POLICY MAKING - CCA - WACKENHUT - CSC - CORNELL - MTC - SODEXHO CAMPAIGN -FEDERAL BAILOUT - INTERNATIONAL -
PRIVATE PRISONS SKIRT BOND VOTING REQUIREMENTS
Overcrowded Jail Blues
By Elizabeth Albanese
The Bond Buyer
DALLAS -- With local jails in the Southwest bursting at the seams or being deemed sub-standard
by officials, many sheriffs are turning to economic development bonds to get new lock-ups built in
their counties and cities.
In the last month, about 10 jail bond referendums in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas have been
defeated at the polls. As a result, jail administrators -- many of whom are under court order to
improve jail standards and reduce overcrowding -- are using funding other than taxes to get facilities
A number of counties have used revenue from per diem fees for housing federal or state prisoners, or
in some cases, prisoners from other counties, to back economic development bonds to finance jail
construction. In order to justify the use of economic development bonds, the jail projects must be
considered not simply criminal justice facilities but institutions that can bring jobs and increased
revenue to the community.
"We know that nearly every state in the country is looking for beds, and the federal government is
always looking for additional jail beds," said Don Keysser, a consultant who works with LGA
Capital Resource Planning. "The additional per diem from those entities helps pay debt service.
Although they aren't intended to work out as economic development projects per se, in many
communities they are so successful that they are turning out to be economic development projects."
Officials in Grady County, Okla., Rice County, Kan., and Tillman County, Okla. have dodged the
threat of jail closings by successfully selling economic development bonds to finance construction,
and in some cases, operation, of new lock-ups.
John Satterfield, a banker with American Municipal Securities Inc., said he believes jail bonds are a
growing force in the market.
"When you consider the fact that most jails built in the United States were built to house much
smaller inmate populations, it's clear there's a need for the newer, larger facilities," he said. The firm
has underwritten several jail bond issues and is an active trader of debt issued for medium-sized jails.
"We do like that sector. In some cases, there's a higher yield, but one thing is pretty certain -- jail
bonds only very rarely have default problems."
Satterfield said although there have been some private jail defaults over the last 20 years, he could
not think of any public jail debt that fell into a default situation.
Saline County, Ark., Judge Larry Fite said the voters' refusal to approve a temporary half-cent tax to
pay for a new jail there is forcing him to explore options other than traditional financing. Voters last
month defeated a referendum that would have authorized $13 million of bonds to build a new
lock-up, despite the fact that the county's jail is facing several federal lawsuits because of
A permanent half-cent tax to operate the proposed jail was also axed by voters.
The proposed 240-bed jail would have replaced the current facility, which opened in 1983 with
space for 32 inmates. During the week, the jail often holds as many as 70 prisoners, with the number
jumping to over 100 on weekends.
"We are forming a committee to study the way other counties have gotten their jails paid for," Fite
said. "The way we look at it, a lawsuit could cost us a lot more than a new jail."
Beckham County, Okla., Sheriff Scott Jay said last week's failed M z/-of-a-cent tax referendum
leaves him wondering how he'll manage to get financing for a jail. He's under the gun because a state
jail inspector has threatened to close the current county lock-up because of overcrowding and
The jail was opened in 1911. Even with a 1964 expansion, the facility only has beds for 28 inmates.
The proposed new jail would have had room for 98 inmates, including a wing for 16 women.
A lack of voter enthusiasm for new jail funding has also put the lock-ups in Johnston County, Okla.,
Izard County, Ark, and Scott County, Ark., on the line. Mid-sized areas like Denton County, Tex.,
and Lubbock, Tex., are also searching for financing to ease jail overcrowding problems. Even larger
cities such as Denver and Little Rock are running into overcrowding situations. A November
referendum, if successful, would allow Denver officials to build a $300 million jail to ease
overcrowding in its city and county jails.
"You have to realize that most jails in the United States were built before the 1950s," Keysser said.
"Some of them are just medieval. As a result, you see a lot of suicides, sexual assaults, assaults, and
escapes -- which in turn result in a lot of prison lawsuits."
Keysser said he is currently working with three local sheriffs in Arkansas to put together a women's
facility that could be used by three counties. Although financing details are not yet set in stone,
Keysser said net revenues from per diem fees could be used to fund the deal.
"We're not bringing this idea to a referendum," he said. "This would be financed purely on a per diem
Because of the special needs of women prisoners, many sheriffs won't house them, which leaves
some of them on the street, Keysser said.
"Women have to be out of the hearing and visual range of male prisoners," he said. "That means in
order to house them, some sheriffs have to cut off a whole wing or floor of their jails, because most
jails were not built with the idea of housing women. By law, there have to be women guards rather
than male guards. That all adds up to a whole lot of money."
A multi-county women's facility would relieve jailers of the worries of separating women from men,
and could be used to bring in revenue from other areas that are experiencing the same type of
difficulty, he said.
"This is the type of prototype facility idea that could eventually be converted to juveniles who have
been adjudicated as adults, or the elderly," he said. "A lot of these special-needs prisoners who are
difficult to mix in with the rest of the population could be handled with special jails."
Larry Goldberg, who owns LGA Group, which includes LGA Construction Management, and LGA
International Projects, said jails could be financed by housing prisoners from other jurisdictions if the
math were done right. Goldberg's firm has designed jails throughout the country for the last 15 years.
"You have to figure that to make economic development financing work, you have to build a facility
that is 2.2-times your own needs. If you average 50 prisoners, you need between 120 and 160
beds," he said. "You look at what they pay -- you need between $40 and $50 per day. Oklahoma
DOC pays $31 to $38 per day, INS and U.S. Marshals pay $55 and juveniles adjudicated as adults
get $60 to $70 per day. You just have to do the math and get it done. One thing about this business
is sure -- jails are a fairly recession-proof industry."
By Anthony Spangler
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
FORT WORTH -- The parents of a Mansfield boot camp inmate, who
died of pneumonia days after complaining of being ill, filed a $755
million wrongful death lawsuit Friday against the company that runs
the camp and others.
Bryan Alexander, 18, of Arlington, died Jan. 9, two days after being
transferred from the camp to Fort Worth's John Peter Smith
The lawsuit contends the camp and its employees ignored signs of
Alexander's "failing health" and were grossly negligent in providing
"We want to make sure some other young man or young woman
isn't murdered at the hands of some corrections facility simply
because they don't provide adequate medical care," said Bill Lane of
Fort Worth, one of two lawyers representing the Alexander family.
Defendants in the lawsuit are Correctional Services Corp., a private,
Florida-based company that runs the camp; CSC attorney Tony
Schaffer; the Tarrant County Community Supervision and
Corrections Department; CSC nurse Knyvett Reyes; and Dr. Samuel
Lee, who was employed by the company.
The suit seeks a minimum of $300 million each from Reyes and CSC;
a minimum of $150 million from Lee; and at least $5 million from
Schaffer. The suit asks the court to set monetary damages against
the probation department. The lawsuit wants the jury to determine
Alexander's father, Rickey Alexander of Arlington, had hoped the
boot camp program would help his son. His ex-wife, Judy
Schumpert, could not be reached to comment. The suit was filed on
behalf of Rickey Alexander, Schumpert, and their son's estate.
"I thought the program would remove him from the people he was
hanging around with," Rickey Alexander said Friday. "Instead, they
took my only son from me. He was all I had."
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office ruled that Bryan
Alexander, who was serving a sentence for a drunken driving
conviction, died of pneumonia caused by an antibiotic-resistant
The lawsuit asserts the probation department, CSC and the camp's
medical personnel failed to properly diagnose and treat Alexander.
Reyes was indicted Thursday on a charge of manslaughter and
negligent homicide in Alexander's death. Her attorney, Jack
Strickland, said Thursday she acted properly and would have acted
quicker if Alexander had produced evidence of blood he said he was
An Austin administrative law judge, who suspended Reyes' nursing
license in March, wrote that Alexander "would most likely have
been" cured if his illness was diagnosed earlier and treated with
"I would question whether she was negligent either criminally or
civilly," Strickland said Friday.
"There seems to be this sort of conspiracy of interests here. You
see some of the same allegations in the civil lawsuit that appear in
the criminal allegations and by the Board of Nurses Examiners
charges," he said.
Reyes, placed on administrative leave by CSC in January, is
scheduled to appear May 29 before the state nursing board
regarding her suspended license.
Lee, who could not be reached to comment, worked at the camp six
hours a week and was on 24-hour call until he resigned in January.
Schaffer said he could not comment on the lawsuit and was
surprised he was named a defendant.
Schaffer is being sued because of comments he made about
Alexander's death that were published in the Arlington Morning
News, the lawsuit says.
Schaffer said he probably would not be able to represent CSC
because he is a co-defendant. "That better not be the reason they
sued me -- to get me out of defending the suit," he said.
Jim Sinclair, acting director of the probation department, declined to
comment. The state will defend the department.
The 120-bed boot camp and three substance abuse programs are
housed at the Tarrant County Community Corrections Facility in
Mansfield, a 370-bed facility for probationers. The county's 19
criminal court judges have oversight of the facility.
In February, three former inmates were awarded $2.8 million by a
Tarrant County judge for sexual harassment the women suffered at
"While our lawsuit is a medical nature and that lawsuit was a policy
nature, there is a consistent pattern of negligent behavior at the
facility," said Charlie Smith, the other attorney for the plaintiffs.
Last month, the judges stopped sending inmates to the programs
because of a lack of funding. In February, they unanimously voted
to end the private company's contract to run the facility. The
company's contract ends Sept. 1.
Rickey Alexander said the boot camp was making a "positive change
in" his son.
"I miss being able to talk with him," he said. "We would often talk
about life or sports at the end of the day. I would have liked to
have seen him grow up and make something of himself."
Anthony Spangler, (817) 548-5412
By SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Debrah Cartwright said she thought it was wonderful when her boss asked her
to put together a sales pitch
to encourage area judges to start ordering people into the Tulsa Jail's drug addiction treatment program.
But Cartwright said that was before Warden Jim Cooke told her they weren't really
going to offer what they
were proposing, nor was he going to provide any additional counselor training. Corrections Corporation of
America, the private company that operates the jail, simply needed the revenue, she said she was told.
"I asked him if he was asking me to create a sales pitch for all these facets
of the program when he had no
intention of following through, and he said treatment was not our focus at that time, filling up beds was,"
Cartwright said. "He said that right now we need to generate some income."
Cartwright, who was CCA's addictions treatment manager, said she resigned April
24 because she felt it
would have been unethical to promote a drug treatment program that the jail had no real intention of
CCA spokesman Chris Howard said that Cooke wouldn't comment on Cartwright's
charges, but that CCA is
"restructuring" its current addictions treatment program.
Offering treatment programs is required by CCA's contract to operate the jail,
but specifics on what those
programs must be are not laid out.
Addictions treatment at the jail is currently a voluntary program inmates may
opt for when they are serious
about overcoming a drug problem, Cartwright said.
But during her year and a half at the jail, Cartwright said she saw the program chipped away.
"We were a dog and pony show. My role turned into . . . PR. He wanted the program
so he could tell
everybody we had it," Cartright said.
Participants normally underwent 11 hours a day in the program, but currently
the women in the dorm-like
setting of the drug treatment pod are working nine of those 11 hours in the kitchen, she said.
"He's made it mandatory they go to the kitchen to cook," she said. "If they're
not willing to work in the
kitchen, he puts them in 23-hour lock-down."
While they are in the kitchen cooking, Cartright said her former counselors
are working in the pods as
counselors, handing out clothing and sheets and serving meals.
The male pod for addiction treatment is closed, and men in the addiction program
attend a class for one
hour a day, she said.
Howard confirmed that the male pod is currently empty.
Cartright said both Cooke and previous warden Tim Baltz would place maximum-security
who weren't seriously interested in overcoming their addiction, in the dorm-like setting with those who
were there voluntarily for treatment.
Cartright transferred to the Tulsa Jail from CCA's Davis Correctional Facility
in Holdenville, where she
started in 1997. She said she was coming forward to speak about conditions at the jail because she
thought it was important to talk about why she left.
"If anyone can make a difference, I just want to be part of it. I do care about
the community. I do believe
what we teach those people and that it works," she said. "I don't think the people of this state want people
coming out worse than when they came in."
Cartwright said her reports indicating the male drug treatment pod had been
closed never reached CCA's
corporate offices in Nashville.
A corporate spokesman in Nashville said he was unaware of Cartwright's reports.
Cartright said Cooke's focus is on discipline and he runs the treatment programs
"like a boot camp. He
looks at addiction from what I gather as something that willpower will fix and it's not that simple."
Susan Hylton, World staff writer, can be reached at 581-8313 or via e-mail at
CCA ends police probe
By SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Apparently one suspect confessed to the warden about the theft of $12,000. Corrections Corporation of America officials declined to continue a police investigation into the theft of about $12,000 from a safe at the Tulsa Jail after an employee confessed to taking the money, police said.
Tulsa Police Capt. Ray Nelson said police were interviewing several jail employees regarding the theft of inmate money from a safe in the jail's administrative area Sunday or early Monday. Investigators were considering the possibility of administering polygraph tests when one of the subjects went into Warden Jim Cooke's office and confessed on Monday, he said.
"Cooke said one of the employees admitted to taking the money and was going to return it," Nelson said.
"It just appears a little unusual that you have a public employee that's accused of taking $12,000 that was turned in by the prisoners and not want to pursue it any further."
Detective Jim McClaughry said most of the money has been returned and that only a "very small por tion" remains outstanding. McClaughry would not say if the person who confessed was a CCA employee or an employee working for another company under contract to provide services at the jail. Nelson didn't know the employee's current working status.
CCA public information officer Chris Howard said that the com pany had no comment and would provide no information regarding the theft. CCA, a private company based in Nashville, has a three-year contract to operate the jail that opened in August 1999.
Susan Hylton, World staff writer, can be reached at 581-8313 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CCA/Ohio: Gov asks feds to buy NEOCC. Taft asks federal government to buy Youngstown prison
Associated Press Newswires
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Gov. Bob Taft asked the federal government on Wednesday to buy a Youngstown private prison that is slated to close in August.
Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, announced this week that it was closing the Youngstown facility Aug. 18, affecting 500 jobs. The prison, which opened in May 1997, houses inmates from the District of Columbia.
Nashville-based CCA said it decided to close NOCC after it lost its contract with the District of Columbia. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons is about to take over jurisdiction of the DC prison system and plans to use other prisons.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, Taft asked the U.S. Department of Justice and the DC prison system to consider buying NOCC.
"It occurs to me that the acquisition of the NOCC by the Federal Bureau of Prisons would quickly assist in alleviating crowding in the federal prison system and utilize a trained work force familiar with an existing prison operation," Taft said. "Acquisition of the Youngstown prison by the Bureau of Prisons could be a win-win solution."
Closure of NOCC, the state's only privately run, privately owned prison, would have a "serious economic impact on Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley community," Taft said.
NOCC is one of the largest employers in Youngstown, which is still trying to recover from the loss of thousands of steel jobs more than 20 years ago. The prison has an annual payroll of about $11 million and paid the city $250,000 in income tax last year.
CCA has said it will reopen the prison if it wins a new contract to house inmates. The 2,016-bed facility currently houses 350 inmates.
The Associated Press State & Local Wire
April 10, 2001
Mississippi private prison inmate dies of head injuries
HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss.
An autopsy shows a 24-year-old inmate from Shannon died of head injuries apparently inflicted during a confrontation with other prisoners, state officials say.
Daniel Underwood was pronounced dead this past weekend at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Marshall County Coroner Chuck Thomas said Monday. He said an autopsy showed death was caused by head trauma.
Chris Epps, the Corrections Department's deputy commissioner of institutions, said Monday an investigation showed Underwood was attacked by another inmate at the Marshall County Correctional Facility on March 27.
"The investigation is continuing but the inmate that assaulted him (Underwood) obviously will be charged with murder," Epps said.
Epps said a second inmate apparently assisted in the attack by standing in a position that kept security personnel from seeing the incident.The department declined to identify the two inmates, who were ordered held in isolation.Epps said along with possible criminal charges, the two also face disciplinary action. E.L. Sparkman, the prison warden, declined Monday to discuss the death, referring questions to the Corrections Department.
The Marshall County prison is managed by Wackenhut Corrections Corp.
Dale Graham, Underwood's mother, said her son was beaten by other inmates. She said he had been held at the prison "for some time" after committing a nonviolent offense. "They hit his head on a steel metal box that had a fire extinguisher inside it," Graham said. "They mashed his head against it until they beat him unconscious."
"The first few days, he was a little groggy, but he was fine," Graham said. "His memory was a little off. On the third day, he had every memory back. He said he knew what happened."
Underwood related the events of the fight in the presence of his mother, brother and a police officer, said Graham.
A few days later, "he was eating, he was normal, fine," said Graham. "I told him, 'I'll see you tomorrow.' I came back the next day and he was brain dead."
The Marshall County Correctional Facility houses up to 1,000 inmates. It employs 241 workers and has a $10 million budget.
Riot at Wackenhut facility.
Fears for detainee
By PENELOPE DEBELLE
Tuesday 15 May 2001
Friday's riot at the Port Hedland detention centre was triggered by fears for the safety of a handcuffed Iranian asylum-seeker who resisted being taken into isolation.
Claims that the man had been beaten by Australasian Correctional Management guards were denied yesterday by the Federal Government. A spokesman said a misunderstanding by detainees led to the riot.
The incident happened when five men were removed from the Port Hedland centre, a converted mining camp in the Kimberley about 220kilometres from Broome, and taken to police lock-up in Port Hedland.
Asem Judeh, chairman of the Palestinian Refugees and Exile Awareness Association in Melbourne, said he was rung twice from the Port Hedland camp by a source who told him one of the men was beaten. In response the riot had broken out, he said.
Mr Judeh said he was told the person was aged 15 or younger and this contributed to the situation.
He said he was told that a dispute between detainees - which the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs says caused the riot - had been resolved three days earlier.
During the riot asylum-seekers threw stones and damaged buildings. The group was brought under control when ACM staff sprayed tear gas.
Steve Ingram, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, said yesterday five people had been taken to the Port Hedland lock-up on Friday and one of them had resisted removal.
He said someone had started screaming that officers were beating them and the riot had begun. Mr Ruddock said yesterday there was no need for an inquiry into the riot.
It is believed the five men were still being held yesterday without charges at the Port Hedland police lock-up.
Prime Minister John Howard said yesterday the Federal Government would not be intimidated by rioting illegal immigrants at detention centres.
"There is no way that a government I lead is going to bow to the intimidation involved in those riots," he told Sydney radio station 2UE. Opposition Leader Kim Beazley stood by his calls for an inquiry but labelled the riot disgraceful and urged detainees to realise that rioting did not help their cause.