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Bracken County Jail
Bracken County, Kentucky
TransCor

October 12, 2005 Maysville Ledger Independent
With a $94,000 good news report, Augusta-Brooksville-Bracken County Industrial Authority Chairman Tom Stephenson appeared before Bracken County Fiscal Court Wednesday. Change is what Jailer Gary Riggs wanted when a bill for was taken out of his budget for costs to retrieve two prisoners from Louisiana. "I have no say over what the sheriff's office does, yet they take the funds out of my budget," said Riggs. In July, Anthony Silvey and Ashley Luman were caught by Louisiana authorities after an auto theft arrest in Bracken County. The pair allegedly served some jail time in Louisiana and were returned to Kentucky at the request of Bracken County Sheriff Mike Nelson who used the services of Transcor to bring them back. Following what Riggs and magistrates felt was a costly trip, the criminal charges against the pair were reduced and time served, including in Louisiana, was assessed, plus probation and court costs. "They got a free ride home is what it amounts to, though Luman is facing charges in Mason County," said Riggs. Magistrates agreed to pay the bill the county received for $843.21 from Transcor and look into the retrieval cost situation.

Bullitt County MacDonalds
Mount Washington, Kentucky
CCA

November 15, 2008 Courier-Journal
A judge has ordered McDonald's Corp. to pay $2.4 million in attorney fees and costs to Louise Ogborn, the Bullitt County woman who last year won a $6.1 million verdict in her strip-search hoax lawsuit against the company. Citing Ogborn's lawyers' "incredible success," Senior Judge Tom McDonald approved fees of $934,325 for the lead trial lawyer, Ann Oldfather, and $311,250 to Kirsten Daniel, her co-counsel, as well as $25,000 in sanctions against McDonald's for misconduct in the litigation. Daniel said yesterday that she and Oldfather were ecstatic about the award. "We got everything we asked for," she said. Margaret Keane, a partner at Greenebaum Doll & McDonald, which defended the restaurant company, declined to comment, and a spokesman for McDonald's didn't respond to a request for comment. The fees were awarded to Ogborn on top of the October 2007 verdict, under a provision of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act designed to promote vigorous advocacy for plaintiffs. She now can use that money to satisfy all or some of what she owes to her lawyers under their employment contracts. Specifics about those contracts have not been made public. McDonald's had vigorously protested the fee request, saying Ogborn's lawyers couldn't have possibly worked the hours they claimed. But Judge McDonald, who oversaw the trial in Bullitt Circuit Court, said that if the plaintiff's lawyers worked long hours, it was because the company forced them to, by fiercely contesting every motion and delving so deeply into Ogborn's private life. "McDonald's should not be heard to complain now that the plaintiff's counsel worked too hard, when, to a large degree, those decisions were driven by McDonald's," the judge said. Oldfather has said that McDonald's disclosed that it spent about $3.6 million on fees defending itself. The judge also rejected the company's motion to stipulate that a portion of the fees and costs be paid by the person who made the hoax calls, noting that the jury did not return a verdict against him. Ogborn, a teenager who worked for $6.35 an hour at McDonald's Mount Washington store, was detained, stripped and sexually assaulted on April 9, 2004, at the behest of a caller who pretended he was a police officer and accused her of stealing a customer's purse. She sued the company, saying it failed to protect her, though company officials knew of dozens of similar episodes at its stores and other fast-food restaurants. After a four-week trial, a Bullitt Circuit Court jury returned a verdict that included $5 million in punitive damages. McDonald's has appealed, and the case is pending at the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Keane argued for the company that Ogborn's lawyers achieved only limited success at trial because they had asked the jury for $100 million in damages. But Judge McDonald said "the jury placed the blame squarely at McDonald's corporate feet," and that the $1 million awarded to Ogborn in compensatory damages was five times higher than a Bullitt County jury had ever returned in a similar case. The judge also said that if Oldfather hadn't asked for $100 million, "who can say that without that large an amount the jury may not have ended up where it did?" The court's order included $212,000 to two lawyers who formerly worked with Oldfather -- Lea Player and Doug Morris -- and $173,000 to Bill Boone and Steve Yater, two lawyers who originally filed the suit but were later fired by Ogborn. McDonald also ordered the fast-food company to reimburse Ogborn's lawyers for $495,000 in expenses. The sensational hoax case captured national attention. Stripped of her clothes and able to cover herself only with a store apron, Ogborn was forced to spend hours in the restaurant office, as a security camera recorded her humiliation. Ogborn was detained by an assistant manager, Donna Jean Summers, who said a man claiming to be a police officer had called and accused an employee resembling Ogborn of theft. Summers subsequently called her then-fiancé, Walter Wes Nix Jr., who sexually abused Ogborn at the caller's direction. McDonald's claimed it bore no responsibility for what happened to Ogborn and that the blame lay with others, including the caller, Nix, Summers and Ogborn herself. She was one of dozens of victims of a hoax caller who over more than a decade duped managers at as many as 160 fast-food restaurants and other stores into strip-searching and sexually humiliating employees. Many of those workers sued their employers, but Ogborn's suit was the first whose case went to trial. Nix was later convicted of sexual abuse and other crimes and sentenced to five years in prison. Summers entered an Alford plea to misdemeanor unlawful imprisonment, meaning she asserted her innocence while acknowledging there was enough evidence to convict her. She was placed on probation. Summers joined in Ogborn's suit against McDonald's, saying she was tarnished with a criminal conviction because the company had failed to warn her and other employees about the hoax calls. The jury awarded Summers $1.1 million. The caller was never brought to justice. A Bullitt County jury in 2006 acquitted David R. Stewart, a former private prison guard from the Florida panhandle, in the case. He'd been charged with impersonating an officer and soliciting sexual abuse for calling the Mount Washington store. Law enforcement officers said at the time that they suspected him of making the other calls as well.

November 1, 2006 AP
Prosecutors couldn’t convince a central Kentucky jury to convict a Bay County man accused of making a hoax phone call that lasted 3½ hours and ended in a bizarre sexual assault of a teenage McDonald’s worker. The jury on Tuesday acquitted David R. Stewart, 38, of Fountain, on charges of impersonating a police officer, soliciting sodomy and soliciting sexual abuse relating to a phone call made to the Mount Washington, Ky., restaurant in which former employees testified that the caller told them to conduct a strip-search of a worker in April 2004. Steve Romines, Stewart’s lawyer, said the jury’s verdict showed the weakness of the prosecution’s case. “There are a lot of questions unanswered in this case,” he said. “The only thing I knew for sure was my client didn’t do it.”

October 31, 2006 Courier-Journal
Bullitt County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Mann implored jurors Tuesday to “follow the evidence” and convict a Florida man charged with being the mastermind behind an elaborate hoax that led to a McDonald’s worker being strip-searched and sexually humiliated. “It’s so obvious,” Mann told jurors in his closing arguments this morning. “There is more than enough evidence to find the defendant guilty.” An hour earlier, defense attorney Steve Romines said his client, David R. Stewart, was the “fall guy” for a botched police investigation. “They came to a conclusion then went about looking for facts to support it,” said Romines, who also told jurors that there was more evidence that this hoax was itself a “scam.” “There’s not even proof beyond a reasonable doubt that this is real,” he said. Stewart is accused of calling the restaurant on April 9, 2004, and directing an assistant manager to search and detain Louise Ogborn, who the caller said was accused of stealing a purse. During a 3½ ordeal after that, Ogborn was sexually abused by the manager’s then-fiancé, who later pled guilty but said he’d been acting on the orders of a caller posing as an officer. Stewart, charged with impersonating a police officer and soliciting sodomy, faces up to 15 years in prison on the two felony charges.

October 22, 2006 News Herald
The 19-year-old woman stripped naked in front of her boss in the manager’s room at the Winn-Dixie on 23rd Street more than three years ago because a voice on the phone said so. The teenager posed. She exposed. She did jumping jacks nude. For nearly two hours, a man who said he was a police officer orchestrated her humiliation over the phone. The voice told the girl’s boss, assistant manager James Marvin Pate, that she stole a purse. Police believe the man on the phone was David R. Stewart, of Fountain, said Sgt. Kevin Miller, of the Panama City Police Department. Authorities said Stewart, 39, made dozens of calls like this across the country for several years. The phone hoaxes sparked lawsuits against restaurant franchisees and chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and Applebee’s. Stewart’s first trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Mount Washington, Ky. In the Kentucky case, Stewart is accused of calling a McDonald’s on April 9, 2004, and posing as a police officer. Police said he told McDonald’s assistant manager Donna Summers a story similar to what the voice told the manager at the Panama City Winn-Dixie: He said a teenage female employee, Louise Ogborn, had stolen a purse and that she needed to be strip-searched. Summers and her ex-boyfriend, Walter Nix Jr., strip-searched Ogborn for about four hours, police said. Nix also had Ogborn perform sexual acts on him — all at the request of the caller. Mount Washington authorities charged Stewart with three counts of solicitation to commit sexual abuse, first degree; solicitation to commit sodomy, first degree; impersonating a police officer; and solicitation unlawful imprisonment, second degree. Incidents since the ’90s: Authorities said Stewart has peppered the country with calls dating back to the mid-1990s, mostly to chain restaurants. Usually, the man calls, identifies himself as a police officer, and says a female employee has drugs or has stolen something and must be strip-searched. In Panama City, the nightmare for a 19-year-old cashier began on July 12, 2003, at Winn-Dixie, when a fellow employee told her to report to the manager’s office, according to a PCPD incident report. According to the police report, which blacked out the name of the victim, what happened next lasted nearly two hours: Assistant manager Pate, 39, was waiting and handed her the phone. On the line was a man who said he was Officer Tim Peterson with the Panama City Police Department. The voice said she stole a purse and gave her two choices: Either strip naked in front of Pate or be brought down to the jail, where she’d be strip-searched in front of a lot more people. The voice also said Pate had the authority to keep her there and strip-search her, while the voice verified everything over the phone. The cashier agreed. Pate told her what to take off, and she complied out of fear of being taken to jail. She placed each item of clothing in a plastic bag. Pate described the cashier’s naked body in intimate detail to the voice on the phone, according to the police report. The voice commanded the cashier to pose in various positions that exposed her breasts, anal and vaginal areas to Pate. Toward the end of the woman’s ordeal, grocery manager Thomas Moton, 49, entered the office looking for a a key to unload a truck at the store’s rear dock. When he entered, the cashier was doing jumping jacks, and Pate had the receiver to his ear. “Pate said the boss is on the phone,” Moton said. “I thought the store manager was on the phone.” Moton said he thought something wasn’t right. He wanted to get the other assistant manager, but Pate said the voice on the phone told him to stay. The cashier went through several poses, Moton said. “She was bending over, sitting in a chair and doing jumping jacks,” he said. When the woman finally was allowed to leave, she put her clothes on and rushed out the door. Moton mentioned to Pate that “if this ain’t what it’s supposed to be, then you are out of here.” A short time later, police tore into the parking lot and hauled off Pate in handcuffs. Police charged Pate with lewd and lascivious behavior and false imprisonment. The charges eventually were dropped, Miller said. Moton said he never saw the cashier again after that night. “I didn’t even want to look her in face,” he said. “It was so embarrassing.” Police track the caller: The caller contacted several Wendy’s restaurants on Feb. 20, 2004, in the West Bridgewater, Mass., area, said Detective Sgt. Victor Flaherty of the West Bridgewater Police Department. West Bridge water is a suburb of Boston. “We had four incidents in one night,” Flaherty said. “Some conversations lasted more than an hour and a half.” Like the others, calls involved strip-searches of female employees, Flaherty said. By this time, however, the trail was leading back to Stewart, authorities said. After a story appeared in a restaurant industry magazine about what happened in West Bridgewater, Flaherty was flooded with calls from police agencies across the country. Detective Buddy Stump of the Mount Washington Police Department called Flaherty. Stump was looking for help tracing the call to the McDonald’s where Ogborn was strip-searched. Flaherty traced the calls made to West Bridgewater back to the Panama City area. He called the Panama City Police Department and asked for help, Miller said. Andrea McKenzie, a former detective with the PCPD and now an investigator with the state attorney’s office, helped link Stewart to the calls. McKenzie said she fielded calls from police agencies all over the country. “It was kind of shocking,” she said. “People said the phone number was coming from the Panama City area.” When the investigation uncovered that some of the calls were made using a phone card, authorities got the break they needed. “Nothing in this world is untraceable, if you put the time into it,” Flaherty said. McKenzie tracked the date and time of when the phone cards were bought to the Wal-Mart on 23rd Street. She pulled security video. On the video was a man wearing a uniform from the local jail run by Corrections Corporation of America, McKenzie said. Stewart was identified as the jail guard shown on the video, authorities said, and police brought him to the PCPD to be interrogated by Flaherty, who flew in from Massachusetts. When police arrested Stewart, they found numerous police magazines and applications to police departments, Miller said. “This guy wanted to be a cop in the worst way,” Flaherty said. Stewart’s attorney, Steve Romines, said there is no way his client could have been the voice on the phone. “To talk someone into this — it is someone more eloquent than David (Stewart),” Romines said. “He’s not dumb, but this was very sophisticated.” Flaherty disagreed with Romines’ assessment. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and there is no doubt in my mind” that Stewart did it, Flaherty said. Authorities eventually extradited Stewart in the fall 2004 from Bay County to Mount Washington to stand trial. Panama City police didn’t go after Stewart because they couldn’t link him to the call to the Winn-Dixie, Miller said. Other states, meanwhile, are awaiting the outcome of the Kentucky trial before pursuing legal action against Stewart, Flaherty said. “Oregon is still interested in him,” Flaherty said. “In Massachusetts, I consider it a rape by him.”

August 25, 2006 The Courier-Journal
Nearly half of Bullitt County residents think that David Stewart is guilty of masterminding the telephone hoax at the Mount Washington McDonald’s in which a teenage employee was strip-searched and sexually humiliated in April 2004, according to survey conducted to support Stewart’s motion to move his trial. But Bullitt Circuit Judge Thomas Waller indicated Friday he will deny the motion and try to empanel an impartial jury on Oct. 24, when the case is set for trial. Stewart is charged with impersonating a police officer and soliciting sodomy for allegedly calling the restaurant and pretending to be a police officer investigating a theft. As a result of the call, employee Louise Ogborn, then 18, was forced to take off her clothes and sodomize a man that Stewart allegedly asked to watch her. Stewart’s lawyer, Steve Romines, asked for a change of venue, citing numerous newspaper and TV stories that have mentioned Stewart is suspected of making calls to as many as 70 other restaurants and stores in 30 states. He hasn’t been charged in any of those incidents, and Romines said evidence concerning them would be inadmissible at Stewart’s trial. Stewart, a former corrections officer at a private prison near Panama City, Fla., attended a hearing before Waller yesterday but did not speak in court. Romines declined to let him answer questions from reporters.

June 17, 2006 AP
Detective Buddy Stump couldn't believe the story being told. A teenage worker at the local McDonald's had been strip-searched and sexually assaulted by co-workers. The co-workers said a policeman called the restaurant, described the girl and directed them about what to do. "I'm thinking, 'They told you to do what?'" said Stump, one of 16 police officers in Mount Washington and the department's only detective. The investigation that grew from that night would lead to a plea by a former employee of McDonald's, and the arrest of a Florida man on charges of impersonating a police officer and soliciting sodomy. The trial of David R. Stewart, 38, of Florida, was previously scheduled to begin this week but has been postponed to Sept. 5. In handwritten court filings, Stewart denies being the hoax caller. He is free on $50,000 cash bond. Mailings to the Bullitt Circuit Court indicate he is still living in Florida. "I had nothing to do with any of this," Stewart said. "I did not do this." A judge has ordered the attorneys involved in the case not to discuss it publicly before the trial. Stump and other investigators in states from Maine to Wyoming to Arizona say they believe their investigation stopped a cruel and bizarre series of hoaxes. Private investigator R.A. Dawson of Rapid City, S.D., who investigated a similar incident, said he had found 70 other cases resembling the one in Kentucky. "The M-O's were all similar," Dawson said. "And, they seemed to get increasingly worse." In court filings, McDonald's has denied any wrongdoing, but has declined to comment on the case, citing a pending civil case.

February 22, 2006 Courier-Journal
The assistant manager who led the April 2004 strip-search of a teenager at a Bullitt County McDonald's received probation yesterday after the victim said she thought the manager was duped and was herself a victim. Over the prosecutor's objection, Donna Jean Summers was placed on one year's probation by Bullitt District Court Judge Rebecca Ward. The county attorney's office had asked that Summers be jailed for a year. Summers entered an Alford plea to misdemeanor unlawful imprisonment, meaning she maintained her innocence while acknowledging there was enough evidence to convict her. Ward said a jury, which was scheduled to hear the case today, probably would have convicted Summers and recommended that she be incarcerated. But the judge said she accepted victim Louise Ogborn's recommendation for leniency to spare Ogborn from testifying, saying "she's already gone though a lot." Summers detained Ogborn, then 18, and took away her clothes after a man pretending to be a police officer called the Mount Washington fast-food restaurant and said an employee resembling Ogborn had taken a customer's purse. Despite the disposition, Summers left the courthouse in tears, saying she still holds McDonald's responsible for failing to warn employees of strip-search hoaxes at its other restaurants. She has said she never would have detained Ogborn had she known of previous hoaxes. Ward said she was imposing probation in part because Ogborn still must testify against the man charged with making the phone call, David N. Stewart, a former private prison guard from Fountain, Fla. Stewart is scheduled to be tried April 18 in Bullitt County on charges of impersonating a police officer and soliciting sodomy. Law-enforcement officials have said they suspect Stewart was behind at least 69 other hoaxes at businesses in 32 states from 1995 through 2004. He has been charged only in Bullitt County and has pleaded not guilty. Ogborn was detained for nearly four hours and was slapped on the buttocks, humiliated and forced to sodomize Summers' then-fiancé, Walter Nix Jr. Nix pleaded guilty Feb. 2 to sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and unlawful imprisonment and agreed to a five-year prison sentence. Summers called off their engagement after she reviewed a store surveillance video showing what Nix did to Ogborn. Nix also said he was following the orders of a man he thought was a police officer.

February 2, 2006 Courier-Journal
The Bullitt County man who claimed he thought he was following a police officer’s orders when he sexually humiliated a teenaged McDonald’s worker in April 2004 pleaded guilty this morning to sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and unlawful imprisonment. A charge of sodomy, which could have sent Walter W. Nix Jr., to prison for 20 years, was dropped as part of a plea bargain to which he agreed to a five-year prison term. Nix, who will be formally sentenced on March 15, agreed not to seek probation at sentencing, and Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Mann agreed to take no position on shock probation, which could be granted later. Nix is the first person to be convicted in the 2004 hoax at the Mount Washington McDonald’s in which Louise Ogborn, a $6.35 hour counter worker, was strip-searched and sexually humiliated for nearly four hours after a man pretending to be a police officer called the store and said he was investigating the theft of a purse from a customer. Nix, 43, was scheduled to be tried today before Bullitt Circuit Judge Tom Waller. The judge asked Ogborn if she supported the plea bargain and if so why. She said she did because it will require Nix to serve time in prison, to register as a sex offender and to testify against David N. Stewart, the alleged perpetrator of the hoax. Stewart, a former private prison guard from Fountain, Fla., is scheduled to be tried April 18 on charges of impersonating a police officer and soliciting sodomy for allegedly making the hoax call. Law enforcement officials have said they suspect Stewart was behind at least 69 other hoaxes at businesses in 32 states from 1995 through 2004. He has been charged only in Bullitt County, and has pleaded not guilty.

December 7, 2005 Courier-Journal
The trials of the three people charged in connection with the sexual humiliation of a teenage McDonald's employee in Bullitt County during a hoax last year have been postponed: David N. Stewart, 38, of Fountain, Fla., who was scheduled to stand trial Dec. 13 in Bullitt Circuit Court on charges of impersonating a police officer and soliciting sodomy, now will be tried on April 18. Walter W. Nix, 43, who also was scheduled for trial Dec. 13 on charges of sodomy and assault, has been rescheduled for trial Feb. 1. Donna Jean Summers, 51, who is charged with unlawful imprisonment, a misdemeanor, and was to be tried today, is set for trial Feb. 22. All three have pleaded not guilty. Stewart is accused of calling the Mount Washington restaurant on April 9, 2004, and, while pretending to be a police officer investigating a theft, inducing Summers, a McDonald's assistant manager, to strip-search Louise Ogborn, then 18. Summers later called Nix, her fiance at the time, to the store to watch Ogborn. Nix has admitted in court that he forced Ogborn to sodomize him and engage in humiliating exercises, but he has said he was following the orders of the caller, who he thought was a police officer. Summers, who was fired, also has said that she was following orders, and that McDonald's is at fault for having failed to alert employees about similar hoaxes at stores. Stewart, a former private prison guard, is suspected by law enforcement officers of pulling similar hoaxes at 69 other businesses from 1995 through last year, but so far he has been charged only in Bullitt County.

November 3, 2005 Courier-Journal
The Bullitt County man who claimed a hoax caller duped him into sexually humiliating a teenage McDonald's employee at the restaurant last year apologized to his victim yesterday and said he was ashamed of what he did. "I had no intention of hurting anyone," Walter W. Nix Jr., 43, said in Bullitt Circuit Court to Louise Ogborn, whom he forced to sodomize him in April 2004. Nix has said he was following the orders of the caller, who he thought was a police officer. But Judge Tom Waller refused to accept a deal in which Nix had offered to plead guilty to a reduced charge of sexual misconduct and unlawful imprisonment in exchange for a sentence of one year's probation. Waller let Nix withdraw his plea and set his trial on charges of sodomy and assault for Dec. 13. That's the same day that David N. Stewart, a former private prison guard from Fountain, Fla., is scheduled to stand trial on charges of impersonating a police officer and soliciting sodomy for allegedly perpetrating the hoax during a call to the Mount Washington restaurant. Law enforcement officials have said they suspect Stewart was behind at least 69 other hoaxes pulled off at other businesses in 32 states from 1995 through last year. He has been charged only in Bullitt County and pleaded not guilty there.

November 2, 2005 Courier-Journal
Bullitt Circuit Judge Tom Waller this morning rejected a plea agreement for a man who admitted sexually humiliating a teenager who was strip-searched last year at the Mount Washington McDonald's where she worked. Walter Nix Jr., 43, pleaded guilty last month to unlawful imprisonment and sexual misconduct as part of a plea bargain that would have given him one year probation. The deal fell through after Louise Ogborn, 19, who was forced to sodomize Nix as part of telephone hoax at the store on April 9, 2004, objected to portions that allowed Nix to deny wrongdoing and to avoid registering as a sex offender. Judge Waller set Nix's case for Dec. 13. Ogborn was detained for nearly four hours in the hoax, which was one of 70 perpetrated in 32 states from 1995 through last year. A private prison guard, David N. Stewart, of Fountain, Fla., was charged in July 2004 with impersonating a police officer and soliciting sodomy in the Mount Washington case. He has pleaded not guilty and is set for trial Dec. 13.

November 2, 2005 Courier-Journal
A teenager who was strip-searched in April 2004 at the Mount Washington McDonald's where she worked is objecting to terms of the plea bargain struck for the man who admitted sexually humiliating her. As part of the agreement, Walter Nix Jr., 43, pleaded guilty last month to unlawful imprisonment and sexual misconduct, and was to be sentenced today in Bullitt Circuit Court to one year's probation under those charges. But Louise Ogborn, 19, who was forced to sodomize Nix as part of telephone hoax at the store on April 9, 2004, objects to portions of the deal that allowed him to deny wrongdoing and to avoid registering as a sex offender, according to lawyers for both sides. "The deal will not go through," said William C. Boone Jr., Ogborn's co-counsel. Nix's lawyer, Kathleen Schmidt, said she will ask Judge Tom Waller to enforce the plea agreement today. If he doesn't, Nix will have the option of withdrawing his plea and going to trial, or accepting an agreement with harsher terms. Nix had been charged with sodomy and assault, which carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison. Nix has claimed he was duped into humiliating Ogborn by a man who called the McDonald's pretending to be a police officer investigating a theft. Nix was engaged at the time to the store's assistant manager, Donna Jean Summers, who, at the behest of the caller, had taken away Ogborn's clothes before calling Nix in to help watch the teen. Nix has said the man on the phone ordered him to direct Ogborn to do exercises in the nude and perform oral sex on him. He said he also slapped her several times on the buttocks at the direction of the caller. Ogborn was detained for nearly four hours in the hoax, which was one of 70 perpetrated in 32 states from 1995 through last year. A private prison guard, David N. Stewart, of Fountain, Fla., was charged in July 2004 with impersonating a police officer and soliciting sodomy in the Mount Washington case. He has pleaded not guilty and is set for trial Dec. 13. ABC Primetime is scheduled to broadcast a segment Nov. 10 about the Mount Washington case, according to Yater, who said Ogborn was interviewed for it last week by a producer and reporter John Quinones.

October 11, 2005 Courier-Journal
A Bullitt County man who claimed he was duped into sexually humiliating a teenage McDonald's worker last year by a man impersonating a police officer pleaded guilty yesterday to a felony charge of unlawful imprisonment. In a plea bargain approved by his victim, Walter Nix Jr., 43, will get probation after agreeing to a one-year term for the felony and for sexual misconduct, a misdemeanor. He originally was charged with sodomy and assault, for which he could have been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Bullitt Circuit Judge Tom Waller tentatively accepted the plea pending formal approval of it by victim Louise Ogborn at Nix's sentencing, set for Nov. 2. Nix was engaged at the time to the store's assistant manager, Donna Jean Summers, who asked him to come watch Ogborn. A man who phoned the store pretending to be a police officer accused Ogborn of theft and ordered her strip-searched. According to police and court records, Nix said he thought he was following an officer's orders when he directed Ogborn, who was detained four hours in the restaurant's office, to do exercises in the nude and perform oral sex on him. He also slapped her several times on her buttocks, at the direction of the caller, the records show. The incident was the focus of a Courier-Journal story Sunday that noted that the strip-search was among at least 70 performed at fast-food restaurants and other businesses from 1995 through 2004 at the direction of a caller who claimed he was investigating crimes. Ogborn agreed to be identified by name in the newspaper. A private prison guard, David N. Stewart, of Fountain, Fla., was charged in July 2004 with impersonating a police officer and soliciting sodomy in the Mount Washington case. He has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is set for Dec. 13. Summers is charged with unlawful imprisonment, a misdemeanor, and her trial is scheduled for Dec. 7. She also has pleaded not guilty. Ogborn's co-counsel, William C. Boone Jr., said his client approved the deal because "she wants somebody to say they are sorry and for somebody to say she did nothing wrong," both of which he said Nix has promised to say at sentencing. "She is tired of McDonald's blaming her for what happened," Boone said. In a lawsuit, Ogborn has alleged that the company failed to warn employees at the Mount Washington store about prior strip-search hoaxes at other restaurants around the country. McDonald's has said in court papers and through its lawyer that Ogborn was in part responsible because she failed to realize the caller wasn't a real officer. Nix and Summers were among at least 13 people across the United States charged with crimes for executing searches for the caller. Seven have been convicted of various crimes. Stewart so far has only been charged in the Bullitt County incident.

CCA/US Corrections Corp
Louisville, Kentucky
Feb 11, 2014 IULIA FILIP

LOUISVILLE (CN) - Prison Legal News asked a federal judge to unseal documents supporting a settlement Corrections Corporation of America reached with employees in a lawsuit accusing it of labor laws violations. The nonprofit, which publishes a monthly newspaper, claims it needs the documents to report on the ongoing political dialogue about whether private prison operators hide legal settlement expenses and minimize their costs to get prison contracts.      Employees at two prison facilities CCA ran in Kentucky sued the company in May 2012, alleging it violated Kentucky and federal labor laws by misclassifying them and withholding overtime compensation. CCA denied the allegations, but after more former and then-current employees joined the class action, the parties reached a tentative settlement in November 2013. A federal judge approved the settlement on Nov. 27 and granted the parties' request to seal exhibits supporting the agreement. The sealed documents contained information about the amount to be paid to each plaintiff and attorneys' fees and costs. Although the $131,000 award of attorneys' fees and costs was disclosed, the record provided no details about their allocation, according to court filings. Prison Legal News last week asked the court to unseal the exhibits, claiming they were crucial to its reporting on issues related to private prison operators' expenses. Prison Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, publishes reviews and analyses of prisoners' rights issues and other prison-related news. It has devoted extensive coverage to the private prison industry, including issues related to CCA, according to its motion in Federal Court. The  nonprofit recently moved to Florida from its longtime home in Brattleboro, Vermont. "Specifically, PLN seeks to review the settlement amounts paid to the plaintiffs in this case to determine the actual financial costs incurred by CCA for its Kentucky operations," Prison Legal News wrote in its motion to intervene. "These amounts are particularly newsworthy because providers of private prison services, including CCA, tout their purported ability to house inmates for a lower per-inmate cost than the state in order to secure valuable state prison contracts. Given that approximately 80 percent of prison operation expenses are due to staffing costs (e.g., salaries, benefits, training, etc.), private prison firms seek to minimize those costs in order to maximize profits. The fact that, here, CCA incurred settlement expenses for what plaintiffs claimed were systemic violations of the FLSA [Fair Labor Standards Act] is relevant (as is the amount of those expenses) to the ongoing political dialogue about whether private prison operators seek to minimize their costs improperly and whether their claimed operational costs adequately reflect their resolution of legal claims." (Parentheses, but not brackets, in original). Prison Legal News claims its request to intervene, which came less than 10 weeks after the court approved the settlement, is timely and cannot prejudice the original parties. The court has closed the case, and Prison Legal News does not challenge the underlying claims or the settlement. Prison Legal News says the sealed records are relevant to public debate on the private prison industry, which is a matter of public concern. It claims the original parties to the lawsuit have not justified their request to restrict public access to the judicial record. Prison Legal News is represented by William Sharp with the ACLU of Kentucky. "CCA has been sued a number of times by its own employees for failure to comply with federal labor laws," Prison Legal News editor Alex Friedmann told Courthouse News in an email. "We successfully intervened in another case in Kansas several years ago to have the settlement in that lawsuit unsealed. "Such cases demonstrate the business model of private prison companies in terms of cutting costs, including what they pay their employees, as well as the additional costs of prison privatization - such as settlements in these lawsuits (the Kansas settlement was capped at $7 million)." Attorneys for CCA and the plaintiffs did not respond to requests for comment. Nashville-based CCA is the largest private corrections company in the United States, with more than 60 prisons across the nation. The company will pay Idaho $1 million for understaffing that state's largest prison in violation of contract, according to a settlement agreement announced last week. CCA acknowledged last year that its employees falsified staffing records it gave the state, making it look as though thousands of hours of mandatory guard posts were filled when they were left vacant for months. The vacant posts and phony records violated the company's $29-million annual contract to run the Idaho Correctional Center and a federal settlement agreement reached with inmates who sued claiming the understaffing led to rampant violence.

May 7, 2005 Lexington Herald Leader
The former owners of U.S. Corrections Corp., and its former lawyers, accountants and insurance company have agreed to pay former employees of the company a $13.4 million settlement, ending years of litigation over the value of the company's stock price. More than 750 past employees of U.S. Corrections Corp will get a share of the settlement. The majority of the employees worked at four Kentucky prisons operated by the Louisville company, which was later acquired by Corrections Corp. of America in 1998. In January, U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer Coffman ordered Robert B. McQueen and Milton Thompson, the trustees of the employee stock- option plan, to pay $20.7 million in damages. In 2002, Coffman found that Thompson and McQueen failed to investigate the purchase price of the stock in 1993, when they used an employee stock-ownership plan to gain control of the company. McQueen and Thompson purchased securities with plan funds, but failed to determine the stock's fair market value. When U.S. Corrections Corp. was sold in 1998 for $225 million, Thompson and McQueen may have made more than $70 million, Richards has said.

January 5, 2005 Lexington Herald Leader
More than 750 former employees of U.S. Corrections Corp. will share in a $20.7 million damage award because they paid too much for company stock, a federal judge said this week. A majority of the employees worked at four Kentucky prisons operated by the Louisville company, which was later acquired by Corrections Corp. of America in 1998. U.S. District Court Judge Jennifer Coffman entered the order Monday against the trustees of the employee stock option plan -- Robert B. McQueen and Milton Thompson. In 2002, Coffman found that Thompson and McQueen, who were minority stockholders of U.S. Corrections Corp., failed to investigate the purchase price of stock in 1994, when they used a stock employee program to gain control of the company. A court-appointed expert said in February 2004 that the two paid $9.9 million too much for 66 percent of the company's stock. They paid $34.4 million for stock worth $24.5 million. The employee-owned company stock was used in 1995 by McQueen and Thompson to buy out former company president J. Clifford Todd, Snyder said. Todd was sentenced to 15 months in jail in 1996 for paying nearly $200,000 in bribes to then-Jefferson County Corrections Chief Richard Frey to get and keep a contract to house prisoners in Jefferson County.

February 18, 2004
About 777 former employees of U.S. Corrections Corp. could share in a $9.9 million damage award, plus interest, if a federal judge accepts the report of a court-appointed expert that was filed Friday.  More than 400 of the employees worked at four Kentucky prisons operated by the Louisville company until it was acquired by Corrections Corporation of America in 1998.  After 10 years of interest is added, "the plaintiffs estimate that the final amount of the judgment could be as much as $25 million," said Douglas Richards, a Lexington attorney for the former employees.  That estimate was challenged by defense attorney Stephen Pitt of Louisville, who said the interest was more likely to be about $5 million if U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman accepts the report by University of Kentucky law professor Douglas C. Michael.  Coffman will determine the interest rate after a hearing on Michael's report.  After a six-month analysis, Michael concluded that the trustees of the U.S. Corrections Corp.'s employee stock-purchase plan -- Robert B. McQueen and Milton Thompson -- paid $9.9 million too much in 1994 for about 66 percent of the company's stock.  They paid $34.4 million for stock worth $24.5 million.  Both sides may challenge Michael's findings in the 52-page report, and Coffman's eventual ruling can be appealed to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Richards said, so it could be a while before the former employees receive any money.  Pitt said he had not received the report and could not comment in detail on Michael's conclusions. However, he said $9.9 million in damages was too much.  "We feel that would be too high and we would ask Judge Coffman to reject it," he said.  Coffman ruled in 2002 that McQueen and Thompson had paid too much for the stock, and she appointed Michael to determine a fair price.  The former employees, who filed suit in 1998 after U.S. Corrections Corp. was sold for $225 million, estimated the overpayment at that time at $14.8 million.  Coffman concluded that the trustees were entangled in a conflict of interest that caused them to act in the best interests of the company instead of the employees, whom they were supposed to protect.  The trustees made as much as $80 million when the company was sold in 1998, Richards said yesterday.  U.S. Corrections' Kentucky prisons were the Marion County Adjustment Center in St. Mary; Lee County Adjustment Center in Beattyville; Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright; and River City Correctional Center in Louisville.  The company also operated prisons in Quincy, Fla., and Diboll, Texas.  (Kentucky.com)

Court Services, Inc.
Paducah, Kentucky

November 18, 2009 AP A Kentucky man working for a private company that transports prisoners has been indicted on a charge of traveling in interstate commerce to engage in sex with an inmate. Prosecutors say that in January, 50-year-old Albert Preston Long of Florence allegedly carried one female prisoner and three male prisoners from Murfreesboro, Tenn., to Hopkinsville, where he lodged the three males in the Christian County jail but checked into a motel with the 22-year-old woman. Prosecutors cite a Federal Bureau of Investigation affidavit alleging Long, who was wearing a gun, forced the inmate to have sex. The U.S. attorney's office says in a statement that the same thing happened again after Long and the inmates went on to Paducah. Prosecutors say Long is also charged with deprivation of rights under color of law, being a felon in possession of a firearm, using the firearm in the course of a crime and forfeiture. Arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 22 in Paducah.

Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex
West Liberty, Kentucky
Aramark

June 3, 2011 Herald-Leader
An inmate at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex at West Liberty found a dead mouse in his soup May 1, leading to an investigation by corrections officials, according to state prison incident reports. State Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, characterized the incident as the latest problem with Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, which has a $12 million contract with the state to provide prison food. "It indicates what I call malpractice of their job," Yonts said. But Aramark spokeswoman Sarah Jarvis said the company provides good service to the state. "We have strong quality-assurance processes that ensure the high quality and safety of the meals we serve, and this has been consistently verified by the high scores we receive on independent county and industry health inspections," Jarvis said in a statement. Those inspection scores average close to 100 percent, she said. The incident occurred about 11 a.m. May 1, according to prison reports. In a written grievance, inmate Christopher Branum said that after eating some of his soup, he saw "what appeared to be a mouse leg." "I touched it with my spork (a combination spoon and fork), and it was a cooked mouse," Branum said in the grievance. Corrections officer Ronald Cantrell wrote in a report that Branum called for him and showed him the mouse 30 to 45 seconds after Cantrell served Branum lunch in his cell. "The mouse was saturated as though it had been in the soup for some time or cooked in it. The soup was still lukewarm," Corrections Capt. Paul Fugate wrote in a report. Branum, who is serving a 10-year sentence for first-degree robbery, received the prison incident documents through an open records request, said Wade McNabb, a paralegal for Spedding Law Office in Lexington. Branum gave McNabb permission to share the documents with the Herald-Leader. The prison report on the incident included a photograph of the mouse. All of the soup made that day was thrown out, and the inmates were served other food, according to the incident report compiled by Fugate. Aramark food service director Jody Sammons, in a May 12 memo, said Sammons had conducted an investigation, and "it appears the mouse was isolated to the bowl of soup in which it was found." "It was not likely that a mouse was cooked in that batch of soup," Sammons' memo said. Some inmates were immediately concerned that they would be sick after eating the soup, and they were seen by medical personnel, an incident report said. Prison medical officials also contacted a Department of Corrections physician within an hour. The physician said "the mouse would not make them sick this soon," according to the incident report. Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the Justice & Public Safety Cabinet said the staff addressed the problem immediately. "The product was pulled and discarded, and an alternative served. Medical services were made available to all inmates. After those initial actions, Warden (Gary) Beckstrom took steps to increase pest control and monitor sanitation to ensure there is no reoccurrence of this event," Brislin said. Yonts said he would be contacting corrections officials Friday to see what action they have taken. In January, Yonts asked Attorney General Jack Conway to investigate possible Aramark violations of its contract. Yonts, D-Greenville, said Aramark violated the contract last year by refusing to provide cost-related records to state auditors conducting an investigation of Aramark's contract to provide food service to inmates at Kentucky's 13 prisons. In a Feb. 10 letter to Yonts, obtained by the Herald-Leader through the state's Open Records Law, Conway said that the Finance and Administration Cabinet found that Aramark was not in breach of the contract and that Conway saw no need for a separate investigation. But Conway and state Auditor Crit Luallen want a state regulation changed to clarify that state officials — not the contractor — should determine which records are pertinent, Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for Conway, said Thursday.

Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, Kentucky
Aramark

April 9, 2009 Register News
A Madison County grand jury reinstated an arson charge Thursday against a former Eastern Kentucky University food service worker accused of starting a January fire in the Powell Building. James Reynolds, 26, of Richmond, had initially been charged with third-degree arson, first-degree wanton endangerment and first-degree criminal mischief for allegedly starting a fire Jan. 22 in a trash storage room near the loading dock of the building on the university’s campus. Madison County Attorney Marc Robbins dismissed the arson charge prior to Reynolds waiving a preliminary hearing March 4 on the other felony charges, but the grand jury chose to indict Reynolds on a single charge of first-degree arson. Robbins said the dismissal was because the facts of the case were “just as consistent” with the endangerment and mischief charges as the arson charge. The first-degree arson charge is a Class A felony punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison if convicted. Reynolds originally had faced at total of up to 10 years on the endangerment and mischief charges. Reynolds, who was employed by Aramark, is accused of starting a fire in a storage room that ignited a large stack of cardboard boxes, filling the building with heavy smoke and damaging the loading dock. He is not suspected in a string of October fires on campus that remain unsolved, according to university officials.

March 5, 2009 Register News
An arson charge was dropped Wednesday against a Richmond man who was arrested in connection with a fire at Eastern Kentucky University. James Reynolds, 25, waived his right to a preliminary hearing, sending first-degree wanton endangerment and first-degree criminal mischief charges to a Madison County grand jury for possible indictment. Reynolds and his attorney, Jimmy Dale Williams, appeared briefly before Senior Judge David Hayse, who was on the bench for Madison District Judge Brandy O. Brown, to waive the hearing. Reynolds was arrested Feb. 2 and charged with starting a fire Jan. 22 in a trash storage area in the Powell Building that ignited a large stack of cardboard boxes, filling the building with heavy smoke and damaging portions of the loading dock. Firefighters searched the building, which was not damaged, to ensure it was empty after the fire. Reynolds was working for Aramark, a company which provides food service to the university, at the time of the fire. Madison County Attorney Marc Robbins dismissed the arson charge, saying the facts of the case were “just as consistent” with endangerment and mischief charges as the arson charge.

February 12, 2009 Register News
Madison District Judge Brandy O. Brown continued a preliminary hearing Wednesday in the case of a man charged with arson for a fire at Eastern Kentucky University. The continuance was requested by Madison County Attorney Marc Robbins to allow investigators to complete their reports before James Reynolds’s case is heard. Reynolds is charged with third-degree arson, first-degree wanton endangerment and first-degree criminal mischief for allegedly setting a Jan. 22 fire at the Powell Building on EKU’s campus. The fire, in a trash storage area near the building’s loading dock, filled the building with smoke and caused damage to the loading dock, but no one was injured. Investigators believe the blaze started when cardboard boxes in the room caught fire. Richmond Fire Department crews were able to extinguish the blaze within minutes of arriving on scene. Reynolds was an employee of Aramark, which provides food-service and other services to the university. Marc Whitt, associate vice president of public relations and marketing for the university, said he was unsure if Reynolds was still employed by Aramark because they were a contractor for the school. Several suspicious fires on EKU’s campus last October went unsolved, but Whitt said after Reynolds’s arrest that EKU police do not believe he was connected to those fires. “This appears to be an isolated incident,” Whitt said earlier this month.

February 5, 2009 Richmond Register
An employee of Aramark, the food service company that serves Eastern Kentucky University, was arraigned Wednesday in Madison District Court on several charges relating to a fire last month on the university’s campus. James Reynolds, 25, of Richmond, who was arrested Monday, was arraigned on third-degree arson, first-degree wanton endangerment and first-degree criminal mischief charges in connection with a Jan. 22 fire in the Powell Building, said Marc Whitt, EKU associate vice president of public relations and marketing. The fire started in a trash storage area near the building’s loading dock. According to Richmond Fire Department public information officer Corey Lewis, cardboard boxes stored in the room caught fire, filling the building with heavy black smoke and causing damage to parts of the loading dock area. Investigators with the state fire marshal’s office worked with Richmond firefighters to determine the cause of the fire, and interviewed several people who were near the building at the time of the fire for more information. Whitt said that an investigation by EKU police does not indicate Reynolds was involved in a series of unsolved arsons in October on the university’s campus.

Fayette County Detention Center
Lexington, Kentucky
Aramark, Corizon (formerly Correctional Medical Services)
August 2, 2011 Herald-Leader
Nineteen hours before he was found with no pulse in a cell at the Fayette County Detention Center in June, Anthony Dwayne Davis requested to go to the jail's medical unit and was denied, jail records show. The Herald-Leader has obtained the information under the Kentucky Open Records Law as police continue to investigate Davis' death. A nurse and a mental health specialist evaluated Davis at 1:41 a.m. June 25, and the mental health specialist told a correction's officer that Davis, 26, was probably "manipulating the system," according to the records. Instead of being placed in the medical unit, Davis was moved from the general population to a segregated unit for refusing to follow directions. It would be nearly 17 hours, at 6:30 p.m., before Davis was moved to the medical unit and assessed again by a nurse. Two hours after arriving at the medical unit, Davis was found without a pulse. At that point, Davis was rushed to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the records. Fayette County Deputy Coroner Shea Willis said Monday that she is awaiting results from autopsy reports before releasing a cause of death. Urban County Public Safety Commissioner Clay Mason said Monday that the case remains under review, but "we haven't found any fault with anybody at the jail." "We are not anticipating any kind of reprimands or any kind of discipline. My review of it looks like the jail personnel and medical personnel did what they were supposed to do," Mason said. "This is a very complex medical situation in terms of, this guy had a very long history." Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Gray, said Monday that a police investigation into the case is continuing and that detectives said they've found no signs of foul play. "Police are waiting for the medical examiner's report in this investigation," Straub said. Officials at Corizon, the company that contracts with the jail to provide medical services, did not return a phone call seeking comment on Monday.

March 30, 2011 AP
Two nurses who were working at the Fayette County jail last year when an inmate died of a pulmonary embolism have been placed on limited/probated status for three years following an investigation by the Kentucky Board of Nursing. Board Executive Director Charlotte Beason says the board entered into an agreed order with licensed practical nurses Karen Hodge and Stephanie Travis on Monday. Beason says the order suspended the women's licenses for three years, but the suspensions were stayed. Beason says if they work as nurses, Hodge and Travis will be under rigid supervision by their employer and monitored by the board. At the time of the death, Hodge and Travis were employed by Correctional Medical Services Inc., which contracts with the jail for medical services. Their status with the company could not be determined Wednesday. CMS spokesman Ken Fields said in an email to The Associated Press the company could not provide information regarding specific personnel matters. "All staff providing health care at the corrections facility are appropriately licensed to provide healthcare services," he wrote. The case stems from the death of 54-year-old Dean Ferguson of Lexington, who died last year after complaining of leg pain and shortness of breath.

October 2, 2010 Lexington Herald-Leader
Jonathan Bowen's tenure as Fayette County jail medical director ended two days after the state nursing board subpoenaed the jail for information regarding an inmate's death, according to e-mail between jail officials obtained through an open-records request. Officials have not given a reason for Bowen's departure last month from his job as a health service administrator. According to an e-mail sent to jail personnel from Assistant Jail Director Edye Dabney, Bowen was no longer employed as of Aug. 19. For more than a week, officials have declined to explain why the Fayette County Detention Center's medical administrator is no longer employed at the facility. Jail spokeswoman Jennifer Taylor said she could not say whether health service administrator Jonathan Bowen resigned or was fired. His employment ended the week of Aug. 16, Taylor said. The jail contracts with a private company, St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services Inc., for inmate medical care, she said. Taylor said any further comment would come from that company. The Kentucky Board of Nursing is investigating two nurses at the Fayette County jail who denied medical assessment to an inmate who later died, according to jail documents. The inmate, Dean Ferguson, 54, of Lexington, died of a pulmonary embolism after complaining of leg pain and shortness of breath all night at the jail. Ferguson's family filed complaints against nurses Karen Hodge and Stephanie Travis in August. A Fayette County Detention Center inmate who died while serving a a weekend sentence had been denied medical assessment from jail nurses who said his vitals had been checked already, according to reports and memos obtained from the jail. Dean Ferguson, 54, of Lexington was serving time on weekends after being convicted of driving under the influence. He checked into the jail at 7 p.m. July 9. He was not taken to the hospital for medical problems until after 9 a.m. July 10. He was pronounced dead from a pulmonary embolism at 10:13 a.m. July 10 at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, according to a report from the Fayette County coroner. A sentence of weekends in the Fayette County Detention Center for drunken driving shouldn't carry a death penalty. But that appears to be what happened to a 54-year-old Lexington man who slowly died of a pulmonary embolism while two jail nurses refused to assess his condition, despite his complaints and obvious physical distress. The nurses said he was faking. Bowen was employed by Correctional Medical Services Inc., a company contracted to provide medical services to inmates at the jail. On Aug. 17, the Kentucky Board of Nursing issued a subpoena for "copies of any facility investigation regarding the death of inmate Dean Ferguson on July 10." Ferguson, an inmate serving a weekend sentence for drunk driving and driving without a license, died of a pulmonary embolism after complaining of chest pain, shortness of breath and difficulty walking. Two CMS nurses at the jail, Karen Hodge and Stephanie Travis, denied Ferguson medical assessment for around eight hours, saying his vital signs had already been checked and were at normal levels, according to incident reports. Generally speaking, health service administrators such as Bowen "deal with some of the administrative tasks such as staffing or providing care," CMS spokesman Ken Fields has said. Hodge and Travis are still employed at the detention center, jail spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Taylor said Thursday. Bowen could not be reached for comment. Two open records requests to CMS — one for Bowen's personnel file and one for any memos or reports regarding the termination of his employment — were denied because "there is no legitimate public interest in the requested records," according to a statement from Sean Ragland, an attorney for CMS. "It is our position that records which the Herald-Leader seeks contain information of a personal nature and public disclosure of the same would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy," the response said. Employees of CMS are not considered city employees, although the city government pays the organization $223,129 monthly for medical services at the jail. That figure comes from the most recent copy of the CMS contract provided by the jail. According to Kentucky Revised Statutes, a company is considered a public agency when it "derives at least twenty-five percent of its funds expended by it in the Commonwealth of Kentucky from state or local authority funds." In his response to records requests, Ragland said that definition was ruled unconstitutional by a Jefferson Circuit Court judge in 2009.

September 4, 2010 Lexington Herald Leader
For more than a week, officials have declined to explain why the Fayette County Detention Center's medical administrator is no longer employed at the facility. Jail spokeswoman Jennifer Taylor said she could not say whether health service administrator Jonathan Bowen resigned or was fired. His employment ended the week of Aug. 16, Taylor said. The jail contracts with a private company, St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services Inc., for inmate medical care, she said. Taylor said any further comment would come from that company. Susan Straub, spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Newberry, said CMS has not given city officials a reason for Bowen's resignation or dismissal. Bowen worked for CMS, not the city. Open records requests sent to the detention center for a jail-maintained personnel file for Bowen and any internal memos regarding his termination of employment were declined because no documents matched that description, according to a letter from James Kammer, assistant jail director. Several more requests were pending Friday. Bowen could not immediately be reached for comment. Ken Fields, a spokesman for CMS, issued a statement that said it was against company policy to comment on specific personnel matters. Generally speaking, he said, the job of a health service administrator is to "deal with some of the administrative tasks such as staffing or providing care." Fields said CMS regularly evaluates its staff and the needs of inmate patients, many of whom never receive health care until becoming incarcerated. "As part of that, certainly, we always look to see if there are areas where services can be optimized and adjustments made," Fields said. Two CMS employees at the Fayette County jail are the subject of an investigation by the state board of nursing after the death of an inmate, Dean Ferguson. Ferguson's sister Lisa Day filed complaints against nurses Karen Hodge and Stephanie Travis after Ferguson died of a pulmonary embolism July 10. The complaints say that during a 12-hour period on jail surveillance video, starting July 9, Ferguson is seen breathing heavily and collapsing. The complaint says "both nurses observed his condition and refused to provide medical care."

September 1, 2010 Lexington Herald-Leader
The Kentucky Board of Nursing is investigating two nurses at the Fayette County jail who denied medical assessment to an inmate who later died, according to jail documents. The inmate, Dean Ferguson, 54, of Lexington, died of a pulmonary embolism after complaining of leg pain and shortness of breath all night at the jail. Ferguson's family filed complaints against nurses Karen Hodge and Stephanie Travis in August. The complaints say that during a 12-hour period on jail surveillance video, Dean is seen breathing heavily and collapsing many times. "Both nurses observed his condition and refused to provide medical care," the complaints say. A spokesman for the nursing board said Tuesday that the complaints had been reviewed and would be investigated. Travis could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday. Hodge did not return phone messages left with a family member at her home. According to documents obtained from the jail through an open records request, Ferguson's vital signs were normal when he checked in at 9:40 p.m. July 9. When Ferguson collapsed five minutes later, Hodge told a jail lieutenant that "they had just seen him five minutes ago and that they were not going to see him again," records said. At 2:45 a.m. July 10, after Ferguson complained that he was unable to walk, the nurses again advised that Ferguson's "vitals were normal, that he was 'faking' the issues and that they would not be assessing him again." Travis did assess Ferguson at 5:40 a.m. and found "no indication of an acute condition or a change in his current status," records said. At 8:55 a.m., Ferguson was "discovered laboring in his breathing." He was transferred to the medical facility in the jail where another nurse, Pattie Hatton, and guards attempted CPR but were unable to revive him. Ferguson was taken to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:13 a.m. Nathan Goldman, general counsel at the state board of nursing, said that if guilt on the part of the nurses is determined, consequences could range from a reprimand to suspension of their nursing licenses. Goldman said he did not know how long the investigation might take. Meanwhile, the jail's internal investigation into the death has ended after an autopsy attributed the death to natural causes, Sgt. Jennifer Taylor, a jail spokeswoman, said. Todd Henson, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said that the Fayette County jail had reported the death to the department but that investigations into jail deaths are handled by local police. Sherelle Roberts, spokeswoman for the Lexington police department, said police were not investigating the death because it was attributed to natural causes. Nurses Hodge and Travis are employed by Correctional Medical Services Inc., a company that contracts with the jail for medical service. Ken Fields, spokesman for CMS, said: "We are unable to provide the news media with information regarding the care provided to specific patients. On an ongoing basis, we do evaluate the performance of our staff, making adjustments and changes when appropriate." Ferguson was serving a weekend sentence July 9 through 11 after being charged with driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license in May. Ferguson's sister Lisa Day, who filed the complaint, said her brother complained of feeling ill before checking into the jail, but he refused her request to take him to a hospital. Day said her brother insisted that jail personnel would do a full evaluation when he arrived. "He said, 'Believe me, if there's anything wrong, they will get you help,'" she said.

October 5, 2007 Lexington Herald-Leader
An Aramark employee who works at the Fayette County Detention Center is suspected of illegally bringing drugs and cigarettes into the jail. Melda Janae Coffman, 32, was charged yesterday with promoting contraband in the first and second degree, said Capt. Darin Kelly, jail spokesman. The first-degree charge was for illegally bringing in drugs. It is a Class D felony offense that can carry a sentence of at least one year in jail. The second-degree charge for illegally bringing in cigarettes is a class A misdemeanor with a minimum sentence of 90 days in jail. After her arrest, Coffman was fired, said Sarah Jarvis, Aramark spokeswoman. Coffman, who oversaw food preparation at the jail's kitchen, began working there on July 19. Kelly said additional charges could be coming.

March 29, 2006 Herald-Leader
Lexington jailers, a nurse, police and medics were grossly negligent by denying medical care to a deteriorating Gerald Cornett, who died in August from injuries suffered in jail, a Fayette Circuit Court lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit was filed last week by Cornett's estate, which is administered by his stepfather, Bob Arnold of Lexington. It seeks unspecified punitive damages, medical and funeral expenses, and lost wages. It names as defendants the Urban County Government; Correctional Medical Services, a Missouri firm contracted to provide jail health care; jail director Ron Bishop; a nurse; and detention officers, medics and the police officer who arrested Cornett, who was 45. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants did not provide for Cornett's physical well-being and safety, exercise reasonable care when assessing whether he should go to jail or a hospital, or obtain appropriate medical care. The suit states their actions were intentional and reckless, exceeding standards of decency, morality and constituting "conduct which is utterly intolerable in our civilized society."

June 25 2005 Lexington Herald Leader
The estate of a murder suspect who hanged himself in the Fayette County jail and later died has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.  Dong Zhang, a University of Kentucky doctoral student, suspended himself with a telephone cord on June 22, 2004, hours after he was told he would be extradited to Illinois on murder charges. Zhang was thought to have fatally strangled his former girlfriend Yan Gu in Chicago. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, claims that jailers had known that Zhang was suicidal and were negligent leaving him alone in a recreation room, which had a shower, television and telephone. The suit was filed by Jianquiang Zhang, the administrator of Dong Zhang's estate. The suit lists as defendants the Urban County Government; Ronald Bishop, director of community corrections; the Bluegrass Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board Inc., which operates a mental health unit at the jail; and Correctional Medical Services, Inc., which provided medical services to inmates.

March 1, 2002
When death came, Tim Jackson was strapped face down on a bed in a cell by himself. The mattress was hard and vinyl and bare. He lay pinioned for two full days in the old Fayette County Detention Center -- his bony wrists and ankles locked into leather bindings, his body held firmly in place by a long piece of white fabric sometimes called a ''safety net.'' Resembling a blanket with straps, it was lashed tightly to the sides of the bed. For his own good, they said. A large, raw wound grew on the back of his neck, where he strained against the ''net'' that held him down. In plain terms, Dr. Gregory J. Davis said, Jackson resisted and resisted until he burned himself up inside. ''This guy was dying, and they apparently did not know it,'' he said. Jackson also was ''emaciated,'' according to Davis ' autopsy report. With only 109 pounds on his 5-foot, 4-inch frame, his body had begun feeding on its muscle, Davis said. He also was seriously dehydrated. And, not incidentally, Timothy Wayne Jackson, age 29, also was a paranoid schizophrenic. A paranoid schizophrenic who had been in the jail for more than a month. A paranoid schizophrenic who, during that month, had received no psychiatric medication. A paranoid schizophrenic who, during that month, had not been seen by a psychiatrist until just hours before his death. ''This shouldn't be occurring in jails, because this is a person who didn't know right from wrong,'' said Raymond J. Sabbatine, who was the director of the Fayette County jail at the time Jackson died. ''He shouldn't be there in the first place.'' Two Kentucky psychiatrists who reviewed Jackson 's medical records said it appeared that he had been in a serious mental and physical decline for three days, and needed hospitalization. In addition, Davis , the medical examiner, said the question of why Jackson was not sent to a hospital for evaluation of his physical needs remains a major, unanswered issue. And in fact, Dr. Teresa Oropilla-Kiefer, the psychiatrist who actually saw Jackson about nine hours before his death, wrote in his medical records that he would ''do best'' in a hospital, and she said in recent interviews that she thought he needed to be in a hospital. But he wasn't sent to one. The reasons are complicated and have much to do with the fact that there are two health-care contractors at the Lexington jail -- one providing only mental health care and one general medical care. A CMS nurse concluded that Jackson exhibited potential mental problems and referred him to Bluegrass , the medical records show. A Bluegrass social worker concluded that Jackson ''appears stable'' and recommended that he be placed in the jail's ''general population,'' the records show. On at least seven occasions over the previous nine months, doctors at both the jail and community clinics had prescribed psychiatric medications for Jackson , including Prolixin, an antipsychotic drug, his records show. Yet now, viewed as stable, Jackson received no medications. In the jail at the time -- which has since been replaced by a new jail away from downtown -- inmates in four-point restraints were placed in the infirmary, where the CMS staff was stationed. The jail's policy requires that an inmate in such restraints be constantly observed by a jail officer, checked every two hours for any harmful effects of the restraints, and released for 15 minutes every four hours. That means Jackson was not seen by a mental-health worker until 12 hours after being put into four-point restraints. By contrast, in a hospital, federal rules require that any patient put into restraint be assessed within an hour by a doctor, and that restraint be discontinued when the patient becomes calm, according to Butler , one of the Louisville psychiatrists who reviewed Jackson 's records at the newspaper's request. But because this was a Monday, there was no psychiatrist there. At the time, Oropilla-Kiefer, the Bluegrass staff psychiatrist, ordinarily was at the jail only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So again Jackson would wait for a mental-health professional -- this time for 24 hours. Jackson 's deterioration also was reflected in a lengthy note entered that day by Judy Rhodus, a licensed clinical social worker and coordinator of the Bluegrass mental-health service at the jail. CMS was asked to begin monitoring Jackson 's food and liquid intake, according to a note Rhodus entered in the medical record at 10:40 a.m. Tuesday. Oropilla-Kiefer, the psychiatrist, also wrote orders in Jackson 's chart to resume two of his usual psychiatric medications -- including an injection of the antipsychotic drug Prolixin ''stat,'' meaning at once. Rhodus also wrote of special efforts by Bluegrass -- which were unsuccessful -- to locate the injectable Prolixin that Oropilla-Kiefer wanted Jackson to have. Rhodus wrote: ''Repeated efforts made by ( Bluegrass ) . . . to obtain Prolixin via community mental health system.'' The note indicated that neither the pharmacy at Eastern State Hospital nor a Bluegrass clinic had any amount of the drug that it could spare. In addition, Maria Wilson, a nurse for CMS, made a notation at 1:45 p.m. July 11 saying that, after speaking with Oropilla-Kiefer about Jackson 's ''deteriorating orientation of unknown etiology,'' she called a CMS physician and obtained an order to draw blood from him, a first step toward assessing his physical condition. However, results of the blood work would not be available for at least a day -- and, as it turned out, Jackson did not have a day to wait. Wilson 's entry was the last in Jackson 's medical chart until after the discovery at 8:18 p.m. -- 6 1/2 hours later -- that he was no longer breathing. The critical question -- why Jackson was not sent to a hospital, even though the psychiatrist, Oropilla-Kiefer, believed he needed to be in one -- has no simple answer. One source of information about Jackson 's actual condition would be the records of the vital-sign checks done by nurses every shift. But CMS spokesman Ken Fields in St. Louis said that the company could not locate any records of such checks for any of the 48 hours Jackson was in the infirmary. Fields, who works for a public-relations firm representing CMS, said he did not know why the records could not be found. CMS referred reporters to Fields. Wilson, a registered nurse and a supervisor on the CMS staff at the time, said she is sure the record existed on July 11, 2000 , because she read it. Wilson said Jackson 's blood pressure, pulse, respiration and possibly his temperature readings were on the record, and she thinks they were ''all within normal limits.'' In the series of decisions about Jackson 's care, one critical moment occurred around 1 p.m. on July 11, in a conversation between Oropilla-Kiefer and Wilson . Oropilla-Kiefer had just written in Jackson 's chart that he would ''do best'' in a hospital, and that she would ''recommend this to staff'' -- meaning, she said, CMS staff. ''My intention was that they (CMS) need to manage it,'' Oropilla-Kiefer said. ''We couldn't get medications, and again, he wasn't responding the way I wanted him to.'' Bluegrass officials also said, in a series of three interviews with the newspaper, that under its contract with the jail, Bluegrass is only a consultant on mental health. As a result, '' Bluegrass employees do not have the authority at the jail to hospitalize,'' Michael R. Moloney, attorney for the agency, said. That authority, Bluegrass officials said, rests entirely with CMS, which contracts to provide medical care, including emergency services. However, two registered nurses who were on the CMS staff at the time -- including Shirley Lutfi, who was then the top CMS official at the jail -- disagreed. Wilson , for example, said: ''They ( Bluegrass ) could have sent him to the hospital. They did not need us to do that.'' Lutfi, who was administrator of jail's medical department then and who now lives in Maryland , described the working arrangement between CMS and Bluegrass in similar terms. (The Courier-Journal)  

Kentucky Department of Corrections
Behind the Bars | Kentucky had gaps in monitoring troubled Otter Creek prison July 5, 2010
Behind the Bars | Experts question benefits of private prisons July 5, 2010
Behind the Bars | Prison faced regular complaints about medical care July 5, 2010
Behind the Bars | Secretary Carla Meade's suicide raised questions July 5, 2010

Jan 28, 2014 vtdigger.org

The warden of the Kentucky prison where 205 Vermont inmates have been on lockdown since Jan. 15 resigned Saturday, cCommissioner Andy Pallito said Monday. Warden David Frye resigned for “personal as well as health reasons,” according to an email he sent from his iPhone to his bosses at Corrections Corp. of America, the for-profit company that contracts with the state. Pallito said Frye’s decision had nothing to do with the lockdown. “I would say that our relationship with him was always favorable, so I don’t have any reason to believe that it’s necessarily related to this particular lockdown or whatnot,” Pallito said. Frye took over operations at Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville, Ky., in October 2012, according to a news release from the time. CCA spokesman Steven Owen confirmed that Frye resigned for personal reasons. In an email, he said that assistant warden Dan Akers, who has been with CCA since 1994, will “lead the facility in the interim until a new warden is named.” Frye’s resignation email said he spent several weeks considering his decision and discussing it with his family. The resignation was effective Monday. “At this point in my life, I think it necessary to do something different after 20+ years working in corrections,” Frye’s resignation email said. Meanwhile, one wing of the prison is still on lockdown, but it has been eased twice to allow inmates to move more freely and have recreation time, Pallito said. This particular lockdown has stretched longer than usual, he said. It is a result of violence between inmates that began with an assault over the summer, DOC officials have said. “This is not just about the lockdown it’s about a rise in the temperature in the facility,” Pallito said. Inmates have hit and punched each other, Pallito said last week. One person slashed another, he said. The violence might be gang- or debt-related, officials have said. Department of Corrections staff will travel to Kentucky to monitor the situation over the next four weeks, Pallito said. Ideally, two or three staffers will travel there, he said, to interview inmates and understand how they are doing. Pallito said he has already received some letters from inmates complaining about the temperature of the food and the lack of observation. “It’s hard for me to ferret out whether or not they’re using this as an opportunity to give us general complaints,” Pallito said. The state’s contract allows Vermont to house up to 700 prisoners out of state. The arrangement saves the state money and cuts down on overcrowding in Vermont jails. There are 460 prisoners in Kentucky and 39 in Florence, Ariz., according to DOC. Only one wing of the Kentucky facility is on lockdown. Pallito has said lockdowns are routine in Vermont and out of state, often used when something is reported missing or when a weapon is rumored to be circulating. Staff from CCA, the prison contractor, traveled to Vermont the week before the lockdown to talk with DOC about the violence, Pallito said Monday. They offered to come back to Vermont this week, he said, but he told them it wasn’t necessary. Meanwhile, CCA has developed a new long-term plan to watch inmates more carefully, Pallito said. He said he is optimistic the company will follow through. “I have a fair amount of faith that they’re taking this seriously and they’re implementing some changes. We’ll know better in three or four months,” Pallito said. Although DOC isn’t allowed to choose the next warden, CCA usually shares information about finalists, he said. “They’ve always been pretty open with us about who they’re bringing in,” Pallito said. CCA’s contract is for $61 million over four years. It is set to expire in June 2015 and the bidding process will begin soon, Pallito said. He stopped short of saying the threat of losing the contract will spur CCA into action.


Sep 4, 2013 courier-journal.com

The Tennessee company that’s provided medical treatment to inmates at Metro Corrections for most of the past two decades is ending its ties with city government following the death of seven sick jail prisoners last year and subsequent lawsuits over the company’s care. Metro Corrections officials, who have been reviewing two of the deaths for several months, said they did not pressure Corizon to let its $5.5 million annual contract lapse by missing a July 30 deadline to seek a renewal. Courtney Eller, a spokeswoman for Corizon, declined to answer questions about its decision, saying only that the company would help ensure a successful transition to the next provider. Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton said he was surprised by Corizon’s decision, as it had indicated it would offer a proposal but, without explanation, chose not to do. Bolton, who had criticized Corizon staff’s handling of previous cases, said last week that the company had “put a completely new management team in place over the last year ... and I have been very, very happy with them.” A new provider would be chosen in the next 15 days or so from six companies that made proposals, he said. Corizon’s decision comes as three more lawsuits have been filed in recent months over deaths of sick inmates. The lawsuits contain claims that Corizon staff dismissed inmates’ complaints and were slow to put physicians on the case or take inmates to a hospital. The most recent lawsuit, filed in August in Jefferson Circuit Court, claims Samantha George was moved from the Bullitt County jail to Metro Corrections last August on a charge of buying a stolen computer. George told a Corizon nurse at the jail that she was a severe diabetic, needed insulin, and was feverish and in pain from an MRSA infection, according to the suit, filed on behalf of George’s mother. George said she could not even keep water down and a nurse asked an on-call jail physician whether George should be taken to the emergency room, according to jail records that were part of a police investigation. The doctor said he would see the prisoner the next day and that she should be monitored, according to the records. But there was a mistake with the paperwork for corrections staff to make regular observational checks, according to the police investigation. George’s condition worsened and she was refused medical treatment, the suit claims. The Corizon jail doctor never saw her despite promises he would check on her, according to the lawsuit, which names Corizon and Bolton as defendants. Theresa George, Samantha George’s mother, said she called had Metro Corrections and told them how serious her daughter’s condition was and that she had to have a shot every hour. “They said, ‘I’m looking at her right now and she’s fine,’” Theresa George said. “Four hours later, she was dead.” Samantha George was found unresponsive on Aug. 8, 2012, and she was pronounced dead a short time later at University of Louisville Hospital. An autopsy concluded she died of complications from a severe form of diabetes, compounded by heart disease. Problems with Corizon’s work came to light when Metro Corrections announced in December that six unidentified Corizon workers resigned amid an investigation by the jail that found that the workers “may” have contributed to last year’s deaths of George and inmate Savannah Sparks. The investigations of those deaths by the jail and prosecutors are ongoing, and Metro Corrections officials would not talk about specific details. Corizon officials also would not talk about specific cases. Just weeks after George died, Kenneth Cross arrived at Metro Corrections. An unidentified friend had been taking him to the hospital when he was pulled over by police, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this year on behalf of Cross’ estate. The suit claims officers believed Cross, who was arrested on a warrant for a drug possession charge, was faking an overdose and would get any help he needed at Metro Corrections. A nurse at Metro Corrections documented that Cross had “slurred speech” and fell asleep “several times during his interview,” according to jail records. Cross told the nurse he had only one beer that day and was fine. He was found unconscious hours later, according to jail records in the suit. Cross was pronounced dead a short time later. “Nodding off ... clearly should raise a red flag in the case of someone who was arrested for drug possession,” said Gregory Belzley, who represents Cross’ family. “Either hospitalize him or put him under very careful observation in which he is not allowed to go to sleep.” Cross, 43, died of a drug overdose, according to a state medical examiner. Bolton said there was no investigation into Cross’ death because there was “no suspicion of foul play” or other red flags. He declined to comment further on the Cross case. The commonwealth’s attorney’s office reviewed the case and sent it back to Louisville police. Dwight Mitchell, a police spokesman, said no charges were filed in the Cross case. In an email to his staff in December about the deaths, Bolton said, “Mistakes were made by Corizon personnel and their corporation has acknowledged such missteps” in terms of the deaths, according to records in the George lawsuit. Investigations by police and jail officials into the deaths of George and Sparks, who died from opiate abuse and withdrawal six days after arriving at Metro Corrections in April 2012, are still ongoing, Bolton said. Previously he had said he believed that Corizon medical staff took too long to have a company doctor look at Sparks and George. A wrongful-death lawsuit was filed in April of this year on behalf of Sparks’ grandmother, Karen May. Filed in Jefferson Circuit Court, it claims Corizon Inc. and dozens of Metro Corrections employees were negligent in treating Sparks, 27, while she was in jail on a theft charge. Her attorney, Brian Cook, declined to comment. Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine, whose office reviewed six of the deaths, said the jail has made many improvements caring for ill inmates. A recent audit by a correction health consultant and accreditation report by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care both indicated improvements, including in the handling of inmates who are detoxing or diabetic. The new detoxification process, which includes a heightened awareness in monitoring inmates, is a “model program which should be presented at conferences and seminars,” according to the audit. Theresa George said she hopes her daughter’s death and the subsequent lawsuit will spur change. “That could be your child,” she said. “If we can change the way they treat people when they go to jail, that’s what I hope for.”


Jul 8, 2013 kentucky.com

ST. MARY, Ky. — Stacy Mattingly is facing the daunting prospect of setting up the Ham Days festival in Lebanon for an estimated 40,000 visitors without the help of many of her free assistants. Mattingly has traditionally relied on inmate work crews from the nearby Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary to assist with the September extravaganza. Those inmates may not be available this year because Kentucky is pulling prisoners from the private prison and moving them to state facilities in a money-saving move over the next four months. The closure is creating the opposite of a "not in my backyard" affect - locals want the facility, related jobs and inmates to stay. CCA doesn't have another client lined up yet to fill the soon-to-be empty beds. "I'm not sure what I'll do," said Mattingly, executive director of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce and organizer of several festivals in the area. "It's going to be a pretty significant loss to all of us." The state announced last month it would not renew its contract for the nearly 800-bed prison owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America. Instead, state officials cited a projected $1.5 million to $2.5 million per year savings by putting the inmates in existing state facilities, jails and halfway houses. Prison and local officials are pushing the state to change its mind. "I would love to see jobs retained there," Marion County Judge-Executive John G. Mattingly said. "Whether that happens, that remains to be seen." Marion Adjustment Center was Kentucky's last private prison venture. The state pulled inmates from two other CCA-owned prisons, Otter Creek Correctional Complex in Wheelwright and Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville, over the last five years. Otter Creek is vacant and Lee Adjustment Center currently houses inmates from Vermont. The moves have come as the state's prison population shrinks. Policy changes enacted in the 2011 legislative session included reduced prison time for low-risk, nonviolent drug criminals caught with small amounts of drugs. Once the 800 inmates are transferred from the Marion Adjustment Center, 166 corrections officers, making between $27,000 and $29,000 annually, and other staff members at the prison will be out of work. The surrounding county of roughly 18,000 people is marked by corn fields, small towns and the occasional bourbon distillery 90 minutes southeast of Louisville. The median income for households in Marion County is just over $30,000 a year, and about 18.6 percent of the population lives in poverty. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said that each year the prison spends $1.7 million on local goods and services, $814,000 in utilities and fees and more than $170,000 in property taxes. "It's a major impact," Mattingly said. "It's going to have a ripple effect." State Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, who owns Higdon's Appliance Center in nearby Lebanon, said the closure means 166 people "will suffer financially and emotionally from losing their jobs." "Many of these folks have been with MAC since the beginning," Higdon said. For a while at least, they'll get some help from the state in finding future employment. Justice Cabinet spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin said the state will aid CCA employees in filing out applications and hunting for open positions. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said the state's merit system doesn't permit any preference for open positions unless a CCA employee has previously worked for the state and left in good standing. Lamb said CCA employees "will be very well experienced" and qualified should spots come open at state facilities. Other communities have felt the pain of a prison closing. After the shutdown of Otter Creek, people lost their steady income and stopped spending money in the area, Wheelwright Mayor Andy Akers said. "It hurt the grocery stores, the restaurants - just everything where the guards used to spend their money," Akers said. As for the inmates, MAC offered rehabilitation programs and faith-based initiatives as well as education courses. During a recent visit to the prison, reporters weren't allowed to speak with the inmates or any corrections officers about the pending transfers. Owen said the programs at MAC were considered to be the best in the state and he's unsure how the adjustment to the programs in the state facilities will go for the inmates. Chief Unit Manager Ralph Clifton said the rehabilitation programs, along with the work the inmates do for the county provides a benefit that can't necessarily be measured. Also, Clifton said, the inmates who take part in those programs are about 25 percent less likely to reoffend after release. "That's significant when you're talking about tax dollars to rehabilitation somebody," Clifton said. "This place has some of the best programs Kentucky has to offer." Owen said Kentucky's decision to let the contract expire came as a surprise and the company doesn't have another client lined up. Mattingly is hoping for a quick turnaround for the prison. "I guess if it gets down to dollars and sense, if the price is right, some other state might want to get corrections farmed out to MAC," Mattingly said. "They could maybe fill those beds and retain those jobs."


Jun 26, 2013 wpsdlocal6.com

HICKMAN COUNTY, Ky. - County jailers across Kentucky are celebrating Governor Steve Beshear's decision to terminate the state's contract with Nashville-based prison company Corrections Corporation of America and send inmates to county jails.  County leaders are also learning this could mean they'll have more money for critical services, like emergency management and fire. A communications director with the state's Justice and Public Safety Cabinet says because the state is now more focused on rehab and less focused on incarceration, there are fewer inmates.  So it was no longer efficient to contract with the private company that charged up to $16 more per inmate each night. Hickman County Jailer Chad Frizzell says the decision will certainly send more inmates his way and generate up to $150,000 more each year.  For smaller counties, the economic impacts are even better. "One of the officials in those days said 'you get that jail open and you call us let us know, the bus will be full and we'll head your way'." That was the year 2000.  Now, lots of beds are empty and that's money the jail could be making if they were filled. Frizzell said he has 80 beds and 52 inmates. "We'd love to see those beds filled. You could say in the jail business, crime pays. That's what we depend on to pay our staff members, pay salary, to pay for things we need in the jail," Frizzell said. Judge Executive Greg Pruitt said the state's decision to send inmates to private prisons was disturbing. "It's not fair to local counties who have gone out on a limb, gone into debt, and incurred a lot of expenses to take care of state prisoners for the state now to back up and not provide those prisoners," Pruitt said. As of Sunday, that will change. "From a department standpoint, this was the most efficient use of resources. Conservative estimates are an annual savings of $1.5 million to $2.5 million," communications director for Kentucky's Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, Jennifer Brislin, said. This year the Hickman County Fiscal Court allotted $500,000 county tax dollars to supplement the jail, but now the jail might not need all that money. "In this county, immediately it'll be used to deal with ambulance problems, how we fund ambulance service in the future," Pruitt said. McCracken and Hickman Counties are not alone in this. The Marshall County jailer told Local 6 he too considers this great news and it will mean more money coming in to his county. The president of the Kentucky Jailer's Association was very grateful and thanked the governor for this decision. The nearly 800 inmates at that private prison will be scattered across the state. There's no formula for who goes where, but a state spokesperson said inmates in substance abuse programs will be sent to jails or half way houses with similar programs. The contract with the Nashville-based company Corrections Corporation of America officially expires Sunday.  The state will have 120 days to move all the inmates to other facilities.


Jun 25, 2013 businessweek.com

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky is not renewing a contract with private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America for a facility in the central part of the state, closing the door for the first time in three decades on outside companies incarcerating inmates for the state. The decision announced Tuesday means almost 800 state inmates at the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary will be moved to other state prisons, county jails or halfway houses. The contract with the Nashville, Tenn.-based company expires Sunday. The state will have 120 days to move all inmates to other facilities. The move is the latest in a series since 2008. At that point, Kentucky had inmates in three prisons run by CCA. The state pulled out of Lee Adjustment Center in 2010 and Otter Creek Correctional Center in 2012.

October 18, 2011 Evansville Courier & Press
Henderson Fiscal Court heard the opening salvo Tuesday of a campaign jailers plan to use to sway the General Assembly next year. "You are our maiden voyage," said Mike Simpson, president of Kentucky Jailers Association. "We're going to hopefully take this across the state." In a nutshell, Kentucky jailers maintain that House Bill 463 -- a recently enacted major overhaul of the criminal justice system -- is going to have a negative impact on the jails across the state. The way around that problem, they say, is allowing the state's current contracts to expire next year with Corrections Corporation of America, which has prisons in Marion and Floyd counties. The inmates in the Marion Adjustment Center and the Otter Creek Correctional Center would then be transferred to county jails. It's a simple matter of economics, according to Patrick Crowley, a public relations consultant from northern Kentucky who has been hired to head the blitz. County jails are paid $31.34 per day to house state inmates. The Marion Adjustment Center charges the state $37.99 a day for minimum security inmates, and $47.98 per day for medium security inmates. Otter Creek, meanwhile, charges the state $53.77 per day to house inmates. "It's a disgrace for the private prisons to be getting the per diem they're getting," said Henderson County Jailer Ron Herrington. Based on the capacity of the two private prisons, Crowley said, the state would save more than $8 million a year by housing the inmates in county jails -- and boost the bottom line of county governments while doing it. "Both the state and the counties could save money by eliminating the private prisons contracts," Crowley said. "There are some good things" in HB 463, Simpson said, but "this is our window of opportunity to go through this thing." "It's about 150 pages and all but about five or 10 were just fine," said County Attorney Steve Gold. Magistrate Charles Alexander at one point asked how the state can avoid destroying jobs by what the jailers propose. "They have prisons all over the United States," Simpson replied. "They're not just in Kentucky." If the firm loses Kentucky inmates, he said, it will fill its prisons with inmates from other states. "They have brought prisoners in from Hawaii. There is no shortage of inmates in this country."

June 3, 2011 Herald-Leader
An inmate at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex at West Liberty found a dead mouse in his soup May 1, leading to an investigation by corrections officials, according to state prison incident reports. State Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, characterized the incident as the latest problem with Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, which has a $12 million contract with the state to provide prison food. "It indicates what I call malpractice of their job," Yonts said. But Aramark spokeswoman Sarah Jarvis said the company provides good service to the state. "We have strong quality-assurance processes that ensure the high quality and safety of the meals we serve, and this has been consistently verified by the high scores we receive on independent county and industry health inspections," Jarvis said in a statement. Those inspection scores average close to 100 percent, she said. The incident occurred about 11 a.m. May 1, according to prison reports. In a written grievance, inmate Christopher Branum said that after eating some of his soup, he saw "what appeared to be a mouse leg." "I touched it with my spork (a combination spoon and fork), and it was a cooked mouse," Branum said in the grievance. Corrections officer Ronald Cantrell wrote in a report that Branum called for him and showed him the mouse 30 to 45 seconds after Cantrell served Branum lunch in his cell. "The mouse was saturated as though it had been in the soup for some time or cooked in it. The soup was still lukewarm," Corrections Capt. Paul Fugate wrote in a report. Branum, who is serving a 10-year sentence for first-degree robbery, received the prison incident documents through an open records request, said Wade McNabb, a paralegal for Spedding Law Office in Lexington. Branum gave McNabb permission to share the documents with the Herald-Leader. The prison report on the incident included a photograph of the mouse. All of the soup made that day was thrown out, and the inmates were served other food, according to the incident report compiled by Fugate. Aramark food service director Jody Sammons, in a May 12 memo, said Sammons had conducted an investigation, and "it appears the mouse was isolated to the bowl of soup in which it was found." "It was not likely that a mouse was cooked in that batch of soup," Sammons' memo said. Some inmates were immediately concerned that they would be sick after eating the soup, and they were seen by medical personnel, an incident report said. Prison medical officials also contacted a Department of Corrections physician within an hour. The physician said "the mouse would not make them sick this soon," according to the incident report. Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the Justice & Public Safety Cabinet said the staff addressed the problem immediately. "The product was pulled and discarded, and an alternative served. Medical services were made available to all inmates. After those initial actions, Warden (Gary) Beckstrom took steps to increase pest control and monitor sanitation to ensure there is no reoccurrence of this event," Brislin said. Yonts said he would be contacting corrections officials Friday to see what action they have taken. In January, Yonts asked Attorney General Jack Conway to investigate possible Aramark violations of its contract. Yonts, D-Greenville, said Aramark violated the contract last year by refusing to provide cost-related records to state auditors conducting an investigation of Aramark's contract to provide food service to inmates at Kentucky's 13 prisons. In a Feb. 10 letter to Yonts, obtained by the Herald-Leader through the state's Open Records Law, Conway said that the Finance and Administration Cabinet found that Aramark was not in breach of the contract and that Conway saw no need for a separate investigation. But Conway and state Auditor Crit Luallen want a state regulation changed to clarify that state officials — not the contractor — should determine which records are pertinent, Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for Conway, said Thursday.

April 7, 2011 Lexington Herald-Leader
It's atrocious that Dismas Charities, a non-profit that runs on millions of tax dollars, refuses a full public accounting while spending lavishly on entertainment, sports events and executive salaries. If the Louisville-based corporation, which provides transitional housing and outpatient drug treatment for inmates, could afford a luxury suite (which it gave up once exposed) and some of the highest executive salaries in its industry, maybe, just maybe, Kentucky is overpaying for its services. But, hey, who knows? As state Auditor Crit Luallen said in releasing a special examination of Dismas Charities, "Because the detailed information we requested wasn't provided to our office, we could not determine if state and federal funds were spent appropriately and the extent of other excessive or unusual expenditures." This has become something of a recurring theme. Earlier, Luallen was unable to get information requested of Aramark, the contractor that Kentucky pays $12 million a year to feed prison inmates. The Beshear administration should quickly adopt Luallen's recommendation that contracts, including no-bid contracts, contain specific language allowing the state auditor and other agencies access to pertinent records — and, this is important, the determination of what's pertinent will be made by the state, not the contractor. As Luallen said again in releasing the Dismas report, if government is going to privatize its responsibilities, the private contractors who are being paid tax dollars to provide government services should be held to the same standards of accountability and transparency as the government. If this administration or future administrations fail to impose reasonable standards of accountability and transparency on government contractors, the legislature should insist on it. Let's be clear: We're not talking about a private company that does a little government work. Dismas Charities is 97 percent funded by state and federal tax dollars. Dismas received more than $27 million in federal funds in 2009 and receives more than $7 million a year from Kentucky. It operates 28 halfway houses in 11 states. Kentucky usually inserts standard language in contracts requiring vendors and other contractors to allow state auditors access to pertinent records. (Aramark refused on the grounds that what Luallen requested was not pertinent, which is why future contracts must make clear that the state decides what is pertinent.) The Department of Corrections' excuse for excluding that standard requirement from its agreement with Dismas is that the contract was not competitively bid. Not a very reassuring explanation.

January 22, 2011 Herald-Leader
The state has appointed an acting medical director for Kentucky prisons who will continue to work for and be paid by the private company that provides the state prison system's health care. Dr. Ron Everson was named by the state to coordinate and oversee the work of CorrectCare Integrated Health, the company where he is regional medical director for four Eastern Kentucky prison facilities. CorrectCare provides medical care for Kentucky prisons. It works for the University of Kentucky in a public-private partnership that essentially provides prisoners with an HMO for medical care. The university has a two-year, $104 million contract with the Department of Corrections. In his state role, Everson checks credentials and supervises medical providers and nurse administrators for Kentucky's Department of Corrections. He is also in charge of quality assurance, said corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb. Lamb said there is no conflict in Everson serving in both roles. CorrectCare is paying Everson's salary and the state is providing no additional compensation to him, she said. Linda Goins, president of CorrectCare, which is based in Lexington, referred questions about Everson back to the state. Richard Beliles, the chairman of the watchdog group Common Cause Kentucky, said Thursday that such an arrangement is not good government. "It would not be good if a lot of private companies could suddenly just be paying the salaries of state officials," said Beliles. "It's a push for privatization, which is probably not in the general best interest of the public." The agreement between UK and the state does not prohibit a CorrectCare physician from serving as acting medical director during the absence of the state corrections department's medical director, Lamb said. The corrections department sought the advice of the Justice Cabinet, whose staff then contacted the state Personnel Cabinet's General Counsel's office, Lamb said. "We were assured there was no conflict of interest in Dr. Everson filling this role on a temporary basis," she said.

January 10, 2011 Lexington Herald-Leader
A state lawmaker wants Attorney General Jack Conway to investigate possible violations of Aramark Correctional Services' $12 million food service contract with the Kentucky Corrections Department. Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, said Aramark broke the terms of the deal last year by refusing to provide cost-related records to state auditors who were conducting their own investigation of food served to inmates at Kentucky's 13 prisons. In a Jan. 4 letter to Conway, Yonts also listed other "examples of contract breach" identified in state Auditor Crit Luallen's final report, including Aramark overbilling the state and serving old food to inmates that was not stored properly. "I believe it is obvious that the contract has not been complied with and that Aramark is in substantial breach of it," Yonts wrote. Conway spokeswoman Allison Martin on Friday said the attorney general's office is reviewing Yonts' request. Aramark spokeswoman Sarah Jarvis defended her company in a brief prepared statement but did not respond to Yonts' individual allegations. "We provide excellent service that has saved the commonwealth more than $30 million to date," Jarvis said.

October 7, 2010 Lexington Herald-Leader
An audit of the state Department of Corrections' $12 million food service contract with Aramark Correctional Services has found that the state is overpaying the company thousands of dollars a year and is not ensuring that Aramark serves the proper quantities of required ingredients or meets its obligations. State Auditor Crit Luallen released the report Thursday. The Philadelphia-based company provides food service three times a day at Kentucky's 13 state prisons. The report said: ■ Aramark declined the auditors' requests for certain cost records. ■ The audit identified more than $36,000 in overpayments to Aramark due to billing errors and non-compliance with contract provisions and said the total overpayments could exceed $130,000. It found that in most cases, billing errors and food-production problems favored Aramark rather than the state. ■ Due to poor documentation, auditors were unable to verify that Aramark consistently followed approved recipes, used the proper quantities of ingredients and met safety standards for food temperatures or use of leftovers. ■ Aramark received almost $148,000 in inmate-grown food for nearly no cost, which is not compliant with the contract. ■ The Department of Corrections does not appear to have a comprehensive contract-monitoring process. "There's a pattern of non-compliance that's raised some questions of whether or not taxpayers are getting their money's worth," Luallen said. "We can privatize services, but we can't contract out responsibility. Our recommendations will ensure the vendor is held accountable." Luallen is asking the Department of Corrections and the Finance and Administration Cabinet to determine whether Aramark is in breach of the contract for failing to submit financial documents for the audit. The auditor made 30 recommendations to the Department of Corrections for strengthening its oversight of the Aramark contract. Luallen's office was unable to review food costs, personnel costs, bonuses to vendor managers and other critical data because Aramark declined a request for direct cost information. In her response to the audit, Department of Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson agreed to determine whether Aramark was in breach of the contract, agreed that billing errors had occurred and agreed that monitoring efforts should be increased. Gov. Steve Beshear and Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown said the Justice Cabinet would strengthen its monitoring process. But Beshear and Brown stood by the Aramark contract.

February 1, 2010 KY Post
Legislation has passed a House committee that would eliminate privatized food service for inmates at Kentucky’s prisons. The House Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 33, sponsored by Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, which would require inmate food service at the state’s prisons be turned over to the Department of Corrections at a cost of an additional $5.4 million per year. The state currently pays around $12 million a year for prison food service through Aramark. HB 33 now goes to the full House for consideration. A recent Corrections report indicates that the quality and quantity of Aramark’s food service—provided to the state at a cost of $2.63 per inmate per day—was an underlying factor in last fall’s riot at Northpoint Training Center, a state prison in Burgin. State prisons officials at last week’s meeting said restricted inmate movement at Northpoint was the main trigger of the riot.

January 29, 2010 Herald-Leader
State Auditor Crit Luallen said Thursday she would do an audit of the private company that has a nearly $12 million annual contract to serve food at the state's 13 prisons. The announcement came a day after a House committee voted to cancel a contract with Aramark Correctional Services, which served food at Northpoint Training Center at the time of a costly riot there. Also Wednesday, the state released its full investigative report on the Aug. 21 riot, which went into more detail about problems with food at the Mercer County prison. House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Rep. John Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Thursday that they thought Luallen should look into Aramark's performance under the contract. "I do think it's appropriate to ask the state auditor in some fashion to audit the situation," Tilley said Thursday. Said Luallen: "While there has not been a formal request yet, there have been enough questions raised by legislators that we will begin to make plans to do an audit of the contract." Members of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted 6-4 to cancel Aramark's contract because of concerns about the food. Many on the committee questioned whether Aramark was skimping on ingredients to serve more people cheaply. "Aramark stands behind the quality of service we provide, which has won the accolades of our clients and the national accreditation agencies who monitor the quality of food service," an Aramark spokeswoman said Wednesday. An audit conducted of Aramark's performance for the Florida prison system in 2007 showed the number of inmates eating meals declined after Aramark took over the food service. But the company was paid based on the number of inmates, not on the number of meals served. Aramark also substituted less costly products such as ground turkey for beef, the audit said. The audit recommended that Florida rebid the food service or take it over. But Aramark terminated the contract near the end of 2008, according to published reports. Gov. Steve Beshear praised prison officials' handling of the riot. He said he was "confounded" with the legislature's "continued fixation with the menus for convicted criminals when we're desperately trying to avoid cutting teachers and state troopers. ... We have more than 10 percent unemployment and Kentucky families are struggling to put food on the table, and I am loath to consider millions more dollars for criminals who wish they could go to Wendy's instead." But Tilley and Stumbo — both Democrats — defended the House's investigation into the riot, which damaged six buildings and caused a fiery melee. "The truth is, we had a riot on our hands that is probably going to cost the taxpayers $10 million," Stumbo said, referring to money Beshear has requested to rebuild the prison outside of Danville. "And we need to find out why the hell we had it." Meanwhile, there are still questions about why key parts of the original report on the riot were not immediately released in November. It was only after the House Judiciary Committee repeatedly asked to see the report that the Department of Corrections agreed to release a redacted version of the full report at Wednesday's House Judiciary Committee meeting. The report released Wednesday showed that Northpoint Warden Steve Haney did not want to implement restrictions that were a primary cause of the riot, but he was overruled by Deputy Commissioner of Adult Institutions Al Parke and Director of Operations James Erwin. The report said the handling of restrictions was "haphazard and poorly planned." The report also revealed other problems before, during and after the riot, including non-existent radio communications among agencies, a lack of documentation, failed video cameras and a considerable delay in the formal investigation. The report said there was confusion over whether Kentucky State Police or Justice Cabinet investigators should handle the post-riot investigation. Those details were not released in a summary Nov. 20. Beshear defended his administration Thursday, saying he was confident the riot was handled correctly. "I have full confidence in the Secretary of the Justice Cabinet J. Michael Brown and his staff and how they handled the Northpoint riot and its subsequent investigation," Beshear said. Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for Beshear, said Beshear's office never saw the original report, but had seen the report summary. Beshear's staff asked for more explanation in the summary report but did not ask for anything to be taken out, she said. Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said there was no attempt on the part of the Justice Cabinet or the Department of Corrections to hide or minimize some of the problems on the day of the riot. Department of Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson left out some of those problems in her Nov. 20 summary because she thought some of those details would compromise security at the prison, Brislin said. "During her review, she exempted information that she felt would be a security risk to staff and inmates, and that included information regarding how command decisions were made," Brislin said. House Bill 33 — the bill that would cancel the Aramark contract — now heads to the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. If the state cancels the contract, it could add as much as $5.4 million a year to the state's cost of feeding inmates, according to the Department of Corrections.

January 28, 2010 Herald-Leader
The warden at Northpoint Training Center did not want to implement the prison yard restrictions that contributed to an August riot that heavily damaged much of the facility, but he was overruled by Department of Corrections officials, according to an investigative report released Wednesday. The investigation also revealed numerous other problems at Northpoint that occurred before, during and after the riot, including inmate anger about food on the day of the riot and a crucial delay in the formal investigation of how the fiery melee occurred. After reviewing the report, the House Judiciary Committee voted 9-4 to approve a bill that would cancel the state's $12 million annual contract with Aramark Correctional Services to provide meals at 13 prisons. The investigative report showed that anger over food contributed to the Aug. 21 riot at the Mercer County prison. The report, which was withheld from the public by state officials until Wednesday, puts more emphasis on food as a contributing cause of the riot than the state Corrections Department's "review" of the investigative report, which was released Nov. 20. The review concluded that the main cause of the riot was inmate anger about a lockdown and other restrictions imposed after a fight at the prison. However, the latest report shows that virtually every inmate and employee interviewed by investigators said that Aramark food and its prices at the canteen were among the reasons for the riot. The report lists those issues as the third and fourth factors, respectively, that contributed to the riot. "Apparently, there had been complaints for years about the quality of the food, the portion sizes and the continual shortage and substitutions for scheduled menu items," the report states. "Sanitation of the kitchen was also a source of complaints," says the report. Inmates set fires that destroyed six buildings, including those containing the kitchen, canteen, visitation center, medical services, sanitation department and a multipurpose area. Several dorms were heavily damaged, and eight guards and eight inmates were injured. 'Haphazard' action -- According to the report, the riot began 15 minutes after details were posted about new movement restrictions for prisoners in the yard. The restrictions came after an Aug. 18 fight over canteen items that caused prison officials to institute a lockdown. The investigation found that Northpoint Warden Steve Haney wanted to return the prison yard to normal operations as he typically did after a lockdown, but he was overruled by Al Parke, deputy commissioner of adult institutions and James Erwin, director of operations. "The implementation of the controlled movement policy at NTC was haphazard and poorly planned at best," says the report. The report also says the warden never got word that inmates had dumped food from their trays on the floor at breakfast and at lunch on the day of the riot. Aramark officials e-mailed details of the incident to a deputy warden at Northpoint, but the information apparently was not passed along, the report said. During the riot, "radio communications between all agencies involved was virtually non-existent, causing chaos and a general feeling of disconnect with the various agencies involved," according to the report. After the riot, there was a "gross lack of coordination of submitting reports," evidence was compromised because most video cameras failed the evening of the riot, and there was a considerable delay in the formal investigation, the report said. Kentucky State Police immediately tried to begin an investigation to see which inmates were involved in the riot but was advised by the corrections department's operations director that the investigation would be conducted internally. Several days later, the report said, two staff members from the Justice Cabinet determined that state police should conduct the investigation. "The criminal investigations should have started immediately to preserve evidence, testimony and critical information," the report says. "After a few days, staff thoughts and observations became diluted."

January 21, 2010 Lexington Herald-Leader
The state agreed on Wednesday to turn over its original report on the August riot at Northpoint Training Center after nearly two weeks of denying requests for the document by lawmakers. The Department of Corrections released an investigative report of the fiery melee on Nov. 20, but not before it was edited to allegedly address security concerns. At the time, officials did not disclose that they had altered the investigative report. Legislators are hoping the original report will help them determine if food provided by a private contractor was partly to blame for the Aug. 21 riot that destroyed several buildings at the prison outside of Danville. Part of that report can be redacted for security reasons, the two sides agreed at a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. It should be ready by next week, they agreed. The report released in November showed that the main cause of the riot was inmate anger over a lockdown and other restrictions imposed following a fight at the prison. Inmates set fires that destroyed six buildings, including those containing the kitchen, canteen, visitation center, medical services, sanitation department and a multipurpose area. Several dorms were heavily damaged, and eight guards and eight inmates were injured. Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, said Wednesday that he had heard in early January that there was another version of the report and asked the department for the original. Yonts said he had been told that the original report gave more weight to the concerns about food than the version that was released to the public. Yonts has filed a proposal -- House Bill 33 -- that would cancel the state's $12 million-a-year contract with Aramark to provide meals at 13 prisons. Aramark Correctional Services has had the state contract since 2005. It was renewed in 2009 and expires at the end of this year. Yonts has also asked State Auditor Crit Luallen to do a performance audit of the Aramark contract, but Terry Sebastian, a spokesman for Luallen, said the auditor is still waiting for a formal request from the House Judiciary Committee. Yonts said Wednesday that he expects the committee to make that request. Democratic Rep. John Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he also had requested the original investigative report from the Department of Corrections. Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson said the department didn't release the original report because it contained sensitive details about security at Northpoint. She also said the report that was released provided more details about the incident than the original report. Some members of the committee said they found the department's concerns about security unfounded. "I'm not in the habit of disclosing that information (to prisoners)," said Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow. Thompson said they were worried the information might make its way into newspapers, which prisoners read. Thompson said she was not aware that Tilley had also asked for the original information, but Tilley said that wasn't true. Tilley said he verbally requested the information from the Department of Corrections at a meeting last Friday. Thompson said she must have misunderstood Tilley's request. Yonts also complained that he has asked since this fall for grievances that inmates have filed concerning the food that Aramark provided. That request has been denied to protect the identity of the inmates, department officials said. At the hearing on Wednesday, Thompson and representatives from Aramark acknowledged that there have been complaints about food at the state's prisons but said they were generally satisfied with the quality of food that the company has provided. The contract has saved the state $5.4 million a year, Thompson said. Yonts said there have been widespread complaints about the food, including: food-borne illnesses at Western Kentucky Correctional Facility, worms being found in food and food being watered down. He said corrections officers are concerned that unrest over food quality is jeopardizing their safety. Although there have been three incidents of widespread illness at Western Kentucky Correctional Facility since 2005, Thompson said there was no conclusive evidence that any of the three incidents was caused by the food. Thompson confirmed there was one grub worm found in soup at Green River Correctional Complex. It was found before it was served to inmates, she said. "There have been other institutions that have found bugs in their food," Thompson said. Part of the problem, she said, was that produce grown at the prisons hasn't always been properly cleaned. Officials are working to correct that problem, she said. Inmate menu surveys have shown a decline in satisfaction with the food, but the percentage of food being served to inmates has increased by 10 percent, Thompson said. Tim Campbell, president of Aramark Correctional Services, told the committee that the company does solid work. "We stand by the quality of services that we provide the commonwealth," he said. Still, some legislators said there is a disconnect between the testimony they heard from officials on Wednesday and remarks made by corrections officers during a committee meeting in November. Those corrections officers said the food was barely edible and that they were concerned that discontent with the food was making the prisons unsafe. Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, said he didn't believe that those officers would lie to a legislative committee. The committee did not vote on Yonts' bill on Wednesday.

October 22, 2009 AP
Surveys of Kentucky's prison inmates indicate they are less pleased with the food they're served than they were a few years ago. The state outsourced the work in 2005 to a private company, Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services. An Aramark spokeswoman says the inmates may have "self-interested motivations" for criticizing the food. The level of satisfaction was lower at Northpoint Training Center in Boyle County than among prisoners statewide. Prisoners rioted and burned much of the Northpoint complex on Aug. 21, and state Rep. Brent Yonts said corrections officers, other lawmakers and inmates have all told him that unrest "over food" figured into the riot. But Aramark officials have said there's no evidence that anything but gang violence and anger over prison yard restrictions played a role in the riot. They said their food was not a factor. The Lexington Herald-Leader obtained the survey results under the Open Records Act and reported Tuesday that early this year, state inmates rated the food 3.24 on a scale of 1 to 10, down from 5.84 in 2003. At Northpoint, the rating this year was 2.66, compared with 6.13 in 2003. Yonts, D-Greenville, has filed legislation that would cancel Aramark's $12 million annual contract with the state. State officials haven't said yet what led to the Northpoint incident. Eight guards and eight inmates suffered minor injuries. Small portions, cleanliness and food shortages were among the issues inmates often addressed in the survey. "Get rid of Aramark, bring back the state," an inmate at Roederer Correctional Complex in La Grange wrote in the anonymous 2009 survey. At the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, an inmate wrote, "I would like not to be hungry all the time." Jennifer Brislin, a state Justice Cabinet spokeswoman, said Tuesday that Aramark's food "meets all recommended daily allowances and dietary requirements."

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

October 30, 2004 Courier-Journal
Kentucky has not fined the company that operates two prisons in the state for repeated contract violations, including the use of inmate labor, according to records obtained by The Courier-Journal. Lawmakers responsible for overseeing state prisons, including those run by Corrections Corp. of America, or CCA, said they were unaware of the violations and the lack of fines, conceding that they have not thoroughly reviewed inspection reports.
"In the past we may not have scrutinized it as closely as we maybe ought to have," said Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, chairman of the House corrections budget subcommittee. "But we're going to pay closer scrutiny as the state moves toward more privatization." State evaluations of the minimum-security Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary show that since 1999, CCA has: Improperly used inmate labor to renovate facilities. Searched inmates' belongings without their presence. Mishandled inmate discipline and grievances. Also at Marion, the state found CCA violated the same contract provisions in consecutive years. And the Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville, where inmates rioted last month, had ongoing trouble calculating prisoner sentences. A prisoner released in 2000 should have been transferred to an out-of-state agency, and a prisoner was set free 18 days early in 2002, records show. Critics say the fact that Kentucky corrections officials found problems at the private prisons but never sought financial penalties is not a surprise. "Contracting for private prisons is a political choice for states more than anything else. There's a lot of rhetoric about saving money, but by and large it's a political choice," said Judy Greene, director of Justice Strategies, a New York-based nonprofit criminal justice research group. "That same environment may result in corrections managers that realize vigorous fines may upset the apple cart and in turn will affect their own budgets." Kentucky's contract with CCA allows it to levy $5,000 fines for each violation. Under the contract, state prison officials would recommend a fine to the Finance and Administration Cabinet, which would set the fine amount after a state hearing officer reviews the matter. The department has never penalized CCA for a violation "due to the limited nature of each deficiency and the good-faith effort in implementing corrective action," according to the evaluations. But other states have imposed penalties on private prison operators. In North Carolina, the state withheld thousands of dollars from CCA for not establishing a jobs program at two medium-security prisons. "They failed to provide the services they promised in the contract," said Danny Thompson, director of auxiliary services for the North Carolina Division of Prisons. After three years, North Carolina and CCA dissolved the contract, Thompson said. In Texas, the Department of Criminal Justice deducted $890,739 of the $184.2 million it paid to private facility operators last year, department spokesman Mike Viesca said. In 2000, the Marion prison failed to process inmate grievances in accordance with state policy — grievances not settled informally must be resolved within 10 days of a hearing. Despite the violation, the state found the same problem in 2001 and 2003 but didn't issue fines. "This was not something that happened on a recurring basis," Lamb said. Between 2000 and 2002, Marion also improperly used inmate labor at the prison, the records show, including at least once after the state directly forbid it from doing so.

February 25, 2004
Corrections Commissioner John Rees said private businesses could run food services at state prisons as early as this year.  The move could save enough money at Kentucky's 12 adult institutions to raise the salaries of guards, which ranks 49th in the country, Rees said.  Rees, a former vice president of Corrections Corporation of America, No bids for food services would be sought unless it is concluded a private company can do the job as well, but cheaper, Rees said.  "It's going to cost $10 million to $11 million to bring them up to the average salary of other states," Rees told the Lexington Herald-Leader in an interview.  The proposal drew the ire of prison workers and House Democrats.  "What kind of employees do you think you're going to get for close to minimum wage and no benefits?" asked Esther Jones, a foodservice worker at the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in West Liberty.  A corporation trying to maximize its profit in prison kitchens might cut back on the nutrition and caloric content of inmate meals, said Rep. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, a member of the House budget subcommittee for the justice system.  Kentucky pays about $3.30 a day for each inmate's meals, including the cost of personnel and supplies, Rees said. The department might not decide on privatization until after July 1, which is when the next state budget begins, he said.  

Kentucky Legislature
October 18, 2011 Evansville Courier & Press
Henderson Fiscal Court heard the opening salvo Tuesday of a campaign jailers plan to use to sway the General Assembly next year. "You are our maiden voyage," said Mike Simpson, president of Kentucky Jailers Association. "We're going to hopefully take this across the state." In a nutshell, Kentucky jailers maintain that House Bill 463 -- a recently enacted major overhaul of the criminal justice system -- is going to have a negative impact on the jails across the state. The way around that problem, they say, is allowing the state's current contracts to expire next year with Corrections Corporation of America, which has prisons in Marion and Floyd counties. The inmates in the Marion Adjustment Center and the Otter Creek Correctional Center would then be transferred to county jails. It's a simple matter of economics, according to Patrick Crowley, a public relations consultant from northern Kentucky who has been hired to head the blitz. County jails are paid $31.34 per day to house state inmates. The Marion Adjustment Center charges the state $37.99 a day for minimum security inmates, and $47.98 per day for medium security inmates. Otter Creek, meanwhile, charges the state $53.77 per day to house inmates. "It's a disgrace for the private prisons to be getting the per diem they're getting," said Henderson County Jailer Ron Herrington. Based on the capacity of the two private prisons, Crowley said, the state would save more than $8 million a year by housing the inmates in county jails -- and boost the bottom line of county governments while doing it. "Both the state and the counties could save money by eliminating the private prisons contracts," Crowley said. "There are some good things" in HB 463, Simpson said, but "this is our window of opportunity to go through this thing." "It's about 150 pages and all but about five or 10 were just fine," said County Attorney Steve Gold. Magistrate Charles Alexander at one point asked how the state can avoid destroying jobs by what the jailers propose. "They have prisons all over the United States," Simpson replied. "They're not just in Kentucky." If the firm loses Kentucky inmates, he said, it will fill its prisons with inmates from other states. "They have brought prisoners in from Hawaii. There is no shortage of inmates in this country."

June 3, 2011 Herald-Leader
An inmate at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex at West Liberty found a dead mouse in his soup May 1, leading to an investigation by corrections officials, according to state prison incident reports. State Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, characterized the incident as the latest problem with Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, which has a $12 million contract with the state to provide prison food. "It indicates what I call malpractice of their job," Yonts said. But Aramark spokeswoman Sarah Jarvis said the company provides good service to the state. "We have strong quality-assurance processes that ensure the high quality and safety of the meals we serve, and this has been consistently verified by the high scores we receive on independent county and industry health inspections," Jarvis said in a statement. Those inspection scores average close to 100 percent, she said. The incident occurred about 11 a.m. May 1, according to prison reports. In a written grievance, inmate Christopher Branum said that after eating some of his soup, he saw "what appeared to be a mouse leg." "I touched it with my spork (a combination spoon and fork), and it was a cooked mouse," Branum said in the grievance. Corrections officer Ronald Cantrell wrote in a report that Branum called for him and showed him the mouse 30 to 45 seconds after Cantrell served Branum lunch in his cell. "The mouse was saturated as though it had been in the soup for some time or cooked in it. The soup was still lukewarm," Corrections Capt. Paul Fugate wrote in a report. Branum, who is serving a 10-year sentence for first-degree robbery, received the prison incident documents through an open records request, said Wade McNabb, a paralegal for Spedding Law Office in Lexington. Branum gave McNabb permission to share the documents with the Herald-Leader. The prison report on the incident included a photograph of the mouse. All of the soup made that day was thrown out, and the inmates were served other food, according to the incident report compiled by Fugate. Aramark food service director Jody Sammons, in a May 12 memo, said Sammons had conducted an investigation, and "it appears the mouse was isolated to the bowl of soup in which it was found." "It was not likely that a mouse was cooked in that batch of soup," Sammons' memo said. Some inmates were immediately concerned that they would be sick after eating the soup, and they were seen by medical personnel, an incident report said. Prison medical officials also contacted a Department of Corrections physician within an hour. The physician said "the mouse would not make them sick this soon," according to the incident report. Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the Justice & Public Safety Cabinet said the staff addressed the problem immediately. "The product was pulled and discarded, and an alternative served. Medical services were made available to all inmates. After those initial actions, Warden (Gary) Beckstrom took steps to increase pest control and monitor sanitation to ensure there is no reoccurrence of this event," Brislin said. Yonts said he would be contacting corrections officials Friday to see what action they have taken. In January, Yonts asked Attorney General Jack Conway to investigate possible Aramark violations of its contract. Yonts, D-Greenville, said Aramark violated the contract last year by refusing to provide cost-related records to state auditors conducting an investigation of Aramark's contract to provide food service to inmates at Kentucky's 13 prisons. In a Feb. 10 letter to Yonts, obtained by the Herald-Leader through the state's Open Records Law, Conway said that the Finance and Administration Cabinet found that Aramark was not in breach of the contract and that Conway saw no need for a separate investigation. But Conway and state Auditor Crit Luallen want a state regulation changed to clarify that state officials — not the contractor — should determine which records are pertinent, Allison Martin, a spokeswoman for Conway, said Thursday.

January 10, 2011 Lexington Herald-Leader
A state lawmaker wants Attorney General Jack Conway to investigate possible violations of Aramark Correctional Services' $12 million food service contract with the Kentucky Corrections Department. Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, said Aramark broke the terms of the deal last year by refusing to provide cost-related records to state auditors who were conducting their own investigation of food served to inmates at Kentucky's 13 prisons. In a Jan. 4 letter to Conway, Yonts also listed other "examples of contract breach" identified in state Auditor Crit Luallen's final report, including Aramark overbilling the state and serving old food to inmates that was not stored properly. "I believe it is obvious that the contract has not been complied with and that Aramark is in substantial breach of it," Yonts wrote. Conway spokeswoman Allison Martin on Friday said the attorney general's office is reviewing Yonts' request. Aramark spokeswoman Sarah Jarvis defended her company in a brief prepared statement but did not respond to Yonts' individual allegations. "We provide excellent service that has saved the commonwealth more than $30 million to date," Jarvis said.

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

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

February 1, 2010 KY Post
Legislation has passed a House committee that would eliminate privatized food service for inmates at Kentucky’s prisons. The House Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 33, sponsored by Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, which would require inmate food service at the state’s prisons be turned over to the Department of Corrections at a cost of an additional $5.4 million per year. The state currently pays around $12 million a year for prison food service through Aramark. HB 33 now goes to the full House for consideration. A recent Corrections report indicates that the quality and quantity of Aramark’s food service—provided to the state at a cost of $2.63 per inmate per day—was an underlying factor in last fall’s riot at Northpoint Training Center, a state prison in Burgin. State prisons officials at last week’s meeting said restricted inmate movement at Northpoint was the main trigger of the riot.

January 29, 2010 Herald-Leader
State Auditor Crit Luallen said Thursday she would do an audit of the private company that has a nearly $12 million annual contract to serve food at the state's 13 prisons. The announcement came a day after a House committee voted to cancel a contract with Aramark Correctional Services, which served food at Northpoint Training Center at the time of a costly riot there. Also Wednesday, the state released its full investigative report on the Aug. 21 riot, which went into more detail about problems with food at the Mercer County prison. House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Rep. John Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Thursday that they thought Luallen should look into Aramark's performance under the contract. "I do think it's appropriate to ask the state auditor in some fashion to audit the situation," Tilley said Thursday. Said Luallen: "While there has not been a formal request yet, there have been enough questions raised by legislators that we will begin to make plans to do an audit of the contract." Members of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted 6-4 to cancel Aramark's contract because of concerns about the food. Many on the committee questioned whether Aramark was skimping on ingredients to serve more people cheaply. "Aramark stands behind the quality of service we provide, which has won the accolades of our clients and the national accreditation agencies who monitor the quality of food service," an Aramark spokeswoman said Wednesday. An audit conducted of Aramark's performance for the Florida prison system in 2007 showed the number of inmates eating meals declined after Aramark took over the food service. But the company was paid based on the number of inmates, not on the number of meals served. Aramark also substituted less costly products such as ground turkey for beef, the audit said. The audit recommended that Florida rebid the food service or take it over. But Aramark terminated the contract near the end of 2008, according to published reports. Gov. Steve Beshear praised prison officials' handling of the riot. He said he was "confounded" with the legislature's "continued fixation with the menus for convicted criminals when we're desperately trying to avoid cutting teachers and state troopers. ... We have more than 10 percent unemployment and Kentucky families are struggling to put food on the table, and I am loath to consider millions more dollars for criminals who wish they could go to Wendy's instead." But Tilley and Stumbo — both Democrats — defended the House's investigation into the riot, which damaged six buildings and caused a fiery melee. "The truth is, we had a riot on our hands that is probably going to cost the taxpayers $10 million," Stumbo said, referring to money Beshear has requested to rebuild the prison outside of Danville. "And we need to find out why the hell we had it." Meanwhile, there are still questions about why key parts of the original report on the riot were not immediately released in November. It was only after the House Judiciary Committee repeatedly asked to see the report that the Department of Corrections agreed to release a redacted version of the full report at Wednesday's House Judiciary Committee meeting. The report released Wednesday showed that Northpoint Warden Steve Haney did not want to implement restrictions that were a primary cause of the riot, but he was overruled by Deputy Commissioner of Adult Institutions Al Parke and Director of Operations James Erwin. The report said the handling of restrictions was "haphazard and poorly planned." The report also revealed other problems before, during and after the riot, including non-existent radio communications among agencies, a lack of documentation, failed video cameras and a considerable delay in the formal investigation. The report said there was confusion over whether Kentucky State Police or Justice Cabinet investigators should handle the post-riot investigation. Those details were not released in a summary Nov. 20. Beshear defended his administration Thursday, saying he was confident the riot was handled correctly. "I have full confidence in the Secretary of the Justice Cabinet J. Michael Brown and his staff and how they handled the Northpoint riot and its subsequent investigation," Beshear said. Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for Beshear, said Beshear's office never saw the original report, but had seen the report summary. Beshear's staff asked for more explanation in the summary report but did not ask for anything to be taken out, she said. Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said there was no attempt on the part of the Justice Cabinet or the Department of Corrections to hide or minimize some of the problems on the day of the riot. Department of Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson left out some of those problems in her Nov. 20 summary because she thought some of those details would compromise security at the prison, Brislin said. "During her review, she exempted information that she felt would be a security risk to staff and inmates, and that included information regarding how command decisions were made," Brislin said. House Bill 33 — the bill that would cancel the Aramark contract — now heads to the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. If the state cancels the contract, it could add as much as $5.4 million a year to the state's cost of feeding inmates, according to the Department of Corrections.

January 28, 2010 Herald-Leader
The warden at Northpoint Training Center did not want to implement the prison yard restrictions that contributed to an August riot that heavily damaged much of the facility, but he was overruled by Department of Corrections officials, according to an investigative report released Wednesday. The investigation also revealed numerous other problems at Northpoint that occurred before, during and after the riot, including inmate anger about food on the day of the riot and a crucial delay in the formal investigation of how the fiery melee occurred. After reviewing the report, the House Judiciary Committee voted 9-4 to approve a bill that would cancel the state's $12 million annual contract with Aramark Correctional Services to provide meals at 13 prisons. The investigative report showed that anger over food contributed to the Aug. 21 riot at the Mercer County prison. The report, which was withheld from the public by state officials until Wednesday, puts more emphasis on food as a contributing cause of the riot than the state Corrections Department's "review" of the investigative report, which was released Nov. 20. The review concluded that the main cause of the riot was inmate anger about a lockdown and other restrictions imposed after a fight at the prison. However, the latest report shows that virtually every inmate and employee interviewed by investigators said that Aramark food and its prices at the canteen were among the reasons for the riot. The report lists those issues as the third and fourth factors, respectively, that contributed to the riot. "Apparently, there had been complaints for years about the quality of the food, the portion sizes and the continual shortage and substitutions for scheduled menu items," the report states. "Sanitation of the kitchen was also a source of complaints," says the report. Inmates set fires that destroyed six buildings, including those containing the kitchen, canteen, visitation center, medical services, sanitation department and a multipurpose area. Several dorms were heavily damaged, and eight guards and eight inmates were injured. 'Haphazard' action -- According to the report, the riot began 15 minutes after details were posted about new movement restrictions for prisoners in the yard. The restrictions came after an Aug. 18 fight over canteen items that caused prison officials to institute a lockdown. The investigation found that Northpoint Warden Steve Haney wanted to return the prison yard to normal operations as he typically did after a lockdown, but he was overruled by Al Parke, deputy commissioner of adult institutions and James Erwin, director of operations. "The implementation of the controlled movement policy at NTC was haphazard and poorly planned at best," says the report. The report also says the warden never got word that inmates had dumped food from their trays on the floor at breakfast and at lunch on the day of the riot. Aramark officials e-mailed details of the incident to a deputy warden at Northpoint, but the information apparently was not passed along, the report said. During the riot, "radio communications between all agencies involved was virtually non-existent, causing chaos and a general feeling of disconnect with the various agencies involved," according to the report. After the riot, there was a "gross lack of coordination of submitting reports," evidence was compromised because most video cameras failed the evening of the riot, and there was a considerable delay in the formal investigation, the report said. Kentucky State Police immediately tried to begin an investigation to see which inmates were involved in the riot but was advised by the corrections department's operations director that the investigation would be conducted internally. Several days later, the report said, two staff members from the Justice Cabinet determined that state police should conduct the investigation. "The criminal investigations should have started immediately to preserve evidence, testimony and critical information," the report says. "After a few days, staff thoughts and observations became diluted."

January 21, 2010 Lexington Herald-Leader
The state agreed on Wednesday to turn over its original report on the August riot at Northpoint Training Center after nearly two weeks of denying requests for the document by lawmakers. The Department of Corrections released an investigative report of the fiery melee on Nov. 20, but not before it was edited to allegedly address security concerns. At the time, officials did not disclose that they had altered the investigative report. Legislators are hoping the original report will help them determine if food provided by a private contractor was partly to blame for the Aug. 21 riot that destroyed several buildings at the prison outside of Danville. Part of that report can be redacted for security reasons, the two sides agreed at a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. It should be ready by next week, they agreed. The report released in November showed that the main cause of the riot was inmate anger over a lockdown and other restrictions imposed following a fight at the prison. Inmates set fires that destroyed six buildings, including those containing the kitchen, canteen, visitation center, medical services, sanitation department and a multipurpose area. Several dorms were heavily damaged, and eight guards and eight inmates were injured. Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, said Wednesday that he had heard in early January that there was another version of the report and asked the department for the original. Yonts said he had been told that the original report gave more weight to the concerns about food than the version that was released to the public. Yonts has filed a proposal -- House Bill 33 -- that would cancel the state's $12 million-a-year contract with Aramark to provide meals at 13 prisons. Aramark Correctional Services has had the state contract since 2005. It was renewed in 2009 and expires at the end of this year. Yonts has also asked State Auditor Crit Luallen to do a performance audit of the Aramark contract, but Terry Sebastian, a spokesman for Luallen, said the auditor is still waiting for a formal request from the House Judiciary Committee. Yonts said Wednesday that he expects the committee to make that request. Democratic Rep. John Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he also had requested the original investigative report from the Department of Corrections. Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson said the department didn't release the original report because it contained sensitive details about security at Northpoint. She also said the report that was released provided more details about the incident than the original report. Some members of the committee said they found the department's concerns about security unfounded. "I'm not in the habit of disclosing that information (to prisoners)," said Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow. Thompson said they were worried the information might make its way into newspapers, which prisoners read. Thompson said she was not aware that Tilley had also asked for the original information, but Tilley said that wasn't true. Tilley said he verbally requested the information from the Department of Corrections at a meeting last Friday. Thompson said she must have misunderstood Tilley's request. Yonts also complained that he has asked since this fall for grievances that inmates have filed concerning the food that Aramark provided. That request has been denied to protect the identity of the inmates, department officials said. At the hearing on Wednesday, Thompson and representatives from Aramark acknowledged that there have been complaints about food at the state's prisons but said they were generally satisfied with the quality of food that the company has provided. The contract has saved the state $5.4 million a year, Thompson said. Yonts said there have been widespread complaints about the food, including: food-borne illnesses at Western Kentucky Correctional Facility, worms being found in food and food being watered down. He said corrections officers are concerned that unrest over food quality is jeopardizing their safety. Although there have been three incidents of widespread illness at Western Kentucky Correctional Facility since 2005, Thompson said there was no conclusive evidence that any of the three incidents was caused by the food. Thompson confirmed there was one grub worm found in soup at Green River Correctional Complex. It was found before it was served to inmates, she said. "There have been other institutions that have found bugs in their food," Thompson said. Part of the problem, she said, was that produce grown at the prisons hasn't always been properly cleaned. Officials are working to correct that problem, she said. Inmate menu surveys have shown a decline in satisfaction with the food, but the percentage of food being served to inmates has increased by 10 percent, Thompson said. Tim Campbell, president of Aramark Correctional Services, told the committee that the company does solid work. "We stand by the quality of services that we provide the commonwealth," he said. Still, some legislators said there is a disconnect between the testimony they heard from officials on Wednesday and remarks made by corrections officers during a committee meeting in November. Those corrections officers said the food was barely edible and that they were concerned that discontent with the food was making the prisons unsafe. Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, said he didn't believe that those officers would lie to a legislative committee. The committee did not vote on Yonts' bill on Wednesday.

November 7, 2009 Herald-Leader
A corrections officer at Northpoint Training Center told lawmakers Friday that an August riot at the prison near Danville was caused by inmate anger over bad food and was planned. "It's over the food," corrections officer Matt Hughes told the Interim Judiciary Committee. "The food was slop." State corrections officials did not speak at Friday's meeting but have said that as early as next week they will issue a report based on a Kentucky State Police investigation. State Rep. Kelly Flood, D-Lexington, said that corrections officers at Northpoint said they doubt officials will admit it in the official report but that "it was about the food." State Rep. Brent Yonts — who has filed a bill that would cancel the $12 million annual contract of Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, food provider for Kentucky prisons — said the General Assembly should launch its own investigation. He wants lawmakers to go to Northpoint to interview inmates. Yonts, D-Greenville, said the problems exist at state prisons all over Kentucky. He told the committee of lawmakers that a corrections officer at Green River Correctional Complex in Central City told him about "a very large body of worms that boiled to the top of a pot of soup" that had to be removed from a serving line. Yonts said human feces was found in a burrito at the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville and just this week he received information that an Aramark supervisor allowed inmates at Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington to eat brownies containing human feces. Citing numbers showing the state might not be getting its money's worth in the contract from Aramark because fewer inmates were eating in prison cafeterias, Yonts said that the state needed to take back food service operations. "It's not working," Yonts said. Aramark spokeswoman Kristine Grow said Friday that the company "had received no official complaints regarding our food before the riot occurred" and had no "absolute proof" of the allegations that Yonts made. "We stand by the quality of our service and our food, and we look forward to the state's official report," Grow said. Aramark officials have previously said that there's no evidence that anything but gang violence and anger over yard restrictions caused the riot. Hughes, however, told lawmakers that the explanation about yard restrictions was "bogus." He said that inmates were betting over high-priced packaged food from the Northpoint canteen because they couldn't eat the cafeteria food. Hughes also said the gambling was leading to fights and security problems for corrections officers. In the riot at Northpoint on Aug. 21, inmates burned and damaged buildings, several of which were a total loss. Eight guards and eight inmates suffered minor injuries. Hughes was one of three corrections officers from various prisons who appeared at Friday's meeting. All said they were members of the union American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Union officials also attended. Yonts acknowledged he is supportive of unions and of labor, but he said "that has nothing to do with the validity of this bill." If the bill is passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2010, food service to inmates at state prisons could be provided only by state employees, inmates or volunteers. That was the case until January 2005, when the state contracted with Aramark. The contract was renewed in January 2009 and expires in 2011. State corrections officials have said that with the savings from the Aramark contract, they were able to give corrections officers a nearly 7 percent raise in 2005. Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the state Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, said that in October 2005, corrections officers' hours were increased from 37.5 to 40 hours a week, resulting in a 6.67 percent increase. Meanwhile, lawmakers who heard the testimony said they wanted a special meeting with Department of Corrections officials and representatives of Aramark to find out the truth. "It's only one side," state Rep. Harry Moberly, D-Richmond, said of the allegations raised Friday. He said that lawmakers could have a "direct impact" on fixing the situation if the complaints were valid.

October 22, 2009 AP
Surveys of Kentucky's prison inmates indicate they are less pleased with the food they're served than they were a few years ago. The state outsourced the work in 2005 to a private company, Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services. An Aramark spokeswoman says the inmates may have "self-interested motivations" for criticizing the food. The level of satisfaction was lower at Northpoint Training Center in Boyle County than among prisoners statewide. Prisoners rioted and burned much of the Northpoint complex on Aug. 21, and state Rep. Brent Yonts said corrections officers, other lawmakers and inmates have all told him that unrest "over food" figured into the riot. But Aramark officials have said there's no evidence that anything but gang violence and anger over prison yard restrictions played a role in the riot. They said their food was not a factor. The Lexington Herald-Leader obtained the survey results under the Open Records Act and reported Tuesday that early this year, state inmates rated the food 3.24 on a scale of 1 to 10, down from 5.84 in 2003. At Northpoint, the rating this year was 2.66, compared with 6.13 in 2003. Yonts, D-Greenville, has filed legislation that would cancel Aramark's $12 million annual contract with the state. State officials haven't said yet what led to the Northpoint incident. Eight guards and eight inmates suffered minor injuries. Small portions, cleanliness and food shortages were among the issues inmates often addressed in the survey. "Get rid of Aramark, bring back the state," an inmate at Roederer Correctional Complex in La Grange wrote in the anonymous 2009 survey. At the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, an inmate wrote, "I would like not to be hungry all the time." Jennifer Brislin, a state Justice Cabinet spokeswoman, said Tuesday that Aramark's food "meets all recommended daily allowances and dietary requirements."

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

September 9, 2009 Herald-Leader
Complaints about the quality and quantity of food that a private company provides to Kentucky state prisons has led a state lawmaker to file a bill that would cancel the $12 million annual contract. Northpoint Training Center, where there was a riot last month, is one of several state prisons where inmates and corrections officers have complained about the food provided by Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, said state Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville. Yonts said he also is concerned that the illness of as many as 300 inmates at a Western Kentucky prison might have been caused by food. "There's no reason for people to be treated inhumanely," Yonts said. "I don't think the system is recognizing the problem with Aramark. I'm hoping the administration will ... cancel the contract." If the bill is passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2010, food service to inmates at state prisons could be provided only by state employees, inmates or volunteers. That was the case until January 2005, when the state contracted with Aramark. The contract was renewed in January 2009 and expires in 2011. Yonts said he received many complaints from across the state about food quality, shortages and even "crawling creatures in the food" in the past year. Inmates at Boyle County's Northpoint staged a sit-in in 2007 over the quality of food and prices of snacks in the prison canteen, according to the American Correctional Association. In a riot at Northpoint on Aug. 21, inmates burned and damaged buildings, several of which were a total loss. Eight guards and eight inmates suffered minor injuries. Yonts said that he sent a questionnaire about the food to corrections officers. The replies said that food problems have caused "control" problems with inmates. Sarah Jarvis, a spokeswoman for Aramark, said Tuesday that the company "has an excellent track record" and has received many accolades. "We reduce the costs to taxpayers of feeding inmates, while providing nutritious meals in close consultation with dietitians and nutritionists," she said. In January, Aramark stopped serving meals at Florida prisons, citing rapid rises in food costs and a poor working relationship with the state. In 2008 alone, the company was fined $241,499 by Florida for problems with the food and service, according to news reports. Saving millions -- State corrections officials say the contract with Aramark saves $5 million each year and allowed them to give corrections officers a nearly 7 percent raise in 2008. Northpoint inmates and family members have told the Herald-Leader that the quality and price of food and canteen items continues to be a source of unrest at the prison and might have figured in the August riots. Jarvis said there is no evidence that the riots "were the result of anything other than gang-related activity and yard restrictions. Some of the facts in this story seem to be based on anecdotes, half-truths and suspicious complaints by inmates and others who ... ignore official reports and contradictory facts." Incidents that led to the riot and fire are under investigation by the state Department of Corrections and State Police. Source of illnesses unknown -- At the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex at Fredonia, James Tolley, the public health director at Pennyrile District Health Department, said his staff has investigated three cases in 2009 in which inmates had gastrointestinal distress. In one instance in the spring, Tolley said, as many as 300 inmates fell ill there. State Corrections Department spokeswoman Cheryl Million said a foodborne illness was suspected, but it could not be verified in lab tests. Tolley said that even though lab results did not confirm that food was the problem, his staff advised food service employees on safe food handling. Yonts said he is looking into those cases. "Inmates do complain about Aramark," Million said. However, she said, there were similar complaints before Aramark took over food service. The Department of Corrections receives, on average, 21 food grievances among 13 institutions each month, she said. The state pays Aramark $2.63 for each inmate each day, Million said. Yonts said he also has received complaints about the food at Blackburn Correctional Complex in Fayette County. Yonts' legislation barring private companies would not apply to canteens where inmates at state prisons can buy food, to local jails or to food provided to inmates being transferred from one prison to another.

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

March 29, 2008 Herald-Leader
A key lawmaker says plans to build a new $129 million Eastern State Hospital in Lexington are still alive despite an e-mail warning to the contrary sent Thursday by the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Lexington. In a lengthy e-mail to Gov. Steve Beshear and many legislators, NAMI accused Rep. Jimmie Lee -- who engineered the complex deal that involves several land swaps -- of calling the group this week and angrily threatening to kill the new mental health hospital over the question of who would run it. NAMI wants the non-profit Bluegrass Regional Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board, which runs the hospital, to be guaranteed the management contract at the new facility. The Senate budget bill includes such language. Lee wants the contract to be open to competition. The House budget bill reflects that. "WE should not have to choose between a new hospital and the care we trust!!! ... PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE ... help us and don't let this absolutely righteous project be ruined," NAMI Executive Director Kelly Gunning wrote in her e-mail. "We have basically been threatened with 'no hospital.'" That's untrue, Lee said Friday. "I have every intention of building a new Eastern State Hospital, because it's important to the residents of the old facility and to their families," said Lee, who oversees House budget planning for health and welfare. However, Lee acknowledged meeting with a for-profit company, The GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla., interested in running the hospital. Several companies are watching the Eastern State plan with an eye on bidding for the management contract if the legislature allows. "We would be very excited to submit a proposal," said Jorge Dominicis, president of GEO Care, a GEO subsidiary that runs four civil psychiatric facilities for the state of Florida. Overall, the company specializes in private prison and jail management. While Bluegrass may be doing a fine job now, Dominicis asked, "why wouldn't you want to find out what other people could offer you, what they could achieve for you?" GEO's political action committee gave $1,000 last year to elect Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and $10,000 in 2005 to U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset. Lee, D-Elizabethtown, said he's uncomfortable writing into state law a guarantee that anyone must get a state contract without competition. "I have nothing against Bluegrass," Lee said. "I think Bluegrass has done a marvelous job. I hope they do a marvelous job in the new hospital. But I am not prepared to mandate that by statute." However, this isn't a deal-breaker, Lee said. By the end of the ongoing House-Senate budget talks, he wants a new hospital, regardless of what compromises are reached, he said. On Friday, Gunning said she stood by the accuracy of her e-mail. If Lee now says he's willing to compromise, that's good, but that hasn't been his attitude recently, she said. Bluegrass Chief Executive Officer Joe Toy called NAMI's public criticism of Lee "unfortunate." But he said advocates are understandably worried that his non-profit might lose the new hospital to a for-profit company that puts revenue ahead of patient care. "Philosophically, I have a serious issue with privatizing safety-net care for individuals," Toy said. "If a person needs 10 or 15 more days in the hospital, but you're tight financially and you have to get them out right now, it's hard to see how you balance that. We're not making cars or widgets here; we're providing care for people who have no other options."

January 19, 2007 KY State Auditor
State Auditor Crit Luallen today released a performance audit of Kentucky’s method of privatizing government functions. The audit, the third and final in a series on state contracting, shows that Kentucky needs a process that will ensure stronger oversight and accountability of the Commonwealth’s privatization contracting. The audit found that Kentucky’s main privatization statute is ineffective. The statute requires contracts in which a private vendor provides services “similar to, and in lieu of, a service provided” by at least ten state employees to go through a more stringent procurement process. The statute requires a detailed cost – benefit analysis and an annual performance evaluation for larger contracts. However, the statute exempts fifteen different types of contracts. Because of the defined criteria and exemptions found in the statutes, every contract for privatizing state services is eligible to be excluded from the statutory oversight scheme. In fact, according to the Finance and Administration Cabinet, only one contract has been implemented under this privatization statute since it became effective in 1998. In addition to the general privatization law, another law applies to private prisons. That law requires private prisons show a 10% savings over state run facilities. The audit found that these savings determinations are inconsistent and need increased accountability and independent review. State Auditor Crit Luallen said, “In the past, I have been a proponent of privatization as a useful tool to deliver services and increase government efficiency. However, as we see an increased effort to privatize government services, Kentucky must demand that our contracting processes ensure adequate oversight and accountability. No better example exists of this need than the experience the state has had at Oakwood.”

October 25, 2005 Lexington Herald-Leader
First Lady Glenna Fletcher is having difficulty raising money to renovate the Governor's Mansion, one of her pet projects. The Governor's Mansion Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit group created in March, has canceled a fundraising event at the mansion Thursday because fewer than 80 of the 1,077 invitations drew an RSVP from people who planned to attend. The foundation's struggle is similar to that of Kentuckians for Justice, a legal defense fund organized by Republicans for members of Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration hit with legal bills because of the state hiring scandal. A few weeks ago, defense fund officials complained that donations were barely trickling in. And the scandal -- which has led to the indictment of 13 gubernatorial aides and advisers -- is probably the obstacle in both cases, because Ernie Fletcher is now perceived as damaged goods, said Donald Gross, a political scientist at the University of Kentucky. Special interests are willing to write checks at the request of politicians, but only if the politicians can be useful, Gross said. "You give money strategically. If there's a perception that (Fletcher) is seriously hurt, then you're just throwing your money away," Gross said. "And he just seems to be floundering up there." Other top donors include firms that have business relationships with the Fletcher administration. Donations of $10,000 each came from state contractors Corrections Corporation of America and HMB Professional Engineers, and from regulated utilities Cinergy and American Electric Power.

May 13, 2005 Courier-Journal
A former Kentucky governor and two men who sought the office were among major donors to the private fund created to pay for repairs to the Governor's Mansion. The list of 261 donors was released yesterday by first lady Glenna Fletcher's office. According to the office, the foundation has received pledges of $792,404 and actual donations of $534,904. Fletcher said she hoped to raise $5 million for repairs to the inside and outside of the mansion, which was completed in 1914. Among the contributors: Corrections Corporation of America, which operates private prisons under contract with the state, gave $10,000.

January 2, 2005 News Enquirer
For years, Northern Kentucky's county governments have been trying to be heard. They want more money from Frankfort to house state prisoners in county jails. They think it is strange that prisoners can wait, sometimes for years, for sentences in their jails - receiving time served against those sentences - and still, the state gives no compensation to the county. Now, county leaders are offering support to pass a bill in the state legislature to remedy the problem. The Kentucky Association of Counties, the judge-executives group, the Kentucky Association of Magistrates and Commissioners and the Kentucky Jailers Association have combined to support the bill. It asks for state money to pay for prisoners who have had to stay in county jails; a raise in the county jail per diem equal to that paid to private prisons by the state; an allotment from the state to cover jail expenses, and an increase in state medical payments. Since 1984, county jails have been paid $26.51 for every day a prisoner stays in the jail after that person is sentenced. Private prisons receive anywhere from $30.49 to $44.19 a day. "We want an increase here," said Kenton County jailer Terry Carl. "We want to be paid as much as the private jails."

September 16, 2004 Herald Leader
The riot Tuesday that scorched a private prison in Lee County didn't burn the state Corrections Department's desire to privatize its new prison in Elliott County, officials said yesterday. Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration still expects to solicit bids from companies interested in managing the 961-bed Little Sandy Correctional Complex, set to open in January, said corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb. And Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, which owns and operates the damaged Lee County prison, still expects to submit a bid. Rather than hurting CCA's chances during the bidding, the riot actually could be a plus, Lamb said. The Corrections Department -- led by John Rees, a former CCA vice president -- is impressed by the company's swift reaction to the violence, she said. "To say they're pleased with how CCA responded is a little odd when most of the responders were local and state police, who quickly took control of the situation," said House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook. Adkins and other lawmakers have urged the Republican administration to open the $92 million prison under state control. Nationally, critics of CCA and other prison companies say the firms suffer from higher employee turnover rates than public prisons because of chronic understaffing and lower wages. That results in an inexperienced work force, they maintain. Also, to maximize profits, prison companies often skimp on food, health care and educational programs, which can lead to inmate unrest, critics say.

March 10, 2004
Language aimed at keeping the new Little Sandy Correctional Complex state run remained in the House budget plan Tuesday as legislators there passed the nearly $15 billion spending bill on to the Senate.  Contracting out the facility's operation has never been an option, said Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, majority floor leader who fought the prison's privatization.  "Today, the House overwhelmingly showed their agreement," Adkins said late Tuesday afternoon, after the chamber's 64-36 vote.  The budget plan provides an additional $9.45 million over the biennium from within the state corrections budget to ensure the facility is fully-funded and state-run, Adkins said.  Its language requires "that no action be taken to privatize any service that is currently being performed at or for an entire adult correctional facility," his office said.  The budget now moves on to the Senate, but could be revised there.  "We are hopeful that the Senate will agree that the changes made by the House are in the best interests of the people we serve," Adkins said, vowing to continue the fight.  Elliott County leaders — as well as residents hoping for jobs at the 895-bed $90 million state prison being built on the outskirts of Sandy Hook — also remain watchful of the situation in Frankfort.  "It definitely should stay state run and it should be employees from the area who run it," said Julian Fyffe, Elliott County Chamber of Commerce president.  People will likely watch the privatization issue, and their legislators' actions, closely until the budget's fully passed by House, Senate and governor, Fyffe said.  The prison, expected to open in June, was billed as an economic booster for the job-poor area when construction began under Gov. Paul Patton's administration.  The call to privatize it, in other words contract its operation to an outside vendor, first came from within Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration earlier this winter.  Officials said they were eying all options to cut state costs in a time of budgetary crisis, and couldn't let the prison system drive the state's economy.  Adkins and other northeast Kentucky legislators fired back in January with criticism that future workers could lose out financially under privatization. It's bad public policy to turn the keys of a public construction project over to a private company, Adkins said.  The administration stressed employees would still be needed, and probably would be hired locally, whether run by a private company or by the state.  Elliott County Judge-Executive Charles Pennington said then that the county was eagerly awaiting an estimated 350 state jobs and a $17 million payroll.  Pennington was in Frankfort Tuesday, and could not be reached for comment.  The people still care a great deal about those jobs, as state jobs, Fyffe said.  "Elliott County should get the better part of the jobs," he said. "There's plenty of people around here who can do it."  Fyffe said he's retired, and not looking for a job now, but those who are looking worry that there might not be as many local jobs at a privately-run prison and some worry that the pay might not be as good.  "And I don't think they should go in there and tear up something somebody else started," he said. "They should try to build on it."  As it moved toward committee passage Friday, and onto the floor this week, the House budget bill did not escape the political quarreling.  House Democrats issued a summary of it Monday, claiming to have restored "time-tested education programs that were slashed by Gov. Fletcher in his budget proposal for the next two years."  Hours before Tuesday's vote, the Fletcher administration aimed fresh criticism at Democrats who drastically rewrote his budget bill. Spokesmen called the substitute budget irresponsible, mainly for the amount of construction debt it implied.  Fletcher said the budget he presented was focused on economic development. It earmarked money for university research facilities and for technical training centers.  The House committee decided to put more money into education and state government salaries.  State Budget Director Brad Cowgill called the committee's bill "a prescription for going back to the very same conditions that got us to where we are — a condition that says buy now, pay later."  The wrangling even drew in the new Elliott County prison as a sort of political playing card.  Gearing up for the House battle Tuesday, Minority Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown filed floor amendments calculated to put House Democratic leaders on the defensive.  One would take $2.5 million away from the prison in Adkins' home turf and apply it toward a business technical center at Eastern Kentucky University. The appropriations committee chairman, Rep. Harry Moberly of Richmond, works for the university.  (Daily independent)

February 3, 2004
Members of a House budget subcommittee raised objections yesterday to plans by the Fletcher administration to contract for private management of a new $93.million state prison in Elliott County.  "If we take a brand new facility and we turn it over to a private company, we are basically giving a private company millions and millions and millions of dollars of free taxpayer money," said Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington and chairman of the Subcommittee on Justice and Judiciary.  But John Rees, the administration's Corrections commissioner and a former official of Corrections Corp. of America, a private prison firm, said putting operation of the prison out to bid was the best option - particularly with a lean state budget.  As a former warden of state-operated and privately operated prisons, Rees said privately run prisons save money in the long run. "I do believe competition works," he said.  And although prisons are expensive to build, Rees said, "The real cost of a prison is its operational cost over time."  Funding for the 961-inmate prison was approved under the Patton administration. But the budget that Gov. Ernie Fletcher proposed last week anticipates that the prison will be operated by a private contractor and have just 500 inmates. Rees said his department plans to take bids from private prison companies this spring.  Rep. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, said she was not sure private operation would save much money. She also raised questions about what the state gives up when it hands control of a prison to private vendors.  "From what I've seen, our experience with two private prisons we now have shows that it's not really more efficient," Webb said in an interview after the subcommittee meeting. "The pay and benefits for workers is lower. But the main point is that you lose accountability and flexibility when you enter into a contract over years. And there's a question of the financial health and viability of the company that wins the contract."  The state currently contracts with Corrections Corp. of America to operate two of its 14 prisons: the Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville and the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary.  Webb, whose district is near the new prison, and Rees disagreed over the cost to operate the Elliott prison under a private contractor. Webb said it costs the state about $44 per day, per inmate at the Lee Adjustment Center.  But Rees said he was confident that his estimate of $35 per day at the Elliott prison under a private contractor was conservative. Rees said the estimate was based on costs at similar privately operated prisons in other states.  Webb also pressed Rees on his background with a major player in the private prison business.  Rees said he began with the Kentucky Department of Corrections in 1969 and stayed with the state through 1976, then worked for Oklahoma's prison system before returning to Kentucky in 1980 as warden of the Kentucky State Reformatory. In 1986 he left to begin a 13-year career with Corrections Corporation of America, where he retired in 1998 as vice president of business development. Since then he has done private consulting in the corrections field, he said.  He said he owned less than $10,000 of Corrections Corporation stock, which he sold late last year before taking the job as corrections commissioner.  Webb said later that she raised the issue of Rees' background "only because I believe in full disclosure and that's a matter which we needed to hear."  Rees told reporters after the meeting that he's not trying to help his former employer. He said he expects three to five competitive bids from prison companies.  "The process will be fully transparent," he said.  The subcommittee will continue its deliberations through the rest of this month before making recommendations to the full House budget committee.  (Courier-Journal)

Lee Adjustment Center
Beattyville, Kentucky
CCA
October 18, 2011 Evansville Courier & Press
Henderson Fiscal Court heard the opening salvo Tuesday of a campaign jailers plan to use to sway the General Assembly next year. "You are our maiden voyage," said Mike Simpson, president of Kentucky Jailers Association. "We're going to hopefully take this across the state." In a nutshell, Kentucky jailers maintain that House Bill 463 -- a recently enacted major overhaul of the criminal justice system -- is going to have a negative impact on the jails across the state. The way around that problem, they say, is allowing the state's current contracts to expire next year with Corrections Corporation of America, which has prisons in Marion and Floyd counties. The inmates in the Marion Adjustment Center and the Otter Creek Correctional Center would then be transferred to county jails. It's a simple matter of economics, according to Patrick Crowley, a public relations consultant from northern Kentucky who has been hired to head the blitz. County jails are paid $31.34 per day to house state inmates. The Marion Adjustment Center charges the state $37.99 a day for minimum security inmates, and $47.98 per day for medium security inmates. Otter Creek, meanwhile, charges the state $53.77 per day to house inmates. "It's a disgrace for the private prisons to be getting the per diem they're getting," said Henderson County Jailer Ron Herrington. Based on the capacity of the two private prisons, Crowley said, the state would save more than $8 million a year by housing the inmates in county jails -- and boost the bottom line of county governments while doing it. "Both the state and the counties could save money by eliminating the private prisons contracts," Crowley said. "There are some good things" in HB 463, Simpson said, but "this is our window of opportunity to go through this thing." "It's about 150 pages and all but about five or 10 were just fine," said County Attorney Steve Gold. Magistrate Charles Alexander at one point asked how the state can avoid destroying jobs by what the jailers propose. "They have prisons all over the United States," Simpson replied. "They're not just in Kentucky." If the firm loses Kentucky inmates, he said, it will fill its prisons with inmates from other states. "They have brought prisoners in from Hawaii. There is no shortage of inmates in this country."

July 28, 2011 Burlington Free Press
It's well-established in law that most government records are public, but what about the records of contractors who do government's business? If a private company is housing state prisoners, how much of that company's records are available to state residents? Those are among the questions that a special panel of lawmakers mulled Wednesday as they met for the first time to try to tackle public-records issues left undone during the legislative session that ended in May. The summer study committee also plans to study exemptions to the state public-records laws -- numbering 239 -- and determine if they are needed. The six-member committee plans to delve more deeply into the exemptions at its next meeting in September, but Wednesday the panel wrestled with what to do about private contractors that essentially are fulfilling the function of government. Lawmakers left the issue out of legislation passed this year after running into complications. Those complications haven't disappeared, as the panel received conflicting advice. Conor Casey, legislative director for the Vermont State Employees Association, said private contractors sometimes do the exact same work as state employees. They should be subject to the same public scrutiny, he said. Casey noted that the state contracts with Corrections Corporation of America to house Vermont inmates at several private, out-of-state prisons. Vermont residents should be able to make inquiries about the services CCA provides, even if the state Corrections Department hasn't asked those same questions, he said. Legislative counsel Michael O'Grady warned the committee that the state might be vulnerable to a lawsuit. "If you do nothing, I think there will be a court case," he said. "I think people will expect or assume they'll be able to get records." O'Grady outlined laws in other states, some of which address the issue, but said it was unclear how some of those are implemented. One question Vermont lawmakers need to consider, he said, is where the records request should go: to the private contractor or the state agency overseeing the contract.

June 22, 2010 AP
Kentucky has pulled its inmates out of a privately run prison in the eastern part of the state because of what state officials describe as budget concerns, leaving only out-of-state inmates at the facility. The last Kentucky inmates at the Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville left the facility June 14, said Lisa Lamb, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Corrections. "It's part of our effort to reduce our financial burden," Lamb said. The prison, owned and operated by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corp. of America, houses about 560 inmates on contract for Vermont, which uses out-of-state prisons to alleviate overcrowding. The decision to remove inmates from the Beattyville prison saves Kentucky $43.62 per inmate per day. The facility has held up to up to 540 Kentucky inmates at one time, but the figure has fluctuated. In May, Kentucky lawmakers passed a $17.3 billion, two-year budget, overcoming a projected $1.5 billion shortfall caused by the severe economic slowdown that has reduced state tax receipts. Under the plan, most state agencies face cuts of 3 1/2 percent in the first year and 4 1/2 percent in the second year. Heather Simons, a spokeswoman for the Vermont Department of Corrections, said that state's contract with CCA runs through June 30, 2011, and pays the company $61.50 per inmate per day. "We currently don't have any plans to move them," Simons said of the inmates.

November 1, 2006 AP
A former supervisor at a private minimum security prison in eastern Kentucky was arrested Wednesday and charged with smuggling marijuana to inmates. Rodney Trowbridge, 47, turned himself in at the Beattyville Police Department early Wednesday morning. He was charged with four counts of first-degree promoting contraband stemming from incidents dating back to last November at the Lee Adjustment Center. Jeffrey Todd Tomblin, one of the inmates who allegedly received the shipments, was also charged. Tomblin was moved to the Green River Correctional Complex in May. "We have zero tolerance for this type of activity at the Lee Adjustment Center," said Warden Randy Stovall.

November 15, 2005 WCAX
Vermont's prisons are already full and now there's word they're about to be swamped. Corrections officials project Vermont's prison population will skyrocket at least 20% within five years, and that's sparking a debate over where to put all these convicts. But state lawmakers have rejected building new prisons in Vermont, so the Corrections Commissioner says the primary solution to overcrowding will be to send more inmates to do time in prisons located in Kentucky and Tennessee. State leaders will be looking at a number of options to out-of-state placement during the legislative session next year. However, the out-of-state placements have one additional factor that is very appealing to many: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA )-- a private, for-profit prison company -- charges Vermont $20,000 per inmate, per year to jail them in Kentucky and Tennessee. Meanwhile, the cost of jailing convicts in Vermont is $40,000 per year per inmate, 100% more. The difference is that CCA provides no counseling educational, or rehabilitation programs. The cost-per-inmate in Vermont includes many services and counseling, plus probation, parole, furlough, and other early release programs.

December 9, 2004 Beattyville Enterprise
On Sept. 14, inmates at the Lee Adjustment Center rioted. If there is another disturbance, it may not be the inmates.   It may be the employees. Problems at the prison seem to be increasing. Especially when it comes to attracting and keeping correctional officers. The Beattyville Enterprise has learned that the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has brought employees from Minnesota to the Lee Center to fill positions it cannot fill with local hires. Part of the reason the company is having trouble keeping employees is the presence of the people from Minnesota . Kentucky correctional officers are paid $7.81 at the Lee Center . The Enterprise has learned that the Minnesota officers are being paid $14 an hour plus $60 a week for food.  Also, CCA is paying for their housing in a local motel. Another problem that some of the officers are having is 12-hour shifts.  They only get one 30-minute break and this is to eat.

November 30, 2004 Lexington Herald Leader
Shortly after a riot erupted at a Lee County private prison in September, the state's top corrections official praised Corrections Corporation of America for its quick response to restoring order at the facility. Now, though, Corrections Commissioner John D. Rees, a former CCA vice president, has recommended that the state fine his old employer $10,000 for failing to have a sufficient number of trained officers to respond to the disturbance. On the night the riot broke out, just seven such officers were available instead of the 20 that were needed. That was just one of numerous problems at the Lee Adjustment Center described in a state report released last week. These included the failure of containment fences, restricted recreation time, restricted access to the inmate canteen, the suspension of such programs as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, lack of educational programs, mass punishments for minor offenses, the state's failure to monitor the prison and the seemingly ever-present lack of communication (in this instance attributed to the "strict management style" of former Warden Randy Eckman). All things considered, a $10,000 fine seems a bit small, which may be why a CCA spokeswoman quickly said that the company would pay it. But what puzzles us even more than the amount of the recommended fine is that the riot itself and the report on the problems that caused it apparently have not dampened one bit the zeal within Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration for privatizing the operation of a $91 million prison the state just finished building. The contracting process for that 961-bed Elliott County facility is moving right along as if the Sept. 14 riot that cost a warden his job and resulted in indictments against 23 inmates had never occurred and the problems that led to the violence and destruction at the private prison never existed. Go figure.

November 24, 2004 Courier-Journal
The company that owns the Beattyville prison where inmates rioted Sept. 14 should be fined $10,000 for failing to have enough properly trained officers to respond to the uprising, state officials said in a letter released yesterday. A state report also released yesterday said the riot grew larger than most inmates had intended and "was created by a lack of communication up and down the chain of command and too many changes within a short period of time." It's the first time the state has sought to fine a private prison operator, including the Corrections Corporation of America, which owns and runs the 800-inmate Lee Adjustment Center. In a Nov. 22 letter, state Corrections Commissioner John D. Rees asked Finance Secretary Robbie Rudolph to fine CCA for failing to adequately organize, equip, train and maintain 20 response team members. Only seven were available that evening, the report said. The department did not release CCA's response to the Oct. 4 report. Chickering refused to provide it yesterday, saying CCA believes the response should come from Kentucky officials. She also said the company would not immediately comment on the state's findings. The report found 16 problems at the prison, including: CCA built fences to control prisoner movement after an influx of Vermont prisoners. But inmates could "peel up" the bottom of the fences and sneak under them. There were mass punishments, including removal of pool tables after inmates allegedly gambled at them. Some Vermont inmates should have been in maximum custody prisons. Staff members were not prepared for the many others who are sex offenders, have a history of behavior problems and are on psychotropic drugs.
Several programs were suspended, including Parenting, Anger Management, Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous. The report confirms many of the concerns previously cited by inmates, prisoner advocates and Kentucky and Vermont prison officials.

November 23, 2004 Courier-Journal
The first visible sign of a recent riot at the Lee Adjustment Center was when inmates targeted the wooden guard tower, using large concrete ashtrays to break its legs. With a guard still inside, inmates began pulling the tower apart, using the wood to batter the maintenance building, where ladders, wire cutters and axes were stored, according to inmate interviews and an official account of the Sept. 14 riot. The six-page Sept. 27 report, obtained by The Courier-Journal under the state's open-records law, does not conclude what caused the riot or make recommendations, but it confirms much of what inmates said about the riot in interviews with the newspaper. The Corrections Corporation of America, which owns and runs the prison, and Kentucky and Vermont prison officials are investigating the riot. A Kentucky official said the findings are expected to be released this week. According to the report, prepared by a Lee shift supervisor, CCA guards quelled the 7:25 p.m. uprising in a little more than two hours. By then, inmates had burned the administration building, ripped out electrical wiring, raided the commissary and caused other damage to the 800-inmate prison. "The inmates literally had control of this place, the inner compound," Adam Corliss, an inmate imprisoned for murder, said in an interview. He said he ran to the window of his housing unit when he heard the commotion.
"There was no staff visible anywhere, and that's what surprised me the most, and I'd say a lot of other residents here," said Corliss, 30, of Springfield, Vt. "CCA is in a business to maximize profit," said inmate Tim Wells, 25, of Louisville, who is serving time for robbery. "Inmates are learning about this, and they're furious." Meanwhile, inside the maintenance building, prisoners Matthew Bennett and James Davis said their goal was protecting their civilian supervisor, Kris Goldey. Bennett and Davis decided to protect Goldey and the prison's equipment stockpile by closing the door to the equipment room and arming themselves with lead pipes, they said. The report confirmed that Goldey was in the room. Twenty riot squad members were supposed to have been on call under state policy, Rees has said. But that night, Lee spokesman Ron King said, only nine were available immediately, with three on duty and six others showing up at various times.

November 20, 2004 Courier-Journal
Twenty-three inmates, including seven from Kentucky, were indicted by a grand jury yesterday on charges of taking part in a riot that extensively damaged a privately operated prison in Lee County.
The inmates at the Lee Adjustment Center were charged with first-degree riot and being a persistent felony offender. Sixteen of the inmates who were indicted are from Vermont. During the Sept. 14 riot, inmates burned the administration building and severely damaged a housing unit by ripping out electrical wires and plumbing, officials said. The company has not said how much the damage cost to repair. The riot occurred after an influx of Vermont inmates at the Lee prison. Vermont Corrections Commissioner Steve Gold has said that Vermont inmates had complained about limited recreational time, smaller portions and less variety of food, and a disciplinary crackdown that wasn't adequately explained to staff or inmates. But the Kentucky and Vermont departments didn't have on-site monitors at the prison to listen to inmate grievances and to observe prison conditions. After the riot, CCA replaced the warden, Randy Eckman, and the company later fired him.

November 2, 2004 Times Argus
A Vermont inmate being housed in Kentucky received minor injuries when a fight broke out early Friday morning among 10 prisoners, including four from Vermont.  The prisoner, whose name was not released by Vermont officials or the company that runs the prison, was taken to an area hospital and had stitches put in his face and was returned to prison.
An inmate from Kentucky was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher and had stitches put in his head at an area hospital and was released.

October 28, 2004 Times Argus
For the first time since last month's prison riot, Vermont inmates being housed in a private facility in Kentucky on Wednesday gave their home state lawmakers first-hand accounts of conditions that led to the uprising. "I find it very difficult to live in the dorm situation. Bathrooms are set up inhumanely with no privacy. I can't sleep, the floor shakes,'' said Dennis Chandler, one of four prisoners who addressed the Corrections Oversight Committee by telephone from the Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville, Ky. "Different corrections officers have different rules. Officers make up the rules as they please,'' said Scott Amidon, another inmate. Corrections Commissioner Steven Gold and Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, the committee chairman, said they will continue to work to improve conditions at the prison, including making sure that prison officials are more responsive and inmates have better education opportunities.
The riot began around 7:15 p.m. on Sept. 14 when some of the inmates in the recreation yard tore down the guard tower and used the wood to break into the commissary. At Wednesday's hearing in Montpelier, inmate David Rivers said officials at the Kentucky prison frequently bring up false charges against inmates as a way of punishing prisoners they think are troublesome. The charges often result in the inmates being placed in solitary confinement for extended periods. "This was one of the many straws that broke the camel's back before the riot. Improvements are slow in coming,'' he said. He added that "… the education offered is poor and classes are sometimes turned over to the smartest inmate and the teachers do not teach.''

October 27, 2004 WKYT
A Lee County grand jury is expected to consider criminal charges today against 26 inmates accused of starting a riot at a private prison last month.
The grand jury is to hear evidence on charges of arson, criminal mischief, inciting to riot, and assault. Of the 26 inmates facing charges, 15 are from Vermont and eleven are from Kentucky.

October 12, 2004 WCAX
A Kentucky grand jury will consider criminal charges against 15 Vermont inmates believed to have helped start a prison riot last month. Police say some of the charges will be misdemeanors and some will be felonies. The September 14th riot involved more than 100 inmates and resulted in extensive damage to the Lee Adjustment Center run by Corrections Corporation of America in Beattyville, Kentucky.

October 1, 2004 Times Argus
As many as 15 Vermont inmates could be indicted by a Kentucky grand jury later this month for crimes relating to their involvement in instigating a riot at their prison.
Corrections Commissioner Steven Gold said employees of his department who are in Kentucky have worked to ensure that there is no retaliation against the Vermont inmates by CCA employees. Gold has said any Vermont prisoners convicted of instigating the riot would be moved to a more secure CCA facility in Arizona.

September 29, 2004 Courier Journal
Kentucky and Vermont did not have inspectors on site at the Lee Adjustment Center in the months before inmates rioted at the privately run prison. While it is not required by law, Kentucky Corrections Commissioner John D. Rees said the state wants an inspector to work at the prison to make sure the Corrections Corporation of America runs it properly. "For a month it wasn't addressed. Should it have been? Probably yes," said Rees, adding that an inspector has since been reassigned there. House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, who is fighting a state plan to privatize a new Elliott County prison, said the Corrections Department didn't follow the law by not immediately replacing Glenn Hance. "That is a very, very serious oversight by the Corrections Department," Adkins said. Steve Gold, Vermont's corrections commissioner, said his state was sending inspectors to Lee every month. "We clearly have to pay closer attention on an ongoing basis and have someone there who is monitoring the contract and serving as an ombudsman, if you will, or caseworker, for the inmates," Gold said.
"There just is no substitute for having a monitor on staff every day, walking around with a clipboard, noticing what's happening and what's not happening, listening to the staff, listening to the prisoners," said Judy Greene, who runs Justice Strategies, a New York-based nonprofit criminal justice research group. "With private contracts, the key is oversight and monitoring. You have to hold their feet to the fire," said Doug Sapp, the former Kentucky corrections commissioner who signed the original contract with CCA in 1999 and retired a year later.

September 25, 2004 Times Argus
At least one state employee will be assigned to the prison in Kentucky to ensure that Vermont's prisoners there are treated properly and to avoid a repeat of conditions that prompted last week's riot, Corrections Commissioner Steven Gold told lawmakers on Friday. "The people in Kentucky were not always responsive to the complaints raised by our inmates before the riot." He told lawmakers that prisoner complaints centered on smaller and lower-quality food portions, lack of access to recreational activities and inadequate visiting hours. Committee members also received a copy of a letter in which Vermont inmate Scott Bressette described conditions that drove the inmates to violence. "They ain't feeding us hardly anything. I'm starving so bad that my stomach's starting to eat away at my backbone," Bressette wrote to his fiancée Katherine Jenkins two days after the riot. He described the riot as "one of the most insane things I've ever witnessed in my entire life! Inmates chasing guards with 2X4s breaking everything in sight…It was so hostile that the S.W.A.T. team of guards came in, launching tear gas, armed with shotguns." Gold added that prison conditions before the riot were largely the result of policies implemented by the former warden of the facility, Randy Eckman, who was removed from the position last Saturday and had not yet been reassigned. Gold said Eckman often punished inmates excessively for minor infractions and did not communicate effectively with inmates and prison employees.
Sen. James Leddy, D-Chittenden, said the riot shows what can happen when there is a "rogue warden whose actions are only known about after the riot."

September 25, 2004 WCAX
Vermont Corrections Department officials are continuing to work on a plan to build a second prison work camp to help ease prison overcrowding. Corrections Commissioner Steve Gold says Governor James Douglas is interested in hearing the options for adding a work camp. And Gold says his department is planning to conduct a full investigation into a September 14th riot at a private Kentucky prison that houses about 400 Vermonters. Gold says he wants to have an employee stationed at the Kentucky jail and that the jail's operator, Corrections Corporation of America, is willing to pay most of the cost.

September 23, 2004 Snitch
As a lawyer for the Alliance for Prison Justice in Vermont, Barry Kade is quite interested in last week's fracas at the Lee Adjustment Center, a privately run prison in Beattyville, Ky.
About nine inmates could face criminal charges for instigating the Sept. 14 "disturbance," according to a statement from the Corrections Corp. of America, which runs Lee. Kade has a different opinion of what transpired. "Let's call it an uprising," he said, "not a disturbance." Kade is assisting another Vermont lawyer, Thomas Costello, in a lawsuit against the Marion Adjustment Center, a minimum-security facility in St. Mary, Ky. The suit alleges that a security guard sexually assaulted inmates during a strip search. And while he hasn't decided whether he'll sue CCA, Kade indicated that the thought has crossed his mind, based on complaints he's received from Vermont prisoners about poor treatment. CCA has come under fire from prisoner rights groups in past years for unfair treatment of inmates, inadequate training of its guards and for mixing inmates who require different levels of supervision. When asked to describe CCA's response to inmate concerns, Kade said, "I haven't seen any response other than stonewalling."

September 24, 2004 WCAX
Vermont Corrections Commissioner Steve Gold says he recommended that the warden at a private Kentucky prison be removed from his job. Former warden Randy Eckman, who has not been blamed for the incident, has been transferred to another job. He says inmates were angry over policies instituted by the prison warden.

September 21, 2004 Lexington Herald Leader
Folks at the state Corrections Department subscribe to a strange logic about what constitutes good performance by a private prison company. After inmates rioted last week at Corrections Corporation of America's Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville, department officials suggested that the incident might be a plus for CCA when Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration gets around to choosing a company to run a new prison. It seems CCA's swift response to the riot impressed department officials. We're not surprised that the department would adopt a positive view of CCA response to the riot, during which several buildings burned. After all, the agency now is run by John Rees, a former CCA vice president, who might be more inclined than most to cut his former company some slack. But even when you take those friendly ties into consideration, the notion that a riot can somehow become a plus for CCA is absurd. By even suggesting such an idea, cabinet officials sent a message to CCA and other private prison operators: "Get a few inmates to start a riot, quash it quickly and decisively, and we'll give you another prison to run." That logic is outlandish even by Fletcher administration standards. Rather than earning CCA some kind of bonus points, last week's riot, viewed in the context of the company's recent history in Kentucky and elsewhere, should give the administration and the General Assembly reason to question the wisdom of privatizing prison operations. In July, prisoners rioted at CCA facilities in Colorado and Mississippi. That same month, a female prisoner died of a skull fracture after a confrontation with a guard at a CCA prison in Nashville. Here in Kentucky, CCA's record includes a 2001 riot at its Otter Creek Correctional Center in Floyd County. And some of the approximately 400 Vermont prisoners now housed at the Beattyville facility were moved there from CCA's Marion Adjustment Center after an incident in which a guard was fired for improper sexual contact with two inmates from Vermont. A performance record of that nature doesn't justify the positive spin the Corrections Department tried to put on last week's riot. On the contrary, it begs for an investigation into why CCA facilities seem particularly prone to riots and other negative incidents involving guards and inmates.

September 21, 2004 Rutland Herald
The warden of a private Kentucky prison that was the scene of a riot last week was replaced Monday, the latest fallout from an uprising in which nearly two dozen Vermont inmates took part. According to Vermont Corrections Commissioner Steven Gold, the number of inmates involved in last Tuesday's riot could be 23, about six times more than originally thought. He said that "a much larger group has been identified" by the jail's operator, Corrections Corp. of America, which last week said only four Vermont inmates were involved in the riot. Randy Stovall, who until last week was warden at one of the company's other prisons, took over for Randy Eckman, who had been warden at Lee for about a year, according to CCA spokeswoman Louise Chickering. Eckman's management style apparently contributed to unrest among some of the 400 Vermont inmates who are housed in the rural prison in eastern Kentucky, according to Matthew Valerio, the Vermont defender general. "The apparent cause of the riot was a somewhat arbitrary and restrictive change in the rules and privileges at the facility," Valerio said Monday. "These included changes in and reductions in use of the commissary, changes in food quality and increased punishment for minor infractions. That really ratcheted up the tension at the facility." "As of right now, these people have been in a lockdown state for almost a week, haven't had a hot meal in about a week, and, if that doesn't get resolved very quickly, we will ask that changes be made."

September  21, 2004 WCAX
The prison in Kentucky where a riot involving Vermont inmates took place has a new warden. Corrections Corporation of America says it has replaced the warden who was in charge during the uprising.
Randy Stovall will take over as top official at the prison immediately. Prison officials say the riot followed a dramatic increase in inmates and cutbacks in privileges such as free time outdoors.

September 17, 2004 AP
A doubling of the population with prisoners from 1,000 miles away, cuts in privileges and reduced time to visit with friends and family are some of the reasons observers cite for a riot at the privately run Lee Adjustment Center this week. Barry Kade, a Vermont lawyer and a member of the Alliance for Prison Justice, an advocacy group that works to improve conditions for Vermont inmates, said he has received an increasing number of complaints from Vermont inmates sent to Kentucky this year to relieve prison crowding in Vermont. Of the nine inmates who officials said started the fires, five were from Kentucky and four from Vermont. "Usually when there's a prison riot it occurs after months or years of intolerable conditions," Kade said. Ray Flum, director of inmate classification for the Vermont Department of Corrections, said the state has been sending prisoners to publicly run prisons out of state for a number of years. But its contract with Corrections Corporation is its first with a private corporation. "Are we surprised that something like this happened and we're involved in it? Yes we are," Flum said. "In the six or seven years we've been doing business like this out of state it's the first time this has happened."  Corrections Corporation also experienced riots in July at prisons it runs in Colorado and Mississippi - both of which house out-of-state inmates. Chickering said the company doesn't believe adding prisoners from another state was the cause of the uprisings. "I think this latest uprising fits into this general pattern of unhappiness by prisoners who have been transported out of state," said Paul Wright, editor of Prison Legal News, a Vermont-based magazine about the prison industry. Vermont inmates at Beattyville complained to Kade that visits from friends and family - who must drive about 1,000 miles to Kentucky - were cut to two hours a week. Free time on the yard was cut and some inmates alleged they were mistreated through physical abuse or by being put into isolation without having committed any violation, he said.

September 17, 2004 Times Argus
Four Vermont inmates helped to instigate an uprising and set a fire that toppled a guard tower and caused extensive damage to a private prison in Kentucky, officials said Wednesday. Some of the 25 to 150 inmates in the recreation yard tore down the guard tower and used the wood to break into the commissary. Officials said they then threw food and tobacco to other prisoners and set fires that damaged one of the housing units and the building where the kitchen is located. Earlier this year, at the request of Vermont officials, CCA moved 195 Vermont prisoners from the Marion Adjustment Center in Kentucky to the Lee facility because inmates complained about inadequate about inadequate library, dining and recreational facilities. The Marion prison had also come under scrutiny when two Vermont inmates were returned to the state after accusing a guard there of sexually assaulting them. The guard has since been fired and no Vermont inmates remain in that facility.

September 16, 2004 AP
A privately operated prison in eastern Kentucky was under a security clamp and inmates were doubled up in cells, a day after prisoners torched three buildings during an uprising. The medium-security Lee Adjustment Center at Beattyville was on "lockdown" Wednesday following a disturbance that erupted as inmates milled around a recreation yard Tuesday night. Ken Kopczynski of Private Corrections Institute Inc., a group opposed to private prisons, said such prisons are understaffed and have high turnover, leading to inexperienced guards. "What that does is it leads to more abuse and more safety-related issues because they don't know what's going on," Kopczynski said. He said locking up people hundreds of miles from families - such as the Vermont inmates - "doesn't help the situation." Vermont inmates have been housed at the Kentucky prison since this year to help ease overcrowding in Vermont facilities.

September 16, 2004 Herald-Leader
It started when nine prisoners tried to tear down a wooden guard tower in the outside recreation yard of the Lee Adjustment Center, officials said yesterday. What followed Tuesday night was a three-hour riot in which inmates set fires and threw rocks before being subdued by special prison response teams armed with nightsticks, plastic handcuffs and pepper spray. By the time the smoke cleared and the sun rose yesterday, the medium-security private prison was left with a heavily damaged administration building and a housing unit where no one will be able to live for a while at least. But Barry Kade of the Vermont Alliance for Prison Justice said he had been receiving e-mails and phone calls for several weeks from prisoners complaining of mistreatment. Kade said he has been getting complaints about unprofessional conduct by guards, bullying, and inmates being put in isolation without being charged with an infraction. Steve Gold, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Corrections, said a team from his state will interview inmates about security and conditions at the prison. Gold, the Vermont corrections official, said his agency had concerns, including lack of space, when prisoners were held at CCA's Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary's. He said there was also an incident there in which a prison officer was fired after alleged improper sexual contact with two Vermont inmates.

September 15, 2004 Herald-Leader
Inmates took partial control of a prison in Beattyville last night, starting fires and claiming that they had taken at least one hostage before state police regained control. "There was a period of time that a small group of guards was separated from other folks inside. Ultimately, it turned out it was not a hostage situation," Miller said. The Lee Adjustment Center is owned by Corrections Corporation of America. It is a minimum security prison with 800 inmates. About half from Kentucky and half from Vermont. Beattyville police Chief Steve Mays was at the prison while inmates still had partial control. "This was quite a sight when we got here," Mays said about midnight. "Smoke was rolling, people were yelling, prisoners were throwing big rocks over the fence. But it has quieted down now." Fires set to two housing units had been extinguished by 10:50 p.m., but the administration building was still smoldering, Lamb said. Mays said that the guard shack and the administration building were heavily damaged by the fire, and that the cafeteria was also damaged.

September 14, 2004 WKYT
Order is back after hundreds of inmates created a disturbance at an Eastern Kentucky prison. Officials say the prisoners started a number of fires that took hours to get under control.  About 8:00PM Tuesday, inmates got out of control and set the administration building on fire.
Police responded by the dozens on ground and in the air to keep prisoners from escaping. After nearly four hours, the fire was put out and the inmates were contained in the facility's recreation yard.

August 4, 2004
A Vermont inmate sent out of state to serve his sentence was hospitalized with pneumonia three weeks ago without anyone from the state or the prison telling the inmate's family that he was sick, officials acknowledge. Francis Joseph, an inmate at the Lee Adjustment Center in Kentucky, was admitted to the hospital several weeks ago suffering from pneumonia.   Lillian Joseph, the inmate's ex-wife, said the hospital called her three weeks ago to tell her about Joseph's condition. The news was a shock because her family wasn't aware that he was sick.  Corrections Corp. Of America, a private company, runs the Lee Adjustment Center. According to a policy between the Vermont Corrections Department and CCA, the Josephs should have been notified by the prison about the illness.  (The Champlain Channel)

January 22, 2004
A 3-year-old Owsley County girl was in critical condition last night with a fractured skull, and her father and a woman who lives with him were arrested on charges of first-degree criminal abuse.  Michael J. Riley, 28, and Dorothy C. Birch, 25, of Boone-ville, were ordered held on $50,000 cash bonds each in Three Forks Regional Jail in Beattyville.  Alexis Riley, was described by neighbors yesterday as a "teeny, tiny" blond-haired child.  Alexis suffered cuts and bruises "over her entire body," a Kentucky State Police report said. She was listed in critical condition last night at the University of Kentucky Children's Hospital.  "She's fighting for her life," Betty Brandenburg, the child's grandmother, told WKYT-TV.  In Owsley County, where Alexis lived in her father's brick home in Chestnut Gap on Ky. 28, about 3 miles from Booneville, neighbors said they were shocked.  "Everyone is upset and just torn all to pieces," said Phyllis Johnson, who lives near Riley's home.  She said Riley received sole custody of Alexis more than a year ago when he was divorced from the child's mother. He had been living for about a year with Birch, a former nursing home employee who recently went to work for a physical therapist, Johnson said.  She said Riley recently began working at the Lee Adjustment Center, a private prison in Beattyville, and he had helped tend her husband's tobacco crop.  (Eastern Kentucky Buraeu)

June 8, 2001
Two former prison guards left disabled by injuries, then fired for being unable to meet all the job's demands, lost again Friday in the Kentucky Court of Appeals.  Ferman Heaton and Gary Evans sued Corrections Corporation of America, charging disability discrimination under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and Kentucky Equal Opportunities Act.  The company has operated Lee Adjustment Center, a prison in Beattyville, on contract for the state since 1998.  Prior to that, the prison was owned by U.S. Corrections Corp.  When Corrections Corporation of America took over, a new job description for correctional officers listed strenuous activities, including breaking up fights and restraining inmates by force, as "essential functions."  It also said officers "must be able to work any post assignment on any shift."  Heaton and Evans conceded they could not perform the essential functions, and they were terminated.  They sued in Lee Circuit Court in August 1998, contending they should have been allowed to keep working at the gate, regardless of the job description.  Siding with company, Lee Circuit Judge William W. Trude Jr. said Heaton and Evans "cannot 'tack' their employment from USCC to that of CCA."  The appeals court agreed.  (AP)

Little Sandy Correctional Complex
Sandy Hook, Kentucky
CCA
March 12, 2005 Daily Independent
Flanked by a group of local legislators and public officials - many of whom had battled him for nearly a year - Gov. Ernie Fletcher on Thursday publicly addressed a group of citizens gathered at the Little Sandy Correctional Complex to discuss the future of the $92 million facility. The governor made the statement many had been expecting to hear: The prison will be state run. The state's top official, who had once directed the state seek bids from private contractors for possible operation of the 961-bed facility, said bidding has been closed. "Once it became pretty clear the state could operate as efficiently, I asked them to close down (bidding) and operate as a state facility," Fletcher told reporters following a press conference. A longtime advocate of keeping the facility state-operated, Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, praised the governor's decision. He said he understood Fletcher, who inherited a $300 million state deficit when he took office, faced a tough decision as the administration studied the most cost-effective measure for operating the prison.

February 3, 2005 Herald Leader
Kentucky's $92 million new prison, originally scheduled to open eight months ago, may sit empty in Elliott County for considerably longer, according to state officials.  But for just how long, why, who is at fault and what's being done about it are still mostly mysteries.  Officials in Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration yesterday said the 961-bed Little Sandy Correctional Complex cannot be occupied any time soon because of "serious construction defects." They refused to say more. There are no serious defects in the prison, and it's ready for use, said Tim Robbins, vice president of Ray Bell Construction Co. in Brentwood, Tenn. "I don't think the governor's office knows what it's talking about," Robbins said. Legislators who have toured the prison agreed. They theorize that Fletcher's agenda to privatize state government is the real reason for the delay. "This is a ruse," said Rep. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, who lives near the prison. Last year, the Finance Cabinet accepted bids from companies interested in managing the prison and using some of its beds to hold profitable out-of-state inmates. Democratic legislators have opposed that idea, arguing for the state's Corrections Department to run the facility instead. One of the bidders, Corrections Corp. of America, is a heavy donor to Republican politics, including Fletcher's gubernatorial campaign. Fletcher hired a former CCA executive as his prisons chief. "What we're hearing in the legislature is that Fletcher is stalling for time because all the bids came in way too high," Webb said. "They're stuck. Now they can't make the argument that privatization is cheaper." House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, whose district includes the prison, expressed surprise yesterday about the administration's allegations. "If there is something seriously wrong with the place, I've never seen it or heard it," said Adkins, D-Sandy Hook.

December 10, 2004 Herald Leader
Missing a step; Fletcher should have known law on prisons. One of these days, Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration may come to understand that there's more than one kind of waste in state government. The surface waste -- the kind Kentuckians have seen from most every recent governor, including Fletcher -- includes such things as paying cronies highly to do little or nothing, awarding no-bid contracts to political contributors, having a pastry chef on the Governor's Mansion staff or even installing hidden doors in the Capitol. But there's a less obvious kind of waste, too. It's the waste of resources involved when you don't look before you leap, and later find that you leaped the wrong way. Take the administration's plan for privatizing the $92 million prison the state just built in Elliott County, for instance. It turns out that all the time Fletcher's folks spent discussing this idea, all the effort they put into drafting a request for bids from private companies and all the hours spent evaluating those bids have been a complete waste of state money. Why? Because privatizing this particular prison would be illegal. Had administration officials bothered to check the law, they could have avoided all that waste because they would have found the same restrictions on the location of privatized prisons that Deputy Attorney General Pierce Whites found. What Whites found when his office was asked for an opinion on the subject was KRS 197.505, which governs privatization of prisons. One provision of that statute says, "Any adult correctional facility contracted for pursuant to this section shall be constructed only in a county with an established Kentucky State Police post or in a county in which at least two (2) state police officers reside as a result of a duty assignment or in a county with a full-time police department." Elliott County has none of the above. Therefore, state law prohibits privatization of the new prison located there. Whites also said KRS 197.505 allows for privatization of prisons only in cases where the contract builds its own facility. That part of his opinion may be open to a bit of debate, since it hinges on what lawmakers intended the word "establish" to mean. But the provision restricting the location of private prisons is abundantly clear. So, we assume Fletcher and his staff were ignorant of these restrictions because they didn't bother to check the law. We must assume that because the alternative is that they knew about the law and intentionally were going to violate it. Surely that can't be the case because Gov. Ernie "Waste, Fraud and Abuse" Fletcher would never want to get a reputation as a willful lawbreaker.

December 8, 2004 Courier-Journal
Gov. Ernie Fletcher would break Kentucky law by allowing a company to operate a $92million prison that the state is building in Elliott County, the attorney general said yesterday. A prison built with state money cannot be privatized, and private prisons are restricted to counties with a strong police presence, which Elliott County lacks, according to the opinion from Attorney General Greg Stumbo's office. The opinion, written by Deputy Attorney General Pierce Whites, was issued as state officials were reviewing bids from companies that want to operate the 961-bed prison. The administration had planned to issue a contract by the end of the month, but a Fletcher spokesman said they have not decided whether to honor the opinion but will continue to review bids. Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said the state should privatize the prison and disregard the opinion.
"It has no weight of law whatsoever," said Williams, an attorney. The opinion said state law prohibits the government from contracting with a company to run a prison if taxpayers paid for the facility. By law, the state can contract with companies to "establish, operate, and manage adult correctional facilities," the opinion says. Under the law, the state can contract with a private prison company only if the company has built the prison that would house Kentucky inmates, according to the opinion. Corrections Commissioner John D. Rees, a former executive at Corrections Corporation of America, did not return a call seeking comment.

December 7, 2004 AP
Kentucky law prohibits the state from privatizing a new prison in Elliott County, the attorney general's office said in an opinion Tuesday. State government may contract with private companies for the "establishment, operation and management" of adult prisons. But because taxpayers paid for the Elliott County prison's construction, a private company may not be paid to operate and manage it, according to the opinion. "The adult correctional facility in Elliott County, not having been established by private provider, may therefore not be operated by a private provider," Deputy Attorney General Pierce Whites wrote in the opinion. House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, asked Attorney General Greg Stumbo for a decision on the matter in October. Stumbo, a Democrat, was Adkins' immediate predecessor as House majority leader. Elliott County is restricted from having a privately run prison because, among other things, it lacks some of the security outlined in state law, according to the opinion. The county does not have an established Kentucky State Police post, nor does it have a full-time police force. "The wisdom of this statutory directive is underscored by the recent riot at the privately run Lee Adjustment Center," White wrote. "To hand over the keys to a private, for-profit company is wrong," Adkins said. "It's bad public policy."

October 8, 2004 Courier Journal
A House Democratic leader says state law prohibits Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration from privatizing a new Elliott County prison built with taxpayer money. Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, yesterday asked Attorney General Greg Stumbo for an opinion on whether the Department of Corrections can contract with a private company to operate and maintain the $92million, 961-bed prison.
Adkins also criticized the department for soliciting bids to run the prison just three days after a riot at the privately run Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville. In a recent interview, state Corrections Commissioner John Rees said bidding by private companies to run the Elliott County prison will continue despite the riot by more than 800 Kentucky and Vermont prisoners at the Lee prison last month. In asking for the opinion, Adkins said that he believes that the state cannot contract with a private company to run the Elliott County prison because state law requires all privately run prisons to be built by private companies. He said the Elliott County facility should be run by the state. Taxpayers will pay $8million in debt service annually on the project, Adkins said.

October 8, 2004 Herald Leader
House Floor Leader Rocky Adkins has asked the state attorney general's office whether state law allows the Fletcher administration to place the state's new $92 million Elliott County prison in private hands. Before leaving Frankfort yesterday to attend a raucous anti-privatization rally at the Little Sandy Correctional Complex near his home, Adkins said he thinks state law requires a private-prison operator to "establish" the facility as well as manage and operate it. The new prison was authorized by former Gov. Paul Patton, a Democrat, but when Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a Republican, took office this year, officials said it was not needed and said they would consider allowing a private company to operate it. Corrections officials moved ahead with that plan yesterday. While protesters with picket signs gathered outside the double coils of razor wire along Ky. 7, state corrections officials met inside with representatives of half a dozen private-prison companies. State Sen. Walter Blevins, D-Sandy Hook, one of several Democrat legislators who attended the rally, stood near a cardboard sign that said, "New Nest for Birdwhistle," a reference to former CHA Health chief Mark Birdwhistell who helped Fletcher draft a controversial insurance plan for state employees that gave two exclusive contracts to the company. Blevins noted that state corrections chief John Rees is a former vice president of Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, which owns all three private prisons in Kentucky and had four representatives at yesterday's "vendor's conference" in Elliott County.
"He (Fletcher) has got an insider in corrections now, too," Blevins said. "Seems like all of his people are lobbyists for corporations that are trying to privatize state functions," Blevins said. Larry Bland, president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge at the state prison in Eddyville, was not so sure. "Fletcher was elected to clear up this mess," he said, "but what he's done is make the mess worse. It's no longer the 'good-old-boy system,' it's the 'good-old-corporation system.'"

February 3, 2004
A nationwide prison management company is interested in operating the new Elliott County state prison, if Kentucky leaders opt for privatizing the 895-bed facility.  "We would certainly have a strong interest in partnering with the state should they make that decision," said Steve Owen, spokesman for Corrections Corp. of America of Nashville.  The company was not approached by the state, but has made its interest known as it does routinely in areas of the country where it has clients, Owen said.  Corrections Corp. operates 64 private prisons in 21 states. It owns and operates three in Kentucky, including the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright.  The state owns the new Little Sandy Correctional Complex near Sandy Hook, and expects to finish its construction in June.  Plans of instead contracting out the prison to a private company to manage it stirred up recent debate when Lt. Gov. Steve Pence, also Kentucky's Justice Cabinet secretary, called it an option for Kentucky's cash-strapped budget.  Pence said the state's studying how much it would cost to let someone else handle operations, someone that could do it more effectively and efficiently.  In his budget address last week, Gov. Ernie Fletcher also mentioned the possibility of privatization — an option a cabinet leader later in the week, during an interview with The Independent's editorial board, called one of two he heard being considered in meetings: privatize it, or mothball it.  Opponents, including local judge-executives and legislators who see the new prison as an economic boost for a job-poor northeast Kentucky, dismiss the idea of privatization.  "It's not the right call, because the investment has already been made there by the state," said state Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, who serves as House Majority Leader.  And Adkins said he's not surprised a private company is watching the issue.  "As a for-profit company, I'm sure they're interested when $90 million of taxpayer money has already been invested to build the facility," he said, adding such companies usually build their own.  "Every study I have looked at shows the state runs them efficiently and just as cheap as privates can," Adkins said. "There are two areas where they might do it cheaper; they can build one cheaper, possibly, and the other has to be in benefits to workers."  Those benefits, especially good health care coverage, and better wages lie at the core of opponents' arguments, local officials say.  A job listing for a corrections officer on the Department of Corrections Web site gave a minimum salary of $1,654.58 a month, or just over $10 an hour.  Some who've already applied haven't been secretive about another reason — the state's good-paying retirement plan.  As an example of the private corrections industry it says it started in 1983, Corrections Corp. works on a contract basis with the governmental agencies who are its customers, according to the company's Web site.  The site also lists several ways a private-run prison is more efficient, including non-bureaucratic purchasing procedures, controlling overtime and economies of scale — as a system it "can command reduced prices."  On salaries and benefits, Owen said a number of factors drive what's offered to its 15,000 employees nationwide.  "What is competitive or the prevailing wage for that community, because that's where we're going to be competing for the labor pool," he said.  At Otter Creek in Wheelwright, for example, starting salary for a corrections officer is $7.67 an hour, one of the highest area wages, Owen said.  "Also, obviously from contract standpoint, what level of services they want would impact salaries," he said.  In some instances, those contracts may contain salary requirements, he added. And with a federal government facility, salaries fall under federal wage acts.  "We feel confident that we are competitive in the areas we operate," Owen said. "We certainly have a good benefits package that's ... well received."  The company prides itself on a 401k retirement package, into which it contributes a percentage, and if an employee chooses to contribute then the company matches dollar for dollar, he said.  Corrections Corp. also voluntarily adheres to accreditation standards of the American Correctional Association, generally accepted as the highest standards, Owen said.  Rep. Adkins said it's still early in the process in Frankfort, but there is a lot of support in the House to keep the commitment to keep the Elliott County prison state maintained.  "I think we'll do some things within the budget to try to ensure the state operates and maintains it, both in the budget language and in trying to find more revenue (for) the facility," he said. "There will be continued debate throughout this (General Assembly) session, but I have made my position very clear."  The state running its own state prison is the right way to go, he said.  (The Independent)

Louisville Metro Corrections
Louisville, Kentucky
Prison Health Services

Mar 9, 2014 wdrb.com

LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- The family of a former Metro Corrections inmate has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against jail employees and its former medical provider, among others, claiming negligence was a "substantial factor" in her 2012 death. The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court Tuesday on behalf of LaKenya Porter, claims Corizon, the private company that provided the jail's medical care at the time, and Metro Corrections director Mark Bolton failed to properly train and supervise staff, who provided Porter with inappropriate medical care.  The lawsuit comes weeks after the Louisville Metro Police's Public Integrity Unit completed its investigation into Porter's July 24, 2012, death, with prosecutors finding no criminal conduct but criticizing both Corizon and Metro Corrections for their care. While the lawsuit comes after the one-year statute of limitations on filing civil action, Brandon Lawrence, who is representing Porter's estate, said the family didn't know about the myriad problems with Porter's care until the police investigation was released in January.  "The jail gave them no information" on Porter's death, he said in an interview.  Bolton has said only that Porter, 33, died of natural causes, and neither jail officials nor Corizon have commented further on Porter's death because of the potential of litigation. A request for comment from Corizon on Thursday was not immediately returned. Bill Patteson, a spokesperson for the county attorney's office, which will represent Metro Corrections, said he could not comment on the pending litigation. The lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as a jury trial. In total, seven inmates died in Metro Corrections in 2012. Criminal investigations have concluded in each of those cases, with no charges being filed. Last year, Tennessee-based Corizon decided not to rebid for its $5.5 million annual contract, though it had been the medical provider at Metro Corrections for most of the past two decades. According to the police investigation and conclusions from the Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney's office, Corizon medical staff recommended not booking Porter into jail on July 21, 2012, because of her health. She had arrived from Jewish Hospital on a stretcher, so weak she could not stand and her legs were seeping a yellowish fluid. But Metro Corrections Deputy Director Dwayne Clark overruled the medical staff and ordered Porter to be booked. Clark later told investigators he was not aware of how serious Porter's condition was. Porter died later at University Hospital following a "negligent" lack of care during her 27 hours at Metro Corrections, according to the records released records from Metro police. Porter, who had been diagnosed with liver failure and congestive heart failure, never should have been taken into jail in the first place, investigators concluded. Officials with Corizon said Porter needed more care than the jail could provide. And during her incarceration, Porter was never given her medications. Dr. William Smock, a forensic  examiner who acted as a consultant for Louisville Metro Police in the investigation, concluded that Metro Corrections' decision to overrule three medical providers, including the jail doctor, and admit Porter to jail, "directly compromised (Porter's) health and welfare." And he said the failure of medical staff to provide Porter any of her prescribed medication or have a jail physician evaluate her also "contributed to her death." At 2 a.m. on July 22, the charge nurse at Metro Corrections "again" called the jail's doctor, identified only as Dr. Kad, about taking Porter to the hospital emergency room, according to police records. The charge nurse noted Porter "was not an appropriate fit for level of care at the jail," according to the police investigation. But the jail doctor "refused," saying Porter "would not be admitted" to the hospital. In fact, it wasn't until the power went out in the jail 20 hours later -- about 10 p.m. -- that Porter was taken to University Hospital. She died there on July 24.

 

Feb. 3, 2013 The Courier-Journal

Karen May talked almost daily by phone with her granddaughter, Savannah Sparks, as the 27-year-old was detoxing from a heroin addiction while being held on a theft charge at Metro Corrections in Louisville, Ky., last April. “I thought she would get the care she needed,” May, 67, said in a recent interview. “I thought they would help her.” But on April 12, six days after arriving at the jail facility, Sparks died at University Hospital in Louisville from opiate abuse and withdrawal, according to the Jefferson County coroner’s office. Sparks’ death is one of five under investigation — along with a handful of cases in court — at least some of which involve allegations of inadequate inmate health care by employees of Corizon Inc., the Brentwood-based company that bills itself as the leading provider of correctional health care services in the country. After seven deaths in the jail last year and one in 2011, Metro Corrections is reviewing the practices of Corizon, whose $5.5 million annual contract is up for renewal at the end of this month. The company, which has jail contracts in 29 states, is facing other lawsuits in Kentucky from inmates and has come under harsh criticism elsewhere for providing inadequate medical care, allegations the company has denied. In December, Louisville Metro Corrections announced that six unidentified Corizon workers resigned amid an investigation by Metro Corrections that found they “may” have contributed to the deaths of Sparks and Samantha George, who died Aug. 8 of complications from a severe form of diabetes, compounded by heart disease. The investigations of those deaths by the jail and police are ongoing, and Metro Corrections officials would not talk about specific details. But Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton said he believes that Corizon medical staff took too long to have a company doctor look at Sparks and George. Bolton said in an interview that if Corizon doctors had evaluated the inmates sooner, they may have been taken to the hospital more quickly. Jail staff sifted through medical records and found that there were delays in delivering medication and getting inmates to see a nurse and doctor. “The more we looked into it, the more disturbed I was getting as to some of the service delivery gaps in the health care of those individuals,” Bolton said. Officials with Corizon, which has started louisvillejailnews.com to address questions about its care in Louisville, said patients who need hospitalization receive it. “We have no incentive not to provide the hospital trip,” said Levin Jones, vice president of operations for Corizon. “There is no financial incentive to avoid it. None. ... The financial responsibility for all off-site care falls to the county.” However, when the company was renegotiating its contract in 2010, Corizon, then called Correctional Medical Services, touted its track record of saving the city money by minimizing inmate trips to a hospital. The company included a graph in its proposal showing that it had reduced inmate days in the hospital from 38 in 2007 to 20 as of late 2010. It reduced emergency room runs by nearly half. And it added that in 2008, 135 people arrested were diverted to the hospital emergency room before being admitted to the jail, which Corizon said prompted the fire department and EMS to request a review, as each trip is costly — an average of $855 per trip — time-intensive and often unnecessary. By 2009, after the medical staff was challenged to reduce emergency room visits, Corizon said, the number of calls for EMS to take inmates to the emergency room instead of being booked into the jail had dropped nearly 20 percent.

January 8, 2013 WHAS11.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Changes have arrived at Louisville's Metro Corrections in the last several months and more will come in 2013 after the jail saw an unprecedented increase in deaths there. Seven inmates died while in custody in just seven months last year. WHAS11 first broke the story last fall and our I-Team investigation continues as families of two of those deceased inmates--Savannah Sparks, who died in April, and Kenneth Cross, who died in August--have hired attorneys. Sparks' family attorney, Seth Gladstein, said they have not filed a lawsuit but are considering one. Sparks' grandmother, Karen May, spoke exclusively to WHAS11's Bryan Baker about trying to find the answers surrounding her granddaughter's death, five days after she was arrested for shoplifting. Sparks was a 27-year-old mother of three boys and was addicted to heroin. May hoped the April arrest would help turn Sparks' life around. "She was going to check into the hospital again, and so when she called me and she said that she had been arrested, I thought, well, this will help her," May cried. "She'll be ok. (Five) days later they called me that she was dead, and they couldn't give me any answers." In Sparks' case  -- jail leaders told us it began with a "medical triggering event" in her cell. She died later at the hospital. The cause of death according to the death certificate WHAS11 obtained is "Complications of Chronic Substance Abuse with Withdrawal" even though she had been off the streets and supposed to be under supervision for almost a week. The man tasked with overseeing everything that happens inside the walls at Metro Corrections is director Mark Bolton. The seven deaths are the most in one year since he took over late in 2008. In some of those deaths Bolton tells WHAS11 drugs are factor even though the jail has an extensive inmate detoxification program funded by your taxpayer dollars.  "How do people die in the jail if they are under detox?" asked WHAS11's Bryan Baker of Bolton. "Bad things happen in jail, Bryan. We've got 2,000 inmates in here, most of whom don't take care of themselves," Bolton said. "Unfortunately we had some folks die in the hospital and there are folks that die in the jail. That's something that I don't like, that's something that we are trying to improve upon." WHAS11 dug deeper and found that medical attention Sparks and other inmates need is provided not by Metro Corrections but by a contractor.  Metro Louisville pays Corizon Correctional Healthcare $5.3 million dollars -- paid for by you, the taxpayer. Corizon is a Tennessee company, providing health care to inmates in more than 400 jails in 31 states, according to its website. We also found multiple wrongful death lawsuits filed against Corizon in the past two years, including one after an inmate's death in the Lexington-Fayette County jail in 2012, according to court records and media reports. Five Corizon employees resigned from their post at Louisville Metro Corrections from the top-down including supervisors, an on-site jail administrator and nurses after, according to a Metro Corrections release, their actions "may have may have contributed" to the deaths of Sparks in April and Samantha George in August. "There were some health care issues with these two inmates where there were some delays in being seen by the doctor, I think there were some delays in having some vital signs checked, and I think that these delays were more than what I would like to see regarding a reasonable level of healthcare in a corrections facility," Bolton said. According to the jail's own policy obtained by WHAS11 through public court records, if there are signs of withdrawal the inmate is supposed to be examined and transferred to the jail's medical unit. Severe or life-threatening symptoms shall send the inmate to the hospital. We asked director Bolton if those procedures were followed in the case of Savannah Sparks. He said he could not talk about open investigations but told us care for inmates is much more complicated. "They may report it," Bolton said. "They may not. Many times we don't even know what kind of drugs they're on or what their detox issues are. We deal with those folks everyday. What we are doing -- we are upping the ante. We are increasing our knowledge base, our resource base, and we're trying to prevent similar issues from occurring at the rate that they have been." After Bolton hired a consultant to review Metro Corrections Policy Corizon, a full-time detox nurse is on staff for the first time at the jail -- Bolton says at his request. He also wants a healthcare compliance monitor. Corizon declined an  interview and would not specifically address the inmate deaths but sent WHAS11 this statement: "At Corizon we are committed to providing quality health care services and we welcome the opportunity to work with an independent contract monitor who will assist Louisville Metro Corrections and Corizon in our ongoing efforts to continuously improve the delivery of health care services to our patients."

Dec 13, 2012 Courier Journal
Six people who provided medical care at Jefferson County’s jail have resigned after an internal investigation found they “may” have contributed to the deaths of two inmates earlier this year, Louisville Metro Corrections said. The six, whose names were not released, include nurses, supervisors and an on-site administrator. They worked for Corizon Inc., a private company in Tennessee that has a $5.5 million contract to provide medical care at the jail. Corizon bills itself as the nation’s leading provider of medical care for jails and prisons and serves about 400,000 inmates in 31 states, according to its website. It has come under harsh criticism in other states, however, for providing inadequate medical care to inmates, allegations the company has denied. Not much is publicly known about the circumstances of the two inmates who died in Jefferson County. Savannah Sparks, 27, died April 12 from opiate abuse and withdrawal, according to the Jefferson County coroner’s office. Samantha George, 27, died of complications from a severe form of diabetes, compounded by heart disease, the office said. They were among seven Metro Corrections inmates who have died in custody this year after only one such death in 2011. Corrections Director Mark Bolton said Wednesday that the health care of the seven who died — and all other inmates — is handled by Corizon employees, not Louisville Metro Corrections employees. He said jail employees may notify medical staff if they see a problem, but don’t oversee or direct any medical decisions. Bolton said routine investigations shortly after the deaths of the two inmates by the Louisville Metro Police were taking longer than usual and prompted him to open his own internal investigations. He said he looked at records and “concluded there were some delays relative to medical protocols.” “I felt it took too long to get these people in to see a doctor,” Bolton said. Louisville Metro Police spokesman Dwight Mitchell said the department could not comment on its ongoing investigation. Bolton said he believes that, if the inmates had seen a doctor sooner, they may have been taken to the hospital more quickly, but he didn’t know if that would have saved their lives. “That’s a tough question,” he said. “I have no way of knowing that.”

August 3, 2007 Courier-Journal
The family of a man who committed suicide at Metro Corrections in June 2006 filed a lawsuit today against the director of the jail and its health services provider, claiming they were negligent in preventing the 48-year-old’s death .The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court on behalf of William Whitworth, claims the jail allowed Whitworth to be alone in a cell without any security or observation despite the fact that he was suicidal. The suit names as defendants the jail, as represented by Director Tom Campbell, and Prison Health Services Inc. Pam Windsor, a spokeswoman for the jail, declined to comment because the litigation is ongoing. A spokesperson with Prison Health Services, whose main office is in Brentwood, Tenn., also said the company does not comment on pending litigation. The suit claims Whitworth had attempted to commit suicide in a Metro Corrections holding sell after being arrested for public intoxication in February 2006 by hanging himself with his shirt, but survived. Four months later, on June 7, Whitworth was arrested for allegedly driving drunk and was again admitted to Metro Corrections, according to the suit. Whitworth had a history of attempting suicide and complained of being depressed while in Metro Corrections, yet was evaluated as stable and put in an regular cell alone and not monitored, the suit claims. Whitworth died June 14, 2006, after he was found hanging from a bed sheet in his cell during a routine check. The lawsuit requests unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Claims made in filing a lawsuit give only one side of the case.

Marion Adjustment Center
St Mary, Kentucky
CCA
Nov 30, 2013 kentucky.com

LOUISVILLE — A group of former employees and Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America have settled a lawsuit involving allegations that the company refused to pay overtime to former shift supervisors at a private prison in Kentucky. Terms of the agreement between at least 25 people who worked at the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary's and the company were not disclosed. The group claimed that CCA forced them to work extra hours and denied them overtime. CCA has denied the allegations. A trial had been set for June 18 after settlement talks failed at the end of October. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II in Louisville approved the agreement Wednesday. Kentucky removed the last of its 800 inmates from the prison earlier this year.

Nov 6, 2013 lex18.com

LOUISVILLE (AP) - A federal judge has set a June trial date for a lawsuit seeking to force Corrections Corporation of America to pay overtime to former shift supervisors at a private prison in Kentucky. The case involves at least 25 people who worked at the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary's. The group claims Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA forced them to work extra hours and denied them overtime. CCA has denied the allegations. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II set aside 10 days for the trial, which is scheduled to begin June 18 after settlement talks failed at the end of October. The employees accused the private prison giant of requiring employees to attend training sessions without pay. Kentucky removed the last of its 800 inmates from the facility earlier this year.

May 14, 2012 The Town Talk
A group of shift supervisors at a private prison in central Kentucky has sued Corrections Corporation of America, alleging the company forced them to work extra hours and denied them overtime. The six current and former CCA employees at the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary's who filed suit also said the Nashville, Tenn.-based private prison giant denied them meal and rest breaks, and required employees to attend training sessions without pay. Attorney Tom Miller of Lexington told The Associated Press that the lawsuit may also affect employees of two other CCA prisons in Kentucky — the Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville and Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright. "This is a for-profit company," Miller said. "The way you maximize profits is to reduce expenses." The group is seeking unspecified damages and a temporary injunction forcing CCA to compensate employees who work more than 40 hours a week. Miller said any damages could cover employees dating back to 2007. "We believe the statute of limitations extends five years," Miller said. CCA spokesman Mike Machak said Monday that the company had not seen the lawsuit and couldn't address the specific allegations. "Overall, we are committed to ensuring that our employees are fairly compensated, and we strive to provide lasting career opportunities for those professionals who chose to work with our company," Machak said. The shift supervisors and assistant supervisors claim they do uncompensated work before and after regular shift hours, including traveling between minimum- and medium-security units at the 825-inmate prison in central Kentucky, staying on post while waiting for a replacement officer to arrive and attending training sessions on regular days off. CCA classifies the shift supervisors and assistant supervisors as "exempt" from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The act has rules covering which employees qualify for overtime, based in part on salary, how many people the supervisor oversees and the duties included in the supervisor's job description and whether management duties are part of the job. Miller said CCA has misclassified the employees as exempt from overtime rules and wants a judge to restore the meal and rest periods required by law. The lawsuit is similar to a suit filed in federal court in Kansas that sought to certify a class of assistant shift supervisors at CCA's 65 facilities in 19 states. In that case, assistant shift supervisors alleged that CCA misclassified them as exempt from overtime pay. The two sides have filed a notice of settlement in court, but the details of the agreement are not due to a judge until Friday. CCA and a group of collections officers, case managers and clerks also settled a suit concerning overtime in 2009, also in federal court in Kansas. In that case, CCA agreed to pay a maximum of $7 million, but did not acknowledge fault in the case.

March 10, 2012 Herald-Leader
State police are searching for an inmate who escaped from a private prison in Marion County on Friday. Phillip Houston McBride, 23, was last seen at the Marion Adjustment Center at 4:19 p.m. He was wearing khaki pants, and is 6 feet, 1 inch tall, with brown hair and brown eyes, state police said. McBride also has multiple tattoos on his head, neck, chest, back and arms, state police said. McBride was being held for making methamphetamine and other charges. He was convicted in Clay County. Anyone with information on McBride's whereabouts is asked to call state police or local authorities.

October 18, 2011 Evansville Courier & Press
Henderson Fiscal Court heard the opening salvo Tuesday of a campaign jailers plan to use to sway the General Assembly next year. "You are our maiden voyage," said Mike Simpson, president of Kentucky Jailers Association. "We're going to hopefully take this across the state." In a nutshell, Kentucky jailers maintain that House Bill 463 -- a recently enacted major overhaul of the criminal justice system -- is going to have a negative impact on the jails across the state. The way around that problem, they say, is allowing the state's current contracts to expire next year with Corrections Corporation of America, which has prisons in Marion and Floyd counties. The inmates in the Marion Adjustment Center and the Otter Creek Correctional Center would then be transferred to county jails. It's a simple matter of economics, according to Patrick Crowley, a public relations consultant from northern Kentucky who has been hired to head the blitz. County jails are paid $31.34 per day to house state inmates. The Marion Adjustment Center charges the state $37.99 a day for minimum security inmates, and $47.98 per day for medium security inmates. Otter Creek, meanwhile, charges the state $53.77 per day to house inmates. "It's a disgrace for the private prisons to be getting the per diem they're getting," said Henderson County Jailer Ron Herrington. Based on the capacity of the two private prisons, Crowley said, the state would save more than $8 million a year by housing the inmates in county jails -- and boost the bottom line of county governments while doing it. "Both the state and the counties could save money by eliminating the private prisons contracts," Crowley said. "There are some good things" in HB 463, Simpson said, but "this is our window of opportunity to go through this thing." "It's about 150 pages and all but about five or 10 were just fine," said County Attorney Steve Gold. Magistrate Charles Alexander at one point asked how the state can avoid destroying jobs by what the jailers propose. "They have prisons all over the United States," Simpson replied. "They're not just in Kentucky." If the firm loses Kentucky inmates, he said, it will fill its prisons with inmates from other states. "They have brought prisoners in from Hawaii. There is no shortage of inmates in this country."

July 28, 2011 Burlington Free Press
It's well-established in law that most government records are public, but what about the records of contractors who do government's business? If a private company is housing state prisoners, how much of that company's records are available to state residents? Those are among the questions that a special panel of lawmakers mulled Wednesday as they met for the first time to try to tackle public-records issues left undone during the legislative session that ended in May. The summer study committee also plans to study exemptions to the state public-records laws -- numbering 239 -- and determine if they are needed. The six-member committee plans to delve more deeply into the exemptions at its next meeting in September, but Wednesday the panel wrestled with what to do about private contractors that essentially are fulfilling the function of government. Lawmakers left the issue out of legislation passed this year after running into complications. Those complications haven't disappeared, as the panel received conflicting advice. Conor Casey, legislative director for the Vermont State Employees Association, said private contractors sometimes do the exact same work as state employees. They should be subject to the same public scrutiny, he said. Casey noted that the state contracts with Corrections Corporation of America to house Vermont inmates at several private, out-of-state prisons. Vermont residents should be able to make inquiries about the services CCA provides, even if the state Corrections Department hasn't asked those same questions, he said. Legislative counsel Michael O'Grady warned the committee that the state might be vulnerable to a lawsuit. "If you do nothing, I think there will be a court case," he said. "I think people will expect or assume they'll be able to get records." O'Grady outlined laws in other states, some of which address the issue, but said it was unclear how some of those are implemented. One question Vermont lawmakers need to consider, he said, is where the records request should go: to the private contractor or the state agency overseeing the contract.

September 5, 2007 Lebanon Enterprise
Gilbert Jones walked away from the Marion Adjustment Center Aug. 26. He was at large for nearly a week before he was apprehended Sunday, Sept. 2. Jones was captured in Laurel County at 12:30 a.m. Sunday by the Kentucky State Police. Jones, who is a native of Laurel County, was serving a 15-year sentence for his third persistent felony offender conviction. He was also convicted of second-degree burglary. He had previously been convicted of receiving stolen property over $100, first-degree assault and second-degree escape. Jones would have been eligible for parole in July of 2008, and his sentence was set to expire March 26, 2019.

August 7, 2006 AP
State police were looking for three men who escaped from a private prison in Marion County early yesterday. Thomas Woodrow Cherry, 42, of Bowling Green, Randall Fraley, 34, of Mount Sterling, and David Wayne Johnson, 27, of Diamond, Ohio, were being held at the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary, a minimum-security facility. State police said Cherry was being held on theft and burglary charges; Fraley on charges of receiving stolen property and fleeing/evading police; and Johnson on charges of assault, wanton endangerment, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and being a persistent felony offender.

July 20, 2006 Central Kentucky News-Journal
An escaped convict is back behind bars after leading police on a chase through three counties Sunday. At approximately 4:30 a.m. Sunday, Gregory Dewayne Edmonds, 37, escaped from the Marion Adjustment Center by crawling through a window. "He apparently told his mother about a month ago that he was going to escape the first chance he got and that he wasn't going back," Campbellsville Police Officer Bart Gilpin said. At around 10:30 a.m., Edmonds allegedly stole a van at knifepoint from a customer at a Lebanon store. He is also accused of robbing and sexually assaulting an attendant at the same store. Lebanon Police are investigated the robbery and sexual assault incident. According to a joint press release, officials from Corrections Corporation of America (which owns MAC) and the Kentucky Department of Corrections are investigating the circumstances of Edmonds' escape.

July 19, 2006 Lebanon Enterprise
After being on the loose for seven hours, an escapee from the Marion Adjustment Center was captured at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 16, when the stolen vehicle he was driving was forced off the road by the Kentucky State Police. Since the Marion County grand jury was in session on Monday, the escapee, Gregory Dewayne Edmonds, 37, has already been indicted on numerous counts including first-degree rape, second-degree escape and two counts of first-degree robbery. Edmonds escaped from MAC around 4:30 on Sunday morning, according to the Kentucky State Police. He was allegedly involved in an armed robbery at a Lebanon store, where he is further accused of robbing and sexually assaulting an attendant at knifepoint, during the time he was at large. Lebanon Police Chief Shelton Young said cooperation, good communication and good information led law enforcement officers to capture Edmonds. "They got a very dangerous individual back where he belongs," Young said. Following the alleged assault and robbery, Edmonds stole a Pontiac van from the scene, the state police reported. According to a joint press release, officials from Corrections Corporation of America (which owns MAC) and the Kentucky Department of Corrections are investigating the circumstances of Edmonds' escape. He is the second MAC escapee recaptured in the past two weeks and the third escapee to be relocated. On July 9, Jeffrey James Hinkle assaulted two guards and then fled from MAC. He was recaptured on July 10. Also on July 10, MAC officials learned that Frederick Purcell, 41, who walked away from the prison on March 15, was at the Marion County Detention Center.

July 9, 2006 Courier-Journal
An inmate escaped from the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary, Ky., about 4 p.m. yesterday after assaulting three guards, Kentucky State Police said. Police were looking last night for Jeffrey James Hinkle, 36. He was described as a black man who is 5-feet-6 and weighs 130 pounds. He has brown eyes; long, partially braided black hair; a tattoo of a panther on his chest; and two small scars on his forehead, police said. He was last seen wearing gray shorts and a white, sleeveless T-shirt with numbers on the back in blue lettering. Police said Hinkle has a history of burglary, robbery, theft and other property crimes. He was at the private prison serving a sentence from Jefferson County for burglary, receiving stolen property and being a persistent felony offender.

November 15, 2005 WCAX
Vermont's prisons are already full and now there's word they're about to be swamped. Corrections officials project Vermont's prison population will skyrocket at least 20% within five years, and that's sparking a debate over where to put all these convicts. But state lawmakers have rejected building new prisons in Vermont, so the Corrections Commissioner says the primary solution to overcrowding will be to send more inmates to do time in prisons located in Kentucky and Tennessee. State leaders will be looking at a number of options to out-of-state placement during the legislative session next year. However, the out-of-state placements have one additional factor that is very appealing to many: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA )-- a private, for-profit prison company -- charges Vermont $20,000 per inmate, per year to jail them in Kentucky and Tennessee. Meanwhile, the cost of jailing convicts in Vermont is $40,000 per year per inmate, 100% more. The difference is that CCA provides no counseling educational, or rehabilitation programs. The cost-per-inmate in Vermont includes many services and counseling, plus probation, parole, furlough, and other early release programs.

February 17, 2005 Lebanon Enterprise
A settlement has been made between Corrections Corporation of America and a Vermont man who claims a former Marion Adjustment Center guard sexually assaulted him during incarceration there. A separate lawsuit against Corrections Corporation of America was filed recently by another Vermont inmate that was being housed at MAC. A third inmate from Vermont who spent time at MAC is expected to file a similar suit against CCA. The man who struck the recent CCA settlement was transferred to Marion Adjustment Center because of overcrowding in Vermont prisons. He received a confidential sum of money as part of the out-of-court settlement, his attorney Thomas Costello, of Brattleboro, Vt. said. The guard, Joe Becks, was arrested on charges of sexual abuse and official misconduct recently. He was fired from the prison in May 2004. In a complaint Costello submitted to the U.S. District Court prior to the settlement, the attorney named CCA and two of its supervisory employees - Marion Adjustment Center Warden Caroline Mudd and Unit Manager Ralph Clifton - as defendants. Costello argued that CCA was culpable because it knew that Becks was "a sexual predator" before Becks allegedly abused a 20-year-old inmate on April 12. According to Costello's complaint, Mudd and Clifton's response to official inmate complaints made before April 12 were insufficient. Another inmate complained in late March that Becks was targeting him for sex, court documents state. On May, 4, 2004, a report filed by independent Quality Assurance Manager Mitchell Brandenburg, who was brought in to investigate Becks, raised more questions about CCA's management. Brandenburg stated that in an interview, Mudd told him that she suspected Becks was involved in passing underwear to an inmate and said that in March, Becks failed to report an incident of two inmates having sex. The second lawsuit on behalf of a Vermont inmate transferred to Kentucky was filed against CCA last month in Addison County Superior Court by Attorney Devin McLaughlin of Middlebury. McLaughlin said his case alleges that CCA enabled Becks to assault his client. Costello said he is finalizing a complaint for a separate case against CCA on behalf of a third Vermont inmate who was allegedly assaulted by Becks April 12 and 29.

February 10, 2005 Reformer
A settlement has been made between a Kentucky prison manager and a Vermont man who claims a guard sexually assaulted him during incarceration there. A separate lawsuit against prison manager, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), was filed recently by another Vermont inmate from the same prison, Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary's, Ky. A third inmate from Vermont who spent time at Marion is expected to file similar suit against CCA. The man who struck the recent CCA settlement was transferred to Kentucky because of overcrowding in Vermont prisons. He received a confidential sum of money as part of the out-of-court settlement, his attorney Thomas Costello, of Brattleboro, said.
The guard, Joe Becks was arrested on charges of sexual abuse and official misconduct last week, according to the Nelson County Sheriff's Department. In a complaint Costello submitted to the U.S. District Court prior to the settlement, the attorney named CCA and two of its supervisory employees -- Marion Adjustment Center Warden Caroline Mudd, and Unit Manager Ralph Clifton -- as defendants. Costello argued that CCA was culpable because it knew that Becks was "a sexual predator" before Becks allegedly abused a 20-year-old inmate on April 12, 2004. According to Costello's complaint, Mudd and Clifton's response to official inmate complaints made before April 12 were insufficient. One inmate grievance form, dated March 30, 2004, states, "I'm fearing for my life and for my safety here knowing that (Officer Becks) can open my cell, handcuff me and rape me." The statement goes on to allege that Becks had been groping inmates and making them walk around in the nude. Another inmate complained in late March that Becks was targeting him for sex, court documents state. The second lawsuit on behalf of a Vermont inmate transferred to Kentucky was filed against CCA last month in Addison County Superior Court by Attorney Devin McLaughlin of Middlebury. McLaughlin said his case alleges that CCA enabled Becks to assault his client. Costello said he is finalizing a complaint for a separate case against CCA on behalf of a third Vermont inmate who was allegedly assaulted by Becks on April 12 and 29. According to a sworn deposition that Costello took from a Kentucky state trooper, Becks admitted to police that he had sexual contact with Costello's second client on two occasions.

February 10, 2005 AP
A murder convict who escaped from a Kentucky prison and had eluded police since 1990 was caught in Texas. Ralph Robert Annis was arrested Wednesday in Corpus Christi weeks after the Lexington Herald-Leader began questioning state officials about their failure to close the case, the paper reported.
Annis was convicted in 1979 of strangling his girlfriend's 10-month-old baby, Melanie Kaye Gifford, in Cynthiana. Two months before a scheduled parole hearing, he fled while on a furlough from the Marion Adjustment Center.

February 8, 2005 AP
A former guard at a private prison in Kentucky has been arrested on charges that he sexually abused two inmates transferred from Vermont. Joel Becks, who was formerly an officer at the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary's, Ky., was arrested on charges of sexual abuse and official misconduct on Jan. 26, according to the Nelson County Sheriff's Department. A civil lawsuit against the prison manager, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), was filed by one of the alleged victims in June 2004. Because of overcrowding in Vermont prisons, the Department of Corrections has a contract with the CCA to send approximately 700 prisoners to Kentucky and Arizona. Brattleboro-based Attorney Thomas Costello, who represents the plaintiff, alleges his client was assaulted by Becks on April 12 and April 29. The fact that Becks was arrested on criminal charges bodes well for the pending civil case, Costello said.
"I wouldn't say it's a state thing," Costello said. "These kids weren't abused because they're (from) out of state. It comes down to improper supervision for ... Becks."

October 28, 2004 Lebanon Enterprise
Corrections Corporation of America denies claims that it discriminated against former Marion Adjustment Center employee Desmond O. Spalding who filed a lawsuit against the corporation in September.
Spalding, an African-American male, claims that during his employment as a recreational coordinator at MAC, he was subjected to derogatory comments regarding his race from supervisory employees and fellow personnel. According to the lawsuit, Spalding has suffered a loss of earnings, emotional distress and continues to incur expenses for the cost of the lawsuit and attorney fees. He is demanding compensatory damages, punitive damages, incidental and consequential damages, attorney fees and a trial by jury.

September 22, 2004 Lebanon Enterprise
A former Marion Adjustment Center employee has filed a lawsuit against the prison's owner and operator, Corrections Corporation of America, claiming that he was discriminated against because of his race. Desmond O. Spalding, an African-American male, claims that, during his employment as a recreational coordinator at MAC, he was subjected to derogatory comments regarding his race from supervisory employees and fellow personnel. The lawsuit, which was filed in the Marion Circuit Clerk's office Thursday, states that he was employed from Nov. 15, 2002 to Sept. 16, 2003. According to the lawsuit, on or about Sept. 16, 2003, the car that Spalding borrowed to drive to work was the subject of a random search. During the search, a fifth of Heaven Hill whiskey, a knife and approximately 25 rounds of ammunition were found in the trunk and the glove compartment. As a result of the discovery of the items, Spalding was forced to resign from his position or be fired, the lawsuit states. Following his resignation, CCA "maliciously" swore out a warrant against him accusing him of knowingly introducing contraband into MAC, according to the lawsuit. Although CCA has a policy that prohibits the possession of those items, Spalding is claiming that CCA selectively enforced this policy in a racially discriminatory manner. He claims that several white employees had violated the same policy in the past and were not asked to resign and were not fired. According to the lawsuit, CCA's alleged reason for discharging him was "merely a pretext to cover the actual discrimination against him." As a result of CCA obtaining a warrant for his arrest, Spalding was indicted. According to the lawsuit, the indictment was dismissed in court and Spalding claims that CCA should have known that there was lack of probable cause for the proceeding. Because of the proceeding, he has suffered damage to his reputation and his ability to get a job, the lawsuit states.

June 11, 2004
One of two inmates who accused a prison guard of sexually assaulting him in a Kentucky prison is suing the nation's largest private prison corporation.  Attorney Thomas W. Costello filed suit Thursday on behalf of a 19-year-old Brattleboro-area man in U.S. District Court against the Corrections Corporation of America of Nashville, Tenn.  Costello said the man, who asked to remain anonymous, is seeking $75,000 in damages for psychological injury he suffered from the alleged abuse.   The suit also alleges that the man's constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment had been violated.  "We filed this lawsuit to redress an assault on our client and to ensure that this kind of thing never happens again," Costello said Thursday.  The suit alleges that Joel Beck - a CCA corrections officer at the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary's, Ky. - ordered the man to strip and then performed sex acts on him in April. During the assault, Beck allegedly ordered the man's cellmate to keep watch for other guards.  "Throughout all of this, our client did everything he could to stop this assault," Costello said.  (AP)

May 26, 2004
Corrections Commissioner Steve Gold said Tuesday he's satisfied with an investigation into allegations of sexual assault by two Vermont inmates at a private Kentucky prison, and said the state will continue to house prisoners there.  Since the investigation, Corrections Corporation of America has added a guard to the segregation unit where the alleged assault took place so that more than one guard is on duty at a time, the report by the company said.  The investigation was launched after one Vermont inmate reported that he had been sexually assaulted by prison guard Joel Becks, who was fired May 3 by Corrections Corporation of America.  The initial investigation turned up another Vermont inmate who said he was sexually assaulted by the same guard, Gold said.  An investigation showed that the guard entered the first inmate's cell on April 29. About four hours later, the inmate told prison officials that he had been sexually assaulted, the report said.  (AP)

May 13, 2004
Two Vermont inmates who said they were sexually assaulted by a guard at a Kentucky prison are being returned home.  Vermont Corrections Commissioner Steven Gold says the inmates could be back as early as next week.  One of the prisoners reported that he had been sexually assaulted by the guard on April 29th.  An investigation into that incident revealed that another inmate from Vermont said he'd been assaulted by the same guard.  (WRGB.com)

May 6, 2004
Additional sexual assault claims have surfaced against a guard in the private Kentucky prison that is holding 233 Vermont inmates, officials said.  Kentucky authorities are now investigating allegations that a guard suspected of sexually assaulting one Vermont inmate was involved in sexual acts with inmates earlier this year.  "We have received allegations that additional things happened that preceded the incident that occurred last Thursday," Vermont Corrections Commissioner Steven Gold said Wednesday. "This information has been turned over to authorities down there."  Gold said that Ray Flum, an aide he dispatched to the Marion Adjustment Facility in St. Mary, Ky., over the weekend, interviewed two alleged victims of sexual assault, one of whom was involved in both last week's incident and the earlier one.  The guard was fired Monday by the prison's operator, Corrections Corporation of America .  Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen would not comment on the new allegation pending the outcome of his company's investigation into the guard's conduct.  "Our investigation is ongoing," Owen said. "We're not in a position to elaborate on what our findings and conclusions might be. We need to wait for that process to complete itself."  The Kentucky State Police are conducting a criminal investigation of the incidents.  Gold said he chose not to disclose his knowledge of the earlier alleged assaults earlier because, unlike last week's incident, the assault went unreported for several weeks and therefore did not seem as credible.  (Boston.com)

May 5, 2004
A guard involved in the alleged sexual assault of a Vermont inmate in his cell at a Kentucky prison has been fired, said an official for the privately operated prison.  (AP)

May 4, 2004
A guard involved in the alleged sexual assault of a Vermont inmate in his cell at a Kentucky prison has been fired, said an official for the privately operated prison.  "The employee was terminated for a policy violation," Steve Owen of Corrections Corporation of America said Monday.  Owen said a second guard placed on administrative leave after the incident Thursday night was allowed to return to work Monday after it was determined he had not violated any prison rules.  Vermont Corrections Commissioner Stephen Gold said Monday that the inmate was inside a segregated detention unit at the Marion, Ky., facility when a video surveillance camera recorded a guard entering the man's cell and leaving 10 minutes later.  Gold also acknowledged his department has been discussing conditions at the Marion jail with the Corrections Corporation of America. Inmates and advocates have complained the 233 Vermont prisoners at Marion are bunched in too small a space, with meals served in hallways and little room for exercise.  (Boston.com)

May 1, 2004
A Vermont inmate reported that he was sexually assaulted by an officer at a Kentucky prison this week, the Corrections Department said yesterday.  The man is at the Marion Facility, Commissioner Steve Gold said. Ray Flum, a director at the Vermont Corrections Department, was to travel to Kentucky this weekend to meet with the inmate and with police and corrections officials in that state. If the situation calls for it, the inmate will be returned to Vermont, Gold said.  The company that runs the prison, Corrections Corporation of America, investigated the complaint and then put two officers on leave, Gold said. Kentucky State Police were also investigating, he said.  Vermont has more than 350 inmates housed in prisons in other states because its prisons are full. Almost all of them are in Kentucky; 233 of them are at the Marion facility, Gold said.  (AP)

Northpoint Training Center
Boyle County, Kentucky
Aramark

February 1, 2010 KY Post
Legislation has passed a House committee that would eliminate privatized food service for inmates at Kentucky’s prisons. The House Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 33, sponsored by Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, which would require inmate food service at the state’s prisons be turned over to the Department of Corrections at a cost of an additional $5.4 million per year. The state currently pays around $12 million a year for prison food service through Aramark. HB 33 now goes to the full House for consideration. A recent Corrections report indicates that the quality and quantity of Aramark’s food service—provided to the state at a cost of $2.63 per inmate per day—was an underlying factor in last fall’s riot at Northpoint Training Center, a state prison in Burgin. State prisons officials at last week’s meeting said restricted inmate movement at Northpoint was the main trigger of the riot.

January 29, 2010 Herald-Leader
State Auditor Crit Luallen said Thursday she would do an audit of the private company that has a nearly $12 million annual contract to serve food at the state's 13 prisons. The announcement came a day after a House committee voted to cancel a contract with Aramark Correctional Services, which served food at Northpoint Training Center at the time of a costly riot there. Also Wednesday, the state released its full investigative report on the Aug. 21 riot, which went into more detail about problems with food at the Mercer County prison. House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Rep. John Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Thursday that they thought Luallen should look into Aramark's performance under the contract. "I do think it's appropriate to ask the state auditor in some fashion to audit the situation," Tilley said Thursday. Said Luallen: "While there has not been a formal request yet, there have been enough questions raised by legislators that we will begin to make plans to do an audit of the contract." Members of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted 6-4 to cancel Aramark's contract because of concerns about the food. Many on the committee questioned whether Aramark was skimping on ingredients to serve more people cheaply. "Aramark stands behind the quality of service we provide, which has won the accolades of our clients and the national accreditation agencies who monitor the quality of food service," an Aramark spokeswoman said Wednesday. An audit conducted of Aramark's performance for the Florida prison system in 2007 showed the number of inmates eating meals declined after Aramark took over the food service. But the company was paid based on the number of inmates, not on the number of meals served. Aramark also substituted less costly products such as ground turkey for beef, the audit said. The audit recommended that Florida rebid the food service or take it over. But Aramark terminated the contract near the end of 2008, according to published reports. Gov. Steve Beshear praised prison officials' handling of the riot. He said he was "confounded" with the legislature's "continued fixation with the menus for convicted criminals when we're desperately trying to avoid cutting teachers and state troopers. ... We have more than 10 percent unemployment and Kentucky families are struggling to put food on the table, and I am loath to consider millions more dollars for criminals who wish they could go to Wendy's instead." But Tilley and Stumbo — both Democrats — defended the House's investigation into the riot, which damaged six buildings and caused a fiery melee. "The truth is, we had a riot on our hands that is probably going to cost the taxpayers $10 million," Stumbo said, referring to money Beshear has requested to rebuild the prison outside of Danville. "And we need to find out why the hell we had it." Meanwhile, there are still questions about why key parts of the original report on the riot were not immediately released in November. It was only after the House Judiciary Committee repeatedly asked to see the report that the Department of Corrections agreed to release a redacted version of the full report at Wednesday's House Judiciary Committee meeting. The report released Wednesday showed that Northpoint Warden Steve Haney did not want to implement restrictions that were a primary cause of the riot, but he was overruled by Deputy Commissioner of Adult Institutions Al Parke and Director of Operations James Erwin. The report said the handling of restrictions was "haphazard and poorly planned." The report also revealed other problems before, during and after the riot, including non-existent radio communications among agencies, a lack of documentation, failed video cameras and a considerable delay in the formal investigation. The report said there was confusion over whether Kentucky State Police or Justice Cabinet investigators should handle the post-riot investigation. Those details were not released in a summary Nov. 20. Beshear defended his administration Thursday, saying he was confident the riot was handled correctly. "I have full confidence in the Secretary of the Justice Cabinet J. Michael Brown and his staff and how they handled the Northpoint riot and its subsequent investigation," Beshear said. Kerri Richardson, a spokeswoman for Beshear, said Beshear's office never saw the original report, but had seen the report summary. Beshear's staff asked for more explanation in the summary report but did not ask for anything to be taken out, she said. Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said there was no attempt on the part of the Justice Cabinet or the Department of Corrections to hide or minimize some of the problems on the day of the riot. Department of Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson left out some of those problems in her Nov. 20 summary because she thought some of those details would compromise security at the prison, Brislin said. "During her review, she exempted information that she felt would be a security risk to staff and inmates, and that included information regarding how command decisions were made," Brislin said. House Bill 33 — the bill that would cancel the Aramark contract — now heads to the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. If the state cancels the contract, it could add as much as $5.4 million a year to the state's cost of feeding inmates, according to the Department of Corrections.

January 28, 2010 Herald-Leader
The warden at Northpoint Training Center did not want to implement the prison yard restrictions that contributed to an August riot that heavily damaged much of the facility, but he was overruled by Department of Corrections officials, according to an investigative report released Wednesday. The investigation also revealed numerous other problems at Northpoint that occurred before, during and after the riot, including inmate anger about food on the day of the riot and a crucial delay in the formal investigation of how the fiery melee occurred. After reviewing the report, the House Judiciary Committee voted 9-4 to approve a bill that would cancel the state's $12 million annual contract with Aramark Correctional Services to provide meals at 13 prisons. The investigative report showed that anger over food contributed to the Aug. 21 riot at the Mercer County prison. The report, which was withheld from the public by state officials until Wednesday, puts more emphasis on food as a contributing cause of the riot than the state Corrections Department's "review" of the investigative report, which was released Nov. 20. The review concluded that the main cause of the riot was inmate anger about a lockdown and other restrictions imposed after a fight at the prison. However, the latest report shows that virtually every inmate and employee interviewed by investigators said that Aramark food and its prices at the canteen were among the reasons for the riot. The report lists those issues as the third and fourth factors, respectively, that contributed to the riot. "Apparently, there had been complaints for years about the quality of the food, the portion sizes and the continual shortage and substitutions for scheduled menu items," the report states. "Sanitation of the kitchen was also a source of complaints," says the report. Inmates set fires that destroyed six buildings, including those containing the kitchen, canteen, visitation center, medical services, sanitation department and a multipurpose area. Several dorms were heavily damaged, and eight guards and eight inmates were injured. 'Haphazard' action -- According to the report, the riot began 15 minutes after details were posted about new movement restrictions for prisoners in the yard. The restrictions came after an Aug. 18 fight over canteen items that caused prison officials to institute a lockdown. The investigation found that Northpoint Warden Steve Haney wanted to return the prison yard to normal operations as he typically did after a lockdown, but he was overruled by Al Parke, deputy commissioner of adult institutions and James Erwin, director of operations. "The implementation of the controlled movement policy at NTC was haphazard and poorly planned at best," says the report. The report also says the warden never got word that inmates had dumped food from their trays on the floor at breakfast and at lunch on the day of the riot. Aramark officials e-mailed details of the incident to a deputy warden at Northpoint, but the information apparently was not passed along, the report said. During the riot, "radio communications between all agencies involved was virtually non-existent, causing chaos and a general feeling of disconnect with the various agencies involved," according to the report. After the riot, there was a "gross lack of coordination of submitting reports," evidence was compromised because most video cameras failed the evening of the riot, and there was a considerable delay in the formal investigation, the report said. Kentucky State Police immediately tried to begin an investigation to see which inmates were involved in the riot but was advised by the corrections department's operations director that the investigation would be conducted internally. Several days later, the report said, two staff members from the Justice Cabinet determined that state police should conduct the investigation. "The criminal investigations should have started immediately to preserve evidence, testimony and critical information," the report says. "After a few days, staff thoughts and observations became diluted."

January 21, 2010 Lexington Herald-Leader
The state agreed on Wednesday to turn over its original report on the August riot at Northpoint Training Center after nearly two weeks of denying requests for the document by lawmakers. The Department of Corrections released an investigative report of the fiery melee on Nov. 20, but not before it was edited to allegedly address security concerns. At the time, officials did not disclose that they had altered the investigative report. Legislators are hoping the original report will help them determine if food provided by a private contractor was partly to blame for the Aug. 21 riot that destroyed several buildings at the prison outside of Danville. Part of that report can be redacted for security reasons, the two sides agreed at a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. It should be ready by next week, they agreed. The report released in November showed that the main cause of the riot was inmate anger over a lockdown and other restrictions imposed following a fight at the prison. Inmates set fires that destroyed six buildings, including those containing the kitchen, canteen, visitation center, medical services, sanitation department and a multipurpose area. Several dorms were heavily damaged, and eight guards and eight inmates were injured. Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, said Wednesday that he had heard in early January that there was another version of the report and asked the department for the original. Yonts said he had been told that the original report gave more weight to the concerns about food than the version that was released to the public. Yonts has filed a proposal -- House Bill 33 -- that would cancel the state's $12 million-a-year contract with Aramark to provide meals at 13 prisons. Aramark Correctional Services has had the state contract since 2005. It was renewed in 2009 and expires at the end of this year. Yonts has also asked State Auditor Crit Luallen to do a performance audit of the Aramark contract, but Terry Sebastian, a spokesman for Luallen, said the auditor is still waiting for a formal request from the House Judiciary Committee. Yonts said Wednesday that he expects the committee to make that request. Democratic Rep. John Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he also had requested the original investigative report from the Department of Corrections. Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson said the department didn't release the original report because it contained sensitive details about security at Northpoint. She also said the report that was released provided more details about the incident than the original report. Some members of the committee said they found the department's concerns about security unfounded. "I'm not in the habit of disclosing that information (to prisoners)," said Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow. Thompson said they were worried the information might make its way into newspapers, which prisoners read. Thompson said she was not aware that Tilley had also asked for the original information, but Tilley said that wasn't true. Tilley said he verbally requested the information from the Department of Corrections at a meeting last Friday. Thompson said she must have misunderstood Tilley's request. Yonts also complained that he has asked since this fall for grievances that inmates have filed concerning the food that Aramark provided. That request has been denied to protect the identity of the inmates, department officials said. At the hearing on Wednesday, Thompson and representatives from Aramark acknowledged that there have been complaints about food at the state's prisons but said they were generally satisfied with the quality of food that the company has provided. The contract has saved the state $5.4 million a year, Thompson said. Yonts said there have been widespread complaints about the food, including: food-borne illnesses at Western Kentucky Correctional Facility, worms being found in food and food being watered down. He said corrections officers are concerned that unrest over food quality is jeopardizing their safety. Although there have been three incidents of widespread illness at Western Kentucky Correctional Facility since 2005, Thompson said there was no conclusive evidence that any of the three incidents was caused by the food. Thompson confirmed there was one grub worm found in soup at Green River Correctional Complex. It was found before it was served to inmates, she said. "There have been other institutions that have found bugs in their food," Thompson said. Part of the problem, she said, was that produce grown at the prisons hasn't always been properly cleaned. Officials are working to correct that problem, she said. Inmate menu surveys have shown a decline in satisfaction with the food, but the percentage of food being served to inmates has increased by 10 percent, Thompson said. Tim Campbell, president of Aramark Correctional Services, told the committee that the company does solid work. "We stand by the quality of services that we provide the commonwealth," he said. Still, some legislators said there is a disconnect between the testimony they heard from officials on Wednesday and remarks made by corrections officers during a committee meeting in November. Those corrections officers said the food was barely edible and that they were concerned that discontent with the food was making the prisons unsafe. Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, said he didn't believe that those officers would lie to a legislative committee. The committee did not vote on Yonts' bill on Wednesday.

November 19, 2009 News-Star
Inmates at Northpoint Training Center rioted in August because the warden had put the prison on lockdown four days earlier and implemented a new schedule that restricted inmates’ time in the yard, recreation areas and library, according to a report released today by the Department of Corrections. Staff and inmates told investigators that the quality of food was not a primary factor, the report states. Six buildings, including the kitchen, were burned and eight inmates and eight corrections officers suffered minor injuries after prisoners began setting fires and trashing buildings Aug. 21 at the facility near Burgin.

November 7, 2009 Herald-Leader
A corrections officer at Northpoint Training Center told lawmakers Friday that an August riot at the prison near Danville was caused by inmate anger over bad food and was planned. "It's over the food," corrections officer Matt Hughes told the Interim Judiciary Committee. "The food was slop." State corrections officials did not speak at Friday's meeting but have said that as early as next week they will issue a report based on a Kentucky State Police investigation. State Rep. Kelly Flood, D-Lexington, said that corrections officers at Northpoint said they doubt officials will admit it in the official report but that "it was about the food." State Rep. Brent Yonts — who has filed a bill that would cancel the $12 million annual contract of Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, food provider for Kentucky prisons — said the General Assembly should launch its own investigation. He wants lawmakers to go to Northpoint to interview inmates. Yonts, D-Greenville, said the problems exist at state prisons all over Kentucky. He told the committee of lawmakers that a corrections officer at Green River Correctional Complex in Central City told him about "a very large body of worms that boiled to the top of a pot of soup" that had to be removed from a serving line. Yonts said human feces was found in a burrito at the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville and just this week he received information that an Aramark supervisor allowed inmates at Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington to eat brownies containing human feces. Citing numbers showing the state might not be getting its money's worth in the contract from Aramark because fewer inmates were eating in prison cafeterias, Yonts said that the state needed to take back food service operations. "It's not working," Yonts said. Aramark spokeswoman Kristine Grow said Friday that the company "had received no official complaints regarding our food before the riot occurred" and had no "absolute proof" of the allegations that Yonts made. "We stand by the quality of our service and our food, and we look forward to the state's official report," Grow said. Aramark officials have previously said that there's no evidence that anything but gang violence and anger over yard restrictions caused the riot. Hughes, however, told lawmakers that the explanation about yard restrictions was "bogus." He said that inmates were betting over high-priced packaged food from the Northpoint canteen because they couldn't eat the cafeteria food. Hughes also said the gambling was leading to fights and security problems for corrections officers. In the riot at Northpoint on Aug. 21, inmates burned and damaged buildings, several of which were a total loss. Eight guards and eight inmates suffered minor injuries. Hughes was one of three corrections officers from various prisons who appeared at Friday's meeting. All said they were members of the union American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Union officials also attended. Yonts acknowledged he is supportive of unions and of labor, but he said "that has nothing to do with the validity of this bill." If the bill is passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2010, food service to inmates at state prisons could be provided only by state employees, inmates or volunteers. That was the case until January 2005, when the state contracted with Aramark. The contract was renewed in January 2009 and expires in 2011. State corrections officials have said that with the savings from the Aramark contract, they were able to give corrections officers a nearly 7 percent raise in 2005. Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for the state Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, said that in October 2005, corrections officers' hours were increased from 37.5 to 40 hours a week, resulting in a 6.67 percent increase. Meanwhile, lawmakers who heard the testimony said they wanted a special meeting with Department of Corrections officials and representatives of Aramark to find out the truth. "It's only one side," state Rep. Harry Moberly, D-Richmond, said of the allegations raised Friday. He said that lawmakers could have a "direct impact" on fixing the situation if the complaints were valid.

October 22, 2009 AP
Surveys of Kentucky's prison inmates indicate they are less pleased with the food they're served than they were a few years ago. The state outsourced the work in 2005 to a private company, Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services. An Aramark spokeswoman says the inmates may have "self-interested motivations" for criticizing the food. The level of satisfaction was lower at Northpoint Training Center in Boyle County than among prisoners statewide. Prisoners rioted and burned much of the Northpoint complex on Aug. 21, and state Rep. Brent Yonts said corrections officers, other lawmakers and inmates have all told him that unrest "over food" figured into the riot. But Aramark officials have said there's no evidence that anything but gang violence and anger over prison yard restrictions played a role in the riot. They said their food was not a factor. The Lexington Herald-Leader obtained the survey results under the Open Records Act and reported Tuesday that early this year, state inmates rated the food 3.24 on a scale of 1 to 10, down from 5.84 in 2003. At Northpoint, the rating this year was 2.66, compared with 6.13 in 2003. Yonts, D-Greenville, has filed legislation that would cancel Aramark's $12 million annual contract with the state. State officials haven't said yet what led to the Northpoint incident. Eight guards and eight inmates suffered minor injuries. Small portions, cleanliness and food shortages were among the issues inmates often addressed in the survey. "Get rid of Aramark, bring back the state," an inmate at Roederer Correctional Complex in La Grange wrote in the anonymous 2009 survey. At the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, an inmate wrote, "I would like not to be hungry all the time." Jennifer Brislin, a state Justice Cabinet spokeswoman, said Tuesday that Aramark's food "meets all recommended daily allowances and dietary requirements."

October 19, 2009 Courier-Journal
Workers at the Northpoint Training Center will begin serving food out of a makeshift kitchen Monday, nearly two months after the worst inmate riot in modern Kentucky history. The portable, tent-style building will be fully functional and seat 200, Justice Cabinet spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin said. The department is paying $195,447 to rent the facility for six months. It could extend the rental if work on a new kitchen isn't completed by then. The facility has been approved by the state fire marshal and local health department, she said. Until now, food has been delivered daily to Northpoint from another state prison. Six buildings, including the kitchen, were burned and eight inmates and eight corrections officers suffered minor injuries after inmates began setting fires and trashing buildings at the prison near Burgin on Aug. 21. The state moved roughly 700 prisoners to other facilities the day after the riot. As of Friday, the prison, which is about 30 miles southwest of Lexington, held 468 inmates. It's operating at less than 40 percent capacity. Limited visitation for inmates resumed recently, Brislin said. A Department of Corrections investigation into the cause of the disturbance is expected to be completed later this month, she said. There is still no cost estimate for the damage. Prison officials are working to remove debris from three dormitories that were damaged. An architectural firm is working on renderings of facilities that would contain a medical area, kitchen, library and inmate canteen — all of which appeared gutted in photographs provided by the Justice Cabinet. Brislin said that, while six buildings were burned, it's unclear whether six new buildings will be built or whether the department would build fewer structures that would be more efficient. Justice and corrections officials are expected to give a legislative committee an update on Thursday. One legislator, Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, has questioned whether inmate dissatisfaction with food provided by a private vendor caused problems at Northpoint and other prisons in the state. Yonts has prefiled a bill that would cancel the Department of Corrections' $12million contract with Pennsylvania-based Aramark Services and prohibit privatization of inmate food service in Kentucky's state-operated prisons. He said families of inmates, prison employees and inmates have complained that inmates don't receive enough food during meals and can't afford the food that is sold in prison canteens. “About 20 percent of prisoners or more do not receive money from their families to buy canteen food, which some say is high-priced,” he said in a recent news release. Aramark has disputed the claim that its food service might have contributed to the August riot.

September 9, 2009 Herald-Leader
Complaints about the quality and quantity of food that a private company provides to Kentucky state prisons has led a state lawmaker to file a bill that would cancel the $12 million annual contract. Northpoint Training Center, where there was a riot last month, is one of several state prisons where inmates and corrections officers have complained about the food provided by Philadelphia-based Aramark Correctional Services, said state Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville. Yonts said he also is concerned that the illness of as many as 300 inmates at a Western Kentucky prison might have been caused by food. "There's no reason for people to be treated inhumanely," Yonts said. "I don't think the system is recognizing the problem with Aramark. I'm hoping the administration will ... cancel the contract." If the bill is passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2010, food service to inmates at state prisons could be provided only by state employees, inmates or volunteers. That was the case until January 2005, when the state contracted with Aramark. The contract was renewed in January 2009 and expires in 2011. Yonts said he received many complaints from across the state about food quality, shortages and even "crawling creatures in the food" in the past year. Inmates at Boyle County's Northpoint staged a sit-in in 2007 over the quality of food and prices of snacks in the prison canteen, according to the American Correctional Association. In a riot at Northpoint on Aug. 21, inmates burned and damaged buildings, several of which were a total loss. Eight guards and eight inmates suffered minor injuries. Yonts said that he sent a questionnaire about the food to corrections officers. The replies said that food problems have caused "control" problems with inmates. Sarah Jarvis, a spokeswoman for Aramark, said Tuesday that the company "has an excellent track record" and has received many accolades. "We reduce the costs to taxpayers of feeding inmates, while providing nutritious meals in close consultation with dietitians and nutritionists," she said. In January, Aramark stopped serving meals at Florida prisons, citing rapid rises in food costs and a poor working relationship with the state. In 2008 alone, the company was fined $241,499 by Florida for problems with the food and service, according to news reports. Saving millions -- State corrections officials say the contract with Aramark saves $5 million each year and allowed them to give corrections officers a nearly 7 percent raise in 2008. Northpoint inmates and family members have told the Herald-Leader that the quality and price of food and canteen items continues to be a source of unrest at the prison and might have figured in the August riots. Jarvis said there is no evidence that the riots "were the result of anything other than gang-related activity and yard restrictions. Some of the facts in this story seem to be based on anecdotes, half-truths and suspicious complaints by inmates and others who ... ignore official reports and contradictory facts." Incidents that led to the riot and fire are under investigation by the state Department of Corrections and State Police. Source of illnesses unknown -- At the Western Kentucky Correctional Complex at Fredonia, James Tolley, the public health director at Pennyrile District Health Department, said his staff has investigated three cases in 2009 in which inmates had gastrointestinal distress. In one instance in the spring, Tolley said, as many as 300 inmates fell ill there. State Corrections Department spokeswoman Cheryl Million said a foodborne illness was suspected, but it could not be verified in lab tests. Tolley said that even though lab results did not confirm that food was the problem, his staff advised food service employees on safe food handling. Yonts said he is looking into those cases. "Inmates do complain about Aramark," Million said. However, she said, there were similar complaints before Aramark took over food service. The Department of Corrections receives, on average, 21 food grievances among 13 institutions each month, she said. The state pays Aramark $2.63 for each inmate each day, Million said. Yonts said he also has received complaints about the food at Blackburn Correctional Complex in Fayette County. Yonts' legislation barring private companies would not apply to canteens where inmates at state prisons can buy food, to local jails or to food provided to inmates being transferred from one prison to another.

September 2, 2009 Herald-Leader
Last month's riot at Northpoint Training Center was at least the second inmate protest at the medium security prison in the past two years. The other disturbance occurred in October 2007, when 60 to 70 inmates staged a sit-in inside the prison yard to complain about prison food and canteen prices, according to an accreditation report completed in February by the American Correctional Association. In the Aug. 21 riot, inmates burned and damaged buildings at the Boyle County facility. Several were a total loss. Eight guards and eight inmates received minor injuries. Since then, some prisoners and their families have contacted the Herald-Leader alleging that the quality and price of prison food and canteen items continues to be a source of unrest at the prison and may have played a role in the riot. However, Justice Cabinet Spokesperson Jennifer Brislin said a Northpoint official responsible for handling inmate grievances told Brislin she had received no information from inmates that indicate concerns over food service or the canteen led to last month's disturbance. At Northpoint, "there are nutritional standards and calorie levels that must be met, and there is a certified dietitian who reviews the menus, so inmates are being offered nutritionally balanced meals," Brislin said. A spokeswoman for Aramark Correctional Services, the private company that operates the prison's food services and canteen, said the company had “no indication” that inmate concerns about food service or high canteen prices had anything to do with the Aug. 21 riot. “We serve meals that are healthy and nutritious,” said Sarah Jarvis, the spokeswoman. She said the food meets all state and federal standards and that canteen prices have to meet the approval of prison administration. Incidents that led up to the riot and fire are still under investigation by the state Department of Corrections and State Police. A report on the cause of the riot may not be complete for weeks, said Brislin, because 700 inmates were transferred to other facilities throughout Kentucky, making conducting interviews difficult, she said. About 500 of the prison's 1,200 inmates are now living in two dorms. During the 2007 disturbance, the prison's accreditation report said protesting inmates "quickly dispersed" when security staff "assembled with video cameras" to document who was involved. Two inmates filed grievances concerning food service and the canteen after the 2007 incident, the report said.

Otter Creek Correctional Center
Wheelwright, Kentucky
CCA

Behind the Bars | Kentucky had gaps in monitoring troubled Otter Creek prison July 5, 2010

Behind the Bars | Experts question benefits of private prisons July 5, 2010
Behind the Bars | Prison faced regular complaints about medical care July 5, 2010
Behind the Bars | Secretary Carla Meade's suicide raised questions July 5, 2010

June 12, 2012 WKYT
One small eastern Kentucky town is bracing for a prison shutdown that will put a huge portion of its population out of work. As we reported in April, the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright is closing, and as the last day approaches city officials are still wondering what will happen to their town. It is a small mountain town with a small population of about 700, but in a few weeks nearly a quarter of those people will be jobless. "It's going to affect everybody," said Wheelwright Mayor Andy Akers. Otter Creek Correctional Center is closing, leaving almost 170 people wondering what will happen next.

May 14, 2012 The Town Talk
A group of shift supervisors at a private prison in central Kentucky has sued Corrections Corporation of America, alleging the company forced them to work extra hours and denied them overtime. The six current and former CCA employees at the Marion Adjustment Center in St. Mary's who filed suit also said the Nashville, Tenn.-based private prison giant denied them meal and rest breaks, and required employees to attend training sessions without pay. Attorney Tom Miller of Lexington told The Associated Press that the lawsuit may also affect employees of two other CCA prisons in Kentucky — the Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville and Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright. "This is a for-profit company," Miller said. "The way you maximize profits is to reduce expenses." The group is seeking unspecified damages and a temporary injunction forcing CCA to compensate employees who work more than 40 hours a week. Miller said any damages could cover employees dating back to 2007. "We believe the statute of limitations extends five years," Miller said. CCA spokesman Mike Machak said Monday that the company had not seen the lawsuit and couldn't address the specific allegations. "Overall, we are committed to ensuring that our employees are fairly compensated, and we strive to provide lasting career opportunities for those professionals who chose to work with our company," Machak said. The shift supervisors and assistant supervisors claim they do uncompensated work before and after regular shift hours, including traveling between minimum- and medium-security units at the 825-inmate prison in central Kentucky, staying on post while waiting for a replacement officer to arrive and attending training sessions on regular days off. CCA classifies the shift supervisors and assistant supervisors as "exempt" from overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The act has rules covering which employees qualify for overtime, based in part on salary, how many people the supervisor oversees and the duties included in the supervisor's job description and whether management duties are part of the job. Miller said CCA has misclassified the employees as exempt from overtime rules and wants a judge to restore the meal and rest periods required by law. The lawsuit is similar to a suit filed in federal court in Kansas that sought to certify a class of assistant shift supervisors at CCA's 65 facilities in 19 states. In that case, assistant shift supervisors alleged that CCA misclassified them as exempt from overtime pay. The two sides have filed a notice of settlement in court, but the details of the agreement are not due to a judge until Friday. CCA and a group of collections officers, case managers and clerks also settled a suit concerning overtime in 2009, also in federal court in Kansas. In that case, CCA agreed to pay a maximum of $7 million, but did not acknowledge fault in the case.

April 24, 2012 AP
After a sex scandal at a privately run prison in rural Kentucky, the state cut off the institution's funding and now it's shutting down — and that worries town officials in an impoverished Appalachian community where incarceration meant jobs and economic survival. With Otter Creek Correctional Center set to close in the coming months, Mike Goeing, who runs Family Drugs of Wheelwright, sees pain ahead for his store and the other few remaining businesses in the town of about 1,200. "It's definitely going to hurt," he said. The prison, run by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, is set to close by this summer as Kentucky pulls its inmates out of the facility that was at the center of a sex scandal. It broke in 2009 when inmates accused prison staff of forcing them to trade sexual favors for privileges. The prison became a casualty of budget cuts and a renewed effort by the state to push more non-violent drug offenders into rehabilitation instead of incarceration. Kentucky paid CCA $21 million in fiscal 2010 to operate Otter Creek, along with the Marion Adjustment Center, which has roughly 800 Kentucky inmates and Lee Adjustment Center, which no longer houses Kentucky inmates. Kentucky opted not to renew its contract with CCA as part of an ambitious plan to cut costs, reduce the number of small-time, non-violent drug offenders in prison and refocus efforts on rehabilitation. The men currently held at Otter Creek are being moved to Northpoint Training Center in Burgin. People in Wheelwright are hoping for word that another state will step in with a new batch of inmates, reopen the facility and rehire the employees. "There aren't a large number of businesses here anyway," Goeing told The Associated Press. Initially, the local jobs came from coal. Elk Horn Coal Company founded the city in 1916 about 150 miles southeast of Lexington near the Kentucky-Virginia border, and named it for the company's then-president, Jere H. Wheelwright. As coal production slowed, the area's economy went with it. Businesses closed or struggled to stay open. The prison brought nearly 200 jobs to one of the poorest regions in the South when it opened in 1981. CCA paid employees $8.25 an hour — low pay by prison standards but welcome cash for the area. "It helped the few businesses that remain here," said Goeing, who used to deliver medications to the prison. Without the prison jobs, Wheelwright Mayor Andy Akers says people will lose their steady income and stop spending money in the area. "It's going to hurt the grocery stores, the restaurants — just everything where they guards are used to spending their money," Akers said. The prison once housed women from Hawaii and Kentucky. In January 2010, after the scandal broke, Gov. Steve Beshear ordered the women removed from Otter Creek. The state transferred 400 female inmates to Western Kentucky Correctional Complex in Fredonia and moved men into Otter Creek. Hawaii removed 168 female inmates in 2009, sending them to a prison in Arizona. Multiple lawsuits were filed over the sex accusations. Most were dismissed. None of that slowed CCA down. In the last five years, the company announced contracts to build new private prisons or expand existing state and federal facilities in more than a half-dozen places ranging from Mississippi to Nevada. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the company, through Otter Creek and other private prisons, "drives economic growth in any community where it operates." Alex Friedmann, a convicted armed robber turned inmate advocate, spent six of his 10 years in prison at CCA facilities. He said the closing of Otter Creek is part of a shift by some states to lower incarceration rates and save money on prison costs. Friedmann noted that CCA recently closed a facility in Appleton, Minn., and hasn't found a new client for it. He said they also stopped building a prison in Tennessee for want of a client. "The only thing interesting to CCA is can they generate a profit because they are a for-profit company," said Friedmann, who now lives in Old Hickory, Tenn. "There's a social cost ... when you have communities dependent on incarceration as a business model. That's a very dangerous thing."

April 13, 2012 WKYT
Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright will be shutting its doors at the end of June. Officials say with capacity being added at other facilities in Kentucky, the state did not feel the need to continue using Otter Creek and did not renew its contract with the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). "The department did not have a need for the continuation of that contract beyond its current term," said CCA spokesperson Steve Owen. More than 170 people from the Wheelwright area work there, but after June 30 they will no longer have jobs. "A lot of them live within the city and a lot of them live in the community, you know. We're a tight knit community around here," said Wheelwright Mayor Andy Akers. "We are preparing our employees for the fact that at the end of June we will not have a population in that facility, and so we want to work very closely to take care of them," said Owen. He said if those employees are willing CCA will try to help them relocate to other facilities in the state and across the country.

February 1, 2012 Floyd County Times
The company that owns Otter Creek Correctional Center was sued this week in Floyd Circuit court for damages caused by an escaped inmate. According to the lawsuit, filed by attorney Ned Pillersdorf, on behalf of Linda and Dennis Holbrook, Corrections Corporation of America, the company which owns Otter Creek, was negligent in its handling of an escape by Larry Crump in September. Pillersdorf says his clients are deeply concerned with the ease at which prisoners seem to be escaping from Otter Creek. “It’s a public safety issue,” said Pillersdorf, adding that Crumb was an escape threat, having escaped twice before from other facilities. In the complaint, the plaintiffs state that when Crump escaped, outside authorities were not notified for over an hour after prison guards noted him missing. The Holbrooks state that Crump came to their home, which is located less than a mile from the prison after breaking out, rifled through their medicine cabinet and “drank a soft drink” before stealing the couple’s 2005 Cadillac CTS automobile. During the apprehension of Crump, court documents allege that he crashed the vehicle. “Larry Crump then attempted to elude the police while driving the Plaintiffs’ vehicle and caused it to crash and be demolished.” The Holbrooks are seeking punitive damages for the “grossly negligent and reckless conduct” of CCA, and they additionally seek damages for trespass and violations that the alleged negligent acts caused. The Holbrooks have brought the litigation to try to force CCA to change its behavior, Pillersdorf said, adding that hitting a company in the wallet is sometimes the best way to get its attention.

January 6, 2011 AP
A German woman has filed a lawsuit against a private company that ran a Kentucky prison and some of its employees, saying she was forced to trade sex to call her ill mother. The suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Louisville is the latest in a series of cases alleging sexual assault at the Otter Creek Correctional Complex in Wheelwright. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear ordered all the female prisoners removed from the facility a year ago when a scandal involving corrections officers and inmates reached its height. The lawsuit says the inmate, a 38-year-old German citizen, is serving five years for theft and other charges. Although the lawsuit names the inmate, the Associated Press does not generally identify those who say they have been sexually assaulted. The lawsuit accuses Dwight Crowell, an internal affairs officer at the prison, of sexual assault. It also names several of his superiors - former Otter Creek Warden Jeff Little, currently the security chief at another CCA prison, Lee Adjustment Center, John Ferguson, chairman of CCA's board of directors and Tony Grande, an executive vice president of CCA - and says they didn't stop the wrongdoing. Louise Graham, a spokeswoman for CCA in Nashville, Tenn., declined to address the specifics of the inmate's allegations. "I can confirm that the Kentucky State Police have an ongoing investigation into this matter," Graham said. No listing for Crowell could be found in the area surrounding the prison. Graham declined to provide any contact information for him. Kentucky State Police did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Kentucky pulled female inmates from Otter Creek Correctional Complex after a sex scandal involving prisoners and guards at the Corrections Corporation of America-owned prison. Several hundred women were relocated 377 miles away to the state-run Western Kentucky Correctional Complex in Fredonia. Other inmates, including the one who filed suit Wednesday night, were moved to the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in Pewee Valley. In the lawsuit, the inmate alleged that sexual abuse took place starting in July 2008 and kept up over an 18 month period before the state moved the female inmates. Crowell threatened to harm the inmate's chances at parole and have her deported away from her children if she reported the sexual abuse, according to the lawsuit. The inmate said the prison's internal grievance system was useless because all complaints were routed through Crowell and that anonymous phone lines given to inmates didn't protect their identities. The phone required inmates to give their identifications numbers to make the calls, the inmate said. Graham wouldn't specifically discuss that allegation, but said CCA offers multiple ways for inmates to report sexual abuse, including telephone hotlines. "Additionally, all CCA employees are provided training, and inmates are oriented on ways in which to report - both anonymously and otherwise - claims of this nature," Graham said. The inmate's lawyers, Larry Simon and Christina Norris, said prison administrators and CCA officials were aware of sexual abuse allegations at the prison, but didn't adequately investigate them or train staff. At least two other federal lawsuits have been pursued by former inmates at Otter Creek. CCA was dismissed from both. Former Otter Creek inmates have told The Associated Press that rules at Otter Creek weren't strictly enforced and that, in some cases, inmates traded sex for favors from the guards. "There was an agenda behind it, not that it was OK for a staff member to do that," said 40-year-old Stephanie Spitser, who is serving life in prison for murder and kidnapping. Kentucky changed its law concerning sex between prison staff and inmates. Under a provision passed in 2010, prison guards, jailers and other staffers who oversee inmates could be charged with felony rape and sodomy for having consensual sex with prisoners. Under current law, corrections officers face only misdemeanor charges for consensual sex with inmates.

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

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

February 25, 2010 Courier-Journal
A former inmate at the beleaguered private women’s prison in Eastern Kentucky has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was repeatedly raped by a prison employee in 2007. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Pikeville, alleges that the employee at the Otter Creek Correctional Center forced her to engage in non-consensual sexual acts between March and October 2007 and threatened to block her parole if she reported him to authorities. The alleged victim also names Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the prison under contract with the state, and the Department of Corrections as defendants. It alleges that they failed to properly screen, train and supervise the employee. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in an e-mail Thursday that the employee was terminated last March. Owen said CCA has not yet received a copy of the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday, and could not comment further at this time. Department of Corrections Commission LaDonna Thompson said Thursday that she had not yet seen the suit and could not comment. It could not be determined whether the employee is facing criminal charges relating to the allegations. A Kentucky State Police spokesman familiar with cases against former Otter Creek workers could not be reached for comment Thursday. At least six workers at Otter Creek have been charged with sex-related crimes involving inmates at the facility. Gov. Steve Beshear announced last month that the state will move more than 400 women prisoners out of Otter Creek given the allegations of sexual misconduct by male workers there. The women prisoners will be transferred to the state-run Western Kentucky Correctional Complex in Fredonia this summer, and the nearly 700 male inmates now there will be moved to Otter Creek, which has more than 650 beds, and other prisons in the state. CCA has been under fire since last summer after multiple inmates at Otter Creek made allegations that they were sexually assaulted by corrections officers and other workers there. A Department of Corrections investigation found that prison authorities failed to investigate seven alleged incidents of sexual contact between workers and inmates since 2007. In four of those cases, the workers involved were fired. But investigations required under the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act were not conducted. The suit filed this week states that the alleged victim originally denied that she had been raped because “she was so afraid of (the employee’s) threats regarding her parole.” It says she told investigators last July that the incidents had occurred. The suit says that the alleged victim was released on parole in September 2008 under the condition that she remain free of any parole violations for six years.

January 8, 2010 Courier-Journal
Gov. Steve Beshear announced Friday that the state will move more than 400 women prisoners out of the privately run Otter Creek Correctional Center, amid allegations of sexual misconduct by male workers there. The women prisoners will be transferred to the state-run Western Kentucky Correctional Complex in Fredonia this summer — and the nearly 700 male inmates there will be moved to Otter Creek in Eastern Kentucky, which has 656 beds, and other prisons in the state, he said. At least six workers at Otter Creek have been criminally charged with sex-related crimes involving inmates at the facility, run by Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America. Kentucky State Police spokesman Mike Goble said Friday that state police expect to present another case to a Floyd County grand jury next month. “There is no place for this kind of behavior in our system,” Beshear said Friday. He said the move would save taxpayers “millions of dollars” a year because the state would pay CCA less per day for males than females. But Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown acknowledged the private company that operates Otter Creek could end up making more money off the deal, because the state would likely house more male prisoners at Otter Creek than it had female prisoners. Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute, a Florida-based anti-privatization group, said he believes the deal rewards Otter Creek for failing to protect female inmates from alleged sexual abuse. He said the state should've sanctioned Corrections Corp. of America for not being able to meet the terms of the contract struck last fall, which included minimum staffing levels and female worker ratios. The state's contract with CCA allows the state to fine the company up to $5,000 a day, but it has never imposed any staffing-level sanctions. “It's an abdication of the state's responsibility first off to hold the vendors to the contract and then to reward them for bad performance,” Kopczynski said. Corrections Corp. of America has been under fire since last summer after multiple inmates at Otter Creek made allegations that they were sexual assaulted by corrections officers and other workers there. A Department of Corrections investigation found that authorities at the prison failed to investigate seven alleged incidents of sexual contact between workers and inmates since 2007. In four of those cases, the workers involved were fired. But investigations, required under the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, were not conducted. The state of Hawaii moved its nearly 200 women prisoners out of Otter Creek, in part because of the incidents. Kentucky officials, however, extended its contract with CCA for one year last fall. Brown said officials are in the process of renegotiating its contract under the new arrangement. He said he hopes to have the contract in place by July 1, the start of next fiscal year. Beshear attributed some of the problems at Otter Creek to the lack of female corrections officers and said that because the state pays more than CCA, it would have an easier time recruiting female corrections officers to work at the Western Kentucky prison. However Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson said she doesn't expect to hire additional officers and would instead transfer female workers from nearby prisons if necessary. “We think this change will pay off in better management for inmates,” Beshear said. When the state extended the Otter Creek contract with CCA in the fall, it said it was requiring CCA to raise its ratio of female workers. Brown did not answer when asked whether CCA was having difficulty meeting the new requirement. “All I can say is we presented CCA what our intent was and asked them to partner with us,” he said. “They are very much on board in that effort, I can tell you that.” CCA issued a statement Friday applauding the new arrangement. “CCA welcomes the opportunity to continue meeting Kentucky's correctional needs at Otter Creek,” said Steve Conry, a vice president of operations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 1, 2009 Courier-Journal
A corrections officer at the troubled private women's prison in Eastern Kentucky was indicted Tuesday on one count of first-degree rape involving an inmate. Charles Prater, 54, of Hueysville, is the sixth worker at the Otter Creek Correctional Center in Floyd County charged with a sex-related crime against an inmate in the past three years. But the indictment, returned by a Floyd County grand jury, marks the first case in which the charge is a felony. The other cases involve misdemeanor sexual abuse charges. Four of those defendants were convicted, and one — a former chaplain — is expected to go to trial later this month. Kentucky State Police plan to present another case to the grand jury the next time it meets, spokesman Mike Goble said Tuesday. According to the indictment, Prater forcibly raped an inmate on June 13. It provided no additional details. Prater will be sent a court order to appear for his arraignment in the next day or so, according to a clerk for the Floyd County commonwealth's attorney. A warrant won't be issued for his arrest. If convicted, Prater could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. The prison is owned and operated by Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America. Kentucky has a contract to house up to 476 inmates at the Wheelwright facility. As of Tuesday, 425 inmates were incarcerated there. In addition to the sexual assault allegations, other issues at the prison have emerged. The Courier-Journal recently reviewed monthly reports dating to 2005 and found chronic understaffing, leading to poor employee morale and security concerns. Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson told CCA last month that the state would not grant its request for a rate increase because of the sex-abuse allegations, inmate fights, improper reporting of an inmate death and other problems. The state is negotiating a two-year contract extension with the company.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 12, 2006 Floyd County Times
Criminal activity continued to plague Otter Creek Correctional Center this week with the arrest of their drug counselor on charges of drug trafficking. Tanya J. Crum, 32, of Martin, was arraigned in circuit court Monday after being served with an indictment warrant that morning at Otter Creek. The indictment alleges that Crum sold methadone on March 29 and also charges her with complicity to commit trafficking on the same day alongside Kimberly Goble, 34, of Langley. Commonwealth's Attorney Brent Turner noted that investigators in the case were grateful to the aid of Otter Creek Warden Joyce Arnold, who cooperated fully with the investigation. Arnold also saw a guard from her facility arrested last week and charged with sexual abuse for allegedly inducing an inmate to perform oral sex on him in exchange for food and candy. Joint investigations conducted by the Floyd County Drug Task Force and the Kentucky Bureau of Investigation saw a total of five individuals arrested on drug trafficking charges this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 12, 2005 AP
A financially strapped eastern Kentucky town is threatening to file a lawsuit against Otter Creek Correctional Center, the private prison that briefly closed this year. At issue is a $10,000-a month payment that Otter Creek's parent company, Corrections Corporation of America, had been paying to the city. Otter Creek, which was holding inmates from Indiana under a contract with that state, stopped making the payments earlier this year. The prison fell on hard times and closed for a month after Indiana recalled the inmates. In July, the Kentucky Department of Corrections signed a contract with the prison and moved 450 female prisoners into the facility, but the prison did not resume the monthly payments to the city. City Clerk Mary Ann Slone said Wheelwright's general fund annual budget of $196,455 is strained without the payments from the prison. She said she expected at least $64,800 this year. That would have been about a third of the overall general fund budget. In year's past, the payments amounted to $120,000, she said. Mayor David Sammons said the city is considering a lawsuit against Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA, because he said the company had agreed to pay Wheelwright 50 cents a day per inmate. "Now, they refuse to pay us ... , he said. Wheelwright is one of the state's smallest towns, and has just one police officer. It has a population of about 1,000, including the inmates at the prison. Chelli R. Jones, an attorney for CCA, said the payments the company had made to Wheelwright in the past were simply a "goodwill gesture." Jones said CCA began making the monthly payments in 1999. "Then, as now, CCA wanted to maintain a positive relationship with the community," Jones said. Sammons said the city is considering assuming ownership of the prison. He contends that a deed allows the city to assume ownership of the prison if it stops operating as a minimum-security facility. The prison began operating as a medium-security lockup in 1999. The deed, Jones said in a letter, clearly states that the city cannot take the property unless the prison ceases operation for two years and if the prison failed to keep enough prisoners to employ at least 30 people. Floyd County Judge-Executive Paul Hunt Thompson has said that the county would lose about $100,000 a year because of CCA's decision to stop making the incentive payment.

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

July 14, 2005 Kentucky Herald
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) (NYSE:CXW), the nation's largest provider of corrections management services to government agencies, announced today that it has entered into a new agreement with the state of Kentucky to house some of that state's female inmates at the Company's owned and operated Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Kentucky. CCA presently manages nearly 1,200 male inmates for Kentucky at two CCA facilities located in Kentucky. Under the agreement between CCA and the Kentucky Department of Corrections, CCA will manage up to 400 female inmates at the 656-bed, recently-vacant Otter Creek facility. This facility previously housed Indiana inmates until May of 2005, when the inmate population was returned to the state. The Company expects to begin receiving prisoners at the facility on or before September 1, 2005. The terms of the contract include an initial two-year period, with four (4) two-year renewal options. and operated T. Don Hutto Correctional Center located in Taylor, Texas, effective early September 2005. The decision was based on the Company's assessment of near-term customer demand, primarily the United States Marshals Service (USMS). The facility currently houses approximately 100 USMS inmates, some of which will be transferred to other CCA facilities. CCA will work closely with the USMS to facilitate a smooth transfer of the inmates to other facilities. CCA will immediately begin pursuing opportunities to fill the vacant space.

July 12, 2005 Kentucky Herald
FRANKFORT - State prison officials said they expect to sign a deal Wednesday that will pay Corrections Corp. of America to house 400 female inmates in Floyd County.  The private company, based in Nashville, already owns and operates two prisons in Kentucky for male inmates. With the addition of this third facility, a now-vacant prison, it would hold 1,616 felons, or 12 percent of the state inmate population  The contract could be worth an estimated $7.9 million a year, although the Corrections Department -- run by Commissioner John Rees, a former CCA vice president -- declined yesterday to disclose the terms, saying they are under final review.  State officials also would not say whether CCA was the sole bidder.  CCA is one of the region's biggest political contributors, having given more than $200,000 on the state and federal levels in recent years, including donations to Gov. Ernie Fletcher, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and U.S. Reps. Hal Rogers and Anne Northup, all Republicans.  The Fletcher administration previously tried to award a management contract to CCA for the 961-bed state prison in Elliott County that opened last week. But Democratic state legislators from the area blocked that move, arguing that taxpayers built the prison and should not give it away.  Some of those same legislators yesterday said they had been unaware of plans to award the Floyd County contract to CCA, and they called for public scrutiny.  "I'm always concerned about putting a prison population in the hands of a for-profit corporation, when you start thinking about the inmates' food, health care and safety," said Rep. Robin Webb, D-Grayson, a member of the House budget subcommittee that funds the prison system.  "With CCA, you have to look especially because of its political ties," Webb said. "Privatization is payback, it's political patronage, let's face it, and that troubles me." b The state asked for a prison for 400 medium-security, female inmates by Sept. 1, with a two-year contract that can be renewed. The state agreed to keep most seriously ill inmates, whose health care can be costly, in its own custody. And despite the potential vulnerability of female inmates, it said that both male and female guards would be acceptable in routine and emergency situations.

May 20, 2005 Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
A private prison in eastern Kentucky is facing closure after losing its contract to hold 650 inmates from Indiana, but a possible deal with the Kentucky Department of Corrections could keep it open. Inmates at Otter Creek Correctional Center are being returned to Indiana prisons, said Steve Owen, spokesman for the Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the medium-security prison at Wheelwright in Floyd County. “Most are already gone,” Owen said. “Within a matter of days that institution will be completely empty of inmates.” Unless CCA quickly lands a contract to hold inmates, about 150 employees could join the already long unemployment rolls in eastern Kentucky. They already have been notified that layoffs are coming. The Indiana Department of Correction notified CCA in February of its intent to house the inmates in Indiana prisons. Since then, Owen said, CCA has been attempting to land a contract with another state to house prisoners. Indiana no longer needed to make out-of-state placement of prisoners because two new prisons had opened in the state, creating about 1,800 new beds. Some Indiana legislators questioned the contract with Otter Creek, saying those inmates should be kept in Indiana. When the contract expired in January, Indiana corrections officials didn’t renew it.

May 19, 2005 WYMT
More than 100 jobs may be in jeopardy at one correctional facility in our region. Otter Creek in Floyd County employs around 175 people. The facility lost nearly 600 of their inmates after they were transferred back to Indiana. Some employees are worried about their futures if the center can't fill vacant space. For the last five years inmates from Indiana have occupied the Otter Creek Correctional Facility in Floyd County, but on Friday the remaining 24 will be moving back to Indiana. When officials at Otter Creek found out Indiana had room for the inmates that had been housed in their facility, they started notifying employees about what could happen.

February 28, 2005 Yahoo
Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW - News) announced today that it has received notification from the Indiana Department of Corrections of its intent to return to Indiana approximately 620 male Indiana inmates currently housed at the Company's Otter Creek Correctional Center in Wheelwright, Kentucky. The Company is working with Indiana corrections officials on plans to return the inmates to the Indiana corrections system by the end of May 2005. CCA is pursuing opportunities with a number of potential customers, including the Kentucky Department of Corrections, to fill the vacant space. However, if the Company is unable to obtain a new agreement it intends to implement a phased closure of the Otter Creek facility that will coincide with the return of Indiana inmates. The Company estimates the impact, resulting from the loss of the Indiana inmates, will be approximately $0.05 per diluted share for 2005.

October 29, 2004 Indy Star
Tucked deep within the hills of Appalachia in southeastern Kentucky, the Otter Creek Correctional Center is home to 654 Hoosier inmates, even as the state of Indiana has more than 2,000 prison beds sitting empty. But with two prisons -- the Miami Correctional Facility and New Castle Correctional Facility -- capable of holding more inmates, spending millions of dollars on an out-of-state private company has become a hot issue in the governor's race. When the Indiana General Assembly passed its budget bill in the spring of 2003, lawmakers said the two prison facilities -- the state's newest -- would fill the same number of beds in 2004 that they did in 2003. That meant the state couldn't fill new space available at both Indiana prisons, which have undergone nearly $200 million worth of work over the past four years. The legislative action forced the state to renew its contract with Corrections Corporation of America, a Tennessee-based company that owns the Otter Creek Correctional Center. Phase II of the Miami Correctional facility, which has room for about 1,600 prison beds, was finished in the fall of 2002 at a cost of more than $67 million, and it sits half empty. The prison currently holds 2,125 inmates. The New Castle Correctional Facility, at a cost of more than $118 million, was finished in the fall of 2001, and has room for 1,296 prisoners. It now holds 375 prisoners.

August 19, 2002
As many as 700 former corrections workers could receive a share of $14 million or more in damages, following a federal judge's ruling last week that two executives of U.S. Corrections Corp. violated their duty to safeguard the company's pension plan.   Until 1998, U.S. Corrections operated private prisons in Kentucky.   U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman ruled July 29 in Louisville that Robert McQueen and Milton Thompson created an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP, to maintain control of the company and purchased securities with plan funds without determining their fair market value.   Coffman declined to assess damages, leaving it to an independent expert to review the value of U.S. Corrections stock that McQueen and Thompson authorized the plan to buy in 1993. Plaintiffs alleged the two men - who also served as plan trustees - paid too much for the stock, costing the plan $14.8 million plus interest.   The "special master'' has six months to determine the amount of any damages.   McQueen and Thompson were officers of U.S. Corrections in 1993 when they established the plan to buy out J. Clifford Todd, the company's cofounder.   The ESOP borrowed $34.4 million to repurchase two-thirds of the company's outstanding shares.   Todd later went to prison after admitting he paid nearly $200,000 in bribes to the former head of the Jefferson County Jail.  In a 49-page opinion, Coffman wrote that McQueen and Thompson "were unable to transcend their corporate mindset and act solely and exclusively for those participants.''   Corrections Corp. of America, a Nashville private prison operator, acquired U.S. Corrections in 1998. It reached a separate settlement with the plaintiffs for $575,000 before the trial.  (The Courier-Journal)

August 18, 2001
A nine-hour riot by Indiana inmates being held at an eastern Kentucky prison last month caused $14,000 in damage, prison officials say.  The new warden at Otter Creek Correctional Center at Wheelwright said the facility's former supervisors failed to adjust to a tougher classification of inmates in January 2000 when the prison, which had been a minimum-security facility for Kentucky inmates, began taking medium-security prisoners from Indiana.  "As far as I can tell, and I'm at the mercy of my staff, things just never changed,"  Warden Randy Stovall said.  "There were no new rules or procedures put into place."  (AP)

August 16, 2001
The Indiana Department of Correction has an obligation to keep the public informed about big news that breaks behind prison walls, especially when it involves inmates assigned to unfamiliar facilities in other states.  That did not happen when a riot broke out last month at a private prison in Wheelwright, Ky., run by Corrections Corp. of America, where more than 550 Indiana inmates are housed.  During a nine-hour rampage beginning the evening of July 5, more than 400 Indiana prisoners took over several buildings, threw rocks at officials, smashed glass, tossed commodes, sinks and television sets out windows and burned clothes.  The melee at the Otter Creek Correctional Facility in southeastern Kentucky wasn't brought under control until 3:30 a.m. the next day when officers fired shots and threatened to put down the insurrection with deadly force. Nearly 100 state police and deputy sheriffs were called in as backup. There were no major injuries, but there was extensive property damage which will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix.  (The Indianapolis Star)

July 18, 2001
The warden and his top assistant were fired at a privately operated prison where inmates rioted two weeks ago.  William Wolford was fired last week as warden at Otter Creek Correctional Complex in Floyd County because of policy violations, said Steve Owen, a spokesperson for Corrections Corp. of America.  Wolford's top assistant, David Carroll, was fired a couple of days later for the same reasons, Owen said.  (AP)

July 9, 2001
Special response teams were preparing to move in when inmates surrendered control of four dormitories at the medium-security Otter Creek Correctional Center in Floyd County early Friday morning, officials said.  Some inmates hurled rocks and other objects at guards during the nine-hour uprising that started in the recreation yard, said Don Burke, spokesperson for the private prison owned by Corrections Corp. of America in Nashville, Tenn.  "They destroyed everything they could get their hands on, but no one was seriously injured," Burke said.  (Evansville Courier & Press)

July 7, 2001
Rioting inmates surrendered Friday morning after taking control of four dormitories Thursday evening at the medium-security Otter Creek Correctional Center in Floyd County.  "They destroyed everything they could get their hands on, but no one was seriously injured," said Don Burke, spokesperson for the private prison owned by Corrections Corp. of America in Nashville, Tenn.  Burke said negotiators were able to convince the inmates to give up peaceably after about nine hours.  The prison, originally designated for minimum security inmates, switched to medium security last year.  Kentucky State Police said troopers were sent from Pikeville, Morehead and Hazard to surround the outside of the prison to help guard against escapes.  (AP) 

River City Correctional Center
Jefferson County, Kentucky
Community Corrections Corporation of America

August 19, 2002
A woman who alleges a private corrections company was to blame for a 1999 assault on her by one of its inmates has settled a civil lawsuit against the company for $500,000.  Libby Doom filed her suit against River City Correctional Center, which is now defunct, and its owner, Community Corrections Corp. of America, in 2000.  She alleged that her former boyfriend, William Hayden, assaulted her in December 1999 after an employee at River City told Hayden that he'd been indicted on new charges of sodomizing Doom and burglarizing her home.  At the time, Hayden was serving a one-year sentence at River City on a 1997 rape conviction, but was allowed out during the day on work release.  One day after the indictment, a River City employee called Hayden and told him that he faced new charges and a $50,000 bond, according to the court records.  Hayden fled, and two days later abducted Doom in a Southern Indiana hotel parking lot and then assaulted and threatened her, according to the lawsuit.  She later persuaded him to release her.  (The Courier-Journal)

Wackenhut Extradition
Simpsonville, Kentucky
November 8, 2004 Shelby Sentinel-News
State police released the name of the man who was captured Thursday evening near Simpsonville after he escaped from a unit transporting him to jail in Lexington. Sean Leigh Miller, 27, of Lexington, was charged with first-degree escape and third-degree assault after he broke out of handcuffs, waist belt and ankle shackles when Wackenhut Extradition officers made a routine stop at the Pilot gas station. Miller is accused of assaulting a transport officer and escaping on foot.

Warren County Jail
Warren, Kentucky

Aramark
September 24, 2009 WBKO
A Bowling Green woman was put behind bars and two inmates remain there, after local authorities break up a drug smuggling ring at the Warren County Regional Jail. Following a joint investigation by Warren County Jailer Jackie Strode and the Bowling Green/Warren County Drug Task Force, indictments were returned charging Aramark employee Georgia Mueller with trafficking in cocaine and promoting contraband. Two inmates were also charged with complicity to traffic in a controlled substance and complicity to promote contraband. Tracie Reeder was arrested September 18, and Scottie Thomas was arrested September 21 in a halfway house in Lexington by Kentucky State Police. The investigation revealed cash was being paid to smuggle cocaine, marijuana and tobacco into the jail and then distribute it to inmates.

February 25, 2004
Warren County Regional Jail is not alone in the problems it faces.  Issues like budget deficits, rising medical costs, and inadequate staffing are shared by jails across the state, as discovered in a meeting with jailers and county representatives Tuesday at the Sloan Convention Center.  Warren County Jailer Jackie Strode, accompanied by District 2 Magistrate Cedric Burnam and District 1 Magistrate James “Doc” Kaelin, expressed his hope that the meeting would provide further education about jail issues.  Kaelin said the facility’s budget situation is impaired by the state government’s decision to house more state inmates in private jails. That costs the state about $39 per inmate per day. County facilities will house a state inmate for only $26.51 per day, down from $27.51 per day last year.  “Hopefully, under the new administration in Frankfort, we can remedy that issue,” Kaelin said. “We have the room for them, yet they are still sending inmates to private jails and we are sitting there with empty beds. We could be getting that much more money per day to help run the jail.”  (BG daily news)

January 26, 2003
The state's budget crisis already has cut into the amount of free work Warren County gets from its inmates, Jailer Jackie Strode told Warren County Fiscal Court on Friday.  Kentucky has a contract with the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America to house inmates in two of its facilities.  Out of its 16,600 prisoners, the state currently lodges about 1,100 in the two private prisons.  County jailers will be asking the General Assembly to break that contract, sending more inmates back to county jails, Strode said.  "We were told by the Department of Corrections that they couldn't cancel the contract," he said.  "Well, I don't believe it."  (Bowling Green Daily News)

January 16, 2003
Warren County will release 13 more inmates Friday as part of Gov. Paul Patton's early release program.  A total of 328 inmates had been approved for release.  Jailers say the releases are a burden on county budgets and could be a problem for society when those released commit more crimes and are sent back to jail.  This latest move will cost Warren County about $60,000 in the short term, ultimately costing much more in terms of anticipated revenues, according to Warren County Jailer Jackie Strode.  Strode said the Kentucky Jailers' Association, of which he is sergeant-at-arms, has sent a resolution to lawmakers and the governor urging the state to first cancel contracts with private prisons.  State Rep. Roger Thomas, D-Smiths Grove, said the state has included some of those private prison inmates in the last release.  (Bowling Green Daily News)