were supposed to do, and that he had no idea the alarm system was so flawed as to be worthless. Ryan subsequently replaced that monitor, who was fired. Going forward, Ryan said, only employees with administrative experience running a prison unit would be given monitoring assignments. The day after the escapes, Ryan suspended all prisoner transfers to Kingman until it could pass inspection. Shortly afterward, he also ordered the transfer of 238 medium-security inmates from Kingman to other facilities. In a letter to Ryan on Aug. 13, 2010, 14 days after the escapes, MTC formally admitted responsibility and agreed to work with the state to fix the problems. It replaced the warden, complex administrator and chief of security, all of whom resigned that week. The first of more-rigorous audits ordered by Ryan was performed at Kingman in November 2010, three months after MTC’s public promise to tackle security flaws. MTC had installed new alarms, but they weren’t working properly and went off so often that staff ignored them, auditors said. Problems with security lights and the control panels continued. Inmates still weren’t wearing IDs. Auditors left tracks in the sand along the perimeter fence to test the staff’s security practices. They failed to notice them. Doors were left unsecured and unmonitored; searches still weren’t being conducted properly. Inside the camper, McCluskey ordered Gary and Linda to sit at the dinette. Gary told them where to find his two guns, a .38-caliber revolver and a 9 mm handgun. Welch put them in a bag and took them outside. The day they’d escaped from Kingman, using guns Welch provided, the trio had kidnapped two truck drivers in a semi to get to Flagstaff. According to the FBI affidavits, McCluskey had wanted to shoot the drivers, but Welch and Province voted not to, so they let the men go. Now, alone with Gary and Linda, McCluskey considered for a moment. Then he raised his gun and fired a shot through Gary’s temple. He turned and pumped three bullets into Linda. Province and Welch ran to the trailer. Province opened the door. He could smell the gunpowder. Blood had splattered everywhere. McCluskey asked Province to help him drag the bodies, slumped at the table, away from the window. Bear, Prissy and Roxie came in through the open door, getting blood on them. For five months following the escapes, the Department of Corrections and MTC sparred over fixing the problems at Kingman. Finally, on Dec. 29, Ryan sent a long letter identifying the 31 most serious concerns, and noting curtly that “a failure to cure all deficiencies” by March 29 would lead him to terminate MTC’s contract. Ryan’s December letter noted that “from 2005 forward, there were 13 instances of large groups of inmates refusing directives or chasing MTC staff off the yard.” Twice in October, large groups of inmates had created “disturbances” over the food. Ryan said this kind of inmate behavior was unacceptable. He noted that during the October incidents, MTC staff couldn’t tell Corrections officials who the complex administrator was, couldn’t find a number for the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office “and didn’t have the presence of mind to dial 911,” leaving it to a Corrections monitor on site to contact police. Ryan’s letter noted continuing problems with MTC officers failing to control inmate movement, with security devices not being repaired, with MTC failing one security test after another. Ryan demanded better staff training and “sustained and systemic improvement.” Not until March 21, eight months after the escapes, did Ryan agree that MTC had fixed the problems. He also agreed to start sending new inmates there starting a week later. Asked why it took so long, Odie Washington, a senior vice president at MTC, replied in writing to The Republic that MTC worked closely with the department to make improvements at Kingman “and will continue to actively monitor and assess operations to ensure we provide a safe and secure facility for the citizens of Arizona.” State auditors also visited MTC’s Marana prison in March. The Corrections Department hasn’t released that audit, saying it is not yet complete. Province shoved the three dogs back into the Chevy truck. McCluskey, who was covered with Gary’s and Linda’s blood, drove the truck and camper to a gas station in Santa Rosa, N.M. Province and Welch followed in the Nissan. As Province pumped the gas, Welch noticed blood dripping from the camper’s back door. The trio drove back west on I-40, turning onto a dirt road until they were out of sight of the highway, behind a barn. While Province unloaded the dogs and dumped out food for them, McCluskey and Welch unhooked the camper and doused the interior, including Gary and Linda’s bodies, with liquor they’d found inside. Then they torched it. Two days later, a rancher called state police, who found the blackened skeletons in the remains of the trailer, and Prissy and Roxie waiting nearby. Prissy had burns on her paws and back. Bear was never found. Guadalupe County Sheriff Michael Lucero used the number on Prissy’s tag to reach Gary and Linda’s only child, the pregnant Cathy Byus, in Oklahoma. She traveled to New Mexico the next week, to identify and recover their remains. On Dec. 1, Byus gave birth to a son, James, who will know his maternal grandparents only through stories and photographs. Daniel Renwick, the third escapee, who’d driven off in Welch’s car the night of the escape, was arrested after a shootout with police on Aug. 1, in Colorado. Province was caught in Wyoming on Aug. 8; McCluskey and Welch were arrested Aug. 19 at a campground in eastern Arizona. McCluskey was convicted this month in Kingman on escape, kidnapping and assault charges. He, Province and Welch are expected to go to trial in New Mexico early next year on charges of murdering the Haases. On March 17, Byus and several other relatives of the Haases sued MTC, Arizona, and Dominion Asset Services, the company that built the Kingman prison, alleging gross negligence. At Kingman, MTC receives $62.16 per inmate per day from the state – about $79 million a year at full capacity, or $64 million a year at its current population of 2,823, which is 80 percent of capacity. Meanwhile, MTC is bidding to manage another 5,000 contract prison beds in Arizona. The Department of Corrections expects to make its recommendation on an award next month.

June 17, 2011 AP
An Arizona inmate whose escape sparked a three-week national manhunt last summer was sentenced Friday to 43 years behind bars for breaking out of prison and abducting two truck drivers whose big rig was used as a getaway vehicle. John McCluskey's sentence came the same day a Mohave County jury found him guilty of escape, kidnapping, aggravated assault and other charges in his July 30 break from the medium-security Arizona State Prison in Golden Valley. Authorities said McCluskey, a second inmate and their accomplice went on to kill Gary and Linda Haas, of Tecumseh, Okla., who were traveling through New Mexico on their way to an annual camping trip in Colorado. The couple's family members watched Friday as McCluskey requested that he be sentenced sooner rather than later. He was ushered back into the courtroom a short time later, shackled at the wrists and ankles and wearing a red jumpsuit. "What we were really pleased with was that he, himself, decided that today was a good day to be sentenced and get this over with. Personally, I feel it's the first right thing he has done," Linda Rook, whose brother was killed, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. Prosecutors said McCluskey, 46, and two other inmates escaped with the help of Casslyn Welch, who threw cutting tools onto the prison grounds and supplied the men with guns, money and a vehicle.

May 8, 2011 The Daily News
The 2010 escape from a prison near Golden Valley did not have to happen, Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan told the group assembled at Saturday’s Colorado River Republican Forum meeting. It happened because security protocols were not followed and it took longer to catch three escapees and a woman who helped them because information was slow in getting out to other parties, including the sheriff’s office, he said. About 15 people were assembled to hear Sheahan’s description of what happened and what prison operator Management and Training Corp. has done and is doing to prevent a repeat. While staff at Arizona State Prison-Kingman knew that Daniel Kelly Renwick, John Charles McCluskey and Tracy Alan Province were missing at 9 p.m. July 30, Sheahan said, the sheriff’s office wasn’t alerted until 10:30. When sheriff’s officials asked prison staff for the escapees’ names or even races, he said, prison officials were unsure. “They were all wearing orange,” Sheahan recalled being told. The retelling led to chuckles in the Scooter’s meeting room, but the sheriff said it was far from funny at the time. The sheriff’s office set up a command post inside the prison to spread information as it became available, Sheahan said. The inmates’ behavior early in the escape, as described by Sheahan, seemed to suggest that a quick response by prison staff and law enforcement could’ve led to a quick capture of McCluskey, Province and Casslyn Mae Welch, who allegedly planned the breakout together. Sheahan said Welch left a getaway vehicle containing clothing, weapons, cash and extra gasoline in the desert. Renwick, who Sheahan said “just ended up coming along because he felt like escaping,” found their getaway vehicle and drove off, leaving the others stranded. Province, McCluskey and Welch then allegedly walked about four miles to Interstate 40 and kidnapped and assaulted two truckers. They later allegedly murdered an Oklahoma couple in New Mexico and face the death penalty in that matter. Sheahan said the inmates used wire cutters thrown by Welch into the prison to cut a three-foot hole in the fence, which he said should have been spotted rather quickly, as guards are supposed to drive the perimeter road every 15 minutes. Inside the prison, Sheahan said, lax security was well evident. “There were alarms that never worked,” he said. “There were doors propped open with rocks.” Sheahan said the escapees had no inside help. “No officers were implicated at all,” he said. “There were just officers not doing their jobs.” He also thought it unwise to have the inmates allowed alone outdoors at night to walk dogs. Province and McCluskey were in a dog training program at the prison. Sheahan said the prison is supposed to house minimum- and medium-security inmates, but Province and Renwick were convicted murderers and McCluskey had been convicted of attempted murder. Local authorities were not notified that such inmates were being housed there, he said. After the escape, Sheahan said, the state Department of Corrections nixed the housing of certain types of convicts at the Golden Valley prison, including not housing inmates convicted of murder, attempted murder or murder conspiracy.

March 17, 2011 Arizona Republic
Family members of an Oklahoma couple allegedly slain by a trio of escaped Arizona inmates have filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the state, as well as the operator of the private prison near Kingman and a company that helped build the 7-year-old facility. Cathy Byus, the daughter of Gary and Linda Haas, filed the lawsuit Thursday morning in Maricopa County Superior Court. The legal move came less than six months after the Haas' surviving family members filed a $40 million notice of claim against the state and Management & Training Corp., the Utah-based company that operated the private prison from which the inmates escaped. Thursday's lawsuit expands the liability to Dominion Asset Services, because the family's attorneys claim the company improperly installed a faulty alarm system at the prison from which the inmates escaped. "The purpose of this lawsuit is to get justice," said Jacob Diesselhorst, attorney for the family. "Not just for this family - the whole public is at risk." The Haas' murders came in the midst of a nationwide manhunt for the escaped inmates and their accomplice that unfolded over three weeks in late summer 2010. An Arizona Department of Corrections review of the facility following the escape found numerous deficiencies with training and equipment, including an alarm system that issued false alarms so frequently that staff members began to ignore them. Authorities believe inmates Daniel Renwick, John McCluskey and Tracy Province escaped from the prison on July 30 after McCluskey's fiancée, Casslyn Welch, threw cutting tools over the prison's fence, allowing the inmates to snip through the chain link fence surrounding the facility. It was more than two hours before prison staff notified state corrections officials of the escape.

January 29, 2011 AP
An inmate who escaped an Arizona prison last summer and allegedly went on a crime spree was taken to New Mexico on Saturday to face capital murder charges, the U.S. Marshals Service said. Tracy Province, 42, was flown from Kingman to Albuquerque. He was sentenced in Kingman on Friday to more than 38 years in prison on charges of escape, kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated assault and weapons misconduct stemming from crimes in Arizona after his escape. The sentencing cleared the way for him to be sent to New Mexico to face the murder charges in the deaths of Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla. Authorities say Province, John McCluskey and Daniel Renwick escaped from a medium-security prison in Kingman on July 30. Authorities say McCluskey's fianc
Ãe and cousin, Casslyn Welch, helped the men by throwing cutting tools over the prison's perimeter fence, allowing them to flee into the desert. The escape sparked a nationwide hunt, and all four were recaptured within three weeks. Province, McCluskey and Welch all face capital murder and carjacking charges stemming from the Haas' killings.

January 28, 2011 AP
One of three inmates who escaped from the state prison in Kingman last summer is scheduled to be sentenced Friday. Tracy Province pleaded guilty earlier this month to state felony charges of escape, kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated assault and misconduct with weapons. Province will be sent to New Mexico after he's sentenced on the Arizona charge. He faces capital murder and carjacking charges in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple there. Province was captured without incident in northwestern Wyoming in August after he dropped by for Sunday services at a church and was recognized by a woman who chatted with him.

January 7, 2011 Phoenix New Times
The mother of prison escapee John McCluskey's been sentenced to seven months in prison for helping her son and two other inmates evade authorities after they escaped from prison last summer. Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner Steven Lynch could have sentenced Claudia Washburn to 2 1/2 years behind bars under a sentencing range laid out in a plea agreement reached in November. Washburn admitted to sending money to her convict son and his two accomplices after they escaped from a Kingman prison on July 31. That money was used by the cons to fund what became a multi-state nightmare for authorities, as the cons crisscrossed the western half of the United States following their escape. While on the run, McCluskey, his cousin/fiancee Casslyn Welch, and escaped inmate Tracy Province, are accused of murdering an Oklahoma couple on vacation in New Mexico.

January 3, 2011 The Daily News
The operators of a privately run prison near Kingman have reimbursed Mohave County for the capture of three inmates who escaped from the prison in July. Management and Training Corporation reimbursed the county Nov. 14 about $23,587 for costs associated with the capture of Tracy Alan Province, John Charles McCluskey and Casslyn Mae Welch. Province, McCluskey and Daniel Kelly Renwick escaped from the state prison July 30 with the help from Welch. MTC will reimburse the county for additional costs once Renwick’s case in Colorado is resolved and returned to the county, Deputy County Manager Dana Hlavac said. The cost does not include the cost to prosecute and defend the inmates along with the cost to incarcerate the inmates and court costs to try the suspects. Those costs will not be known until the cases are resolved. Those costs are paid through the county’s general fund, Hlavac said.

December 30, 2010 AP
Federal prosecutors in New Mexico have begun steps to seek the death penalty against two Arizona prison escapees and a woman who allegedly helped them escape. A federal grand jury on Wednesday returned a superseding indictment against John Charles McCluskey, 45; Tracy Allen Province, 42; and Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, who are accused in the murders of Gary and Linda Haas, both 61, of Tecumseh, Okla. Their bodies were found in August with their burned-out recreational trailer near Santa Rosa in eastern New Mexico. The superseding indictment incorporates the 13 counts of the original indictment, but adds a notice of special findings under a law that allows the death penalty after consideration of mitigating and aggravating factors for people found guilty of a crime eligible for the death penalty. “It’s part of the procedural steps we have to go through” to preserve the right to seek the death penalty, Elizabeth Martinez, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico, said Thursday.

November 5, 2010 AP
Inmates housed at a privately run prison in Golden Valley in northwestern Arizona tossed rocks and caused a minor disturbance Thursday night. Mohave County Sheriff's deputies responded to the prison near Kingman just before 9 p.m. A sergeant at the prison advised the sheriff's office that several inmates in the yard were causing a disturbance by throwing rocks at prison staff. Deputies immediately established and maintained a roving perimeter. Prison staff got the situation under control at 10:30 p.m. This is the same privately run prison where three dangerous inmates escaped last July.

November 5, 2010 Kingman Daily Miner
Mohave County is holding prison officials to their word that it be reimbursed for costs related to the July 30 escape of three inmates. The county has sent its first bill to Management and Training Corporation, the operator of the private prison located just outside of Kingman, in the amount of $23,587.68. Deputy County Manager Dana Hlavac said the charges are primarily for manpower and mileage fees incurred by corrections staff and the Mohave County Sheriff's Office. Hlavac said the fees are from the time of the escape to the time of the captures of Tracy Province on Aug. 9, and John McCluskey and alleged accomplice Casslyn Welch on Aug. 20. Charges incurred by Mohave County for Daniel Renwick, the third inmate who was caught in Colorado two days after the escape, will be billed after he is extradited to Arizona once his Colorado charges are resolved. Renwick continues to be held in the Garfield County jail on charges of shooting at police and ramming a patrol car with his SUV before he was caught. His arraignment there has been pushed pack to Nov. 26. It is not known when he will be returned to Arizona. Calls to Garfield County about their possible reimbursement were not returned by deadline. Hlavac said the $23,000 bill to MTC does also not include legal fees and jail costs for McCluskey, Province and Welch, who are being held at the Mohave County Jail on various escape-related charges. The jail, along with the Mohave County Attorney's Office and the Legal Defenders Office, have all been instructed to keep a running tab for costs associated with the three. That would include all of the money spent by the county in housing them. Hlavac added that reimbursement for those expenses would not be sought until the conclusion of their cases here. Under terms of the emergency assistance portion of its contract with the Department of Corrections, MTC is held liable for the cost of resources associated with escapes. It is not known whether those costs will be borne by the company directly or by an insurance carrier. MTC spokesperson Carl Stuart said his company has received the bill and that payment will be forthcoming. The Department of Corrections is seeking more than $78,000 from MTC for expenses incurred by its Offender Operations Division and Inspector General Bureau.

October 31, 2010 Joplin Globe Sun
A Joplin woman is among the relatives of an Oklahoma couple, allegedly slain by two escaped prisoners from Arizona and an accomplice, who are seeking $40 million in damages, according to notice of claim letters the family’s attorneys have mailed to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and other officials in that state. Letters sent last week by attorneys for the relatives of Gary and Linda Haas, of Tecumseh, Okla., allege that their Aug. 2 deaths in New Mexico were the result of “a long series of egregious errors and omissions of gross negligence” by the Arizona Department of Corrections and officials at the Arizona State Prison at Kingman, where the inmates escaped July 30. The Haases, who grew up in McDonald County, had been planning to return to Southwest City, where they had property, after losing their jobs in Oklahoma when a GM plant shut down, Linda Rook told the Globe after their deaths. Rook, of Joplin, is a surviving sister of Gary Haas. In August, the couple were heading out west on a camping trip when they were abducted and killed. ‘Slipshod security’ -- The attorneys’ letters allege that Arizona corrections officials and the prison’s private operator, Utah-based Management and Training Corp., “set the stage for and permitted the careless and slipshod security environment” at the prison that allowed the inmates to escape and allegedly kidnap and kill the victims. MTC is liable for punitive damages in the case, according to notice of claim letters sent to company officials. The notice of claim letters were mailed on behalf of the Haases’ daughter, Cathy Byus, and the mother, sister and two brothers of Linda Haas. Their attorney, Jacob Diesselhorst, said Thursday that the claim letters are required before a wrongful-death lawsuit can be filed against the state. Diesselhorst said Arizona officials have 60 days to respond. Contacted over the weekend, Rook declined to comment and referred questions to a Joplin lawyer, John Dolence, who is representing her in the matter. The Globe’s efforts to reach Dolence on Sunday afternoon were unsuccessful. A spokesman for Gov. Brewer, Paul Senseman, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. A spokesman for MTC, Carl Stuart, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

September 27, 2010 Havasu News-Herald
A Golden Valley prison will get a new prison administrator within a few weeks, the facility’s officials said Monday. Management & Training Corp. staff members were informed Friday via e-mail that Jerry Sternes would be appointed as complex administrator, and Neil Turner as warden at the Hualapai unit. Al Murphy, MTC’s corrections vice-president, sent the e-mail. Sternes has more than 25 years experience in corrections and recently retired as complex administrator at the Arizona State Prison in Yuma, which is a 5,000-bed prison, according to the e-mail. Turner is a returning MTC employee who worked at a correctional facility in Grafton, Ohio. He has 20 years experience, according to the e-mail. Turner will replace former unit warden Lori Lieder, who resigned following the escape of three prisoners, Daniel Renwick, John McCluskey and Tracy Province, from the prison July 30. Carl Stuart, MTC communication director, wrote Monday in an e-mail that Darla Elliott, former MTC/Arizona State Prison — Kingman complex administrator, “was placed on administrative leave by MTC sometime in mid-August … Ms. Elliot remains an employee with MTC. She has not yet been reassigned. She will not be returning to the Kingman facility.” Sternes will take her position. Charles Ryan, Arizona Department of Corrections director, presented Mohave County Supervisors with an overview of it internal investigation into the prison break Sept. 20 in Kingman. Although the investigation continues, it has exposed factors contributing to the escape including human error, a faulty perimeter security system and opportunistic inmates, according to earlier reports. After the escape, an investigation showed that prison officials neglected to inform state legislators, Mohave County Board of Supervisors and Mohave County Sheriff’s Office about facility changes. This neglect violated state law and the prison’s contract. In 2005, the prison failed to notify authorities when it changed status from a minimum-custody DUI prison to a minimum/medium-custody prison, which means it could house more dangerous criminals. MTC failed to notify authorities again in 2006 and in 2008 about prisoner movement and contract status amendments linked to the prison’s addition of a 2,000-bed complex. In 2007, the first murderers were transferred to the prison near Kingman, according to earlier reports. Local authorities did not know. “It was almost unbelievable these people (murderers) had been out there,” said Mohave County Sheriff Sheahan recently. “I was surprised at the amount of high-risk criminals.” Tracy Province is currently in custody at the county jail in Kingman, Sheahan said. “(Province’s) comments were something to the effect that he was somewhat surprised he was transferred to this type of prison,” Sheahan said. Province came to ADC in January 1993, and was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery in Pima County at the time of his escape, according to earlier reports. On the night of the escape, by the time prison officials had reported the incident to law enforcement authorities the prisoners were “long gone,” Sheahan said. According to ADC information, MTC determined the three inmates missing around 9 p.m. but didn’t alert MCSO until 10:19 p.m. “At that time, (MCSO) dispatchers were trying to fill out the information for statewide and national dispatch,” Sheahan said. “(MTC) didn’t event know (the inmates’) names after the individuals had been missing an hour-and-a-half.” When dispatchers asked MTC officials to describe the escaped prisoners, all MTC conveyed was that they were wearing orange. The prison also gave sheriff’s deputies photographs of the escapees that were nearly 20 years out of day, Sheahan said, adding this added to his agency’s frustration with the facility.

September 15, 2010 Arizona Republic
From start to finish, the three inmates who broke out of a Kingman prison and the girlfriend accused of helping them really didn't have much of a plan and often were winging it, with disastrous results. That's the picture that emerges from a U.S. Marshals Service report on the July 30 breakout and the extensive manhunt it prompted. Case of escaped Arizona inmates -- The report details interviews with the first two inmates who were recaptured. The interviews were conducted in part to help authorities track down the other two fugitives: John McCluskey and his girlfriend, Casslyn Welch. McCluskey and Welch were captured at a campground in Arizona. Inmate Tracy Province was arrested earlier in Wyoming. They are in jail in Kingman. They face murder charges in the shooting deaths of two tourists in New Mexico. The other inmate, Daniel Renwick, was arrested after a gunfight with authorities in Colorado and remains in jail there. The report blacked out the names of the two suspects who were interviewed and those of the various investigators who spoke with them. But the dates and locations indicate investigators were talking with Province and Renwick, partly in an effort to find the other two. The report said investigators discounted Province's comments due to inconsistencies. The statements, if true, say there wasn't much of a plan for what would happen after the escape, set up via a cellphone borrowed from an imprisoned drug dealer. The problems started almost immediately after the three inmates cut their way out of the prison with tools that police say were tossed inside by Welch, who had arrived toting a rifle. The escapees couldn't find a Chevy Blazer that was filled with food and clothes - necessities for life on the run. They all split up to search for the SUV. Renwick found it and headed for Colorado on his own, the report said. The report said there was "no definitive plan'" of where to go. Plans to stay at a cabin in Safford fell through immediately when the owners were home. McCluskey, Welch and Province wound up driving around the Southwest. At one point, authorities say, they kidnapped the two tourists in New Mexico. The report said the three decided they would "fight to the death" or kill one another if confronted by police. Province told investigators that the three slept in the car but that he would be kicked out when the other two wanted to "be alone." The report said he eventually asked to be dropped at Yellowstone National Park, where he planned to get high and kill himself because he couldn't live outside jail and didn't want to die inside. The report said he lost his nerve and drifted around until caught. He was arrested in Wyoming. Renwick said he got into the shootout in Colorado because he wanted to die but couldn't kill himself due to a promise he had made to his mother. The report said he looked bewildered when asked about the carjacking and double killing in New Mexico. He agreed to talk only about his own role in the escape, the report said, because he feared being killed in prison if he talked about the others. He tried to find the others before taking the Blazer, the report said, adding he had no idea where to go or what to do. The report quoted him as saying the group planned to go to Arkansas to enjoy its mild winters and "old-fashioned" pawnshops, which they considered easy to rob. They would "pull a couple jobs'" there, and split up. He said another fundraising scheme was to steal semitrucks. They would avoid trucks with GPS trackers and tie up drivers in secluded parts of truck stops so they could have the rigs longer.

September 14, 2010 Courthouse News
The Arizona prison breakout that led to the killing of two campers was caused by "lax procedures and incompetent management" of the private prison operator in Kingman, the mother of one of the victims says. Vivian Haas, whose son, Gary and his wife were shot to death, claims that Management and Training Corp. admitted in an Aug. 13 letter its responsibility for the escapes, and that the circumstances "were shocking and egregious." Haas claims that one of the escaped inmates, John McCluskey, killed her son and his wife in New Mexico in the days after the escape. Haas says the private prison operator "had duties to protect the general public in employing proper incarceration policies and procedures to assure that violent offenders stayed locked up and away from the general public." McCluskey was sentenced to 15 years in 2009 for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and discharge of a firearm, and was sent to the private prison, according to the complaint. His fellow escapee Tracy Province was sentenced in 2009 for murder and robbery, and escapee Daniel Renwick was sentenced to two 22-year sentences for second-degree murder, the complaint states. On July 30, McCluskey, Province, and Renwick escaped from the Kingman prison through a door wedged open by a rock, "climbing one improperly protected fence, hiding behind an inappropriate building in 'no-man's land,' and cutting through the wire of a second chain link fence," according to the complaint. Haas says that Management and Training Corp.'s officers failed to check an alarm that sounded when the men cut through one of two security fences surrounding the prison. She says the alarm system set off false alarms so often that the guards ignored them. Haas adds that the "perimeter fencing was substandard," and that patrols of the perimeter "were scattershot at best." Light poles around the prison were routinely burned out, and "intrusions by outsiders near the fence perimeters were common." On Aug. 2, McCluskey and Province, allegedly with help from Casslyn M. Welch, "confronted" Gary and Linda Haas while they were "in or near their pickup truck towing a camping trailer." Gary and Linda Haas were traveling from Oklahoma to Colorado. McCluskey and Province ordered Gary and Linda Haas into the truck, and forced Gary to drive to the west, his mother says. McCluskey directed Gary to leave the highway and drive to a secluded area, then took the couple into the camping trailer and "brutally shot them, killing each of them," Haas says. McCluskey, Province, and Welch then allegedly drove the camper on the highway until they noticed blood leaking out of the trailer door. The escapees and accomplice "drove to a remote location, disconnected the trailer and intentionally set fire to the trailer with the bodies of Gary and Linda Haas still inside," according to the complaint. Haas says the escapees abandoned the stolen truck in Albuquerque. Province was captured on Aug. 9 in Meeteetse, Wyo. McCluskey and Welch were captured on Aug. 19 in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. On March 22, 2004, the Arizona Department of Corrections awarded a contract to Management and Training Corp. to operate the private prison which was "designed and constructed for 1,100 minimum security beds and 300 medium security beds to house DUI inmates," according to the complaint. Haas seeks punitive damages for negligence and recklessness. She is represented by Christopher Zachar.

September 7, 2010 AP
The woman accused of helping three inmates escape from the state prison in Kingman has pleaded not guilty to drug charges. Casslyn Welch entered her plea Tuesday in Mohave County Superior Court. She faces six counts of narcotics violations for the drugs she's accused of bringing to the medium-security prison in June. Authorities say a random search of Welch and her vehicle turned up marijuana, heroin and drug paraphernalia. Welch was visiting John McCluskey, her cousin and fiancee, at the time and lost her visitation rights but not her phone privileges. Authorities say she wasn't immediately jailed because she agreed to become an informant. She was charged following the July 30 escape of McCluskey and two other inmates.

September 3, 2010 Arizona Republic
The first legal action in the Arizona prison breakout that led to the killing of two campers has been filed against the state and the operator of the private prison. Vivian Haas, the mother of murder victim Gary Haas, filed a $10 million claim against Arizona and a wrongful death lawsuit against Management Training Corp., the company that operates the private prison near Kingman where three fugitives escaped on July 30. The notice of claim is a required precursor to a lawsuit. Police believe one of those escaped inmates, John McCluskey, murdered Gary Haas and his wife, Linda, near Santa Rosa, N.M. in the days following the escape as the fugitives grew weary of traveling in a car and targeted the Haas' for their camping trailer. The escape led to a nationwide manhunt that stretched from Arizona to the Canada border. The claim against Arizona notes the state's failure to maintain custody of the inmates, to properly train and supervise personnel at the prison and to promptly notify law enforcement officials in the area after the escape. "I have conveyed my condolences to the Haas family and friends, however, I cannot comment on pending litigation," Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan said in a statement. Management Training Corp. could not be immediately reached for comment. Reviews of the July 30 incident have painted the picture of a prison where detention officers became lackadaisical and predictable in their movements and where equipment failures- including false alarms- were so common that they were frequently ignored. Detention officers failed to check an alarm that sounded when McCluskey, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick cut through one of two security fences ringing the privately run prison near Kingman. Investigators have said McCluskey's fiancée, Casslyn Welch, threw cutting tools over the fence to the men who snipped through chain link and barbed wire to flee into the desert. It was more than two hours before staff at the private prison notified the state corrections officials of the escape. By then, Renwick was making his way north to Colorado while McCluskey, Province and Welch were on their way to hijacking a truck near Kingman and forced the drivers to take them to Flagstaff. Renwick was captured two days after the escape after he exchanged gunfire with police in Colorado. After allegedly receiving help from relatives in Arizona, McCluskey, Province and Welch made their way east, ultimately ending up at a rest stop in New Mexico where, according to statements Province gave investigators, they saw 61-year-old Gary and Linda Haas, an Oklahoma couple taking an annual camping trip. After days on the road in a cramped sedan, the fugitives decided to target travelers with a camping trailer and the Haas' fit the bill. Province told investigators that he and McCluskey forced the couple into their truck at gunpoint while Welch followed behind. They all ended up in a remote area near Santa Rosa where McCluskey shot the Haas' in their trailer, according to court documents. The fugitives set fire to the trailer in an effort to hide the evidence. A rancher discovered the burned trailer on Aug. 4.

August 27, 2010 Payson Roundup
The would-be Bonnie and Clyde fugitives who’d led police on a wild, three-week chase began talking soon after their capture in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests last week. When Apache County Sheriff’s Office deputies took Casslyn Welch’s silver .38-caliber revolver, Sgt. John Scruggs warned the other officers not to touch it for fear it was a murder weapon, according to court documents. John McCluskey “That’s not the murder weapon,” now-captured fugitive John McCluskey, both Welch’s fiance and cousin, told the officers. “The murder weapon is in the tent.” After police recaptured the convicts who escaped from a private prison near Kingman on July 30, allegedly with Welch’s help, the clues to their escape and crime spree have quickly emerged. The frightening tale included an easy escape through an unguarded fence, a lost getaway car, a fateful vote that saved the lives of two truckers, two aimless and improvised alleged murders and a narrowly averted gun battle at the end. McCluskey and Welch, along with escaped murderer Tracy Province, allegedly caused the deaths of Oklahoma couple Gary and Linda Haas as the couple drove through New Mexico on vacation. The fugitives had grown tired of sleeping in a sedan and decided to find a camper.  Later, while tracking the bloody trail with Province after his arrest, police eyed bloodstains from the camper that had seeped onto the asphalt of a Phillips gas station off Interstate 40 in Santa Rosa, N.M. Police had captured Province in Wyoming about a week-and-a-half after his escape, as he held a hitchhiking sign that read, “Casper.” Once in custody, Province helped police piece together his time on the run, the blood stains, an eerie breadcrumb in a warped version of Hansel and Gretel. The courtroom drama of McCluskey and Welch, the two fugitives who evaded capture the longest, has just begun. McCluskey, Province and Welch have all pleaded not guilty to their lists of charges. The court has appointed public defenders for the men, and Flagstaff attorney Stephen Glazer will represent Welch. All three are held on $1 million bail on Arizona charges including escape in the second degree, kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault. McCluskey and Province also face charges of misconduct involving weapons. In New Mexico, the fugitives face charges for carjacking the Oklahoma couple with the intention of causing their deaths. McCluskey and Province face other charges connected to the killing, and each of the three could receive the death penalty. Although Mohave County now has custody of the fugitives, Tom Henman, a supervisory deputy U.S. Marshal out of Phoenix, said this week that officials there would have to coordinate with New Mexico to see “who’s going to get first dibs.” Claudia Washburn, McCluskey’s mother and owner of the Jakes Corner Store in Tonto Basin where Welch worked, now sits in Maricopa County Jail on charges of hindering prosecution and conspiring to commit escape after she allegedly gave the fugitives money or supplies. Payson attorney Harlan Green will represent Washburn, whose preliminary hearing was set for Thursday, but no other details were available by press time. Welch, 44, had been working in Jakes Corner until she allegedly threw wire cutters over the prison fence to free her beloved and his two friends, Province and Daniel Renwick on July 30. Authorities captured Renwick the next day in Colorado. Just the month before, Welch avoided jail time by agreeing to become an informant after authorities found marijuana, heroin and drug paraphernalia during a random search of Welch and her vehicle, the Associated Press reported. Welch reportedly told authorities that people associated with a white supremacist group were paying her to smuggle heroin into prison. Henman, the U.S. Marshal, said this week that McCluskey had ties to the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang. Four days after arriving in Mohave County Jail after the escape, McCluskey was taken to Kingman Regional Medical Medical Center after cutting his neck and wrists with a Bic razor. The lacerations were serious, but not life threatening, according to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. After receiving treatment, McCluskey returned to his high-security level single cell in jail. The courtroom drama is just beginning, and the sordid details of the crime spree are emerging. A complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico outlines how the three prisoners’ escape allegedly led to car-jacking and murder. Immediately after the escape, Renwick became separated from the crew while the group tried to find the car that Welch had parked in the desert. Welch had packed the car with food and clothes, and had bought two .40-caliber semi-automatic handguns for the escape. But then Welch couldn’t find it. Instead, they hijacked two men driving an 18-wheeler at gunpoint and forced them to drive to Flagstaff. In Flagstaff, the trio voted whether to kill the truckers. McCluskey, just escaped from a 15-year sentence for attempted second-degree murder voted to kill them while Welch and Province voted to release them. McCluskey then somehow “secured” a gray Nissan Sentra and the group stopped in Safford before driving to New Mexico, according to court documents. In New Mexico, Province noticed that the car had an expired license plate, and the crew stole another one. By Aug. 2, all three had tired of driving and sleeping in the sedan. They agreed to find a camper or trailer to steal. At a rest area, McCluskey and Welch eyed Gary and Linda Haas, thinking them a good “prospect,” according to the complaint. The Haases were camping near Santa Rosa on their way to Colorado as they had every year for more than a decade. The couple had concealed weapons permits, and typically carried at least one gun with them. But on the morning of Aug. 2, when McCluskey and Province took their places behind Linda as she walked to her truck, no gun would save her. The fugitives forced Linda into the truck’s passenger seat as Welch acted as a lookout. Gary reached down as if to retrieve something from under the seat. Province saw him, and said, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” The fugitives ordered Gary to drive west on I-40, and eventually directed the truck to a secluded area between Tucumcari, N.M., and Santa Rosa. McCluskey and Welch made Gary and Linda hand over their two guns, which had been in the camping trailer, while Province stayed outside. Welch joined Province outside, and several gunshots rang out with McCluskey still inside. According to the complaint, McCluskey shot Gary once in the head and then turned the gun on Linda, who he shot three times. McCluskey told investigators he felt compelled to kill the Haases if the fugitives were to remain free. McCluskey and Province scooted the bodies down in the trailer so nobody could see them from outside, and then the fugitives drove the truck and the trailer — dead bodies inside — back on the highway to the Phillips 66 gas station, where they would leave that telltale bloodstain. Meanwhile, Province followed McCluskey in the Sentra with stolen plates. After gassing up, McCluskey found a spot off the highway and unhitched the trailer. Inexplicably, they quickly decided to abandon the trailer that they’d allegedly committed two senseless murders to obtain. With Welch’s help, the two found liquor in the trailer and poured it on the floor before lighting a fire with matches. Province had dumped out food for the dogs, and the three left the Haases as their bodies burned. Later at a shopping center, Province and McCluskey wiped the truck with paper towels and brake fluid, hoping to remove their fingerprints. Welch took blankets, Province took a backpack, and the three drove away in the Sentra. By this time, Province had asked the engaged cousins to drop him off at Yellowstone Park. Police arrested Province soon after in Meetetese, Wyo., reportedly the day after singing “You’re Grace is Enough,” with other churchgoers in the small town outside Yellowstone. He carried the backpack stolen from Gary and Linda Haas. McCluskey and Welch would remain free for about another week. News reports placed the couple anywhere from Canada, where the Royal Mounted Police searched, to Arkansas, where a beauty salon robbery was briefly and incorrectly linked to the fugitives. But on Aug. 19, a Forest Service ranger was patrolling the Gabaldon Campground at the base of Mount Baldy back in Arizona where their terrible journey had begun. When the ranger spotted the couple, McCluskey walked behind a tree, trying to hide, according to court documents. The ranger also noticed bullet holes in a nearby tree. He jotted down the license plate number, and realized it was stolen. Later, McCluskey told police he was sorry he hadn’t killed the ranger when he had the chance. Authorities covertly watched the couple, closing off escape routes, while an arrest team assembled. Shortly after 7 p.m. on Aug. 19, officers from the U.S. Forest Service, Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Apache County Sheriff’s Department apprehended the fugitives and ended the nationwide manhunt. Welch pulled her silver revolver out from behind her back, pointing it at police, according to court documents, before realizing police outnumbered her. McCluskey was lying in a sleeping back outside the tent where he’d hidden his guns. Later, he told the officers he would have killed them.

August 25, 2010 Silver Belt
The Arizona Department of Corrections has confirmed that any decisions over bids submitted by four companies to build private prisons here in our state have been delayed because of security issues raised about a privately operated prison in Kingman last month where the breakout of three violent convicts occurred on July 30. Barrett Marson, Director of Communications for the state agency, told the Arizona Silver Belt, efforts to add an additional 5,000 private prison beds has been stalled because of concerns which have developed on how the medium-security private prison was being operated in Kingman. He said representatives of each of the four companies that submitted proposals to build and operate private prison complexes housing ADC inmates will be called in for more questioning about their proposals. When asked, does this mean these proposals will have to be re advertised and go out for bids again? Marson said that decision has not been made at this time. The companies submitting proposals to the Arizona Department of Corrections, which have been under review since May 28th, were Management and Training Corporation ( which owns and operates the private prison at Kingman along with another facility in Marana and 24 Job Corps Centers in the U.S), GEO Group Corrections, Corrections Corporation of American and Emerald Correctional Management Company. Emerald, in its proposal , submitted plans to build a 1,000 bed medium prison in the city of Globe between the Gila County Fairgrounds and the San Carlos Reservation line. The controversial Emerald project has been endorsed by the Southern Gila County Economic Development Corporation but is now actively being opposed by a group of merchants and local citizens. All top officials of Utah based Management and Training Corporation who were operating the company’s medium security prison at Kingman either were terminated or removed to other job assignments as a result of a report released by the Arizona Department of Corrections on Thursday citing numerous security flaws at the correctional facility. Among the flaws was the private prison’s alarm system. Some 89 false alarms reported at the correctional facility on July 30th, the day the three convicts walked out. Ryan’s agency claims there was no maintenance on these prison alarms for the past two years and responding to these alerts was not a priority with prison workers who had become “desensitized” to false alarms. Too, turnover of employees at the Kingman private prison had been high resulting in a lack of training. One official of Management and Training Corporation indicated she was working with a staff that was basically 80 percent new due to the turnover problems. It was further reported that an excessive delay occurred in discovering the escape of the three convicts ( two convicted of murder, one a double homicide) and notifying law enforcement. In addition, it was found that operational practices at the prison after led to a gap of 15 minutes or longer during shift changes along the outside perimeter fence.

August 25, 2010 Private Corrections Working Group
Today, the Private Corrections Working Group (PCWG), a not-for-profit organization that exposes the problems of and educates the public about for-profit private corrections, called for overhaul of the Arizona Department of Corrections’ (ADOC) oversight of the for-profit prison industry, including: • An immediate halt to all bidding processes involving private prison operators and a moratorium on new private prison beds • Hold public hearings during the special session to address the problems with for-profit prisons in Arizona • Enact other cost-cutting measures that not only save money but enhance public safety, like earned release credits, amending truth in sentencing, and restoring judicial discretion. This action came about after the ADOC released a security audit on August 19th concerning the July 30 escape of three dangerous prisoners from a private prison in Kingman operated by Management and Training Corp. (MTC) (Coincidentally, that same day the last escapee and an accomplice, John McCluskey and Casslyn Mae Welch, were captured without incident at a campground in eastern Arizona. The other two escaped prisoners, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick, had been caught previously in Wyoming and Colorado). Ken Kopczynski, executive director of PCWG, condemned MTC for the numerous security failures that led to the July 30 escape. “If MTC had properly staffed the facility, properly trained their employees and properly maintained security at the Kingman prison, this escape would not have occurred. But because MTC is a private company that needs to generate profit, and therefore cut costs related to staffing, training and security, three dangerous inmates were able to escape and at least two innocent victims are dead as a result,” Kopczynski observed. “That is part of the cost of prison privatization that MTC and other private prison firms don’t want to talk about.” The murders of an Oklahoma couple, Gary and Linda Hass, whose burned bodies were found in New Mexico on August 4, were tied to McCluskey, Welch and Province. While MTC said it took responsibility for the escape, vice-president Odie Washington acknowledged the company could not prevent future escapes. “Escapes occur at both public and private” prisons, he stated, ignoring the fact that most secure facilities do not experience any escapes – particularly escapes as preventable as the one at MTC’s Kingman prison. According to the ADOC security audit, the prison’s perimeter fence registered 89 alarms over a 16-hour period on the day the escape occurred, most of them false. MTC staff failed to promptly check the alarms – sometimes taking over an hour to respond – and light bulbs on a control panel that showed the status of the perimeter fence were burned out. “The system was not maintained or calibrated,” said ADOC Director Charles Ryan. Further, a perimeter patrol post was not staffed by MTC, and according to a news report from the Arizona Daily Star, “a door to a dormitory that was supposed to be locked had been propped open with a rock, helping the inmates escape.” Additionally, MTC officials did not promptly notify state corrections officials following the escape and high staff turnover at the facility had resulted in inexperienced employees who were ill-equipped to detect and prevent the break-out. According to MTC warden Lori Lieder, 80 percent of staff at the Kingman prison were new or newly promoted. Although the ADOC was supposed to be monitoring its contract with MTC to house state prisoners, the security flaws cited in the audit went undetected for years. Ryan faulted human error and “serious security lapses” at the private prison. Arizona corrections officials removed 148 state prisoners from the MTC facility after the escape due to security concerns. “I lacked confidence in this company’s ability,” said ADOC Director Ryan. Although it’s a small corporation, since 1995 over a dozen prisoners have escaped from MTC facilities in Utah, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Eagle Mountain, California –where two inmates were murdered during a riot in 2003.

August 23, 2010 Arizona Republic
After three violent criminals escaped from a private prison last month in Kingman, state officials began asking why they had been assigned to a medium-security facility. John McCluskey, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick escaped July 30 after an embarrassing series of security lapses at the prison, operated by Utah-based Management and Training Corp. All three have been captured, but their escape is likely to spur further discussion on how to classify inmates' security risks and decide where to house them. Both public and private prisons use the state's classification system, but the Arizona Department of Corrections already has pulled some inmates from the Kingman facility as it rethinks how it assigns risk. Arizona assigns inmates a number from one to five, with five representing the highest risk, based on their crimes. Depending on their score, inmates are assigned to one of four custody levels: minimum, medium, close and maximum. Over time, an inmate's classification can be adjusted up or down based on the inmate's behavior in custody. The system works when used properly, said Tom Rosazza, a consultant and former state corrections director. But the system can also mean that more violent offenders can wind up in less-secure facilities depending on their behavior. Although they were in a medium-security facility at a private prison, McCluskey, Province and Renwick qualified as dangerous offenders. Renwick was a convicted murderer. Province killed a man in 1991 by stabbing him 51 times. McCluskey was sentenced in Arizona for attempted murder and had a previous armed-robbery conviction in Pennsylvania. "My first thought was, 'What the hell were those guys doing at that (Kingman) place?' " Rosazza said. Their cases are not unique. There are more than 1,400 inmates serving time for murder in medium-security settings in Arizona, including 796 with life sentences. More than 100 were housed at the prison near Kingman, the only private facility in Arizona to house murderers. Province entered the prison system with a maximum "five" rating when he reported to serve his life sentence in 1993 but was moved down to a "three," or medium security, by 1997. Renwick followed a similar path through the system, while McCluskey entered custody as a medium-security inmate for firing a shotgun into a Mesa home in 2009. Authorities allege the trio escaped with help from Casslyn Welch, McCluskey's cousin and fiancee. The escapees are believed to have cut their way through a fence. Alarms were ignored because, according to state officials, prison guards thought they were false. Renwick was recaptured Aug. 1 in Colorado after a shootout with police. Province was caught Aug. 9 in Wyoming. McCluskey and Welch were caught Thursday evening in Apache County and are suspected along with Province of being involved in the murder of an elderly couple in New Mexico shortly after the escape. Because of the three inmates' possible post-escape crimes, the classification issue likely will come up in any future lawsuits against the state or a prison operator, Rosazza said. "That would be the first thing I'd look at," he said. Arizona officials control what factors are used in determining prisoner classifications and, based on those classifications, decide which facilities prisoners are held in. Although the former fugitives escaped from a private facility, the state will bear some liability in any court action because it is responsible for prisoners sentenced in Arizona. "The state doesn't contract away its responsibility," Rosazza said.

August 22, 2010 Arizona Republic
Arizona puts more of its inmates into privately run prisons every year, even though the prisons may not be as secure as state-run facilities and may not save taxpayers money. Lawmakers began using private prisons to ease overcrowding and have supported their use so aggressively that today, one in five Arizona inmates is housed in a private facility. Many inmates from other states also are housed in private prisons in Arizona, but the state has little information about who they are and limited oversight of how they are secured. The state has 11 privately operated prisons. A high-profile escape of three Arizona inmates last month from a Kingman-area private prison, which spurred a nationwide manhunt and is believed to have resulted in two murders, raises questions about the industry's growth and the degree of state oversight. The last fugitives in that escape were caught Thursday, and the state's prison director has promised changes to the private sites that house Arizona inmates. State leaders in recent years have pushed for more privatization and have blocked efforts to regulate the industry, which has invested heavily in local lobbying and contributed to political campaigns. Last year, officials approved a plan to hand over the operation of nearly every state prison to private companies. The plan was repealed only after no credible bidder came forward. This year, lawmakers approved 5,000 new private-prison beds for Arizona prisoners. Data suggest that the facilities are less cost-effective than they claim to be. A cost study by the Arizona Department of Corrections this year found that it can often be more expensive to house inmates in private prisons than in their state-run counterparts. A growing industry -- Arizona's use of private prisons dates back to the early 1990s, when lawmakers, grappling with overcrowding in state facilities, authorized the construction of a 450-bed minimum-security prison in Marana to house drug and alcohol abusers. The prison is owned and operated by Management & Training Corp., the Utah-based company that also operates the Kingman facility where the three inmates escaped. Since then, Arizona has increasingly relied on for-profit operators to manage its own inmates. It also has allowed private companies to import prisoners from other states. Rapid growth began in 2003 and the years immediately following, when Arizona was again wrestling with prison overcrowding. To ease the shortage, Republican lawmakers agreed to build 2,000 new prison beds, compromising with a reluctant Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, to make half of them private. Around the same time, nearly a dozen other states grappling with the same issues began shipping their inmates to private facilities elsewhere in the country. Arizona, with cheap land and a receptive political climate, became a go-to destination for private-prison operators, who began accepting inmates from as far as Washington and Hawaii. Today, Arizona houses 20.1 percent of its prisoners in private facilities, according to state data from July. Exactly how many inmates are here from other states is unclear. Last year, lawmakers took the unprecedented step of exploring the privatization of almost the entire Arizona correctional system, passing a bill that would have turned over the state's prisons to private operators for an up-front payment of $100 million. The payment would have helped the state close a billion-dollar budget gap. The bill, which also included a host of changes related to the state's budget, was signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, but the language relating to prison privatization was repealed in a later special session. The state now has an open contract for the construction and operation of 5,000 new private-prison beds. Arizona's reliance on private facilities coincides with operators' increasing national political activity in hiring lobbyists and donating to political campaigns. The ties between the companies and Arizona elected officials - which go back nearly a decade - have become a campaign issue in this year's gubernatorial race. Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest operator of private prisons, runs six in Arizona, three of which house inmates for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Brewer's critics have suggested that she signed Senate Bill 1070, and has advocated for privatization of some prisons, in part to benefit CCA's bottom line. Democrats have called on Brewer, a Republican, to fire "aides" associated with the prison company. That includes HighGround, a Phoenix consulting and lobbying firm managing Brewer's gubernatorial campaign. The firm counts CCA among its clients. Brewer's official spokesman, Paul Senseman, also used to lobby for CCA. Campaign finance reports filed earlier this year show that eight executives with CCA contributed $1,080 of the $51,193 in seed money Brewer received for her gubernatorial campaign. CCA also gave $10,000 to the "Yes on 100" campaign, which backed a temporary, 1-cent-on-the-dollar increase in the state's sales tax. Brewer was the chief advocate for the tax, which was approved by voters in May. In an interview with The Arizona Republic, Brewer said those connections have not influenced her policy decisions. She said she never felt pressured by any of her advisers. "It's absolutely political posturing and rhetoric," Brewer said. "I find it very disappointing. We have a bed shortage here in Arizona, and we have to come up with some way to incarcerate (criminals). The best way, the least expensive way, is to do it with private prisons." The industry's political connections have extended to other Arizona politicians. According to a 2006 report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics, the private-prison industry gave to the campaigns of 29 of 42 Arizona lawmakers who heard a 2003 proposal to increase state private-prison beds. Between 2001 and 2004, the industry contributed $77,267 to Arizona's legislative and gubernatorial candidates, the vast majority through lobbyists paid to represent their interests at the Legislature. In most cases, donations ranged from a couple of hundred dollars to as much as $2,500. Lax oversight -- The state Department of Corrections has varying levels of oversight of Arizona's private-prison network. Some prisons house criminals convicted in Arizona. The Corrections Department regulates those facilities, though private-prison critics question whether those facilities maintain the same safety standards as their state-run counterparts. Other private prisons house inmates from other states or on behalf of the federal government. Arizona does not dictate what kinds of inmates they may accept, nor the manner in which they are secured. In those situations, private-prison operators work with their outside-government partners on training specifications and other operational details. They report to Arizona only the names, security classifications and number of inmates housed at their facilities. State stat- utes do not require private operators to provide Arizona officials details about the crimes the prisoners committed or escape data. In 2007, two convicted killers sent from another state stole ladders from a maintenance building and climbed onto a roof at a private prison outside Florence. Brandishing a fake gun, they climbed over the prison walls and escaped to freedom. One was caught within hours, but it was almost a month before the other was caught hundreds of miles away in his home state of Washington. As with the Kingman breakout, the 2007 escape drew attention to the largely unregulated growth of private prisons in the state, particularly prisons that house other states' inmates. To address security concerns, a bipartisan bill drafted by Napolitano's office in 2008 and introduced by Republican state Sen. Robert Blendu would have required private prisons to be built to the state's construction standards. The proposal also would have ended the practice of private prisons importing murderers, rapists and other dangerous felons to Arizona. And it would have required the companies to share security and inmate information with state officials. After an initial flurry of activity, the bill died. "The private-prison industry lobbied heavily against that bill, and they were successful," said Michael Haener, Napolitano's lobbyist at the time. Blendu later left the Legislature, and the bill was not reintroduced. What little regulation private prisons have in Arizona stems from a series of escapes in the late 1990s. In response, the Legislature passed a law requiring the reimbursement of law-enforcement costs from private-prison operators in the event of an escape. Arizona laws also require companies to carry insurance to cover law-enforcement costs in cases of escape, to notify state officials when they bring new prisoners into the state and to return out-of-state prisoners to their home states to be released. But there are no penalties if the companies don't comply. Costs questioned -- Notwithstanding lawmakers' concerns about security, private prisons gained favor in part because of the promised savings they could deliver to a cash-strapped and overcrowded prison system. Yet studies have questioned whether those savings are real. In making their pitches, private-prison companies played on the desire of many lawmakers to shift more state services to the private sector. Direct cost comparisons between for-profit and public prisons can be difficult, however. According to the National Institute of Justice, private prisons tend to make much lower estimates of their overhead costs to the state for oversight, inmate health care and staff background checks. Officials at public prisons often argue that the state winds up paying a higher cost for those services than is advertised, mitigating savings that private prisons are built to deliver. A study this year by the Arizona Department of Corrections found that when various costs are factored in, it can be more expensive to house an inmate in a private prison than it is to house one in a state-run prison. The cost of housing a medium-security inmate is $3 to $8 more per day in a private prison, depending on what assumptions are made about overhead costs to the state, the study found. Travis Pratt, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Arizona State University, said there is no evidence that private prisons save government agencies money, even though they typically promise up-front savings. To maintain profit margins, Pratt said, companies often cut back on staff training, wages and inmate services. "Cost savings like that don't come without consequences," Pratt said. "And that can present a security risk that's elevated." Odie Washington, a senior vice president at Management & Training Corp., acknowledged Thursday that the Kingman prison employed an inexperienced staff. "We have a lot of very young staff that have not integrated into very strong security practices," Washington said. Private-prison operators disagree with Pratt's assessment, contending that they can deliver services efficiently and safely. "That's one of the more frustrating misconceptions out there for us that we have to repeatedly respond to," said Steve Owen, director of public affairs for Corrections Corporation of America. Owen said it is CCA's "general experience" that private prisons can save states and the federal government 5 to 15 percent on operational costs. The company also can build facilities more cheaply, he said. CCA is contractually required to meet or exceed training requirements that states they work for set for themselves, Owen said. In addition, the company has made sure its prisons in Arizona comply with accreditation standards put in place by the American Correctional Association, a Virginia-based trade group. Many communities, meanwhile, eagerly welcome private prisons because the facilities generate jobs and economic activity. CCA prisons in Florence and Eloy, for example, employ 2,700 people. Last year, the company paid $26 million in property taxes, Owen said. What's next -- Lawmakers from both parties have called for hearings into what went wrong in Kingman. Presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry Goddard has said he would push to bring back the 2008 private-prison bill. Goddard also is calling for an immediate re-evaluation of the system used to classify and place inmates in facilities. The five-tiered system, which allows some violent criminals to migrate to lower-security facilities for good behavior, met with bipartisan criticism in the wake of the escapes. Two of the three inmates who escaped from the medium-security Kingman prison had been convicted of murder. Goddard said the three recent escapees never should have been in a medium-security prison. Charles Ryan, director of the Department of Corrections, announced Thursday that the state would slow its bidding process for the 5,000 new private-prison beds pending additional review. Brewer has said little publicly about the escape but told The Republic last week that she is committed to holding prison operators responsible for mistakes they made. She said she has ordered Ryan to conduct a "complete review to make sure that inmates are appropriately secured and in the right kinds of facilities." While Brewer remains confident that private prisons are well suited to house less-violent offenders, she said: "What has happened is unacceptable, and I am absolutely pushing for more accountability."

August 20, 2010 Arizona Star
An executive with the firm that runs the private prison from which three dangerous inmates escaped promised Thursday to beef up security but said that's no guarantee it won't happen again. "Escapes occur at both public and private," Odie Washington, a vice president of Management and Training Corp., said while noting it's incumbent on the company and state to do whatever is necessary to close those security gaps prisoners can take advantage of. But a security review of the MTC-run prison near Kingman, released Thursday, reveals that what Washington referred to as "gaps" were more like chasms. As a result, State Corrections Director Charles Ryan has ordered 150 of the highest-risk prisoners removed. The report shows the prison perimeter-alarm system was essentially useless. Bulbs showing the status of the fence were burned out on a control panel. Guards were not patrolling the fence. And a door to a dormitory that was supposed to be locked had been propped open with a rock, helping the inmates escape. Washington, however, said that's not the fault of the corporation. He said company employees at Kingman never told anyone at the corporate headquarters about the problems. Ryan admitted his own audit team, which had been to the prison before the July 30 escape, "didn't see or didn't report" the shortcomings. All that is significant because the three inmates escaped when an accomplice tossed them wire cutters and they made a 30-by-22-inch hole that went undetected for hours. Of particular concern to Ryan is the fence. "What was found were excessive false alarms," Ryan disclosed, noting over 16 hours on July 30 there were 89 alarms. "The system was not maintained or calibrated." The result, he said, was employees were "desensitized" to the alarms going off, and it took 11 to 73 minutes for staffers to check out problems and reset the alarms. "That is absolutely unacceptable," he said. The last of the three inmates, a convicted murderer, along with an accomplice, was recaptured Thursday night. The other two were recaptured, but not before they were linked to the deaths of an Oklahoma couple who were in New Mexico. "This is a terrible tragedy, and the department and the contractor have a lot of work to do," Ryan said. The findings prompted Ryan to put limits on what kind of criminals can be housed at the facility. Until now, the 1,508-bed medium-security section has included people convicted of murder. His order removes, at least from Kingman, anyone convicted of first-degree murder, anyone who attempted escape in the last decade and anyone with more than 20 years left on a sentence. All told, 148 inmates were taken from the facility. But Ryan would not rule out allowing murderers back in the prison after he is satisfied that security has been upgraded. He defended the classification system that allows convicted murders - and even lifers - to serve their time in medium-security prisons. Gov. Jan Brewer sidestepped questions about the system, saying it was in place long before she became governor in January 2009. "It is something that maybe should be reviewed," the governor said Thursday, but added, "That classification is used across America." Ryan said he remains convinced there is a role for private prisons. About 6,400 of the more than 40,000 people behind bars in Arizona are in private prisons. Another 1,760 Arizona prisoners are at an out-of-state facility. The Republican-controlled Legislature remains very much in favor of private prisons, as does Brewer. That support hasn't wavered because of the escape. Brewer said the report from Ryan underscores her belief the escape was caused by human error, and nothing inherent in private prisons. "It's very obvious those alarms should have been responded to," the governor said. But the problems that Ryan sketched out go beyond the actions - or inactions - of guards. Washington admitted there are "significant construction issues" with the perimeter fence and the alarm system that will have to be handled. And Ryan found flaws with the entire way MTC allowed the facility to be operated. For example, he said no one was making regular checks along the fence to look for breaches. And Ryan said guards were "not effectively controlling inmate movements" within the prison system. Other flaws included inmates not wearing required ID badges, grooming requirements being ignored and proper searches of people going into the facility not being done. Casslyn Welch, the woman accused of providing the wire cutters and a vehicle, was banned from the prison after she was caught trying to bring in drugs. But Ryan said prison officials still allowed her to talk to inmates on the phone, making it possible for her to help plan the breakout. Welch and John McCluskey, her fiancée and cousin, were caught Thursday night in northeastern Arizona. Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick have been recaptured. Another problem is that the design of the prison allows anyone to drive up close to the facility. Corrections officials want traffic routed away from the fence.

August 20, 2010 AP
An unattended campfire and a suspicious forest ranger led to the arrest of two of the most wanted fugitives in the U.S., ending a three-week nationwide manhunt that drew hundreds of false sightings, authorities said. John McCluskey fled July 30 with two other inmates from a private prison in northwest Arizona and evaded authorities in at least six states before being caught Thursday evening just 300 miles east of the prison. Authorities arrested McCluskey, 45, and his alleged accomplice Casslyn Welch, 44, at a campsite in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in eastern Arizona. Welch, who is McCluskey's fiancee and cousin, reached for a weapon but dropped it when she realized she was outgunned by a swarming SWAT team, said David Gonzales, U.S. marshal for Arizona. Officers apprehended McCluskey without incident after finding him lying in a sleeping bag outside a tent. He told authorities he had a gun in his tent and would have shot them if he had been able to reach for it. It was a peaceful close to a manhunt that authorities had said was likely to end in a bloody shootout between officers and desperate outlaws who fancied themselves as a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. "The nightmare that began July 30 is finally over," Gonzales said. The fugitives' ruse began to crumble about 4 p.m. Thursday when a U.S. Forest Service ranger investigated what appeared to be an unattended campfire, Gonzales said. He found a silver Nissan Sentra backed suspiciously into the trees as if someone were trying to hide it. The ranger had a brief conversation with McCluskey, who appeared nervous and fidgety. A SWAT team and surveillance unit surrounded the campsite and swarmed on the fugitives, Gonzales said. McCluskey told officers he wishes he would have shot the forest ranger when he had the opportunity, authorities said.

August 18, 2010 AP
Past audits of the Arizona state prison where three inmates escaped last month gave the facility high marks and revealed few issues with security or staff training, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The escape on July 30 has put corrections officials and the operator of the privately run prison under intense scrutiny in recent weeks. But if there was an indication of any widespread security problems at the facility that houses minimum- and medium-security inmates, it doesn't show in the internal audits. On security issues, the audits showed overall compliance rates of 98.8 percent in 2007, 99.9 percent in 2009 and 99.5 percent in 2010. Nearly 2,870 areas of security were audited over the three years and 37 were marked as noncompliant. One security issue was tagged in 2006. No audits were done in 2005 or 2008 because of fiscal constraints, said Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Barrett Marson. No independent audits of the Kingman prison have been done. The audits instead are conducted by a team of about 15 made up of staff at the corrections department and the prison who are considered subject matter experts. The audit team evaluates areas of the prison that include security, training, medical, food service and business for compliance with the state contract and other orders. A yearly schedule of audits is available in July, giving prisons advance notice, Marson said. Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Working Group, said it's difficult to tell whether the audits are a true reflection of the operations at the prison without attached documentation to support the findings. The group advocates against private prisons he said typically overwork, underpay and don't properly train the staff. "Audits are used a lot of times to make things look like they're OK," he said. "Maybe they are OK. I doubt it." Corrections Director Charles Ryan has said the prison operator would correct the security deficiencies that contributed to the escape of John McCluskey, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick. Criminal and administrative investigations into the escape are ongoing. McCluskey's fiancee and cousin, Casslyn Welch, is accused of throwing wire cutters over a perimeter fence that the men used to slice their way out and flee. Welch's visitation privileges at the prison were terminated after a random search in June during a visit to McCluskey turned up what was believed to be heroin. Welch told investigators that she was paid by members or associates of a white supremacist group to smuggle the drug into the prison but didn't say who it was intended for. State legislators have urged corrections officials and Gov. Jan Brewer's office to release the results of a security review done following the escape. Corrections officials said the report still is being written and should be released this week.

August 14, 2010 Santa Fe New Mexican
Lost in the Bonnie and Clyde tale of Arizona fugitives on the run for two weeks is the grisly slaying of an Oklahoma couple whose bodies were found in a burned-out travel trailer on a remote ranch in Eastern New Mexico. Police have linked the deaths of Gary and Linda Haas last week to the inmates and the woman who helped them escape, but they are keeping a tight lid on what happened as the couple traveled to an annual camping trip with friends in Colorado. Family and friends say they have no idea how the Haases' paths would have crossed with escaped convicts John McCluskey and Tracy Province and their accomplice, Casslyn Welch. Blood inside the couple's pickup — found days later in Albuquerque — makes the family certain of one thing: The 61-year-olds put up a fight. "So much of the story has been the bad guys this and the bad guys that," said Cathy Byus, the Haases' daughter. "That's important too. We want them out there too, but we don't want people to forget the human side of this."


August 13, 2010 USA Today
An Arizona fugitive's accomplice was acting as a drug mule for a white supremacy group and agreed to become a police informant weeks before she helped him escape from prison, authorities said Friday. Casslyn Welch, and her fiance and cousin John McCluskey, are now considered among the most wanted fugitives in America after authorities say Welch helped McCluskey and two other men escape from the Arizona State Prison in Kingman by throwing wire cutters over a fence. Daniel Renwick and Tracy Province have since been captured. Welch was visiting McCluskey at the medium-security prison in June when a random search of Welch and her vehicle turned up marijuana, heroin and drug paraphernalia, Mohave County sheriff's spokeswoman Trish Carter said. Welch wasn't jailed because she agreed to become an informant, and she provided information about the suppliers of the drugs, Carter said. Welch told investigators she was being paid by members or associates of supremacists to smuggle heroin into the prison as she had successfully done three times before, but she declined to say who the items were intended for at the prison. Fidencio Rivera, chief deputy U.S. marshal for Arizona, said authorities believe Welch and McCluskey have minimal ties to white supremacy groups in or out of prisons and "we're not expending much resources on that right now." Investigative efforts were focused Friday in Arkansas, where Welch has family, and Montana, where the two were last seen Aug. 6, but Rivera said the pair could be anywhere. They are financing their getaway by committing crimes along the way and using their experience as long-haul truck drivers, Rivera said. "Our stance is they're being very reactionary at this point and time, playing off the cuff," he said. A reward of up to $35,000 is being offered for information leading to their arrest. They are believed to be traveling in a 1997 Nissan Sentra that is gold, gray or tan in color, and authorities say that the two likely will become more dangerous as the manhunt continues. Marshals are asking travelers at truck stops along highways and in campgrounds across the nation to watch out for the couple, who may have dyed their hair and otherwise changed their appearance. "We know they're out there and they're committing crimes out there to get money," Rivera said. "They have limited funds, they're sleeping in their car, they're staying at rest stops, campsites. They're not using a whole lot of money." Marshals and border officials in Montana are following up on what leads they have, but there have been no developments in the past few days, said Rod Ostermiller, Montana's acting U.S. marshal. "At this point in time, just because of the time frame we're working with, we're expanding way beyond Montana," Ostermiller said Friday afternoon. Welch is facing a growing list of charges since the July 31 escape, including kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault. She was charged last week with six counts of narcotics violations for the drugs she's accused of bringing to the prison. Welch told investigators in June that the marijuana belonged to her, Carter said, but she picked up what she was told was heroin packaged in balloons from two men in Phoenix and was paid $200 each time she smuggled it into the prison, according to police records. On the night of the escape, Welch had packed a getaway car nearby with cash, weapons and false identification, Rivera has said. But Renwick, Province, McCluskey became disoriented and could not find the car after they cut through the prison fence. The group split up, and Renwick found the vehicle and drove off, leaving the other three to hijack a tractor-trailer and head to Flagstaff. Renwick, who was serving time for second-degree murder, was arrested after a shootout with law enforcement in Rifle, Colo., two days after the escape. The rest of the group was linked through forensic evidence to the deaths of an Oklahoma couple whose bodies were found in their charred camper in eastern New Mexico last week, authorities there said.

August 11, 2010 AP
The manhunt for a fugitive from Arizona and his fiancee shifted from Montana to Arkansas after they were suspected of holding up a beauty supply store there Wedneday morning, the U.S. Marshal's Service said. A couple who robbed Kut and Curl beauty salon in Gentry, Ark., fits the description of John McCluskey and his fiancee, Casslyn Welch, said David Gonzales, the U.S. Marshal for Arizona. The town of about 2,000 is in northwest Arkansas, nearly 1,600 miles from the small Montana town where the pair was last spotted on Sunday. The Benton County Sheriff's Department said it is investigating the robbery, but U.S. Marshals there haven't positively identified the couple. "We're trying to use any means possible — surveillance cameras, anything possible to determine (their identifications)," said Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Gary Gray of the Western District of Arkansas. "Right now, Benton County is working this incident as a crime that happened in their jurisdiction. In the event it is tied to something else, we're all working together on this." McCluskey, 45, and Welch, 44, have eluded capture since he and two other inmates escaped from an Arizona prison on July 30. Welch's mother lives near Gentry, authorities said. Welch was last spotted Sunday at a restaurant in St. Mary, Mont., on the eastern border of Glacier National Park and authorites thought the couple may be trying to cross into Canada. Interpol issued an international alert for the two Wednesday. Since then, authorities had not had any credible leads in the northern Montana valley near the Canadian border, where Glacier National Park meet the vast, open Great Plains.

August 9, 2010 FOX
Questions surround the escape of three violent convicts from a prison in Kingman, casting a shadow on Arizona's relationship with the private prison industry. Officials are reviewing security measures at private prison facilities, and are looking into the future of private prisons in our state. "My concern about this has been the manner in which the facility was operated. I do not believe that the physical plant itself from which these inmates escaped was the issue, it is the performance of the staff that concerned me," says Chuck Ryan, Arizona Department of Corrections Director. State Attorney General Terry Goddard is calling for a break in new contracts with private prison companies, until security issues can be ironed out and a review of their relationship with the DOC is undertaken. "We have basically turned a very significant direction in our state towards more and more private prison operations without looking at the consequences. I'm afraid those consequences have been put in very stark relief by the escape of three violent prisoners," says Goddard. Ryan told us he's in the process of reviewing his team's findings at the facility but offered no further comment on what the future may hold for the state of Arizona and its relationship with MTC. "Until we review their findings and their recommendations it would be premature to comment further about that," says Ryan. Guards at private prisons do not carry weapons and are not trained law enforcement officers. The three convicts escaped on July 30 -- one alarm never sounded and it remains to be seen whether prison guards went to check the second alarm. Prison staff didn't realize they were missing until a 9 p.m. head count, which was five hours after they were last accounted for. The local sheriff's office wasn't alerted until more than an hour later, and state corrections officials found out about the escape at 11:37 p.m. House Democrats are calling for a special session to address security issues with private prisons. The governor's office has not yet sent a comment.

August 9, 2010 Arizona Daily Sun
Authorities in Arizona have charged two women with helping convicted felons after they escaped from prison in the northwestern part of the state. The Arizona Attorney General's Office on Monday charged 42-year-old Diana Joy Glattfelder and 68-year-old Claudia Washburn with hindering prosecution and conspiracy to commit escape. Glattfelder lives in Prescott Valley and is the ex-wife of escapee John McCluskey. Washburn, of Payson, is McCluskey's mother. Both are accused of providing money, supplies or transportation to the inmates and their alleged accomplice, Casslyn Welch. It was not clear if the women had attorneys. Three violent inmates escaped from a prison near Kingman last month. Two have been captured but authorities say McCluskey is still on the run with Welch.

August 9, 2010 PCWG
Who’s Guarding the Private Prison Guardians? At about 9:00 p.m. on Friday, July 30, alarms began to go off at the Management and Training Center’s (MTC) Arizona State Prison at Golden Valley, near Kingman. Other alarms appeared to be defective and didn’t sound. Only when an evening count was taken was it apparent that three extremely violent inmates had escaped. The Mojave County’s Sheriff’s Office was finally notified of the escape at 10:20 p.m. Another 80 minutes elapsed before MTC notified state officials with the Arizona Department of Corrections. The media wasn’t alerted until mid-morning on Saturday, and thus the public was not informed about the dangerous escapees until that time. Casslyn Mae Welch, the first cousin and fiancée of prisoner John McCluskey, allegedly had been caught smuggling drugs into the MTC-operated prison. That night she threw bolt cutters over the fence to McCluskey and his partners in the escape, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick. Welch then distracted a perimeter guard to cover their getaway. Province, a neo-Nazi, and another recent parolee had stabbed a robbery victim 51 times in 1991. Renwick ambushed and killed his ex-girlfriend and her father in 2000. McCluskey had attempted to kill a man and an arresting officer in 2009, but his shotgun jammed. Around midnight on July 30, McCluskey, Welch and Province hijacked a semi-truck parked by the highway in Kingman, kidnapped the drivers and forced them to drive to Flagstaff, 150 miles away. They released them about 5:00 a.m. on Saturday and then fled, possibly aided by another accomplice. On August 1, an alert sheriff’s deputy in Rifle, Colorado spotted Renwick driving a Ford Bronco. A quick-thinking police officer chased and disabled the SUV after shots were fired at his cruiser, capturing Renwick. Three days later a pickup belonging to Gary and Linda Hass, a 61-year-old vacationing Tecumseh, Oklahoma couple, was abandoned in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their cremated remains were found at a burned-out camper a hundred miles east in Santa Rosa on August 7. Forensics evidence has tied their deaths to the MTC escapees. Police used On-Star to locate the missing pickup. From there, the police believe the killers headed north to Yellowstone National Park. Tracy Province was captured in Meeteetse, Wyoming on August 9 – eleven days after the escape. A massive manhunt for Welch and McCluskey continues, concentrated in Yellowstone. Arizona Dept. of Corrections Director Charles Ryan laid the blame for the escape at MTC’s feet. “My concern is that the staff at this prison may have been lax in doing their job, and that probably created the opportunity so that they could escape,” he said. On Memorial Day there had been a riot at the MTC-operated Golden Valley facility. News of that disturbance also was delayed, and the scope and severity of the incident were substantially minimized. Additionally, MTC’s Marana prison near Tucson rioted on February 10, 2010, resulting in injuries among both prisoners and staff. Although it’s a small corporation, since 1995 over a dozen prisoners have escaped from MTC facilities in Utah, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Eagle Mountain, California where two inmates were also murdered during a race riot. There has been no explanation regarding MTC’s responsibility for uncorrected security failures and the amateurish lack of timely notification that may have prevented this most recent tragedy. It is yet another example in a long history of lapses and failures of oversight that is pervasive in the private prison industry, where the motive of companies to generate profit by cutting corners leads to incidents that endanger public safety. Until for-profit private prison companies and the lawmakers who support them are held accountable, avoidable tragedies such as the recent MTC escape are certain to recur. Unfortunately, any reforms will come too late for Gary and Linda Haas. The Private Corrections Working Group (PCWG) is a non-profit citizen watchdog organization that works to educate the public about the significant dangers and pitfalls associated with the privatization of correctional services. PCWG maintains an online collection of news reports and other resources related to the private prison industry, and holds the position that for-profit prisons have no place in a free and democratic society. www.privateci.org. For more information, please contact: Ken Kopczynski, Executive Director Private Corrections Working Group 1114 Brandt Drive Tallahassee, FL 32 (850) 980-0887 kenk@privateci.org

August 9, 2010 MSNBC
One of two convicted killers who escaped from an Arizona prison has been captured in Wyoming, law enforcement officials said Monday. Tracy Province, 42, was arrested Monday morning while walking in the small Wyoming town of Meeteetse, about 80 miles from Yellowstone National Park, said David Gonzales, U.S. marshal for the Phoenix area. At the time of the arrest, Province was carrying a hitchhiking sign with "Casper," the name of a town in east-central Wyoming, written on it, officials said. He also had a 9mm handgun in his possession, Gonzales said. At first the man denied he was Province, then admitted his identity and said he was "relieved this manhunt was over for him," Gonzales said. The other escapee and a suspected accomplice remained on the loose. The search for them was centered in an around Yellowstone and intensified after authorities said they linked one of the inmates to a double homicide in New Mexico. The U.S. Marshals Service said earlier that information indicates Province, John McCluskey and Casslyn Welch might be hiding in portions of the park that span Montana and Wyoming, though investigators believe Province had separated from McCluskey and Welch. The fugitives reportedly have ties to white supremacist groups, MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt said Monday, and could be seeking sympathizers to help them flee the law.

August 8, 2010 CNN
Authorities believe two Arizona prison escapees and their alleged accomplice may be in the Yellowstone National Park area of Montana and Wyoming, based on recent information, the U.S. Marshals Service said Sunday. John Charles McCluskey, 45, and Tracy Province, 42, are described as armed and dangerous. They have been at large since fleeing an Arizona prison on July 30. A third escaped inmate, Daniel Renwick, 35, was arrested the day after the escape in Rifle, Colorado, where he got in a shootout with police.

August 7, 2010 AP
The mother of one of three inmates who escaped from a northwestern Arizona prison was arrested Saturday after authorities suspected she helped two of them. Claudia Washburn, 68, was arrested at her home and place of business in Jakes Corner south of Payson on charges of conspiracy to commit escape, hindering prosecution and facilitation to commit escape, said Thomas Henman, supervisory deputy at the U.S. Marshals Service. He said Washburn is the mother of John McCluskey, who escaped from the medium-security Arizona State Prison near Kingman with Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick on July 30. Authorities believe McCluskey’s fiancee and cousin — 44-year-old Casslyn Welch of Mesa — helped the inmates escape by throwing wire cutters over the prison fence. Henman said Washburn is suspected of giving financial and other types of support to help McCluskey, Province and Welch. Renwick was arrested Aug. 1 in Rifle, Colo. following a brief car chase and shoot-out.

August 7, 2010 AP
Two men who escaped from a private Arizona prison and a woman thought to have helped them have been linked to the investigation of a couple’s killing in New Mexico, authorities said Saturday. New Mexico State Police spokesman Peter Olson said Tracy Province, John McCluskey and Casslyn Welch were linked through forensics but he declined to provide specifics. He declined to say whether police believe the three were responsible for the killings, adding that “we don’t know how involved they are.” Province, McCluskey and Daniel Renwick escaped from the medium-security Arizona State Prison near Kingman on July 30 after authorities say 44-year-old Casslyn Welch of Mesa threw wire cutters over the perimeter fence. Renwick was arrested in Colorado on Aug. 1. The prison is managed by a Utah firm, Management & Training Corp., of Centerville. The badly burned skeletal remains of Linda and Gary Haas, both 61, of Tecumseh, Okla., were found in a charred camper on Wednesday morning on a remote ranch in Santa Rosa in eastern New Mexico. Olson said a car belonging to the couple was found 100 miles west in Albuquerque on Wednesday afternoon.

August 4, 2010 AP
The three inmates didn't seem to arouse the least bit of suspicion when they sneaked out of their dorm rooms and rushed to the perimeter of the medium-security prison. Alarms that were supposed to go off didn't. No officers noticed anything amiss. And no one was apparently paying attention when the violent criminals sliced open fences with wire cutters and vanished into the Arizona desert in their orange jumpsuits. The series of blunders surrounding the escape and the state's practice of housing hardened murderers and other violent criminals in private, medium-security prisons have placed Arizona corrections officials under intense scrutiny in recent days. Two of the fugitives remained at large Wednesday as the manhunt entered its fifth day. Authorities believe the inmates have left Arizona and were heading east with a girlfriend who allegedly threw the wire cutters over a fence and fled with two of them. Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan said he met Wednesday with representatives of the Utah-based prison company Management and Training Corp. and that they "have been assured that MTC is committed to addressing and correcting the security deficiencies that contributed to the escape." Ryan said a corrections security team at the prison was completing a comprehensive evaluation, and he would meet with MTC next week to finalize a plan. Investigators were focused on how the inmates managed to go undetected for several hours around the time of the escape and why three violent criminals were allowed in a medium-security prison in the first place. An Arizona lawmaker said the state needs to overhaul its inmate classification system, which allowed the prisoners to get put into the medium-security lockup despite their violent pasts. Corrections officials said their prison behavior was good enough that they downgraded the inmates' threat risk, clearing the way for placement in the facility. "One thing we might have to look at is saying if you're convicted of a crime that is as serious as murder, that you are always considered a high risk," said David Lujan, a state lawmaker who unsuccessfully sought to regulate the types of inmates held in private prisons. "They may be a moderate risk to the staff when they're inside. But when you see what happens outside afterward, obviously, they're more than a moderate risk to the public." The Arizona State Prison in Kingman sits amid nothing but a dusty field, three miles from a major east-west interstate highway. It opened in 2004 and was designed to house repeat drug and alcohol offenders and set them on a path to rehabilitation, but eventually grew to include more serious offenders in a separate unit. That was where Daniel Renwick, 36, Tracy Province, 42, and John McCluskey, 45, plotted their escape. Province was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery, including allegations that he stabbed his victim multiple times over money. Renwick was serving two 22-year sentences for two counts of second-degree murder, and McCluskey was doing 15 years for attempted murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm. Authorities originally said McCluskey was convicted of murder, when it was in fact attempted murder. Province has a dozen prison disciplinary infractions since 1996 — many of them drug-related. He worked in the prison's kitchen, while Province and McCluskey worked in the prison dog kennel, where they trained the animals for adoption. The trio last was accounted for at 4 p.m. Friday, said Department of Corrections spokesman Barrett Marson. Staff noticed the men missing in a head count and after electronic sensors along the perimeter fence sounded around 9 p.m. The local sheriff's office wasn't notified of the escape until 10:19 p.m., and state corrections officials weren't called until 11:37 p.m. "I think there was a concern by everyone that it was after the fact," said Trish Carter, a spokeswoman for the Mohave County Sheriff's Office. "Time is of the essence during this type of incident. The faster you get there, the more likely you're able to catch these inmates who escaped the facility." The three hopped a fence in the area of the dog kennel and used wire cutters that McCluskey's fiancee, who also is his cousin, had thrown over a fence to cut through two perimeter fences and flee. Carl Stuart, a spokesman for MTC, indicated that the dog program might have to be suspended because of the incident. He declined to comment further on security at the 3,508-bed prison. Province, McCluskey and his fiancee, 44-year-old Casslyn Mae Welch of Mesa, kidnapped two semi-truck drivers at gunpoint in Kingman and used the big rig to flee to Flagstaff, police said. Renwick was captured Sunday after an early morning shootout with an officer in Colorado. Ryan has said "lax" security may have created an opportunity for the men to escape, and authorities are looking into whether prison staff members might have aided the inmates. Ryan also has said the prison contractor will "be on the hook" for costs associated with finding the fugitives. The fugitives were among more than 115 inmates housed at the medium-security unit where others convicted murderers were held. Under their classification, they were considered a moderate risk to the public and staff. They weren't allowed to work outside the prison and were limited in their movement within the prison walls. The men were in orange jumpsuits when they escaped, which should have been easy to spot against the desert backdrop, said Kristen Green of Phoenix, who visits an inmate at the prison. "Guards should be on top of this, people in the control room should be on top of this," she said. "There's no way that they should have missed these guys, three of them going through a fence? This was pretty well planned."

August 3, 2010 AP
Three convicted murderers escaped a privately run prison in Arizona by using wire cutters that a woman threw over a fence, a state Department of Corrections spokesman said Tuesday. Officials also said prison staff didn't realize the inmates were missing Friday until after sensors on the perimeter fence sounded and a 9 p.m. head count, which came five hours after the three were last accounted for by prison staff. The woman who authorities say helped in the escape is Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, of Mesa — the fiancee and cousin of John McCluskey, one of the three inmates. She was waiting outside the prison in Kingman as the inmates breached a perimeter fence with the wire cutters and escaped, said department spokesman Barrett Marson. A security camera captured Welch driving a blue sedan around the facility that holds minimum- and medium-security inmates. Corrections Director Charles Ryan has said "lax" security created an opportunity for the men to escape. He's scheduled to meet with representatives of the prison operator, Utah-based Management and Training Corp., on Wednesday, Marson said. "We are going over everything that happened during the night of the escape, and many issues will be addressed with MTC," Marson said. A spokesman for MTC, Carl Stuart, declined to comment on security at the 3,508-bed facility. The local sheriff's office wasn't alerted until more than an hour after prison staff discovered the three were missing, and state corrections officials found out about the escape at 11:37 p.m., Maroon said. Daniel Renwick, 36, was captured Sunday in western Colorado. Tracy Province, 42, the 45-year-old McCluskey and Welch had kidnapped two drivers of a semi-truck in Kingman early Saturday morning and traveled in the rig to Flagstaff, where they left the drivers unharmed, authorities said. The three remain at large and are believed to be together in Arizona, said U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Thomas Henman. Province was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery, and McCluskey was serving 15 years for second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm. Renwick was serving a 22-year sentence for second degree murder. Renwick was being held Tuesday in a Colorado jail on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, vehicular eluding, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and felony escape. His bail is set at $2.5 million. Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson in Colorado said his office is reviewing the case and will decide whether to file charges by Aug. 11. "He's presumed innocent," Beeson said. "But if what we have seen in the reports is true, then I would say you're not going to come into my jurisdiction, shoot at officers and not be taken to task for it. My intent is, if we have business to do, we will do it, and accomplish it, and then we would be glad to turn him over to whomever wants him." According to an arrest affidavit, a Garfield County, Colo., sheriff's deputy noticed a vehicle with its lights off in a church parking lot and found that it matched the Arizona license plate of a Chevy Blazer connected with the fugitives. Another officer noticed the vehicle pulling out of the parking lot and chased it for three miles on an interstate until Renwick slowed down and exited. Renwick shot through the rear window of the Blazer, and Rifle, Colo., police Officer William Van Teylingen said he heard objects hitting his car. Teylingen rammed Renwick's vehicle, which came to a stop in a hotel parking lot. Teylingen's airbag activated in his cruiser and by the time he got out, Renwick was lying on the ground behind the cruiser. Teylingen found a rifle in the Blazer and a hole in a headlamp on his cruiser.

August 3, 2010 AFSC
The escape of three prisoners from the Kingman prison on Friday July 30, 2010, highlights continuing concerns about the management of state prison facilities by for-profit corporations, according to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). The Kingman facility is run by Management and Training Corporation of Ogden, Utah. MTC also runs the Marana Community Correctional Center, and is one of four prison corporations that have submitted bids to the Arizona Department of Corrections to build and operate up to 5,000 new state prison beds. This incident comes on the heels of a riot at the Kingman facility in June in which eight prisoners were injured. The escapes are being blamed on lax security and a failure to follow proper protocol. The prisoners reportedly were able to sneak out of their dormitory and cut through a perimeter fence without being detected. "You get what you pay for," said Caroline Isaacs, Director of the AFSC's Arizona office. "These for-profit prison corporations are primarily concerned about the bottom line and making money for their CEO's and shareholders." Isaacs charges that the companies cut corners everywhere they can, but primarily on staff pay and training. The result is a facility with high turnover rates, where the staff is inexperienced and the prisoners have nothing productive to do. Such a prison is unsafe for the inmates, the guards, and the surrounding community. This is not the only Arizona private prison scandal to make headlines recently. A prison run by Corrections Corporation of America in Eloy was recently on lockdown after prisoners from Hawaii rioted over an Xbox video game. When a staff member attempted to intervene, he was severely beaten, suffering a broken nose, broken cheekbones and damage to his eye sockets. The incident was the latest episode in a history of violence that has plagued the facility. Two prisoners are facing a possible death sentence in the fatal beating of another inmate there last February. These types of incidents are "alarmingly common" in privately operated prisons, Isaacs says, citing patterns of mismanagement, financial impropriety, abuse, and medical negligence. Further privatization of Arizona's prisons will be a financial boondoggle for a cash-strapped state and a nightmare for the host communities, she warns. "Arizona's legislature needs to take a good look at the track record of these companies before they spend any more of the taxpayers' money on this failed experiment."

August 3, 2010 KGUN9-TV
When a prison inmate escaped--who killed a woman's husband and daughter, she says 19 hours went by before the Arizona Department of Corrections informed her she could be in danger. KGUN 9 wants to know why. Daniel Renwick was one of three inmates who escaped from a privately run prison in Kingman. For Vicki Walker learning that Renwick escaped brought back a world of bad memories. "He murdered my husband and my daughter, " she said. "They were in their vehicle and he shot them, leaving my grandson who was 14 months. Kaleb now is ten." The way she heard of the escape made things worse. A son in law in another state saw it on the news and called her. Mrs. Walker says, "As a victim I'm supposed to be notified right away if there's an escape or if he's released and I did not hear from Department of Corrections for 19 hours." KGUN9 News asked Arizona Department of Corrections director Charles Ryan what went wrong. Ryan said, "The Department was also not advised immediately about the escape by Management Training Corporation and it's unfortunate it took as long as it did."

August 3, 2010 Arizona Republic
When the man who plunged a knife 51 times into their loved one received a sentence of life in prison in May 1993, Bryan Knoblich and his mother hoped they would never hear Tracy Province's name again. In 1991, Province and David Rodacker were on leave from jail when they attacked Norman Knoblich, 57, as he closed his coin-operated laundry business in Tucson. The pair left Norman dead and took only his wallet. Nineteen years later, Bryan Knoblich and his mother are again on the lookout for his father's killer. Province, 42, John McCluskey, 45, and Daniel Renwick, 36, escaped from a privately run medium-security state prison in Kingman on Friday night. "My first thought was, 'Are you kidding?' " Bryan said, recalling when he heard Province's name on the weekend news. "He's a twisted guy. Why weren't they in a maximum-security facility?" It's a question Mohave County supervisors and other officials are asking as authorities continue their search for Province and McCluskey. Renwick was recaptured Sunday in Colorado. "It's one thing when it's vehicular homicide and you're drunk," County Supervisor Buster Johnson said Monday of such prisoners. "But these people shouldn't be allowed anywhere else but in (maximum security)." While the manhunt continues, officials with the county, the Arizona Department of Corrections, and Management and Training Corp., the Utah-based company that operates the facility, are studying how the men penetrated several layers of security. Unarmed prison officials sounded the alarm about 9 p.m. after Province, McCluskey and Renwick missed their head count, Johnson said. An hour passed before the Mohave County Sheriff's Office was notified that the men somehow had made their way through locked doors and avoided surveillance cameras, ground and fence sensors, guard towers and roving ground patrols before cutting a hole in fencing near a dormitory. Officials are now investigating whether the escapees had inside help. "That's the question," Johnson said. "With this whole situation, this does bring up some concerns." Authorities believe the men were assisted by McCluskey's fiancee, Casslyn Welch of Mesa. They are believed to have hijacked two semitrucks and driven to Flagstaff before purchasing a car in Goodyear. Renwick was captured in Rifle, Colo., following a shootout with local authorities. No one was hurt and Renwick was booked into the Garfield County Jail. Although state officials have said all three men were serving time for murder, court records show McCluskey was serving 15 years for attempted murder after he fired a shotgun into a Mesa home in March 2009. He told police he would have killed his target had his weapon not jammed, records say. "He (McCluskey) also indicated that he would have shot the officer who detained him," court documents state. The Kingman facility holds 3,508 inmates, according to Carl Stuart, a Management and Training Corp. spokesman. Of those inmates, 117 are serving life sentences, with 57 being housed on first-degree murder and 60 on second-degree murder convictions, according to state corrections officials. The facility is classified as a medium-security prison, meaning it houses "inmates who represent a moderate risk to the public and staff," state Corrections Department Director Charles Ryan said in a release. Prison officials are seeking bids to add an additional 5,000 beds at the prison, which means the facility could house inmates from other states, Johnson said.

August 1, 2010 AP
A convicted murderer who escaped Friday with two other men from an Arizona prison fired a bullet at Rifle police before being arrested early Sunday morning, police say. Lt. J.R. Boulton said no one was injured during the incident, in which Daniel Renwick, 36, was then apprehended after an officer used his car to ram the vehicle the man was driving. Renwick was arrested after first drawing the attention of a Garfield County sheriff’s deputy in the Rulison area. Renwick was one of three convicts who authorities say escaped Friday evening by cutting a hole in a fence at an Arizona state prison. The other two and an accomplice remained at large Sunday, authorities said. Arizona Department of Corrections spokesman Barrett Marson said authorities there have no information leading them to believe the other escapees are in Colorado. Rather, information from law enforcement suggests they are still in Arizona, said Charles Ryan, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections. Boulton said Renwick was alone when he was arrested. Marson said the other two inmates should be considered especially dangerous because of the nature of their convictions. Officials identified them as Tracy Province, 42, who was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery, and John McCluskey, 45, serving 15 years for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm. Marson said the men are believed to be with Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, who is suspected of aiding in the escape. Renwick is being held without bond in the Garfield County Jail, the Sheriff’s Department said. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, vehicular eluding and escape. The escapees kidnapped two semitrailer drivers at gunpoint in Arizona and initially used their truck to flee, authorities say. Boulton said he believes Renwick was arrested in a Chevy S-10 Blazer. Rifle police believe that the vehicle is owned by an acquaintance of Renwick. The Garfield County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release that a sheriff’s deputy noticed a suspicious vehicle in the Rulison area, and while the deputy was trying to get behind the vehicle on Interstate 70 and check the license plate, the driver’s behavior became more suspicious. The driver got off at the west Rifle I-70 exit, dispatchers confirmed with the deputy that the vehicle was associated with the Arizona escape, and the deputy prepared to pull over a high-risk vehicle, the Sheriff’s Department said. Rifle police were dispatched to the west Rifle exit at 12:16 a.m. Sunday. The driver left as they prepared to approach and drove east on I-70, refusing to pull over, then exited at the main Rifle interchange. Boulton said the driver fired a shot that struck the front of a patrol car before police rammed his vehicle. He then surrendered without incident, Boulton said. Boulton said he believes at least two Rifle officers and a sheriff’s deputy were involved in the arrest. “They did everything they should have done. Everybody got to go home,” he said. The Sheriff’s Department said deputies used dog teams at the scene and there was no indication that other escapees were in the area. Renwick and the others escaped from a medium-security prison in Golden Valley, Ariz., Marson said. Renwick was serving two consecutive 22-year sentences for second-degree murder for shooting a father and his daughter, Marson said. His sentence expiration date was 2043. KOLD TV in Tucson reported that the daughter was Renwick’s ex-girlfriend. Police spent much of Saturday using helicopters and dogs to search for the three men. At about 5 a.m. Saturday, the group kidnapped two drivers of a semitrailer in Kingman, Ariz., and forced them at gunpoint to drive two hours east to Flagstaff, said Flagstaff police Sgt. James Jackson. The group left the drivers, unharmed, in the truck at a stop just off Interstate 40 and then fled. “The truck drivers were lucky to get away unscathed,” Jackson said. “I mean, they’ve been convicted of murder and they’re escaping from prison.” Authorities said Welch was seen at the prison before the escape driving a blue 1996 Chrysler Concord car with Arizona license plate ABL7584. Authorities urged anyone with information on the escaped prisoners to use caution and call police immediately. Province was last seen wearing dark blue jeans, a dark purple polo shirt with red stripes and white tennis shoes. McCluskey was wearing light-colored blue jeans, a white button-up shirt with horizontal and vertical blue stripes, and white tennis shoes. Management and Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, operates the prison where the escape occurred. The company operates 17 correctional facilities in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Idaho and Ohio, according to its website. Ryan said Sunday that the escape is under investigation. “We have great concerns that there was laxness on the part of security staff at this private prison, but I’m going to allow the investigation to run its course,” said Ryan, who plans to meet with prison officials in the next day or two.

July 31, 2010 AP
Three prison inmates convicted of murder escaped from a northwest Arizona prison Friday after cutting a perimeter fence. Helicopters and police dogs searched for the men, who were found missing Friday evening from the Arizona State Prison in Golden Valley. The men are considered armed and dangerous. Flagstaff police believe the men kidnapped two people at gunpoint in the Kingman area, left them in Flagstaff and continued in an unknown direction. The missing prisoners are: Tracy Province, who was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery; Daniel Renwick, who was serving 22 years for second-degree murder; and John McClusky, who was serving 15 years for second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm. Police also believe the men got help from a woman named Casslyn Mae Welch and may still be traveling with her. Anyone with information on the escaped prisoners should call police immediately. They were last seen wearing orange prison jumpsuits.

June 2, 2010 Arizona Daily Sun
State prison officials are investigating the circumstances of a brawl at a privately run prison in Kingman that left eight inmates injured. The fight in a minimum security unit of the Arizona State Prison-Kingman involved black and white inmates, some using padlocks wrapped in socks as weapons. Department of Corrections spokesman Barrett Marson says Monday's altercation lasted nearly 45 minutes. A spokesman for prison operator Management and Training Corporation says no staff members were hurt. Of the eight inmates taken to a hospital, seven were released after treatment and one hospitalized for a non-fight related condition. The prison remained on lockdown on Wednesday.

June 2, 2010 Kingman Daily Miner
The Cerbat unit of the Arizona State Prison-Kingman was on lockdown Tuesday following an incident on Memorial Day. Carl Stuart, spokesperson for Management and Training Corporation, which operates the prison, said a fight broke out among inmates in the east yard of the minimum security Cerbat unit around 1 p.m. Monday. He said it is unclear how many inmates were actually involved in the fight since the vast majority were simply spectators. The fight lasted nearly 45 minutes and was between black and white inmates, according to Barrett Marson, director of communications for Arizona State Prison. Some of the inmates used padlocks wrapped in socks as weapons. Eight inmates were taken to the hospital following the fight. Seven were observed and released, while an eighth inmate was treated for a condition unrelated to the fight. No staff members or guards were injured, according to Stuart. Officials are still investigating what caused the altercation to break out. Stuart said the lockdown was a precautionary measure and would last indefinitely. Inmates in the Hualapai unit were on restrictive movement, meaning that all non-essential activities, such as rehabilitation classes, were temporarily suspended.

Benson, Arizona
July 28, 2004 News-Sun
Moving forward on funding a $25 million detention center, the Greater Benson Economic Development Corporation has elected its officers and created bylaws.  The group drew a lot of controversy when it was created by the City Council on July 7. Leading the new corporation is David DiPeso, unanimously selected as president.  Councilman Ted Amox, is five president; Beverly Stepp, is secretary; Mike Montroy is the treasurer. Serving as second vice president will be Dr. Mark Kartchner.  "They want to build this thing as soon as possible so that's the reason for this hurry," Amox said. "I think Cochise County is the most likely candidate in the United States for a facility like this."  City Manager Boyd Kraemer said the city of Benson can't borrow the money to fund the facility without voter approval, which is where the corporation comes in.  The plan is for the group to borrow $25 million through revenue bonds, which will supposedly be paid for over the next 22 years, through profits from detainees being held at the facility anywhere from three to nine months. Once the debt is paid, the City will own the facility.  The benefit of this plan, Kraemer said, is that the city is in no way liable and taxes won't increase to pay for the facility.  Kevin Pranis, a criminal justice policy analyst for Justice Strategies in New York City, said he's been studying privately owned detention centers for the last two years and to say there is going to be no risk to the city is "laughable."  "If bonds go into default the investor is never the one to get hurt," Pranis said. "This may be successful, but if it's not, someone is going to have to pay and the city will be right in the middle of it. The investors have the money to file the lawsuits and fight it. The city doesn't, and will probably end up paying for it. The city isn't an expert in bond laws or with the detention-center market. There are no guarantees."  Neither the city nor Matador has contacted the U.S. Marshals office about using the Benson facility.  Brian Nernex, assistant chief deputy of the U.S. Marshals office in Tucson, said he found out about the proposed facility through the San Pedro Valley News-Sun article on July 14 and the office has not committed to using it.  Pranis said its common for privately owned facilities to not only leave the public out of the process, but also the law-enforcement agencies that are said to be behind the project.  Besides the Marshals office not being contracted, Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever has also been left out of the loop.  "I have not been talked to directly," Dever said. "With something as big as this it does surprise me that they haven't even talked to the Marshals office." 

Borallon Correctional Centre, Queensland, Australia
A TENDER for the state's two privately-run prisons is not a criticism of the current operators, the Queensland Government said today. Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence said new tenders to run Borallon and Arthur Gorrie correctional centres, valued at a total of $200 million, would ensure taxpayers got value for money. "It is not about the performance of the current operators,'' Ms Spence said. The Arthur Gorrie jail has been under fire in recent years over a number of deaths in custody, security failures and assaults on prisoners by staff. Borallon made headlines four years ago when a report showed it had the highest rate of illicit drug use in the state, with almost one in three prisoners using drugs. Four companies will be invited to tender: GEO Group Australia Pty Ltd, GSL Australia Pty Ltd, Management and Training Corporation Pty Ltd and Serco Australia Pty Ltd. GEO currently operates Arthur Gorrie, and Management and Training Corporation operates Borallon. Ms Spence said the contracts would be for five years, with an option for Queensland Corrective Services to extend them for a further five years. The tenders will be evaluated in the first half of next year with new contracts to start on January 1, 2008. An independent probity auditor has been contracted to oversee the entire project.

February 22, 2004
OFFICERS at a privately-run prison in Queensland will walk off the job again over the next two days. Prison officers at the Borallon Correctional Centre, near Ipswich, will lock prisoners in their cells during six-hour stoppages tomorrow and on Tuesday in a dispute over enterprise bargaining negotiations  The prison is operated by the US-based prison company Management and Training Corporation (MTC), under contract to the Queensland Government.  Last week, about 500 low and medium security inmates were locked in their cells for two hours on Monday and Tuesday morning.  The prison officers' union, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, said it would increase the length of the stoppages if the dispute dragged on.  About 150 prison officers have been calling for a six per cent annual pay rise over the next two years but MTC offered an increase of just 1.9 per cent a year.  MTC also wants to reduce prison officers' sick leave entitlements to six days a year from eight in the last agreement which expired last month.  LHMWU spokesman Ron Simon said the union would also ban overtime at the prison.  "Each week we've increased the length and intensity, of the walkout," he said. "This time our members are stopping twice for six hours and imposing a two-week overtime ban, commencing Monday morning."  (Townsville Bulletin)

February 9, 2004
INMATES at Borallon Correctional Centre near Ipswich will be placed in lockdown mode tomorrow and Tuesday as prison officers strike in support of increased wages and benefits.  Almost 500 low and medium security inmates at the privatised prison will be locked down and managed under a skeleton staff structure for two hours from 8am (AEST) tomorrow and on Tuesday, while members of the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU) rally for a pay increase.  The prison has been run by US firm Management and Training Corporation (MTC) since September 2000, under contract to the Queensland government.  About 150 prison officers, whose current enterprise agreement expired last month, are calling for a six per cent annual pay rise over the next two years in addition to paid parental leave and income protection.  (Townsville Bulletin)

August 14, 2001
Drugs and illegal 'home brew' have been discovered during random searches in Queensland's prisons.  Four prisoners have also lost open security classification after testing positive to drugs.  Two prisoners already in custody are facing charges after random searches uncovered drugs at Borallon Correctional Centre and illegal brew at Borallon and Woodford Correctional Centres.  (ABC News)

Bradshaw State Jail, Texas
Jul 11, 2017 news-journal.com
MTC to take over Bradshaw State Jail after 13-year company loses bid
UPDATE: The private prison company that operates the East Texas Treatment Facility in Henderson plans to hire a majority of the 192 employees at another company that lost a bid to renew a contract for operating the Bradshaw State Jail, also in Henderson. Issa Arnita, spokesman at the corporate headquarters of Management & Training Corp. in Centerville, Utah, said in a statement current employees of CoreCivic “will not have the first right of refusal, however as I mentioned we plan to rehire the majority of employees and will work to find a good fit for them.” Arnita said MTC will hire approximately 240 employees after taking over the Bradshaw State Jail Sept. 1 while explaining MTC will operate food services at the jail. A subcontractor currently provides the service. MTC will take over operations of the jail because the Texas Board of Criminal Justice reported June 30 that it awarded a contract for two years, with renewal options, to the company. CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America, held the contract since Jan. 16, 2004, according to Jason Clark, public information director at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Because CoreCivic lost its bid for renewal, it sent a WARN letter dated July 3 notifying the Texas Workforce Commission that it “must lay off its employees” at the Bradshaw Jail beginning midnight Aug. 31. “There are 192 employees who will be affected by CoreCivic’s cession of operations at this facility,” states the letter from Andrea Cooper, senior director for human resources compliance at corporate headquarters in Nashville. “We have enclosed a list of affected positions, to include job titles and totals for each job classification. Please note there are no applicable bumping rights for the employees.” Cooper and other CoreCivic officials were unavailable for comment Monday. Cooper sent the letter to comply with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires employers planning major layoffs to give two months of notice to the workforce commission. Upon notice of any mass layoffs or plant closings in Texas, workforce commission agencies, including Workforce Solutions East Texas, can act quickly to provide Rapid Response Services and minimize the effect to local economies by helping employees to transition to new employment, according to commission spokeswoman Lisa Givens. Services include crisis counseling, financial planning assistance, stress/change management, résumé and application preparation, job search help, labor market and career information, and interview preparation, she has said. Meanwhile, MTC will expand its presence in Henderson by taking over the Bradshaw State Jail, which Clark said houses about 225 inmates incarcerated by state offenses such as drug and property crimes. MTC has 424 employees at the East Texas Treatment Facility at 900 Industrial Drive in Henderson, according to a company fact sheet. It has a capacity of 2,320 inmates who take a variety of educational, vocational and substance abuse and life-skills courses that MTC says are designed to prepare them to re-enter society.

November 25, 2003 Texas Lawyer
Private prison-management corporations and their employees may be sued under §[1983 by a prisoner who has suffered a constitutional injury. FACTS: Billy Rosborough is a prisoner in the Bradshaw State Jail, a Texas prison owned and operated by defendant Management and Training Corp., a private prison-management corporation. Defendant Chris Shirley is a corrections officer employed by MTC at the jail. Rosborough sued MTC and Shirley under 42 U.S.C. §[1983 alleging that he was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment when Shirley maliciously slammed a door on Rosborough's fingers, severing two fingertips. Rosborough also alleges that Shirley displayed deliberate indifference to Rosborough's resulting serious medical condition. In addition, Rosborough alleges that MTC is liable under 42 U.S.C. §[1983 for its improper training and supervision of Shirley. Rosborough supplemented his federal action with state-law negligence claims. 

Bridgeport Correctional Center, Bridgeport, Texas
June 27, 2010 Wise County Messenger
A new management company will take over the Bridgeport Correctional Center beginning Aug. 31. The 520-bed facility has been managed by GEO Group Inc., since the center opened in August 1989. GEO was reawarded a three-year contract from Sept. 1, 2005, and also had two, one-year renewals. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice conducted a competitive bid process, and Management & Training Corp. won the seven-year bid. "There's a technical review of the bid and a financial review of the bid," said Jason Clark, public information officer for the TDCJ. Clark said that the reviews are done separately by different committees. "They score those reviews and compile the scores and a recommendation is made to the TDCJ."

Central North Correctional Centre, Penetanguishene, Canada
November 8, 2006 The Mirror
About 90 per cent of jail employees will continue on at Central North Correctional Centre when the jail moves from private to public, this week, and provincial officials say that will ensure a smooth transition. "We've got a lot of experience in the institution that we're going to be keeping. So, when it comes down to the actual transition, it's going to be largely handing over files and inventory and also switching over to ministry operating procedures," said Stuart McGetrick, senior communications coordinator for the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services. "Since we've got the staff and the management already in place, largely, it's going to be a fairly straight forward process to transfer a public operation." Ministry officials have been at CNCC all week to prepare for the transition on Nov. 9. Staff have been briefed in the processes and procedures of public sector jails but McGetrick admits that doesn't mean there will be a complete switch this week. He does, however, credit Management and Training Corporation and the union for their assistance. "We're very fortunate that we've had excellent cooperation from MTCC and OPSEU in the lead up to the transition," he said. "We really anticipate a very smooth transition process."

September 27, 2006 NUPGE CA
The staff at the only private adult jail in Canada will be public employees again in November, ending a failed five-year privatization experiment launched by the Conservative government of former Ontario Premier Mike Harris. The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) has reached an agreement with the province on the procedures to make the transfer when the contract given by the Tories to Utah-based Management & Training Corporation (MTC) to operate the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene expires. OPSEU President Leah Casselman said that she is pleased that an agreement has been reached and hopes that the transition will be a smooth one. “Our first concern was always the members currently working at the facility,” Casselman said. “There is still work to be done, but the major transition issues have fortunately been dealt with.”

August 25, 2006 The Mirror
Not enough staff at Central North Correctional Centre led to the murder of inmate Minh Tu on May 5, 2004, charges a Penetanguishene woman. Richard Quansah was found guilty of first-degree murder and recently sentenced to life in prison without parole for 25 years for killing Minh Tu, after an argument over a board game while the two were inmates at the Penetanguishene prison operated by Management and Training Corporation (MTC). Sharon Dion, chairperson of Citizens Against Private Prisons, told The Mirror she is surprised more violence has not occurred at the privately-operated jail because of ongoing problems and lack of staff to deal with them properly. Dion is known locally and internationally for her knowledge about privatized prisons, and has lent her expertise to the Ontario government, as well as correctional organizations throughout Canada and the United States. She says she was contacted by several upset correctional officers after the May 2004 stabbing who told her that a CO was given a note from an inmate that said there was a knife in the unit and a 'killing' would take place. However, a lockdown and search failed to locate the weapon so inmates were allowed out of their cells. Tu was murdered soon after. "Management was warned that this was going to happen," said Dion. "They shouldn't have allowed inmates to come out of their cells until something was found or more investigation was done. And, of course, because of the outcome, that proves the theory."

July 26, 2006 Midland Free Press
There is one Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) employee guaranteed a job once the province takes over operations. Facility administrator Phill Clough has accepted employment with the ministry, beginning Nov. 10. Ministry spokesperson Stuart McGetrick and CNCC confirmed the offer and acceptance to The Mirror. Meanwhile, negotiations have begun between the province and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) for correctional officers at Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) to keep their jobs when the province takes over the operation of the facility. Senior officials from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services met with OPSEU's Ministry Employee Relations Committee (MERC) team to discuss the future of more than 200 correctional officers at the jail. The meeting took place on July 17 and lasted for a good part of the day. According to OPSEU spokesperson Don Ford, the initial meeting was simply to lay out each side's priorities for further talks. "First of all, (our) priority one is to make sure that the people who are currently working at the jail continue to work at the jail after the transition," he told The Mirror. "From that point forward, we would also look for whatever seniority they've accumulated under the private employer to also continue on to the ministry." Community Safety & Correctional Services Minister, Monte Kwinter announced in April that the privately-run jail will be transferred into the public sector when the contract with Utah-based Management & Training Corporation is up on Nov. 10. To date, employees have not been told of their fate. When he made the announcement, Kwinter told The Mirror that the province would work with MTC to make the transition as seamless as possible. He also said there would be more job opportunities once the jail is in the public fold. "We need personnel to run that facility and we're going to have an increase in personnel because we're going to staff it up to the level that we do in (Lindsay)," he said. "So, what is going to happen, obviously, there will be opportunities for more jobs." Although Ford spoke to The Mirror, he cautioned that OPSEU will not report on the progress of the meetings with the employer. "We are treating this no differently than we treat bargaining," he said. "We're meeting with the employer and we're not going to give a status update on those talks, other than to say, 'We're talking.'"

May 24, 2006 Midland Free Press
Small and quiet, with dark hair and eyes, eight-year-old Sharon Desjardins never asked for much. What she wanted, she worked hard to get - and she wanted that baby squirrel more than anything. A boy in her class had raided its nest and was showing off the tiny black rodent in the schoolyard. The young girl was known for stepping in and protecting weaker students when they were being picked on, because it was the right thing to do. This was another one of the poor souls she was out to save. She promised him a dollar if she could have it. It was the mid-60s and a dollar was hard to come by. Desjardins begged and borrowed what she could, counting up her pennies and pleading with her mom to part with spare change until she had enough to save the pet she would later name 'Chipper.' She lets out a hearty laugh as she tells the story. "It was house trained, I'm not kidding you. I have pictures of it sitting on our hands, on our shoulders ... It would scratch to get in the door and scratch to get out to the bathroom," she said. "My mother was wonderful; she let me have pretty well any animal that I wanted." More than 40 years later, Desjardins' married name is Dion and Chipper is long gone; but there is still a small bowl of shelled peanuts sitting on her kitchen counter. If there is anyone with the patience and tenacity to train a squirrel, it's this woman who has fought tirelessly to see Canada's first and only privatized adult jail brought into public hands. Her kitchen is larger and brighter than the one in the small Water Street house in Penetanguishene that she grew up in, as the youngest of three children to Bernice and Gordon Desjardins. That house, full of troubled memories of an alcoholic father and a childhood spent in poverty, is markedly different than the stylish and welcoming home she has created for herself and her family. Some of the happiest times of Dion's life have been in this room, with family and friends gathered on barstools, comfortable leather furniture or around the large dining room table. This is what means the most to her, she confides, looking around the room at framed pictures of herself and her husband of 30 years, Ray, their two children and grandchildren. Her posture is relaxed, her smile warm and her brown eyes have lost their intense look of defiance that marked seven long years of battling the provincial government and corporate America. It's over; Central North Correctional Centre is going back into the public fold. While it looks like she can rest in Canada - for now, at least - she has accepted several invitations to speak throughout the U.S. She admits the last several days since she received the call from Queen's Park that the province would not renew its contract with Utah-based Management and Training Corporation have been emotionally exhausting. "It's elation ... something I just can't explain and at times I'm afraid I'm going to fall when it's done ... Of course you don't do it for the accolades, but I guess it just feels so good and I'm just so pleased that the right decision was made by the Liberal government." Though she admits, sometimes, even family took a backseat to the fight. "My convictions were so strong that I couldn't let anyone away with the nonsense that was happening," she said. The scrappy Metis woman has been called tenacious, a defender of the defenceless, passionate, and some names that aren't exactly flattering by those who oppose her. But by all accounts, she brushes off these labels. She says she is simply a woman who cares about the small community she was born and raised in, and the people who live there. She flashes a wide smile showing off straight, polished teeth surrounded by her trademark pink lips, and is unapologetic when she explains why she continues standing up for what she believes is right. "What I would like to see is money spent on social programs. Getting children in high-risk families help so they don't go through that revolving door. Prison privatization will just enhance that because that's what they want; that's how they make money. I just couldn't stand for our Canadian standards and values to be harmed in that way." She credits her tough childhood for making her survivor. "I guess I've always stood up for myself and I guess that's the one credit I can give to my father; that life made me want to survive. Nothing's been given to me. "So, I go for what I feel I want to have. It's a good thing," she says, adding, "I look at my (past) life as a positive not something negative." Beyond the back gate of her yard is Fuller Avenue, a road that has gotten much busier in the past seven years; a road that leads to Canada's first-ever private prison - a five-year pilot project of the former Conservative government that failed. When the leaves have fallen from her neighbours' trees that shroud her backyard, Dion can see the edge of the prison property from her kitchen window. She has never been against CNCC's location or the jobs it brought to Penetanguishene. Ray is a psychiatric nurse at Oak Ridge, Ontario's only maximum-security forensic program located at the Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene, right beside the prison, and she knows having incarcerated people in local facilities can work. The fight against privatization took her to the United States, where she is a member of the Private Corrections Institute, to Queen's Park, where she passed on information she had about private prisons and Management and Training Corporation, and to countless meetings and rallies where she eloquently spoke about prison privatization. "What I love about Sharon is she always comes prepared," Liberal MPP Dave Levac recently told The Mirror. "She's factual. She's not emotional about it. She brings passion to the situation, but I have to tell you that she's probably one of the most prepared people I've ever dealt with and worked with." At times, feeling left out of the evaluation process between Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay and CNCC, she didn't stop calling politicians until she was heard. Towards the end of the process, they even started calling her. The last four-and-a-half years that the jail has been open have been marked by inmate deaths (Jeffrey Elliott and Lorne Thaw), stabbings, beatings of inmates and correctional officers, low staffing levels, and numerous security issues, she says. Although it's acknowledged that these incidents also happen in publicly-run jails throughout Ontario, Dion didn't want to accept it as the status quo. She continually asked the ministry tough questions and worked hard to keep the issues in the public eye. It wasn't always easy, but she admits to only a handful of times when she felt like it was a lost cause. There were even times, she confides, to feeling like she was in over her head, as a woman from small-town Ontario. Those thoughts never lasted long. "Of course I felt that way, but because of the knowledge that I had, I had the courage to do what I'm doing," she says, drawing herself up higher on the sofa. "It's the truth. I don't get paid for this. I'm not making it up because I have documentation and that's the power. It's simple. Anybody else could have done it." But no one else took the lead. Dion was one person amongst dozens at a public meeting in 1996. At the time, the Conservative government hadn't even decided that Penetanguishene would host one of two 'super jails' the province was proposing, but a rumour about privatization was brought up. Dion didn't know anything about prison privatization and began to research the issue. What she discovered she didn't like. It pushed her to dig deeper and talk to more people in the United States that had experience in the private prison system. In 1999, when the government announced Penetanguishene's jail would be run by a private company, she began her crusade against privatization and started Citizens Against Private Prisons. "I have extremely strong convictions, when I know the issue and I've taken the time to educate myself on them. There's no way I would ever let anyone tell me different, because I know the truth," she says, her voice indignant. "Every time I would ask questions of the past government, I would basically know the answer and I'd know I was lied to and that just (gave) me more determination." Although she has often been at the forefront of the cause, she notes that there were always people she could count on to help, specifically her mother and Ray, Midland resident Dawn Marie Horn, friends and colleagues at the Private Corrections Institute, members of OPSEU and Brant MPP Levac. Of course, there were also the employees who had the courage to speak to her. Although she was sometimes a sounding board for inmates and their families, she has never professed to be an inmate advocate. When would she find the time? When she wasn't writing letters, organizing rallies or public forums and publicly speaking against privatization, Dion operated her own used clothing business (she has since retired), volunteers in Aboriginal Services at the Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene and is a competitive a capella four-part harmony singer with the Barrie Chorus, where she is also the assistant director. Two years ago, she also completed five university credits towards a degree in Aboriginal Education. Still, she took countless calls from inmates, wives and hysterical mothers with sons inside the walls of CNCC, and helped the father of Jeffery Elliott - the inmate who died in hospital in 2003, after receiving a cut to his left ring finger while at CNCC - throughout the inquest into his horrific death. They will not forget what she has done, nor will some employees at CNCC who disagreed with the way the prison was operated. Her phone has been ringing incessantly since April 27, when the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services announced the jail would be publicly run as of Nov. 10. Many CNCC employees, politicians, residents and union officials have left messages - among them, a heartfelt message from a former inmate, thanking her for her unwavering determination and for giving a voice to inmates like him. She can't seem to erase this one. As she re-plays the emotional recording, her eyes tear up. Then she smiles. It's a very good day.

May 3, 2006 The Mirror
Opponents of private prisons throughout the world are heralding the provincial Liberal government's decision to bring Central North Correctional Centre into the public fold. "This is a very large victory, not only in Canada, but across the world," said Brian Dawe, executive director of Corrections USA, a non-profit coalition of corrections professionals from Canada and the U.S. "This is the very first time, anywhere in the world, that any governmental agency has undertaken an actual apples-to-apples comparison of the two public and private prisons. No one has ever, anywhere else, designed two identical prisons for the sole purpose of determining whether or not the private industry should be involved in corrections or it should remain a public function." The Liberal government announced its decision to transfer the operation from the Utah-based Management and Training Corporation to the public sector on April 27, after a five-year study compared the privately-run prison with its publicly-run twin in Lindsay, Central East Correctional Centre. During that time, Dawe said a world spotlight has been on Penetanguishene. He noted this precedent-setting move will catch the attention of governments in the rest of Canada, the U.S., and beyond. Dawe gives a lot of credit to Penetanguishene resident Sharon Dion, who has been fighting privatization of the jail since 1999, when the former Conservative government under Mike Harris announced CNCC could be privatized. "She deserves an incredible amount of credit for her dogged perseverance on behalf of all of the people in, not only her neck of the woods, but across Canada and around the world," he said.

April 28, 2006 The Mirror
Canada's only privately-operated jail will return to the public sector in the fall. Although cost was a factor in the decision of whether or not to keep Penetanguishene's prison privately run, in the end, lower costs offered through Management & Training Corporation (MTC) of Utah wasn't enough to maintain its role as the operator of the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC). Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister, Monte Kwinter announced yesterday that the jail will be transferred into the public sector when the contract expires Nov. 10, 2006. "Our concern was to make sure we were providing a facility that was adequately looking after the people that we have responsibility for, the inmates, that we make sure their health-care provisions are provided for; that we make sure their recidivism rates (are minimized)," Kwinter said in a telephone interview with The Mirror shortly after the decision was announced. "We want to make sure that there is integration back into the community and there is adequate facilities to do that, and adequate personnel resources to do that," he said. "When we took a look at it, we just found we were getting better results (at Central East Correctional Centre). Mind you, it's going to cost us more money - but everything is a trade off. Overall, we felt the citizens of Ontario would be better served with this facility being back in public hands." Although the decision is disappointing for MTC, public relations director Peter Mount says the private operator will continue to work with the ministry. "We're going to work and continue to work very closely with our partners at the ministry, especially during this transition period," Mount said. "Our responsibility is and always will be the safety of the public, the staff and the inmates. That's going to continue during the transitional period." For local resident Sharon Dion, who has campaigned against the privatization of the prison since it was announced in 1999, the decision came as a welcomed surprise. "It's such a triumphant day for Canada," said Dion, who received a call from Queen's Park shortly after the decision was made. "I'm really praising the Liberal government for making the right decision."

April 28, 2006 Midland Free Press
Canada’s first privately operated adult prison is being turned over to the province. Central North Correctional Centre, which opened in 2001 and has been run by Management and Training Corporation since, will be operated by the provincial government, effective Nov. 10, 2006, when MTC's five-year contract expires. The Ministry of Community Safety and Corrections made the announcement Thursday after completing a report comparing CNCC with its physical twin in Kawartha Lakes, which is publicly run. A decision on the prison's future was needed six months prior to the current contract expiring. "On just a cost basis the (private operation) was more economical," corrections minister Monte Kwinter told Osprey News Thursday afternoon, "but that reflected on the outcome. "Management and Training Corporation was in material compliance with the (existing) contract, but there's no question that health care was delivered better at the Kawartha Lakes facility and that integration was better at the Kawartha Lakes facility," Kwinter said. "We have a responsibility to make sure we provide adequate resources, and while there's no question there were some benefits from this exercise that we could learn from," he said. "The evidence clearly indicates that the public facility produced better results." The province opened CNCC under a private-public partnership after a Conservative overhaul of Ontario's prison system in the 1990s. CECC opened soon after with the idea of comparing the facilities based on cost effectiveness and performance. Price Waterhouse Coopers, a consulting firm, conducted a comparison review on CNCC and CECC for the province over an extended timeframe. Part of that review shows the public prison rated higher than CNCC in eight of 10 performance categories, including security and community impact. CNCC spokesperson Peter Mount said he was surprised by the decision of the government not to renew the company's contract and called it “disappointing." “We will begin the process of talking to staff right away,” said Mount, adding the U.S.-based company intends to continue working with the province until its contract expires. "We have a responsibility and we will continue to live up to that responsibility," he said. "We will work closely with the government to ensure safety is looked after." Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop, who has been a proponent of the private jail and who's also the Conservative corrections critic, wasn’t thrilled by Thursday's announcement. “The Liberals are in power and they have the ability to do this," he said. "I’m going to live with the decision, but I just hope they’ll provide us with the numbers.” In September of 2004, Dunlop estimated that having the jail run by a private operator saved taxpayers more than $20 million annually, according to financial figures he had seen at the time. "I think there was a substantial savings there. I'd like them to show me in black and white, without fudging the numbers, what it actually was," he said. "That should be something that's available. What's to hide?" For Penetanguishene resident Sharon Dion, an opponent of privatized prisons, was pleased by the government's decision to go public. "It's an enormous victory. I couldn't be more pleased. It's a great day for all Canadians," said Dion, of Citizens Against Privatized Prisons. "I was a little concerned at times about this review, but I think the consultation was done in an honest manner on the government's part." Kwinter said details still need to be ironed out, but the province plans to provide 91 additional staff at the Penetanguishene prison when it takes over in November.

April 27, 2006 The Star
Canada's only privately run jail is going public again. Ontario Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter says an analysis of the Penetanguishene prison showed it was saving the province money under private operation. But Kwinter says there was a human cost. He says health-care services weren't as good for prisoners, and offenders were more likely to repeat. Kwinter says it will cost the province $2 million more per year to run the 1,200-bed prison. The jail, north of Toronto, went private under Ontario's previous Conservative government.

April 27, 2006 Government of Ontario
Ontario will transfer the operation of the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene to the public sector, Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter announced today. "After five years, there has been no appreciable benefit from the private operation of the Central North Correctional Centre," said Kwinter. "We carefully studied its overall performance compared with the publicly operated Central East Correctional Centre in Kawartha Lakes, and concluded the CECC performed better in key areas such as security, health care and reducing re-offending rates. As a result, the government will allow the contract with the private operator to expire." Management and Training Corporation Canada (MTCC) was chosen to operate the Central North Correctional Centre in May 2001 as part of a five-year pilot project. During that period, the Central East Correctional Centre - which is identical in design - opened as a publicly operated facility. The pilot project was to determine if there was any advantage to private operations of correctional services in Ontario. "We acknowledge that MTCC was in material compliance with the contract," said Kwinter, "but the evidence clearly indicates that the public facility produced better results in key performance areas." The contract with MTCC ends on November 10, 2006. Over the next six months, the ministry will work with its partners, including MTCC and bargaining agents, to ensure a safe and smooth transition of CNCC's operations to the Ontario Public Service.

April 21, 2006 The Mirror
Once a staunch supporter of the privatization of the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene, Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop now says he is not fighting to keep the jail privately operated, but will accept whatever decision the Liberal government makes in May. "I'm the guy in our caucus that wore the jail and I don't intend to go back into that battle again," he told The Mirror. "If the government decides to keep it private, then I will be fully supportive of the operator and will do whatever I can to help them out. If the government decides to go public, I will work with the public system and do my best." Dunlop says he never felt supported by the provincial Conservatives when they were in power, regarding the privatization of CNCC, but instead felt he was left "carrying the full load" of the decision. "... I can't see myself, once again, fighting very very hard to keep it private when I didn't get a lot of support for privatization in the first place, particularly from my party and even from the community, in a lot of ways," he said. "I think that was fairly clear. I don't think that was any kind of a mystery. No one came up and said that to me, but when privatization was talked about, before the decision was made, I knew if there was a privatized jail, I would get it because I'm the new guy down there. I don't know anybody. That's just the way politics is." The MPP fought hard to garner support for it, against the opposition of most of the Penetanguishene council of the day and members of the community. "I guess I do feel, a little bit to this day, a little let down that I didn't get more support for privatization," said Dunlop, who noted that many people supported the idea to him face to face, but would not go public with their support.

March 10, 2006 The Mirror
Central North Correctional Centre employees worried about their fate met secretly Wednesday night with OPSEU officials. "Rumours have been circulating in the institution that if the public service takes over the jail, all of these people are going to be out of work because the public service correctional officers will come in and (take their jobs)," said Don Ford, a spokesperson for the Ontario Public Services Employee Union, who attended the meeting. Between 50 and 70 employees attended the two-hour meeting, organized by members of OPSEU Local 369. Employees are concerned about what will happen to them if the jail is made public, or if the present contract is not renewed. Staffing levels continue to be a concern for correctional officers at CNCC. Pete Wright, president of OPSEU Local 368 at CECC, says the Lindsay prison - Penetanguishene's physical twin except publicly operated - has 245 full-time and 80 part-time (called unclassifieds) COs. According to union representatives at CNCC, Penetanguishene's prison has approximately 210 full-time and 30 part-time correctional officers. "A lot of the questions we got from the members at Central North were operational questions as to how they operate on a daily basis and how we operate," said Wright. "I think they were shocked to hear some of the things that they take for granted that we don't allow at Central East ... I think staffing levels are one of the major concerns." Although Wright says violence is inherent at every jail, it's usually offender on offender. He says Lindsay has not had any murders at its facility (inmate Ming Tu was stabbed to death at CNCC) and no correctional officers have been beaten, unlike the Penetanguishene prison, where a correctional officer was severely beaten in 2003 and another CO was stabbed in the neck by an inmate in 2005.

February 20, 2006 NUPGE
Correctional employees represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) are pressuring Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty to make good on a 2003 election promise to return the Ontario superjail in Penetanguishene to the public sector. A petition, being circulated by the union's ministry employee relations committee (MERC), cites a litany of serious problems within the jail, which has been operated since it opened in 2001 by an American company - Utah-based Management and Training Corporation (MTC). The firm was granted a five-year, $170-million contract to operate the 1,184-bed institution. It is the first privately-run superjail anywhere in Canada. The deal was negotiated, over widespread protests, by the former Conservative government of Premier Mike Harris in 2001. It is due to expire later this year unless renewed by the province. McGuinty pledged when he was elected in October 2003 not to renew the contract. He also declared that "private jails are a failed experiment and have no place in Ontario." OPSEU says problems experienced under MTC management at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene include the following: • a major riot due to lack of food, clothing and medical care, costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs; • the death of a 20-year-old due to lack of proper medical care; • four inmate stabbings, an inmate murder and the beating of correctional officers, over period of months - all caused by insufficient staffing levels; and • the loss of $1.1-million a year in business taxes that the operators have been exempted from paying to the municipality.

February 3, 2006 The Mirror
A former manager at the Central North Correctional Centre says he has major concerns about the well-being of employees and inmates at the jail. Former CNCC Sgt. Martin Speyer, 29, alleges inmates receives a poor diet and medical care, and staff is bullied by senior management inside Canada's only privately-run adult prison. Speyer was fired by Management & Training Corporation (MTC) on Jan. 11, after being on administrative leave since Dec. 20, 2005. In his dismissal letter, the company alleges he was dishonest, he spoke negatively about the institution in public, he negelected his duty; made misleading statements; and was involved in a criminal act or negative behaviour. Speyer refutes the allegations, saying he was, until October 2005, considered a model employee - one who received numerous letters of commendation and gratitude from prison officials, and was even Correctional Officer of the Year during the first year of operation. Speyer says it wasn't until he filed a complaint against another manager in October 2005, and became more outspoken about employee issues that he fell from grace. "They are bullied, absolutely bullied," he says. "They are scared every day. When the staff come in, they are afraid of losing their jobs. The key phrase that is used all the time there is, "I'm one report away from being fired." Medical care is an issue at the jail that has been highlighted in the media since it opened. (Medication) is not done properly, pure and simple," says Speyer. "These guys are not getting the medication they deserve. As a sergeant, I don't know how many times my staff have been in situations where they have encountered violence from an inmate that's acting out because they don't get proper medication. Special dietary needs not being met is also a concern raised by Speyer. Paula King, executive director of Elizabeth Fry in Simcoe County, says the organization has had to advocate for pregnant women whose dietary needs were not being met. "We have had to go to bat for pregnant women who have not received the proper amounts of milk and fresh fruit (as per ministry guidelines)," says King. Speyer first became disenchanted with the organization during the American Correctional Association accreditation process in September 2004, he says. One of the most frequently cited reasons by correctional facilities to seek accreditation is to demonstrate to interested parties that the organization is operating at professional standards. When MTC sought its accreditation, Speyer says he was in charge of making sure the prison looked the way it was supposed to during the process, organizing crews that worked steadily to make it look like the kitchen and bathrooms had been regularly cleaned. "We had crews going through to extra scrub the toilets (with drills that had scrub brushes on the end) so they looked like they were scrubbed on a daily basis, although they hadn't been touched (for a long time)." He says he and others were asked by senior management to take cleaning chemicals, extra tools and extra medical supplies out of the prison to ensure MTC met with ACA standards. A letter dated Dec. 17, 2004 by then-acting facility administrator Phill Clough, thanked Speyer for his 'above and beyond' commitment to the accreditation, but the process was the biggest letdown Speyer had ever felt in his professional life, he says. "It wasn't something that anyone could say that they're proud of but...I believed from day one what it (the accreditation) was supposed to be for. I believed that once we achieved this certain standard that we weren't going to go back to the old ways," he tells The Mirror. "So, when I was taking this stuff out of the institution, I was thinking this is going to be that much better for the staff. Then, once we had the accreditation on the wall, it went back to how it was." Speyer has joined Citizens Against Private Prisons in its fight to have the provincial government not renew MTC's contract, which comes due in the fall of 2006. The government has to make its decision by May.

February 1, 2006 The Mirror
A petition will soon be delivered to Queen's Park asking that Premier Dalton McGuinty publicly promise to not renew the Management and Training Corporation (MTC) contract at the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) in Penetanguishene. Sharon Dion, chairperson of Citizens Against Private Prisons, has created a petition that cites alleged issues at the jail, including lack of food, clothing and medical care, insufficient staffing levels; and MTC's exemption from paying the Town of Penetanguishene business taxes. She expects about 15,000 signatures once the petition becomes available electronically. She plans to give the petition to Brant Liberal MPP Dave Levac - a vocal opponent of private prisons - in March so he can present it in the Ontario Legislature. McGuinty made promise not to renew jail contract at Penetanguishene Council. When then-Opposition leader McGuinty visited Penetanguishene Council with Levac, before the jail was open, he promised that a Liberal government would not renew the contract with Utah-based MTC. "We are trying to draw the attention of the Liberal government so that they keep their promise," Dion said. "That's the ultimate goal." Dion says she has received calls of support from correctional officers at the Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Lindsay and the Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton which are publicly-operated. "Also, what's not included in the per diem rate is all of the hidden costs of prison privatization, like ambulance and hospital costs, escorts, and lawsuits that some inmates and their families have against MTC, First Correctional Medical and the Province of Ontario, in the case of Jeffrey Elliott's death."

December 30, 2005 The Free Press
Three of the four people charged in connection with the killing of an inmate in 2004 at Central North Correctional Centre have pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Minh Tu, 28, died the morning of May 5, 2004 at Huronia District Hospital in Midland, two hours after being admitted following an altercation in one of the living units at C.N.C.C. A post-mortem examination determined Tu died as a result of a stab wound. Tu was being held at the superjail on a warrant for extradition to the United States where he had been facing drug charges. He had been at CNCC for about two months prior to his murder.

December 16, 2005 The Mirror
A local woman has taken her fight to Queen's Park to have Central North Correctional Centre publicly operated. Sharon Dion of Citizens Against Private Prisons met with MPP Liz Sandals, parliamentary assistant to Monte Kwinter, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, on Monday to discuss her concerns about Management and Training Corporation. She also met with Brant MPP Dave Levac in a separate meeting. Levac was the Liberal Opposition Critic for Corrections when the Tories were in power and was a vocal opponent of the privatization of the super jail in Penetanguishene. "My goal was to remind the Liberal party of their promise to end the private prison culture in Ontario," Dion told The Mirror. "I provided Ms. Sandals with paperwork to enlighten her of the patterns and practices of the documented mismanagement of MTC, both here and in the U.S." There is one year left of the province's current five-year contract with MTC but, as per contract stipulations, the government must decide by May 2006 whether to extend the contract for another year; extend the contract up to five years, based on an agreement of financial terms; re-tender the contract; or return the prison to the public service. During the meeting with Sandals, Dion talked about inmate deaths, violence and staff issues at the privately-run facility. "We talked about the inadequate health care that caused the death of Jeffrey Elliot, the stabbings, the murder, riot, staff safety, low staff levels and high staff turnover, and (correctional officer) Dwight Stoneman's brutal beating," she noted. Levac praised Dion for her preparedness. "Sharon has been tenacious as always. What I love about Sharon is she always comes prepared," he said, noting he's hopeful the jail will become publicly operated. "She's factual. She's not emotional about it. She brings passion to the situation but I have to tell you that she's probably one of the most prepared people I've ever dealt with and worked with."

November 16, 2005 The Mirror
The province will have to decide whether or not Management Training Corporation (MTC) is meeting its service contract responsibilities, and if it wants the Utah-based company to continue to run the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC), by May. There is one year left of the current, five-year contract but as per contract stipulations, only six months for the government to decide whether to extend the contract for another year; extend the contract up to five years, based on an agreement of financial terms; re-tender the contract; or return the prison to the public service. According to Brian Low, Executive Lead, Alternative Service Delivery with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the contract decision-making process has begun and will continue into the new year. Consultants from Price Waterhouse Coopers will interview people from key groups to ensure the information the government has is accurate. While members of Council, chamber of commerce, board of monitors at the jail, and Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services will be interviewed, members of community groups, like Citizens Against Private Prisons, will not be included. "It's disappointing they're not coming to speak to me because I have been doing private prison research for five years and it's important that this new government knows the character of the company they're working with," said Sharon Dion, chairperson of Citizens Against Private Prisons. "I have scathing reports about Management and Training Corporation in the United States. This government needs to know there are major problems with MTC in the United States and First Correctional Medical who (also) runs our medical unit." Low says the government already has information from Dion and others who have made their views clear. Dion has been involved in the debate for five years - even before the decision was made to run the jail privately - and remembers a public promise made in 2001 by then-Opposition leader, Dalton McGuinty, when he paid a visit to Penetanguishene Council. "I want to make sure they uphold their promise, that it's going back into public hands (if the Liberals come into power)," she said, noting that she will soon meet with the parliamentary assistant to Monte Kwinter, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, to discuss her findings, at Queen's Park. When considering whether to extend the MTC contract, Dion wants the government to take into consideration the deaths, violence, and one instance where the wrong inmate was released, over the past four years. But Low cautions that the incidents must be put in perspective.

August 19, 2005 The Mirror
Property taxes topped the list of issues that members of Penetanguishene Council talked about with the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services at the AMO Conference this week. Council members want Management and Training Corporation (MTC), the Utah-based company that operates the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC), to pay property taxes, estimated at just over $1 million each year. Currently, the town receives payment in lieu of taxes of $75 a bed - similar to what government-run facilities such as hospitals and publicly-run jails pay. "We don't think that's enough," said Deputy Mayor Randy Robbins from the AMO Conference. "We've laid our cards on the table of pursuing what every other business is doing in the province of Ontario. They're not exempt from paying those property taxes. We'd like to see them thrown into the real world with everybody else." While this may be the first time council has officially talked to Monte Kwinter about the issue, it's been an ongoing concern since the provincial Conservative government announced it would seek a private company to operate the jail. Of the approximate $1 million in property taxes, about $660,000 would come to Penetanguishene while the remainder would go to the County of Simcoe. "We tried to explain that if Fuller Avenue needs to be rebuilt because of the traffic that the facility is generating, we don't have that kind of money," said Robbins. "We would like, if it's the choice of the ministry to go with a contract extension (with MTC), that they pay taxes that we could put into reserve for when those roads need to be rebuilt." The possibility of the contract being extended with MTC was also a hot item on the agenda during the 20-minute meeting on Monday. Robbins, along with councillors Dan LaRose, Debbie Levy, Anne Murphy and Doug Leroux, asked that the municipality have a seat at the table when the province compares CNCC with the publicly-run jail in Lindsay and evaluates MTC's performance.

August 17, 2005 Midland Free Press
Correctional officers at the Central North Correctional Centre are still on the job after voting 84 per cent in favour of a new, four-year collective agreement on Friday. According to OPSEU Local 369 bargaining team chairperson, Sean Wilson, the new contract contains "99 per cent" of what the members wanted. "We have an agreement on making sure we have breaks to maintain our sanity in order to work there. Under the Health and Safety Act, we've launched some processes to increase the staffing levels," said Wilson, who couldn't go into further detail.
"Once they enshrine our breaks and stuff in the collective agreement they have no choice but to increase the staffing levels in order to do that."

August 9, 2005 Newswire
Correctional officers employed at Canada's only private adult jail will vote Aug. 12 on a tentative agreement reached today at 9:30 a.m. The bargaining team is recommending that the staff of Central North Correctional Centre, members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 369, ratify the agreement. "This is a good deal for our members and we recommend it unanimously," said Sean Wilson, chair of the union bargaining team. Details of the contract will be available after the ratification vote is held. The previous contract expired on Dec. 31, 2004.

August 5, 2005 The Mirror
If there is a strike at the Central North Correctional Centre, members of Penetanguishene Council are satisfied there is a plan in place to deal with it, says Mayor Anita Dubeau. "Council was relatively satisfied that certainly there is a plan in place," Dubeau told The Mirror. "I can't share the details with you, but it did give council a good opportunity to ask the necessary questions and (Management and Training Corporation) answered as best they could." Most of Wednesday night's special meeting was held in camera because staffing levels and security measures were discussed. Council members and some residents have been concerned about how the prison will continue its day-to-day operations safely if some 200 correctional officers walk off the job on Aug. 12. OPSEU has confirmed that they are going back to the mediation table with MTC on Monday, Aug. 8. "Less than 50 MTC managers are available to replace 200 striking correctional officers," Sean Wilson, chairperson of the union bargaining team, said in a press release.

August 3, 2005 The Mirror
A Penetanguishene resident says she believes members of municipal council should be apprised of the procedures and policies that will be involved in securing the Central North Correctional Facility, in the event of a strike by OPSEU correctional officers on Aug. 11. Sharon Dion, the Canadian liaison for The Private Corrections Institute in Florida and chairperson of Citizens Against Private Prisons, has expressed her concerns about the safety of the community in a letter to council, dated July 26. "There seems to be many unanswered questions regarding who will be securing the facility in the event of a strike. The ministry's office advised me the issue would be dealt with between (Management and Training Corporation) and the union. On the contrary, union representatives have stated that no public service workers will be utilized during a strike," wrote Dion. Although he expresses similar concerns, Deputy Mayor Randy Robbins said he is not sure what council can do. "Sure, we are (concerned about the possible strike)," Robbins told The Mirror, before he had an opportunity to read the letter. "We've been through a few strikes with OPSEU with the mental health centre and it's always a concern. Not knowing the contingency plan heightens that concern. We'll have to see. It's not as if we can send our people up there. What can we do?" But Dion wants assurances the plan will be implemented properly. "I do understand the importance of not making public staffing numbers for security reasons, but due to the fact that this American company does not have other institutions in Canada to draw upon, (it) could jeopardize the safety of our community."

August 3, 2005 The Mirror
It's difficult for Dwight to remember exactly what happened on Dec. 17, 2003, after he was beaten by an inmate at the Central North Correctional Centre. "I just turned slightly with my body to say (to the inmate), 'There's the door,' and when I did, I don't remember anything else for probably three or four minutes," said the correctional officer, hesitating slightly to gather his thoughts - a side effect from the severe beating he received. "During that time, I was taking all kinds of hits to the body and the head. I was basically blacked out but standing up; I hadn't fallen to the ground. There was a point at which I came to. Part of me, almost a primal instinct type of thing, told me to stay up or you're going to die, and I thought I was having a massive heart attack." According to Dwight, that day he was teamed up with a new female correctional officer on her first day of work in Unit 1, while a third officer was pulled off the unit to work elsewhere. Another officer was stationed inside the control pod. While Dwight went into the unit alone to approach the inmate, who would not go into his cell as directed, his partner stayed outside the locked unit, as is correct procedure. But Dwight says there should have been more officers in the unit. "There shouldn't have been just the two of us. There should have been probably four or five and this is the shortcomings of private prisons," said the 57 year old, who was a police officer for 34 years with Toronto Police Service and the OPP before coming to CNCC as a correctional officer. "They've got to economize some way and there's only so many paper clips you can save. The only other area you can cut back on is either meals or the officers on duty." It's incidents like this - and the stabbing of a correctional officer three times in the neck by an inmate several weeks ago - that union officials say prove higher staff levels and tighter security measures need to be in their new collective agreement. The previous contract expired Dec. 31, 2004. Correctional officers voted 95 per cent in favour of rejecting an offer by Management and Training Corporation Canada (MTCC), the Utah-based company that operates the private prison. More than 88 per cent of the correctional officers turned out to vote on July 21. Unlike correctional officers in the Ontario Public Service who cannot strike because they are covered by the Crown Employee Collective Bargaining Act, which requires that a negotiated essential services agreement be in place prior to a labour disruption, CNCC officers can go on strike if they do not reach a collective agreement. MTC and its employees are covered under the Labour Relations Act, which has no legislative requirement for an essential services agreement.

August 3, 2005 OPSEU
Correctional officers employed at Canada’s only private adult jail will walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 12 if no agreement is reached for a new collective agreement, says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE). On July 21, members of OPSEU Local 369 voted 95% to reject the last offer made by Utah-based Management and Training Corporation, the company hired by the former Conservative government of Premier Mike Harris to run the institution. OPSEU President Leah Casselman says wage issues have been mostly agreed upon. However, issues such as staffing levels and time off remain outstanding. “Our members are still looking for parity with their public sector counterparts,” Casselman says. “We will not allow this American company to run the jail at standards that are below jails in the rest of the province.” Unlike publicly-operated jails, there is no law requiring members to provide essential services during a strike or lockout. Sean Wilson, chair of the union bargaining team, says this should be a concern for both the jail and the community.
“Less than 50 MTC managers are available to replace 200 striking correctional officers,” Wilson adds. “There aren’t any trained teams available to deal with riots or other disturbances should they arise.”

July 13, 2005
Bargaining representatives for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 369 at the Penetanguishene private superjail have recommended that their members vote to reject the final offer tabled by the employer today, July 13. The contract offer affects over 200 correctional staff at the facility. OPSEU members will vote on the employer offer on July 21. A rejection will give the union a strike mandate, and a strike date is expected to be set for mid-August. The previous contract expired Dec. 31, 2004. OPSEU President Leah Casselman said that the contract offer doesn't come anywhere close to what her members need in their next collective agreement: Parity with public sector correctional workers.
  Currently, workers at the facility run by Utah-based Management and Training Corporation earn two per cent less per hour than their public sector counterparts and receive fewer benefits and less time off. Sean Wilson, chair of the union bargaining team, says this is unacceptable.

July 8, 2005 Simcoe.com
JAIL GUARD STABBED - OPP charged an inmate at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene after an attack in a staircase. Police said, on Monday, June 27, a 22-year-old correctional officer was grabbed by an inmate, and stabbed in the neck with a sharpened object. The officer was able to run away and went into a secured area. Another officer was threatened with death before the inmate calmed down. An 18-year-old Brampton man was arrested and charged with attempted murder, assaulting a peace officer, threatening death and breach of probation.

May 27, 2005 Midland Free Press
As a wrongful death suit slowly makes its way through the courts, Tom Elliott believes the privately operated jail in which his son contracted blood poisoning should become a public institution. Elliott's son, Jeffrey, died from blood poisoning in August 2003, after cutting his hand on a food hatch at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene. The 1,184 bed facility is operated by Management and Training Corporation (MTC) of Canada, and it's parent company based in Centerville, Utah. In September, a coroner's inquest ruled the 20-year-old Beachburg man died accidentally. Elliott and his family are seeking $150,000 in damages in a wrongful death suit launched against the Province of Ontario, MTC and First Correctional Medical. Elliott said he is unwilling to negotiate a settlement with the three parties. "It is not a money issue.  I'm not concerned about money," he said. "I will settle for nothing less than a public apology, to let the public know that this wasn't right." "There is no money to be gained out of this," Elliott added. "I want to make the public understand that it could be their son or daughter."

May 20, 2005 Midland Free Press
Central North Correctional Centre was locked down this week after a bullet was found Saturday in a washroom at the jail. The washroom where staff found the bullet was located in the front administration area of the prison. "It's obviously a strange place to find a bullet," said correctional officer Sean Wilson, president of OPSEU Local 369, which represents more than 200 guards. "The one thought is, if there's a bullet, is there a gun?" Guards issued a work refusal Saturday and a Ministry of Labour inspector was summoned. Ministry spokesperson Bruce Skeaff said the first work refusal was aired Saturday morning. That’s when a bullet and razors were found inside the prison, though he was unable to provide a location for where the razors were discovered. The jail was locked down — and remained so at press time — by the employer as the work refusal unfolded. A ministry inspector determined the workers had no right to issue the work refusal and the situation was downgraded to a complaint. A search was ordered, and the inspector advised that staff be instructed and trained by the employer to do such.

May 18, 2005 The Mirror
A bullet and razors were found at the jail in Penetanguishene, but no gun has yet been located. Inmates at the Central North Correctional Center remained in lockdown yesterday as correctional officers searched for a gun believed to be hidden within the jail. On Saturday May 14, a bullet and razors were found in a washroom at the Penetanguishene jail, and correctional officers believed the bullet wouldn't be there without a pistol. Correctional officers asked for the jail to be locked down until the gun was found, but The Mirror was told management refused. "We were called at 11a.m. with a work refusal by 275 correctional officers at the facility," said Bruce Skeaff, ministry of labour spokesperson. "It was a disagreement between the workers and management in regards to the search of the facility."

May 17, 2005 Midland Free Press
Management and Training Corporation jettisoned the word 'acting' before Phill Clough's title earlier this month as he was named the new administrator at Central North Correctional Centre.
Clough had been acting facility administrator since former jail boss Doug Thomson — who'd run the prison since July 2001, four months before CNCC opened its doors to inmates — resigned last November.

March 18, 2005 Midland Free Press
Tom Elliott continues to seek justice for his dead son Jeffrey. A pretrial has been scheduled for the end of April for the $150,000 wrongful death suit launched by the Elliott family against the Province of Ontario, Management and Training Corporation (MTC) of Canada, and First Correctional Medical. The purpose of a pretrial is to bring the parties together to discuss the case and the issues to be presented in court. The lawsuit was filed months before the jury in the Ontario coroner’s inquest ruled in September that Jeffery Elliott died accidentally while at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene. The 20-year-old Beachburg man died from blood poisoning in August 2003, after cutting his hand on a food hatch at the jail operated by MTC, a private company based in Centerville, Utah. Jeffery had less than a month remaining on his one-year robbery sentence when he died. “I still stick by the same thing. It’s not a money issue it’ about principle,” said Mr. Elliott, explaining why he launched the lawsuit. “It was obvious in Jeffery’s case it was a lack of treatment (that caused his death).  It was a tragedy.” Elliott said he would agree to withdraw his lawsuit if the jail was placed in public hands.

February 25, 2005 Midland Free Press
One inmate has his ear ripped off and another was stabbed several times with a three-inch screw nail in separate incidents, Saturday at Central North Correctional Centre, according to prison sources. Sources said the first altercation was prolonged because of a computer failure in the unit which prevented the doors from opening, forcing the crisis team to take the long way around. The first incident, which happened midday, was an inmate-on-inmate fight, and one of the prisoners "had his ear ripped right off," said a correctional officer who requested anonymity. Computer problems have plagued the prison for months and have led to work refusals by guards, citing their safety was compromised. The officer said the recent failure was isolated to one unit, adding staff are becoming increasingly frustrated by door and computer malfunctions. The Free Press recently reported that the ministry had paid for computer upgrades. "The computers being fixed, that's a crock," said the guard. "They give us all kinds of excuses. It's obvious we've got big-time problems." The second incident happened Saturday evening when about 32 inmates were being escorted from the chapel back to their unit. A fight erupted and one of the prisoners used a screw nail as a weapon, said the guard. One of the inmates sustained "several" puncture wounds to the head, chest and side, said the officer, who estimated the screw nail was about three inches long and about 3/8 of an inch thick. They said the inmate was treated in the prison medical unit.

February 15, 2005 Midland Free Press
Work refusals by correctional officers last year at Central North Correctional Centre were not the catalyst for the installation of new computer hardware and software, says a ministry official. Julia Noonan, spokesperson for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services' corrections branch, confirmed there were computer upgrades at CNCC just before Christmas. The local prison was plagued by computer malfunctions last fall, including a crash that reduced central control to half-capacity and led to a prisonwide lockdown. At the time, guards said this created a dangerous scenario in the admission and discharge area. Other maladies included door and interlock failures, intercom glitches, as well as loss of camera control, audio alarms and duress signal failures.

December 7, 2004 Midland Free Press
An inquest into the death of a Central North Correctional Centre inmate begins Dec. 13 at the Midland courthouse. Joseph Balog, 20, of Barrie, collapsed Sept.29, 2003, within three hours of arriving at the Penetanguishene jail.  He was taken to Huronia District Hospital where he died two hours later.

November 29, 2004 Midland Free Press
A correctional officer at Central North Correctional Centre was arrested Sunday and charged with drug-trafficking and breach of peace for allegedly selling cocaine and marijuana inside the so-called superjail. This is the second guard this year to face drug-related charges. Following a year-long investigation, Southern Georgian Bay OPP arrested the guard Sunday at around noon, said Const. Greg Chinn.
A 37-year-old Oro-Medonte Township man has been charged with trafficking a controlled substance and breach of peace. The arrest marks the second time this year that a guard has been charged with a drug-related offence. In March, a 29-year-old correctional officer from Penetanguishene was arrested on his way to work by the OPP and charged with drug trafficking, breach of trust and threatening after a month-long investigation by the provincial crime unit. However, ministry spokesperson Tony Brown said it's up to Management and Training Corporation — the Utah-based company that has a five-year contract to run the jail — to deal with the situation.

November 19, 2004 Midland Free Press
The Free Press has learned that a recent work refusal issued by a correctional worker cites more computer problems at the superjail, but a Ministry of Labour inspector deemed it did not pose immediate danger to the guards. The work refusal was issued by a correctional officer in the early morning hours of Nov. 4.
Ministry of Labour spokesperson Belinda Sutton said the work refusal was called in after three alleged computer crashes the night before, and correctional officers said it posed a threat to their safety. Sharon Dion, a member of the prison's Community Monitoring Committee and an advocate for the abolishment of private prisons in Canada, said she is at her wit's end regarding continual defects within the jail. "This is absolutely ridiculous," said Dion. "If (Management and Training Corporation) cared about its correctional officers, they'd deal with this promptly."

November 9, 2004 Midland Free Press
The first and only administrator to oversee Central North Correctional Centre has resigned. Effective last Friday, Doug Thomson resigned his post as facility administrator at the so-called superjail. Thomson started his career in 1979, as a correctional officer in Ottawa, moving around the province to other facilities. He was promoted through the ranks until eventually becoming a superintendent. Thomson was hired by Utah-based Management and Training Corporation to head up CNCC, Canada's first privately run adult prison. He began the job in July 2001, and the jail opened in November 2001.

October 29, 2004 Midland Free Press
This is in response  to Management & Training Corporation's diatribe ("MTC defends accreditation," Oct. 22, 2004) about Brian Dawe's Oct 15 "Letter of the Day" questioning the American Correctional Association (ACA) accreditation of MTC's Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC). MTC's Peter Mount never addressed any of the points Mr. Dawe raised.  Instead, Mr. Mount resorted to a personal assault on Mr. Dawe and his organization, Corrections USA. Not once did Mr. Mount defend the credibility or the significance of ACA's accreditation. Why didn't Mr. Mount just present evidence to counter the claims that: *  ACA has never failed an institution, during an accreditation audit? *  ACA refuses to release the results of its audits? *  ACA ensures that positions on its board and committees are filled with for-profit private prison operators? *  ACA has accredited some facilities in the United States that have later been sites of excessive staff-on-inmate violence? In January 2004, Abt Associates released a report for the U.S. Department of Justice called "Government's Management of Private Prisons."  This report says the following about ACA accreditation: Achieving ACA accreditation is not an outcomes-based performance goal.  Rather, ACA standards primarily prescribe procedures.  (Emphasis in original) The great majority of ACA standards are written in this form:  "The facility shall have written policies and procedures on ..." The standards emphasize the important benefits of procedural regularity and effective administration control that flow from written procedures, and careful documentation of practices and events.  But, for the most part, the standards prescribe neither the goals that ought to be achieved nor the indicators that would let officials know if they are making progress toward those goals over time. I guess now Mr. Mount will be calling the Abt and the U. S. Department of Justice zealots. However, it is nice to know that if there is a riot at the CNCC, MTC may have the paperwork to show it has had a riot. In full disclosure and before Mr. Mount attacks my commitment to the fight against for-profit private prisons, I am the executive director of the Private Corrections Institute, an advocacy group that presents the "other side" of the story on private prisons. Don't take my word about the horrors associated with profiteering of the incarceration of human beings. PCI backs up its claims with documentation, without resorting to character assassination. Ken Kopczynski, Private Corrections Institute

October 22, 2004 Midland Free Press
A jackknife was discovered in Unit 2 at Central North Correctional Centre, Sunday afternoon, according to a prison employee. Prison spokesperson Peter Mount could not confirm whether a weapon had been found. A union representative and correctional officer inside CNCC, who requested anonymity, said the discovery of weapons is growing tiresome and dangerous. “Obviously we have a problem,” said the correctional officer. “They (management) are finally admitting there is a problem, which has taken about three years.”
A few weeks ago, correctional officers found a pocketknife after two inmates were stabbed last month. Another inmate was stabbed to death in May. Fear of weapons in Unit 6 ultimately led to a work refusal. Due to the possible dangers, correctional officers issued their second work refusal in two weeks. On Oct. 7, correctional officers issued a work refusal after the central control computer was reduced to half-capacity; guards also had concerns that duress signals in some of the living units may not have worked properly had there been an emergency while the main computer was down. With the recent concerns over possible weapons in Unit 6, union representatives and management could not come to an agreement about how to solve the problem, so a Ministry of Labour health and safety inspector was called in. The Ministry of Labour inspector ordered that Unit 6 be searched thoroughly. A ministry memo states, “The employer should take every reasonable precaution to protect the (health and safety) of a worker. The employer’s operating procedures require a mandatory once-every-two-weeks search of the inmate living areas. This order applies to Unit 6.” Correctional officers have repeatedly told management there needs to be regular searches every two weeks, not monthly, as has been happening. Belinda Sutton, a Ministry of Labour spokesperson, said the memo essentially reinforced the jail’s existing policy. “The employer already had the search policy of once every two weeks in place,” said Sutton. “The Ontario Ministry of Labour issued an order for the employer to follow its own internal procedure.” The prison’s biweekly search policy is “adequate,” said Mount, though he would not comment further on how often searches are actually conducted, citing potential security risks.

October 15, 2004 Daily Observer
The family of a 20-year-old Beachburg man who died after sustaining a cut to his hand while serving time in Canada's only private jail is suing the company that operates the institution and the province for $150,000.
Jeffrey Elliott's estate, his father Tom Elliott and his grandmother Elizabeth Elliott, are each seeking $50,000 in general damages from Management and Training Corporation Canada and the provincial government.

October 15, 2004 Midland Free Press
Central North Correctional Centre underwent a prisonwide lockdown last Thursday after the jail’s main computer was reduced to half-capacity. A malfunction to the prison’s central control computer system — believed to be caused by faulty hard drives — led to a work refusal by correctional officers.
The failure made for an unsafe environment in the admission and discharge area where about 40 prisoners were waiting entrance to the prison. According to sources representing union interests inside the jail, only two of central control’s four computers were operational. The malfunction meant opening and closing of doors inside the prison would be slowed substantially, said the correctional officer. The crash also put added stress on officers in central control area. At that point a work refusal was issued, they said. “They fix things fairly quickly when there’s a work refusal,” said the correctional officer. This is not a new problem, however. Both mechanical and technical glitches have been ongoing for about six months, said the correctional officer. Six work refusals have been issued in the past at the so-called superjail. Other work refusals were issued due to inadequate searches and sub-par staffing levels.

October 13, 2004 Midland Mirror
Another inmate has been stabbed at the Central North Correctional Centre.
On Oct.9, a 21-year-old man was sent to the Huronia District Hospital after he was stabbed several times in his upper body, at approximately 8:30 a.m. This is the third stabbing at the jail this year.  An incident in May resulted in death, and a stabbing occurred last month.    Peter Mount, communications director at the Central North Correctional Centre, said jail isn't releasing any details and is completing its own investigation. When asked by The Mirror if the super jail is a safe place, Mount said there is no way to measure that. "There's no qualitative measure of what's safe." While Mount said administration has a good relationship with correctional officers, he did confirm there was a 'refusal-to-work' situation last week.

October 10, 2004 VRLand News
The O.P.P. are investigating another stabbing at Canada's only privately operated prison.  At the C.N.C.C. facility in Penetanguishene, a  21-year old inmate was stabbed several times.

September 29, 2004 The Mirror
At Monday night's council meeting, Midland Police Chief Paul Hamelin told council the prevalence of crack cocaine in the community is on the rise, and he attributed it to the Penetanguishene jail. "Our intelligence officer reports that we are beginning to see a correlation between criminal activity in our community, and the Central North Correctional Centre," said Hamelin. Through investigating cases of crack cocaine and other drugs in the community, Hamelin has been in contact with officers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and said they have been able to trace some of those cases back to the jail. Hamelin said he never guessed crime within Midland would be on the increase as a result of the jail, which opened in 2001. "This is not something we anticipated with the jail. In the beginning, there were more concerns of (inmates) moving to this area, much like you see in the federal system."

September 25, 2004 Toronto Sun
AFTER 24 hours of deliberations, a coroner's jury decided that the death of inmate Jeffrey Elliott was accidental, but the young man's father says he does not agree with the verdict. The decision, along with 11 recommendations, came after a two-week inquest that explored the details behind the death of the 20-year-old Beachburg man.
Elliott died a painful death last year from blood poisoning after a small cut on his finger became horribly infected. Most of the recommendations were directed at Canada's only privately run prison, the Central North Correction Centre (CNCC) in Penetanguishene, where Elliott was serving a one-year sentence. The jury asked for more stringent hygiene methods, better medical record keeping and better education and treatment of hand infections.

September 21, 2004 The Star
By the time an inmate at Canada's first privately run jail was sent to a hospital, a tiny cut on his finger had become so seriously infected a lot of the fat and tissue had been destroyed, an inquest has heard. "The long tendons to the finger had also been eaten away by the pus,'' Dr. James Lacey, a plastic surgeon who operated on Jeffrey Elliott, told the inquest in Midland yesterday. Elliott, 20, cut his finger on the food hatch in the door of a fellow inmate's cell at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene on Aug. 1, 2003. He died Aug. 29, 2003, of an acute gastrointestinal hemorrhage resulting from septic complications of a hand injury. By Aug. 9, Elliott's wound was seeping pus, indicating it was "in an advanced stage" of tenosynovitus, a serious infection of the tendons. But a doctor didn't see him until two days later, the jury heard.


September 16, 2004 Toronto Sun

Three days after a deadly infection began to spread its way through inmate Jeffrey Elliott's body, he needed emergency care. Instead, an inquest heard yesterday, prison medical staff pumped a multitude of antibiotics into him for three weeks, which may have contributed to his slow, ugly death last year. "They missed the boat ... he needed urgent emergency care and he didn't get it," Dr. Paul Binhammer, a hand surgeon at Sunnybrook hospital, told a coroner's inquest in Midland yesterday. He said medical staff at Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene, Canada's only privately run prison, didn't heed obvious signs of the deadly infection that killed Elliott.
Three days after the prison doctor put two stitches in his finger on Aug. 1, 2003, he stuck his swollen hand out of his cell hatch to show a passing nurse. He complained again a few days later. Both times he was given Tylenol and ice.

September 14, 2004 Ottawa Citizen
After Day 1 of an inquest into the death of Jeffrey Elliott, it remains unclear just how the 20-year-old acquired a cut on his finger that ended in his blood poisoning death. Mr. Elliott, an inmate at Canada's first privately run corrections facility, died in Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto on Aug. 29, 2003, four weeks after sustaining the cut on the inside of his right-hand ring finger.
Mr. Elliott had only 23 days left on a robbery sentence in the controversial Central North Correctional Centre in Pentetanguishene, called the "super-jail." The outcome of the inquest may have a bearing on the future of Canada's first and only privately run corrections centre. U.S.-based Management Training Company (MTC) is contracted by the Ontario government to run the facility. Dr. Moran, a Barrie doctor who visits the facility on Fridays, was at the correctional centre on the day Mr. Elliott sustained the cut. Crown attorney David Russell questioned the doctor's report, which states silk sutures were used for the wound, a series of questions that went on for about an hour. "The jail has never had silk sutures," Dr. Moran told the inquest, unable to provide an explanation for the mixup.

September 10, 2004 Midland Free Press
Following a pair of stabbings at Central North Correctional Centre, an anonymous correctional officer at the superjail said a lockdown and subsequent search yielded a pocketknife, the same week a report was leaked to the media about modicum staffing levels. Because of staff shortages, searches aren't performed as regularly as they should be, said the correctional officer.
At least one anti-privatization supporter says the memo should open the public's eyes once and for all about staffing levels inside the jail. "The words come straight from one of their administrators," said Sharon Dion, head of Citizens Against Private Prisons Penetanguishene, and a member of the prison's community advisory committee. "If it's a concern to them it should be a community concern. The OPP is investigating a pair of stabbings that happened last Saturday at CNCC. A 21-year-old Toronto man received a puncture wound to his leg, and a 20-year-old man, also from Toronto, sustained a puncture wound to his chest and a cut on his thumb.

September 3, 2004 Midland Free Press
A draft internal memo says staffing issues makes scheduling a nightmare and that the Central North Correctional Centre is not in compliance with its contract with the province. The internal draft memo from deputy of operations Phil Clough to superintendent Doug Thomson said staffing issues mean shift scheduling "doesn't meet the needs community escorts, particularly when they are admitted to hospital." A guard and union spokesman from the publically-run Superjail near Lindsay compared the Superjail to the Titanic. Barry Scanlon, a guard at the publicly run superjail in Maplehurst, and representative of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said the institution was "ripe for disaster."Chronic understaffing at Ontario's privately run superjail has led to inadequate supervision of the maximum-security institution and of inmates escorted into the community, the internal document suggests. Clough also wrote that trying to schedule shifts properly was "an exercise in futility," raising concerns over public safety. "The present shift schedule...doesn't meet the needs of community escorts, particularly when they are admitted to hospital." Critics seized on the confidential review of staffing levels as proof that Utah-based Management and Training Corporation which operates the 1,200-bed Central North Correctional Centre was putting profits before public safety. When the former Tory government announced the new jail would be privately operated, it assuaged community fears by promising tough standards a private operator would have to meet. Those standards - including minimum staffing levels - were enshrined in a contract between the company and the province that runs to 2006. However, the memo obtained by the union two weeks ago and apparently written at the end of May or in early June, indicates the company had failed to live up to its end of the deal. "On a regular basis, we are not in compliance with the contract," it says bluntly. Dan Gregoire, a former guard at the jail, accused the company of failing to come clean with the government and public. "Please, for the safety of the community, the inmates and for the staff...it's time to remove this private operator," said Gregoire. Four people have died during their custody period at CNCC since May of 2003. A recent trail into the attack on an inmate in the prison yielded no convictions, despite the attack taking place in the facility during a snack period for the inmates. The victim was yanked out of the food lineup with a pillowcase over his head and dragged to a cell, where he was stabbed more than 30 times with the sharpened end of a pink toothbrush. He was also kicked, choked and beaten.  His legs were placed over the bunk and jumped on by two or three other inmates, leaving him with broken ribs and ankles, a concussion and multiple stab wounds. 

September 3, 2004 Midland Free Press
A draft internal memo says staffing issues makes scheduling a nightmare and that the Central North Correctional Centre is not in compliance with its contract with the province. The internal draft memo from deputy of operations Phil Clough to superintendent Doug Thomson said staffing issues mean shift scheduling "doesn't meet the needs community escorts, particularly when they are admitted to hospital." A guard and union spokesman from the publically-run Superjail near Lindsay compared the Superjail to the Titanic. Barry Scanlon, a guard at the publicly run superjail in Maplehurst, and representative of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said the institution was "ripe for disaster."Chronic understaffing at Ontario's privately run superjail has led to inadequate supervision of the maximum-security institution and of inmates escorted into the community, the internal document suggests. Clough also wrote that trying to schedule shifts properly was "an exercise in futility," raising concerns over public safety. "The present shift schedule...doesn't meet the needs of community escorts, particularly when they are admitted to hospital." Critics seized on the confidential review of staffing levels as proof that Utah-based Management and Training Corporation which operates the 1,200-bed Central North Correctional Centre was putting profits before public safety. When the former Tory government announced the new jail would be privately operated, it assuaged community fears by promising tough standards a private operator would have to meet. Those standards - including minimum staffing levels - were enshrined in a contract between the company and the province that runs to 2006. However, the memo obtained by the union two weeks ago and apparently written at the end of May or in early June, indicates the company had failed to live up to its end of the deal. "On a regular basis, we are not in compliance with the contract," it says bluntly. Dan Gregoire, a former guard at the jail, accused the company of failing to come clean with the government and public. "Please, for the safety of the community, the inmates and for the staff...it's time to remove this private operator," said Gregoire. Four people have died during their custody period at CNCC since May of 2003. A recent trail into the attack on an inmate in the prison yielded no convictions, despite the attack taking place in the facility during a snack period for the inmates. The victim was yanked out of the food lineup with a pillowcase over his head and dragged to a cell, where he was stabbed more than 30 times with the sharpened end of a pink toothbrush. He was also kicked, choked and beaten.  His legs were placed over the bunk and jumped on by two or three other inmates, leaving him with broken ribs and ankles, a concussion and multiple stab wounds. 

September 1, 2004 The Star
Understaffing at Ontario's only privately run jail means the facility's U.S. operators are routinely violating their contract with the province, a confidential company document says.  The internal memo, prepared by company officials at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene, highlights serious problems resulting from understaffing and concludes: "We are in a situation where on a regular basis we are not in compliance with the contract."  The memo says the prison, which opened in 2001 and is run by Management Training Corp. of Utah, has too few staff to protect the public properly when prisoners leave the prison.  It states the "present shift schedule ... is not meeting needs, is inefficient, has staff on shift where they are not needed and insufficient staff where they are, doesn't meet the needs of community escorts particularly when (inmates) are admitted to hospital."  The memo also says there was not even enough staff to provide proper searches to keep drugs and weapons out of the maximum-security jail.  

August 31, 2004 The Star
Chronic understaffing at Ontario's privately run superjail has led to inadequate supervision of the maximum-security institution and of inmates escorted into the community, an internal document suggests.  Critics seized on the confidential review of staffing levels as proof that Utah-based Management and Training Corp., which operates the 1,200-bed Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene, was putting profits before public safety.  The memo, written by the jail's deputy of operations Phill Clough to its superintendent Doug Thomson, outlines numerous problems at the three-year-old facility.  "Searches are not being done in a systemic manner," the memo states.  Clough also wrote that trying to schedule shifts properly was "an exercise in futility," raising concerns over public safety.  "The present shift schedule doesn't meet the needs of community escorts, particularly when they are admitted to hospital."  Barry Scanlon, a guard at the publicly run superjail in Maplehurst, Ont., and representative of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said the institution was "ripe for disaster."  "We don't want (guards) coming out in bodybags," said Scanlon.  "Central North Correctional Centre Titanic is what it is. It's just waiting for that iceberg to come up."  When the former Tory government announced the new jail north of Toronto would be privately operated, it assuaged community fears by promising tough standards a private operator would have to meet.  Those standards — including minimum staffing levels — were enshrined in a contract between the company and the province that runs to 2006.  However, the memo obtained by the union two weeks ago and apparently written at the end of May or in early June, indicates the company had failed to live up to its end of the deal.  "On a regular basis, we are not in compliance with the contract," it says bluntly.  "We have everything in place to address any compliance issues as they emerge," said Adrian Dafoe.  Still, New Democrat Peter Kormos accused management of the facility of "recklessly and consciously risking public safety," and called on the province to take over the prison immediately.  While no inmates have managed to flee the facility, in August 2002, rioting erupted at the institution and almost 100 inmates almost escaped using a battering ram.  There have been about four or five deaths, including one who was knifed and another who died from medical problems caused by a cut on his hand.  Kormos accused management of the facility of "recklessly and consciously risking public safety" and called on the province to take over the prison immediately.  "It's become obvious that the private prison experience has been a total failure," Kormos said.  Dan Gregoire, a former guard at the jail, accused the company of failing to come clean with the government and public.  "Please, for the safety of the community, the inmates and for the staff it's time to remove this private operator," said Gregoire.  

July 9, 2004 Midland Free Press
Three men charged with severely beating a fellow inmate at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene were found not guilty Thursday.  The jury at the trial got a glimpse of life behind the high-wire fence of the so-called superjail.  During the four-day trial, which started June 30 in the Superior Court of Justice in Barrie, the nine-woman, three-man jury was told that the victim Thomas Smuck, was savagely beaten while serving time in the superjail for sexual assault and forcible confinement.   His attackers grabbed him while he lined up for the evening snack - called jug-up - on April 27, 2002. They covered his head with a pillow case and as he passed in and out of consciousness dragged him into a cell where they stabbed him 47 times with a filed-down toothbrush.  Smuck told the court he didn't know who his assailants were, but one sat on his chest while another punched him in the face.  Then, with his feet hanging over the edge of the bed, another jumped repeatedly on his legs and broke both of his ankles.

May 20, 2004 Barrier Examiner
Four inmates at the Central North Correctional Centre were charged Wednesday in connection with the death of another inmate earlier this month.  Minh Tu, 28, died from a stab wound on May 5.  Police continue to investigate the death of Tu, the fourth inmate to die at the prison, commonly referred to as the superjail, in the last year.  Inquests have yet to be held to examine the deaths of two other inmates.  

May 11, 2004 Midland Free Press
Minh Tu has been identified by police as the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) inmate who died last Wednesday in hospital following an altercation with another prisoner. A post-mortem examination determined Tu, 28, died as a result of a stab wound. Tu is the fourth CNCC inmate to die in the last year, and a coroner's inquests will be held into the death.  

May 7, 2004 Midland Free Press
A male inmate wounded in an altercation yesterday at the Central North Correctional Centre died two hours later in a Midland hospital.  He is the fourth inmate to die in the last year.  Police from the Southern Georgian Bay OPP detachment cordoned off the living unit at the privately-run prison where the incident occurred to conduct an investigation. 

May 6, 2004 Toronto Star
An inmate has been stabbed to death at Ontario's only privately run provincial prison, officials confirmed yesterday.  "There was a stabbing, the inmate was taken to hospital and he died and there is currently an investigation into the incident," said Adrian Dafoe, a spokesperson for Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter.  Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene has been dogged by controversy, including health and safety issues, since the maximum-security jail opened in November, 2001. It is the first murder at the jail.  

March 22, 2004 The Mirror
A 29-year-old jail guard may be spending some time on the other side of the bars after he was charged by police for bringing a controlled substance into the workplace. The man, a correctional officer at the Central North Correctional Centre, was arrested while driving to work on March 13, after a month-long investigation by OPP. He has worked at the super jail for approximately one year, and was charged with trafficking a controlled substance, breach of trust by a public officer, and threatening. 

Colorado Department of Corrections
February 28, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
A private prison company is looking at Fremont County as the possible home for two private prisons that could grow to a 4,250-inmate population. So with nearly 8,000 inmates already living here, can the county take on more than half that number in new inmates? Management Training Corp., based in Centerville, Utah, is hoping so. The corporation runs private prisons throughout the U.S. including Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, and now is checking out Fremont County for two potential private prisons. Consultant Nolin Renfrow, who retired from the Colorado Department of Corrections after a 28-year career, is taking on the developer role in an attempt to bring all the players together to make it happen."I was intrigued by MTC - a private business, a refreshing group with solid credentials. They are heavy into programs and working with the inmates and I am just pro-corrections. . . . I believe there are certain people who need to be locked up. "I hate the thought of turning some inmates loose if there are not enough beds. So, here I am, hoping to oversee the programming, designing and construction, then I'll turn the keys over to MTC," Renfrow said. MTC has decided to submit a proposal for both the two new private prisons and hired Renfrow to come up with a plan.

Eagle Mountain Community Correctional Facility, Eagle Mountain, California
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 LA Times
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. 

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)

August 27, 2002
Poor Bill Simon.  even when he wins, he loses.  It should be a major coup when the Republican candidate for governor snags the endorsement of one of the oldest and most respected names in Latino politics: the Mexican-American Political Association, known as MAPA.  After years of voting increasingly Democratic, are California Latinos opening their minds to Republicans?  There is one interesting wrinkle in all of this.  Angel Diaz, a Delano businessman who helped round up support for Simon among the chapter presidents who backed him last weekend, runs a Central Valley political committee that raises money from individuals and companies and distributes it mostly to Latino candidates.  The group, known as Adelante, appears to bean extension of the Maranatha Private Corrections Co. and its top executive, Terry Moreland, who have given the committee a combined $70,000 since 1999.  With Davis having promised the state's prison guards union that he would eliminate private prisons, Maranatha and its allies have good reason to fear a second Davis term- and thus to support Simon.  So it could be that behind the veneer of Latino politics, this was just a good old-fashioned business deal.  As usual, when all else fails to bring clarity in politics, follow the money.  (Sacramento Bee)

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)

Diboll Correctional Center
DibollTexas
Jul 21, 2014 kulturekritic.com

According to the Lufkin Daily News, a roof collapsed last Saturday in the Diboll Correctional Center in Lufkin, Texas, which is a privately run prison facility owned by the Centerville, Utah-based Management & Training Corporation (MTC). The report continues that 20 inmates received minor injuries from falling wallboard, but 10 of those injured were transported to local hospitals for treatment, and one is described as being in critical condition after being airlifted to a Houston, Texas area hospital almost 100 miles away. The facility, which has a maximum capacity of 518 inmates and houses minimum security prisoners, is less than 20 years old, so some are asking why the ceiling would collapse, even if there has been a lot of rain in the area recently. According to MTC’s official website, they operate 22 prisons in eight states, the majority being in Texas and Mississippi, as well as 21 Job Corps programs for the U.S. Department of Labor. Prison warden David Driscoll, said that the collapse was probably caused by the amount of rain that they have received over the last couple of days. Issa Arnita, spokesperson for MTC added that 86 inmates were inside the area when the ceiling collapsed, but the cause of the accident is yet to be determined. Lufkin Fire Department Battalion Chief Jesse Moody said that he couldn’t understand why the roof collapsed, even though there had been a lot of rain because the facility is a relatively new building. He added that prisoners were tagged according to the severity of their injuries and taken for treatment using rapid transport protocol. Several of the injured inmates were transported to Memorial Medical Center and Woodland Heights Medical Center, both in Lufkin, said Sgt. Brandan Lovell of the Diboll Police Department. According to MTC’s Major Ken Montgomery, most of the remaining 85 inmates are being transferred to another prison facility in Huntsville, Texas. He added that because the collapsed ceiling was located in the middle of the day room, it wouldn’t be safe to leave the inmates there at this time. The Weather Underground reported that Diboll had received over six inches of rain five days prior to the collapse. During the rescue operation, law enforcement officials searched ambulances and fire trucks as they left the facility, in the unlikely event that an inmate was trying to make a break for freedom.


Jul 19, 2014 lufkindailynews.com

Twenty inmates were injured with 10 being transported to Lufkin hospitals when a suspended ceiling collapsed in the dayroom of the Diboll Correctional Center, a private prison in Diboll, Saturday morning, according to Warden David Driskell. Driskell confirmed there were 87 inmates in the dayroom of the facility at the time the ceiling collapsed. None of the injures appeared to be life-threatening, according to an Associated Press report. Sgt. Brandan Lovell of the Diboll Police Department said officers had set up a perimeter around the correctional facility, which holds low- to medium-security inmates. Off-duty correctional officers were on the scene, along with officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office, the Lufkin Police Department and the Fuller Springs Volunteer Fire Department. The prison is at 1604 S. First St. in Diboll. It is next door to another prison — the Duncan Unit, which is part of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system.


East Mississippi Correctional Facility
, Meridian, Mississippi
MDOC Sticks with Private Prisons: Jackson Free Press, June 13, 2012. MDOC chooses MTC to take over where GEO failed. What are they smoking?

Mar 1, 2017 msnewsnow.com
Prison video shows contraband still a problem
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Smuggling illegal contraband like dangerous objects, drugs and cell phones into jails and prisons is a common practice, and it's traded among prisoners. The underground railroad includes prison guards, family members, and outside contacts. Kordero Washington is at the East Mississippi Correctional facility run by MDOC . He was convicted of violent crimes; armed robbery, aggravated assault, and receiving stolen property in Hinds County. His tentative release date  May  2023.  We found Kordero Washington's Facebook page. Sunday, he shared Doughboi Kaines live video that went public. Three inmates are in the prison cell. One has a knee down on the floor. Another unidentified inmate records himself on cell phone proclaiming   "Anything for that white girl, look at him y'all, no way.  It's my turn. I get my slap. I get at least one." What was apparently going down was a willing prisoner allegedly taking a beating in exchange for drugs. One inmate puts baby powder on his hand, the other holds up a bag saying they are about to do a little routine, apparently for cocaine, called white girl.' The cell phone video is laced with profanity, asking the inmate if he wants one more.  He holds up a broken tooth, then he takes another hit to the face. Near the end of the video one prisoner says to the man who was hit repeatedly and knocked to the floor, "Here's a happy customer. The man replied, "I am very happy." Then more laughter and the inmate who appears to be holding up a small bag of white power looks into the cell phone and say "Real no mercy for real. no mercy, ain't playing ain't playing." We sent the video post to the Mississippi Department of Corrections. They responded with the following statement: An investigation is under way regarding the video in question. The Mississippi Department of Corrections and MTC, which operates the private prison, have several measures in place to keep cell phones out of the hands of inmates. With the use of K-9, scanners and other security measures, we are aggressively pursuing contraband, including cell phones and illegal drugs daily. When we receive a report such as this, the agency and MTC act swiftly to investigate. Any inmate caught with a cell phone, drugs or any other contraband faces not only loss of privileges but also additional criminal charges that could result in additional prison time. This type of conduct is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

Sep 30, 2015 clarionledger.com

Inmates OK’d to sue state over prison conditions

A federal judge cleared the way Tuesday for inmates to bring their lawsuit against a private Mississippi prison with conditions described as “barbaric.” U.S. District Judge William H. Barbour Jr. on Tuesday granted a request by inmates represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU and attorney Elizabeth Alexander to certify the class-action lawsuit against East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian. Jody Owens II, managing attorney for the SPLC’s Mississippi office, called the decision “a major step towards holding the state accountable and not allowing them to contract their constitutional obligation away to support private prison conglomerates. This ruling is a tremendous victory for a vulnerable class of individuals who have endured unconscionable conditions far too long.” In court filings, plaintiffs have described the private prison, which houses many suffering from mental illness, as a facility where inmates are being mistreated, beaten and exploited by gangs and others. The ligitation alleges there is sex between officers and inmates, widespread contraband and weapons, a “buddy” system where officers cover up the beatings of inmates and the rehiring of former employees who used excessive force. In November 2012, the president of Utah-based Management & Training Corp. toured the institution and was quoted as saying “the living conditions were awful.” MTC officials say they have made significant improvements since they took over the prison in July 2012. Gabriel Eber, senior staff counsel for the ACLU National Prison Project, called Tuesday’s decision “an important first victory for our clients who’ve been suffering for years. We’re hoping we can work with the state to resolve the litigation.” The lawsuit is following in the steps of class-action litigation against the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility and the State Penitentiary’s Death Row and Unit 32. Last year, former Washington State Corrections Secretary Eldon Vail, an expert for the plaintiffs, inspected EMCF and concluded it was “an extraordinarily dangerous prison. All prisoners confined there are subjected on a daily basis to significant risk of serious injury.” He visited where some prisoners were kept in segregation, calling their conditions “barbaric,” especially to those suffering from mental illness (more than 70 percent of the 1,200 inmates), he wrote. “They are the worst I have ever seen in 35 years as a corrections professional.” He said he found defects in basic security, cell doors that wouldn't lock, a lack of staff training and worse. In his report, Vail described “deep and systemic problems” known “at the highest levels of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for a considerable period of time. Those problems were identified and described over two years ago in a letter from the ACLU to Defendant Christopher Epps. MDOC has failed to take reasonable remedial measures and to put in place effective monitoring mechanisms to end the degrading, dangerous, and abusive practices at the facility.” In November, Epps stepped down as corrections commissioner, and he has since pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges, reportedly receiving $2 million in bribes and kickbacks in office. Grace Fisher, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections, said Tuesday that the issue here “is not about the merits, but whether the cases should proceed as one or several, and the judge has ruled that these issues should be tried as one suit. We look forward to trying the case as one lawsuit on its merits in court.”

July 25, 2014 blog.gulflive.com
MERIDIAN, Mississippi -- Two inmates could face charges after injuring three prison guards in a fight at East Mississippi Correctional Facility. Issa Arnita, a spokesman for prison contractor Management & Training Corp., says three guards were moving a prisoner to solitary confinement Thursday when the fight began. After guards told the prisoner to gather his belongings, Arnita says the prisoner stabbed one officer in the back with a homemade knife. As two officers used pepper spray to subdue that prisoner, another inmate stabbed a second officer in the back and arm. A third officer's hand was cut. The officers were treated and released from a Meridian hospital. Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said deputies are investigating, but declined Friday to release inmate names. A 2013 lawsuit was filed over the prison's conditions.
Jun 7, 2014 capecodonline.com

JACKSON, Miss. -- Open fires sometimes burn unheeded in the solitary-confinement units of the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, a privately run state prison in Meridian, 90 miles east of here. Inmates spend months in near-total darkness. Illnesses go untreated. Dirt, feces and, occasionally, blood are caked on the walls of cells. For years, the prison, the state's primary facility for prisoners with mental illnesses, has been plagued by problems. When a previous private operator, the GEO Group, left in 2012 after complaints to the state about squalor and lack of medical treatment, hopes rose that conditions would improve. But two years later, advocates for inmates assert that little has changed under the current operator, Management and Training Corp., a Utah-based company. Civil rights lawyers and medical and mental health experts who toured the facility recently painted a picture of an institution where violence is frequent, medical treatment substandard or absent, and corruption common among corrections officers, who receive low wages and minimal training. Photographs taken during the tour and obtained by The New York Times showed charred door frames, broken light fixtures and toilets, exposed electrical wires, and what advocates said were infected wounds on prisoners' arms and legs, offering an unusual window into a prison at the center of a legal controversy. “Photographs don't lie,“ said Margaret Winter, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project, which joined with the Southern Poverty Law Center to file suit a year ago over conditions at the prison. “I've been doing this for more than 20 years, and I'm pretty convinced that there is nothing out there that has been made public that is this shocking.“ The Mississippi corrections commissioner, Christopher B. Epps, who won praise several years ago for reducing the use of solitary confinement in the state, and the other defendants have denied the lawsuit's allegations. Epps declined to answer questions about the prison but said by email that conditions there had “improved tremendously“ since Management and Training Corp., or MTC, began running it. “I have toured the facility and have seen the improvements firsthand,“ he said. “We are committed to running a constitutionally sound prison and look forward to communicating that point in court.“ But current and former inmates described an atmosphere in which prisoners lived in fear of attacks by gang members allowed to move freely through prison units and were forced to beg for basic medical treatment. They said some set fires - using contraband matches or loose wires, according to advocates - to get the attention of guards, who sometimes ignored the flames, simply allowing them to burn out. Christopher Lindsey, 28, who was released from East Mississippi in July, said in an interview that he had gone blind after months of not receiving appropriate treatment for the glaucoma he has had since childhood. “I was crying in the cell, my eyes were hurting, bloodshot red, and I was slowly losing my eyesight,“ he said. Willie Hughes, 49, who was released in December, said in an interview that an infected sore on his leg had become gangrenous from neglect while he was in prison, and that a doctor had told him after his release that he narrowly escaped needing amputation. The 1,362-bed facility is one of five private prisons in the state system; Mississippi, like other states, has turned to private operators to cut costs. But advocacy groups that oppose the trend say the for-profit companies often economize at the expense of inmate and public safety. They point to private prisons in several states that have had problems with violence, abuse or escapes that official reports attributed to understaffing, lax security and poorly trained corrections officers. In a deposition given in March to the lawyers for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Matthew Naidow, a shift captain at East Mississippi, said that conditions at the prison had improved since MTC took over the contract from the GEO Group, but that low wages and high staff turnover contributed to the persistence of security problems and corruption, which he said were more prevalent than at other prisons where he had worked. Correctional officers at the prison, he said, are paid around $10 an hour. “If you're getting people off the streets from McDonald's,“ Naidow said, “you're going to have a long road ahead of you to retain staff.“ Issa Arnita, a spokesman for MTC, said the company could not comment because of the pending litigation. LaGrand Elliot, senior vice president at Health Assurance, a Jackson-based company hired to provide medical and psychiatric services for the prison, also declined to comment. Dr. Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist in Oakland, California, and an expert on the psychological effects of solitary confinement, toured East Mississippi with the plaintiffs' lawyers in late April. He said the mental health treatment he saw at the prison was severely deficient. Inmates were given little therapy and had few activities, and interviews with prisoners and a review of records indicated that many were forcibly injected with Haldol, a tranquilizing antipsychotic drug, even though “a lot of those people were not acutely psychotic at the time of the injection,“ Kupers said. Record keeping was spotty or nonexistent, with a “complete absence“ of accurate diagnoses and no evidence of informed consent for treatment, Kupers said. Mental health exams were sometimes conducted when inmates were asleep, and self-injurious behaviors like cutting were an almost daily occurrence. Medical care was also deficient, with inmates receiving delayed or inappropriate treatment, according to a medical expert who reviewed inmate records and was not supposed to discuss them publicly until a formal report was released. One patient had a documented history of a slow-growing brain tumor, but the tumor was not included on his list of medical problems at the prison. A nurse noted that the inmate had reported having a brain tumor - the prisoner “has a wild story to tell,“ the nurse wrote - and ordered a muscle rub, ibuprofen and shampoo for him. At the time of the review, the inmate had not been referred to a neurosurgeon, the expert said. MTC, the third-largest private prison operator in the country, runs 24 correctional institutions nationwide and holds the contracts for three other prisons in Mississippi. Winter, the ACLU prison project associate director, said the Mississippi Department of Corrections bore the ultimate responsibility for the inmates at the East Mississippi prison. Epps, the corrections commissioner, and other department officials are named as the defendants in the lawsuit.  A judge will consider later this year whether to grant the plaintiffs class-action status. Current and former inmates said security was also an issue. They said corrections officers were complicit in or turned a blind eye to contraband trading, and ignored inmate-on-inmate violence. Hughes, who served time for a drug offense, said lockdowns were frequent, as were stabbings and fights. Corrections officers, Hughes said, often kicked food trays out of the hands of mentally ill inmates and did nothing to stop prisoners from roaming the units or carrying on a brisk trade in cigarettes, whiskey, cellphones and other commodities.  “That was big money,“ he said. “They wasn't going to stop it.“ Hughes said he was once sent on a cleanup detail to one of the solitary-confinement units - known to inmates, according to the lawsuit, as the “dead man's zone“ or “dead area“ because corrections officers did not often go there.  “Guys was throwing fire, setting trays on fire, flooding the cells, and the guards were just sitting there like that's normal, that's OK,“ he said.

 

05/30/2013 aclu.org

East Mississippi Correctional Facility is hyper-violent, grotesquely filthy and dangerous. Patients with severe psychiatric disabilities go without basic mental health care. Many prisoners attempt suicide. This video is the story of a young man who succeeded. Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from youtube.com. EMCF is a cesspool. Prisoners are underfed and often held in rat-infested cells without working toilets or lights. The prison is dangerously understaffed, and prisoners routinely set fires to attract the attention of officers to respond to emergencies. Without sufficient staff to protect prisoners, rapes, beatings, and stabbings are rampant. And some of the most sadistic violence is inflicted on prisoners by security staff. EMCF is supposed to provide intensive treatment to the state's prisoners with severe psychiatric disabilities, but instead locks many in prolonged long-term solitary confinement – often for years – and denies prisoners even the most rudimentary mental health care services. Medical care is grossly substandard. One prisoner is now legally blind after EMCF failed to provide his glaucoma medications and take him to a specialist; another had part of his finger amputated after he was stabbed and developed gangrene. The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), which ultimately bears responsibility, has known about these conditions for years but failed to protect the health and safety of prisoners. In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center offered to pay for an assessment of the system, but the Mississippi Department of Corrections rejected the offer. Today, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Law Offices of Elizabeth Alexander filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of prisoners at EMCF. The conditions at EMCF are blatantly unconstitutional and we fully expect to prevail in the lawsuit. We hope that MDOC Commissioner Epps will meet us at the negotiating table very soon to finally end the horrors and suffering at EMCF.

 

Mississippi: MS DOC, MTC (former GEO) prison, East Mississippi Correctional Facility

 

May 30, 2013 clarionledger.com

Mississippi’s cash-strapped correctional system came under fire again this week with the filing of a federal lawsuit claiming “barbaric conditions” at a prison for the mentally ill. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed the 83-page complaint against the state Department of Corrections on Thursday in the federal court in Jackson. It alleges numerous gross abuses at the privately-run East Mississippi Correctional Facility near Meridian, which houses some 1,500 inmates. Among the claims are that of a grime-covered facility reeking of feces where inmates spend months in isolated darkness without access to showers or working toilets. It says prisoners routinely are denied medication, ignored by the guards, and use the rats that infest the building as currency to obtain goods and services. “Each of these conditions, by itself, places prisoners at a substantial risk of serious harm,” according to the lawsuit. “Taken together, they create an environment so toxic that they threaten the physical and mental health of all the prisoners exposed to them.” MDOC spokeswoman Grace Fisher said the department doesn’t comment on allegations made in pending litigation, but Commissioner Chris Epps said in a statement that “negotiating will be one of the options we will explore regarding this matter.” This isn’t the first time the ACLU has sued over the conditions at a Mississippi prison. The organization filed suit in 2002 due to inhumane treatment of death row prisoners at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman and again in 2010 because of abuses at the Walnut Grove Youth Correction Facility. The Southern Poverty Law Center was co-counsel in the Walnut Grove case. Both cases since have been resolved. But the situation at EMCF “is the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Gabriel B. Eber, staff counsel for the ACLU’s National Prison Project, who was in Jackson on Thursday discussing the case. “And I’ve been in prisons all around the country.” The ACLU-SPLC suit was filed on behalf of 16 inmates whose civil rights allegedly were violated while in custody at EMCF. One of them, a 27-year-old man named Christopher Lindsey, reportedly went blind after guards denied him access to treatment for his glaucoma despite his repeated pleas for help between 2011 and 2013. Another inmate, William Eastwood, reportedly was raped four-to-five times at knifepoint in February 2012 by prisoner who snorted cocaine to stay erect during the ordeal. An officer summoned by Eastwood’s cries left when the assailant told him everything was OK, the lawsuit says. Other mentally ill inmates have committed suicide after guards ignored repeated warning signs and, in some cases, had listed them in good condition hours after they’d died. Crime in the prison has become so rampant that Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie asked the state for a full-time investigator to handle the case load, he said. As lead law-enforcement agency for the county, the department must investigate each felony occurrence on the property. “There have been repeated violent incidents,” said Sollie, who also cited inconsistencies with the facility because of its revolving-door management. Three different private contractors have operated EMCF since it opened in 1999. The current operator is Utah-based Management & Training Corporation, which was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. MTC also has a state contract to run Walnut Grove and the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs. MDOC entered into all three agreements last year after the previous private company, the GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., ended its management contracts for the three facilities. MTC spokesman Issa Arnita declined to comment on the lawsuit but said that, since taking over the prison, the company has been “working very hard to improve the conditions and have made a lot of progress over these past ten months.” On Thursday, family members of EMCF and Walnut Grove inmates gathered outside the state Department of Corrections in downtown Jackson to protest what they called inhumane treatment and the oversight of prisons by private contractors. Holding signs with their loved ones’ initials and a description of the alleged abuses they’d suffered while in prison, the family members asked for justice. “I was assured that while serving his sentence, my son would get the help he so separately needs,” said Katie Autry while choking back tears. “This turned out to be false. Since my son has been in east Mississippi, I have seen his mental state – his mental state got worse, not better.” Autry declined to name her son, providing only his age and initials – 28 years old and B.A . The state Department of Corrections lists a man of the same age named Bilethon Autry serving a 24-year sentence for manslaughter at EMCF. Autry said her son, who has bi-polar disorder and a form of schizophrenia, had been denied medication for the first six months of his sentence and repeatedly placed in isolation as a result of his erratic behavior. “He has been in isolation, in chains, for the past three months,” Autry said. “I saw him yesterday, and he looks horrible. He’s lost probably 100 pounds.” Fisher couldn’t comment on Autry’s situation, citing the federal HIPAA privacy rule. EMCF Warden Frank Shaw was out of the office Thursday and couldn’t be reached for comment. EMCF was criticized by a national correctional health-care expert in 2011 for inadequate psychiatric staffing, according to the lawsuit. At the time, it had one full-time psychiatrist at the facility. But one year later, the hours dropped to two days per week after the state hired another for-profit contractor, Health Assurance, to provide mental health and psychiatric services at the prison. The lawsuit also alleges youth prisoners are housed at the facility alongside adults and that, in at least one case, a 16-year-old was raped while in the facility’s general population. “We have a moral obligation to take care of our mentally ill,” said Jody Owens II, executive director of SPLC’s Mississippi office. “This is fixible.” Owens said the ACLU and SPLC raised their concerns with MDOC Commissioner Chris Epps last year but got nowhere. He provided a copy of a May 15, 2012 letter reportedly sent to Epps detailling the problems and asking for a response within two weeks, but none was received. Epps said through his spokeswoman that he never saw the letter. “We have sat down with the ACLU and SPLC on numerous occasions in the past and have taken their suggestions on other units,” Epps said in a statement. “Negotiating will be one of the options we will explore regarding this matter.” The department had a $29.5 million deficit during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and faces additional budget crunches next year. It’s unclear whether funding has had anything to do with the prison’s current situation, but Owens said it shouldn’t matter. “Budget constraints,” he said, “doesn’t relieve constitutional obligations.”

June 7, 2012 WTOK
MTC will officially take over operation at East Mississippi Correctional Facility on July 9th. The company got its start working with young people outside the corrections system. The Vice President of Corrections at MTC explained the company's history via a video news release. "We started 30 years ago by providing training for young adults to succeed in life," says Odie Washington, "we've taken that and applied it to our corrections division. "All you are going to see is a change in the name over the door," that's the opinion of Frank Smith, a private prison watchdog, "it's not going to be a change in operations." Smith works as a consultant for Private Corrections Working Group. "The problem is there is such turnover that there is no mentoring process so everybody is just kind of new on the job, and they don't know what to do when the problems arise." MTC officials say they plan on providing EMCF with all the resources it needs to operate effectively. "We'll provide each facility the resources necessary for them to operate safely and effectively," says Washington, and we look forward to applying these high standards to our new Mississippi facilities as well." Only time will tell whether MTC will have a successful run in the Magnolia State.

June 7, 2012 AP
A Utah-based private prison operator will take over management of three Mississippi correctional institutions beginning in July. Management & Training Corporation of Centreville, Utah, has signed 10-year operating contracts for the East Mississippi Correctional Facility near the Lost Gap community beginning July 2; Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Walnut Grove on July 9; and the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs on Aug. 13. Financial details of the contracts were not made public. The announcement came Thursday by the company and the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The Corrections Department and the GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., in April agreed to end GEO's management contract at the three prisons. At the time Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps told the AP that the department felt it might get a better price if all three prisons were presented as a package to other corrections management companies. "The Mississippi Department of Corrections is looking forward to a great partnership with MTC," Epps said in a statement Thursday. "There is a need for different types of prisons, including state and regional as well as private facilities in Mississippi. MTC will be held to the same high standards as set by MDOC and I feel extremely confident that MTC will do a great job." "We look forward to the opportunity to work in Mississippi," said MTC senior vice president of corrections Odie Washington in the statement. "We have partnered with state and federal governments in operating correctional facilities for the past 25 years, and have a strong record of providing safe, secure and well-run facilities."

East Texas Intermediate Sanction Facility, Longview, Texas
September 30, 2005 Tyler Morning Telegraph
In other business Thursday, county commissioners allowed the sheriff to move forward with plans to convert the Marvin A. Smith Regional Juvenile Center to the Marvin A. Smith Criminal Justice Center. With the county's jail population hovering around capacity, the county plans to take the already-closed juvenile facility and turn it into a low-risk adult detention facility in April. He also said after the meeting that Management and Training Corp., which leases a total of 300 beds in the county's jail, has been put on verbal notice that the county currently is not in a position to renew its contract, which expires in February 2007. The sheriff said officials are working with the company on finding a new place to house those inmates when that time comes.

Gadsden County Correctional Facility, Gretna, Florida
May 4, 2012 Tallahassee Democrat
Franzetta Mathis, 42, was arrested Thursday by the Leon County Sheriff's Office on charges of grand theft and destroying evidence. Court documents say she and another correctional officer were at Capital Regional Medical Center guarding an inmate when another patient dropped her wallet. Mathis then picked up the wallet and put it in her purse, the document said. The patient later reported the stolen wallet, which she said contained about $8,400. Hospital surveillance tape showed Mathis taking the wallet. When she was questioned, the document says Mathis told police there was only $100 in the wallet. After further questioning, she admitted that there was about $7,100 in the wallet. Mathis also told police that she had burned the wallet after taking the money, the document said.

April 27, 2010 Salt Lake City Tribune
Centerville-based Management & Training Corporation (MTC) has received a three-year, $76.5 million contract to operate a 1,520-bed prison for women in Quincy, Fla. The contract with the Florida Department of Management Services goes into effect Aug. 1 and includes a pair of renewable, two-year options. MTC already manages 16 private correctional facilities in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas and, beginning in June, Idaho. The contract to run the Gadsden Correctional Institution, about 20 miles outside Tallahassee, marks the Utah company's entry into Florida. "The company's experience working with female inmates in other locations has provided us with the expertise needed at this site," said Odie Washington, MTC's senior corrections vice president. "MTC believes in rehabilitating inmates by providing them with educational opportunities. For nearly a quarter century we have helped inmates improve their lives and to reestablish themselves as successful members of society." MTC uses the Foundations for Life and Success for Life rehabilitation programs to educate inmates, he noted. With the Florida prison, MTC manages more than 24,000 correctional beds. The company also is involved in operating 26 Job Corps centers for the U. S. Department of Labor, serving 19,000 students annually.

Giles W. Dalby Correctional Facility, Post, Texas
October 18, 2013 lubbockonline.com

A former guard at a private prison in Post on Friday, Oct. 18, received two years probation for accepting a candy bar from an inmate as a bribe. “You know I’m giving you a break,” U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings said to Cesar Ceja, after defense attorney Rod Hobson suggested a long probation would achieve the same goals as a prison term would. Ceja replied, “Yes, your honor, I do.” He faced a maximum prison sentence of two years. Ceja, a guard at the Giles W. Dalby Correctional Facility, told investigators in February 2012 an inmate offered him a bribe to bring contraband into a prison. In that same interview, he admitted he’d accepted a Snickers candy bar from an inmate in exchange for chewing gum. Many jails and prisons classify chewing gum as contraband primarily because it can be used to jam a lock keyway. The Dalby facility is owned by Garza County and operated by Management and Training Corp., based in Centerville, Utah. The minimum security prison is a federal contract facility that houses men who may be awaiting deportation.

January 17, 2001 Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Sixteen federal prisoners confined to the Giles W. Dalby Correctional Facility in Post filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday alleging violation of due process and their civil rights. The inmates, all immigrant aliens in the United States, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Lubbock. Management and Training Corporation runs the private prison, which contracts with the federal government to house inmates. The lawsuit claims that Dalby inmate receive inadequate medical care, food, rehabilitation programs and legal supplies, among other complaints.

August 1, 2000 Lubbock Avalanche-Journal 
A corrections officer suffered a concussion in a riot early Sunday morning at a medium-security prison in Post after being struck by an object thrown by an inmate, a county judge Giles Dalby said Monday. He said the riot started on "Main Street," a wide outdoor sidewalk area that splits the facility's two holding areas. According to Dalby, about 500 inmates gathered on the sidewalk at about 8:30 pm. Saturday and began loitering and making demands to the correction officers. "The officers were able to talk them down to about 250 inmates," Dalby said. "When the officers told them to lock up at around 12:30 am, some obeyed and some didn't. A crowd of about 10 inmates stayed in the area." The inmates then began to break wooden picnic tables and set them on fire. They also pulled gutters off the side of the building and damaged seven surveillance cameras, Dalby said. "That is when we pulled our people back to safety and called the safety response team," Dalby said. According to Dalby, the number of inmates involved in the riot swelled to about 200 as the mayhem continued. The facility's response team was called in at about 1:45 am Sunday and dispersed the crowd in 9 minutes using tear gas, Dalby said. 

Hood County Juvenile Detention Center, Hood County, Texas
February 1, 2006 Hood County News
The now abandoned county juvenile detention center drew attention from two county judge candidates at the political forum Monday night for candidates in the March 7 Republican primary. Precinct 2 county commissioner Charles Baskett placed the blame on county judge Andy Rash for the loss of $837,00 in operating expenses at the juvenile detention center (JDC). Rash countered that the county inherited the JDC problem and took action to try and protect their credit rating. In addition to Baskett and incumbent judge Rash, former Granbury mayor Rick Frye is also seeking election to the position of county judge. Baskett said the juvenile detention center was built by an outside contractor, who then leased the facility to the county. The county then sub-leased the facility to MTC, the company that ran the facility as a JDC for about a year. “At the end of a year, they had lost $1.2 million. They (MTC) cancelled their lease with the county and left town,” Baskett said. “I tried to find someone to come back in to run the facility as a JDC. No one was interested. They couldn’t make the numbers work. “Then the juvenile board came up with a budget, and it was put on the commissioners’ court agenda to determine whether Hood County should run the facility.” Baskett contends the center was supposed to be run by a private enterprise, and that the county had no business getting involved in managing the center. “It was a 3-2 vote to run the center on our own. We had no obligation to do it,” Baskett said. “We ran it for a few months and lost $837,000 before we had to discontinue. We held the lease. We could have given it up. “They said they were worried about losing our bond rating, and that’s why we should continue to operate the facility. We lost it (bond rating) anyway. “We should have never tried to run that facility ourselves. Now our bond rating is BBB.” “Had we terminated our lease and not attempted to operate, both Standard and Poor, and Moody threatened to lower our bond rating to BBB-,” he said.

Kyle Unit, Hays County, Texas
March 16, 2008 Austin American-Statesman
Two men who escaped from a Kyle private prison were apprehended this afternoon, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The two men were apprehended while walking on County Road 158 about three miles east of the facility, according to Jason Clark, a public information officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Jeremy Trevino, 21, and Justin Doty, 23, escaped from the Kyle Unit in Hays County over a wall in the recreation yard shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday. Clark said the two men were imprisoned there for parole violations. “Anytime an offender escapes, we always work quickly to get them back into custody,” Clark said. “You just don’t know what they’re capable of.”

Lake Erie Correctional Institution, Conneaut, Ohio
November 2, 2011 Star Beacon
Corrections Corporation of America will apparently start from scratch in its search for employees for the state prison it plans to acquire at the start of the year. Just about every employee at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution will be laid off effective Dec. 31, according to paperwork filed last week with the state by Management and Training Corporation, the Utah-based company that has operated the prison since it opened in April 2000. In a notice MTC filed with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, it will “permanently lay off its employees” at LaECI and the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility, another prison operated by MTC. The action will affect 271 people at LaECI, according to the notice — the same number of people listed as employees on the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections web site. More than half of the workers, 142 employees, are correctional officers, according to the notice. The prison’s two deputy wardens are also on the lay-off list.

September 1, 2011 All Headline News
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections announced Thursday the winning bidders in the $200 million privatization of prisons in Ashtabula and Marion counties. Two out of three bidders won the contracts: Corrections Corp. of America (CCA) of Nashville, TN, and Management and Training Corp. (MTC) of Centerville, UT. The Geo Group Inc. of Boca Raton, FL, was the losing bidder. The state of Ohio pushed through with the announcement after a Columbus judge denied a restraining order by opposition groups to halt the process. Five adult prisons out of the state's 32 corrections facilities were up for grabs. CCA will take over the operations of Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Ashtabula County, while MTC will manage Marion County's North Central Correctional Institution and the vacant Marion Juvenile Correctional Facility. The MTC-operated North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Lorain County will be turned over to Ohio and merged with the state-operated Grafton Correctional Institution.

August 7, 2010 Star-Beacon
Officials at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution and Ohio State Highway Patrol continue to investigate a fight one week ago, which landed 15 inmates in solitary confinement. The review is proceeding at a deliberate pace, Rich Gansheimer, LaECI warden, said Friday afternoon. The probe will not be rushed, to ensure a thorough job, he said. “We want to get to the cause of it,” he said. “We want to get the guys responsible.” One inmate was injured in a fight that began around 4:30 p.m. in one of the housing units. He was taken to Ashtabula County Medical Center for treatment and returned to the prison the same day. No corrections officers or prison staff were injured, LaECI officials said. The fight was broken up without the assistance of any outside agencies, according to reports. Prison officials have declined to say how many inmates were involved or whether weapons were used, saying those questions will be answered by the investigation. OHP investigates all crimes that occur on state prison property.

August 2, 2010 AP
The state is investigating a fight at a private prison in northeastern Ohio that resulted in 15 inmates punished with solitary confinement. Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said Monday the fight happened about 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution. Smith says no guards were injured and that one prisoner was treated at a local hospital for injuries and returned to prison the same day. The prison system and the state highway patrol are investigating. The prison run by Utah-based Management and Training Corporation is a minimum and medium security facility with about 1,500 inmates.

May 18, 2005 AP
Ashtabula County's budget problems are so severe that dozens of crimes committed at one of the state's two privately operated prisons aren't being prosecuted. The northeast Ohio county doesn't have enough money to handle all the crimes reported, Prosecutor Thomas Sartini said. Some crimes reported at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution are being overlooked as a result. "I don't like not to prosecute any case that's a legitimate case," Sartini said. "I've always taken the position that we're going to prosecute cases to the fullest extent, but if I've got one hand tied behind my back, it's a little tough to do. So we're in a position where we've had to make some calls. The only crimes consistently prosecuted from the prison involve inmates assaulting guards or attempts to smuggle drugs into the prison. State Highway Patrol records show that inmate attacks on other inmates are usually overlooked. Prisoners aren't being prosecuted for having weapons, either.

March 14, 2004
An inmate at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution was found badly beaten Tuesday afternoon, officials said. The inmate, identified as Bobby Donaldson, 22, was reportedly struck by a padlock placed inside a sock, officials said.  (Star Beacon)

January 24, 2003
CONNEAUT - The state prison perched on Conneaut's East Side generated nearly $400,000 for the city's budget last year, nearly half of that in municipal income-tax revenues, according to figures provided by Finance Director John Williams.  The information has been relayed to Gov. Bob Taft, who on Wednesday confirmed he will close at least one state prison to help heal a $720 million budget deficit. The Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut has not been excluded, officials have said.  The medium-security prison is operated by Management and Training Corp., of Utah, and MTC employees - more than 250 people - paid nearly $125,000 in city income taxes, Williams said.  The prison also buys a huge amount of water from the city. Water revenue from the prison was $88,000, while sewer revenue was $159,000, Williams said.  Conneaut counts on prison-related revenues to help pay off its prison-related debt. To entice the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to consider a Conneaut site for its first privately managed prison, the city offered gifts of land and infrastructure.  While the state contributed more than $39 million to the prison project - primarily in construction costs - Conneaut agreed to absorb nearly $2.1 million in expenses. The city's expenses include sewer lines ($647,000), waterlines ($591,000), a mandatory water tank ($532,000) and land ($309,000). Loans were obtained to help the city handle the costs.  The city bought nearly 500 acres of land from USX Corp. and donated some 175 acres to the state for the prison. The balance of the acreage is home to the East Conneaut Industrial Park and the city's compost site.  State Rep. George Distel, D-Conneaut, has said the loss of the prison would bankrupt the city since it would lose its main method of repaying the prison debt. Distel has said he has shared Williams' information with Taft's office.  (The Staff)

Management and Training Corporation, Ogden, Utah
Immigrants prove big business for prison companies: August 2, 2012 By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ and GARANCE BURKE Associated Press. Must read on immigration $$$.
MDOC Sticks with Private Prisons: Jackson Free Press, June 13, 2012. MDOC chooses MTC to take over where GEO failed. What are they smoking?
Top Ten Industry Lies: Cell Out Arizona, August 22, 2011
2010 escape at Kingman an issue for MTC’s bid: August 11, 2011, Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic. Expose on MTC
Cathy Byus, et al vs. MTC, et al: March 17, 2011, 30 pages: Wrongful death suit involving the murder of Linda Haas by escapees from MTC's Arizona State Prison Kingman.
Rachel Maddow stay on it http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#38700092
Rachel Maddow kicks butt http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/38685023#38685023

Oct 15, 2017 .news4jax.com
Nurse charged with stealing drugs from Putnam County Jail
PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. - A nurse who worked in the Putnam County Jail is facing drug charges after detectives said she stole antibiotics and other medications from the jail.
Tina Sue Anderson, 44, is charged with 10 counts of possession of a prescription medication without a prescription, five counts of theft, one count of practicing medicine without the proper license and one count of distributing amphetamines. Anderson, who works for MTC Medical, a Utah-based company contracted to provide medical care for inmates in Putnam County, is being held on $137,000 bond. Detectives said that after an inmate is released from the Putnam County Jail, any remaining medication is supposed to be returned to the pharmacy for a credit. But three weeks ago, deputies realized some of the medication was not being properly disposed of. Drug and vice unit detectives investigated and found that Anderson, who lives in Hawthorne, had taken antibiotics and other non-narcotic medications out of the jail after inmates were released and gave them to her family members, the sheriff's office said. Detectives said Anderson also sold narcotic medication to a family member that she had obtained with a lawful prescription of her own. Anderson was charged with 10 counts of medication possession because she had taken 10 different kinds of medication not prescribed to her, detectives said. Anderson's nursing license does not allow her to dispense medication without a doctor’s order, which resulted in the charge of practicing medicine without a license. She was also charged with several counts of theft for taking the medicines from MTC Medical and was charged for selling her medication to someone. Putnam County Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Hansel Woods said it's up to MTC Medical whether Anderson will lose her job, but that if she is still employed by the company, the sheriff's office would likely not allow her to return to work at the jail. “At this point, we would prefer that she not return here, but with that said, we have no control of her employment or if she remains employed with them,” Woods said. News4Jax attempted to contact MTC Medical for comment and to find out about Anderson's employment status, but the company has not responded. It’s unclear who originally caught on to the medication discrepancies and alerted law enforcement, but the sheriff’s office said Anderson's company is cooperating with the investigation, which is ongoing.

Sep 26, 2017 prisonlegalnews.org
HRDC/PLN Obtain Landmark Nationwide Censorship Settlement with Private Prison Company
On July 24, 2017, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), the parent organization and publisher of Prison Legal News, entered into a settlement with private prison firm Management and Training Corp. (MTC), which has contracts to operate detention centers nationwide. The settlement agreement resolved what HRDC argued were First and Fourteenth Amendment violations with respect to sending publications to prisoners at the company’s facilities. HRDC filed separate federal lawsuits alleging that MTC, a Utah corporation, had blocked the distribution of PLN books and other publications sent to prisoners at the company’s Otero County Prison Facility in New Mexico and North Central Correctional Complex in Ohio. HRDC and PLN have published numerous articles critical of private prison companies like MTC, accusing them of engaging in the systematic violation of prisoners’ rights in their quest to generate profit. According to HRDC executive director Paul Wright, “MTC has a policy and practice of censoring the free speech of publishers and book distributors around the country. As a for-profit, private prison company, it is shameful that they are being paid by taxpayers to violate the First Amendment rights of publishers and prisoners alike.” HRDC alleged that MTC’s “mail policy and practice bans books sent by PLN and other senders to prisoners at the Otero Prison because the books: (1) have not been pre-approved by Defendants; (2) the sender is not on an approved vendor list; and/or (3) were not purchased through the Otero Prison business office.... Defendants’ mail policy and practices violate PLN’s First Amendment right to free speech, and its Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process of law and equal protection.” The settlement, which was reached shortly after HRDC’s second lawsuit was filed, provides that MTC will modify its mail policy to permit the delivery of unsolicited publications, including paperback books, magazines and newspapers, “regardless of the identify of the publisher, vendor, or distributor” and without using an approved vendor list. It also specifies an appeal process whereby prisoners can challenge the rejection of such publications, and provides that prisoners will receive notice if mail is censored due to institutional safety. MTC committed itself to additional staff training to ensure compliance with the terms of the settlement. Further, the agreement requires MTC to pay $150,000 to HRDC for damages, attorney fees and litigation expenses. Notably, MTC also agreed to comply with the settlement terms at all of its privately-operated correctional and detention facilities nationwide – this is apparently a first for a for-profit prison company. HRDC was ably represented by HRDC general counsel Sabarish Neelakanta, Laura Ives of Kennedy Kennedy and Ives in New Mexico, Alphonse Gerhardstein in Ohio and Bruce John with Davis Wright Tremaine in Seattle. The complaints and settlement are posted on PLN’s website. See: Prison Legal News v. Management and Training Corp., U.S.D.C. (D. NM), Case No. 2:16-cv-01174-KG-GBW and Human Rights Defense Center v. Management and Training Corp., U.S.D.C. (N.D. Ohio), Case No. 3:17-cv-01082-JJH. If you are a PLN subscriber held in an MTC-operated facility and any publications or books sent by PLN are censored or withheld, please contact us immediately with documentation. We would like to thank the prisoners who alerted us to censorship problems at MTC facilities and provided us with copies of their grievances and complaints along with MTC’s responses, which confirmed their illegal and unconstitutional actions. 

Jun 3, 2017 kcbd.com
State Prison in Brownfield closing after losing funding in State's budget
Brownfield's city manager says they will lose about $250,000 because of the closure of TDCJ's West Texas Intermediate Sanction Facility. It will also cause 60 to 70 people to lose their jobs. This closure will also impact the Rudd Unit in Brownfield. Those inmates are being relocated to other state prisons so the Rudd Unit can be converted into an intermediate sanction facility. "From an economic standpoint, it was hard for the city to deal with an increase in staff, but I think as time goes on, and the West Texas ISF closes, and the Rudd Unit absorbs it, it gives the city enough time to try to bounce back from it," Charles Horsley, warden at Rudd, said. "But initially, I think it was a big shock for the city." Employees at the private prison were able to apply for jobs with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. "TDCJ had a recruiter come to West Texas ISF and all of those that qualify will be relocated through TDCJ if they meet those standards," Horsley said. 246 offenders have successfully been moved to the Rudd Unit. "It was a little stressful but our staff was very professional, we got them all moved, it was a culture shock for some of them but I think it's going to work out," Horsley said. The offenders that were transferred to the Rudd Unit will be separated from the rest of the population. TDCJ had to relocate 390 offenders to other units across the state to make room. The quick and easy transfer from the West Texas ISF made the most sense. "The transfer from the West Texas ISF to the Rudd Unit was a good idea logically because the proximity of it," Horsley said. "Resource wise it was easy to move the offenders probably 500 feet from one unit to the other and that saved the state a lot of money because you didn't have to take them very far, if there were some things that were missing you could go back and get them." TDCJ officials say they are actively recruiting displaced private sector employees in order to fill vacancies.

Mar 24, 2017 miamiherald.com
Florida’s largest privately-operated women’s prison is in danger zone. Lawmaker wants Gov. Scott to act
Warning that inmate health and safety is at risk at the state’s largest privately run women’s prison, Rep. David Richardson on Thursday asked Gov. Rick Scott to use his emergency powers to replace the top officers and take state control of Gadsden Correctional Facility. In a letter delivered late Thursday, Richardson asked Scott “to direct the Florida Department of Corrections to install a temporary warden, chief of security and other resources you deem necessary to restore order and reverse what I can only describe as a loss of institutional control.” In a letter, Florida Rep. David Richardson asks Gov. Rick Scott to use his emergency powers to replace officers at Gadsden Correctional. Richardson, a Miami Beach Democrat and retired forensic auditor, has been on a one-man mission to force change in Florida’s troubled prison system. After several surprise inspections in the last month with investigators from the Department of Corrections and the state’s Office of the Chief Inspector General, he concluded that Gadsden prison faces “significant inmate health and safety concerns” and that management has repeatedly retaliated “against inmates for discussing matters with me.” Gadsden Correctional is a medium-security prison that houses 1,544 female inmates and is one of seven privately run facilities in the state. Gadsden is the only Florida prison managed by Management Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah. Scott, whose staff was briefed by Richardson on Wednesday about his concerns, said he had not seen the letter and would not comment. Issa Arnita, communicators director for Management Training Corp., told the Herald/Times that the company will “continue to address the ongoing maintenance issues” but is “not aware of any emergency action.” Department of Corrections spokesperson Ashley Cook said the agency is conducting a health and safety inspection at the prison but deferred all questions to the Department of Management Services, which monitors the state’s private prisons. DMS spokesperson Maggie Mickler said the agency has assigned staff to review MTC’s efforts in resolving maintenance concerns and is reviewing claims involving inmate welfare. “While maintenance work is ongoing, conditions at the facility are improving,” she said. “DMS will continue to implement changes that enhance the quality of the facility and the well-being of the inmates housed in it.” Among the conditions Richardson observed during two surprise visits this month: 55-degree temperatures in inmate cells; no hot water; care being withheld from ill inmates; a tooth extraction without sedation; an inmate who contracted pneumonia after being housed in a unit with no heat or hot water; and reports that guards who impregnated inmates were allowed to remain on the job. “These people are treated poorly,” he told the Herald/Times. “And it all ties back to saving money.” During his March 10 visit with investigators from the Department of Corrections, including Inspector General Lester Fernandez, Richardson said they observed “25 allegations of potential wrongdoing” and encountered two inmates who were threatening to fight each other. He returned the following week with a laser thermometer borrowed from his brother in the heating and air-conditioning business and measured the units in Building A at 55 degrees at 12:30 p.m. Confinement cells in another dorm were 64 degrees. Hot water had been turned off in the sinks of yet another dorm. “While some of the concerns stem from much-needed infrastructure repairs, other concerns stem from what appears to be overly aggressive contractor cost-cutting measures that have resulted in conditions that affect inmate health and safety,” Richardson wrote in his letter to Scott. Richardson said he has heard several recurring complaints: meal quality was poor and inadequate, clothing was rationed, and white inmates said that black officers imposed harsher reprimands on them than black inmates. “I had one teacher say under her breath say to me, ‘Please fix this place,’ ” he said. Healthcare is a common concern, Richardson said. An inmate who had a recurrence of a highly contagious rash on her face had not been allowed to see a doctor, “so the inmates around her are very fearful they are going to be infected,” he said.  Another inmate with a toothache saw the dentist and was told she needs a root canal but, because she is scheduled to be released in four months, “the doctor told her, he can either pull the tooth now or he will give her antibiotics and when she is released she could pay for her own root canal.” He said he told the deputy warden that he insisted she be given a root canal. “I told them, in front of the inmates, that if they are withholding treatment that I would not tolerate it.” In the last year, Richardson’s crusade has revealed evidence of officer-on-inmate violence at youthful offender facilities and officers withholding food from inmates. He persuaded the Department of Corrections to close down Lancaster Correctional Institution, a youthful offender prison. He uncovered “horrific” conditions at Columbia Correctional, where toilets wouldn’t flush, showers didn’t work, a heating system didn’t heat and deafening noise came from an exhaust fan. He also discovered that Lake City Correctional Institution, a privately operated prison run by CoreCivic of Tennessee, has overcharged the state at least $16 million over the past seven years. At Gadsden Correctional, he found that the 284 women housed in the C-dorm lived for months without hot water or heat, faced flooded bathrooms daily and endured water rations when the septic tanks were jammed with food waste. After a surprise visit to Gadsden on Feb. 9, Richardson returned a week later with Chad Poppell, the outgoing head of the Department of Management Services, which oversees private prisons. Poppell, who leaves at the end of the month, subsequently removed the state employee who serves as the on-site monitor, and the state’s chief inspector general, Melinda Miguel, dispatched inspectors to assess the safety and welfare of the inmates. Richardson now wants the warden and chief of security replaced. “I don’t need to wait for an investigation to start jumping up and down,” he said. “I have enough evidence, and I’m convinced there is enough health and safety concern that this must be treated as a priority.” Richardson said that when he told the Herald/Times about the harsh and unsafe conditions at Gadsden Correctional in February, he knew he would get feedback. But he didn’t expect the avalanche of emails and phone calls from families — and even former officers employed by the private prison operator. Richardson shared some of the emails. One mother wrote that her daughter who is incarcerated at Gadsden has experienced “black mold over her bed, flies swarming the chow hall” and “sometimes no drinking water for extended periods of time.” Another mother wrote that since Richardson’s visits, “ALL the inmates are now being punished for embarrassing the prison. They no longer have any privileges, no canteen, no microwave, no rec and minimal medical care.” Richardson has filed legislation to shift management from the Department of Management Services to the Florida Department of Corrections, but it has faced pushback from lobbyists for the private prison industry. The bill has not gotten a hearing.

Feb 19, 2017 clarionledger.com
An inmate is dead after a Saturday fight at the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility.
Eric Heinz, 33, was pronounced dead at the prison shortly before noon Saturday after being found unresponsive on the floor of his cell, according to Mississippi Department of Corrections officials. They said a preliminary investigation shows Heinz had suffered serious injuries during an alleged fight with his cellmate. The name of the cellmate and the cause of death have not been released. "The Mississippi Department of Corrections' policy is to pursue the harshest penalties available in instances such as this incident," Interim MDOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall said. "I spoke to District Attorney Ronnie Harper earlier today and asked him to pursue the death penalty, if it is legally available upon the conclusion of our investigation." Heinz's body will be sent for an autopsy, officials said. Heinz was serving a total of 20 years for armed robbery and burglary/larceny of an unoccupied dwelling from Lowndes and Monroe counties. He had been in prison since June 24, 2002. Wilkinson County Correctional Center is a private prison in unincorporated Wilkinson County. It is controlled by Management and Training Corporation on behalf of MDOC.

Feb 14, 2017 meridianstar.com

Private prison firms deny wrongdoing in Epps kickback scheme
Several of the companies being sued by Mississippi’s top prosecutor deny allegations they participated in a bribery scheme that brought down the state’s corrections commissioner. Last week, Attorney General Jim Hood said his office had filed lawsuits against 25 companies and individuals he says illegally profited from a plot former corrections Commissioner Chris Epps orchestrated while leading the agency. In all, Hood has filed 11 civil RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) lawsuits against entities that he says “defrauded” Mississippians “through a pattern of bribery, kickbacks, misrepresentations, fraud, concealment, money laundering and other wrongful conduct.” Two of the companies are among the largest private-prison operators in the nation, including one that continues to do business in Mississippi. Hood’s complaint against Utah-based Management and Training Co. (MTC), which operates three facilities on behalf of the state of Mississippi — in Lauderdale, Wilkinson and Marshall counties — charges that the company had a “backroom” relationship with Epps and Cecil McCrory, the Rankin County businessman and former state official recently sentenced for his role as Epps’ co-conspirator. MTC operates East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Lauderdale County. Hood said MTC had every reason to believe that the consulting fees the company paid to McCrory were being used to pay bribes and kickbacks to Epps on contracts worth $114 million. In a statement, MTC spokesman Issa Arnita said the company is committed to integrity and honesty in all its dealings.   “MTC was unaware of any wrongdoing or illegal activity during the time we were awarded contracts to operate correctional facilities for the Department of Corrections,” Arnita said. “We have, and will continue to operate the three correctional facilities in a safe and secure manner for the taxpayers of Mississippi. We are confident that after a thorough review of the facts, it will become clear MTC has had no involvement in or knowledge of any wrongdoing,” Arnita said. Hood makes similar allegations against Boca Raton, Fla., based-GEO Group and a company it acquired that is now defunct, Cornell Companies. GEO Group, the nation’s second largest private-corrections firm, pulled out of Mississippi 2013. Hood asserts that the GEO Group should have known the consulting fees it paid to McCrory were used to pay kickbacks to Epps for $256 million in contracts with the state. Pablo E. Paez, a vice president with the GEO Group, said the company was a partner with the state from 1994 to 2012. “During our entire tenure as a service provider to the state, our company was never aware of any improprieties within the Mississippi Department of Corrections. In fact, since the federal criminal allegations against Epps and McCrory first surfaced, our company has openly and proactively cooperated with federal authorities.” “We believe the allegations against GEO have no merit, and we intend to vigorously defend our company with respect to this action, which the State has also brought against a broad range of companies and individuals,” Paez said in an emailed statement to Mississippi Today. The federal government indicted Epps in 2014. Six people, including Epps and McCrory, have pleaded guilty for various roles in procuring contracts whose value totaled between $800 million and over $1 billion. Epps is awaiting sentencing.  Hood wants those involved to pay back the value of the contracts plus attorneys and other fees because, he contends, the companies would not have been awarded state business if not for participating in the bribery scheme. Several other companies Mississippi Today contacted said they would cooperate with the investigation but declined to comment further, citing the pending litigation.

Feb 9, 2017 clarionledger.com
Mississippi AG files lawsuits in Epps bribery case
Attorney General Jim Hood announced Wednesday his office has filed 11 civil RICO lawsuits against all corporate and individual conspirators connected to the prison bribery scandal involving former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps. Hood is seeking damages and punitive damages against the following individuals and corporations:  Epps; Cecil McCrory; Robert Simmons; Irb Benjamin; Sam Waggoner; Mark Longoria; Teresa Malone; Carl Reddix; Michael Reddix; Andrew Jenkins; Management & Training Corporation; The GEO Group, Inc.; Cornell Companies, Inc.; Wexford Health Sources, Inc.; The Bantry Group Corporation; AdminPros, L.L.C.; CGL Facility Management, LLC; Mississippi Correctional Management, Inc.; Branan Medical Corporation; Drug Testing Corporation; Global Tel*Link Corporation; Health Assurance, LLC; Keefe Commissary Network, LLC; Sentinel Offender Services, L.L.C. and AJA Management & Technical Services, Inc. “The state of Mississippi has been defrauded through a pattern of bribery, kickbacks, misrepresentations, fraud, concealment, money laundering and other wrongful conduct,” Hood said. “These individuals and corporations that benefited by stealing from taxpayers must not only pay the state's losses, but state law requires that they must also forfeit and return the entire amount of the contracts paid by the state. We are also seeking punitive damages to punish these conspirators and to deter those who might consider giving or receiving kickbacks in the future." However, some of those named in Hood's case haven't been charged in the Epps' case. Jenkins and Michael Reddix haven't been charged in the case. In addition to Epps and McCrory, others charged are former state Sen. Irb Benjamin of Madison; Teresa Malone, the wife of former lawmaker and former House Corrections Chairman Bennett Malone; Texas businessman Mark Longoria; Dr. Carl Reddix; business and government consultant Robert Simmons; former MDOC insurance broker Guy E. "Butch" Evans; and prison consultant Sam Waggoner. McCrory and Waggoner are the only two who have been sentenced. McCrory received an 8.5 year sentence. Waggoner was sentenced to five years. According to Hood's lawsuits, multiple corporations, including some of the most prominent private prison contractors, paid millions of dollars in so-called “consulting fees” to individuals who then used those fees to pay bribes and kickbacks to Epps. Based on those bribes and kickbacks, Epps awarded, directed or extended approximately $800 million in public contracts to those private prison contractors. Hood alleges that the defendants violated Mississippi’s public ethics, racketeering and antitrust laws, along with several other claims. The Attorney General is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as forfeiture of all funds received by the individuals and corporations that were involved in these conspiracies. Hood said only three of the companies are from Mississippi. “Out-of-state corporations were eager to take advantage of Mississippi taxpayers and secure MDOC contracts through bribery and fraud. It is critical for the state to use the remedies at its disposal to recover damages and get back the money exchanged in these schemes,  Hood said. “I have a duty to protect the integrity of the public contracting process, as well as to vindicate the rights of the state when it is a victim of public corruption and other wrongful conduct.” In the federal case, Epps is accused of running one of the largest and longest criminal conspiracies in state government history, taking at least $1.4 million in bribes and kickbacks over eight years to steer more than $800 million worth of state prison contracts. Epps pleaded guilty in February 2015 to bribery and filing a false income tax return. He faces a maximum 23 years in prison. He had initially faced numerous other charges. Epps is scheduled to be sentenced in May. Hood said through private attorneys his office will seek to recoup as much money as possible from what he called tainted contracts. "There needs to be punishment for companies that do this," Hood said. "I hope the court will grant our costs." Hood said he expects it to be a long process to try to recoup money from the individuals and companies.

Dec 16, 2016 bizjournals.com
Downtown Houston lockup slated for closure transferring offenders, cutting jobs this month
Offenders being housed at the South Texas Intermediate Sanction Facility in downtown Houston will be relocated this month as the facility is slated for closure, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman confirmed. News broke in August that the TDCJ proposed closing the 450-bed facility at 1511 Preston Ave. as part of its Legislative Appropriations Request for the 2018-2019 biennium. Texas state agencies were required to cut their budgets by 4 percent compared to the previous biennium. "As part of that reduction and in light of the declining offender population because of the success of the agency’s treatment and diversion initiatives, TDCJ proposed closing the 450-bed South Texas Intermediate Sanction Facility in Houston and the repurposing of the 667-bed Kegan State Jail in Houston as an intermediate sanction facility," TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark said via email. Utah-based Management & Training Corp. operated the STISF, which employed about 115 people, according to the TDCJ’s website. MTC recently informed the Texas Workforce Commission it is cutting all of its 110 jobs at the downtown lockup. Approximately 14 jobs were expected to be cut on Dec. 5, with another 96 to be cut before the end of the year, according to MTC's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letter to the TWC. The affected employees are not represented by a union and do not have bumping rights, meaning workers with more seniority cannot take the jobs of those with less seniority. "MTC is working to place affected employees at other facilities and TDCJ is also recruiting them for possible employment with the agency," Clark said.

Aug 21, 2016 wctv.tv

Gadsden Correctional Officer arrested for sexual battery
QUINCY, Fla. (WCTV) -- A Gadsden County Correctional Officer has been arrested and charged with felony sexual battery, the Florida Department of Corrections reports. The FDC says former Correctional Officer Travis Lamar Hinson was employed at the Gadsden Correctional Facility at the time of his arrest. According to the arrest report, a female housed at the Gadsden Correctional Facility alleged that she was forced to have sex with Officer Hinson in a staff bathroom in May 2016. Hinson was arrested Thursday following a criminal investigation by the Office of Inspector General. The FDC reports Hinson was charged with felony sexual battery as a correctional officer in a position of control or authority and taken to the Gadsden County Jail.

May 13, 2016 ntnews.com.au
Prison visit sparks privatisation fears
FORMER Corrections Commissioner Ken Middlebrook was seen strolling the grounds of Darwin’s prison in his new role with a US-based company that specialises in running private prisons. Mr Middlebrook’s Tuesday visit with his new employer, Management & Training Corporation, and the fact he once threatened unions with outsourcing work to private contractors, has sparked concerns NT prisons are headed for privatisation. Mr Middlebrook resigned as commissioner following a string of failures — the tipping point being the escape of axe-murdering rapist, Edward Horrell, from a prison work camp in December last year. When asked if the NT Government was looking into the possibility of privatising prisons Corrections Minister John Elferink said: “no”. During a debacle last year that saw two juvenile offenders break out of Don Dale after a rampage causing tens of thousand dollars worth of damage, Mr Middlebrook sent guards from the adult prison over to help safeguard the centre. In an email to a union representative who expressed concerns about the arrangement, he responded by writing: “Should you not be happy with (correctional officers) working along side (youth justice officers) I am willing to consider private sector involvement from G4S, Serco or GEO all of whom have expressed a willingness and eagerness to work with NTDCS”. A spokesman for the Department of Correctional Services told the NT News Mr Middlebrook was not employed by the department. “Mr Middlebrook is employed by the US-based Management and Training Corporation which is looking at new prison designs and operations in Australia, hence their interest in visiting the Darwin Correctional Centre,” the spokesman said. United Voice secretary Erina Early said prisons were an essential service and “no essential service should be privatised”. “Privatisation means prisons would become a business and businesses need to make a profit ... it would adversely affect the conditions of those working in them, the care of the prisoners and the safety of Territorians,” she said. “If the CLP is looking at privatising the prison we’ll ensure Territorians take this to the vote and vote out a government that is continually privatising ... assets and jobs.” Mr Elferink distanced himself from the visit saying: “Access to the Darwin Correctional Centre is at the discretion of the Darwin Correctional Centre operations management”.

Jan 26, 2016 kwtx.com
Limestone County: Feds delay detention center decision
LIMESTONE COUNTY (January 25, 2016) Limestone County officials are looking for alternative ways to reopen the county’s 1,000-bed private prison, which has been closed since the summer of 2013. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons was expected to make a final decision on re-awarding a contract to reopen the center and restore the 250 jobs that were lost in July of 2013. "We were told that we have an excellent opportunity for another contract with the Bureau of Prisons based on the history of our facility...but they have delayed the decision now till October,” Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen said Monday. But Burkeen still believes the county still has a good chance, "So we're just kind of at the mercy of the federal government as they make that award,” he said. Burkeen said the county is talking to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to see if hundreds of newly detained immigrants can be housed in the large complex. "That could happen any day, but we'd need them to stay more than just a few months and it would take some time to bring the facility up to standard,” he said. Willy Johnson who owns and operates Mary's Breakfast and Burgers and is running for County Commissioner says he's lost a lot of business since the prison shut down, and hopes the county can find some way to reopen the prison, "I used to have a whole table of correctional officers here at 6 a.m. every day and now there's nothing.... The whole town has suffered...it’s not just us, it's everybody." The Limestone County Detention Center was built by the county 30 years ago and a private contractor ran the facility, carrying out the daily operations and hiring all the employees. If the county wins the BOP contract, Management and Training Corporation (MTC) has an agreement with the county to reopen and operate the facility
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Sep 20, 2015 alacrastore.com
SAN FRANCISCO (Standard&Poor's) Aug. 28, 2015--Standard&Poor's Ratings Services has placed its 'BBB+' long-term rating on Mohave County Industrial Development Authority, Ariz.'s series 2008 tax-exempt correctional facilities contract revenue bonds on CreditWatch with negative implications. "We placed the rating on CreditWatch due to a protest at the corrections center that caused damages requiring the relocation of inmates to other facilities," said Standard&Poor's credit analyst Jaime Trejo. "Sufficient information is not available at present to fully assess the effect of these events on our rating," Mr. Trejo added. Standard&Poor's will follow up with management within 90 days to determine the event's impact, if any, on our rating. RELATED CRITERIA AND RESEARCH Related Criteria USPF


MAR 25, 2015 bondbuyer.com

Standard & Poor’s downgraded the Willacy County Local Government Corp. to a junk-bond rating of CCC-plus from an investment grade BBB after a $78 million bond-funded detention center lost its operator in the wake of an inmate revolt.

 

Mar 22, 2015 valleymorningstar.com
RAYMONDVILLE — Willacy County officials plan to pull as much as $700,000 from cash reserves to help avoid employee layoffs as they try to offset a shortfall that stems from the closure of the tent-city prison, County Judge Aurelio Guerra said. He called layoffs and health insurance cuts “a last resort” in the county that employs about 130 workers. But Guerra said officials plan budget cuts. “It’s just a matter of how aggressively we’re going to cut,” Guerra said. Commissioners will review the county’s $8.18 million general fund budget Wednesday at a meeting of the three boards that oversee the county’s two prisons and county jail — the Willacy County Local Government Corp., the Willacy County Public Facilities Corp. and the Willacy County Jail Public Facility Corp.

Officials will try to offset a loss of revenue that stems from last month’s closure of the prison that pumped $2.7 million last year into the county’s general fund budget and capital fund budget. Management & Training Corp., or MTC, the Utah company that has operated the prison since it opened in 2006, announced that the Federal Bureau of Prisons terminated its contract with the company. The announcement came about three weeks after a Feb. 20 inmate uprising’s damage left the prison “uninhabitable.” Guerra said officials plan to avoid layoffs and health insurance cuts. “At this point we’re not considering that but we can’t rule that out, either,” Guerra said. “If we can hold off and not lay off anyone, that’s what we plan. We’re leaving that as a last resort.” Guerra said officials plan to take $600,000 to $700,000 from the county’s $5.3 million reserve fund to operate the county through the remainder of the fiscal year that ends in September. “It looks like we can finish off this year,” Guerra said. He said he did not “feel comfortable” taking more than $600,000 to $700,000 from the county’s reserve fund, which is set aside to fund operations in case of emergencies. “We’re not going to deplete the revenues completely,” Guerra said, referring to the reserve fund.


Mar 21, 2015 clarionledger.com
Religious leaders appalled at Mississippi's embattled correctional system amid the proliferation of private prisons will lobby for change through a newly formed group called Clergy for Prison Reform, or CPR. Boasting a statewide membership of some 50 church leaders representing numerous faiths – including Baptist, Catholic, Episcopalian and Methodist – the coalition plans to take an active role in ongoing efforts to improve the Mississippi prison system. The Mississippi Department of Corrections, already under fire by several groups for its deplorable prison conditions, came under heightened scrutiny in November after federal indictments accused former Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps of masterminding one of the state's largest bribery schemes in recent history. Epps and co-conspirator, Rankin County businessman Cecil McCroy, both pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February and await sentencing. Meanwhile, a task force created in the wake of those indictments continues reviewing the agency's policies, practices and contracts and will make recommendations in a report to Gov. Phil Bryant. CPR members say they want to have a sustained impact on that task force. They appeared at the task force's public hearing Friday and said they will organize other efforts in the coming weeks and months. "We are preachers across racial, denominational and ideological lines who all share a common belief that private prisons haven't done what they promised to do," said the Rev. CJ Rhodes, CPR's president and pastor at Mt. Helm Baptist Church in Jackson. "The profit incentives have made rehabilitation and restoration of our citizens a side issue as opposed to the main thing." Mississippi has the nation's second-highest incarceration rate with more than 17,600 men and women behind bars this month alone, according to MDOC statistics. Nearly one-fourth of them are at the six privately run prisons. Private prisons started becoming popular nationwide in the 1990s as a way to save money. Mississippi opened the doors to private prison operators around the same but have become a source of controversy as the state's incarceration rate rose and problems within the facilities mounted. Among the biggest operators of private prisons in Mississippi is the Utah-based Management and Training Corporation, whose contracts federal investigators claim were part of the bribery scheme. The task force is reviewing those deals now, and religious leaders want input.They believe their words will resonate louder than those of outside organizations, like the American Civil Liberties Union, that have raised identical concerns. "Mississippi is real Christian conservative state, and we're a voice of influence in our community," said Bishop Lionel Traylor of the Epicenter Church in south Jackson. "You get 20, 30, 40 preachers in a room, we have some influence." For Traylor, this particular mission is personal. The New Orleans native did time in the Louisiana correctional system as a juvenile and young adult. The experience opened his eyes to the inherent flaws of locking up troubled individuals without providing counseling, educational opportunities or job training. Such a system breeds delinquency, he said. It manifests as chaos inside the prisons, and recidivism in the communities – creating a perpetual cycle of criminality that benefits no one. No one, Traylor said, except those who stand to profit. "Prisons are not doing their part in reforming these incarcerated people," he said. "Bring them into an asylum and make them twice an animal that they were. You're only there to make money. You're not concerned about citizens of Mississippi."


May 28, 2014 natchezdemocrat.com

WOODVILLE (AP) — A prison official says one inmate has died and several were injured in a fight at a prison in Wilkinson County that resulted in the facility being put on lockdown. Wilkinson County Correctional Facility spokesman Issa Arnita says inmate Kendrick Walker died in a fight involving six inmates Sunday afternoon in one of the prison’s housing units. Another inmate was seriously injured. Four others have injuries that aren’t life-threatening. Arnita says the correctional facility remains on lockdown Monday and the death is being investigated. He says authorities don’t yet know the motive behind the fight. Mississippi Department of Corrections records indicate that the 33-year-old Walker was serving a 10-year sentence for convictions including cocaine possession, marijuana possession with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Those charges originated in Franklin and Pike counties. Walker’s tentative release date was May 2015. Utah-based Management & Training Corp. runs the prison, which has 950 inmates. A spokeswoman for Department of Corrections referred comment to MTC. An inmate died at the same prison in April 2013 in a broader disturbance, when it was run by Corrections Corporation of America.


Jan 2, 2014 azcentral.com

Facts, not philosophy, should be the foundation of state policy. Tell the Legislature. Tell Gov. Jan Brewer. After years of studies showed that private prisons cost more than state prisons, conservative supporters of privatization repealed a statutory requirement to compare costs. Convenient for those who like private prisons. Not helpful to those who want policy based on solid information. Arizona is putting increasing numbers of inmates into private prisons — even guaranteeing high occupancy rates at those private facilities. This represents the triumph of an ideological bent toward privatization. We don’t know whether it represents the taxpayers’ best interests. Arizona agreed to contracts that guarantee 90 to 100 percent occupancy to the three private-prison companies operating in the state, according to reporting by The Arizona Republic’s Craig Harris. These are Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group Inc. and Management & Training Corp. There is more to prison than costs and profit — or taxpayers’ deep pockets. Society locks up criminals to protect others, to punish wrongdoing and, if possible, to rehabilitate lawbreakers. Because most prisoners will return to our streets, the public is best served when those convicted of crimes emerge from the criminal-justice system able to abide by the law and function in society. A focus on filling prison beds discourages alternatives to prison that might be more cost-effective and more likely to reduce recidivism by achieving real rehabilitation. A bill passed in 2012 eliminated the statutory requirement for the Department of Corrections to do a cost comparison between public and private prisons. It was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer, who has long been a supporter of private prisons. It also eliminated the previous statutory requirement for regular comparisons of the services provided by private and public prisons, including a hard look at such things as security, prisoner health and the safety of facilities. This is particularly odd when you consider how questionable security practices at a private Kingman prison became painfully obvious after the 2010 escape of three prisoners, two of whom killed an Oklahoma couple while on the lam. Statutes still require cost savings and equitable performance. But the comparisons are not the same. Surveys by Department of Corrections in 2008, 2009 and 2010 found that it was more expensive to incarcerate inmates in privately run medium-security prisons than it was in similar state facilities. These studies factored in the differences in inmate costs, including that private prisons house only healthy inmates, while state prisons incarcerate those with expensive medical or mental-health problems. A comparison in fiscal 2013 that did not adjust for these differences found a lower cost at private prisons. How convenient. It might make sense to reduce the state’s capital expenses by contracting with private prisons rather than building new facilities. But we need to consider all the facts when making that determination. What’s more, guaranteeing occupancy to private operators creates a profit motive for locking people up that should be unsettling to all who treasure civil liberties. Arizona needs to take a harder look at whether private prisons make sense.


October 7, 2013 Albuqurque Journal News

A federal jury will spend at least another month in court after finding John Charles McCluskey committed crimes with which he was charged after escaping from an Arizona prison, foremost among them the murders of an Oklahoma couple that could bring the death penalty. McCluskey, who looks pale, gaunt and older than his 48 years – a far cry from the tall, beefy convict shown in photos at trial remained calm as the verdict was read. U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera read the verdict out loud – guilty of a total of 20 counts – in a courtroom packed with FBI agents, including the special agent in charge, other law enforcement officials, news media and the family of the victims. The charges stem from the Aug. 2, 2010, carjacking of Oklahoma couple Gary and Linda Haas from a rest stop on Interstate 40 in New Mexico and their subsequent murders in Guadalupe County. After he and his wife were kidnapped at gunpoint for the truck and trailer that would allow McCluskey and his co-defendants to continue on the lam, Gary Haas was forced to drive into a rural area north of I-40 in Guadalupe County and pull over. The couple was ordered into the camper/trailer, and both were shot. The trailer was subsequently torched, with the bodies inside, using liquor the couple had brought for their annual Colorado camping vacation. McCluskey and co-defendants Casslyn Welch, his girlfriend and cousin, and Tracy Province, a fellow escapee from the state contract prison in Kingman, Ariz., were charged with conspiracy to commit carjacking, carjacking resulting in death, tampering with a witness, conspiracy to interfere with commerce and gun-related charges. Gary Haas’ younger sister, Linda Rook, said after the verdict that it was “good news for what we wanted” – the death penalty. “It’s still very emotional,” she said. The family wrote prosecutors, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, in support of seeking the death penalty. The penalty is to be decided by the jury in a separate phase of trial that has been projected to last even longer than the first phase, which began Aug. 19. Rook, her mother, Vivian Haas, and other family members have occupied the front row of the courtroom throughout the trial. Since the murders of Gary and Linda, they have endured major health issues, Oklahoma storms, and other deaths in the family. The jurors, who were drawn from all over the state, deliberated for a day on Thursday, took Friday off and resumed deliberations on Monday. By 3 p.m., they had reached a verdict. On the first day of deliberations, jurors asked to again see the video interview of Casslyn Welch with an FBI agent in which she revels in the prison escape that she was instrumental in planning and carrying out, and in which she refers to the victims as “Ma and Pa Kettle” and “Okies.” The court refused and instructed them that they had all the evidence. The upcoming penalty phase could begin next week. During that phase, which is to be subdivided into two parts, prosecutors will present aggravating factors under the federal death penalty statute, and the defense will present mitigating factors weighing against it. Those factors may include mental health evidence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Fouratt reminded the judge that within 24 hours of conviction on a death-eligible charge, the defense must file a document saying whether attorneys plan to use mental health evidence during the penalty phase. The defense already has given notice of its plans to use such evidence, but could alter course. The defense team, led by Michael Burt of San Francisco, gave notice in March of plans to use expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect. The notice said a forensic neuropsychologist had conducted more than two dozen tests on McCluskey and was about to conduct magnetic resonance imaging and other kinds of electronic imaging tests. Province and Welch, who entered guilty pleas that avoided a potential death penalty prosecution for them, and who and testified at McCluskey’s trial in the guilt/innocence phase, may be recalled for the penalty phase. They face up to life in prison, but neither has been sentenced. Welch and Province were the star witnesses in the guilt/innocence phase of the trial, each testifying for well over a day. Both were firm in insisting it was McCluskey who shot the Haases, giving no warning of his plans before shots rang out, despite a defense assault on their credibility. Members of the Haas family also are expected to testify. “We actually have subpoenas,” Linda Rook said

 

Jul 26, 2013 abqjournal.com

An Arizona prison escapee accused of murdering a vacationing retired couple in 2010 in a crime that shocked the state and sparked a nationwide manhunt appeared in an Albuquerque courtroom Monday at the start of his federal capital trial. John Charles McCluskey is charged with kidnapping Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla., and murdering them north of Santa Rosa on Aug. 2, 2010. The Haases were en route to a Colorado vacation and had stopped in their pickup and camper at a rest area outside Santa Rosa when they were carjacked, according to prosecutors. Attorneys estimate the trial will take months from start to finish, concluding just before Thanksgiving. Testifying will be McCluskey’s girlfriend and cousin, Casslyn Mae Welch, and fellow escapee Tracy Allen Province. Both Province and Welch, who helped the two men in their escape, have entered guilty pleas. McCluskey has appeared at previous hearings in the case shackled and wearing an orange jumpsuit, but at trial Monday, he wore a dark suit and tie. By late afternoon Monday, there were five potential jurors, and a long way to go. It will take a pool of 64 qualified, potential jurors from which to pick a jury of 12. Six alternates are also to be selected before testimony begins in about a month. Prospective jurors are called in groups of 12 each day for questioning, first as a group by U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera and attorneys on topics like pre-trial publicity, then individually in the courtroom to decide if the juror can be fair to both sides. Each side has about 10 minutes to ask general questions or to further probe the questionnaire of almost 100 questions the federal court jury division sent to 1,800 possible jurors statewide six months ago. That list was winnowed to some 300 after factors like vacations, age, disability and the like eliminated those unable to spend months hearing the case. The federal capital trial procedure requires a jury to make a finding of guilt in the first trial phase. If that occurs, the penalty phase begins. The prosecution presents aggravating factors that it believes weigh in favor of a death sentence – prior convictions, for instance – and the jury must find that those factors also have been proved. Then the defense presents “mitigating” factors that weigh in favor of life in prison with no possibility of release. Those may include mercy. A decision to impose the death penalty must be unanimous. According to prosecutors, the Haases and their three dogs were carjacked and taken to a remote ranch area near Colonias, and the couple was shot. Their trailer was burned and McCluskey and two companions allegedly stole the pickup and a gun, left the dogs behind and traveled to Albuquerque, where they ditched the truck. Law enforcement officials found the pickup on North Fourth Street and found fingerpints on the plastic covering from a roll of paper towels. McCluskey and Welch traveled east to Arkansas and back west to Arizona before they were arrested in a U.S. Forest Service campground in eastern Arizona on Aug. 19, 2010, according to court documents. Prosecutors Michael Warbel of the U.S. Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Greg Fouratt and Linda Mott, and defense attorneys Michael Burt of San Francisco, Theresa Duncan of Albuquerque and Gary Mitchell of Ruidoso took turns asking questions as jury panelists, identified only by a number so as to preserve their anonymity, were called out one by one. Among those who could be selected for the final 12 are a woman from a deeply Christian home in Texas who said she grew up seeing the world in only black and white and being a staunch believer in the death penalty. But when a youth whom she and her husband had befriended and considered a son robbed a store and killed two people, she persuaded him to take a plea offer that guaranteed life in prison rather than face the death penalty. Another retained juror said he knew Fouratt casually through service in the National Guard, and assured questioners he could meaningfully weigh factors for and against the death penalty, which he generally favors strongly. The process begins anew today, and is expected to continue for another three weeks or so before the case is ready for opening statements and testimony.

 

July 22, 2013 kwtx.com

LIMESTONE COUNTY (July 22, 2013 kwtx.com)—Management Training Corporation, the Utah-based company with which Limestone County contracted to operate the now empty 1,000-bed county owned Limestone County Detention Center, said Monday its contract with the county is still in effect, contradicting what a spokesman said last week. MTC, which under an agreement with the county is supposed to pay a minimum of $62,500 a month to rent the complex, said on July 15 it was closing the center, laying off 130 employees, pulling out, and discontinuing its contract. But in an e-mail Monday, Issa Arnita, the company’s director of corporate communications, said the contract remains in place. “We’re working together (with the county) to look at other options to market the facility for other customers as soon as possible,” the e-mail said. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement decided to stop sending suspected illegal immigrants detained at the border to the center, opting instead to return them to their home countries, Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen said. As a result, the last prisoners were removed on July 12 from the privately-run detention center and on July 16, the center’s 130 employees picked up what they were told were their final paychecks. The loss of the jobs is a financial blow to the county and the loss of the payments from MTC, which accounted for about 5 percent of the county’s annual revenue, could impact the new budget officials are now drafting, Burkeen said earlier.

June 6, 2013 yourhoustonnews.com

SAN ANTONIO — Four men who served time at a West Texas minimum security unit have been arrested on manslaughter charges in the fatal beating of another inmate. Terry County jail records show three suspects were being held Thursday over the death of Joe Hernandez. The attack happened last July at the
. Hernandez was in prison for violating parole for indecency with a child and burglary in Bexar County. The San Antonio Express-News reports Manuel Leal was arrested Friday in Bexar County, where Jose Rafael Valdez Jr. was caught Monday. Leal, Christopher McDonough and Arthur Maldonado were jailed in Brownfield on bond of $100,000 each. Valdez, who’s also charged with parole violation and failure to register as a sex offender, was held without bond facing extradition.


May 25, 2013 jacksonfreepress.com

Last year, a woman—who asked that her name not be printed—drove 125 miles through a thunderstorm from her home in the Jackson metro to visit her son at Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Woodville. Even though she'd called the previous day to make sure the prison was allowing visits, when she arrived, prison staff informed her that visits had been cancelled. "I sat at that desk and cried like a baby. I hadn't seen my son in three months. I drove 125 miles just to talk to him for an hour through the phone," she said. The woman's son complained that the understaffed prison was often locked down, served poor quality food and offered little to no educational programs even though many prisoners are under court orders to work toward high-school equivalency diplomas. "He would say, 'Mom, these people treat you like you ain't nothing,'" the woman said. A Utah-based private-prison firm hopes that it can turn things around at the Wilkinson County facility. Starting July 1, when the state's fiscal year begins, Management & Training Corporation will assume operations at the 1,000-bed facility under a five-year contract. Previously, Corrections Corporation of America held the contract to run the prison with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Issa Arnita, an MTC spokesman, said the company puts safety and security first but prides itself on its educational programming. He added that MTC, which is also the nation's largest contractor for the Job Corps program, has not yet made any specific plans for when it takes over at Wilkinson County. In recent months, the Woodville prison has seen its share of problems. In April, a Jackson man, Demond Flowers, 21,was stabbed to death during a weekend disturbance. In 2011, Flowers was convicted of vehicle burglary and robbery in Hinds County and sentenced to serve 18 years. Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest private corrections firm, operates the Wilkinson County prison, as well as the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler and the federal Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez. MTC runs East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian, Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Leake County and Marshall County Correction Facility in Holly Springs. Over the years, Mississippi has had a number of high-profile lawsuits resulting from the state contracting with private corrections firms. In March 2012, lawyers representing a group of boys and young men who alleged abuse at Walnut Grove, then owned by Florida-based GEO Group, reached a settlement in the case. The suit charged prison managers with creating a violent and corrupt culture where staff sold drugs in the prison and engaged in sex with the youths they were charged with supervising. In late 2011, MDOC allowed CCA to break its contract to operate the 1,172-bed Delta Correctional Facility in Greenwood. MTC recently won a contract from the federal Bureau of Prisons to run that facility in LeFlore County, but federal budget cuts have stalled plans to fill the prison with inmates. Patrick Perry, a former correctional officer at a CCA-run prison in the Mississippi Delta who is now an anti-privatization advocate, started an online petition after Flowers' death at Wilkinson County, calling on Mississippi officials to halt further expansion of private facilities to protect prisoners and staff. Despite MDOC switching management firms, Perry remains doubtful that conditions will improve. "It's still a private prison company. It's still the same thing," he said. "CCA is the biggest one, and if they don't staff (the prison) like it's supposed to be staffed, and GEO didn't do it when they had Walnut Grove—and they were No. 2—I know MTC won't do it."

August 19, 2012 Union Leader
Three out-of-state companies vying to build a new men’s prison in New Hampshire have paid more than $130,000 in lobbyist fees to three Concord firms to win support for their proposal, according to state records. Corrections Corporation of America, based in Nashville, Tenn., outpaced its rivals, providing more than $101,000 to the Rath, Young and Pignatelli law firm since 2011, according to a New Hampshire Sunday News review of lobbyist income and expense reports. “Generally speaking, because governments are our partners, we obviously educate through government relations,” CCA spokesman Mike Machak said in an email. “It’s how we transparently share information about the services and solutions we provide and make sure we’re up to date on any specific needs they may have.” The law firm, which includes a section devoted to government relations, reported it spent all $101,729.85 it collected in lobbying fees from CCA since 2011. State law requires lobbyists to submit certain financial information regarding its clients. According to paperwork lobbyists must submit to the Secretary of State’s Office, lobbyists are required to report all fees “that are related, directly or indirectly, to lobbying, including fees for services such as public advocacy, government relations, or public relations services including research, monitoring legislation, and related legal work.” David Collins, director of government relations at the Concord law firm, deferred questions to CCA, which declined to talk specifically about its lobbying efforts in New Hampshire. William McGonagle, the state’s assistant corrections commissioner, said he’s aware of the lobbyists, but said the process for reviewing proposals is private at this point. “They’re out there,” McGonagle said. “I know they’re out there talking with legislators and the like.” The Legislature would need to approve funding any new prison received, he said. Fran Wendelboe, a former legislator and current registered lobbyist not involved in the prison proposals, said lobbyists can prove to be powerful forces. “On many occasions, they write the ... legislation,” Wendelboe said. “The lobbyists are considered the expert or who they represent are considered the experts.” Four companies submitted proposals — some topping $100 million — to build the prison. Some call for a privately run prison while others allow for the state to run it. Three state evaluation teams are privately reviewing the proposals. A recommendation is expected to reach the governor’s office and the state departments of corrections and administrative services in October, McGonagle said. Bruce Berke, a lobbyist with the Sheehan Phinney Capitol Group that represents Management & Training Corp., confirmed the receipt of $24,000 in fees, but referred further questions to his client. Issa Arnita, director of communications for the Centerville, Utah-based company, said in an email: “At times we hire lobbyists to educate various groups on the benefits of public/private partnerships in corrections. “We are participating in the competitive bid process, and we look forward to a decision by the state of New Hampshire,” Issa wrote. Berke’s firm on its website says its lobbyists “utilize their knowledge of the legislative and regulatory process and their long-term, trusted relationships with decision makers to achieve their clients’ goals.” Management & Training Corp.’s proposal included building a prison on Hackett Hill in Manchester. A third firm, The GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., paid at least $10,000 to Dennehy & Bouley. Lobbyist Jim Bouley couldn’t be reached for comment, but GEO Group spokesman Pablo Paez said in an email: “Since the procurement in New Hampshire is ongoing, it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on our proposal or the process. “Our company participates in the political process in states across the country, including New Hampshire, . . . as do a variety of organizations, including private corporations and organized labor organizations, through lobbyist representation and contributions to political candidates and parties who support different public policy viewpoints.” One company, NH Hunt Justice Group, has not hired any lobbyists. “We don’t see a need to lobby,” said Buddy Johns, president of CGL, an affiliate of the Hunt Companies, a Texas construction firm. Hunt Companies and LaSalle Corrections, a prison operator also based in Texas, have formed the NH Hunt Justice Group, which lists its home office in El Paso, Texas. He said the procurement process appeared straight forward. “Some people use outside services to make their point,” Johns said in a phone interview from Mexico. “I think we believe we’re the experts in what we do, and we’re best to make that point.” Johns has said his company proposed building a new prison next to the existing men’s prison in Concord. LaSalle Corrections, based in Texas, would manage the prison if the state didn’t. CCA, which declined to discuss its specific lobbying efforts in New Hampshire, met earlier this year with Lancaster community leaders to let them know they were one of at least three communities being considered to host a possible prison costing $100 million to $120 million. Northumberland and Hinsdale were the others, according to Lancaster’s town manager. McGonagle said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Legislature forms a committee to study the state prisons. If the governor and Executive Council approved a contract, the Legislature would need to weigh in on the financial implication on the state budget, he said. Wendelboe said lobbying money in general could be spent on research, campaign donations or hosting events for legislators. McGonagle said he has talked with lobbyists about general issues.

December 8, 2011 KRGV
The backpay that is supposed to go to some current and former prison employees in Willacy County comes to $23 million, but there is a major problem. The Willacy County judge says the feds are dragging their feet. About 1,700 current and former prison employees have waited as much as five years for that money owed by ICE. Many of them will continue to wait. Willacy County Judge John Gonzales says the money was handed over on time. The checks are ready to go. The Department of Labor brokered the backpay deal. It required MTC, the company that manages ICE's detention center, to re-enter all former employees into its database. That's how the taxes were calculated. That part is done. Employees still working for MTC will get their check this month as part of payroll. The holdup comes by way of the next step. The feds are requiring the money owed to former employees be sent directly to the Department of Labor by Dec. 13. Even though the checks are ready to go, the feds have not announced when they will dish out the dough. Willacy County's judge says that's not good enough. Gonzalez attended a meeting with U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Cornyn as well as U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold. They say they will pressure the Department of Labor on Friday to offer up a date. If one doesn't come by Monday morning, the group will jump on a plane and head to Washington, D.C., where they will demand a deadline.

November 10, 2011 KRGV
People who work or worked for the ICE detention center in Willacy County are finally getting money owed to them. Current and former employees will be paid $23 million. Willacy County settled with the feds and Management Training Corp., the operator of the private prison. The original contract didn't mention employee wage information. The contract was amended in 2007 to include that information. As a result, Willacy County fought to get back wages for employees. Checks will start going out in early December.

August 17, 2011 ABC 15
Family members of a couple allegedly murdered by two Arizona prison escapees are speaking out against a proposed prison. The Haas family is on a mission that they never wanted, but feel they need pursue. “It’s something you think about everyday,” said Linda Haas Rook. Rook’s brother Gary Haas and his wife Linda were murdered last year. Investigators believe the killers are two men who escaped from a prison in Kingman just days earlier. The Kingman prison is operated by the Management and Training Corporation, which now has hopes to build prisons in San Luis and Coolidge. The Haas family hopes to prevent the company from doing so. Linda Rook planned to travel more than 1,400 miles with her husband and her mother to the public hearing Tuesday night in San Luis to voice her concerns. “[MTC] needs to right their wrongs,” she told ABC15 from her stopover in Scottsdale. MTC has made several security upgrades to their facility in Kingman, and a spokesperson said the company has a great track record with the state. If MTC is approved to build the new prison, the company stated it plans to bring about 500 jobs to the San Luis area.

January 3, 2011 The Daily News
The operators of a privately run prison near Kingman have reimbursed Mohave County for the capture of three inmates who escaped from the prison in July. Management and Training Corporation reimbursed the county Nov. 14 about $23,587 for costs associated with the capture of Tracy Alan Province, John Charles McCluskey and Casslyn Mae Welch. Province, McCluskey and Daniel Kelly Renwick escaped from the state prison July 30 with the help from Welch. MTC will reimburse the county for additional costs once Renwick’s case in Colorado is resolved and returned to the county, Deputy County Manager Dana Hlavac said. The cost does not include the cost to prosecute and defend the inmates along with the cost to incarcerate the inmates and court costs to try the suspects. Those costs will not be known until the cases are resolved. Those costs are paid through the county’s general fund, Hlavac said.

October 31, 2010 Joplin Globe Sun
A Joplin woman is among the relatives of an Oklahoma couple, allegedly slain by two escaped prisoners from Arizona and an accomplice, who are seeking $40 million in damages, according to notice of claim letters the family’s attorneys have mailed to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and other officials in that state. Letters sent last week by attorneys for the relatives of Gary and Linda Haas, of Tecumseh, Okla., allege that their Aug. 2 deaths in New Mexico were the result of “a long series of egregious errors and omissions of gross negligence” by the Arizona Department of Corrections and officials at the Arizona State Prison at Kingman, where the inmates escaped July 30. The Haases, who grew up in McDonald County, had been planning to return to Southwest City, where they had property, after losing their jobs in Oklahoma when a GM plant shut down, Linda Rook told the Globe after their deaths. Rook, of Joplin, is a surviving sister of Gary Haas. In August, the couple were heading out west on a camping trip when they were abducted and killed. ‘Slipshod security’ -- The attorneys’ letters allege that Arizona corrections officials and the prison’s private operator, Utah-based Management and Training Corp., “set the stage for and permitted the careless and slipshod security environment” at the prison that allowed the inmates to escape and allegedly kidnap and kill the victims. MTC is liable for punitive damages in the case, according to notice of claim letters sent to company officials. The notice of claim letters were mailed on behalf of the Haases’ daughter, Cathy Byus, and the mother, sister and two brothers of Linda Haas. Their attorney, Jacob Diesselhorst, said Thursday that the claim letters are required before a wrongful-death lawsuit can be filed against the state. Diesselhorst said Arizona officials have 60 days to respond. Contacted over the weekend, Rook declined to comment and referred questions to a Joplin lawyer, John Dolence, who is representing her in the matter. The Globe’s efforts to reach Dolence on Sunday afternoon were unsuccessful. A spokesman for Gov. Brewer, Paul Senseman, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. A spokesman for MTC, Carl Stuart, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

September 21, 2010 The Arizona Daily Sun
State Corrections Director Charles Ryan said he is instituting an entirely new system for monitoring private prisons -- one he said should prevent the kind of escape that resulted in the death of two people. Ryan said Monday the old system was flawed, with months going by between inspections. And even when they were done, he said, they didn't necessarily spot problems. He also said state oversight of private prisons has often been left to inexperienced personnel. "That was not a good decision," he said. Ryan said that includes the Kingman facility run by Management and Training Corp., where David Lee, an associate deputy warden, was the top state official on site. "The employee has been replaced," Ryan said, with monitoring now being done by a "seasoned deputy warden." And Wade Woolsey, who was the department's operations director for private prisons and Lee's supervisor, has since quit. Ryan also said Monday he is tossing out the bids that already have been submitted to contract for another 5,000 privately run prison beds. The director said he wants to start over again, but this time with some new -- and he said more stringent -- requirements for the private companies that want state funds to house inmates. Ryan's comments came as his agency released the results of its own internal investigation on how three violent criminals, two serving time for murder, managed to break out of the facility with the help of an accomplice who provided wire cutters. They all were eventually captured, but not before the murder of a couple at a New Mexico campground which has been linked to some of those involved. He also said that several of the 50 deficiencies his staff first found after visiting the facility following the July 30 escape still exist. He said it is "certainly a possibility" that the state will cancel its contract with MTC. "The jury is still out," Ryan said. As expected, the report finds various failures with the operation of the facility by MTC. Most of those, including a perimeter alarm system that malfunctioned so often that corrections officers routinely ignored it, had been detailed in an earlier review. What is new are the details of how the state's own monitoring of the 1,508-bed facility fell short and allowed the problems to develop. One central problem, Ryan said, has been having reviews done annually, with private prisons graded on how well they carried out various policies. "Frankly, I think that is very misleading," he said. In fact, that program gave the Kingman facility high marks despite the problems found only after the escape. Ryan said the new system, still being tested, will allow for ongoing evaluation rather than an annual review. "We want to know what's going on daily," he said, and for that information to reach those in his agency who need to know. That was not happening. According to the report, Lee told investigators he was unaware of issues with the alarm system and "never walked the entire perimeter to check if the alarm system was working correctly." And Lee, who had been in the position for 14 months, said he wasn't even sure that was part of his job. "I'm telling you right now, I'm not making excuses," the report quotes Lee as saying. "I had one day with my predecessor, Deputy Warden Mary Clark, and she didn't tell me squat." Woolsey, however, said he was "surprised" Lee did not know there was an issue with the alarms. The report paraphrases Woolsey as saying "it doesn't take a 20-year veteran to look out and see all the light turning on, and the lights don't just turn on unless something sets them off." Woolsey said the sensors, which detect ground disturbance, could be set off by something other than an escape, whether an animal, weather conditions or even poor maintenance. Lee, in his interview, said he never read the contract between the state and MTC. And when asked how he could determine if MTC was fulfilling its obligations, he responded, "I guess I can't." He also said in that interview that, only as a result of the escape, he was required to "walk the zones" and check the alarm system. Lee also said he never actually tried to set off the alarms to see how it works, and that if there were "issues" with the system someone would have mentioned something to him.

September 20, 2010 The Arizona Republic
The Arizona Department of Corrections employee assigned to ensure a privately run prison near Kingman was operated according to state standards was overwhelmed by paperwork and admitted he screwed up, according to an internal review released Monday of a prison escape that led to a nationwide manhunt. David Lee, who was associate deputy warden at the facility when the escape took place July 30, told the state's internal investigators that he had not read the contract between the state and prison operator Management & Training Corp. in his 14 months on the job and that he was unaware of the persistent issues with false alarms that plagued the complex. A lieutenant told investigators that the alarm system could go off 200 or 300 times a shift. The report also indicates that the alarm system hadn't been serviced in two years after a contract expired with a maintenance provider. Neither Lee nor any of his superiors knew anything about the alarm problems, according to the report. Lee was fired and his supervisor resigned following the escape. Daniel Renwick, 36, Tracy Province, 43, and John McCluskey, 45, broke out of the prison July 30 after McCluskey's fiancée, Casslyn Welch, 44, allegedly threw cutting tools and weapons into the prison yard. An officer initially said the perimeter was clear after the escape and authorities worked under the assumption that the inmates were still inside the compound until the officer returned a second time and noticed a hole in the perimeter fence.

September 14, 2010 Courthouse News
The Arizona prison breakout that led to the killing of two campers was caused by "lax procedures and incompetent management" of the private prison operator in Kingman, the mother of one of the victims says. Vivian Haas, whose son, Gary and his wife were shot to death, claims that Management and Training Corp. admitted in an Aug. 13 letter its responsibility for the escapes, and that the circumstances "were shocking and egregious." Haas claims that one of the escaped inmates, John McCluskey, killed her son and his wife in New Mexico in the days after the escape. Haas says the private prison operator "had duties to protect the general public in employing proper incarceration policies and procedures to assure that violent offenders stayed locked up and away from the general public." McCluskey was sentenced to 15 years in 2009 for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and discharge of a firearm, and was sent to the private prison, according to the complaint. His fellow escapee Tracy Province was sentenced in 2009 for murder and robbery, and escapee Daniel Renwick was sentenced to two 22-year sentences for second-degree murder, the complaint states. On July 30, McCluskey, Province, and Renwick escaped from the Kingman prison through a door wedged open by a rock, "climbing one improperly protected fence, hiding behind an inappropriate building in 'no-man's land,' and cutting through the wire of a second chain link fence," according to the complaint. Haas says that Management and Training Corp.'s officers failed to check an alarm that sounded when the men cut through one of two security fences surrounding the prison. She says the alarm system set off false alarms so often that the guards ignored them. Haas adds that the "perimeter fencing was substandard," and that patrols of the perimeter "were scattershot at best." Light poles around the prison were routinely burned out, and "intrusions by outsiders near the fence perimeters were common." On Aug. 2, McCluskey and Province, allegedly with help from Casslyn M. Welch, "confronted" Gary and Linda Haas while they were "in or near their pickup truck towing a camping trailer." Gary and Linda Haas were traveling from Oklahoma to Colorado. McCluskey and Province ordered Gary and Linda Haas into the truck, and forced Gary to drive to the west, his mother says. McCluskey directed Gary to leave the highway and drive to a secluded area, then took the couple into the camping trailer and "brutally shot them, killing each of them," Haas says. McCluskey, Province, and Welch then allegedly drove the camper on the highway until they noticed blood leaking out of the trailer door. The escapees and accomplice "drove to a remote location, disconnected the trailer and intentionally set fire to the trailer with the bodies of Gary and Linda Haas still inside," according to the complaint. Haas says the escapees abandoned the stolen truck in Albuquerque. Province was captured on Aug. 9 in Meeteetse, Wyo. McCluskey and Welch were captured on Aug. 19 in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. On March 22, 2004, the Arizona Department of Corrections awarded a contract to Management and Training Corp. to operate the private prison which was "designed and constructed for 1,100 minimum security beds and 300 medium security beds to house DUI inmates," according to the complaint. Haas seeks punitive damages for negligence and recklessness. She is represented by Christopher Zachar.

August 25, 2010 Private Corrections Working Group
Today, the Private Corrections Working Group (PCWG), a not-for-profit organization that exposes the problems of and educates the public about for-profit private corrections, called for overhaul of the Arizona Department of Corrections’ (ADOC) oversight of the for-profit prison industry, including: • An immediate halt to all bidding processes involving private prison operators and a moratorium on new private prison beds • Hold public hearings during the special session to address the problems with for-profit prisons in Arizona • Enact other cost-cutting measures that not only save money but enhance public safety, like earned release credits, amending truth in sentencing, and restoring judicial discretion. This action came about after the ADOC released a security audit on August 19th concerning the July 30 escape of three dangerous prisoners from a private prison in Kingman operated by Management and Training Corp. (MTC) (Coincidentally, that same day the last escapee and an accomplice, John McCluskey and Casslyn Mae Welch, were captured without incident at a campground in eastern Arizona. The other two escaped prisoners, Tracy Province and Daniel Renwick, had been caught previously in Wyoming and Colorado). Ken Kopczynski, executive director of PCWG, condemned MTC for the numerous security failures that led to the July 30 escape. “If MTC had properly staffed the facility, properly trained their employees and properly maintained security at the Kingman prison, this escape would not have occurred. But because MTC is a private company that needs to generate profit, and therefore cut costs related to staffing, training and security, three dangerous inmates were able to escape and at least two innocent victims are dead as a result,” Kopczynski observed. “That is part of the cost of prison privatization that MTC and other private prison firms don’t want to talk about.” The murders of an Oklahoma couple, Gary and Linda Hass, whose burned bodies were found in New Mexico on August 4, were tied to McCluskey, Welch and Province. While MTC said it took responsibility for the escape, vice-president Odie Washington acknowledged the company could not prevent future escapes. “Escapes occur at both public and private” prisons, he stated, ignoring the fact that most secure facilities do not experience any escapes – particularly escapes as preventable as the one at MTC’s Kingman prison. According to the ADOC security audit, the prison’s perimeter fence registered 89 alarms over a 16-hour period on the day the escape occurred, most of them false. MTC staff failed to promptly check the alarms – sometimes taking over an hour to respond – and light bulbs on a control panel that showed the status of the perimeter fence were burned out. “The system was not maintained or calibrated,” said ADOC Director Charles Ryan. Further, a perimeter patrol post was not staffed by MTC, and according to a news report from the Arizona Daily Star, “a door to a dormitory that was supposed to be locked had been propped open with a rock, helping the inmates escape.” Additionally, MTC officials did not promptly notify state corrections officials following the escape and high staff turnover at the facility had resulted in inexperienced employees who were ill-equipped to detect and prevent the break-out. According to MTC warden Lori Lieder, 80 percent of staff at the Kingman prison were new or newly promoted. Although the ADOC was supposed to be monitoring its contract with MTC to house state prisoners, the security flaws cited in the audit went undetected for years. Ryan faulted human error and “serious security lapses” at the private prison. Arizona corrections officials removed 148 state prisoners from the MTC facility after the escape due to security concerns. “I lacked confidence in this company’s ability,” said ADOC Director Ryan. Although it’s a small corporation, since 1995 over a dozen prisoners have escaped from MTC facilities in Utah, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico and Eagle Mountain, California –where two inmates were murdered during a riot in 2003.

August 9, 2010 FOX
Questions surround the escape of three violent convicts from a prison in Kingman, casting a shadow on Arizona's relationship with the private prison industry. Officials are reviewing security measures at private prison facilities, and are looking into the future of private prisons in our state. "My concern about this has been the manner in which the facility was operated. I do not believe that the physical plant itself from which these inmates escaped was the issue, it is the performance of the staff that concerned me," says Chuck Ryan, Arizona Department of Corrections Director. State Attorney General Terry Goddard is calling for a break in new contracts with private prison companies, until security issues can be ironed out and a review of their relationship with the DOC is undertaken. "We have basically turned a very significant direction in our state towards more and more private prison operations without looking at the consequences. I'm afraid those consequences have been put in very stark relief by the escape of three violent prisoners," says Goddard. Ryan told us he's in the process of reviewing his team's findings at the facility but offered no further comment on what the future may hold for the state of Arizona and its relationship with MTC. "Until we review their findings and their recommendations it would be premature to comment further about that," says Ryan. Guards at private prisons do not carry weapons and are not trained law enforcement officers. The three convicts escaped on July 30 -- one alarm never sounded and it remains to be seen whether prison guards went to check the second alarm. Prison staff didn't realize they were missing until a 9 p.m. head count, which was five hours after they were last accounted for. The local sheriff's office wasn't alerted until more than an hour later, and state corrections officials found out about the escape at 11:37 p.m. House Democrats are calling for a special session to address security issues with private prisons. The governor's office has not yet sent a comment.

August 4, 2010 AP
The three inmates didn't seem to arouse the least bit of suspicion when they sneaked out of their dorm rooms and rushed to the perimeter of the medium-security prison. Alarms that were supposed to go off didn't. No officers noticed anything amiss. And no one was apparently paying attention when the violent criminals sliced open fences with wire cutters and vanished into the Arizona desert in their orange jumpsuits. The series of blunders surrounding the escape and the state's practice of housing hardened murderers and other violent criminals in private, medium-security prisons have placed Arizona corrections officials under intense scrutiny in recent days. Two of the fugitives remained at large Wednesday as the manhunt entered its fifth day. Authorities believe the inmates have left Arizona and were heading east with a girlfriend who allegedly threw the wire cutters over a fence and fled with two of them. Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan said he met Wednesday with representatives of the Utah-based prison company Management and Training Corp. and that they "have been assured that MTC is committed to addressing and correcting the security deficiencies that contributed to the escape." Ryan said a corrections security team at the prison was completing a comprehensive evaluation, and he would meet with MTC next week to finalize a plan. Investigators were focused on how the inmates managed to go undetected for several hours around the time of the escape and why three violent criminals were allowed in a medium-security prison in the first place. An Arizona lawmaker said the state needs to overhaul its inmate classification system, which allowed the prisoners to get put into the medium-security lockup despite their violent pasts. Corrections officials said their prison behavior was good enough that they downgraded the inmates' threat risk, clearing the way for placement in the facility. "One thing we might have to look at is saying if you're convicted of a crime that is as serious as murder, that you are always considered a high risk," said David Lujan, a state lawmaker who unsuccessfully sought to regulate the types of inmates held in private prisons. "They may be a moderate risk to the staff when they're inside. But when you see what happens outside afterward, obviously, they're more than a moderate risk to the public." The Arizona State Prison in Kingman sits amid nothing but a dusty field, three miles from a major east-west interstate highway. It opened in 2004 and was designed to house repeat drug and alcohol offenders and set them on a path to rehabilitation, but eventually grew to include more serious offenders in a separate unit. That was where Daniel Renwick, 36, Tracy Province, 42, and John McCluskey, 45, plotted their escape. Province was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery, including allegations that he stabbed his victim multiple times over money. Renwick was serving two 22-year sentences for two counts of second-degree murder, and McCluskey was doing 15 years for attempted murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm. Authorities originally said McCluskey was convicted of murder, when it was in fact attempted murder. Province has a dozen prison disciplinary infractions since 1996 — many of them drug-related. He worked in the prison's kitchen, while Province and McCluskey worked in the prison dog kennel, where they trained the animals for adoption. The trio last was accounted for at 4 p.m. Friday, said Department of Corrections spokesman Barrett Marson. Staff noticed the men missing in a head count and after electronic sensors along the perimeter fence sounded around 9 p.m. The local sheriff's office wasn't notified of the escape until 10:19 p.m., and state corrections officials weren't called until 11:37 p.m. "I think there was a concern by everyone that it was after the fact," said Trish Carter, a spokeswoman for the Mohave County Sheriff's Office. "Time is of the essence during this type of incident. The faster you get there, the more likely you're able to catch these inmates who escaped the facility." The three hopped a fence in the area of the dog kennel and used wire cutters that McCluskey's fiancee, who also is his cousin, had thrown over a fence to cut through two perimeter fences and flee. Carl Stuart, a spokesman for MTC, indicated that the dog program might have to be suspended because of the incident. He declined to comment further on security at the 3,508-bed prison. Province, McCluskey and his fiancee, 44-year-old Casslyn Mae Welch of Mesa, kidnapped two semi-truck drivers at gunpoint in Kingman and used the big rig to flee to Flagstaff, police said. Renwick was captured Sunday after an early morning shootout with an officer in Colorado. Ryan has said "lax" security may have created an opportunity for the men to escape, and authorities are looking into whether prison staff members might have aided the inmates. Ryan also has said the prison contractor will "be on the hook" for costs associated with finding the fugitives. The fugitives were among more than 115 inmates housed at the medium-security unit where others convicted murderers were held. Under their classification, they were considered a moderate risk to the public and staff. They weren't allowed to work outside the prison and were limited in their movement within the prison walls. The men were in orange jumpsuits when they escaped, which should have been easy to spot against the desert backdrop, said Kristen Green of Phoenix, who visits an inmate at the prison. "Guards should be on top of this, people in the control room should be on top of this," she said. "There's no way that they should have missed these guys, three of them going through a fence? This was pretty well planned."

August 3, 2010 AP
Three convicted murderers escaped a privately run prison in Arizona by using wire cutters that a woman threw over a fence, a state Department of Corrections spokesman said Tuesday. Officials also said prison staff didn't realize the inmates were missing Friday until after sensors on the perimeter fence sounded and a 9 p.m. head count, which came five hours after the three were last accounted for by prison staff. The woman who authorities say helped in the escape is Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, of Mesa — the fiancee and cousin of John McCluskey, one of the three inmates. She was waiting outside the prison in Kingman as the inmates breached a perimeter fence with the wire cutters and escaped, said department spokesman Barrett Marson. A security camera captured Welch driving a blue sedan around the facility that holds minimum- and medium-security inmates. Corrections Director Charles Ryan has said "lax" security created an opportunity for the men to escape. He's scheduled to meet with representatives of the prison operator, Utah-based Management and Training Corp., on Wednesday, Marson said. "We are going over everything that happened during the night of the escape, and many issues will be addressed with MTC," Marson said. A spokesman for MTC, Carl Stuart, declined to comment on security at the 3,508-bed facility. The local sheriff's office wasn't alerted until more than an hour after prison staff discovered the three were missing, and state corrections officials found out about the escape at 11:37 p.m., Maroon said. Daniel Renwick, 36, was captured Sunday in western Colorado. Tracy Province, 42, the 45-year-old McCluskey and Welch had kidnapped two drivers of a semi-truck in Kingman early Saturday morning and traveled in the rig to Flagstaff, where they left the drivers unharmed, authorities said. The three remain at large and are believed to be together in Arizona, said U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Thomas Henman. Province was serving a life sentence for murder and robbery, and McCluskey was serving 15 years for second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm. Renwick was serving a 22-year sentence for second degree murder. Renwick was being held Tuesday in a Colorado jail on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, vehicular eluding, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and felony escape. His bail is set at $2.5 million. Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson in Colorado said his office is reviewing the case and will decide whether to file charges by Aug. 11. "He's presumed innocent," Beeson said. "But if what we have seen in the reports is true, then I would say you're not going to come into my jurisdiction, shoot at officers and not be taken to task for it. My intent is, if we have business to do, we will do it, and accomplish it, and then we would be glad to turn him over to whomever wants him." According to an arrest affidavit, a Garfield County, Colo., sheriff's deputy noticed a vehicle with its lights off in a church parking lot and found that it matched the Arizona license plate of a Chevy Blazer connected with the fugitives. Another officer noticed the vehicle pulling out of the parking lot and chased it for three miles on an interstate until Renwick slowed down and exited. Renwick shot through the rear window of the Blazer, and Rifle, Colo., police Officer William Van Teylingen said he heard objects hitting his car. Teylingen rammed Renwick's vehicle, which came to a stop in a hotel parking lot. Teylingen's airbag activated in his cruiser and by the time he got out, Renwick was lying on the ground behind the cruiser. Teylingen found a rifle in the Blazer and a hole in a headlamp on his cruiser.

August 3, 2010 AFSC
The escape of three prisoners from the Kingman prison on Friday July 30, 2010, highlights continuing concerns about the management of state prison facilities by for-profit corporations, according to the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). The Kingman facility is run by Management and Training Corporation of Ogden, Utah. MTC also runs the Marana Community Correctional Center, and is one of four prison corporations that have submitted bids to the Arizona Department of Corrections to build and operate up to 5,000 new state prison beds. This incident comes on the heels of a riot at the Kingman facility in June in which eight prisoners were injured. The escapes are being blamed on lax security and a failure to follow proper protocol. The prisoners reportedly were able to sneak out of their dormitory and cut through a perimeter fence without being detected. "You get what you pay for," said Caroline Isaacs, Director of the AFSC's Arizona office. "These for-profit prison corporations are primarily concerned about the bottom line and making money for their CEO's and shareholders." Isaacs charges that the companies cut corners everywhere they can, but primarily on staff pay and training. The result is a facility with high turnover rates, where the staff is inexperienced and the prisoners have nothing productive to do. Such a prison is unsafe for the inmates, the guards, and the surrounding community. This is not the only Arizona private prison scandal to make headlines recently. A prison run by Corrections Corporation of America in Eloy was recently on lockdown after prisoners from Hawaii rioted over an Xbox video game. When a staff member attempted to intervene, he was severely beaten, suffering a broken nose, broken cheekbones and damage to his eye sockets. The incident was the latest episode in a history of violence that has plagued the facility. Two prisoners are facing a possible death sentence in the fatal beating of another inmate there last February. These types of incidents are "alarmingly common" in privately operated prisons, Isaacs says, citing patterns of mismanagement, financial impropriety, abuse, and medical negligence. Further privatization of Arizona's prisons will be a financial boondoggle for a cash-strapped state and a nightmare for the host communities, she warns. "Arizona's legislature needs to take a good look at the track record of these companies before they spend any more of the taxpayers' money on this failed experiment."

August 3, 2010 KGUN9-TV
When a prison inmate escaped--who killed a woman's husband and daughter, she says 19 hours went by before the Arizona Department of Corrections informed her she could be in danger. KGUN 9 wants to know why. Daniel Renwick was one of three inmates who escaped from a privately run prison in Kingman. For Vicki Walker learning that Renwick escaped brought back a world of bad memories. "He murdered my husband and my daughter, " she said. "They were in their vehicle and he shot them, leaving my grandson who was 14 months. Kaleb now is ten." The way she heard of the escape made things worse. A son in law in another state saw it on the news and called her. Mrs. Walker says, "As a victim I'm supposed to be notified right away if there's an escape or if he's released and I did not hear from Department of Corrections for 19 hours." KGUN9 News asked Arizona Department of Corrections director Charles Ryan what went wrong. Ryan said, "The Department was also not advised immediately about the escape by Management Training Corporation and it's unfortunate it took as long as it did."

April 27, 2010 Salt Lake City Tribune
Centerville-based Management & Training Corporation (MTC) has received a three-year, $76.5 million contract to operate a 1,520-bed prison for women in Quincy, Fla. The contract with the Florida Department of Management Services goes into effect Aug. 1 and includes a pair of renewable, two-year options. MTC already manages 16 private correctional facilities in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas and, beginning in June, Idaho. The contract to run the Gadsden Correctional Institution, about 20 miles outside Tallahassee, marks the Utah company's entry into Florida. "The company's experience working with female inmates in other locations has provided us with the expertise needed at this site," said Odie Washington, MTC's senior corrections vice president. "MTC believes in rehabilitating inmates by providing them with educational opportunities. For nearly a quarter century we have helped inmates improve their lives and to reestablish themselves as successful members of society." MTC uses the Foundations for Life and Success for Life rehabilitation programs to educate inmates, he noted. With the Florida prison, MTC manages more than 24,000 correctional beds. The company also is involved in operating 26 Job Corps centers for the U. S. Department of Labor, serving 19,000 students annually.

April 13, 2010 Dow Jones Newswire
The state of Florida said Tuesday it plans to award three prison contracts to Corrections Corp. of America (CXW), two of which previously were held by rival Geo Group Inc. (GEO). According to a memo reviewed by Dow Jones from Florida's Department of Management Services, it intends to award three out of four available prison contracts to Corrections Corp. Two of the contracts--Graceville Correction Facility and Moore Haven Correctional Facility--were previously held by Geo. In addition, Corrections Corp. lost one of its previously held contracts--Gadsden Correctional Facility--to Management & Training Corp., but it kept its contract for Bay Correctional Facility. Some analysts and industry insiders had expected Corrections Corp. to win all four contracts. The three contracts Corrections Corp. received were unanimous decisions by the panel. The committee was split on the fourth contract, which received bids only from Corrections Corp. and Management & Training. The contracts are for a period of three years and include four years of potential renewals. The department memo revealed the state will save almost $750,000 by offering Management & Training a piece of the pie, as opposed to offering all four contracts to Corrections Corp. The total value of the four three-year contracts is more than $250 million. A representative from Geo Group wasn't immediately available to comment, while Corrections Corp. declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Florida's management services department wasn't immediately available to comment on the contents of the memo.

January 31, 2007 KSL TV
A Utah-based company has been forced to pay back wages to hundreds of current and former employees in Texas following an investigation. Management and Training Corporation --- which is headquartered in Centerville, Utah -- has paid nearly $486,000 in back wages to just over 260 current and former security guards. That's according to a U- S Labor Department new release. An investigation by the labor department found employees had NOT been properly paid over a two-year period between October 2003 and September 2005. Federal officials say the company failed to pay proper overtime --- meal breaks when employees worked beyond their schedules and the correct fringe benefits. The company has agreed to comply with future contracts.

December 17, 2005 Deseret News
The U.S. Department of Labor announced Friday that Management & Training Corp., headquartered in Centerville, has paid $169,105 in back wages to 393 employees at five locations in Utah, Indiana, Ohio and New Mexico. The back wages were paid following an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division for compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Labor Department said in a statement. Supervised by the department, MTC conducted a companywide self-audit and found that some employees, including security personnel, were not paid for all hours worked. MTC employs more than 2,000 workers at 24 Job Corps Centers and six correctional facilities throughout the country.

Marana Community Correctional Treatment Facility, Tucson, Arizona
February 11, 2010 AP
A private prison in Arizona is on lockdown after a brawl broke out that involved as many as 150 minimum-security inmates and left a staff member and 12 prisoners with minor injuries. The Arizona Department of Corrections said the fight broke out before 10 p.m. Wednesday but was contained within an hour. A 20-member tactical unit from Arizona State Prison Complex-Tucson responded to help put down the disturbance. The Marana Community Correctional Treatment Facility near Tucson houses 500 inmates and is owned and operated by Management and Training Corp., based in Centerville, Utah. The cause of the fight is under investigation.

June 21, 2004 Explorer News
The chief of security for the Marana Community Correctional Treatment Facility was fired June 1 and a sergeant resigned May 26 over allegations the sergeant had prisoners do pushups in lieu of written discipline.  Company spokesman Carl Stuart would not comment on why Capt. Ken Anderson was fired or why Sgt. Ben Rumbo resigned, saying the company does not comment on personnel matters. The Utah-based Management and Training Corporation operates the Marana prison and a prison in Kingman for the Arizona Department of Corrections and nine other private prisons in five states.  Anderson, who was the company's Correctional Officer of the Year in 1999, said he was shocked and outraged over his firing. In a four-page written appeal he filed with the company June 7, Anderson called the termination notice he received, "nothing more than a fabrication of half-truths and outright falsehoods, sprinkled with occasional facts."  He said he believed he handled the allegation of prisoners being made to do pushups properly based on the information he had at the time.  Since his forced leave and termination, Anderson said he has learned of allegations about other prison guards making prisoners do pushups, possibly since January, yet no other guards have been fired or suspended, or apparently even interviewed by state investigators.  Stuart said the company doesn't know how long or how often prisoners have been made to do disciplinary pushups at the prison.

Marshall County Correctional Facility, Marshall County, Mississippi
MDOC Sticks with Private Prisons: Jackson Free Press, June 13, 2012. MDOC chooses MTC to take over where GEO failed. What are they smoking?

Mar 10, 2017 msnewsnow.com
Mississippi: Contraband found in private prison
MARSHALL COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) - The third major shakedown in a week by the Mississippi Department of Corrections happened Thursday at the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs. Officers found bags of spice, marijuana, knives or shanks, tennis shoes, cell phones, cell phone chargers, batteries and assorted pills according to a press release from MDOC.  The items were removed from dormitory style housing units and individual cells.  Crystal meth was found in the body cavity of one inmate. All facilities are being searched under a system-wide contraband crackdown ordered by MDOC Commissioner Pelicia Hall under Operation Zero Tolerance. "Our unannounced shakedowns are paying off and will continue," said Hall. "I thank all of the probation and parole agents and correctional officers involved for their extra work to help make MDOC safer for both staff and inmates." MCCF, one of the state's private prisons and the oldest of the current three, has 998 inmates, two shy of its capacity according to MDOC.

Nov 23, 2016 djournal.com
Private prison locked down following fight, inmate death
HOLLY SPRINGS – A state prisoner was killed in an early morning fight at a private prison in Marshall County. According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Oscar Pirtle died from injuries following an altercation with another prisoner at the Marshall County Correctional Facility. Jailers at the prison, operated by the Management & Training Corporation, responded to a fight in one of the housing units around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday. Pirtle, 51, was convicted of aggravated assault in March 2010 in Alcorn County and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The second inmate was treated at a local hospital and released. The 200-bed facility was placed on temporary lockdown while officials restored order and investigated the incident.

Mar 24, 2015 clarionledger.com
Corrections officials conducted a shakedown Wednesday at the Marshall County Correctional Facility, seizing weapons, cellphones and other contraband at the private prison that could lead to criminal prosecutions. “We believe there were some staff complicit in bringing in contraband,” Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher said. “One has already resigned. We think as many as four are involved.” He said the seizure of many shanks and cellphones at five prisons so far, public and private, show working as a correctional officer is a dangerous job. Legislation is now pending that would increase the starting salary for correctional officers of $22,006 (which qualifies a family of three for food stamps) and for probation officers (about $27,000) by 10 percent. The last time they got a pay raise was in 2007. Fisher said he believes increasing the pay can help corrections officials hire more qualified officers and also aid in reducing corruption. On Wednesday, corrections officials seized 23 shanks from the 991-inmate Marshall County prison, which is run by the Management and Training Corporation. Officials seized:

•25 shanks at the 3,101–inmate State Penitentiary at Parchman, run by the state.

•36 shanks at the 2,453-inmate South Mississippi Correctional Institution, run by the state.

•60 shanks at the 885-inmate Wilkinson County Correctional Facility, run by MTC.

•50 shanks at the 1,180-inmate East Mississippi Correctional Facility, run by MTC.

Former U.S. Attorney Brad Pigott of Jackson said the numbers so far suggest the problem of weapons is worse at private prisons. “This makes clear that corporate prisons are much more dangerous places to work.” He said the number of shanks seized per capita from the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility was eight times higher than those seized at the State Penitentiary at Parchman. Private prisons are taking dollars, “which could have gone into hiring enough guards to find and remove knives from prisoners, and they are sending those tax dollars instead to their corporate headquarters,” he said. MTC spokesman Issa Arnita said contraband is a problem at all prisons in the United States. “We take contraband extremely seriously,” he said. “Contraband puts both staff and inmates in danger, and we’re working tirelessly to reduce the amount of contraband that enters our facilities.” Since taking over four Mississippi facilities in 2012 and 2013, MTC has worked with state corrections officials to install a body scanner in the entrance and a 30-foot netting to prevent contraband from being tossed over the facilities’ fences. “MTC has also created a K-9 team consisting of two highly trained, contraband-sniffing German Shepherds and three correctional officers to make unannounced visits to all four facilities,” Arnita said. “This new K-9 team has discovered and confiscated dozens of contraband over the last few months.” He said the private prison “has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to staff members who attempt to break the law and introduce contraband into our facilities. Staff members caught attempting to bring contraband into our facilities will not only be terminated but will be criminally prosecuted to the highest extent of the law.”

June 7, 2012 WTOK
MTC will officially take over operation at East Mississippi Correctional Facility on July 9th. The company got its start working with young people outside the corrections system. The Vice President of Corrections at MTC explained the company's history via a video news release. "We started 30 years ago by providing training for young adults to succeed in life," says Odie Washington, "we've taken that and applied it to our corrections division. "All you are going to see is a change in the name over the door," that's the opinion of Frank Smith, a private prison watchdog, "it's not going to be a change in operations." Smith works as a consultant for Private Corrections Working Group. "The problem is there is such turnover that there is no mentoring process so everybody is just kind of new on the job, and they don't know what to do when the problems arise." MTC officials say they plan on providing EMCF with all the resources it needs to operate effectively. "We'll provide each facility the resources necessary for them to operate safely and effectively," says Washington, and we look forward to applying these high standards to our new Mississippi facilities as well." Only time will tell whether MTC will have a successful run in the Magnolia State.

June 7, 2012 AP
A Utah-based private prison operator will take over management of three Mississippi correctional institutions beginning in July. Management & Training Corporation of Centreville, Utah, has signed 10-year operating contracts for the East Mississippi Correctional Facility near the Lost Gap community beginning July 2; Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Walnut Grove on July 9; and the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs on Aug. 13. Financial details of the contracts were not made public. The announcement came Thursday by the company and the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The Corrections Department and the GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., in April agreed to end GEO's management contract at the three prisons. At the time Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps told the AP that the department felt it might get a better price if all three prisons were presented as a package to other corrections management companies. "The Mississippi Department of Corrections is looking forward to a great partnership with MTC," Epps said in a statement Thursday. "There is a need for different types of prisons, including state and regional as well as private facilities in Mississippi. MTC will be held to the same high standards as set by MDOC and I feel extremely confident that MTC will do a great job." "We look forward to the opportunity to work in Mississippi," said MTC senior vice president of corrections Odie Washington in the statement. "We have partnered with state and federal governments in operating correctional facilities for the past 25 years, and have a strong record of providing safe, secure and well-run facilities." 

McKinley County Detention Center, Gallup, New Mexico
January 5, 2007 Gallup Independent
It took the jury less than two hours with lunch included to find Brian Orr not guilty of using his power at the McKinley County Adult Detention Center to sexually abuse three female prisoners in 2003. The issue in the trial centered around the fact that jurors had to decide who was telling the truth the three female prisoners from Wyoming or Orr, who worked at the facility at the time. The three women told the jury of having girlfriend-boyfriend relations with Orr, getting gifts and being abused. One woman told of being handcuffed nude in his office while he took photos of her on his digital camera. The problem was that was all the jury had to go by the words of the three women. There was no corroborating evidence and Steve Seeger, Orr's defense attorney, stressed in his closing arguments the background of the three women and the reasons why they were in jail in the first place. Pointing out their crimes, which ranged from forgery and passing bad checks to distribution of methampthemines, he asked the jury "would you buy a vehicle" from them? In the end, the jury apparently decided not to believe anyone and issued a statement after the verdict about "the poor quality of the investigation" and their belief that it wasn't done "in a professional and competent manner."

January 3, 2007 Gallup Independent
Testimony began Tuesday in the Brian Orr case. Orr faces three counts of criminal penetration stemming from accusations made by three Wyoming women, who were incarcerated in the McKinley County Adult Detention Center in 2003 and 2004. Two of the three accusers testified Tuesday, claiming that they had a boyfriend-girlfriend type of relationship with Orr while they were incarcerated. Orr at the time was a captain at the jail. One of the women claimed that on one occasion as she was being moved from one area of the jail to another Orr put a hand down her pants and inserted his finger inside her. The other woman claimed Orr did the same thing to her once when she was in his office. Both women claimed that Orr made promises to each of them about a future after they got out of jail, brought them gifts and gave them favorable treatment. Orr, who was terminated from his position after the charges were made, was also sued in civil court by the three women. Also named in the suit were McKinley County and Management Training Center, the private company that ran the jail at the time. A settlement was eventually made in the civil suit and McKinley County officials said that no county money was involved. MTC and its insurance company agreed to pay the settlement, the terms of which were kept confidential, although one of the accusers at the trial said she received $55,000 as her share of the settlement. This civil suit is expected to play a major role in the criminal case with Steve Seeger, Orr's defense attorney, asking the accusers how the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit on behalf of the female inmates, got involved in the case in the first place. Both women testified that the ACLU contacted them and not the other way around. This led Mike Calligan, chief deputy prosecutor for the McKinley County's District Attorney's Office, to ask permission to call to the stand Wednesday one of the ACLU attorneys to explain how the organization got involved in the case.

January 28, 2006 Gallup Independent
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police arrested fugitive and former McKinley County Adult Detention Center supervisor Bryan Orr this week in connection with the sexual assault of two female inmates. Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Calligan on Friday confirmed Orr's arrest in the Las Vegas area. Orr was wanted in McKinley County on charges of criminal sexual contact with an inmate. The charges stem from his tenure as a lieutenant at the detention center. He resigned from his position with the facility in 2005 and failed to appear for his arraignment on the criminal charges in August. Sheila Black, 28, and Christine Herden, 23, had been jailed at the detention center in Gallup in 2003 because there was no room for them at the Wyoming Women's Center in Lusk. The women claim Orr sexually assaulted and took nude pictures of them during their stay at the facility. Orr is also a target of a federal lawsuit filed by The American Civil Liberties Union that cites "cruel and unusual punishment" on his behalf. The McKinley County Board of Commissioners and former managing agent, Management and Training Corporation, were also named in the suit for failure to properly supervise and train Orr.

January 24, 2006 Casper Star-Tribune
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit against a New Mexico detention officer, alleging he sexually assaulted two female inmates from Wyoming at a Gallup, N.M., jail and photographed them in the nude. At the time of the alleged incidents in 2003, the inmates were housed in New Mexico because of overcrowding at Wyoming's only female correctional institution, the Wyoming Women's Center in Lusk. The lawsuit claims sexual abuse and cruel and unusual punishment by Detention Officer Brian Orr of the McKinley County (N.M.) Detention Center. The complaint was filed on behalf of inmates Sheila Black and Christine Herden. The ACLU alleges that Orr repeatedly sexually assaulted the two women and photographed them in the nude, causing physical injury and severe psychological and emotional distress. The complaint also alleges that the jail's acting warden, Gilbert Lewis, the McKinley County commissioners and the Centerville, Utah, company that managed the jail, Management and Training Corp., were negligent for failing to properly train and supervise Orr.

September 4, 2003 Santa Fe New Mexican
McKinley County is terminating its contract with the Utah-based company that has been operating the county jail, a facility plagued by problems. Four inmates escaped from the jail, run by Management & Training Corp., on July 4, after being left unsupervised in a recreation yard. All four were later captured or surrendered, but investigators said the escapees had a three-hour head start because guards at the jail did not miss them until a head count later that day. MTC also operates the Santa Fe County jail and that facility too has had problems. Warden Cody Graham, who formerly headed the Santa Fe County jail, was fired a week after the escape. In Santa Fe, a nine-member state audit team found the jail needed to improve inmate classification, grievance procedures, discipline, records and inmate programs. 

July 11, 2003 Albuquerque Journal
The McKinley County jail's warden and the lone corrections officer who was left in charge of 80 inmates during a Fourth of July jailbreak have been fired. Management & Training Corporation, which manages the McKinley County Adult Detention Center on a contract, took the action after a series of security failures on the Independence Day holiday allowed four inmates, including three suspected in killings, to escape. 

July 7, 2003 AP
Law enforcement officials are investigating why an escape from a privately run county jail went unreported until one of the four fugitives, injured jumping from the jail roof, showed up at a hospital a few hours later. Two of the inmates, including one charged with murder, were still on the run this morning. "We in law enforcement are totally disgusted, and it's disheartening," said McKinley County Sheriff's Deputy Ron Williams. The four escaped by leaping three floors from the jail's rooftop exercise enclosure during an exercise period that began about 9 a.m. Friday, authorities said. Law enforcement officials found out about the escape more than three hours later when one of the inmates, Manuel Vasquez, 32, hitched a ride to a hospital, where doctors became suspicious of his explanation for his fractured heel and cut arm and called police, Williams said. (AP, July 7, 2003 )

May 19, 2002 Albuquerque Journal
The McKinley County jail was locked down Sunday after disgruntled inmates set a mattress on fire, jail officers reported. Eleven inmates locked themselves in a section of the jail where the fire started, but the incident was quickly quelled, said Sandy Aragon, director of communications at the Gallup-McKinley County 911 center. The inmates came out and the fire was extinguished, Aragon said. 

Mohave County Prison, Mohave County, Arizona
March 29, 2007 The Daily News
Mohave County supervisors will decide on whether to end a contract with an Oklahoma firm that built the county's only prison. Mohave County Manager Ron Walker is asking supervisors to terminate a September 1999 contract between Mohave Correctional Services LLC and the county to build and operate the state prison, which opened in August 2004 and is located about 15 miles southwest of Kingman. The contract states that MCS would pay Mohave County $3,000 a month in administration costs and provide housing for about 50 county inmates. The county has tried to make arrangements to house overflow county inmates but MCS has not complied. Walker also said MCS has not paid the county any of the administration costs in the contract, calling it a breach of contract. “We don't want to partner with anyone who hasn't lived up to the first piece of this contract,” Walker said. “Who are we dealing with here anyway?” Walker said if the supervisors approve, in 30 days if the money is not paid. the county will look at a contractual lawsuit for monetary default. The contract also provides for a 60-day notice to correct any non-monetary defaults, for example, transferring the contract to the prison's current operator without permission from the county. Utah-based Management & Training Corp. currently operates the prison, which houses about 1,500 inmates. The prison houses male inmates sentenced throughout Arizona on charges of drug possession and driving under the influence. Walker said the contract issue was brought up after MTC officials recently spoke to the board about partnering with the county to build a federal prison in the county. Jim Hunter, former vice president of MCS, said from Oklahoma that the contract was never validated when MCS sold the land to Mohave Prison LLC in April 2004. The Tucson firm holds the title and leases the land and the prison to the state for 10 years at which time the state will own the facility. Hunter also said MCS, which built the prison, does not exist anymore. He does not recall if MCS transferred the contract to another firm. The 1999 contract states that the contract is binding to the respective parties meaning the county and MCS' successors. Mike Murphy, vice president of corrections marketing for MTC, said at the previous supervisor meeting that MTC does not have a contract to provide housing for overflow county inmates or to pay the county any administration costs. The first 500 inmates arrived at the prison on Aug. 9, 2004, and were housed in two units. The second phase opened in April 2005 with permanent support buildings units and housing for an additional 1,000 inmates.

Nacogdoches, Texas
May 1, 2009 Daily Sentinel
The proposed private federal prison — the subject of months of debate in Nacogdoches — will not be built here, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said. The federal government rejected a proposal by the private prison operator Management and Training Corporation to build the facility because it was not competitive enough, according to an April 28 letter from Amanda J. Pennel, a contracting officer with the bureau of prisons. "After evaluating this proposal in accordance with the terms of the solicitation, it was determined that this proposal was not among the most highly rated proposals," the letter said. "A proposal revision will not be considered," the letter continued. Proposals were evaluated on criteria outlined in the federal acquisition regulation document, including as price and past performance. The letter did not include any specific information about why MTC's proposal was rejected, but MTC officials will be able to request a "preaward debriefing" with further information. In a statement, MTC Vice President Odie Washington said, "Although this project will not move forward in the community, MTC looks forward to perhaps one day working with community officials in the future." Officials with the city, county and the Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation endorsed MTC's plan last summer because of the economic benefits they believed it would bring to the area. But the proposed prison also drew local critics who said the prison would erode the quality of life in Nacogdoches and said local government failed to consider the possible negative consequences of the facility. If approved, the prison would have been minimum security facility, primarily for holding illegal immigrants. NEDCO president Bill King said the jobs and salaries the prison would have created would have been helpful to Nacogdoches. "If you're going to have a correctional facility, kind of the gold standard would be a federal minimum security. They don't get much better than that," King said. "But it is what it is. We gave it our best show and we're looking forward to the next challenge." Several elected officials reached by telephone Friday shared their thoughts on the news. "We were hoping that it would bring 300 jobs to Nacogdoches county, so we're all a little disappointed. We needed those jobs, especially with the state of the economy right now," County Judge Joe English said. Asked if he would support another prison effort in the future, English said, "I think we're out of the prison business in Nacogdoches County." Representatives from the city weighed in on the issue as well. "The subject of the prison has definitely caused a lot of turmoil in the community, and as much as I personally regret that it's not coming, I'm glad that we finally have a closure to the project," Southwest Ward Commissioner Billy Huddleston Jr. said. Northeast Ward Commissioner Randy Johnson said he was "very disappointed" that the prison would not come because it would have helped the economy by creating jobs. Northwest Ward Commissioner Don Partin shared a tempered reaction. "It was nothing to get excited about because it was never a done deal," Partin said. "I'm just happy that the system took care of itself. I'm happy everything happened not because of anger or fear or greediness, but happened through the natural process." For opponents of the prison, the news came as a victory. "This is the best news that I've heard in a year or more," Paul Risk, chairman of the Citizens Opposed to the Prison Site group that staged demonstrations and informational campaigns against the project. "This prison would have been a blight on the image of Nacogdoches. This is Christmas in May."

January 19, 2009 Daily Sentinel
Around 40 people attended a Citizens Opposed to the Prison Site (COPS) meeting Monday, and the group's founder, Dr. Paul Risk, said the organization is moving forward with a petition that could change the city charter. Risk introduced a petition that would put an amendment on the ballot in May that would require the city of Nacogdoches to provide for initiatives or referenda in its charter. Five percent of registered Nacogdoches voters, or about 850 people, would need to sign the petition requesting the amendment, Risk said. If approved, the citizens of Nacogdoches could vote down or uphold decisions made by the city commissioners. The COPS group formed last summer to protest a proposed federal private prison that would be built inside Loop 224 on Northwest Stallings Drive. The city commissioners, county commissioners and Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation unanimously backed the proposal, which would be built and operated by Management and Training Corporation. If Nacogdoches is chosen for the prison, MTC officials expect the facility to create 300 jobs and bring in nearly $1 million per month in salaries. Starting wages for correctional officers are likely to be around $30,000 to $32,000 per year, according to MTC representatives. County Judge Joe English said it is still too soon to say if a prison will end up in Nacogdoches, and he said city and county officials "don't even know if we're in the top 100" prospective sites. Risk said the group has made efforts to see if the county or city concealed information about the prison before it was put to a vote in the respective commission meetings. The COPS group recently made an open records request from the city and county for all correspondence, including e-mails and phone logs, between the local officials and MTC. The city provided about 2700 documents to the group, Risk said. Risk contacted the attorney general's office after the county denied their request, though English said the attorney general's office cleared the county of any wrongdoing. The county complied with the law, but the COPS group did not follow the correct procedures in their open records request, according to English. "Their original request was addressed to (County Clerk) Carol Wilson. When they send an open records request to Carol Wilson, they're going to get all the records she has," English said. "They requested her letters, not the judge's or the commissioners'. If they want information from my department, their (open records request) needs to be addressed to me." The group later corrected their request and English said the county supplied them with all available documents, though he said the group would receive little, if any, new information. The COPS group presented the commissioners with a number of articles and letters during a public forum in October, and those same documents accounted for the majority of the information the county delivered in response to the open records request, English said. "They have to pay 10 cents per copy, and basically they just bought back everything they gave us," English said. "I don't think they got what they thought there were going to get." Risk also said NEDCO declined to provide requested documents, though a lawyer from NEDCO said the organization is a privately run entity that does not have to abide by the Freedom of Information Act. The COPS group has also been circulating an informal petition with signatures from people opposed to the prison. Risk said the group now has around 2,800 signatures, or about 4.5 percent of the county.

North Coast Correctional Facility, Grafton, Ohio
July 12, 2012 Columbus Dispatch
Arguing that workers lost their jobs and had their lives uprooted, the state’s largest employee union has gone to court over private prisons. The Ohio Civil Services Employees Association filed suit Monday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. The suit represents 270 union members who were “laid off or otherwise negatively affected” when the state turned over the North Central Correctional Institution in Marion to a private operator and sold the Lake Erie Correctional Facility in Conneaut in Ashtabula County. The union listed 11 individual employees who it said lost jobs, were “uprooted from their communities or were wrongfully excluded from employment” when the prisons became private. The union wants the private-prison contracts overturned and the employees to get their old jobs back. “While we believe this privatization is unlawful, our bigger concern is the impact that privatization has on our members’ lives,” said union President Christopher Mabe. “Not only is privatization unsafe and bad public business, it’s devastating for the lives of these employees and their communities. These public servants did nothing wrong and now are being punished by bad public policies.” Last year, the state agreed to sell the Lake Erie prison to the Corrections Corporation of America, of Nashville, Tenn., for $72.7 million. The state pays the company to house prisoners there. At the same time, the Marion prison was shifted to Management and Training Corp., of Centerville, Utah, and the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Lorain County, previously operated by Management and Training Corp., was taken over by the state. Spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction won’t comment because the litigation is pending.

September 1, 2011 All Headline News
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections announced Thursday the winning bidders in the $200 million privatization of prisons in Ashtabula and Marion counties. Two out of three bidders won the contracts: Corrections Corp. of America (CCA) of Nashville, TN, and Management and Training Corp. (MTC) of Centerville, UT. The Geo Group Inc. of Boca Raton, FL, was the losing bidder. The state of Ohio pushed through with the announcement after a Columbus judge denied a restraining order by opposition groups to halt the process. Five adult prisons out of the state's 32 corrections facilities were up for grabs. CCA will take over the operations of Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Ashtabula County, while MTC will manage Marion County's North Central Correctional Institution and the vacant Marion Juvenile Correctional Facility. The MTC-operated North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Lorain County will be turned over to Ohio and merged with the state-operated Grafton Correctional Institution.

September 10, 2009 Chronicle-Telegram
EMH Regional Medical Center is locked in a dispute with the private contractor that runs the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton over unpaid medical bills for inmates treated at the hospital. A lawsuit filed earlier this year accuses Utah-based Management and Training Corp. of failing to pay $628,193.81 in medical bills it racked up for inmates between September 2006 and February 2009. But Tim Reid, the company’s attorney, said Management and Training doesn’t actually owe the hospital the money. Instead, he said, a former subcontractor is responsible for the outstanding bills. Management and Training has been paying its bills since severing ties with Arizona-based First Correctional Medical in May 2008, Reid said. That company, he said, ran into financial problems and fell behind in paying the medical bills under a contract with the hospital. But Management and Training didn’t realize how much money was owed until after the lawsuit was filed in May of this year, Reid said. “We realized there was a problem, but we didn’t know the extent of the problem,” he said. First Correctional and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction are not named as a party in the lawsuit, according to court records. Julie Walburn, an ODRC spokeswoman, said the prison system paid Management and Training about $15.4 million in fiscal year 2009 to operate the North Coast prison, which mostly houses prisoners convicted of drunken driving and other substance abuse crimes. “They’re responsible for providing medical care to inmates,” she said.

July 30, 2002 AP
Thirty-six inmates have been moved in the past week from their prisons to other institutions because of disciplinary problems. Twelve inmates were moved Tuesday from the privately run North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton to the Marion Correctional Institution for refusing to wear proper uniforms, department spokeswoman Andrea Dean said. On Saturday, 24 inmates at the Southeastern Correctional Institution in Lancaster who would not return to their living areas were moved to other prisons, Dean said. The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, which represents some prison workers, including guards, said removal of 12 inmates from the privately run prison, which has nonunion guards, demonstrates that the state puts its problem inmates in union prisons. "We shouldn't be cleaning up problems that for-profit companies created," said Darrell Starcher, the president of the union's local at the Marion prison. Dean said that none of the disciplined Lancaster inmates were moved to private prisons. "We're not targeting inmates in a private facility," Dean said. 

July 7, 2002 Chronicle-Telegram
The company that operates the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility and the state' only other privately run prison has agreed to take a $400,000 cut in its contracts with state. The future of the privately operated prison here appears more secure after the state negotiated its contract to lower costs by $400,000. Management and Training Corp. of Utah, the company that runs North Coast Correctional Treatment Center in Grafton and another prison in Conneaut, agreed to the cut in contracts. But if the economy tumbles and further cuts are ordered, the local privately run prison, as well as the one in Conneaut, could be targeted for closure, he said.

Otero County Processing Center, Otero County, New Mexico
January 23, 2011 KASA
A report from the American Civil Liberties Union says a southern New Mexico center that holds immigrants for possible deportation needs to improve how it treats them. Immigrants interviewed by the ACLU at the federal immigration detention center in Otero County complained about prolonged detention, inadequate food, medical services and legal resources, according to an Albuquerque Journal copyright story published Sunday. The 1,084-bed Otero County Processing Center houses immigrants who face deportation proceedings. Many were taken into custody from the interior of the United States. They typically have not been charged with crimes other than immigration offenses. Illegal immigrants charged with federal criminal offenses usually are deported after completing their sentences, but those imprisoned for state charges can end up at the facility. Detentions there average about 30 days, but can be longer for those who fight deportation. The ACLU's report said Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials responded swiftly and appropriately in several cases, including a request to dim lighting in the solitary unit, where bright lights were on 24 hours a day. Many detainees said, however, they were threatened with solitary confinement if they filed complaints. The report also said that when they are filed, some "reported never even receiving a response to their grievance." The processing center, financed by Otero County, is operated by the private Utah-based Management and Training Corp., under contract with ICE. The facility, with 20 dormitories of 50 beds and a more secure unit of 84 beds, houses an average of 890 detainees. The ACLU received complaints about conditions at the Otero County facility from more than 200 detainees since 2008. The report also is based on 42 interviews with those housed there from fall 2009 through June 2010. An MTC spokesman referred questions to a Texas-based spokeswoman for ICE, Leticia Zamarripa. "ICE carefully considers the recommendations offered to further improve its operations," she said. Detainees also complained about restrictive policies, such as short weekly visits from family and outdoor recreation to an enclosed, concrete courtyard with only a view of the sky. One detainee reported vomiting repeatedly and suffering acute stomach pains for two or three days before the clinical staff gave him ibuprofen and an antacid. He later was hospitalized for three weeks.

Prescott Valley, Arizona
October 18, 2007 The Daily Courier
The town council will not support plans by a Utah-based company to consider the outskirts of town for a private prison. Overwhelming vocal opposition to a 2,000-bed, minimum-security prison for nonviolent male inmates apparently persuaded the council Thursday against proceeding with endorsing the prison. Opponents expressed concerns to the council about Prescott Valley having the label of "prison town," and facing declining property values and other negative effects. The council met Oct. 4 with representatives of Management and Training Corp., a Centerville, Utah-based company that proposed a 100-acre site a mile north of Highway 69 and parallel to Old Fain Road. The council did not take any formal action during the work/study meeting Thursday, but Town Manager Larry Tarkowski indicated he would not put a letter of support on the agenda for next Thursday. The sole support for the prison on the council came from Mary Baker, who cited the benefit of 500 jobs. Opponents in excess of 10 people dominated a packed council chamber. Council members also indicated that prison opponents bombarded them with e-mails and phone calls. "We had so many people who said 'no,' and I have to go with that," Mayor Harvey Skoog said after five people spoke out against the prison. Two people spoke in favor of the prison. "I am not worried about the prisoners that are escaping, but I am worried about the factor of the money you would lose on your house," opponent Frank Shank, a retired diesel mechanic and Teamster union representative from Detroit, said after the meeting. He said that he lost $50,000 on a house in Jackson, Mich., a number of years ago because of the presence of a prison. Prison supporter Linda Shimmin, a retired restaurant owner, faulted the review process for killing the prison plans. "I think the (council) decision is fine," she said after the meeting. "It's the process that concerned me. Management and Training was not here tonight. I think the visceral reactions might have been mitigated had Management and Training been allowed to make a presentation." Shimmin drew some applause - and a number of boos - when she pleaded her case for the prison during the council meeting. Audience members also applauded opponents who spoke at the podium and when the council members indicated that they would go with the will of the public. The council had scheduled the meeting in the first place to review the costs for water and other infrastructure for the prison.

Promontory Community Correctional Center, Draper, Utah
February 20, 2006 The Spectrum
Utah has one of the country's lowest incarceration rates, according to federal data, but is climbing from a booming population growth spurt that has increased the incarcerated population by 200 to 300 inmates each year. The Utah prison system is overwhelmed with more than 6,350 inmates statewide - including a large percentage housed at Purgatory Correctional Facility in Washington County - making more bed space desperately needed. Two facilities are being built, one in Gunnison and the other facility in Beaver County, where the state intends to rent 200 beds to house its inmates. Also, corrections is requesting another 192-bed facility to be built in Gunnison. Senate Bill 175, sponsored by Sen. Howard A. Stephenson, R-Draper, calls for the Department of Corrections to issue and evaluate a request for proposals from private prison contractors, county jails and other interested agencies for a 300-bed or larger minimum-security correctional facility to accommodate prison-sentenced criminals beyond that. We commend Stephenson and the corrections department for their foresight in dealing with the rising housing needs of criminals. However, taxpayers should urge lawmakers to do some analysis as they embark on mingling public and private enterprise, based on the state's history in that corrections partnership. Utah's first privately run prison, Promontory Correctional Facility - a 400-bed, low-security facility located on the northwest side of the Draper prison site, which was closed because of budget cuts - was administered by Ogden's Management and Training Corporation. Three weeks after it opened in August, 1995, two inmates escaped in broad daylight by crawling through a fence. Every year until it closed on July 1, 2002, there were one to two escapes. A pre-release program through that facility resulted in 102 parolees enrolled in it simply walking away within a 10-month period. One in particular was by 35-year-old Stan Lee Foster, a man convicted for a string of thefts and burglaries in Southern Utah. He was enrolled in the "cutting edge" halfway-back program in May 1999, but two months later hopped onto a bus in Sandy to go to work never to return. Six days after he walked away, he was fatally shot by an FBI agent investigating a rash of bank robberies. Aside from budget cuts that were cited for the closure of the prison, heavily-rumored high staff turnover rates and drug use by inmates were disclosed by media outlets. The mixture of the public and private sector of corrections through Promontory lasted a mere seven years. As SB-175 mandates the acceptance of bids for a new facility, and is considering recommendations from corrections to highly consider privatization for housing and treatment, we ask lawmakers to scrutinize the whole package privatization has to offer with a fine-tooth comb. While it is admirable to be looking toward the future to accommodate the increasing incarcerated population, it is just as important to learn from mistakes where failures occurred so as not to repeat them.

April 6, 1999 Salt Lake Tribune
Three prisoners who escaped from Utah's minimum-security prison at Draper on Sunday were arrested 12 hours later by police who were tipped they could find the fugitives at a Salt Lake City boarding house. One of the three -- Jason William Kirk, 21, of Arizona -- was already on parole but staying at Promontory, a pre-release center akin to a halfway house, until he secured outside employment. Promontory is owned by the state but managed by Management & Training Corporations (MTC). After working in the commissary at Promontory and helping prepare Easter breakfast around 8 a.m., the trio slipped to a grassy recreation area outside the facility. They were discovered missing after a routine 11:30 a.m. head count. 

June 16, 1998 Salt Lake Tribune
About 140 inmates at the Promontory pre-release facility at the Utah State Prison refused to go into their dorms Monday afternoon, prompting officials to use a gas grenade to disperse them. Prison spokesperson Jack Ford said the inmates were in a common room and outside at the 400-bed privately operated Promontory facility when they refused to return to their rooms for a 4p.m. head count. Fred VanDerVeur, the Department of Corrections director of institutional operations, said correctional officers used "some sort of gas grenade' to scatter the inmates, all of whom are minimum-security and within weeks of release. 

July 12, 1996 Salt Lake Tribune
Freddy Lee Wolfe was to be paroled from Utah State Prison on Aug. 27, but Thursday he decided his date with freedom was not soon enough. Prison officials say Wolfe, who is serving 5-year terms for forgery and theft by receiving, escaped at 12:30 p.m. while working at the Draper prison's meat-processing plant. He was discovered missing an hour later following a routine prisoner count. 

September 5, 1995 Salt Lake Tribune
It may not be an alarming threat to public safety, but neither is it a good sign. Utah's first privately run prison has been open less than three weeks, and two inmates already have escaped--in broad daylight, by crawling through a prison fence. The two escapees, Anthony Scott Bailey and Eric Neil Fischbeck, are not particularly dangerous characters. Fischbeck was serving time for burglary and drug possession, Bailey for burglary. They were assigned to the Promontory Correctional Facility, run by Management & Training Corp. of Ogden, because they were preparing for parole. 

Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
November 19, 2007 New Mexican
Dickie Ortega lost his life at the hands of one man named Jesus and another named Good. And while a Santa Fe County jury's conviction of one of those men on second-degree murder and five other charges Monday provided some peace of mind, Ortega's mother said the tragic chain of events at the county jail that led to her son's death will remain a source of pain. "When they asked Dickie why he was there, he told them the truth, and it cost him his life," said Cordelia Martinez after the jury found Jesus Aviles-Dominguez guilty. "If it wasn't for doctors and medication, I don't know if I could go through this. I don't know if I'll ever get over it. It's like a nightmare." Martinez, her husband, Antonio Martinez, and her daughter and Ortega's sister, Delilah Brown, sat through every day of testimony in Aviles-Dominguez's trial, which lasted nearly three weeks. They also sat through the September trial of Daniel Good, who pleaded no contest to two counts of aggravated battery involving death and two counts of intimidation of a witness in the middle of those proceedings. Cordelia Martinez said she was satisfied with the jury's verdict and thanked members for "doing their duty." "Well, at least I can put my son to rest now," she said. "He was a good and wonderful son." In addition to second-degree murder, the jury of eight men and four women convicted Aviles-Dominguez, 32, of two counts of intimidation of a witness and three counts of conspiracy. He was acquitted of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, three counts of conspiracy and three counts of intimidation of a witness. Aviles-Dominguez, who had to serve only 20 more days in jail at the time of the assault on Ortega, now faces up to 52 1/2 years in prison. "Bitches," Aviles-Dominguez said to no one in particular as sheriff's deputies escorted him from the courtroom after his conviction. Other inmates who were in the pod at the county jail when Ortega, 32, was beaten to death testified that Aviles-Dominguez and Good were the co-leaders of the dormlike accommodations. Ortega, a Chimayó resident, allegedly made the fatal mistake of accusing a man he was arrested with on narcotics and receiving-stolen-property charges of being a snitch or a "rat," according to the inmates' testimony. Aviles-Dominguez and Good allegedly attacked and beat up the man Ortega accused, the witnesses said. However, another inmate stood up for the man who was attacked and said he wasn't a rat. That led to a series of at least three retaliatory beatings of Ortega — mainly at the hands of Aviles-Dominguez and Good — which became progressively more brutal, the inmates testified. Finally — according to two eyewitnesses — Aviles-Dominguez began stomping repeatedly on Ortega's head, which left him unconscious. Aviles-Dominguez and Good refused to allow one of the inmates to get medical attention for Ortega, an inmate testified. Aviles-Dominguez testified he didn't beat Ortega or the other man, and at one point tried to give them advice on how things worked behind bars. He also told jurors another inmate, Joe Coriz, stomped on Ortega's head, and Aviles-Dominguez broke up that beating. While the verdict was not what his client wanted, Gary Mitchell, Aviles-Dominguez's lawyer, said he thought the system did its job. "At the end of the day, I walk out thinking it was a fair jury, a fair prosecution and a fair judge," he said. "One can't complain about that. But with all the guys in there (when the beating occurred), we'll never know what in the Sam Hell happened." One of the big problems spotlighted by the Ortega case is understaffing at jails and prisons, Mitchell said. "You wonder where the hell were the detention officers in all of this," he added. At the time of the beating, one guard had been assigned to watch over three pods containing about 60 inmates, Sheriff Greg Solano said at the time. A second guard was assigned to man a control unit that overlooks six pods of more than 100 inmates, he said. A private company, Management Training Corp., ran the jail at the time, and a federal study had previously highlighted short-staffing as a problem. Ortega's family received a $600,000 settlement paid by MTC earlier this year after filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Prosecutors initially said they would seek the death penalty against both Good and Aviles-Dominguez. And though they later backed off those plans, state District Court Judge Tim Garcia ruled that if the penalty would have been in play, one jury would have had to decide the men's guilt or innocence while another would have decided the penalty. Good's attorney, Jeff Buckels, called the ruling "a huge fringe benefit."

August 30, 2007 The New Mexican
The mother of a Chimayo man who hanged himself in the Santa Fe County jail two years ago is suing the County Commission, the sheriff and the firm that used to run the jail. Michael G. Martinez, 39, was jailed Aug. 21, 2005, on charges of aggravated assault, aggravated battery, assault on a peace officer, aggravated fleeing of a law-enforcement officer, possession of drug paraphernalia, reckless driving, driving with a suspended license and other traffic infractions. Three days later, he was found dead, hanging from a cloth blanket tied to a light fixture in his cell in the medical ward of the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center on N.M. 14, south of Santa Fe. Sheriff Greg Solano said at the time that Martinez was put in the medical ward because he had needle marks on his arms and appeared to be in withdrawal, and he was on a suicide watch where jailers were to check on him every 30 minutes. Last week, lawyer John Faure sued on behalf of Martinez's mother, Elsie Martinez of Santa Cruz. The complaint says Management and Training Corp., which ran the country jail at the time, should have checked on Martinez every 10 minutes and searched the cell to remove “any dangerous article or clothing.” Management and Training Corp. has “maintained a custom or policy which exhibited indifference to the constitutional rights of person incarcerated ... which permitted or condoned deviations from appropriate policies,” the complaint says. By hiring the company, it says, Solano and the commission effectively violated Martinez's constitutional rights of due process and protection from cruel and unusual punishment. The complaint seeks “at least $10,000” for the expenses of Martinez's funeral and burial, plus punitive and exemplary damages for “intentional misconduct, recklessness, gross negligence, willfulness and/or callous indifference, and/or because defendants' conduct was motivated by malice, evil motive or intent.” Solano and a spokesman for Management and Training Corp. in Centerville, Utah, declined comment. The firm ran the county jail from 2001 to 2005, when county government again took over operations. Earlier this year, the firm was named as a defendant in a similar lawsuit brought by the parents of Chris Roybal, who overdosed on heroin while in jail in February 2005. It alleges Roybal got the drugs from a corrections officer. The court record indicates that case has been transferred to another jurisdiction.

August 29, 2007 New Mexican
When his fellow inmates at the Santa Fe County jail asked why he was incarcerated, Dickie Ortega made an explosive statement that might have cost him his life, lawyers said Tuesday. “He said, ‘It’s because my cousin ratted me out,’ ” prosecutor Joseph Campbell told jurors during opening statements Tuesday in the trial of Daniel Good, one of two men charged with beating Ortega to death in June 2004. “There are rules in jail,” Campbell said, “and one of these rules is that you don’t rat somebody out.” Jeff Buckels, Good’s attorney, said Ortega’s statement was like igniting a can of gasoline. “This was not the dorm at St. John’s or the boys locker room at Prep,” he said. “You better believe there are rules (in jail). One you hear over and over again is that rats are taken care of.” The consequences were first meted out to Brad Ortega, the man Dickie Ortega called his cousin, though they were not actually related, Campbell said. When Brad Ortega returned to the cell pod, he was ordered into Good’s cell and attacked by at least three men, Campbell said. After the beating, the men ordered Brad Ortega, who sustained a gash on his head, to strip off his bloody clothes, throw them in the trash and take a shower, he said. Meanwhile, the men cleaned the cell, Campbell said. While Brad Ortega was in the shower, one of the 20 inmates in the pod said he knew Brad Ortega and he was “a stand-up guy” and “he knows the rules,” Campbell said. At that point, he said, some of the inmates confronted and beat Dickie Ortega, a 32-year-old from Chimayó who was being held on receiving-stolen-property and drug-related charges. Afterward, Dickie Ortega also was ordered to strip off his clothing and take a shower, the attorney said. Later, Good, 34, and another inmate, Jesus Aviles-Dominguez, 31, made Dickie Ortega and Brad Ortega fight each other, though it was not a vicious brawl, Campbell said. After that, Good, Aviles-Dominguez and another inmate again beat the two Ortegas, then forced them to again take off their bloody clothes and take a shower while the cell was cleaned, he said. Finally, Dickie Ortega was beaten a fourth time, Campbell said. That time, he was forced against a wall and stepped on while he pleaded for his life, the lawyer said. Brad Ortega, Campbell said, watched the last beating, helplessly, from the upper bunk in their cell. Buckels admitted Good “popped (Dickie Ortega) a couple times” during the beatings, but Good didn’t kill Ortega. “In fact, he tried to stop it,” Buckels told jurors. “He was trying to save him from a man named Chuy.” Chuy — Aviles-Dominguez’s nickname — was the boss of the pod in which the Ortegas had been placed, Buckels said. And during the last beating of Dickie Ortega, Aviles-Dominguez “went berserk,” Buckels said. Aviles-Dominguez braced himself with one hand on the sink and the other on the bed and stomped on Dickie Ortega’s head, he said. “The violence he dealt to Dickie Ortega was a very different kind,” Buckels said. “He bounced his head off the concrete like a basketball. It was then that people started getting very concerned that this guy was in trouble.” Dickie Ortega’s mother, who was in court Tuesday, cried and held her hands to her face when Buckels described what happened to her son. “Daniel’s not here asking for a medal,” Buckels said. “He’s a bad boy at a bad time in a bad place. He wasn’t nice to Dickie Ortega. He just didn’t kill him.” After the beatings, the two Ortegas were not allowed out of their cell, Campbell said. An inmate later alerted guards to Dickie Ortega’s unresponsive and bloody condition, he said. Dickie Ortega’s injuries included a subdural hematoma, liver and spleen damage and bruising, Campbell said. Good, a Santa Fe man with a lengthy criminal record that includes both violence and property crimes, is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated battery causing death, two counts of intimidation of a witness, two counts of tampering with evidence and six counts of conspiracy. His trial is set to last 16 days, though the days are spread out over the month of September and won’t conclude until the end of the month. Aviles-Dominguez is scheduled to go on trial in November for Dickie Ortega’s murder and the beating of Brad Ortega. The District Attorney’s Office announced in May that it would not seek the death penalty for either man. However, state District Court Judge Tim Garcia ruled in June that if prosecutors had decided to push for the death penalty in the case, he would have one jury decide the defendants’ guilt or innocence and another decide their sentencing.

May 7, 2007 AP
Two lawsuits stemming from the beating death of an inmate and a female prisoner's alleged rape at the Santa Fe County jail have been settled. Attorney Robert Rothstein, who filed the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Dickie Ortega's family, said Friday that the terms of the settlement are confidential. An agreement reached in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Veronica Sanchez also is confidential, attorney's with Rothstein's firm said. Ortega, 32, died June 5, 2004, after suffering serious head and facial injuries and a crushed larynx. He had been arrested earlier that month on charges of receiving stolen properties. His family sued in 2006, claiming that Santa Fe County and the company that formerly ran its jail _ Utah-based Management and Training Corp. _ did nothing as gang members repeatedly assaulted other inmates. Inadequate staffing, lack of supervision of inmates and lack of video monitoring contributed to Ortega's death, the lawsuit claimed. Two men prosecutors identified as gang members have been charged with first-degree murder in Ortega's death. An MTC spokesman had no comment, and a county government spokesman said county attorney Steve Ross was unavailable to address the settlement. Federal court records show the case was dismissed March 29 _ a day after a motion was filed by Ortega's family, saying the plaintiffs had "settled and resolved" all disputes in the litigation. In Sanchez's case, attorneys say the lawsuit was dismissed Friday by agreement of all parties. Sanchez had reported that she was raped by other inmates at the jail in 2004 and then strip-searched after she was brought back to the jail after a hospital exam. The lawsuit claimed the search was "utterly useless and unnecessary and constituted further humiliation and degradation." It also alleged negligence and civil rights violation. MTC and various county officials were named as defendants.

July 7, 2006 New Mexican
Santa Fe County and the private company that operated its jail until April 2005 have agreed to pay $8.5 million to thousands of people who were strip-searched while being booked into the jail during a three-year period. While the county and Management Training Corp. deny in settlement documents that the blanket strip-search policy violated the law, a class-action lawsuit filed in January 2005 claimed it violated people's civil and constitutional rights. Terms of the settlement dictate that MTC, which ran the jail from October 2001 until April 2005, will pay $8 million while the county will shell out $500,000. Lawyers Bob Rothstein, Mark Donatelli and John Bienvenu will receive $2 million, while each of the 11 named plaintiffs in the lawsuit will be paid $42,750. The remaining people who were strip searched between Jan. 12, 2002 and December 2004, when the jail changed the strip-search policy, will have 30 days from the time a U.S. District Court judge affirms the agreement to file claims. Those people — estimated in settlement documents to number about 13,000 — will receive between $1,000 and $3,500. On Thursday, two of the named plaintiffs in the suit said while they were glad the case was over, they were even happier to have had a hand in sparing other citizens the embarrassment and humiliation they suffered. “That’s the best thing,” said Elizabeth “Lisa” Leyba. “That’s the thing that makes the emotional days all right.” Said Kristi Seibold, “It feels really good. It feels like we accomplished something — something really good and worthwhile for the people.” Leyba, 34, a bartender at Catamount Bar and Grille, was arrested in September 2004 for selling a beer to an underage customer sent in during a sting. Donatelli said a bouncer at the bar was supposed to be checking identification at the door, and the check was not Leyba’s responsibility. At the jail, Leyba said a female officer ordered her to strip naked and spin in a circle, which she apparently did too fast, so the guard ordered her to do it again, slower. She then had to stand in the room naked while the officer searched for jail clothing for her, Leyba said. “It was one of the last things I expected to have happen to me,” she said. “I was humiliated. It still bothers me.” Leyba, who initially didn’t want to take part in the lawsuit, said she was motivated to do so when she thought about her two young nieces and how she might help spare them similar treatment. Seibold, 51, a local massage therapist and mother of two teenagers, was strip searched twice — once in January 2004 and again in December 2004. She was arrested for refusing to surrender her dog to authorities and for an unpaid traffic violation that turned out to have been paid. During one of the searches, the female corrections officer ran her hands up and down Seibold’s arms and legs, while the door to the room where she was being searched was left open a crack so that anyone could have looked in, she said. Seibold also was told to bend over during one of the searches, she said. “I felt so exposed,” Seibold said. “I felt so violated in that they really took their time.” Bienvenu said during his firm’s investigation of the situation, corrections officers told him there was a peep hole in the door to the room where the searches were conducted, and guards would sometimes line up for a look. Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano and Kerry Dixon, the MTC warden at the time, said the searches were conducted to stem the flow of drugs and weapons into the jail. On Thursday, Solano said he hadn’t heard of the peep-hole allegations. In a news release, Harry Montoya, chairman of the county commissioners, said, “The resolution of this matter helps to put behind us lingering missteps from the privately run jail and allows the county to continue to move forward. We have new procedures to insure that our current strip search policies are constitutional.” Those policies call for strip searches only when an inmate is accused of violence, drug or weapons-related crimes. A statement from MTC was not available Thursday. Donatelli said the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals made it clear in 1993 that blanket strip searches could not be conducted at county jails based on Fourth Amendment assurances against illegal searches. Said Bienvenu: “I believe it was a deliberate policy to ignore the law.” Rothstein said the case marks the first class-action settlement on strip searches in New Mexico, though his firm is handling three such pending cases in the state.

October 13, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
Bill Blank's looming presence couldn't be ignored in the back of the crowd gathered outside the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center on Wednesday morning. With a large, imposing frame and a drooping mustache, Blank listened quietly to speeches from a who's who of county officials: County Manager Gerald González, Sheriff Greg Solano and Commission Chairman Mike Anaya were among those who spoke before a representative from Management and Training Corp., the private company that has been managing the jail since 2001, handed over ceremonial keys to the facility to county officials.

October 10, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
Santa Fe County's quest to turn around the historically troubled Santa Fe County Adult Detention Facility is about to start its greatest test. Management of the 668-bed jail officially changes hands on Tuesday from Management and Training Corporation, which has been running the jail since 2001, to Santa Fe County. The county inherits a facility that has faced rising costs, lawsuits, unflattering audits and incidents of rape and suicide. County commissioners and Sheriff Greg Solano, along with Corrections Department director Greg Parrish, have repeatedly expressed optimism that the county can do a better job than the private management companies that have run the jail previously. Of the 148 MTC employees, Santa Fe County hired 123 to continue working under county management. Some were food service and medical contractors tied to MTC. Six quit, and eight failed county background investigations. There are still 32 vacancies out of the county's 208-staff total to be filled.

September 28, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
Santa Fe County Manager Gerald González was given "emergency" powers as the County Commission on Tuesday approved a number of housekeeping measures in advance county government's takeover of jail operations next month from Management and Training Corp. According to a resolution passed unanimously by the commission, González will be able to approve contracts for goods and services worth up to $100,000 (the previous limit was $20,000), approve any contract that has resulted from competitive bids or state price agreements, hire staff without commission approval, and execute any agreement not involving expenditure of county money. The measure was necessary for county staff to finish everything that needs doing at the county jail, according to Deputy County Manager Roman Abeyta, as Tuesday's meeting was the last time for the commission to approve contracts before the Oct. 11 handover of jail management from the private operator. Also at Tuesday's meeting, a $200,000 contract with Correct Rx Pharmacy Services to provide pharmaceuticals at the jail and a $68,587 contract with Inmate Transfer Services were also approved. In addition, Neves Uniforms and Kaufmans West were approved to provide correctional staff uniforms.

September 26, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
Santa Fe County officials estimate they will lose $5.9 million running the adult jail next year. The year after, the projected loss is $6.4 million. But the rising deficits, which the county has already been absorbing for years, will be only part of the burden as county officials take over management of the 668-capacity facility Oct. 11 from Management and Training Corporation, the Utah-based private contractor that has been running the jail since 2001. County Manager Gerald Gonzales has an eye toward the added bureaucracy that will be required to run what will become Santa Fe County's largest department: corrections. Virtually none of the news coming out the county's adult detention facility over the past years has been good. Rising costs, lawsuits, unflattering audits, and incidents of rape and suicide have plagued the jail. When MTC decided it would withdraw from managing the jail earlier this year, the county had trouble finding another private contractor who wanted the job, county officials said. So the County Commission decided it was time to take on the responsibility— or the burden, as some call it— of running the jail itself. Sullivan blamed the problem on a handful of businessmen who convinced the county to build a jail bigger than what was needed. The current facility was completed in 1998 to expectations on the part of the County Commission that housing prisoners would bring in revenue. "Somebody said to the county, 'If you build it, they will come. If you build a massive facility, the prisoners will come, and we will all make money,' '' Solano said. Now, a completely new set of commissioners and staff are dealing with a reality that is quite the opposite from those expectations. "The days of big profits from jails are gone, especially in Santa Fe," Solano said. Under state statute, the county is obligated to provide for the incarceration of county prisoners. According to county officials, only 272 of the 578 inmates currently in the facility are the responsibility of Santa Fe County to incarcerate. Solano, at least, doesn't see a whole lot of change coming from the Oct. 11 handover. He said running the jail has been an integral part of his job as county sheriff since he started the job in 2002, despite its being under private management that whole time. "I get named in all the lawsuits at the jail," he said. "We already deal with it to such a large extent that I think it's better we just have complete control over it anyway, because we're the ones that have to answer for it. Private companies aren't responsible to the public. We are."

August 25, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
A Santa Fe County jail inmate was found dead Wednesday afternoon hanging by a light fixture in the medical ward after an apparent suicide, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department. Michael Martinez, 39, of Chimayó, was in a medical ward at the jail at the time due to sores on his arms believed to be from drug injections, as well as for drug and alcohol withdrawal, Solano said. Solano said corrections officers at the jail were checking on Martinez in the medical ward every 30 minutes Wednesday. Earlier this year, a civil lawsuit was filed against the jail by the family of an inmate who committed suicide there March 17, 2004. The lawsuit was filed by the family of Juan Ignacio-Sanchez, 22, who was in jail on a murder charge and hanged himself with his own shoelaces in his cell, according to the suit. The suit alleges that the jail's suicide-prevention policies were "seriously deficient" and that Ignacio-Sanchez was not placed on a suicide watch upon his admission to the jail, despite a phone call from his mother, who told officials that she thought her son was suicidal.

June 23, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
About a year before homicide suspect Juan Ignacio-Sanchez hung himself with his own shoelaces in a cell at the Santa Fe County jail, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a report stating that the jail's suicide prevention policies were "seriously deficient."  That's just one of the allegations in a civil lawsuit against the jail filed Wednesday in Santa Fe District Court by attorney Robert Rothstein, on behalf of Ignacio-Sanchez's father.  Among the lawsuit's claims are that Ignacio-Sanchez was not placed on a suicide watch upon his admission to the jail despite a phone call to the jail from his mother, who said she thought he was suicidal.  When a corrections officer asked her why she thought her son was suicidal, she answered "that Ignacio-Sanchez had been crying uncontrollably the night that he was arrested, was very depressed, tired and confused; and he had told the police that he was going to kill himself if he did not get help," according to the lawsuit.  Also according to court documents:    On the day of Ignacio-Sanchez's suicide at the jail, a corrections officer took Ignacio-Sanchez's shoes, but he was allowed to keep his shoelaces. "There was absolutely no valid correctional justification for allowing Ignacio-Sanchez to retain the shoelaces— particularly without the shoes," court documents said.  The lawsuit alleges that jail staff members are responsible for maintaining a "constant awareness of the activities of inmates they (come) into contact with" as part of the MTC-developed "Suicide/Self-Injury Guidelines and Procedures" at the jail.  The procedures include maintaining a continuous watch on inmates who are under a suicide watch and removing dangerous articles or clothing that are found in those inmates' cells, according to the suit.

May 20, 2005 AP
The Santa Fe County Commission has decided to take over operation of its own jail this fall when a private company that now manages the facility pulls out. Management and Training Corp. announced last month that it would end its contract early because operating the jail was not profitable. The company said it couldn't keep a medical-service provider there and lost money trying to comply with new federal mandates. The Utah-based company is expected to end the arrangement on or before Oct. 11. Santa Fe County officials view the change as an opportunity to improve the facility. "We don't feel the contractor has done what needs to be done," Assistant County Attorney Grace Phillips told the commission Thursday before it approved a tentative plan to take over the jail. Gregory Parrish, director of the county corrections department, said the county could improve the jail's tarnished public image and provide better medical care than the private company. Government operation also could lead to cooperation with the state and other public bodies that could help improve medical services and keep the jail at capacity. Because the private contractor is focused on the bottom line, Parrish said, "sometimes their operations reflect that." The company repeatedly fails to handle detailed tasks such as booking and billing and simpler responsibilities such as answering phones, he said.

May 20, 2005 AP
Santa Fe County will begin running the county's jail this fall. The County Commission decided yesterday to take over the jail operations. Management and Training Corporation said last month that it will prematurely end its two year-contract to run the jail. The company says it will pull out on or before October Eleventh. The company has said it cannot afford to continue managing the lockup. The company is being paid $42 a day per prisoner. County officials say they can run the jail for about the same cost, and they believe they can do it better. Management and Training corporation has run the jail since 2001.

May 19, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
The family of a Santa Fe County jail inmate who died in February of an apparent heroin overdose claims the drug was supplied by a guard. The family of Christopher Roybal has filed a tort claim notice informing Santa Fe County and the privately run Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center that they intend to sue over his death. Attorney Mark Donatelli maintains in the notice that the inmate got his drugs from former jail guard Amos Romero, 43, of Mora, who is himself now an inmate at the jail. Romero has been charged with twice taking money from an undercover cop in April in exchange for delivering what he thought was cocaine into the jail. The substance was actually a mixture containing baking soda and coffee creamer. He faces two counts of conspiracy to traffic cocaine. Management and Training Corp., the Utah-based private operator of the jail, announced recently that it cannot operate the jail profitably and that it plans to bail out of its contract to run the lockup later this year. The tort claim notice asserts that, "Our preliminary investigation leads us to conclude that the death of Mr. Roybal was the direct and proximate result of the conduct of employees, officials and operators of the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center."

May 14, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
A man who was incarcerated at the Santa Fe County jail earlier this week is raising questions about whether another inmate who died at the jail was refused medication before his apparent heart attack. Jaime Escobar, 28, who was charged recently on a domestic violence petition, according to court records, said Friday that he witnessed the death of William Garrett, 62, in the jail. Garrett died of apparent cardiac arrest Tuesday morning. Escobar, interviewed Friday, said he was repeatedly denied his diabetes medication while in the jail and that after Garrett suffered his cardiac arrest, other inmates in the jail told him that Garrett had also been denied medication. Escobar also claimed that it took jail personnel about 15 minutes to respond after inmates called for help for Garrett.

April 20, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
The second private company to try and run the Santa Fe County jail at a profit -- and at the same time in compliance with the law -- is giving up on the task. Management and Training Corp. announced late last week that it will quit managing the jail when its contract is up in the fall -- and would prefer to quit sooner, if the county will allow. County Sheriff Greg Solano says it's time the county took over operations of the jail. He's absolutely right -- the jail has been plagued by ongoing and serious security, sanitation and other problems under both recent private management companies. Two years ago, the federal government pulled prisoners out of the facility, claiming county officials were indifferent to prisoner medical and mental health needs. The pullout reduced the potential profit for the management company -- federal and other prisoners are housed for fees about 30 percent higher than what the county pays to house its local prisoners at the jail. Under MTC's management, the jail won accreditation from the American Correctional Association. But a murder -- the first ever at the facility -- followed a few months later. Critics of the fad for jail and prison privatization were busy saying, "We told you so" after MTC made its announcement last week. In hindsight, they seem to have been right on two important points: The jail is far too big for local needs, and the resulting profit squeeze has translated, consistently, into understaffing and managerial laxity on the part of the private contractors. A year ago, the county passed an eighth-of-a-cent gross receipts tax increase to finance increased spending on jail operations. In response to the numerous longstanding problems, the county also put in place a citizens advisory committee to monitor conditions there. Also a year ago, the county took over management of the juvenile jail facility and appears to have done a competent job there. With a funding stream and responsible oversight in place, the county is as well positioned as anybody to take over running the jail. It should do so without delay.

April 20, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
Twice in the past month, a Santa Fe County jail guard took money from an undercover officer in exchange for bringing what he thought was cocaine to an inmate at the jail, court records state. Amos Romero, 43, of the Antimo Trailer Park in Mora, resigned from his job as a corrections officer at the jail immediately after his April 17 arrest, according to Santa Fe County jail deputy warden David Osuna. Management and Training Corp., the Utah-based private operator of the jail, recently announced that it cannot operate the jail profitably and told the county it is bailing out of its contract to run the lockup.    Illegal drugs finding their way into the jail is just one of a number of problems that have beset the privately run jail in recent years.

April 16, 2005 New Mexican
Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano's push for the county to take over operation of the jail from a private company received solid support Friday from members of the law-enforcement community, who all agreed that operating a jail should be a governmental function. However, some expressed concerns that a transition could be bumpy, and others cautioned that a county-run jail is unlikely to be a cure-all for all the problems. "I agreed with Sheriff Solano that we've got to stop thinking of the jail as a profit-maker," said state District Judge Michael Vigil. "I don't think government should be contracting out something as serious as our obligation to incarcerate people." "Three different private entities have run it now and it has not worked out," he said. "Probably because the bottom line for the companies is profit." Fellow District Judge Stephen Pfeffer -- who, like Vigil, handles criminal cases almost exclusively -- agreed. "Businesses are in business for profit," he said. "Government has to stay within a budget, but I think it's a different focus." Santa Fe County first contracted out the running of its jail in 1986, when the facility was located on Airport Road, to Corrections Corporation of America. After CCA decided not to pursue the contract for the newly built, much-larger jail in 1997, the contract was awarded to Cornell Corrections Inc. The current contractor -- Management Training Corporation -- has run the facility since 2001. MTC announced Thursday it was pulling out of its contract -- set to run until August 2006 -- because of problems providing adequate medical services. Those medical services were provided by yet another contractor -- Correct Care Solutions. Solano said he'd like to see a local medical-care provider, such as St. Vincent Regional Medical Center or Presbyterian Medical Services contract with the county to provide care at the jail.

April 15, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
Management and Training Corp., saying it can't operate the Santa Fe County jail profitably, has given notice to county officials that it's bailing out of its contract to run the lockup. Utah-based MTC said it wasn't getting a sufficient number of inmates at the jail and the county wasn't paying the company enough to cover costs. "Low inmate occupancy numbers and the costs of additional operating requirements have made it impossible for MTC to continue to manage the facility," said Al Murphy, an MTC vice president. County Sheriff Greg Solano said now it's time for the county to take over jail operations rather than relying on a contractor. "We have to give up the idea of the jail as a profit center," Solano said. Solano also wants local health care providers to partner with the county to provide medical services for prisoners, which the sheriff said is one of the most difficult issues at the jail. MTC took over operation of the jail from Cornell Companies of Texas in 2001. The contract was renewed last fall, but MTC spokesman Carl Stuart said the company can opt out annually. MTC is willing to run the jail for another six months to fulfill the contract but also would leave earlier if the county wants, Stuart said. Stuart said MTC expected to have an average of 600 inmates at the jail— which can hold at least 650 prisoners— but that the prisoner population has been running at an average of 540 in recent months.  Santa Fe County's own prisoners average about 300 or 320 a day, Solano said. MTC has "had problems getting inmates from other areas to make a profit," he said.  Santa Fe attorney Mark Donatelli, who recently filed a lawsuit over the jail's former policy of strip-searching all inmates, said he and others warned county officials years ago that the jail was too large "and would become an economic albatross." "And that's what it turned out to be," Donatelli said. County Manager Gerald González said MTC's announcement was not a shock. This week, Correct Care Solutions, the current medical provider at the jail, notified MTC it planned to pull out because it cannot meet medical requirements under the present reimbursement allowance. "We knew they were having difficulty with medical, so from that standpoint it was not a complete surprise," González said. Donatelli said one problem with hiring private companies to run jails or prisons is that public agencies like the county lose corrections expertise and it can be difficult to resume public management. Solano said county management would help retain jail employees because of better benefits, including the retirement plan available through New Mexico's public employee system. He noted that the county took over operations at the juvenile jail about a year ago. MTC said one of its accomplishments was winning American Correctional Association accreditation for the jail last year. But an inmate was killed in an alleged beating by other inmates in June, apparently the first-ever slaying at the county jail.

April 14, 2005 AP
The company managing the Santa Fe County Jail announced Thursday it will end its two-year contract early. Executives for Management & Training Corporation said they cannot afford to continue managing the facility at the rate of $42 per day per inmate, considering the 650-bed jail houses only an average of 450 inmates. They said the contract is not profitable and they will end the agreement in six months. Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg L. Solano said Thursday the company's early departure was disappointing because it had just started just six months ago. However, the change could be an opportunity for the county to take over the jail, which has a $9.6 million budget. "We need to take control of this facility and put its destiny into our own hands," Solano said. The U.S. Justice Department, which monitors the jail's management, released a report in March 2003 alleging that county officials were indifferent to prisoners' medical and mental health needs. The county denied the allegations, but made changes to its program. Solano said he believes local medical providers would serve the jail better than out-of-state contractors. "We ought to get out of the business of running a jail for profit and just try to operate the best jail," Solano said.

April 6, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
A woman formerly employed at the Santa Fe County jail showed up in court drunk Monday to testify whether a female inmate was being denied emergency medical treatment for a life-threatening illness.  Santa Fe public defender Damien Horne said that Rose Bell-Engle, 48, a former health services administrator for the county jail, first lied to Santa Fe District Judge Michael Vigil about whether she had drunk any alcohol.  But then Bell-Engle blew a 0.09 blood alcohol level on two Breathalyzer tests administered to her at the court, according to Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano. The legal limit for driving while intoxicated in New Mexico is a 0.08 blood alcohol level. Solano said Tuesday that Bell-Engle had resigned from her job at the jail before Monday's hearing. She was employed at the jail by Correct Care Solutions, the subcontractor for medical services hired by the jail's private manager, the Utah-based Management & Training Co.

February 26, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
A Santa Fe County Sheriff's corporal said in court Friday that a 23-year-old man has admitted to using heroin at the Santa Fe County jail on the same date that his best friend, also an inmate at the jail, died of what authorities have said is a possible heroin overdose.
Rocky Romero, 23, was in court Friday to face sentencing on charges of leading Santa Fe County sheriff's deputies on two vehicle chases last year. During Romero's sentencing, Santa Fe County Sheriff's Cpl. Vanessa Pacheco told Santa Fe District Judge Stephen Pfeffer that Romero has admitted to using heroin on Feb. 17 and at other times during the week of Feb. 14 to Feb. 18. Romero's best friend, Chris Roybal, 37, who was staying in the same dormitory pod as Romero the week ending Feb. 18, was found dead in his cell on Feb. 18. Roybal's death is being investigated as a possible heroin overdose, according to Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano. According to a news release from the sheriff's department, inmates at the jail have told investigators that Roybal was using heroin on Feb. 17 before he was found dead on Feb. 18.  During the investigation, a syringe was found behind a hollowed-out brick wall in the dormitory where Roybal was being held, according to the sheriff's department.  Solano has called Roybal's death a "suspected overdose" and added that Roybal showed no outward signs of trauma that could have contributed to his death.

February 24, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
Two men who potentially face the death penalty if found guilty of killing a fellow inmate at the Santa Fe County jail last year were unusually loquacious during a court hearing Wednesday. Prosecutors called for the hearing before First Judicial District Judge Tim Garcia because they believe that court documents made available to the two defendants have been disseminated to a wider audience and could be used to "threaten the lives of witnesses and/or defendants," according to the motion. But defendant Jesus Aviles-Dominguez, who is charged in connection with the June 4 beating death of fellow Santa Fe County jail inmate Dickie Ortega, denied any such activity. He told a reporter, "We don't have no fax machines in our pods." Good said that at the time of Ortega's death, he was three days away from being released from jail. Good is now being housed at the state penitentiary. Good said that his treatment at the prison is better than it was at the Santa Fe County jail. When pressed for details about the case, Good became tight lipped. "No comment, not guilty, see you at trial," Good said.

February 19, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
A Santa Fe County jail inmate was found dead in his cell early Friday,
and fellow inmates are claiming the deceased man took heroin on Thursday, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department. Chris Roybal, 37, was found dead just before 3 a.m. on Friday after a fellow inmate notified a guard that Roybal "normally snores loudly and was too quiet and something may be wrong with him," according to the sheriff's department.
On Friday, Roybal's former attorney, Sydney West, said Roybal had "a long and documented heroin problem."

January 13, 2005 Albuquerque Journal
Among the former Santa Fe County jail inmates who were forced to strip naked under the jail's former blanket strip-search policy, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday, was 49-year-old Kristi Siebold. The crime that brought Siebold to the jail? Refusal to give her dog to animal control, the civil rights lawsuit states. Another defendant in attorney Mark Donatelli's class action suit against the jail and its private management firm is David Sandoval, a 39-year-old machinist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who underwent two strip searches after being arrested on a charge of stealing a casino gambling chip, a charge he was later cleared of. Another plaintiff is a 45-year-old writer and film producer who had never been arrested before. She was taken into custody in November when a bench warrant was erroneously issued for her arrest on a charge of failing to appear for a court date, the suit says. The woman was "taken to the jail where she was ordered to strip completely naked, put her arms over her head and turn around for visual inspection," according to Donatelli. "She was then required to lift each of her breasts for additional visual inspection, to bend over and cough. This woman also, while completely naked, was subjected to an officer placing her hands on the woman's legs and genital area for a further physical examination."
Donatelli alleges that none of the plaintiffs named in his suit were admitted to the jail for violent offenses, and none were found to be in possession of any contraband after they were forced to strip nude. Donatelli estimates that hundreds of people, presumed innocent after their arrests, have likely had to endure the "horribly demeaning" experience of having to strip naked.

January 6, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
A 31-year-old man who was arrested on prostitution charges on Cerrillos Road New Year's Eve has alleged that he was raped by an unknown assailant while in custody at the Santa Fe County jail early Sunday morning.

December 30, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
A civil rights attorney says he will file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all individuals who were forced to strip naked under the Santa Fe County Jail's former policy of strip-searching anyone booked into the jail. Santa Fe attorney Mark Donatelli's Wednesday announcement that he plans the class-action litigation comes after the jail recently abandoned its policy of strip-searching each and every inmate during booking. Donatelli contends that it was unconstitutional for the jail to have a blanket policy of strip-searching all inmates, arguing that individuals under arrest have a right to privacy and are presumed innocent of their charges in the eyes of the law.
The jail's former practice of strip-searching every inmate during booking first came to light in September, after the Journal reported that a cocktail waitress at a Santa Fe bar was strip-searched following her arrest on a charge of selling alcohol to a minor. During an interview after her arrest, Leyba said she was forced to strip naked, "no socks, nothing," after her Sept. 4 arrest. The search was performed by female corrections officers, Leyba said. In November, Jamie Taylor, 22, of Santa Fe also came forward and reported that male corrections officers ordered her to strip naked for a search after her June arrest on a DWI charge. But Taylor said that after she protested, the male corrections officers backed off and did not go through with the search. Donatelli said there is potentially a large number of inmates and former inmates whose rights were violated at the county jail when they were ordered to strip naked.

December 14, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
A woman who says she was raped by two inmates at the Santa Fe County jail while she was incarcerated there earlier this year has notified the county and the jail's private manager that she intends to sue for damages. Veronica Sanchez has alleged that she was sexually assaulted at the Santa Fe County jail in September. According to her tort claim notice, she "was raped by at least two men after being trapped inside a cell containing approximately eight to eleven male detainees." Sanchez's tort claim says after she was raped, "she was then removed and placed, alone, in a different cell, where she was left for about two hours before being transported to the hospital for an examination, during which time the various personnel who were responsible for her safety scrambled to concoct an explanation for her rape which would leave them somehow blameless," reads the tort claim notice. "Only after she became hysterical, curled up on the floor, and started kicking at the door and screaming was she finally let out of the cell and taken to the hospital by ambulance." After Sanchez was raped, the detention officer who put her in the wrong cell, "immediately denied putting her in that cell."  A medical officer at the jail also is quoted in Donatelli's tort claim as saying that a detention officer approached him at the jail the night of the rape, and told him that he "lost" Sanchez in the jail, and that "he knew he should not have had male and female detainees out of booking cells at the same time, but that his supervisor told him just to handle it on his own."

November 23, 2004 AP
The American Correctional Association says the Santa Fe County jail violated its standards by strip searching a waitress booked on a charge of serving alcohol to minors. Waitress Lisa Leyba, who notified the county earlier this month that she intends to sue, contends she was ordered to remove all her clothes and turn around in front of a female guard. Some people who have been strip searched at New Mexico jails have won settlements. For example, Diana Archuleta, a supervisor at Las Vegas Medical Center, settled a case against San Miguel County early this year for more than $80,000 after winning a summary judgment, said her attorney, Shannon Oliver of Albuquerque. State District Judge Jay Harris ruled the Las Vegas jail's policy of strip searching everyone booked into the jail is unconstitutional. Phil Davis, legal co-director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, has represented plaintiffs in several strip-search cases and has settled them all. "The law is clear that you need some kind of suspicion to strip search any inmate, particularly one brought in for a relatively minor offense," Davis said.

November 20, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
A 36-year-old Santa Fe woman was mistakenly released from jail Thursday by giving a detention officer a bond receipt from a prior arrest, according to a report from the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department.
The woman, Connie Gonzales, was still at large Friday afternoon, and she will be additionally charged with escape from jail.

November 18, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
The Santa Fe County jail's practice of strip searching all inmates is unconstitutional, according to a tort claim notice sent to the jail by an attorney for a local cocktail waitress who says she was ordered to strip nude after her September arrest for serving alcohol to a minor. Catamount Bar & Grille cocktail waitress Lisa Leyba, 32, spent 14 hours at the jail Sept. 4, charged with a fourth-degree felony after she sold beers to two underage customers during an undercover sting operation by police.    In a phone interview Wednesday, Leyba's attorney, Mark Donatelli said, "It's hard to believe that in the middle of purported jail improvements, the county starts forcing people to take their clothes off in violation of the Constitution." "Specifically, she was taken to a room and ordered to disrobe," reads Donatelli's tort claim. "Ms. Leyba removed her clothes and stood in the middle of the room in her undergarments and socks. She was then told that this was insufficient and was ordered to take off all her undergarments and socks and to rotate so that the officer could observe her entire body." Santa Fe County jail warden Kerry Dixon, who works for the jail's private manager, the Utah-based Management & Training Co., could not be reached for comment Wednesday. During a brief phone conversation Wednesday, Dixon said he wanted to first speak with an attorney before commenting, but he did not call back and subsequently could not be reached for comment. "We have since learned that what happened to Ms. Leyba was caused by a recently implemented policy of conducting strip searches of all incoming pre-trial detainees," reads Donatelli's tort claim notice. "As I am sure you know, this categorical and indiscriminate practice expressly violates the 4th and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution as well as the New Mexico Constitution." Another young woman who was interviewed Wednesday, Jamie Taylor, 22, said that a male corrections officer ordered her to strip after her June arrest on a driving while intoxicated charge. Taylor said the corrections officer claimed the female guards were busy, "so he had to do it." Taylor said that when she stood up for herself, the corrections officer backed off.  "The male guy tried to make me strip in front of him," Taylor said. "I told him I know my rights, and that if he tried to make me strip I would immediately look into filing a lawsuit."  Leyba's tort claim notice claims that the jail's policy of conducting strip searches of all pre-trial detainees "was caused in part by the joint decision of county officials and MTC to bring in an administration headed by a warden whose only corrections experience was in operating prisons housing convicted felons and not a jail housing pre-trial detainees who are presumed innocent of any crimes."

October 29, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
A Santa Fe man accuses a Santa Fe County sheriff's deputy of mistaking a preexisting brain injury for intoxication and arresting him for drunken driving after a 2002 traffic crash, according to a civil lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The suit states that Lawrence Martinez was involved in an Oct. 28, 2002, crash with another vehicle while he was headed west on Las Estrellas Road. It also states that county jail guards beat and kicked Martinez. The jail's private manager, the Utah-based Management & Training Corp., also is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

October 28, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
The U.S. Department of Justice won't sue Santa Fe County, as long as it adheres to a 30-page memorandum of understanding that has taken more than a year to negotiate over management of the county jail. The agreement outlines policies and protocols covering a range of issues from health care and suicide prevention to security and staff training.
Santa Fe County commissioners approved the document Tuesday, but the federal government has yet to sign off on it. The jail has been under Justice Department scrutiny for some time. In March 2003, the federal agency released a scathing report charging that the county was deliberately indifferent to the inmates' medical and mental health needs and suffered harm or risk from the detention center's suicide prevention, fire safety and sanitation systems. Federal inmates were subsequently pulled from the facility. The jail has had other problems recently as well. Earlier this month, a woman alleged she was raped by another inmate in an area of booking where no security cameras were in place. And a 32-year-old prisoner was beaten to death by other inmates in June. The death occurred in a section of the jail the Justice Department identified as being understaffed two years ago. However, when the county renegotiated its contract with jail operator Management and Training Corp. on Oct. 1, the new contract reflected many of the Department of Justice's recommendations. As a result, the cost of operating the jail will increase this year by nearly $1.5 million, county finance director Susan Lucero said.

October 6, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
An attorney for a woman who claims she was raped by a fellow inmate at the Santa Fe County jail last week says the sheriff's department has a conflict of interest in investigating the case. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department should not be investigating the rape report because the sheriff will be named in a resulting civil lawsuit, her attorney Mark Donatelli said Tuesday. The sheriff will be named in the suit because as the county's agent, he is ultimately responsible for what goes on at the privately run county jail, Donatelli said. Donatelli said he intends to file suit against Solano, the county and the jail's private manager, the Utah-based Management and Training Corp.

October 1, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
Officials at the Santa Fe County jail should never have allowed a female inmate to have contact with a male inmate during an incident Tuesday night when she alleges she was raped in a booking area, her attorney said.
Female and male inmates are, at least theoretically, "not allowed to mix" at the jail, said attorney Mark Donatelli. "How hard is it to have physical separation at the jail?" Donatelli asked. There are two main problems at the jail, Donatelli said— a lack of staffing and a lack of money to commit to hire and retain quality personnel. During an incident in 2001, guards allowed a female inmate into her inmate boyfriend's cell so they could have sex. This happened under the jail's former private manager, Cornell Corrections.  And in March, former inmate Juanita Martinez alleged in a lawsuit that she became pregnant in 2001 after she was raped at the jail by a guard and other inmates. Both Cornell Corrections and MTC are named as plaintiffs in that lawsuit.

September 30, 2004 Santa Fe New Mexican
A 44-year-old woman claims she was raped in the booking area of the Santa Fe County jail Tuesday night after guards left her alone with male inmates, Sheriff Greg Solano said. Both Solano and jail Warden Kerry Dixon refused to say exactly what happened. The booking area has two sections -- one where prisoners are initially brought and a second where holding cells are located, Solano said.  The alleged attack took place in the second section, where a corrections officer should always be on duty, Dixon said. "However, last night we did not (have anyone on duty)," he said. "It initially appears to me that we had some procedural errors." "I'm extremely concerned and embarrassed," said Dixon, who was hired as warden seven months ago. "Everything I've worked to do here is going to go right down the drain because of incidents like this."

September 30, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
A female inmate at the Santa Fe County jail has alleged that a male inmate raped her in the facility's booking area Tuesday night, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department.
The alleged rape occurred in the jail's booking area between 9:44 and 11 p.m. Tuesday.

August 31, 2004 Santa Fe New Mexican
A lawyer has sent a letter warning Santa Fe County and the private company that runs its jail to expect a lawsuit from the family of a man beaten to death in the facility earlier this summer.  Dickie Ortega’s death in the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center resulted from a lack of adequate staffing, lack of inmate supervision, lack of video monitoring of some jail areas, inadequate policies regarding inmate classification and problems with hiring , training and supervision of corrections officers, Santa Fe attorney Bob Rothstein wrote in a Friday letter.  

August 26, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
The Santa Fe District Attorney's Office is seeking the death penalty against two county jail inmates who are accused of beating a fellow inmate to death.  The inmate was slain on June 6 because they thought he was an informant, according to court records.  Attorney Mark Donatelli has said he plans on filing a civil lawsuit against the jail's private manager, the Utah-based Management and Training Corp., and Santa Fe County, for negligence in connection with Dickie Ortega's death.  On Wednesday, Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano, who oversees the jail, said that staffing is being increased at the jail. 

 August 11, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
Escalating costs at the Santa Fe County jail are likely to consume new revenue from a gross receipts tax hike approved by county commissioners last month in just 21/2 to four years, commissioners determined Tuesday.  "Well, that's really depressing," said County Commissioner Jack Sullivan, who crunched some numbers during the commission meeting.  If the county inmate population continues growing, and the number of inmates coming from the state Corrections Department shrinks, the county will see recurring increases of more than $1 million each year to pay its private operator, Management and Training Corp. 

July 28, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
The Santa Fe County Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a tax hike to help fund operations at the county jail.  The one-eighth percent increase in the gross receipts tax will mean an additional 12.5 cents on a $100 purchase in Santa Fe County. The new tax rate will go into effect Jan. 1, 2005, unless voters petition the county to hold a referendum on the increase.  County officials estimate the tax hike will generate an additional $4 million a year, which would be earmarked for the county's correctional facilities.  The county contracts with a private company, Utah-based Management and Training Corp., to run the adult jail.  The adult jail has been the subject of state and federal audits harshly criticizing medical care and security at the facility.  Also under the new proposal, the county will increase the amount of money it pays per prisoner. The new per diem rate, currently $41 per prisoner per day, will increase to $42.  There are nearly 600 inmates currently at the jail. About 400 of those are county inmates, and the remainder are prisoners housed under contract with other agencies.

June 28, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
As "tough negotiations" with Santa Fe County's private jail contractor grind on, some county officials are revisiting the notion that the county itself should resume jail operations.  County Commissioner Paul Duran thinks the county would do a better job running the jail now.  "I have always thought that the county should take it over," Duran said.  Duran expressed similar thoughts last year when the county's Corrections Advisory Committee issued its annual report. It concluded that Utah-based MTC-- a for-profit company-- was not providing enough medical staffing or case managers to deal with inmates needs.  This year's report, while noting some progress, raised the same concerns.  "I think it's the profit element that is the root of all these problems," Duran said in a recent interview.  The jail's troubles have been well-documented in recent years, with state and federal audits slamming the facility for inadequate medical services and security procedures.  MTC currently subcontracts another company, Physicians Network Association, to provide health care services at the jail. PNA will not return if and when the county and MTC reach a new agreement, jail administrators have said.  

June 26, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
The Santa Fe County jail is making changes following an incident earlier this month that left one inmate dead.
The jail, run by Management and Training Corp., has changed rules for prisoners.  Among them, inmates are not allowed in their neighbor's cell at any time and rules governing when inmates can enter and exit cells in three of the jail's four housing units have changed, Deputy Warden David Osuna said.  On June 6, four inmates in the jail's highest-security housing pod allegedly dragged two other inmates from a recreational area into a cell and severely beat them. Dickie M. Ortega, 32, of Chimayo died at a Santa Fe hospital after suffering head and facial injuries and a crushed larynx. His cousin, 29-year-old Brad Ortega, was injured.  Four inmates were charged with murder and aggravated battery. They are Daniel Good, 31, Jesus Aviles-Dominguez, 28, Joe Corriz, 36, all of Santa Fe, and Lawrence Gallegos, 25. There was no hometown listed for Gallegos. Aviles-Dominguez also was charged with tampering with evidence.  Along with rule changes at the jail, Management and Training Corp. said it has added two supervising corrections officers to each day shift.  

June 12, 2004 Albuquerque Journal
The Santa Fe County jail pod where an inmate was killed on June 4 was staffed with a requisite number of guards-- the same number that was sufficient to win accreditation from the American Correctional Association after a February inspection, according to the county sheriff.  Attorney Mark Donatelli, whose law firm is representing Ortega's family in a pending civil lawsuit, said Friday that inadequate staffing and supervision of inmates could have contributed to Ortega's fatal beating.  Donatelli also said that ACA accreditation is "like have having a sticker on a used car that says it runs good; that's about it."  A 2002 Department of Justice report identified nine incidents of violence at the jail that can be attributed to a lack of supervision, Donatelli said.  

November 19, 2003 Santa Fe New Mexican
Guards at the Santa Fe County jail say they found an inmate with black-tar heroin inside the jail Monday afternoon. Albert Ponce, 28, who is from southern New Mexico, has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, according to undersheriff Robert Garcia. Police reports indicate a guard at the jail saw Ponce and another inmate walk out of a janitor's closet at the jail Monday afternoon. Another guard reportedly patted both inmates down and found a small sheet of folded paper with the heroin inside it taped to Ponce's body under his jail-issue clothing. It was too early to know how the heroin found its way into the jail, Garcia said, but drugs inside the facility are not uncommon. 

November 15, 2003 Santa Fe New Mexican
Nine months after the U.S. Department of Justice found health-care deficiencies at Santa Fe County's jail, problems remain. The department still won't allow the jail to house federal prisoners, whose removal earlier this year cut off a source of revenue for the 682-bed adult-detention center south of the city. Officials say solving the jail's medical-care problems will likely call for a greater investment from the county government, which already has felt a drag on its budget, and more cooperation from community health-care providers. The company that provides health services is not performing routine exams for prisoners locked up in the county-owned, privately-operated jail, and in many cases, inmates are being cared for by emergency medical technicians, who have less training than nurses, officials say. 

September 2, 2003 Santa Fe New Mexican
Santa Fe County’s private prison operator has 30 days to come up with a corrective-action plan to address issues raised in a recent audit by the state Department of Corrections, the department announced Friday. Corrections Secretary Joe Williams said workers who inspected the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center two weeks ago found that Management and Training Corp. has made strides in improving security at the jail since the state threatened to remove its inmates from the facility earlier this summer. But Williams wants the Utah-based operator to work harder at complying with contractual obligations regarding programs and services, he said in a written statement Friday. 

August 14, 2003 Albuquerque Journal
The family of Tyson Johnson, in a federal lawsuit filed Monday, claim that instead of tending to his psychiatric care during a 17-day stay in the Santa Fe County jail, staff there neglected and even taunted him to end his life. The 26-page document, filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Fe on behalf of Johnson's mother and his two young children, details the 27-year-old man's last days, during which he repeatedly pleaded for help. The lawsuit claims those cries fell on deaf ears. Johnson ended up hanging himself the morning of Jan. 13 with a "suicide proof" blanket inside a padded cell, despite being placed on a suicide watch. 

July 27, 2003 Albuquerque Journal
Jail guards or civilians who help bring illegal narcotics into the Santa Fe County jail might wind up spending time there as inmates. And inmates who bring drugs in will be caught and face a longer list of criminal charges. That's the message Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano hopes to send after he announced that 12 defendants either face or will face criminal charges as a result of an ongoing six-month investigation into drug smuggling into the Santa Fe County jail by a task force headed by Lt. Marco Lucero. Six defendants have already been arrested and charged in connection with the operations, including one former jail guard. 

July 22, 2003  Santa Fe New Mexican
Friends and families of inmates at the Santa Fe County Detention Center were kept from visiting the prisoners Sunday because the jail was short of guards. Warden Steve Hargett said visitors weren't allowed at the jail because two correctional officers unexpectedly had to take an inmate to the hospital. One guard had already called in sick when the medical emergency occurred, which left too few guards to supervise visits, he said. 

July 11, 2003 Albuquerque Journal
More bad news arrived Wednesday at the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center, where a surprise state inspection discovered "serious security issues," according to the state Corrections Department. County Sheriff Greg Solano and Corrections Department spokeswoman Tia Bland declined Thursday to specify the problems found in the unannounced audit. Corrections Secretary Joe R. Williams and Solano plan to address the media today, Bland said. 

June 18, 2003 Santa Fe New Mexican
A 39-year-old jail guard has been placed on paid administrative leave after an inmate alleged Saturday he sexually assaulted her. The guard hasn't been charged with a crime, Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano said. The investigation will probably take a long time, Solano said. The inmate told police the guard touched her intimately Friday. She also said the guard sexually assaulted her outside the jail, Solano said Monday.

August 26, 2002 Albuquerque Journal
More than 140 inmates at the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Center were placed on lockdown following an alleged assault of a correctional by two inmates Sunday afternoon. Correctional Officer Felipe Romero was taken to St.Vincent Hospital after he was kicked and punched by two federal inmates about 1:15 p.m. Parrish said the lockdown, which confined inmates to their cells, would stay in place until jail officials met with representatives of Management Training Corporation, which has been hired by the county to operate the center. 

December 11, 2001 Albuquerque Journal
The Santa Fe County jail has fired two former corrections officers in the mistaken release in late October of a prisoner accused of rape. Greg Parrish, county correctional services manager, said in early November that jail officials had obtained a release order for a Javier Gonzales accused of shoplifting, but the wrong inmate was let go. "Two employees of (Management Training Corp.) were dismissed," Parrish said. "It doesn't appear that there's any criminal intent involved." Parrish was hired by the county to act as a liaison with the privately run jail after Utah-based Management and Training Corp. assumed its management in October. 

November 8, 2001Santa Fe New Mexican
As police continue to look for escaped Santa Fe County Detention Center inmate Javier Gonzalez, officials at the jail say they have taken the first steps toward making sure a similar incident never happens again. Management and Training Corp. officials have reassigned staff members and have assigned a new lieutenant to the booking department to make sure employees follow procedures correctly. 

Taft Correctional Institution, Taft, California
May 21, 2016 sfgate.com
U.S. court allows private-prison inmates to sue over valley fever
Inmates infected with valley fever at a federal prison in Central California can sue the government for damages even though the prison is run by a private contractor, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. Although the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is not involved in day-to-day operations at Taft Correctional Institution in Kern County, the bureau can be held responsible for placing the inmates there without warning them about an ongoing outbreak of the airborne illness, said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. A warning might have allowed them to request a transfer or take precautions, the court said. “Prisoners are often helpless to protect themselves from harm,” and “were particularly vulnerable to infection” at the Taft prison, in an area with one of the highest known concentrations of the fungus that causes cocci, or valley fever, the court said. It said the Bureau of Prisons might also be legally responsible for failing to build a covered walkway that would have protected inmates from fungus-infected dust, and for the absence of a prison policy to prevent spread of the disease. The ruling reinstated a suit by inmates Gregory Edison, diagnosed with valley fever in 2010, and Richard Nuwintore, diagnosed in 2011. As African Americans, they are particularly vulnerable to the disease, and contracted a potentially life-threatening form of it, the court said. Edison is due to be released from prison this year, and Nuwintore has completed his sentence and returned to his home in the Bay Area, said Ian Wallach, an attorney for the men. He said both are still infected and depend on medication to stay alive. The government “agreed to take care of these people in exchange for their liberty,” Wallach said. Although both men also sued the contractors who run the prison, Wallach said, the government is responsible for their assignment to the prison and the lack of a prevention policy. Taft is the only federal prison managed by contractors, the court said. It was run by the GEO Group through 2007, and since then by Management & Training Corp. Valley fever at the prison reached epidemic levels in 2003, continued to increase, and was diagnosed more often at Taft than at all other federal prisons combined, according to a warden’s statement quoted by the court. A federal judge dismissed the two inmates’ suits against the government, saying the contractors were solely responsible under federal law. The appeals court disagreed. The contractors “have no power to assign prisoners or to protect any prisoners housed outside of Taft,” Judge A. Wallace Tashima said in the 3-0 ruling. “Cocci is a classic example of a hidden danger, and the United States had a duty to warn (incoming inmates) about it.”

June 13, 2009 Anchorage Daily-News
Former Rep. Vic Kohring says he still supports private prisons even as his enthusiasm clashes with his own observations from inside one, where he said equipment went unrepaired, meals lacked fresh produce and prisoner welfare appeared to take a back seat to saving money. "That's the downside of the private-run facility," said Kohring, two days after he left the privately run Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, Calif. "There was a certain amount of indifference there." Kohring spent about 10 months at the low-security camp at Taft following his conviction on federal corruption charges in 2007. He and former House Speaker Pete Kott were freed last week while they argue that their bribery convictions should be overturned because prosecutors failed to give them favorable evidence uncovered by the FBI. Their first court hearing will be Wednesday, though it will mainly deal with their conditions for release, not the substance of their arguments. Kott was held in a prison camp owned and operated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons at Sheridan, Ore. Kott hasn't responded to interview requests. Kohring was in the process of transferring from Taft to Sheridan when release orders were issued Thursday by U.S. District Judge John Sedwick of Anchorage. On Friday, after reporting to probation officers in Anchorage, Kohring spoke extensively with a reporter about his year inside the federal corrections system. Taft is a federally owned facility in the California desert. It opened in 1997 as a demonstration project to test how private companies could operate a federal prison. Wackenhut Corrections and Geo Group Inc. held contracts there. In 2007, Management & Training Corp., a privately held company based in Centerville, Utah, took over operations under a four-year, $144 million contract. "It seemed pretty apparent they were cutting -- they were trying to be ultra-efficient, cutting back as much as they could," Kohring said. "If things would break down, they'd stay broken down for a long time -- exercise equipment, telephones." Meals were loaded with carbohydrates, "too many processed foods, not enough fresh produce," he said. "There was a lot of complaints that the food there wasn't up to par, at least not in comparison to, say, Sheridan." Kohring also said that medical care was inadequate. "I witnessed some pretty bad injuries when I was in Taft there. Guys falling over, one guy broke his femur, another broke his hip, one guy was punched in the face and he had glass embedded in his eye and it took him about a day before they finally took him to the doctor, at Bakersfield, in the hospital. It was horrid." His own pre-existing back and neck injury, from a car accident, got him neither sympathy nor care, he said. "My back didn't get any kind of attention at all, other than ibuprofen. I was told by the director of medical to shut up ... They said no to everything." He was warned that if he kept complaining, he'd wind up cleaning the kitchen, he said. Carl Stuart, communication director for Management & Training Corp., said Saturday that his company does what's required under its federal contracts. Bureau of Prisons officials regularly inspect its operations, and some contract prisons have full-time, on-site government monitors, though he didn't know if that was the case in Taft.

Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, Walnut Grove, Mississippi
MDOC Sticks with Private Prisons: Jackson Free Press, June 13, 2012. MDOC chooses MTC to take over where GEO failed. What are they smoking?

Jul 10, 2016 clarionledger.com
Walnut Grove: Prison loss 'devastating
Uncertainty hangs in the air of Walnut Grove, a community bracing itself for the loss of its largest employer this fall. The state’s decision to close the privately run Walnut Grove prison, which under federal oversight since 2012 for its conditions, will leave the tiny town facing a precipitous drop in revenue as many residents look for work. “We were getting our good reputation back, and this has just been devastating,” Mayor Brian Gomillion said. Citing budget cuts and a declining number of inmates, the Mississippi Department of Corrections announced it would close the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in September and transfer its 900 inmates to state-run prisons. The closure will mean about 200 fewer jobs in a town with a population that hovers around 500, and loss of revenue that will lead to furloughs and pay cuts for city employees. “There are so many people that drive in from surrounding counties, and these people have rented houses or bought houses in Walnut Grove,” Gomillion said. “People have worked over there since it opened (in 2001) and since it’s gone through these management changes. If all they’ve been is in the correction business and the nearest prison is an hour or even two hours away, that’s not practical at the salaries they make, and they have to move their families.” Not every prison employee lives in Walnut Grove, but they have an impact on local businesses during their commutes in and out of town. “If you don’t have people in town, you’re not going to sell them something to eat at lunch,” Bank of Walnut Grove President Ray Britt said. “You’re not going to sell them gasoline when they’re on their way home or you’re not going to have people come to the door.” The revenue loss will force the town’s 12 employees to begin a furlough once a week and police to take a $2-per-hour pay cut. Kashia Zollicoffer, owner of Urban Country Kitchen, expects the biggest impact to her business to be during furlough days, when city employees off work won’t come in for lunch. But her main concern is the impact to the town as a whole and the families who will be affected. “There will be a change,” Zollicoffer said. “A lot of people hear ‘Walnut Grove’ and think of the prison.” At Walnut Grove Medical Clinic, Dr. James Lock’s patients who work at the prison will lose their health insurance unless they can purchase it independently or find other work. “I’ve seen them a number of years, and they are surely concerned,” he said. “I think some of them may be in denial. They think it’s not going to leave. I’m not a government official, but I think maybe Mississippi people should support them from the state level.” The state pays Management and Training Corp. $14.6 million per year to operate the prison, which is one of four facilities the company runs in Mississippi. While building the private prisons, the state racked up $195 million in debt. The Walnut Grove prison was presented to the community as an opportunity for jobs after the departure of several manufacturing plants. A shirt manufacturing and a glove maker closed several years ago and moved their operations overseas. It was touted as "recession proof." The city annexed the land where the prison was built in 1999 and later expanded. But the prison’s dismal conditions, with rampant violence, drug smuggling, inmate abuse and denial of basic services, led to a lawsuit that eventually placed the facility under federal oversight. Although MDOC argued last year in court that the prison had made significant progress and it no longer needed oversight, a federal judge disagreed, and the consent decree remained in place. About a year and a half ago, MDOC reduced Walnut Grove’s inmate population, and about 100 prison employees were laid off, Gomillion said. “We had already been impacted by MDOC cuts,” he said. The prison is the backbone of the town’s budget, which will lose $180,000 per year that it received from MTC in lieu of ad valorem taxes, as well as utility payments. “We had a new well drilled exclusively for the prison, a water tank built for the prison, gas infrastructure built to the facility that the town doesn’t need otherwise, sewer projects built for the facility,” Gomillion said. “These are all things we’ve got to maintain despite there being no revenue from this facility.” Much of the funds the town received from the prison went toward Walnut Grove’s police force, which responds to issues at the prison. “Until this company came in and got things settled down, police officers had to spend a lot of time at the facility,” Gomillion said. “It wasn’t like we were just given that money. We were earning it.” Walnut Grove’s situation is not unique, as states’ budgetary limitations and fewer incarcerations have forced prison closures across the country. Six states shut down or considered closing 20 prisons in 2013, according to The Sentencing Project’s most recent study on the topic. “Our hope is that there will be some way, shape, form or fashion that that facility will be used for something that will create some jobs,” Britt said. “What that’s going to be, I don’t think anyone has any idea … but it would be awfully difficult to see a facility that is that nice just sit there and … rust down.”

Jun 11, 2016 clarionledger.com
MDOC closing private Walnut Grove prison
Mississippi will close the troubled, privately run Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in Leake County due to budget cuts and a shrinking inmate population, state Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher said iFriday. “MDOC’s budget is lower than we anticipated,” Fisher said in a news release. “Pursuant to an intensive budget review and evaluation, we have determined this is the most prudent action. We have space in our state-run prisons to house the 900 inmates at Walnut Grove.” Mississippi's prison population in 2013 climbed to 22,600, the second highest per capita in the nation. But recent criminal justice reforms passed by state lawmakers, including reforms in sentencing and probation, have reduced prison population. As of Friday it was 19,394, and at one point last year had dropped to about 18,900. MDOC, like most other state agencies, has seen budget cuts for the current and coming years, including a $16.8 million, or 5 percent, cut for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The closing of the prison is just one in a series of programs that have been terminated under Fisher’s administration within the last year and a half. Fifteen regional jails have closed, and others have been minimized to “contractual obligations. Four community work centers have closed, and the paid Joint State County Work Program has ended. “We are continually assessing MDOC’s operation,” Fisher said in the release. “While the focus is on being fiscally responsible, public safety remains our No. 1 priority." Mississippi taxpayers are still footing the bill for $195 million in debt on four private prisons, including Walnut Grove. Records from last year showed the state still owed more than $90 million on Walnut Grove. Jody Owens, attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mississippi office, said closure of the Walnut Grove prison is "long overdue." “Walnut Grove Correctional Facility has long represented a failed approach to public safety that wasted taxpayer dollars and left Mississippi’s landscape dotted with far too many prisons." Owens said. "As our state has adopted more effective ways to ensure public safety, our prisons have become increasingly populated by empty beds. Maintaining these facilities benefits no one other than for-profit prison operators. We urge state officials to take a closer look at other prisons for closure.” The private prison is currently operated by Management & Training Corp. at an annual contract rate of $14.6 million. It has been under federal court oversight since a 2012 consent decree. The consent decree was settlement of a 2010 lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections over conditions at the 1,260-bed prison. Plaintiffs alleged severe and systemic violence at the facility, which at the time held mostly youth. Among the allegations in the initial 2010 federal court complaint: guards smuggling drugs to inmates, having sex with inmates and denying medical treatment and basic educational services to inmates. One inmate died after lacking access to diabetes medication. Another committed suicide. Utah-based MTC did not operate the prison at the time, and the company and Fisher had argued last year that conditions had improved in 2015 and it should no longer be under the oversight. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, however, found in a June 2015 ruling that not enough time had passed to prove improvements will stick. He ruled the prison was still so unsafe that it violates inmates' constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Reeves cited gang activity, cell doors that still didn't lock securely and continued problems with providing enough adequately trained guards. In 2014, Walnut Grove saw two riots involving hundreds of inmates, sending a number to the hospital for severe injuries. MTC issued a news release Friday on the closure, saying it will continue its partnership with the state in running the East Mississippi, Marshall County and Wilkinson County private prisons. “We are disappointed by the news but also understand the state must do what’s in the best interest of the taxpayers,” said MTC Senior Vice President of Corrections Bernie Warner. “Our hearts go out to the excellent staff at the facility. We have some of the best corrections professionals in the business at the facility, and we know this will be very difficult for them. We will do our best to help make the transition as smooth as possible.” Fisher said the 215 MTC employees are welcome to apply for jobs with MDOC.

Jun. 11, 2015 buzzfeed.com
Federal Judge Carlton Reeves ruled that conditions at the facility were unconstitutionally violent. He had previously described the facility as a “horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world.”

The Mississippi Department of Corrections violated the constitutional rights of inmates at a private prison by failing to provide them with “reasonably safe living conditions,” a federal judge ruled on Thursday. Conditions at Walnut Grove Correctional Facility are so dire that Judge Carlton Reeves denied the department’s request to end a legal agreement forcing the state and its private contractor to reduce violence, fix broken facilities, and improve staff training. “The evidence before the Court paints a picture of a facility struggling with disorder, periodic mayhem, and staff ineptitude which leads to perpetual danger to the inmates and staff,” Reeves wrote in his decision, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. “The dangers that inmates face are not simply limited to assaults by other inmates but also from the guards.” The agreement to improve conditions in the facility was negotiated between the ACLU and the Mississippi Department of Corrections in 2012. It gave the state five years to get Walnut Grove up to constitutional standards. But riots and injuries to inmates remained so frequent that Reeves accepted the ACLU’s request for him to step in, noting in his ruling that “there is a history of nonfeasance” and a sense of “indifference” by the state and its private contractor, Management and Training Company (MTC), in meeting the terms of the consent decree. (MDOC did not respond to requests for comment.) “They were taking their own sweet time,” Margaret Winter, an attorney at the ACLU, told BuzzFeed News. “Things weren’t changing. So this was to say we’re not gonna wait around for five years for this to somehow magically fix itself. People were gonna die.” The ACLU first claimed that conditions at Walnut Grove, which at the time housed offenders between 13 and 22 years old, were unconstitutional in November 2010, when the GEO Group operated the facility. The lawsuit cited a series of violent incidents in recent years: In 2009, for instance, four Walnut Grove youths attacked a 15-year-old after the only guard on duty had stepped out of the cellblock. In 2010 an inmate raped his cellmate, the suit stated. The cellmate pressed a panic button in his cell but it didn’t work. There was also a riot in 2010. In 2012, Just Reeves approved a legal settlement in which the Mississippi Department of Corrections agreed to “transform the facility into one that complies with the United States Constitution” within five years. In his ruling, Reeves called conditions at Walnut Grove a “horror as should be unrealized anywhere in the civilized world.” As part of the settlement, the MDOC moved youth offenders into other facilities around the state, and Walnut Grove became an adult prison. Then-Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps took the Walnut Grove contract away from the Geo Group and gave it to MTC, a Utah-based firm that grosses more than $500 million in yearly revenue, the third highest in the industry. But violence continued at the facility. There were riots in December 2013 and July 2014. The ACLU hired Eldon Vail, a former Washington state corrections secretary, to inspect the prison. “The lack of staff supervision is greatly compounded by the fact that the locking mechanisms on the cell doors at Walnut Grove are readily defeated and control of the cell doors is a continuing problem.,” Vail said in a statement filed with the court. “Officers at the facility do not always know if an individual cell door is secure.” In August 2014, the ACLU filed a motion asking Reeves to enforce the terms of the settlement and calling for a trial to determine what progress the state had made. Prison officials testified that conditions had improved. “It’s not the same facility I found when I arrived,” Lepher Jenkins, who took over as warden in 2014, said at a hearing. In a statement released on Thursday, MTC’s Senior Vice President of Corrections, Odie Washington, said that the facility has made “substantial changes” in recent years, including moving mentally ill inmates and high risk offenders to other prisons. “The state has done everything the courts have asked,” Washington said in the statement. “In addition to meeting these significant requirements, MTC has also made numerous improvements to the facility since taking over in 2012 including reinforcing door locks, providing additional staff training, and offering more programs to help rehabilitate offenders.” But inmates and court-appointed monitors claimed in testimony that the problems at the facility continued because of gang activity, staffing deficiencies, and malfunctioning cell doors. Gangs “run amok and control the facility” partly, Reeves stated in his decision, because the facility did not have enough staff members, and the ones they did have were not well trained. And though the state and MTC have made progress to improve training and staffing in recent years, “this is still an area of deficiency contributes to the facility being dangerous for inmates.” One reason staffing has been a problem at Walnut Grove, Reeves wrote, is that the guards are not paid well: the starting salary is $15,602. “Some officers find an incentive to introduce contraband and participate in other illegal activities as they see them as other sources of income,” Reeves wrote. Mississippi relies on private prisons more than most states. As the state’s inmate population rose in the 1990s and 2000s, the state legislature turned parts of its corrections system over to private contractors. In Mississippi, around 20 percent of state inmates are locked up in private prisons, nearly three times the national average. MTC has expanded its role in Mississippi’s prison system in recent years. By 2013, it operated four of the state’s five private prisons, overseeing 5,000 inmates, under contracts that added up to around $60 million annually. The state’s ties to private prisons came under fresh scrutiny last year when corrections commissioner Chris Epps was indicted for taking bribes in exchange for private prison contracts. Four of the transactions involved MTC contracts. Epps pleaded guilty earlier this year and is currently awaiting sentencing. CORRECTION All the youth prisoners were moved out of Walnut Grove as a result of the 2012 settlement, and the facility is now an adult prison. A previous version of this article erroneously referred to Walnut Grove as a youth prison. Jun. 11, 2015, at 4:08 p.m.


Apr 8, 2015 jacksonfreepress.com
Since pleading guilty to armed robbery in 2012 and being sentenced to eight years in prison at Walnut Grove Correctional Facility, J.E. says he has seen correctional officers trafficking contraband, drug use, daily gang fights, sexual assaults (of which he says he was a victim and why the Jackson Free Press is not using his full name) and at least three riots.

#The most recent riot took place on July 10, 2014, when J.E., who holds an associate's degree in nursing and holds several other medical certifications, was conscripted to help triage injured prisoners, some of whom had to be airlifted to University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

#"It was just chaotic. It was something you would think to see in a move, but this was reality. It was a sight," he testified in federal court in Jackson last week.

#J.E. testified that one of the victims he treated begged him not to leave his side, fearful that the guards would let him die. Earlier in the hearing, when lawyers played videos of the riot that showed prisoners being kicked and beaten, sometimes with plastic milk crates and once with a microwave oven, J.E. would not look at the flat-screen monitors, not wanting to relive the memory.

#The video was the centerpiece of a case brought by the ACLU National Prison Project and Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of Walnut Grove prisoners alleging that the Mississippi Department of Corrections fails to keep people in their custody safe from violence.

#Located in Leake County, Walnut Grove opened in 2001 for children convicted as adults in criminal court, and has been the subject of nearly ongoing scrutiny for civil-rights violations. In 2010, the ACLU and SPLC sued over conditions and won a settlement for their clients that included promises from MDOC to improve conditions and reduce violence at the facility. That consent decree requires periodic monitoring from an independent reviewer.

#Three years later, and operating under a new private operator, prisoner-rights advocates find that Walnut Grove is still a violent place, with practices that violate the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. MDOC disagrees and recently filed a motion to terminate a federal settlement.

#Thomas Friedman, an attorney from Phelps Dunbar representing the State of Mississippi, said during his opening statement in U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves courtroom: "You can't try this case because of what occurred. ... We urge the court to look at what the condition of the prison is today. They want to try a facility that doesn't exist anymore."

#Walnut Grove is still very much the same violent place it was when the parties settled the case, plaintiffs allege. "In three years, MDOC has never yet been in compliance with this consent decree," Margaret Winter, the associate director of the ACLU's National Prison Project, said in court.

#But over the three days that they presented their case, attorneys for Walnut Grove prisons did more than argue whether MDOC and Walnut Grove had violated the Eighth Amendment; they put private prisons themselves on trial as well.

#Training Days

#At he time of the original consent decree, Florida-based GEO Group Ltd.—the nation's No. 2 private-prison company—ran Walnut Grove. Today, Management & Training Corp., the third-largest corrections-management firm in the nation, headquartered in Utah, holds the contract.

#The strategy of the plaintiffs' lawyers, who presented their case between April 1 and April 3, was to show how MTC's business practices—namely, a profit motive—create an environment that relegates prisoner and staff safety to the back burner.

#Marjorie Brown, an MTC vice president who oversees wardens at the four prisons the company manages in Mississippi and one in Florida, said that despite telling prison after the July 2014 riot "we forgot how to do our jobs," the company terminated a half-dozen staff members. Brown, who is also an MTC shareholder, also said she is still confident that the company can meet the terms of its MDOC contract.

#Brown also said MTC employees earn, on average, less than state workers but that the starting pay for correctional officers recently went up at MDOC's urging to between $10 and $10.50 per hour. Foes of prison privatization say lower wages, less rigorous training, understaffing and high turnover can all undermine safety at prisons.

#Another video from the July 2014 Walnut Grove riot, taken from a camera mounted inside a guard station, shows correctional officers attempting to deploy tear gas into the housing pod where the riot was taking place. In an apparent malfunction, the canister went off inside the booth and the guards cleared out for approximately a half hour, as the violence continued in the housing unit.

#Jody Owens, managing attorney at the Mississippi Southern Poverty Law Center, argued in court that the video demonstrates that MTC's guards were improperly equipped—the guard station lacked gas masks—and trained to respond to the riot. Brown, the MTC official, said she had not seen the video and was not aware that the gas canister had gone off in the guard booth before she took the stand in court last week.

#"Private prisons are doing everything on the cheap," the Rev. Jeremy Tobin, a member of the newly formed Clergy for Prison Reform, which opposes privatization in the corrections industry, told the Jackson Free Press. Tobin's group believes profiting from the incarceration is immoral.

#The private-prison industry bloomed amidst the political ethos of the 1980s that encouraged elected officials to get tough on crime and to hire private companies to run basic government functions more efficiently. Privatization peaked during the Great Recession when governments were desperate for ways to save money and balance their budgets.

#Privatization also invited temptation for corruption. Earlier this year, in the same courthouse the Walnut Grove hearing took place, former MDOC Commissioner Christopher Epps pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from a Rankin County businessman named Cecil McCrory who briefly owned a company that provided commissary services to prisons and jails. McCrory was also a consultant to companies that did business with MDOC, including MTC.

#Eldon Vail, the former commissioner of the Washington (State) Department of Corrections and the plaintiffs' expert witness, told the court that in his opinion MTC is "not paying attention to correctional basics" designed to keep prisoners and staff safe. Vail also characterized Walnut Grove's response to the July riot as "pretty profound levels of incompetence."

#Vail also cited a lack of training, including in verbal de-escalation techniques, and lack of encouragement of prisoners to participate in educational programs, such as general-educational equivalency, vocational training and substance abuse counseling.

#MDOC's attorneys declined to speak with reporters during the hearing. Grace Fisher, MDOC's spokeswoman, told the Jackson Free Press that the agency does not want to comment on evidence that will be presented in court. The hearing was originally scheduled to take three days. However, the defendants—MDOC—will present their case in a few weeks, attorneys said.


Apr 2, 2105 clarionledger.com

Expert: Private prison co. 'shows lack of seriousness'

A federal court hearing to determine whether Walnut Grove Correctional Facility prisoners face the ongoing threat of violence without adequate protection began Wednesday with testimony from a prisons expert blaming the state for systemic failures. At issue is the Mississippi Department of Correction's adherence to a three-year-old consent decree in which it agreed to improve conditions at the privately run prison to avoid a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center. ACLU and SPLC say the state has, and continues to, violate that consent decree and wants U.S. District Judge Carlton W. Reeves to hold it accountable. "In three years, the defendants have never been in compliance with the consent decree," attorney Margaret Winter of ACLU's National Prison Project said in her opening statements. The Mississippi Department of Corrections disputes that. Attorney Gary Friedman said Walnut Grove has made substantial improvements in the past three years: It reduced by nearly a quarter its inmate population, eliminated its long-term segregation and closed-custody units, and it beefed up staff training. "You can't try this case on what happened" in the past," Friedman said. "Because that place doesn't exist anymore. It just doesn't." MDOC wants Reeves not only to rule against ACLU and SPLC, but also to terminate the consent decree.The hearing, held at the federal courthouse in Jackson, is expected to last through the end of the day Friday. First on the witness stand was Eldon Vail, the former head of Washington State's correctional system whom plaintiffs hired in 2013 to examine Walnut Grove's adherence to the consent decree. Vail had toured the facility in January 2014, just days after a New Year's Eve riot that involved dozens of prisoners housed among several units, and said found numerous deficiencies. Among them: unsecure cell doors, inexperienced staff, and a lack of planning and oversight. Vail said he made numerous recommendations for improvements that could prevent such an incident in the future. Yet a second riot consumed the facility just seven months later that involved hundreds of inmates and resulted in numerous, serious injuries. At least nine people required hospitalization as a result. "It illustrates to me a lack of seriousness about MTC's commitment to keep people safe," Vail said on the stand. Utah-based Management and Training Corporation, or MTC, is a private prisons operator that manages Walnut Grove for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Vail will resume his testimony at 1:45 p.m. today.


Feb 9, 2015 clarionledger.com
A drop in the state prison population has resulted in the Mississippi Department of Corrections saving $1.4 million at a private prison for fiscal 2015, according to MDOC officials. MDOC has amended its current contract with Management & Training Corp. (MTC) for operating Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in Leake County primarily because of the declining inmate population. The change also helps to ensure the agency stays in compliance with a federal consent decree. The number of state inmates at the private prison has been reduced from 1,300 to 962. MDOC Commissioner Marshall Fisher had said the state was paying for inmates no longer at the private facility. "Failure to do so would have unnecessarily cost taxpayer money," Fisher said of renegotiating the contract. Fisher said the population decrease also has allowed the agency to address staffing shortage and overtime at one of the three state-operated prisons. In addition to fewer inmates at Walnut Grove, MDOC has moved 186 inmates from the state-run South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville. The change was made in response to the concerns from staff and the community about safety at the prison. "The inmates from both prisons have been distributed among other facilities throughout the state," Fisher said. "Both moves ultimately are to provide effective security, custody and control of inmates and for the safety of our staff."


Jul 19, 2014 hattiesburgamerican.com

JACKSON — All nine inmates injured during a disturbance on July 10 at Walnut Grove Correctional Facility are now back in prison. The Mississippi Department of Corrections reports the three offenders who had remained hospitalized following the disturbance were released from the University of Mississippi Medical Center this week. The Leake County prison has been on lockdown since fighting broke out in one of the housing units. Investigations by the Mississippi Department of Corrections and Management and Training Corp. (MTC), the prison's private operator, continue. According to a MDOC press release, the fighting occurred between two rival gangs in connection with an attempt to smuggle contraband into the prison. Walnut Grove police arrested Marcus Warnsley on charges of trespassing and attempting to introduce contraband into a correctional facility, and the contraband was seized. Four correctional officers suspected of involvement have been suspended. "Our investigation is progressing, but we still have more work to do," said Christopher B. Epps, department of corrections commissioner. "No charges have been filed against anyone at this time."


Jul 16, 2014 greenfieldreporter.com

JACKSON, Mississippi — Mississippi corrections officials say four guards have been suspended from the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in the aftermath of a fight among inmates at the prison. Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps provided an update on the investigation during a federal court hearing. Nine inmates were hurt last week in a fight that authorities suggest came after the arrest of a man trying to smuggle contraband into the prison. Epps says the investigation determined one guard was to escort an inmate into the prison yard to collect items that were to be tossed over the fence. A Dec. 31 fight between two gangs left 16 inmates hurt at the central Mississippi prison. Epps told U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves that both incidents were gang-related.


Jul 12, 2014 therepublic.com

WALNUT GROVE, Mississippi — A fight that injured nine inmates at a privately run prison in central Mississippi was related to an attempt to bring in banned items, state Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said Friday. Epps said in a statement that the Walnut Grove Police Department arrested one person on contraband charges. A Walnut Grove officer said he didn't know who was arrested. Inmates suffered cuts and stab wounds during a fight that broke out about 10 p.m. Thursday among a group of inmates in one of the six housing units, said spokesman Issa Arnita of Utah-based Management & Training Corp., which runs the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility through a state contract. Epps said of the injured inmates, six had been returned to the prison by Friday afternoon and three remain hospitalized at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Epps said he made a trip on Friday to the prison, which remained on lockdown. "Fortunately no one was killed," he said. Arnita said the prison's emergency response team used "chemical agents," and the fight was over after about an hour. He said seven inmates were brought by ambulance to a local hospital. Three were then airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Arnita said the unit where the fight took place houses 240 inmates, and authorities are trying to determine how many prisoners were involved. Groups suing over prisoner treatment in Mississippi have criticized the state's hands-off management of MTC, Mississippi's main private prison contractor. Walnut Grove has a history of troubles. Most recently, a Dec. 31 fight between two gangs of prisoners injured 16 inmates. Six prison guards and one supervisor were fired or resigned after the December fight, court papers said. Another staff member was placed on administrative leave. Epps said that since then, the state and MTC have been trying to eliminate contraband such as homemade knives, cellphones and tobacco, and has started a K-9 unit. "With the security changes we have made, we are hoping to reduce the incidents at Walnut Grove," he said in the Friday statement. But court monitors have questioned whether some of those measures will work, noting that contraband appears to mainly be brought in by prison employees. An April report by a monitor for plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit reported high levels of violence, drugs smuggled in and inadequately trained guards. MTC, which took over operation of the prison in 2012, disputed most of the findings. MTC said the prison "has made great progress in creating a safer environment for offenders and staff." The company said staff meets state training standards. The state removed juvenile offenders from Walnut Grove after U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves described conditions as "a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts" while it was being managed by Florida-based GEO Group. Reeves' order came after a Justice Department report charged the state was "deliberately indifferent" to sexual abuse, overuse of force and inadequate medical care for young inmates. MTC also operates the East Mississippi Correctional Facility near Meridian, the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs and the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Woodville.


Jul 11, 2014 wtva.com

WALNUT GROVE, Miss. (AP) — Nine inmates suffered cuts and stab wounds during a fight at a privately run prison in central Mississippi, and the facility was on lockdown Friday, officials said. A fight broke out about 10 p.m. Thursday among a group of inmates in one of the six housing units, said spokesman Issa Arnita of Management and Training Corporation, which runs the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility through a state contract. "Officers attempted to stop the disturbance, but it quickly escalated," he said. "The facility's emergency response team was activated. The team used chemical agents to gain control of the inmates. The incident lasted one hour. The local police and sheriff's departments were on site as a backup." Arnita said the prison was on lockdown Friday. "We're trying to determine how many offenders were actually involved the incident. The unit where the disturbance took place houses 240 inmates," he said. Nine inmates were injured. Arnita said seven were transported by ambulance to the local hospital. Three were then airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. One inmate has since been returned to the prison. "We don't have details on their conditions, and no names are being released at this time. No correctional officers were injured," he said. The prison, the Mississippi Department of Corrections and local authorities are investigating the fight. The Walnut Grove prison has a history of troubles. In April, a federal prison monitor reported violence was out of control, drugs were being smuggled in and guards are not adequately trained. The documents were filed by monitors who oversee the prison and plaintiffs who sued over conditions there. MTC, who took over operation of the prison in 2012, disputed most of the findings. MTC said the prison "has made great progress in creating a safer environment for offenders and staff." A Dec. 31 fight between two gangs left 16 inmates hurt and showed more improvements were needed, the monitor said. An MTC report said the fight went on for about an hour, with inmates using homemade knives and other weapons. Six prison guards and one supervisor were fired or resigned after he December fight, court papers said. Another staff member was placed on administrative leave. The monitor's report said, among other findings, that contraband was being smuggled into the prison and security personnel were ignoring rules violations and fraternizing with prisoners. The prison is under legal scrutiny because of earlier misdeeds. The state removed youth offenders from Walnut Grove after U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves  described conditions as "a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts" while it was being managed by Florida-based GEO Group. Reeves' order came after a Justice Department report charged the state was "deliberately indifferent" to sexual abuse, overuse of force and inadequate medical care for young inmates. The state agreed to improve conditions. GEO Group gave up its contract and the Department of Corrections hired MTC to house adult inmates at Walnut Grove. Since then, all parties agree conditions have improved. The court monitors said half the security staff in December had less than one year's experience. Vail said the staff doesn't have "the necessary skill, experience, and custody expertise" to manage high-risk inmates and called on the state to limit the prison to medium- and minimum-security inmates. MTC, though, said staff meets state training standards. Utah-based MTC operates the East Mississippi Correctional Facility near Meridian, the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility in Walnut Grove, the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs and the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility in Woodville.


Jan 3, 2014 seattlepi.com

WALNUT GROVE, Miss. (AP) — Fourteen of 18 inmates injured during a fight Tuesday have returned to the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility. Issa Arnita, corporate communications director for Management and Training Corporation, says an investigation by the company and the Mississippi Department of Corrections continues. Four people remain hospitalized at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Arnita says the altercation took place in one of the facility's six housing units. He says a correctional officer was treated for minor injuries. No other officers were injured. Staff responded immediately and secured the units soon after the incident began around 7:00 p.m. Tuesday. The facility remains on lock down. Investigators will review video footage of the incident. Walnut Grove opened in 2001 and can house 1,461 inmates.

Mississippi, MTC incident, Walnut Grove Correctional Facility

 

Jan. 1, 2014 clarionledger.com

"At approximately 7 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2013, officers at the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility responded to a fight involving several offenders in one of the housing units. The incident appears to be gang related. Some of the injured were transported to local hospitals and later returned to the facility. One correctional officer did sustain minor injuries. The facility is on lock down. The incident is still under investigation. We're working in partnership with the Mississippi Department of Corrections to determine what led up to the incident." The statement was released by Issa Arnita, corporate communications director for MTC. Updated 12:18 p.m: "This is the worst thing a parent can live through," said Leeann Squires of Florence, whose son is at Walnut Grove. Updated 11:24 a.m: University of Mississippi Medical Center spokesman Jack Mazurak confirmed that two patients had been brought in by AirCare from Walnut Grove, and two had come in by ground ambulance. Original story: Mississippi Department of Corrections officials are confirming an incident at Walnut Grove Correctional Facility last night that sources say sent more than 10 people to the hospital. "The MDOC Corrections Investigation Division is investigating the matter," said MDOC spokesperson Tara Booth. "We can confirm there was an incident and our investigators are on the scene as we speak." Details on the incident are scarce, but a responder not authorized to discuss the situation said possibly 13 people may have been hospitalized, many with stab wounds. Stephanie Luckett of Canton said her mother-in-law got a text message that a riot had occurred, and she had called Walnut Grove to check on a loved one in the facility. She called at the same time The Clarion-Ledger was calling the facility and operators somehow connected her with The Clarion-Ledger instead of connecting either caller with Walnut Grove officials. Officials at MTC, Walnut Grove's corporation, have not responded yet to phone calls and emails. The Leake County Sheriff's Department and Walnut Grove Police Department both assisted at the scene, but neither had anyone available to comment. Booth said investigators will look at video footage to find out more about the incident. Walnut Grove is located in Leake County, approximately 11 miles southeast of Carthage. WGCF has a housing capacity of 1,461.

June 7, 2012 WTOK
MTC will officially take over operation at East Mississippi Correctional Facility on July 9th. The company got its start working with young people outside the corrections system. The Vice President of Corrections at MTC explained the company's history via a video news release. "We started 30 years ago by providing training for young adults to succeed in life," says Odie Washington, "we've taken that and applied it to our corrections division. "All you are going to see is a change in the name over the door," that's the opinion of Frank Smith, a private prison watchdog, "it's not going to be a change in operations." Smith works as a consultant for Private Corrections Working Group. "The problem is there is such turnover that there is no mentoring process so everybody is just kind of new on the job, and they don't know what to do when the problems arise." MTC officials say they plan on providing EMCF with all the resources it needs to operate effectively. "We'll provide each facility the resources necessary for them to operate safely and effectively," says Washington, and we look forward to applying these high standards to our new Mississippi facilities as well." Only time will tell whether MTC will have a successful run in the Magnolia State.

June 7, 2012 AP
A Utah-based private prison operator will take over management of three Mississippi correctional institutions beginning in July. Management & Training Corporation of Centreville, Utah, has signed 10-year operating contracts for the East Mississippi Correctional Facility near the Lost Gap community beginning July 2; Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Walnut Grove on July 9; and the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs on Aug. 13. Financial details of the contracts were not made public. The announcement came Thursday by the company and the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The Corrections Department and the GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., in April agreed to end GEO's management contract at the three prisons. At the time Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps told the AP that the department felt it might get a better price if all three prisons were presented as a package to other corrections management companies. "The Mississippi Department of Corrections is looking forward to a great partnership with MTC," Epps said in a statement Thursday. "There is a need for different types of prisons, including state and regional as well as private facilities in Mississippi. MTC will be held to the same high standards as set by MDOC and I feel extremely confident that MTC will do a great job." "We look forward to the opportunity to work in Mississippi," said MTC senior vice president of corrections Odie Washington in the statement. "We have partnered with state and federal governments in operating correctional facilities for the past 25 years, and have a strong record of providing safe, secure and well-run facilities."

Willacy County Adult Correctional Facility, Raymondville, Texas
Mar 28, 2017 valleycentral.com
Former Willacy County prison guard sentenced to 18 months in prison
A judge sentenced a former Willacy County prison guard to 18 months in federal prison Monday for bribery. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sentenced former Willacy County prison guard Harry Cordero to 18 months in prison on the federal bribery charge, according to court records. Cordero worked at the Regional County Detention Center in Willacy County, a private prison operated by Utah-based Management and Training Corp. The company contacted the U.S. Marshals Service last year after an internal investigation involving Cordero, according to a statement provided by Management and Training Corp. A grand jury indicted Cordero and another prison guard, Stephen Salinas, during November. They were accused of smuggling cell phones and alcohol to inmates. Both Cordero and Salinas pleaded guilty to bribery charges. The judge sentenced Cordero to 18 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Jan 10, 2017 valleycentral.com
Two former private prison guards plead guilty to bribery
Stephen Salinas and Harry Cordero — who worked for Utah-based private prison company Management and Training Corp. — pleaded guilty to bribery. Cordero pleaded guilty on Dec. 21, according to federal court records. He's scheduled for sentencing on March 27. An attorney for Cordero didn't respond to a written request for comment. Salinas pleaded guilty on Jan. 3, according to federal court records. He's scheduled for sentencing on April 11. An attorney for Salinas wasn't available for comment. Both men face three to 10 years in federal prison. Salinas signed a plea agreement providing new details about the bribery allegations. During the investigation, Salinas admitted accepting about $2,000 for smuggling cell phones and gallon jugs of alcohol to inmates, according to the plea agreement. An inmate, though, told the U.S. Marshals Service that Salinas received $3,000 to $4,000. The inmate said Salinas provided six cell phones, MP3 players and alcohol to inmates.

June 28, 2009 Brownsville Herald
It took about five years, but state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. seems to have phased out his paid consulting jobs for construction and engineering firms. Last year, however, he still received at least $25,000 in consulting fees from the Houston-based TEDSI Infrastructure Group, according to his personal financial statement on file with the Texas Ethics Commission. "I was fulfilling a prior obligation on a contract that I had with TEDSI which expired in 2008," Lucio wrote in a statement to The Brownsville Herald Wednesday. Lucio, D-Brownsville, did not say what he did for the firm, but in 2002 said that he would set up meetings and introduce the firm to officials in Brownsville. In 2004 amid mounting criticism of possible conflicts of interest, Lucio told the Herald that he would phase out consulting for firms that do business in the Rio Grande Valley and the state. Besides consulting for TEDSI, Lucio also was retained by CorPlan Corrections of Dallas, Management & Training Corp. of Utah, Aguirre Inc. of Dallas, and Dannenbaum Engineering Corp. of Houston. At the start of 2005, Lucio severed ties with CorPlan, Aguirre, and MTC amid federal inquiries into the federal detention center in Willacy County. A Webb County commissioner and two former Willacy County commissioners were convicted of bribery. Companies involved in the project were not accused of any wrongdoing. Lucio also stopped consulting for Dannenbaum, which he said he introduced to the Brownsville Navigation District. The BND paid Dannenbaum $15.4 million of $21.4 million spent toward developing a still non-existent international bridge at the Port of Brownsville. But, he continued consulting for TEDSI until last year. Lucio's prior financial statements show that in 2007 TEDSI paid him from $10,000 to $24,999 and $25,000 or more in prior years. Lucio had been on CorPlan's payroll since 1999. Aguirre, MTC and Dannenbaum then contracted him, but in interviews prior to 2004 he wouldn't specifically say when or how much each paid him. It was not until 2004 that Lucio started specifically listing the companies that retained him in his financial statements and these, coupled with prior interviews with the senator, reflect that the five firms paid him at least $340,000. Embattled former Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra obtained an indictment against Lucio last year, charging him with profiting from the elected office. Administrative Judge Manuel Bañales Jr. dismissed the indictment following arguments from Lucio's attorney, Michael R. Cowen, that the indictment was defective and that Guerra was seeking revenge against those who he perceived to be his political enemies.

December 13, 2008 Brownsville Herald
This year's Willacy County grand jury investigation into alleged criminal activity surrounding for-profit prisons and high-profile public officials is not the first, and District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said it is tied to an earlier investigation. A federal inquiry resulting in convictions in 2005 stirred up a dust storm in Raymondville when it looked into a money-for-votes and bribery scheme to favor firms involved in the Willacy County Adult Correctional Center, a project that started in 2000. The firms, which did business in Texas and were involved in the project, were CorPlan Corrections, Aguirre Inc., Management & Training Corp., and Hale-Mills Construction, according to Guerra and public records. That federal investigation resulted in the bribery conviction of former Webb County commissioner David Cortez - identified in federal court records as the representative of "a company" - who gave $39,000 over three years from 2000 to 2003 to several officials to secure their votes on the Commissioners Court for the firm's participation in the jail project. However, that firm is never mentioned by name in the court record. Federal officials would not discuss the case, so the reason for the omission could not be learned. Among the officials who received money in return for favoring a jail consultant - also unnamed in the court record - and whom Cortez represented were Israel Tamez of Raymondville, at that time a Willacy County commissioner, and the late Jose Jimenez of Sebastian, also a Willacy commissioner. Cortez, Tamez and Jimenez all pleaded guilty, the federal court record shows. U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen sentenced Tamez to six months in jail, three years probation and a $25,000 fine. Cortez was sentenced to three months in jail, followed by a period of six months of home confinement, two-years probation and a $25,000 fine. Jimenez died in 2006, while Cortez and Tamez were sentenced in late 2006 and directed to serve their sentences last year. The unnamed companies were never charged. The dust storm never quite settled after those convictions. Court records show that a series of continuances delayed when the sentences would begin. Tamez did not serve his sentence until last year. Jimenez was convicted but died before sentencing. In reference to the Jimenez and Tamez cases, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim McAlister told the court in the fall of 2005: "Both defendants are actively cooperating in helping the government identify and prosecute other individuals involved in unlawful activity. The investigation is ongoing and both defendants are expected to continue their efforts in assisting the government. The government and the defendants agree that sentencing Mr. Tamez and Mr. Jimenez at this time could result in a miscarriage of justice." McAlister's motions to continue Cortez's case are sealed. However, federal court records show that Cortez gave money to yet a third elected official, so that he would favor corporate interests involved in the design, construction, financing, maintenance and management of the Willacy correctional center that was to house federal inmates. During Cortez's sentencing in 2006, his lawyer, Mike DeGeurin Sr., of Houston, told Hanen: "I think, to convince people that he (Cortez) is still a person you can count on to get things done, he (Cortez) makes some payments to Mr. (Israel) Tamez and a couple of others - two other commissioners that, we'll leave their names unspoken." However, Jimenez was the only other person charged, aside from Cortez. There were believed to be additional conspirators, known and unknown, the federal record shows. Neither the third commissioner to which DeGuerin referred, nor the other conspirators that McAlister referred to in 2005, was never mentioned by name or location in court documents and was not part of the court record. DeGeurin did not respond to a recent request for comment. Tamez's attorney, John David Franz, of McAllen, also could not be reached for comment. Jimenez's lawyer, Nemecio E. Lopez Jr. of Harlingen, declined to talk about the case. Enter Guerra and his investigation into the management and operation of for-profit prisons in Willacy County, which led to the recent indictments of, among others, U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville. The indictment charges Cheney and Gonzales with profiteering from the jails and neglect of conditions due to self-interest. The indictment against Lucio charged him with influence peddling in receiving consulting fees from the firms for services he would not have been requested to provide were it not for his official position. Guerra now says the FBI and Texas Rangers told him in 2006 that "higher-ups" in both agencies directed their agents to halt the federal inquiry into the original money-for-votes and bribery scheme. Spokeswomen for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas declined to comment on Guerra's allegations, and Tela Mange of the Texas Department of Public Safety said no one in the department knew anything about Guerra's allegations, including the Texas Rangers. The FBI did not return a request for comment. Guerra says that he reopened the investigation because he wants to ensure justice is done before he leaves office at the end of this month. "If I know that a crime has been committed, I have to make a diligent effort to make sure that the crime is addressed in my tenure. My job is to make sure that criminals don't get away. That is what a prosecutor does," he said. James M. Parkey, president and founder of CorPlan, on Monday verified for the Brownsville Herald that Cortez had been one of the firm's consultants, but said he had not known of any payments from Cortez to Tamez, Jimenez or others. "Our position is that Mr. Cortez pleaded guilty," said CorPlan's lawyer, Edmundo O. Ramirez, of McAllen. There is no other position, he said. Public records - yearly financial statements that the Texas Ethics Commission requires of elected officials - show that Lucio was one of CorPlan's consultants. The Nov. 17 indictment against Lucio alleges that because of his position he received consulting fees from six firms, including CorPlan Corrections, Aguirre Inc., Management & Training Corp. , and Hale-Mills Construction. Guerra said the firms were tied to the Willacy County 500-bed jail project, which county commissioners approved in 2000. Parkey said he was not at liberty to disclose the services Lucio provided his firm without Lucio's consent. Lucio told The Brownsville Herald in 2002 that he received consulting fees from the firms for introducing them to public officials and setting up meetings. In 2002, Parkey said, "Public relations doesn't require a product in terms of written material. He (Lucio) keeps our name in front of people." Texas Ethics Commission records show that Lucio listed receiving at least $135,000 or more from CorPlan Corrections, Aguirre Inc. and Management & Training Corp. in 2003 and 2004. Hale-Mills is not on the list. Lucio also told The Brownsville Herald in 2002 and again in 2005 that he had been consulting for CorPlan since 1999 and that Aguirre and Management & Training Corp. soon contracted with him for consulting, marketing and public relations. He would not say at that time when or how much money each company paid him. It was not until 2004 that Lucio reported the companies in his personal financial statements to the Texas Ethics Commission, which requires that officials list retainers and sources of income. Lucio's chief of staff, Paul Cowen (uncle of Lucio's lawyer, Michael R. Cowen) said in 2002 that the fees had been reported, but under the umbrella of Rio Shelters Inc., a firm owned by Lucio that provides advertisements on bus shelters. Hale-Mills and Aguirre Inc. did not return a request for comment Tuesday, and Carl Stuart, communications director for Management & Training Corp., said, "We just don't make comment on pending litigation." During the inquiries in 2005, Lucio wrote to CorPlan Corrections, Aguirre Inc. and Management & Training Corp. advising them he was taking a leave of absence because news reports had named the three companies as those involved in the building and management of the facilities in Willacy County. Lucio at that time brought copies of his letters to the Brownsville Herald. Cowen, Lucio's lawyer, on Monday said he has instructed his client not to comment "as long as Mr. Guerra is in office." Contrary to his client's Nov. 17 indictment, which presiding District Judge J. Manuel Bañales dismissed Dec. 1, Lucio did not do consulting work for Hale-Mills, Cowen stressed. (Bañales also threw out the indictments against Cheney and Gonzales on Dec. 1.) "In fact, we ask the public to take all of Mr. Guerra's accusations with a grain of salt, and to consider the misrepresentations he has already been caught making under oath in this case," Cowen said in a written statement to The Brownsville Herald. Cowen said he and the senator are disappointed that Guerra continues his vendetta against Lucio, even after the court dismissed all charges against the senator. Lucio has to do outside work to earn a living, Cowen said, noting that the senator is paid only $600 a month by the for his legislative services. Cowen said Lucio earns less than the minimum wage, and cannot support his family on $7,200 a year. "However, he has been very careful to ensure that any work he does is not only legal, but also wholly ethical," Cowen said in a written statement. Lucio has gone to great lengths to ensure that the consulting work complies with all legal and ethical requirements, Cowen said, noting that he requested a formal attorney general's opinion on whether a legislator can provide consulting, marketing and public relation services to clients who have dealings with government officials. Cowen said Lucio also consulted with two attorney generals, the Texas Ethics Commission and hired a private attorney to ensure that his business affairs followed the law. In a July 2003 opinion, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told Lucio that laws do not categorically prohibit a legislator from representing a client's interests before government officials or entities. Still, Abbott said, legality depends on the specific facts of a case. Abbott wrote that Lucio did not elaborate on the nature of his clients' businesses nor on his dealings and communications on their behalf. Furthermore, whether a public servant's outside employment creates a conflict of interest frequently requires resolving fact questions, which is beyond the purview of the opinion process, Abbott's opinion states. Abbott wrote that a legislator should be aware of the provisions in Chapter 36 of the Texas Penal Code. A legislator may not solicit or accept any benefit unless it falls within one of the exceptions recognized by the code, the opinion states. Abbott noted that the primary exception allows a legislator to accept fair compensation for work performed in a capacity other than as a public servant. "Should you have a specific concern, you may wish to consult with private counsel," Abbott advised Lucio. Lucio told The Brownsville Herald in 2002 that he did not consult with an attorney. Cowen on Monday said that Lucio provided legitimate services to the firms that contracted him. "Senator Lucio has nothing to hide, and is happy to have a competent, unbiased prosecutor review all of the evidence in this matter. Unfortunately, Mr. Guerra's words and actions show him to be neither unbiased nor competent," Cowen said. Guerra vehemently denies that his charges against Lucio are part of a vendetta against the senator. "The problem with Eddie Lucio is that he has not explained what he does for these companies," Guerra said. During a recent court hearing, Guerra said that if a jury found companies hired Lucio because he is a senator and not because of services he provided "then that's kickbacks and that's it." On Thursday Guerra said, "He (Lucio) says that he has permission from the attorney general, but the attorney general opinion did not give him permission (to receive fees from the firms). And then he said he got permission from the Texas Ethics Commission, and he has not produced one document showing that. The accusation that I have a vendetta is a smokescreen." Bañales on Dec. 1 dismissed all charges against the high-profile defendants. And Wednesday, he removed Guerra from bringing any further charges in the cases against Lucio and others in which he has a "clear bias and prejudice." However, even though Guerra appears hamstrung in his proclaimed quest for justice, the saga may be nowhere near an end. DA Pro Tem Alfredo Padilla, whom Bañales appointed to review the indictments, said Thursday that he wants to present all of the evidence that Guerra gathered to a new grand jury, which will be impaneled early next year.

December 8, 2008 Valley Morning Star
District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said Monday that state Sen. Eddie Lucio's elected position conflicts with his job as a consultant for companies that work within his jurisdiction. Guerra said he believes that companies hire Lucio because of his position as a state senator and that Lucio uses his influence to obtain the consulting work. "These people are hiring him because of his position and not because of his skills," Guerra said in an interview. "There's no way to justify it." Lucio could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon. Guerra said that Lucio could work as a consultant but not within his state Senate District 27, that includes Cameron, Kenedy, Kleberg, Willacy and part of Hidalgo counties. Lucio was first elected in 1991. But Edmundo Ramirez, a McAllen attorney who represents Ronald Holmes, an attorney for CorPlan Corrections in Dallas, one of the companies for which Lucio is a consultant, noted the Texas Ethics Commission has sanctioned Lucio's work as a consultant. "The ethics commission has found nothing wrong with those payments," said Ramirez said, referring the consulting fees Lucio is paid. Lucio owns an advertising and public relations firm in Brownsville. "Sen. Lucio gets hired because of what he brings to the table," Ramirez said. "He's a PR man. He's a good one. He brings value to the table. "Regardless of what Mr. Guerra believes, (payments) are legal and have been properly reported by Sen. Lucio. The law is the law." The Texas Attorney General's Office sanctioned Lucio's work as a consultant in a legal opinion issued in July 2003. Texas law states that "it must be the services rendered and not the status of the public servant rendering the services that is of value to the person for whom the services are performed," the Attorney General's opinion noted. CorPlan, a prison consulting company, requested on Monday that a judge quash Guerra's subpoena that orders the company to appear in court Wednesday. Guerra said he wants CorPlan to appear in court to disclose the nature of the services it pays Lucio to perform. Last month, Guerra pushed for grand jury indictments against Lucio, Vice President Dick Cheney, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and several local elected officials. State District Judge Manuel Bañales threw out those indictments. But Michael Cowen, Lucio's attorney, believes Guerra will try to re-indict Lucio before Guerra's fourth term expires Dec. 31. The grand jury is set to meet Friday for its last scheduled session before its term expires Dec. 31, District Clerk Gilbert Lozano said. Cowen will request that Bañales on Wednesday disqualify Guerra as prosecutor, arguing Guerra's "personal animosity toward Lucio creates a conflict of interest." Guerra filed subpoenas on Dec. 5 to order CorPlan, Management and Training Corp., Aguirre Inc., Hale Mills Corp., TEDSI Infrastructure Group Inc. and Dannenbaum Engineering Corp. to appear in court. Lucio has worked as a consultant for these companies. CorPlan, Management and Training Corp., Aguirre and Hale Mills are companies that worked on a $14.5 million prison project that was the focus of a bribery scandal that led to the convictions of former Willacy County commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez and former Webb County Commissioner David Cortez.

December 6, 2008 Brownsville Herald
The dismissal last week of indictments against a host of elected officials, including state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., in a Raymondville courtroom did not signal the end of attorney Michael R. Cowen's trips to this city of about 10,000 people. If Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra sees himself as the biblical "David," as he has described himself, Lucio's attorney, Cowen, would be his "Goliath" this week. Both will square off Wednesday during a hearing before District Judge J. Manuel Bañales. Pundits predict that there will be plenty of slings. Guerra said he aims to show at the hearing that consulting fees Lucio received from six firms were illegal and not earned. Most of the firms did work associated with private prisons in Willacy County. Instead, Guerra maintains that the only reason the firms paid Lucio is because he has the word "senator" before his name. Cowen has said previously that Guerra is "vindictive" and his animosity against the senator rises to a conflict, rendering the DA incapable of pursuing any charges leveled at the senator. Guerra issued subpoenas Friday against the firms that purportedly paid Lucio, D-Brownsville, consulting fees, including the firms Management and Training Corp., CorPlan Corrections, Aguirre Inc., Hale Mills Corp., TEDSI Infrastructure Group, Inc. and Dannenbaum Engineering Corp. They were directed to attend the Wednesday hearing and provide documentation, including contracts with Lucio for his services. Public records from the Texas Ethics Commission show that Lucio received at least $300,000 from five of the firms from 2003 through 2007. It could not be confirmed if Lucio received money from Hale Mills Corp. as the grand jury indictment maintains. Lucio suspended his services to CorPlan Corrections, Management and Training Corp. and Aguirre Inc. in January 2005 amid the bribery convictions of two Willacy County commissioners and subsequently a Webb County commissioner, according to documents that Lucio provided to The Brownsville Herald. The commissioners were convicted in a bribery and money-for-votes scheme relating to construction and management of the Willacy Adult Correctional Center. The companies were not charged. Cowen did not respond to a request for comment for this story. A grand jury indicted Lucio Nov. 17 for accepting fees from the firms from January 2005 through September 2008, alleging that they paid him only because he is a senator. The indictment charged that Lucio ". . . has, with this action, made a personal profit as a result of his holding said office as a Texas senator for District 27." Bañales dismissed the indictment Dec. 1, agreeing with Cowen's contentions, including that the six-count indictment did not that Lucio had willingly, knowingly, or recklessly engaged in the alleged conduct. Guerra's goal is also to show that the Nov. 17 grand jury did not indict Lucio because of Guerra's vindictiveness or anger toward Lucio, but because there is evidence to support the jury's indictment that Lucio profited from his elective office contrary to law. Whether or not Bañales in the 10 a.m. hearing allows Guerra to present evidence against Lucio or if representatives of the firms even show up is up in the air.

September 19, 2008 Valley Morning Star
Willacy County residents make up more than half of employees at a county-owned prison and a detention center that holds illegal immigrants, said the company that runs the operations. Criminal background checks screen out about 2 percent of people who apply for jobs at the 525-bed prison and the 3,000-bed detention center, said Carl Stuart, a spokesman for Management and Training Corp. in Centerville, Utah. But three years after the detention center opened, the local job pool is "tapped out," Stuart said in an e-mail. Now the company recruits more employees from outside the county, he said. County residents make up about 73 percent of employees at the detention center that the company operates for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Stuart said. The country's largest illegal immigrant detention center employs about 700 workers, said Jackie Roberson, Raymondville's economic development manager. The detention center pays starting wages of about $9.36 an hour, Stuart said. Locals make up about 53 percent of employees at the county-owned prison that holds prisoners for the U.S. Marshals Service, Stuart said. The prison pays starting salaries of about $17 per hour. The prison employs about 200 workers, Roberson said.

February 7, 2008 Valley Morning Star
Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence on Tuesday denied accusations that he failed to comply with bookkeeping laws. Spence said he did not break any laws and has not done anything illegal. He said no one in the county government has ever told him to operate the Sheriff’s Department differently than the way he’s been running it for years. County Treasurer Ruben Cavazos said Spence failed to keep receipts, failed to charge federal officials for services and improperly deposited money. The accusations come as Spence faces longtime Chief Deputy David Martinez and Constable Ben Vera in the March 4 race for the office he’s held since 1985. “We’re not trying to hide anything here,” Spence said. “We have open books. There’s no intent to defraud here.” Cavazos accused Spence of failing to deposit certificates of deposit into a county bank account. Instead, Spence uses a Sheriff’s Department account to which Cavazos does not have access, Cavazos said. “If he had CDs in the bank, the bank will not tell me because he’s not using the county’s (account),” Cavazos said. Spence said the Sheriff’s Department has used its account for years but added the department had no certificates of deposit in the account. “Nobody has brought that to our attention until this came up,” Spence said of the accusation. “If there was something that needs to be adjusted, someone should tell us.” Cavazos also accused Spence of failing to charge Management Training Corp., the company that runs a federal immigrant detention center, to conduct background checks on job applicants. “They have a lot of employees (so) that would be a lot of money for the county,” Cavazos said. In response, Spence said MTC told him that county commissioners said he couldn’t charge for background checks. Company spokesman Carl Stuart did not respond to a message requesting comment. County Commissioner Aurelio Guerra said he was “not aware of the situation or if any fees should be charged.”

January 24, 2008 Valley Morning Star
The Willacy County jail is close to breaking even more than a year after local officials feared investors would foreclose on it, Commissioner Eddie Chapa said this week. The jail must lure higher numbers of federal prisoners to make a monthly average of $58,000, Chapa said. So far, average inmate counts have generated between $40,000 and $45,000 a month, Chapa said. “The latest results show it’s almost paying for itself — not quite, but almost,” Chapa said. “That’s good news for us.” An influx of federal prisoners helped the 96-bed jail boost last year’s average inmate counts to about 80, Sheriff Larry Spence said. “We worked hard to try to make ends meet,” Spence said. Last year, officials also hiked the fee it charges the federal government to house prisoners from $30 a day to $45 a day at the jail that opened in 2004, Spence said. Four months after county commissioners set aside $25,000 for a jail administrator, the county still hasn’t hired the official who would handle billing while contacting the U.S. Marshals Service and Kleberg County to bring inmates to the jail. Now, the county might not need to hire the administrator, Chapa said. If the job was (created) to help the jail make its goal, why would we want to spend the extra money?” Chapa said. In October 2004, the county opened the jail that replaced an old jail that was plagued with a long string of escapes before it fell below state standards. Under the county’s plan, the new jail would hold federal inmates, for whom the Marshals Service would pay the county $30 a head per day. But federal inmates trickled in. Then in April 2006, the Marshals Service pulled female inmates out of the jail after a guard was arrested for having sex with a female prisoner. Two weeks later, county commissioners put up $137,000 to help the jail make its first payment to investors. For some county officials, the jail stood at the brink of foreclosure. “We got to a time when people were looking at other options,” Spence said. In November 2006, investors postponed a $433,000 payment after the jail ran short of money. “It was a struggle,” Spence said. “It had a rough start getting going,” In January 2007, the county entered into a contract with the Marshals Service that boosted the daily rent to $45 per prisoner.

August 28, 2007 Valley Morning Star
Willacy County Commissioner Aurelio Guerra on Monday questioned a contract that could pay more than $27 million to the company that runs an illegal immigrant detention center here. Wednesday, members of the Willacy County Local Government Corp., the non-profit organization that oversees the 2,000-bed detention center, will travel to Dallas to close a deal that’s expected to hire Management Training Corp. to run a 1,000-bed expansion. The $111.5 million contract with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would pay Utah-based MTC a “fixed annual fee” of $27.4 million when the detention center’s average monthly inmate count falls below 2,500, the contract states. The government would pay MTC $27.4 million plus $4.42 a head for each illegal immigrant when the detention center’s average monthly inmate count exceeds the 2,500 mark, the contract states. “It can be one inmate and we’re obligated to pay $27 million,” Guerra said. “In past agreements, there weren’t fixed fees.” Under a current agreement, a federal contract pays MTC $27.75 a head for each illegal immigrant held in the 2,000-bed detention center that averages about 1,500 detainees a month. But the contract does not bind the county to pay MTC $27.4 million a year, said Michael Harling of Municipal Capital Markets Group in Dallas. The contract would not tap into the revenue that the county needs to repay its debt, Harling said. First, the government’s money will go to pay the county’s debt, Harling said. Then it will go to pay the county, he said. “To the extent there is enough money, they will pay MTC,” Harding said.

August 2, 2007 KGBT TV4
Allegations of spoiled food and air conditioning problems, and no, we're not talking about Food 4 Thought. This story involving some detainees and security guards at the Willacy County detention center who are speaking out about life for two-thousand immigrants. We have obtained internal documentation from the Willacy detention center where not only detainees complain about the conditions inside, but also security guards have recorded in their logbooks dozens of undocumented immigrants that have found maggots in their food. The federal detention center located in Raymondville which houses two-thousand undocumented immigrants has received criticism for allegedly feeding detainees contaminated or rotten food. An action 4 News investigation reveals that in one instance, over 30 detainees reported that the quantity and quality of food are deplorable, an allegation confirmed by at least two security guards. One of those anonymous guards says: "the reason it gets contaminated it's because of the storage facility, they don't have the storage facility. They were trying to blame the companies that supposedly the food is coming in spoiled which is not true." Detainees say they don't have toiletries to keep their most basic sanitary needs, that they have problems communicating with the outside world, nevertheless finding an attorney or any kind of legal assistance. Anthony Matulewicz is an immigration attorney in south Texas and tells action 4 news he's seen what those immigrants go through. "things in Willacy was so bad that I actually saw first hand people eating with their hands" Sais Matulewicz. Security guards have also recorded that 50 detainees complained because they found maggots in their food, and refused to eat. The situation was so bad for an immigrant that he attempted to commit suicide. "He was being moved from one dorm to another because we were having a lot of problems with him. The detainee was depressed, he was hungry and he was not getting enough" said a Willacy detention center security guard. "so he was stealing from the other detainees on the commissary, you know Fritos, candy, whatever they get with their own money". Another detainee reported he lost $99-dollars when he was transferred from del Rio to Laredo,, he says his wife is eagerly awaiting to hear from his my new not so fondly found 'prison' life". Security guards say they can not believe what they see, they make reports and advice superiors but the situation is the same. Detainees are desperate and things may get out of hand. "My concern is that one of these officers one of these days is going to get hurt or one of these officers is going to hurt a detainee" emphasized the security guard. Inside the windowless, dome-shaped tents, they have bunk beds and communal showers. But immigration and customs enforcement officials tell Action 4 News, "we try to maintain the dignity and respect within each person, so the only way we can do that is have a set guideline to follow". But according to security guards two ladies fainted because of air conditioning problems last week, a problem frequently experience during the summer and winter time. Allegations range from giving rotten food to detainees, problems with air conditioning and heating, and immigrants attempting suicide due to what they call inhumane treatment Immigration and customs enforcement also tells Action 4 News they will look into each allegation and get back with us. Immigration officials insist those held at the facility are "detainees" and not prisoners.

February 25, 2007 AP
The engine of the old, borrowed camper chugs away in the parking lot of the county jail – three goats, a rooster and a horse alongside. It is the temporary home and office of Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra. Mr. Guerra, 52, has brought down public officials and continues investigations. Most recently, he filed – and then dropped – motions to have the sheriff and two elected officials removed from office. Now, he says, they're all out to get him. A special prosecutor raided his office recently and filed public theft charges against Mr. Guerra. They were dropped Friday. Depending on whom you talk to, Mr. Guerra is either a lone-wolf champion for South Texas justice or a chronic malcontent with some shady dealings of his own. "He's just been fighting with us for so many years," said Paul Cowan, chief of staff for state Sen. Eddie Lucio. "Anything you want to do, he wants to fight it, fight it, fight it. We have no problems working with any other officials. The problem lies with him." In 1991, with just two years' experience practicing law in a mechanic's garage, county commissioners appointed Mr. Guerra to fill in after the incumbent district attorney died. He began investigating the big landowners and business owners for crimes such as embezzlement and receiving double federal payments for fictitious crop losses. Now, Mr. Guerra has gone after the contractors involved in building private jails. County, state and federal lockups, and now the huge pods of the 2,000-bed immigration detention center, make a bleak campus on the former farmland. Mr. Guerra's investigation into a bribery scheme involving federal prison contracts led to guilty pleas by three former Willacy and Webb county commissioners. Mr. Guerra now says he wants to know more about Mr. Lucio's consulting contract for the prison company that built the $60 million federal complex of tent-like domes. Mr. Lucio said Mr. Guerra was upset about legislation he passed that left the county with only one state district judge – Migdalia Lopez, one of the officials Mr. Guerra wanted out of office. Mr. Lucio would not disclose his consulting fees for the prison deal but said they were "modest" and legal. He said the prison had been a win for the county. "We've brought more than a thousand jobs to that county, and Johnny Guerra has not brought one," he said. Mr. Guerra says another company was prepared to build the facility for $35 million. "In six weeks they spent $60 million," he said. "There's no way that thing cost $60 million." Two weeks ago, Mr. Guerra skipped court to go to Austin and look for a sympathetic ear. When he came back, a special prosecutor appointed by Judge Lopez had taken Mr. Guerra's computers and many of his files. Mr. Guerra now maintains he can't do his work. According to Judge Lopez's order appointing the special prosecutor, a grand jury complained that Mr. Guerra was pressuring them for an indictment in a sexual harassment case. The special prosecutor is Gustavo Garza, Mr. Guerra's four-time political opponent. Mr. Garza recently charged Mr. Guerra with three counts of felony theft by a public servant and one misdemeanor obstruction charge for trying to prevent officers from searching his office, but a judge Friday dropped the charges. Mr. Guerra has threatened to dismiss hundreds of cases in retaliation, but so far only four have been dropped. Townspeople don't know what to make of it. "It's a mess," said Polo Gracida, who came to watch court on Tuesday. "I don't know whether he's a hero or not. We're definitely due for a change."

November 22, 2006 Express-News
The last of three county commissioners who pleaded guilty to a $39,000 bribery scandal involving contracts for a new federal detention facility in the Rio Grande Valley has been sentenced. Former Webb County Commissioner David Cortez, 72, of Laredo was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Brownsville to three months in prison for funneling the bribes in 2002 to former Willacy County Commissioners Jose Jimenez of Sebastian and Israel Tamez, 60, of Raymondville in exchange for favorable votes in the selection of contracts for the 500-bed federal detention center here. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen also ordered Cortez to a two-year term of supervised release, including six months of house arrest. He was fined $25,000. Jimenez died before sentencing. Tamez, 60, was sentenced to six months in prison, three years of supervised release and a $25,000 fine. All three had faced 20 years in prison. Sheriff Larry Spence said the case had "drug out for so long." "I was surprised of the sentencing, but at the same time I am glad that they are getting finalized," he said. But it's still unclear if the case is over because authorities haven't made public where the money originated. Authorities have requested anyone else involved to come forward like the commissioners did, but no additional arrests have been made. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Houston declined to comment. Officials have said the companies hired to either design, build or manage the facility, which opened in 2003, were the Dallas-area firms CorPlan Corrections LTD and Aguirre Inc., along with Management Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, and Hale-Mills Construction of Houston. Municipal Capital Markets Group Inc, of Dallas, underwrote the bonds. "It seems like all the people that have investigated this thing, if there was somebody else in there that they would have been found," said Mike Harling, executive vice president of the investment firm. He said public records showed Cortez was hired by CorPlan, but he suspected he could have made the bribe on his own will. No company employees have been charged. "Just because you hire somebody, and hire in the liberal sense, doesn't mean that you are responsible," Harling said. "If you haven't asked them to go out and bribe somebody, if they choose to do that and choose not to tell you, what can you say?" Cortez resigned from the Webb commission at the time of his guilty plea in 2005. Webb County Judge Louis Bruni said the case is a sad example of a bad decision.

November 13, 2006 Killeen Daily Herald
A Willacy County official has a word of caution for the Coryell County Commissioners' Court as it considers a private prison vendor as a remedy for its overcrowded jail facility. "Have your sheriff talk to our sheriff. He will let you know what kind of problems he is having," said Juan Guerra, who pulls double duty as both county and district attorney in Willacy County. Guerra said his county has struggled through criminal investigations that saw two of its county commissioners convicted, and it is also is in danger of defaulting on a bond payment because it hasn't received enough federal prisoners to generate the needed revenue to sustain the facility. Coryell County Commissioners are expected to open a proposal from Innovative Government Strategies to construct and operate a jail facility when they meet in regular session at 10 a.m. Monday in the Coryell County Courthouse. According to the documents turned in by Innovative Government Strategies, the proposed project team includes James Parkey, with Corplan Corrections Inc., for developer, Hale-Mills for construction company, Municipal Capital Markets Group for financing, Deborah L. Williams for architecture and engineering and CiviGenics-Texas Inc. for management and operations. Coryell County Attorney Brandon Belt previously expressed concern about the proposed operator, saying that CiviGenics had been at the center of controversy recently. However, it is not just CiviGenics that has a troubled past. The commissioners' consideration of the group comes just days after a federal judge sentenced former Willacy County Commissioner Israel Tamez to six months in jail for his role in a bribery scandal connected to a $14.5 million prison project to construct a U.S. Marshals Service jail. On Nov. 9, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen handed down the sentence and also gave Tamez three years' probation and imposed a $25,000 fine. Tamez and former Commissioner Jose Jimenez, who died of cancer before being sentenced, pleaded guilty in January 2005 to taking more than $10,000 in kickbacks, Guerra said. Former Webb County Commissioner David Cortez also was involved in the scandal and was convicted in March 2005 of funneling the bribes to the Willacy County commissioners in exchange for their votes to hire a consultant in the prison project, Guerra said. Cortez is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 20. "My understanding was, as far as implicating the company, it has not been implicated, but the commissioners have been convicted," Guerra said. "Our records indicate that when (Cortez) came before the commissioners when this happened four years ago, he represented himself as a private consultant for Corplan." In May 2005, Willacy County, on Guerra's instructions, filed a civil suit against Corplan and Hale-Mills alleging that the two companies were parties to the bribery. The suit later was dismissed, Guerra said. Guerra said he could not say whether a federal investigation was still pending, and U.S. District Court offices were closed Friday for the federal holiday. Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence could not be reached either. Guerra said the lack of competitive bids when Willacy was building its third federal facility – against his advice and despite the criminal implications – was not only suspect, but something that possibly lost Willacy County millions. "No one is checking to see if you are getting your money's worth," he said. "Because we don't know if that facility cost $50 million to construct." In fact, Guerra said according to information he received from experts, the project, which was for a facility to house Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees, could have been done for between $30 and $35 million. "The information that I got, from experts that reviewed the expenses, says they could not justify the $50 million. They padded the construction costs by an extra $20 to $15 million," Guerra said. "What is funny you get commissioners that are indicted for taking $10,000. I am just wondering who are the real crooks?"

November 9, 2006 AP
A former Willacy County commissioner was sentenced to six months in federal prison Thursday for taking bribes in return for votes on a federal prison contract. Israel Tamez, 60, of Raymondville, also must pay a $25,000 fine and serve three years probation after his release. Tamez and former Willacy County Commissioner Jose Jimenez of Sebastian pleaded guilty in January 2005 to conspiracy to commit bribery. Tamez admitted receiving cash payments totaling $10,000 for voting to select particular companies to design, build, maintain and manage the prison. Charges against Jimenez were dismissed earlier this year after he died.

August 23, 2006 Valley Star
Willacy County officials will have to pay as much as $600,000 to bail out the new $7.5 million jail that has run short of money to pay investors who could foreclose, County Judge Simon Salinas said. The financially strapped county will have to set aside about $600,000 as officials work on a proposed $3.5 million budget that's unlikely to include $300,000 to reinstate employee health insurance. "It's a hard pill to swallow," Salinas said. The decision came after a Friday meeting in which Salinas and Sheriff Larry Spence agreed to a study that will help determine whether the county will run the jail or turn over operations to a management company. Management and Training Corp. (MTC), the Utah-based company that operates a 525-bed, county-owned prison and the county's new $60 million immigration detention center, will conduct the study at no charge, Salinas said. "It's kind of a feasibility study that looks at different options," Spence said. Friday, officials met with J.C. Conner, MTC's vice president, and Michael Harling of Municipal Capital Markets Group of Dallas, which handled the sale of bonds to fund construction of the county's jail, prison and the immigration detention center. After the meeting, Salinas said the county will have to budget about $600,000 to help the jail make its second payment in November. Like some commissioners, Salinas had said the county couldn't afford to bail out the jail. When county officials made plans to build the jail, they counted on housing federal prisoners to pay off project costs. Under the county's plan, federal prisoners - many of whom would be female inmates - would take up 48 of the jail's 96 beds. But the Marshals Service has failed to come through with a steady flow of prisoners, officials said. Spence has said the county's federal inmate count has steadily climbed to about 35. After a sex scandal, the Marshals Service hasn't housed female prisoners in the jail. In April, the Marshals Service removed 19 female prisoners from the jail amid the scandal. After an internal investigation, sheriff's officials fired two female guards after female prisoners accused them of offering favors to female inmates. A Texas Rangers investigation later led authorities to arrest a male guard accused of having sex with a female prisoner.

August 1, 2006 Valley Star
Willacy county commissioners won't bail out the new $7.5 million county jail if it can't afford to pay investors, County Judge Simon Salinas said Monday. Instead, commissioners may hire a private management company to operate the jail, Commissioner Aurelio Guerra said. But Sheriff Larry Spence warned that the county would pay as much $70 a day to house its prisoners in a privately operated jail. Monday, the jail held 49 county prisoners, he said. As commissioners work on their proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, they won't set aside $566,000 to make the jail's second payment, Salinas said. "I will not bail (it) out with local money," Salinas said. "I will not do it again." In late April, commissioners agreed to pay investors more than $137,000 after the jail ran short of money to make its first payment. The Willacy County Public Facilities Corp., a non-profit organization that oversees the jail that opened in October 2004, must make its second payment in November. Under the county's plan, federal prisoners - many of whom would be female inmates - would take up 48 of the jail's 96 beds. "We were told that was the need," Sheriff Larry Spence said of the plan to house female prisoners. "If we could build a facility to house females, (the Marshal's Service) would more than likely keep it full." But the Marshals Service has failed to come through with a steady flow of prisoners, officials said. Monday, the jail held 35 federal prisoners, Spence said. Since an April sex scandal, the Marshals Service hasn't housed female prisoners in the jail. "That definitely caused a problem," Spence said. In April, the sex scandal led the Marshals Service to remove 19 female prisoners from the jail.

July 23, 2006 Express News
The Willacy County attorney is speaking out against his county's new contract for a massive detention center because he said it involves companies still under a cloud from the 2004 bribery convictions of three elected officials. Juan Angel Guerra also accuses veteran Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, of going back on his word by continuing to represent the same firms. Former Willacy County Commissioners Israel Tamez and the late Jose Jimenez were convicted in 2004 of accepting bribes in exchange for favorable votes regarding a 600-bed prison that opened in Raymondville, the county seat, in 2003. The third convicted official, Webb County Commissioner David Cortez, was an associate of CorPlan Corrections, a consulting company at the time of the prison project. Cortez was accused of funneling the bribe money for favorable votes on contracts. No company employees, however, have been charged. Federal prosecutors wouldn't comment on the case, but observers believe the investigation is ongoing because the commissioners' sentencing dates have been pushed back several times. Meanwhile, the same firms are building a 2,000-bed detention facility near the same prison. Willacy commissioners voted 3-2 on Monday to approve $60.6 million in bonds for the new facility, which is on a fast-track construction schedule to house mostly non-Mexican undocumented immigrants in a series of tentlike structures for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Utah-based Management Training Corp., or MTC, will operate the facility; Houston-based Hale-Mills Construction Inc. is building it; and Argyle-based CorPlan is consulting on the project, said Guerra, who is the county and district attorney. A May 27, 2005, letter from commissioners to the county's nonprofit corporation set up to oversee the federal prison project asked it to "terminate its contractual relationship with CorPlan," because a Willacy County lawsuit against the firm alleged it was involved with the bribes. "Now they are asking me to sign a contract that includes CorPlan," Guerra said. "I told the commissioners you can't have it both ways. First you pass the resolution saying you don't want to deal with CorPlan. Now you do a contract that I know for a fact includes CorPlan. So we are back to square one." The lawsuit was dropped in April. County Judge Simon Salinas said he wasn't aware of the letter and resolution that prompted it. It's probably too late anyway, he added. "The contract is already signed, the work is already begun," he said. Regardless, Salinas said, the county can't proceed under the assumption that leaders of the companies are criminals. "In this country we are innocent until proven guilty," he said. "And nobody out there pressed charges against the companies. ... Just because these (commissioners) plead guilty doesn't mean everybody in the world is guilty." Guerra favored Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, which offered to finance the detention facility on its own rather than through the county. He said the commissioners initially favored CCA, but later picked MTC. Commissioner Noe Loya said Guerra "is trying to find every excuse to hire CCA, and change our minds, but it's over." Guerra said he met with Lucio two weeks ago and the veteran lawmaker pushed MTC. "I asked him, 'Are you talking to me as my senator or as an employee of one of these companies?'" Guerra said. "He told me he was talking to me as a consultant." Lucio said he met with Guerra because it "appeared that he had quite a bit of influence on the Commissioners Court." Lucio said he told Guerra he favored MTC because it treats its employees well. Lucio said he thought CorPlan had been cleared because the lawsuit filed on behalf of Willacy County against James Parkey, president of CorPlan, was dropped and there have been no other arrests. Parkey did not return a call seeking comment. "My main focus on talking with Johnny (Guerra) was trying to sell him on the fact that MTC was a very reputable company," Lucio said. "I feel very comfortably speaking on their behalf and asking them to consider us and that was my main focus." According to the Texas Ethics Commission, Lucio reported in 2005 that MTC and CorPlan paid him a total of at least $50,000 through his Brownsville company, Rio Shelters Inc. In the wake of the bribery scandal, Lucio said he had stopped representing the firms and wouldn't again until the matter was cleared up. "I know there has been a case, a problem, a situation there where somebody associated with (Parkey) out of Laredo was indicted and convicted," Lucio said, referring to Cortez. "But when the lawsuit against him was dropped, I felt that he was exonerated." Told that the bribery investigation may still be open, he said: "If it is, I am not aware of it." Asked if he was being paid by MTC or CorPlan for encouraging the detention center contract, he said: "It's up to them if they feel I did a good job." Lucio said it was "very hard to draw a fine line" between his job as a lawmaker and his private work, but added: "I can tell you this: I do my best." "I get paid $600 a month to be a state senator, and I do it just about on a full-time basis," he said. Damon Hiniger, a vice president of CCA in Tennessee, said he was surprised by the county's decision because CCA was going to invest its own money, pay about $1.8 million in property taxes, and shoulder the risk. Judge Salinas said he was influenced by the bottom line, nothing more. "I have nothing against CCA, they are a good reputable company, but they are in the business to make their own bucks," he said. The detention facility is to open Aug. 1 with 500 beds, and then have 1,500 more available Oct. 1. It is part of President Bush's Secure Border Initiative.

May 25, 2005 Valley Star
Willacy County commissioners will request that the Willacy County Public Facilities Corp. break its contract with a company that is a defendant in a county lawsuit. But rankled members of the Public Facilities Corp. (PFC) said they would stand by their vote to hire Corplan Corrections, a prison consultant in Irving. If PFC members refuse the request, commissioners could remove them, County Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said Tuesday, following commissioners’ request on Monday that the PFC terminate its contract with Corplan Corrections. On May 12, the PFC voted to hire Corplan to begin work on a 500-bed addition to a $14.5 million federal prison. The project’s cost had not been estimated, officials said. On May 13, Willacy County filed a lawsuit against Corplan and Hale Mills Inc., the contractor in the prison project. Willacy County formed the PFC as a nonprofit organization charged with the development of the prison project. In the lawsuit filed by attorney Ramon Garcia, the Hidalgo County judge, Willacy County claims illegal action voided the contract that led to the prison’s construction. The prison project has been the focus of an ongoing federal bribery investigation that has led to the convictions of two former Willacy County commissioners and a former Webb County commissioner.

May 21, 2005 Valley Star
The Willacy County Public Facilities Corp.’s decision to hire a company that is a defendant in a Willacy County lawsuit could jeopardize the case, District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said Friday. On May 12, the Public Facilities Corp. hired Corplan Corrections to expand the $14.5 million federal prison, a project that sparked a bribery scandal that led to the convictions of two former Willacy County commissioners and a former Webb County commissioner. The move would lead to the construction of a 500-bed addition to the prison, which opened with 500 beds in late 2003. The project’s cost had not been estimated, officials said. A day later, on May 13, Willacy County filed a lawsuit against Corplan, an Irving consulting firm, and Hale Mills Inc., a Houston contractor, claiming illegal action voided the contract that led to the prison’s construction. "It’s premature to enter into further contracts with those companies, especially with a pending lawsuit," Guerra said. Willacy County formed the Public Facilities Corp. as a nonprofit organization charged with development of the prison project. The Public Facilities Corp. owns the prison. Attorney Ramon Garcia, the Hidalgo County judge who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Willacy County, declined to comment on whether the Public Facilities Corp.’s action jeopardized the lawsuit. "I’ve been hired to represent parties regarding the facility that’s already been constructed," said Garcia, who Guerra said was working on a contingent fee that would pay him 40 percent of any damages awarded. "These are separate and distinct transactions." In the lawsuit, Willacy County claims former Webb County Commissioner David Cortez worked as a consultant to the two companies when he funneled about $39,000 to "several" Willacy County commissioners. In turn, former Willacy County Commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez agreed to vote to select the companies for the project, the lawsuit claims. In March, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen convicted Cortez of funneling about $39,000 in bribes to "several" Willacy County commissioners in exchange for their votes to hire a consultant in the prison project. In January, Hanen convicted Tamez and Jimenez after they pleaded guilty to taking more than $10,000 in bribes in the project.
An ongoing federal and state investigation is expected to lead to charges against at least one other Willacy County elected official, authorities have said.

May 18, 2005 AP
Willacy County has filed a lawsuit against two companies involved in a $14.5 million federal prison project that became entwined in a bribery scheme. The civil lawsuit was filed last week in state district court against Corplan Corrections of Argyle and Hale Mills Inc. of Houston. The suit claims the companies conspired to bribe county commissioners to select them for the construction project. Although the lawsuit does not specify damages, District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said the financially troubled county could get title to the prison. "The contract would be null and void, so technically the prison would end up belonging to the county free of charge," Guerra said in Thursday editions of the Valley Morning Star in Harlingen.

March 25, 2005 San Antonio Express-News
A third former South Texas county commissioner charged in connection with a bribery scandal surrounding a detention facility in the Rio Grande Valley was convicted Thursday in Brownsville. Authorities said others could be charged. David Cortez, 70, of Laredo, a former Webb County commissioner, was charged, pleaded guilty and was convicted Thursday of conspiring to "obstruct, delay and affect commerce" for his role in helping secure a contract for the Willacy County Adult Correctional Center in Raymondville. He waived his right to have a grand jury investigate. The charge accused him of funneling at least $39,000 to help a consulting firm get part of the job. Cortez is cooperating with the FBI in an ongoing investigation, authorities said. He was released on a personal recognizance bond and is scheduled to be sentenced June 28. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The name of the consulting company he secured the bids for was not released. Two former Willacy County commissioners, Jose Jimenez of Sebastian and Israel Tamez of Raymondville, pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to accepting bribes of $10,000 or more for their votes awarding contracts to build the 500-bed detention facility used for federal inmates. Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence said the Dallas-area firms CorPlan Corrections LTD and Aguirre Inc., along with Management & Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, and Hale-Mills Construction of Houston, were the companies hired to either design, build or manage the Raymondville facility, which opened in 2003. "Most of these guys have worked together on several projects," Spence said. Asked to confirm that Cortez had worked for CorPlan, the firm's director, James Parkey, said by phone, "I have no comment on that. Obviously that's a tickly subject and I could refer you to my attorney." According to a charging document, "several Willacy County commissioners did solicit and receive things of value" from Cortez "in exchange for providing advantages not available to others interested in and competing for the selection of a consultant" for the facility. "It was further part of the conspiracy that several Willacy County commissioners did agree to tacitly and implicitly to provide (Cortez) and other corporate representatives with assurances in their capacity" as commissioners, that Cortez and the company he represented "would receive favorable consideration" in exchange for money, the document states. The commissioners agreed to accept the money in June 2000 and were paid around October 2002, according to court records.

February 26, 2005 Houston Chronicle
When traditional jobs in agriculture and the oil patch began to shrink, Willacy County saw salvation in prisons and jails. A 540-bed jail opened for federal prisoners in 2003 and a 96-bed county jail is now nearing completion, both located next to an existing state jail at the main crossroads of this rural county in the deep Rio Grande Valley. In addition to the jobs provided at the facilities, county officials envisioned ringing cash registers as inmates' families made visits, spending money at local hotels, gas stations and restaurants. But today, the optimism has been overshadowed by scandal. A pair of county commissioners await sentencing in April after admitting taking bribes from corporate executives in exchange for voting on jail contracts. The executives haven't been identified in federal charges. Compounding all that is a dramatic drop in the number of inmates being housed in the federal facility. Since November, the U.S. Marshals Service has removed more than 200 prisoners to jails in neighboring Cameron County, where jail costs are nearly half what Willacy jailers are paid under the existing federal contract.
Willacy's 2005 budget counted on a projected $300,000 payment from Management Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, the private management firm that operates the jail. Willacy County receives a $2 share of the $70-plus daily payment received for each federal inmate. Today, there are about 300 inmates in the 540-bed jail, and the private management company acknowledges it is losing money. Executives with the companies that built and manage the federal jail strongly deny any involvement with the bribery scandal. Hale-Mills Construction Inc., a Houston firm that built both the federal jail and the nearly completed county jail, which cost $7.5 million in financing and construction, did not return repeated calls for comment. But the firm issued a statement denying any knowledge of the bribes. Edmundo Ramirez, a McAllen attorney representing Corplan Corrections of Argyle, the project manager, said, ''We have no involvement with that (bribery) at all." District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said the first sign of any criminal wrongdoing surfaced when the county's public facilities corporation — created in 1999 to build the federal jail — received a $45,700 bill for a credit card account. Authorities soon learned ex-county auditor Armando Rubalcaba, who was hired after Garcia left in late 1996, had opened the account without telling other county officials, Guerra said. Rubalcaba also chaired the jail facilities' board of directors. The bill included thousands of cash withdrawals the auditor made from a convenience store he owns, as well as charges for trips to Las Vegas resorts, airline travel and expensive meals. Rubalcaba, fired for incompetence in October 2003, pleaded no contest to theft charges last year and agreed to tell investigators all he knew about corruption in the county. He accepted a plea bargain that allows him to be free on probation for 10 years, and he must make restitution to the county. After that, the investigation moved quickly, and on Jan. 4, two commissioners — Jose Jimenez, 67, and Israel Tamez, 58, — pleaded guilty to accepting more than $10,000 ''from particular corporate representatives who were selected for design, construction, maintenance and management of the jail." So far, Justice Department officials have refused to say who made the payoffs.

February 10, 2005 Valley Star
Willacy County officials are "disappointed" in the U.S. Marshals Service’s placement of inmates in the federal prison that they built to bolster the county budget, County Judge Simon Salinas said Wednesday. This week, the inmate count stood at about 313 in the 500-bed prison, up from an average of about 260 from October to December, Sheriff Larry Spence said. But county officials had based their $3.8 million general fund budget on near-capacity inmate counts projected to generate $300,000. "They’re hitting us in the pocketbook," Salinas said. As part of an agreement, Management & Training Corp., the private firm that runs the prison, pays the county $2 a day for each federal inmate housed in the county-owned prison. County officials expected the inmate count to jump after last month’s meeting with U.S. Marshal Ben Reyna. Jan. 4, Spence and State Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, traveled to Reyna’s office in Washington, D.C., to discuss the drop in inmates. Lucio participated as a consultant to Management & Training Corp., the company that manages the prison.
A year-end money crunch led the Marshals Service to transfer inmates to jails with lower housing costs, Spence said. In 2000, county commissioners entered into a contract to build the $14.5 million prison after the Marshals Service solicited the construction of a South Texas prison to hold its inmates. The prison opened in October 2003. Last month, a U.S. district judge convicted former County Commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez after they pleaded guilty to taking more than $10,000 in kickbacks in the prison project.

February 7, 2005 San Antonio Express-News
State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, made the right decision by suspending his business ties, even if only temporarily, with three contractors connected to a federal detention facility at the center of a criminal investigation in the Rio Grande Valley. He should make it permanent. In announcing his decision, the South Texas legislator said he did not want any misperceptions about his business dealings. Lucio, president and CEO of Rio Shelters Inc. a marketing and advertising agency, has been on the payroll of the three companies involved in that public construction project for several years. His primary job was to introduce company officials to power brokers in the Rio Grande Valley. In interviews with the Brownsville Herald, Lucio said he has worked with CorPlan Corrections of Argyle, Aguirre Inc. of Dallas and the Management and Training Corp. of Centerville, Utah, since 1999 earning about $100,000 a year. If that is so, why didn't his employment with the three companies appear on his financial disclosure statements filed with the state until 2004? Lucio is correct when he says it is all about perception for a politician, and omitting vital information about his employers on his state officeholder reports raises serious questions. 

January 20, 2005 Brownsville Herald
State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. on Tuesday temporarily suspended his consulting work for three companies involved with constructing and managing a Willacy County federal detention center — the focus of a federal bribery investigation. Lucio, D-Brownsville, told The Brownsville Herald on Wednesday that he has taken a “leave of absence” from representing James Parkey’s CorPlan Corrections of Argyle, Pedro Aguirre’s Aguirre Corp. of Dallas, and J.C. Conner’s Management and Training Corp. (MTC) of Georgetown, until the federal inquiry in Willacy County concludes. Lucio said he would reassess the relationship with the firms that pay him about $100,000 a year combined. The federal investigation already has resulted in the Jan. 4 convictions of Willacy County commissioners Jose Jimenez of Sebastian and Israel Tamez of Raymondville for accepting at least $10,000 in bribes in exchange for their votes in awarding contracts for the center’s construction. U.S. Attorney Michael Shelby has not charged the corporate representatives who allegedly bribed Jimenez and Tamez. Companies involved in the project also have not been accused of any wrongdoing. Lucio said Wednesday that he has been on CorPlan’s payroll since 1999 and that the other two firms soon contracted him. He wouldn’t say when or how much each specifically has paid him for marketing the firms and introducing them to public officials. The Herald found, however, that it was not until 2004 that Lucio reported the companies in his financial statements. Asked if he believed that the companies would pay him more than $100,000 a year were he not a senator, Lucio said that “it might seem like a lot of money, and it is in our area of the state, but there are senators and representatives that are making much more money on one case than I do in one year. So, I am not ashamed of what I make. I worked for that.”

January 13, 2005 Valley Morning Star
State Sen. Eddie Lucio on Wednesday stood behind his work as a consultant for a company involved in a $14.5 million federal prison project in Willacy County. Last week, Lucio was working as a consultant for Corplan Corrections and Management & Training Corp. (MTC) when he went to Washington D.C., to discuss a recent drop in the federal prison’s inmate count with U.S. Marshals Service Director Ben Reyna. The prison project has become the subject of an investigation that led to the conviction of two Willacy County officials of taking bribes from at least one of the companies involved in the design and construction of the prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. No company has been named as the source of the bribes. The prison has been struggling to maintain the number of federal inmates it houses. A decline in the number has hurt Willacy County financially. The county for months has been struggling to keep from plunging into debt. MTC requested the meeting with Reyna, Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence said, since the Marshals Service sends federal inmates to the prison. "I think it helped. It kind of opened the door," said Spence, who traveled to Washington, D.C. with Lucio and County Commissioner Noe Loya. Lucio’s connection to the prison goes back for several years. In 1999, Lucio "introduced" Corplan Corrections to Willacy County commissioners as they began to plan for a federal prison here, Lucio said of the Argyle consulting firm that worked to develop the project. Among Lucio’s clients is Aguirre Construction, the Dallas firm that designed the federal prison. Lucio also works as a consultant for MTC, the Utah firm that manages the prison. Last week, U.S. district Judge Andrew Hanen convicted former Willacy County Commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez of taking more than $10,000 in kickbacks in the federal prison project. Federal prosecutors charged Tamez and Jimenez received kickbacks "from particular corporate representatives who were selected in the competition" for the prison project. The 500-bed prison’s inmate count dropped from near-capacity in early October to about 240 in December, Spence said, noting MTC pays the county $2 for every prisoner. The financially embattled county projected $300,000 in federal prison money to boost its $3.8 million general fund budget. A year-end money crunch led the Marshal’s Service to transfer inmates to prisons with lower housing costs, Spence said.

January 13, 2005 Brownsville Herald
Three companies with ties to state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, worked on the construction of the federal detention center in Willacy County, which is now the subject of an federal investigation into bribes. Inquiries already netted the Jan. 4 convictions of Willacy County commissioners Jose Jimenez, 67, of Sebastian, and Israel Tamez, 58, of Raymondville. They each pleaded guilty to accepting $10,000 or more in bribes from corporate representatives involved in the design, construction, financing, maintenance and management of the detention center, according to U.S. Attorney Michael Shelby. According to public records, the primary companies involved in the project include jail consultant Corplan Corrections of Argyle, design-builder Hale-Mills Construction of Houston, Aguirre Corp. of Dallas, and the Management and Training Corp. (MTC) of Utah, which manages the detention center. Federal Election Commission records also identify Corplan’s James M. Parkey as an architect with Aguirre Corp. Lucio has been on Corplan’s, Aguirre’s and MTC’s payroll for about four years for marketing, public relations and consulting work. He remains on the payrolls of at least Corplan and MTC, The Brownsville Herald found Wednesday.
Asked if he was involved in wrongdoing, Lucio answered without hesitation. “Of course not,” he said. “You don’t even have to ask that.” In a prepared statement, Shelby said the two commissioners admitted to accepting a series of bribes from June 2000 through March 2003 in exchange for their votes awarding contracts for the construction of the detention center. In June 2000, The Brownsville Herald reported that Lucio authored legislation in 1999 clarifying that counties can enter into a contract with a private vendor for the design, management or construction of jails. Lucio was a consultant for MTC in 2000, which had been vying for the Cameron County detention center project. Lucio told The Brownsville Herald in 2002 and 2004 that Corplan, Aguirre, MTC and other firms contracted him for marketing, public relations and consulting work. He said this included introducing and setting up meetings with local governmental officials. Lucio’s 2003 financial statement filed in 2004 with the Texas Ethics Commission reflects that Aguirre paid him $10,000 to $24,999; TEDSI $25,000 or more; Corplan $25,000 or more; and MTC $25,000 or more. Lucio declined to tell The Brownsville Herald on Wednesday the specific amount of money Corplan and MTC paid him. He confirmed that he continues on their payroll, however.

January 8, 2005 Valley Morning Star
Willacy County commissioners will consider hiring attorney Ramon Garcia, Hidalgo County’s judge, to investigate whether there are grounds to sue companies involved in a federal prison project that paid kickbacks to two former commissioners.   Friday, an attorney representing a company involved in the prison project vehemently denied Corplan Corrections was involved in any wrongdoing. Monday, commissioners will consider hiring Garcia to investigate whether there are grounds to file a civil lawsuit against companies involved in the $14.5 million federal prison and the current development of a $7.5 million county jail. "We’re not going to tolerate companies coming in to take advantage of small counties and offering kickbacks and going on like it’s business as usual," District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra said. "Whoever offers kickbacks is just as guilty as those taking kickbacks." Tuesday, U.S. district Judge Andrew Hanen convicted former commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez of taking more than $10,000 in kickbacks in the federal prison project. Under the law, contracts that involve illegal activity are void, Guerra said. "Someone gave them that money," County Judge Simon Salinas said. "Whoever made these guys get dirty, they’re going to go down, too. I want them to pay for it. Someone’s going to take them on in the courtroom." The county could win "millions" of dollars in damages because a financial firm involved in the project has sold about $25 million in bonds — about $10 million more than the prison’s $14.5 million cost, Guerra said.  But that bond money was used to pay interest, said Edmundo Ramirez, a McAllen attorney representing Corplan Corrections, a consultant in the federal prison project.

Willacy County Federal Detention Center, Raymondville, Texas
Jul 19, 2017 justice.gov

Former Correctional Officer Sentenced to Prison for Accepting Bribes
BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A former correctional officer will now be on the other side of prison bars following his conviction of accepting bribes in his capacity as a public official, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. Stephen Salinas, 23, of Edcouch, pleaded guilty Jan. 3, 2017. Today, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen handed Salinas an 18-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. The term includes upward adjustments in his calculated sentencing guideline range because he received more than one bribe, was in a high level or sensitive position and used his position as a public official to facilitate the introduction of the contraband into a prison facility. Salinas was a correctional officer formerly employed at the Management and Training Corporation (MTC) Willacy County Regional Detention Center. At the time of his plea, Salinas admitted that between October 2015 and January 2016, he accepted bribes in exchange for providing cell phones and gallon jugs of alcohol to inmates at the MTC Detention Center. He admitted he used his position as a correctional officer to smuggle the items into the facility. Was paid a total of approximately $3,000 for allowing the contraband into the facility. Salinas was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service at a later date. Department of Justice - Office of Inspector General, U.S. Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Castro prosecuted the case.


Dec 13, 2016 sacurrent.com
South Texas Prison Riot Blamed On For-Profit Prison Company's "Abysmal Mismanagement"
Frustration over flooded toilets, rodents, serious overcrowding and a lack of basic inmate services led to the all-out riot at the Willacy County Correctional Center nearly two years ago, according to a federal lawsuit that blames the South Texas prison's closure on "abysmal mismanagement" from the for-profit company tapped to run the facility. On February 20, 2015, prisoners blamed inadequate medical care and other problems when they refused to comply with orders at the South Texas lockup, a privately-run facility that had contracted with the federal Bureau of Prisons to house low-risk non-U.S. citizen inmates (a so-called "Criminal Alien Requirement" prison). At first, they just refused to do their routine chores or eat breakfast, but eventually some inmates set fire to at least three of the prison's tent-like dome housing units. Three weeks after the riot, the feds terminated their contract with MTC and Willacy County and shuttered the prison. In a lawsuit filed last week, officials with Willacy County, which made as much as $2.7 million a year off the prison under its arrangement with the feds and private prison contractor Management and Training Corp, claims that MTC failed to properly "oversee, manage, and repair" the prison and "turned a blind eye to the enormous problems that plagued the Prison from its inception." Indeed the problems at Willacy go back several years. Before it became a so-called CAR facility, the Texas tent prison was an immigrant detention center that activists took to calling "Ritmo" (a portmanteau of Raymondville, where it's located, and Gitmo) because of allegations that sexual assault, physical abuse, and medical neglect plagued the facility. In 2011, months after immigration officials ended their contract with MTC, federal prison officials decided to swoop in and ink yet another contract to send immigrants convicted of crimes (mostly for criminal re-entry) to Willacy.

Dec 9, 2016 foxrio2.com
Willacy County Files Suit Against Private Prison
Willacy County (KFXV) — A lawsuit is filed against a private prison company where Local Government Corporation alleges the Willacy County Prison was forced to close because of its failure to meet its most basic obligations, according to the contract. The lawsuit filed Wednesday, claims the private prison company failed to oversee and repair problems– which eventually led to the closure of the prison. Willacy County Local Government Corporation filing the lawsuit alleging that private prison company, ‘Management & Training Corporation’– also known as MTC– whom they partnered with, did not follow contract procedures. According to Willacy County’s management contract with MTC, it was responsible for proper management of the prison.
The lawsuit specifically points out that MTC was to provide necessary services to inmates for an efficient operation of the entity. But MTC failed to oversee and repair problems, including flooding toilets, rodents and a lack of basic inmate services, which in turn caused a prison riot on February 20, 2015. In the end, the Willacy County Prison was forced to close by the Bureau of Prisons, which deemed the facility ‘uninhabitable’–letting go of 400 employees. Local Government Corporation, stating that had MTC done its job correctly, the prison would still be in business. In response to the lawsuit, MTC sent a statement to Fox News, saying they have always addressed structural, maintenance and other issues in a timely manner, and also making sure that the facility met all Federal Bureau of Prison standards. “While we can’t discuss specific allegations, we can say that mtc has always addressed any structural, maintenance and other issues in a timely manner. The bureau of prisons (bop) Monitored mtc’s operation on a daily basis and did frequent comprehensive audits to make sure the facility was safe and clean and that it met all federal bop standards. The facility was also accredited by the american correctional association and the joint commission, which accredits healthcare organizations throughout the country.” Willacy County is requesting ‘MTC’ pay for actual damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.

Nov 6, 2016 valleycentral.com
U.S. Marshals Service: 2 former guards at Willacy County prison charged with bribery
The Gulf Coast Violent Offenders and Fugitive Task Force arrested former two guards at the Willacy County Regional Detention Center on Friday. The task force arrested 22-year-old Stephan Salinas and 29-year-old Harry Cordero, who worked at the Willacy County Regional Detention Center -- a private prison in Raymondville operated by Utah-based Management and Training Corp. -- according to a news release from the U.S. Marshals Service. Cordero accepted bribes to allow alcohol and a cell phone to enter the prison during December 2015, according to the indictment against him. Management and Training Corp. fired Cordero and Salinas in January, according to a statement released by the company. "As soon as we concluded our internal investigation of these two individuals, we immediately notified the U.S. Marshals Service and worked cooperatively with them," according to the statement. Management and Training Corp. monitors everyone who enters and exits the detention center and conducts random searches, according to the statement. "All employees go through a scanner upon entry to the facility, random pat searches are conducted, personal bags go through an x-ray scanner and are physically searched, and all containers brought into the facility must be transparent," according to the statement. A three-count indictment unsealed on Friday charges Cordero with two counts of bribery and one count of providing contraband in prison. Bribery is punishable by a maximum 10 years in prison, according to federal court records. Providing contraband in prison is punishable by a maximum one year in prison. Details about the charges against Salinas weren’t immediately available. Both men remain in federal custody and couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday.

Jan 26, 2016 valleymorningstar.com
City stunned
RAYMONDVILLE — When April Torres has her baby, she and her boyfriend won’t have their jobs at Walmart. On Friday, Walmart will close its Raymondville store, laying off Torres, her boyfriend Efrain Coronado and about 110 other employees. “Everyone is devastated,” Torres, 19, who’s seven months pregnant, said as she had lunch at Las Mañanitas restaurant in Raymondville. For more than a year, she’s been making $9 an hour as a cashier, working nearly 40 hours a week to pay her rent and make her car payment. Walmart officials asked her if she’s willing to transfer to another Rio Grande Valley store. But a job might not open, said Torres, who said the company will pay her wages for two months after the store closes. Across Willacy County, residents remain stunned Walmart is closing the Supercenter about 10 months after the
shut down, laying off 400 employees. “Now where am I going to work?” Torres asked. A few tables away, Clarence Tidwell said the laid-off workers will have trouble finding jobs in the area struggling with a 13-percent unemployment rate. “It’s kind of devastating,” said Tidwell, a plumbing company owner. “It’s quite a few people who lost jobs and they’re hard to get anyway.” At Walmart, Lawrence Green sat in his pickup truck, gazing at the store that opened in 2005. “It’s very catastrophic between this and the prison,” said Green, a retired firefighter. “I don’t know how much longer the area can take it. “They lost 500 to 600 jobs in an area this size. It’s got to put the hurt on. I think a lot of people are depressed. People bought new cars expecting jobs to be here — and they’re gone.” In the parking lot, Homer and Janie Vela wondered about the area’s future. “It’s a big impact county-wide,” Homer Vela, a former county correctional officer, said of the store’s closing after the prison shut down. “A lot are in disbelief. We’re hoping it will advance and catch up with other cities but we’re going down.” Janie Vela blamed local leaders. “I don’t think the officials have done enough to bring in jobs,” said Janie Vela, a home health provider. “We need the city to progress. We need business to develop so people can have jobs. I don’t see a future for Raymondville.” In Walmart, clearance sales drew customers who walked past rows of empty shelves. “It’s weird,” said Frances Chapa, a secretary at the Lyford school district. “We still can’t believe it. It’s been here for so many years.” Like many residents, Chapa knows some of the store’s employees — like her sister-in-law. “It’s sadness. I feel sorry for the employees,” Chapa said. “Everything’s going down. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Raymondville — the community. There are not going to be any jobs here.” Like many longtime customers, Irene Johnson will drive 30 miles to Harlingen stores after Walmart closes. “It makes me sick,” said Johnson, a businesswoman and retired schoolteacher. “It’s sad to lose all those jobs. I feel terrible. I stop here to get my medicines. People cash their checks here. Now I’ll be going to Harlingen and they’re going to get my taxes. Willacy County is in bad shape with the prison closing and Walmart closing. Our tax base will go down.” On Jan. 15, Walmart announced it would close Raymondville’s store Jan. 29, laying off about 110 employees. Mayor Gilbert Gonzales said about 55 employees work full-time. The world’s largest retailer announced the closing of 269 of its least profitable stores in the United States and Latin America, including a Brownsville store on Padre Island Highway. News of the Raymondville store’s closing came 10 months after the Willacy County Correctional Center shut down, laying off 400 employees. The prison’s closure plunged Willacy County into a financial crisis, slashing a third of the county’s $8.1 million general fund budget. As county commissioners tried to offset a monthly $220,000 shortfall, budget cuts eliminated about 25 jobs, forcing 16 layoffs.

Jun 23, 2015 thenation.com
The True Story of a Texas Prison Riot And how our rush to lock up immigrants has overwhelmed the federal prison system.

The Willacy County Correctional Center in Raymondville, Texas, is now empty. As of late May, a single security guard sat in a small car in the entrance to the parking lot. It has been like this since prisoners so ransacked the facilities in a February riot, cutting and burning holes in the Kevlar domes that held them, that the Federal Bureau of Prisons declared it “uninhabitable.” The agency moved the inmates to other prisons and declined to renew its contract with the private corrections company that ran the facility. Nearly all of the 400 employees were terminated. Willacy’s operating company, Management & Training Corp., says the riot was plotted by inmates and was unavoidable; the SWAT team it deployed to control inmates, a measured response to prisoner unrest. This version of the story, which has circulated in the press since the days after the riot, is at best a partial truth, and one that obscures the company’s own aggression. A fuller account of the events at Willacy points to deep problems with the federal government’s management of a soaring population of immigrants it incarcerates for border crimes. Until it was closed, Willacy was one of 13 low-security facilities in the federal system that held noncitizens serving the final months or years of their criminal sentences. The more than 25,000 men held in these facilities, called Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prisons, are later transferred to immigration authorities and deported.

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The facilities are not immigration detention centers; they are criminal prisons. But they differ from other BOP facilities in key ways. They are all privately operated. They offer fewer programs, less permanent housing, and often have a smaller—and lower-paid—staff. The BOP has said that immigrants are an “appropriate group for housing in privately operated institutions where there are somewhat fewer programs,” because the inmates aren’t being reintegrated into US society. Rights groups disagree. “They are segregated federal prisons where people are sent based on their national origin,” said Carl Takei, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who co-wrote a report last year detailing subpar conditions and lack of government oversight in five CAR prisons in Texas. “They’re not just separate, but they’re also unequal.” One measure of that inequity is that riots keep breaking out. Willacy’s riot was the fourth at a CAR prison since 2008. The BOP’s other low-security prisons, by contrast, almost never experience such eruptions. The Justice Department Inspector General released a report in April that found that a CAR prison operated by the GEO Group in Pecos, Texas, where prisoners rioted in 2009, had for years had understaffed medical and correctional units and failed to address known inadequacies in security and healthcare. MTC has said that a small group of prisoners at Willacy used medical-care complaints as a pretext to orchestrate the February riot. According to this version of events, the inmates feared for their safety at the border crossing through which they were to be deported. MTC says the inmates rioted so that they would be moved to a different prison and thus would be returned to Mexico through safer crossings. In May, I interviewed 15 former staff members at Willacy, many of whom were on the front lines the morning of the riot, as well as three inmates who were incarcerated there at the time. All the witnesses I interviewed challenge MTCs claims. They say the prison leadership, not the prisoners, sparked the riot; what had been a peaceful protest over prison conditions turned violent only after officers used tear gas, as well as rubber bullets and exploding BB-filled grenades against a group of prisoners. A member of a law-enforcement agency that was present after the riot said this account is consistent” with the one that the agency pieced together.

A Peaceful Protest

The conflict in Willacy began around 8 pm on Thursday, February 19, when the inmates initiated a work strike. “We made the agreement that we would not leave the units, and that nobody would do anything,” an inmate told me. Ricardo Garza Jr. had worked as a correctional officer at Willacy since the prison opened, in 2006, as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center. In 2011 ICE ended its contract with MTC, but a month later MTC received another $532 million 10-year contract to transform the facility into a CAR prison. Garza was hired back. I talked with Garza in May, at his small Raymondville home. Garza, like most of the former officers I spoke with, was still unemployed, and hoped the prison would reopen. Correctional officers there earned nearly $15, a high hourly wage in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. In each of the 200-inmate housing pods at Willacy, a single correctional officer was posted for the duration of each eight-hour shift, watching over the lines of bunk beds. Garza says officers working the bunks on February 19 were briefed by ranking prison officials before work. “The lieutenants and the major that night before it happened told us that they had come to an agreement that [the inmates] were only going to do a strike, that it would be a peaceful demonstration, they weren’t going to cause problems, they weren’t going to try to hurt us whatsoever. They told us not to get them riled up or disrespect them in any way, using force on them or anything. Just do our jobs and go home.” As the sun rose at 7 am, officers who were stationed inside the pods on the next shift recall, the atmosphere was still unusually quiet. They too were told the inmates were conducting a “sit-in.” “All of them were peaceful, they weren’t messing with the guards,” said one officer who was in a pod that morning. All the officers quoted, except Garza, asked not to be identified, because they hope to be hired back if the prison opens again. Because the ratio of correctional officers to inmates was low—a common complaint among the staff—officers say that they relied heavily on the inmates’ own organizational hierarchy to secure the facility. The Paisas—short for paisanos, or “fellow countrymen” in Spanish—is a hierarchical group that operates in many federal prisons. Federal officials call it a gang; at Willacy, it was practically an administrative partner. “If I really had a problem and I needed it fixed,” an officer who worked in the dorms told me, “I would just tell the [Paisa] representative of the dorm.… ‘Hey this is not working, I don’t want to give you a hard time, just respect me and I respect you.’ And it would be fixed.” In typical federal prisons, with more racially diverse populations, the Paisas do actually function like any other prison gang—primarily, providing protection against other groups. But Willacy was not an ordinary prison. As of late 2014, 85 percent of Willacy’s 2,658 inmates were Mexican nationals. Some were convicted of crimes like transporting drugs or burglary. But, according to federal records, seven in 10 were incarcerated for immigration-related crimes, mainly “illegal reentry”—meaning they had been caught crossing the border or in US territory more than once, or caught returning after a previous deportation.

Two decades ago, many of these men would not have been in prison.

In 1992 federal courts convicted just 690 people of illegal reentry, according to figures from the Pew Research Center. Border crossing was treated only as a civil offense, not a crime. Crossers were deported, but rarely prosecuted and incarcerated. In the last 20 years, as Congress has tightened criminal laws on the borders and federal prosecutors have shifted attention to the southern border, this has changed. By 2012, the number of federal convictions for illegal reentry had grown to 19,463. The average sentence is two years, but the charge can carry sentences of up to a decade for people with previous state or federal convictions. A Homeland Security Inspector General report in May found no evidence the government’s reentry prosecution program deterred border crossings. But the prosecutions have helped make Latinos the largest ethnic or racial group in federal prison.

Medical Complaints Build

With a nearly homogeneous population, most men inside CAR prisons automatically enter into the Paisa structure, often without really choosing to do so. That structure includes four levels of elected leadership, former inmates say, who respond to conflicts among inmates and bring complaints to prison authorities. For better or worse, the system works to maintain order. “You respect them, they respect you,” said Garza. According to two inmates, Paisa leaders had been considering a major protest for nearly a year, since the deaths of two prisoners in early 2014. Records obtained from the federal government confirm one death in March and another in April 2014. Another Willacy inmate had died in September 2013. All three men were finishing sentences for illegal reentry. Prisoners told me that the deaths raised anxieties about what they already perceived as indifference on the part of the prison doctor and overall lags in medical care. Half a dozen officers and former medical personnel defended the prison’s medical-care practices, arguing that the medical care—which cost the inmates a few dollars out of their commissary account for each visit—was better than anything the men likely received outside the prison gates. But other officers said that the prisoners regularly complained about long delays in the medical unit and inadequate treatment of serious conditions. Three former officers described an informal rule for prisoner medical complaints that, in one officer’s words, held that “If they are not dead and they’re breathing, it can wait till morning.” Several officers told stories about their struggles to convince medical staff to pay attention to seriously ill patients in their units. “For everything, they would give them Ibuprofen,” said another officer. Following a year of growing anxiety about medical care, Paisa leaders finally called for the work strike after one of the Paisa representatives hurt his foot in the recreation yard and faced a typically long wait for medical care, guards and inmates say.

An Avoidable Escalation

MTC spokesperson Issa Arnita acknowledged by e-mail that the inmates had launched a work strike. He said that on Friday morning the warden “met with the offenders to attempt to resolve their concerns.” The vast majority of the inmates—2,000 of the 2,800 people held in Willacy that day—slept in 10 oval-shaped Kevlar tents, lined up on either side of a 600-foot-long lane that prisoners and officers call “the bowling alley.” Each tent, Alpha through Juliet, houses 200 men in bunk beds. Four dorms located inside a hard-walled structure behind the tents hold at least another 200 men each. There are about 300 solitary-confinement cells. When the prison is at or above capacity, two prison employees told me, these solitary cells are often completely filled—not with inmates having discipline problems but with people who simply cannot fit in the open units. At the time of the riot, about 75 men were held in solitary, prison personnel said. Around 10 am, the officers began ordering the inmates in each tent to “rack up” beside their beds so that prison officials could account for each inmate. Inmates in the first four tents, Alpha through Delta, quickly complied. But the men inside the fifth tent, Echo, refused. “[Paisa leaders] told us not to do count,” said Ricardo Quintana, 28, who was being held in Willacy for making a false statement at a border checkpoint. He has since been deported to Mexico. Quintana says Maj. Robert Salazar, who had recently been promoted to the rank just below the wardens, “gave the order three or four times, but the people didn’t pay attention.” Another former inmate from Echo told me in Spanish, “We told [the officers] that our condition was to have the reps present” before they conduct count. The man said he could not be named because he is now incarcerated in a BOP-run facility. “That’s when Major Salazar warned us that it was not a game. He threatened us that he was not playing with children, that everything was going to proceed under his own conditions.” Salazar assembled a “disturbance-control team” of six to eight officers, dressed in riot gear and carrying tear gas canisters, plastic handcuffs, guns loaded with rubber bullets, and BB-filled grenades called “hornets’ nests.” Officers say it was an act of “intimidation.” “We just show them [the disturbance team] to show them we mean business,” said an officer who watched the events. The disturbance team had been called in numerous times in the previous years, when inmates protested over prison conditions. They rarely acted. At the front of the disturbance team that day was Daniel Leyva, the head of Willacy’s Special Investigations Services unit, which was responsible for keeping tabs on gangs and illicit activity by staff and inmates. Several officers and inmates I interviewed told me Leyva was widely despised inside of Willacy. Officers said that he could be aggressive and demeaning to staff. One officer claimed that he made disparaging remarks to women about their physical appearance. Another told a story about being summarily accused of illicit behavior. The sight of the armed team and of Leyva did its job, at first. Correctional officers and an inmate in Echo told me that a high-ranking Paisa representative in a neighboring tent signaled through a window to the men in Echo to comply with the orders. The inmates lined up on their beds and performed the count. “We were frightened,” an inmate held in Echo told me. “No one was going to fight or act against the guards.” Salazar moved on to the next pod: Fox. Two disturbance-control teams waited in the “bowling alley,” and the officers could see several inmates peering out the window with their faces covered in towels. Several Willacy employees pointed to this detail as proof that the riot was planned. But like many other prison staff, an officer present at the time characterized the inmates as “prepared” because they saw the team approach in riot gear and knew they would not comply with the order to rack up. Salazar opened the door to the pod and, according to two officers positioned outside, told the officer stationed inside to leave. No more than a minute later, Salazar too left the tent. “I can’t do nothing,” he said to Leyva, an officer recalls, and began walking away. Through the open door to Fox, an officer remembers, Leyva yelled, “Hey! Y’all need to rack up!” Less than two minutes later, according to an officer watching, Leyva tossed a hornets’-nest grenade into the tent. The men in Fox pod scattered as the bomb exploded, some lifting the mattresses off their beds to protect themselves. Leyva signaled to one of the eight-member teams positioned behind him to rush in. The disturbance-control officers, an officer with a video camera, and several ranking officers burst into the pod, throwing at least two more grenades, and at least one canister of tear gas. Inside, the team began yelling at the inmates to “get down.” Many of the prisoners dropped to the floor, some writhing in pain from the careening pellets, while others began running toward the doors on the opposite side of the pod. When the door would not open, they used small blades broken from prison-issue shaving razors to cut gashes through the Kevlar walls. Officers told me that these blades were often found tucked beneath inmates’ mattresses, and were used to make crafts out of snack wrappers—or to cut holes in the Kevlar to store contraband. When asked about accounts that officers acted violently first, MTC spokesperson Arnita said that after the warden ordered a routine count, “unruly inmates forced officers out of one of the housing units. The disturbance-control team [DCT] then responded. Inmates continued to disobey orders to line up for the count and began threatening the officers. That’s when DCT used tear gas and rubber bullets to attempt to gain control of the inmates.” But those present describe a nonviolent, if tense, standoff that erupted into a riot only after Leyva’s escalation. As the prisoners ran toward the doors inside and began cutting through the walls, officers shot rubber bullets. Several inmates grabbed broom and mop sticks and threw them at members of the team. One inmate who was lying on the floor yelled to the officers to “let me out.” An officer responded by shooting him inside the pod with a rubber bullet, according to another officer. In less than 5 minutes, the officers say, most of the inmates had escaped into the gated area between the Fox and Delta tents. Fewer than 20 inmates remained inside, all prostrate on the floor.

A Riot Erupts

As the sounds of the bangs from the grenades and guns carried down the blowing alley, inmates in other pods began to leave their beds, peering out the windows. In a nearby pod, prisoners shouted at an officer to get away from the door and let them out. The officer refused. They too began to cut through the Kevlar walls. “I announced it on my radio,” the officer told me, “and then right when that happened, I heard everyone else saying that [inmates] were getting out of the tents. It didn’t take more than 5 minutes.” An order to the officers in all of the tents sounded over the radios: “Get out if you can.” Outside Fox, hundreds of inmates gathered. Some were screaming. Others were throwing rocks and pipes, which they’d broken off of the fences, through the tent’s open door and at the officers. Still more retreated to the recreation yards behind the tents, wanting to be as far as possible from the chaos. Several disturbance-control team members shot rubber bullets at the inmates through the opening, as others cut a hole of their own that the team slipped through to return to the bowling alley. As officers and other staff retreated from the scene, they continued to shoot hornets’ nests over the fences that separated the Kevlar pods from the bowling alley. Inmates soon broke down the fences and the men in the more permanent housing smashed those doors as well. They freed the men in solitary and smashed televisions and refrigerators. From outside, onlookers could see plumes of smoke rising from the dorms. Five inmates and two officers were treated inside the facility for minor injuries after the riot, according to MTC spokesperson Issa Arnita. At least one officer’s injury was caused by a rubber bullet shot by another guard, according to former prison staff. The inmates I spoke with say that their fellow prisoners were covered in welts. One officer saw an inmate whose front teeth had been knocked out. Another says an inmate had a bleeding wound on his leg from the hornets’ nest explosion. Prison officials did not reenter the areas where inmates were held until all prisoners had been transferred a week later. Video and photos that a former officer shot days after the riot, and provided to me, show signs that order emerged in the facility once prison staff were pushed out: trash stacked in piles and food organized in rows. “Please keep clean. For the good of everyone,” an inmate wrote on a wall. Graffiti scrawled on the side of one of the dorms sums up the inmates’ feelings about the violence: “Todo Por Tu Culpa Leiva”—All Your Fault, Leyva.

Whose Problem Is This?

“We were never supposed to escalate,” one of the members of the team who entered the Fox pod told me, as we sat in the officer’s back yard nearly three months after the riot. Another member of the team, who had remained in the concrete yard outside Fox, spoke as if still in shock about the day. “I still don’t know what happened,” the officer said. “It happened that quick.” None of the prison staff I interviewed said that inmates had acted violently before being provoked by Leyva’s grenade.“There was intimidation by [the inmates], yes. They were wrapping up their faces, showing us that they are not scared, that they don’t fear what we’ll do,” said an officer who was on the team inside of Fox. “Could it have been prevented? Yeah, it could have been prevented.” A veteran officer, who was clearly angry about the decision to use force, said that the obvious alternative would have been to “reason with the inmates. They always do it. They did it from day one to the day before that happened.” The same officer added that Leyva’s gang-intelligence unit shouldn’t have been part of the response that day. “They’re not supposed to be dealing with problems about the inmates not being happy about medical issues.” Several former Willacy staff told me that they believed the decision to use such extreme force was a simple power play on the part of Leyva and the new major, Salazar. Daniel Leyva did not accept several invitations to speak with me about the riot, but said by e-mail, “I ran my office with integrity and professionalism and whatever was said I’m sure it was said by people that hold a grudge and did not like the outcome of the results from my investigations into corruption.” According to officers, Salazar still works for Management & Training Corp. He did not reply to a Facebook message or answer repeated calls to a listed number. By the afternoon of February 21, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and several state and local police agencies were on the scene. Michelle Lee, spokesperson for the FBI’s San Antonio division, said that FBI negotiators led talks to resolve the uprising. “It was clear to us that inmates recognized that continuing on the path that they were on was not in their best interest,” Lee said. “It was a situation that was ideal for crisis negotiating.” Inmates, who’d been told that they would be moved to other prisons, say that any complaints about medical care were made moot. “Medical care wasn’t an issue anymore—we were leaving,” said Ricardo Quintana, the former prisoner who has been deported. It took a week to move the last of the men to other BOP facilities. Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Ed Ross said that the agency has yet to complete an “after-action report.” And he said the agency would not comment on the “cause of the incident, or what may have precipitated any use of force undertaken by the contractor.” Ross referred me to MTC instead—a stance consistent with the federal government’s hands-off relationship to the growing number of noncitizens it incarcerates. “It’s MTC’s facility. From our perspective, we just had a contract with them,” Ross said.

May 6, 2015 krgv.com
Willacy County on Tuesday auctioned several properties to collect delinquent taxes. County officials say they have seen an increase in the number of property owners opt not to pay taxes. Abandoned properties in the region are a testament of the county’s harsh economic reality. The county took a big financial hit when a private prison closed in March. Officials now are trying to recover some of the lost funds through tax sales. The properties not sold Tuesday will go back on auction block. Deputy Isabel Salinas collected more than $50,000 from the tax sale. That's the amount the prison poured into Raymondville's coffers every month just in sewer and water costs. Salinas says locals take pride in raising the economic standards of their city. "I have businesses come in and tell me, 'I want to buy so many lots because I want to start an apartment complex or a gas station," Salinas said. Some of the bidders are people who have close ties to the community and whose relatives still live in the city. They say their goal is to make Raymondville a better place.


Apr 18, 2015 krgv.com
The warden is the last man standing at the Willacy County correctional facility. Management and Training Corporation laid off nine staff members Friday. The warden is the only MTC employee left. A riot there two months ago left the facility uninhabitable. Officials said the cleanup is complete, and there will be an effort to try and reopen the facility. A total of 363 employees at the prison were laid off. All 2,800 prisoners were moved to other federal facilities.


Mar 28, 2015 valleymorningstar.com

RAYMONDVILLE — Willacy County officials Thursday said the federal government was partly to blame for the tent-city prison’s closure while state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. has failed to address the loss of hundreds of jobs and a county shortfall of as much as $2.7 million a year. A County Commission meeting heated up before commissioners ordered a hiring freeze to help offset a monthly shortfall of about $220,000 that the Willacy County Correc-tional Center pumped into the $8.12 general fund budget and capital fund. State District Judge Migdalia Lopez said officials could consider filing a lawsuit against the federal government as a result of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ termination of a contract to hold prisoners at the facility largely made up of 10 Kevlar-covered tent-like domes. The federal government was partly to blame because it “created the prob-lem” when it housed prisoners in the tent-city, Lopez said. “We need help,” Lopez told commissioners. “You are part of the problem,” Lopez said, referring to the federal government. Ed Ross, a Bureau of Prisons’ spokesman in Washington, D.C., said the agency had no comment. Justice of the Peace George Solis said Lucio played a role in introducing anagement & Training Corp., or MTC, the company that has operated the prison since it opened in 2006, to county officials. “Where is Sen. Lucio who presented MTC to us?” Solis asked commissioners. Questions have surrounded Lucio’s involvement with MTC for more than 10 years. Lucio could not be reached for comment because his brother Joseph Lucio died Thursday, office manager Helen Soto Knaggs said from Austin. In 1999, Lucio “introduced” county officials to Corplan Corrections, an Argyle consulting firm that worked to develop the county’s $14.5 million prison that holds inmates for the U.S. Marshals Service, Lucio said in an interview in January 2005. “I try to bring people together who could offer solutions,” Lucio, who worked as a consultant in the project, said in the interview. State ethics laws allow state senators and representatives to operate pri-vate consulting businesses, apart from their official duties. Lucio said his consulting business complied with state law and there was no conflict of interest. Among Lucio’s clients was Aguirre  Construction, the Dallas firm that de-signed the $14.5 million prison. Lucio said he also worked as a consultant for MTC. “I have a great deal of respect for Corplan and MTC,” Lucio said in the 2005 interview. “I have no problem with working with them. I feel they offer a fair hand in their deal-ings. They’ve always been fair and honest in the work they’re involved with.” In January 2005, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen convicted former Willacy County Commissioners Israel Tamez and Jose Jimenez of taking more than $10,000 in kickbacks in the $14.5 million prison project. Federal prosecutors accused Tamez and Jimenez of receiving kickbacks “from particular corporate representatives who were selected in the competition” for the prison project. No companies were ever charged in connection with the case. “I’m very interested to see who did offer any bribes,” Lucio said in 2005. “I know nothing about that. I’m like anyone else down there who wants to see who’s at fault.” In March 2005, Hanen convicted former Webb County Commissioner David Cortez of funneling about $39,000 in bribes to Tamez and Jimenez in exchange for their votes to hire a consultant in the $14.5 million prison pro-ject. Cortez worked as a con-sultant for Corplan.Cortez “admitted to for-warding a series of payments totaling approximately $39,000 from a corporation involved in soliciting a consulting contract” for the project’s development, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said after the conviction. “The cash was paid to influence the Willacy County commissioners to support the hiring of a consultant concerning the construction” of the prison. Edmundo Ramirez, a McAllen lawyer who was representing Corplan at the time, said the company was not involved in any wrongdoing. “I don’t know what Mr. Cortez did or did not do,” Ramirez said in 2005. “As far as we know, all our employees conducted themselves within the law. We have nothing to hide.”


Mar 17, 2015 krgv.com

Board Of Prison Drops Contract For Willacy County Correction RAYMONDVILLE - Management and Training Corporation representatives said the Federal Bureau of Prisons canceled their contract at the Willacy County Correctional Center. The facility is empty following a prison riot last month. Inmates are accused of causing extensive damage and leaving the facility uninhabitable. They were transferred to other prisons. MTC is still working on cleaning and repairing the prison; however, they've already laid off 363 workers. "It's devastating to Willacy County, for sure," says Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence, "especially those people that, you know, young couples that just bought homes, bought vehicles, and things of this nature." MTC representatives told CHANNEL 5 NEWS the national inmate population is down and the Bureau of Prisons doesn't need the additional beds. There is a 3-day hiring event planned to help workers who were laid off. As for company itself, it isn't leaving Willacy County entirely. MTC still runs the county's regional detention center.

 

Mar 15, 2015 aclu.org
WASHINGTON – According to media reports, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has canceled its contract with the Management and Training Corporation for the Willacy County Correctional Center in Raymondville City, Texas. This cancellation comes after a major uprising on February 20th in which almost 2,000 people incarcerated at Willacy took control of the prison, apparently in protest of inadequate medical services. “The Bureau of Prisons’ decision to shut down the Willacy private prison is a welcome but long overdue move,” said Carl Takei, an attorney at the ACLU's National Prison Project. “We hope the Bureau will sustain this momentum by ending the use of private prisons entirely. Additionally, Congress must pass sentencing reform legislation and take steps to address our country’s mass incarceration epidemic.” Nicknamed “Ritmo,” the Gitmo of Raymondville by local advocates, the Willacy prison was first built in 2006 as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility. After numerous complaints of abuse, ICE cancelled its contract with Willacy in 2011, but the Bureau of Prisons quickly converted Willacy into a “Criminal Alien Requirement” prison – one of thirteen such private prisons around the country. The American Civil Liberties Union profiled this network of private prisons in its June 2014 report, “Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System.” The report found that people incarcerated in these private prisons were subjected to shocking mistreatment and abusive conditions, with inadequate oversight by the Bureau of Prisons. Following the recent uprising, the ACLU called for an independent investigation into the causes and circumstances of the protest.

Mar 3, 2015 expressnews.com
A group of inmates who apparently feared for their safety upon deportation to Mexico may have orchestrated a prison uprising that destroyed much of the Willacy County Correctional Center last month, according to preliminary investigation by the prison company that ran the troubled facility. Utah-based Management & Training Corp. said interviews with former inmates point to a small group of influential prisoners who allegedly planned the Feb. 20 riot to force their transfer to other facilities and ultimately influence the location of their deportation. Those prisoners set out to cause significant damage to the living area of the prison and instructed others to blame their actions on poor medical treatment, the company said. As many as 2,000 inmates refused to work and set fires to bedding and some of the Kevlar tent structures where they were housed. MTC defended its medical services Monday, stating it provided care that was accredited by the American Correctional Association and The Joint Commission, and that surveys found inmates were satisfied with the medical care they received. Last June, the advocacy group the American Civil Liberties Union published a damaging report titled, “Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System,” in which prisoners in Willacy complained of raw sewage overflowing from toilets, biting insects and inadequate medical attention. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons did not respond to requests for comment on the MTC report. A week after the prisoner riot left the Willacy prison uninhabitable, MTC began laying off dozens of employees as the 2,834 inmates were transferred to undisclosed prison locations. A full investigation and accounting of the damage inside the housing units are underway, the company said. MTC said it will permanently lay off most employees. It started with 98 people last week and 243 more will be let go next week, while about 50 people will remain employed. On Monday, the Texas Workforce Commission reported that MTC and MTC Medical had laid off 80 employees last Friday, and 35 more were let go Saturday. It said 242 other employees will be laid off by March 9. Though not unexpected, the news of layoffs comes as a blow to Willacy County, which received more than a quarter of its $8 million yearly budget from the 2,800-bed facility. The Bureau of Prisons contracted with MTC to run the Willacy facility — a four-year base period and three, two-year option periods. If all options were exercised, the contract would expire in August 2021. The current annual operating price is for nearly $47.8 million.


Feb 24, 2015 valleycentral.com
When inmates rioted at the Willacy County Correctional Center last week, the world paid attention.

Footage from Action 4 News — showing some of the 2,000 inmates who took over the prison — aired on national news, appeared on popular websites and even showed up on Russia Today. Problems at the privately owned prison, though, weren’t anything new. In June, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a 104-page report that highlighted problems with private prisons that hold immigrants without legal permission to stay in the United States. Called “Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System” the report included excerpts from interviews with immigrants, including a 38-year-old Mexican man named Dante who spent time at the tent prison in Raymondville. “At Willacy County Correctional Center, most ‘dormitories’ are Kevlar tents that each house about 200 men in bunk beds that are reportedly spaced only a few feet apart,” according to the report. “Dante, a 38-year-old Mexican immigrant convicted of reentry, said the tents are dirty and crawling with insects and that the toilets often overflow and always smell foul.” “‘Sometimes I feel suffocated and trapped,’” he said, according to the report. “‘A lot of people get very upset and angry. Sometimes they become so frustrated that they even speak of burning down the tents. But what’s the point? They’d build them back up.’” That’s exactly what happened Friday, when an unknown number of inmates refused to join work details and others didn’t show up for breakfast. Jailers dropped off food and asked why they were upset, according to a news release from Utah-based Management and Training Corp., which runs the prison. Inmates said they were upset about poor medical care. Jailers placed the prison on lockdown, but the immigrants apparently escaped from the tents and swarmed the prison recreation yard. Approximately 2,000 inmates took part in the incident, according to the news release. They lit three small fires, which scorched the tents. The uprising prompted a massive law enforcement response. Local, state and federal law enforcement surrounded the prison and fired tear gas. Negotiators resolved the situation Saturday night. Management and Training Corp. deemed the prison “uninhabitable” and started transferring immigrants to other prisons on Sunday. Prisons in Pecos, Eden, Big Spring and Post also hold people charged with immigration crimes. “Uprisings like this are a predictable consequences of the (Bureau of Prisons) turning a blind eye to what happens in these private, for-profit CAR prisons,” said Adriana Piñon, a staff attorney for ACLU Texas. It’s unclear how long it will take the Management and Training Corp. to repair the damage and start accepting new inmates.


Feb 23, 2015 fusion.net
Prison-reform advocates say they’re not at all surprised by an uprising at a Texas prison that has forced the relocation of some 2,800 detained immigrants. Inmates at the Willacy County Correctional Center, about 200 miles south of San Antonio, started fires and had “kitchen knives and sharpened mops and brooms to be used as weapons,” Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence told local news station KGBT. The prison is “now uninhabitable due to damage caused by the inmate population,” read a statement released by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). It took two days for county and federal police agencies to control the protests, with authorities even resorting to tear gas. The inmates were reportedly protesting medical care at the facility, which is part of a little-known network of 13 prisons designated for immigrants, many of whom reentered the United States after being deported. All are run by private companies, a fact advocates for immigration and prison reform say results in a second-class system with insufficient oversight. “It’s a predictable consequence of the Bureau of Prisons turning a blind eye to the abuse at Criminal Alien Requirement prisons,” said Carl Takei, a staff attorney at the ACLU who visited the facility in 2013. The Bureau of Prisons did not respond to a request for comment for this story. “Willacy is aptly a symbol of everything that is wrong with the criminalization of immigration and BOP’s use of privatization,” Takei told Fusion. And inmates have reportedly talked about attacking the facility for years. “Sometimes [prisoners] become so frustrated that they even speak of burning down the tents,” an inmate named Dante told the ACLU more than a year ago. Takei said when he visited Willacy inmates described “vermin and insects” crawling in and out of the tents, overflowing toilets, along with severe overcrowding. Issa Arnita, a spokesperson for the company that runs the prison, Management and Training Corporation (MTC), said that they “believe offenders receive timely, quality health care,” noting that their health services have been accredited by two independent associations. Referred to as “Tent City” by locals—most “dormitories” are Kevlar tents that house about 200 men in bunk beds that are reportedly spaced only a few feet apart—the facility is one of 13 prisons known as 13 Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) prisons. This is the third time inmates at Willacy protest in recent years. During the summer in 2013, 30 inmates at the facility refused to leave the recreation yard after “officials ignored their complaints of toilets overflowing with raw sewage,” according to a damning ACLU report on CAR facilities. In February 2014, it took 30 local sheriff’s officers to control an uprising that left multiple prisoners injured. Tent City, along with the 12 other CAR prisons, is part of a lucrative business which has funneled billions of taxpayer dollars into the private prison industry in recent years. A Fusion investigation published earlier this month found that without a single vote in Congress, officials across three administrations: created a new classification of federal prisons only for immigrants; decided that private companies would run the facilities; and filled them by changing immigration enforcement practices. The Willacy County Correctional Center, like other Criminal Alien Requirement prisons, have been built in the past 10 years and transformed remote rural landscapes in the United States. “[Our families] don’t know that we suffer, that we’re not treated with respect, or that we sometimes lack food or blankets,” a former inmate named Vicente told the ACLU in a 2013 interview. Read Fusion’s full investigation into the second-class prison system for immigrants at Fusion.net/shadow-prisons

 

Feb 22, 2015 nytimes.com
A federal prison in South Texas over the next week will transfer up to 2,800 inmates to other institutions in the area, after a riot on Friday rendered the facility uninhabitable, an official said. Inmates at the Willacy County Correctional Center, who took control of the prison using pipes as weapons, were compliant on Saturday evening as negotiations with the authorities continued. Ed Ross, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said in a phone call that about 2,800 low-security offenders and illegal immigrants will be transferred to other facilities. “Staff are continuing to communicate with the inmate population in an effort to regain complete control of the facility, which is now uninhabitable due to damage caused by the inmate population,” the bureau said in a statement. The Valley Morning Star newspaper reported fires were set inside three of the prison’s 10 housing units. It was not immediately clear what caused the riot. Administrators on Saturday met with inmates, who broke out of their housing units and entered the recreation yard, Issa Arnita, a spokesman for Management and Training Corporation, the operator of the prison, said in a statement. Inmates did not breach the two surrounding security fences, he said. “Correctional officers used nonlethal force, tear gas, to attempt to control the unruly offenders,” Mr. Arnita said in the statement. Staff members and contract employees at the prison did not suffer any injuries, The Associated Press reported. Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel were at the correctional center Saturday and were to remain throughout the night. “The inmates are cooperating, and it appears they are interested in resolving the matter as well,” Michelle Lee, a spokeswoman with the FBI in San Antonio, said in a statement. The private prison, about 200 miles south of San Antonio, once operated as a “tent city,” or immigration detention facility for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In 2011, it removed all of its detainees after reports of abuse, and a month later it reopened as a Criminal Alien Requirement prison. In a report last year by the American Civil Liberties Union, inmates at the prison said they faced “severely crowded and squalid living conditions.”

 

Feb 21, 2015 breitbart.com

MCALLEN, Texas — Approximately 2,000 inmates at a federal detention center near the border that primarily houses immigration detainees rioted and set off fires, requiring a massive mobilization of law enforcement to secure the perimeter and restore order. The uprising began Friday morning at the MTC Detention Center in Raymondville when a group of prisoners began getting agitated about the medical services in the private prison facility, KGBT reported. The inmates broke out of the housing area and made their way into the recreational yard, prompting a lockdown of the prison. KGBT reported that the inmates set off fires in three separate units of the facility. They also tore down some of the tents used for their housing and shook the perimeter fence as they chanted their grievances. Tear gas was used in an attempt to break up the rioting. Federal, state and local law enforcement swarmed to the facility, setting up a perimeter around the prison as authorities worked to regain order inside. The facility is run by MTC, a private company that is under contract with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The BOP lists the number of detainees at 2,881, with the population being made up primarily of immigration detainees. The detention center is located in Raymondville, about 40 miles north of the border city of Brownsville, and is near two other detention facilities, as well as being right across the street from the Willacy Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s deputies were seen guarding the perimeter of the facility. As a precautionary measure, school officials in Willacy County placed three of their schools in a soft lockdown as the situation unfolded. As of press time, authorities still had not released any information regarding possible casualties, among either the inmates or law enforcement. Near the Texas border, private prisons are used to house federal inmates who are in detention awaiting trial for offenses ranging from immigration violations to drug trafficking and human smuggling.


May 10, 2014 valleymorningstar.com

RAYMONDVILLE — Willacy County commissioners this week took no action after they met in closed session to discuss a lawsuit filed against a construction company that built the county jail, a county-owned prison that holds federal prisoners and the $111.5 million so-called tent-city prison. After the meeting, Commissioner Eliberto Guerra said the county will take Houston-based Hale Mills Construction to mediation to try to resolve the lawsuit that accuses the company of poor workmanship in the facilities’ construction. The lawsuit also names Management and Training Corporation, or MTC, a Utah company that operates the $14.5 million prison that holds prisoners for the U.S. Marshals Service. The county filed the lawsuit in 197th state District Court in March, arguing the prison’s poor workmanship led to roof leaks that cost $620,000 to repair, County Judge John F. Gonzales Jr. said. Traci Koenig, Hale-Mills’ director of business development, has said the company was “anticipating a peaceful resolution” to the lawsuit. MTC declined comment, the company’s spokesman said. Gonzales said the prison’s leaking roof led the Marshals Service, which pays the county a daily rate of $45 a head to hold inmates, to threaten to remove its prisoners in 2011. Hale-Mills began to repair the roof in 2012 but did not finish the job by November 2012, leading the county to hire another company to complete repairs that a cost of $620,000, Gonzales said. At the time, Gonzales said a warranty covered roof repairs.

July 9, 2012 Valley Morning Star
Willacy County’s debt for privately operated prisons has swelled to the point where the county may never be able to pay it back, District Attorney Bernard Ammerman says. Comparing the debt to the ill-fated ocean liner Titanic, Ammerman says a private prison deal is on a collision course with an iceberg of debt that will sink the county financially. But County Judge John F. Gonzales Jr. and others say the district attorney is wrong, countering that Ammerman does not understand the types of bonds used to refinance the prisons. Attorneys who advise the Willacy County Local Government Corp. say the county and its taxpayers are not responsible for the debt connected to the so-called “tent city” detention center near Raymondville. The debt has grown as a result of construction and renovation costs at the “tent city,” Ammerman said. The detention center, originally built to house illegal immigrants, was refinanced last year and converted to house low-risk federal inmates from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in the last year of their sentences, Gonzales said. A new agreement with the federal government assures the county there will be a steady stream of income from the contract to house prisoners, the county judge said. The Bureau of Prisons has contracted for 90 percent of the beds in the “tent city” or “dome structures,” and must pay whether they are used or not, he said. The facility is operated by Management and Training Corp., which also ran the illegal immigrant detention center, he said. Ammerman’s comments were prompted by a June 29 presentation of the annual county audit by Quentin Anderson of the Harlingen accounting firm Long, Chilton LLP. But Ammerman specializes in criminal law and apparently knows nothing about how the bonds were structured, said Gonzales and attorneys Ramon Vela of Weslaco and Dan Rios of McAllen. Even if the tent city fails financially, the Series 2007 bonds will never have to be repaid by the county, state of Texas or any city, Vela said. The tent city is operated by one of three public facilities corporations, Gonzales said. The other two PFCs handle financing for the U.S. Marshals detention center and the county jail, he said. The Willacy County State Jail, although located near the other facilities, is operated and financed by the state of Texas, the judge said. Each PFC has a board made up of the county judge and commissioners, Gonzales and bond attorneys said. The other two handle finances for the U.S. Marshals’ center and the county jail. Ammerman claims the arrangement would not protect the county if the tent city fails financially. If bondholders, who loaned money to build and renovate the tent city, are trying to collect their money after a default, they will also sue the county, he said. The PFC’s debt load was expanded last year to $189,586,801 to refinance old debt and convert the tent city to hold U.S. Bureau of Prisons inmates.

December 12, 2011 Valley Morning Star
U.S. Department of Labor officials have reached an agreement with Willacy County and Management and Training Corp. to issue checks for back wages owed to current and former MTC employees who worked as guards at the former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Willacy County Processing Center. The eligible workers could receive their checks by the end of the month, Willacy County Judge John F. Gonzales Jr. said Monday. Workers will be notified this week, and MTC will begin dispersing the back wages, Gonzales said, adding, "We are pleased employees will receive their back wages in the coming weeks." A total 1,716 MTC employees at the "tent city" were underpaid because ICE instructed MTC to pay them about $8.50 an hour, instead of the federal wage scale of about $12 an hour, Gonzales said. With benefits, the wages are now around $17 an hour, he said. The workers will receive varying amounts, depending on how long they worked and in what positions, with the total reaching about $21 million, Gonzales said. Payments were due to those who worked from July 21, 2006, to July 21, 2008, Gonzales said. During the past few months, the camp has been converted by MTC to house short-term Bureau of Prisoners inmates who are serving the last year of their sentences. MTC operated the illegal immigrant detention facility and now operates the facility to hold Bureau of Prisons inmates. The Centerville, Utah–based company also operates a nearby U.S. Marshals holding facility. The two facilities are owned by Willacy County but are operated by MTC under contracts with the federal agencies. Both are located on the east side of Raymondville near the Willacy County jail. "In 2008, ICE, in consultation with the DOL, determined that the Service Contract Act was applicable to operations at the WCPC," the county judge said in a statement. Last week, Gonzales and county commissioners called on Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, for help when the Department of Labor tried to slow down the payment process, Gonzales said. Some of the former guards lost their jobs, the judge said, when the Labor Department ruled federal wages must be paid because the guards were required to pass federal background checks and meet physical requirements. Some of the guards were disqualified for past driving while intoxicated arrests or a bankruptcy on their records, he said.

December 8, 2011 KRGV
The backpay that is supposed to go to some current and former prison employees in Willacy County comes to $23 million, but there is a major problem. The Willacy County judge says the feds are dragging their feet. About 1,700 current and former prison employees have waited as much as five years for that money owed by ICE. Many of them will continue to wait. Willacy County Judge John Gonzales says the money was handed over on time. The checks are ready to go. The Department of Labor brokered the backpay deal. It required MTC, the company that manages ICE's detention center, to re-enter all former employees into its database. That's how the taxes were calculated. That part is done. Employees still working for MTC will get their check this month as part of payroll. The holdup comes by way of the next step. The feds are requiring the money owed to former employees be sent directly to the Department of Labor by Dec. 13. Even though the checks are ready to go, the feds have not announced when they will dish out the dough. Willacy County's judge says that's not good enough. Gonzalez attended a meeting with U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Cornyn as well as U.S. Congressman Blake Farenthold. They say they will pressure the Department of Labor on Friday to offer up a date. If one doesn't come by Monday morning, the group will jump on a plane and head to Washington, D.C., where they will demand a deadline.

November 10, 2011 KRGV
People who work or worked for the ICE detention center in Willacy County are finally getting money owed to them. Current and former employees will be paid $23 million. Willacy County settled with the feds and Management Training Corp., the operator of the private prison. The original contract didn't mention employee wage information. The contract was amended in 2007 to include that information. As a result, Willacy County fought to get back wages for employees. Checks will start going out in early December.

October 20, 2011 Chicago Homeland Security Examiner
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) posed difficult questions and concerns to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Janet Napolitano, at this week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Of particular concern for Durbin, was the state of immigration detention facilities, especially the Willacy Detention facility in Texas. According to documents obtained by the ACLU more than 180 sexual abuse complaints have been reported in immigration detention centers since 2007, nearly a third of which came from Texas. According to the Huffington Post, “other states had far lower reports of detainee sexual abuse, with the next highest reports coming from California (17), Arizona (16) and Florida (12). (10/21/2011). Senator Durbin sought further information and assurances from Secretary Napolitano regarding this issue. Senator Durbin, the second highest ranking member in the Senate Democratic leadership, remarked that detainee centers have become a huge industry in which DHS spends more than $1.7 billion dollars yearly. Yet, the issue of sexual abuse at the immigration centers has barely reached public attention. Much of Senator Durbin’s framing of the issue stemmed from a recent “Frontline” television expose. Durbin noted at the Senate Judiciary hearing, that “there was an aspect of this program that was particularly troubling. Maria Hinojosa in part of that program described a woman who was a victim at this Willacy facility. She had been raped and her identity was hidden from the camera. She told her story about how it was virtually impossible for her to even seek justice in this circumstance because she was totally at the mercy of the guards in this privatized facility.” (Transcript of Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, October 20, 2011) According to the Huffington Post, the ACLU obtained information under the Freedom of Information Act documenting that “detention officers broke a rule that detainees must not be transported without a same-sex officer present. Detention officers are also instructed to call supervisors with their departure and arrival times when transporting detainees, according to a 2007Immigration and Customs Enforcement document.” Senator Durbin underscored his concern by noting that some 85 to 90 percent of those who were detained under civil charges, not criminal charges, but people with civil charges do not have benefits of counsel. Durbin further noted, “That the due process requirements are very limited on their behalf, and that many times they’re in facilities that are privatized… As a group immigration detainees are especially vulnerable to sexual abuse, and its effect on the detainees due to social, cultural, language isolation, poor understanding of U.S. culture and the subculture of U.S. prisons and the often traumatic experiences they’re endured in their culture of origin. The commission (i.e., The National Rape Elimination Commission) issued proposed standards. The Department of Justice is now finalizing its national standards to prevent, detect, and respond to prison rape. In April of this year I wrote a letter to Attorney General Holder emphasizing the importance of strong standards.” In addition Senator Durbin mentioned the bipartisan support he received from Senator Sessions (R-Alabama) and others in passion the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 which aimed at eliminating sexual abuse while in custody in the U.S. We want zero tolerance on this.” (Transcript of Senate Judiciary Committee, 10/20/2011) At this point in the hearing Senator Durbin asked DHS Secretary Napolitano “What is the Department of Homeland Security doing to ensure that immigration detainees are safe from sexual abuse, whether they’re ICE facilities or contract facilities? Secretary Napolitano’s response was not reassuring for immigrants or Senator Durbin. She replied, “When I took over as Secretary, we found that there were little or no standards being applied uniformly across all the many detention facilities that we use in –in the ICE context…Others are privatized, companies like Correction Corporations of America. We have to have beds, and in particular given our priorities and how we are managing the system, we need beds that are near the southern border…As part of the process I brought in someone to actually look at the standards and we redid our contracts with some of the private providers.” (Transcript, Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, 10/20/2011) Secretary Napolitano tried to explain the process she instituted since coming to DHS. She said, “We do have a process by which we are regularly auditing and overseeing what is happenin