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Abraxas I
Children's Resource Center
Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania
Sep 5, 2014 pennlive.com

A teen charged with killing his cousin was unshackled during a bathroom break just before his escape from custody in early August, a Dauphin County official said. Chad Libby, county probation services director, said from what he understands of Abraxas Youth and Family Services's protocol, Niejea Franklin Stern's legs should have remained shackled Aug. 5 when he asked to use the restroom during a visit to the Children's Resource Center in uptown Harrisburg. Libby said Stern's hands remained handcuffed to a belt, but the 15-year-old happened to be right next to an exit door "when he took off from staff." "He's fast," Libby said. "The juvenile got from uptown to the south side in less than 30 minutes with handcuffs on." Stern had been in the custody and care of Abraxas at a secure treatment facility in New Morgan for high-risk youths since April 28, Libby said. Before being adjudicated, he had been in secure detention facility starting in May 1, 2013. Libby said, as per best practices, Stern's shackles shouldn't have been removed. During an interview Tuesday, Libby couldn't speak for the verbiage in Abraxas Youth and Family Services' policy as he didn't have a copy of it on hand, but he said he's aware of Abraxas's protocol from talking with the company. "The reason I don't need a copy – I know that that's the protocol talking with Abraxas," Libby said. "That is their protocol. The shackles should have never came off." "This is not a common occurrence. It's very, very rare," Libby said. "This is unfortunately due to ... protocol of placement staff not being followed." Libby said he wouldn't be able to give a copy of Abraxas Youth and Family Services' policy to PennLive. PennLive has filed Right-to-Know requests with Dauphin County for Abraxas' policies related to programs for juvenile offenders, as well as its contract with the county. When asked about Libby's claim that Stern's shackles shouldn't have been removed, Pablo Paez of The GEO Group of Florida, said via email that Abraxas Youth and Family Services couldn't comment beyond a provided email statement due to the "ongoing nature" of its investigation into the matter. The company's statement did not address leg shackles. It said Stern "was able to abscond while wearing handcuffs" during a visit to the Children's Resource Center. "This is the first time a youth has escaped while in our Secure Detention or Treatment custody," Abraxas Youth and Family Services' statement said. "We are working with authorities and conducting an investigation and review of procedures to determine if additional safeguards can be implemented."  The statement also noted the company has worked with Dauphin County for 38 years. In the last year, the company had "cared for 329 youth" from the county. "Abraxas runs very, very good programs," Libby said. "This is an isolated incident unfortunately, and we're working with them to make sure it doesn't happen again." Two weeks after his escape, police claim Stern shot Malik Stern-Jones, who happened to be Stern's cousin. Relatives, however, have told PennLive that Stern didn't know he was related to Stern-Jones when the shooting occurred. Stern was charged Aug. 20 with homicide in the incident. District Attorney Ed Marsico said via email that Stern's preliminary hearing that had been scheduled for Friday wasn't held and a new date hadn't yet been set. Libby said Stern's escape "doesn't reflect poorly" on the county's probation services. "We do good work," Libby said. We deal with 800 offenders. We have a staff that's committed," Libby said. "We can't hit a home run with every kid to be successful." The county's probation services for juveniles and adults works with more than 100 providers for community based to residential to secure treatment programs, Libby said. While it's been typical in the last couple of years to have less than eight juveniles that have an "AWOL" status any time, those cases typically are low- to moderate-risk offenders. Most of those have run away from home. Stern's incident, Libby said, was "isolated" in that sense that it involved the escape of "a high-risk youth placed in a secure-treatment facility." "That is very, very uncommon," Libby said. When Stern escaped Aug. 5, probation officers and Harrisburg police immediately began searching for him. Libby said Stern's mother also was cooperative and called staff after Stern first made contact at home. "We probably had, I think, 10 attempts in those two weeks and two times we had an actual visual on him, but he's fast. The kid got away," Libby said. "We tried to apprehend him, and he was able to get away." Libby said the county would continue to contract with Abraxas for services and it's working with Abraxas to put an enhanced protocol in place concerning transporting juveniles. Additionally, Dauphin County probation's investigation into the incident is almost complete, Libby said Tuesday. "At the conclusion of the investigation, we'll be sitting down with [Abraxas'] administrative team to discuss it," he said.


Aug 27, 2014 pennlive.com

   Dauphin County probation officials are looking into how the 15-year-old charged in the shooting death of Malik Stern-Jones escaped from authorities' custody Aug. 5. Also looking into the escape is Abraxas Youth and Family Services, in whose custody Niejea Stern had been Aug. 5 when he escaped while at the Children's Resource Center in Harrisburg for questioning, said Pablo Paez of the GEO Group of Florida, who responded for Abraxas. "This was a unique and unfortunate situation which is currently under investigation. Abraxas has had no other escapes from secure detention or secure treatment programs," Paez said, adding the company has had a 38-year partnership with Dauphin County. Amy Richards Harinath, county spokeswoman, said the teen was in custody of Abraxas Youth and Family Services personnel, with whom the county contracts for services. "No county probation officers were present," she said. Jeffrey Haste, chairman of the county commissioners, said anytime there is an escape, whether from work release or other custody, the county reviews procedures and how they occurred. Niejea Stern, charged Aug. 20 with homicide in the shooting death Aug. 19 of Malik Stern-Jones in Hall Manor, escaped at the Children's Resource Center, where he had been taken for an interview on an unrelated matter, District Attorney Ed Marsico said Tuesday. Stern was serving time in a juvenile detention center in connection with a robbery charge, Marsico said. Haste said from what he has been told, detention officers "did mostly everything they normally do. The kid was a persistent kid." He said Chad Libby, county probation services director, is looking into the matter. Marsico said Stern's legs were unshackled, but not his wrists, when he asked to use the bathroom. He fled, eluding detention guards and police. Haste said the escapes are among other matters scrutinized when the county's contract with Abraxas comes up for review annually.


Abraxas I Youth and Family Services Center

Marienville, Pennsylvania
Cornell

February 22, 2008 The Derrick
Two Philadelphia men were charged for their actions during separate riots that broke out this week at Cornell Abraxas I in Marienville. State police said Joseph Clark, 18, and Lenny Scott Cabrera, 18, were involved in both riots that occurred at the facility Monday and Tuesday. Clark was charged with one count of aggravated assault and two counts of riot, police said. They said Cabrera was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of riot. Both men were arraigned before District Judge George F. Gregory in Tionesta. They were placed in the Warren County jail on $25,000 bail. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Tuesday. Police said three juveniles involved in both riots and five other involved in the Monday riot will face similar charges.

January 11, 2007 The Courier Express
In a last-ditch effort to forestall a strike, representatives of Abraxas I and members of PSSU Local 668 have agreed to meet Friday, according to a press release issued by Abraxas Wednesday. Abraxas I is planning to operate through any strike with qualified employees from other facilities and all employees who want to continue to work, according to the press release. "Any employee who wishes to work may do so at the current wages, benefits and other terms or conditions of employment," the release said. "Abraxas I will not implement its final offer until an agreement is reached." Abraxas I has informed its client-referring agencies about the strike and the company's plans to operate in the interim. It has also decided to stop admitting new residents and plans to accelerate the discharge of residents who are approved for discharge by the courts, said the press release. On Jan. 3, Abraxas Youth and Family Services received notification that the members of SEIU Local 668 rejected the company's offer of Dec. 21. Local 668 also issued a 10-day strike notice, which indicates it plans to strike at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. James Newsome, program director at Abraxas I, said, "We are very disappointed that the union and its members rejected this offer. It was a very fair offer given the economic realities of the Youth and Family Services business. "Our most recent offer includes wage increases ranging from 8.5 percent to 12.25 percent over the proposed three-year agreement," he said. "While we propose increases in employee contributions for medical benefits, our wage proposal also ensures that all employees would receive a real wage increase to offset the increased employee medical contribution. Our request for increased employee medical contributions is consistent with what many unions and employers have agreed to in the face of rising costs of health care." Abraxas I proposes maintaining an HMO medical plan for current employees, but employees hired after ratification would only be able to participate in a PPO plan. Newsome said the HMO plan is a very expensive benefit. "The only way we can continue to afford to provide the HMO is to make it available for current employees only," he said. "The union recognized the fairness of our economic proposals, because they told us that if we were willing to agree to a union shop or fair share - union security - they would recommend ratification. We refused to agree to a union shop or fair share because we believe employees should have a right to decide for themselves whether they wish to belong to the union and pay union dues, not be forced to do so," Newsome said. Abraxas I houses approximately 274 adolescents and provides drug and alcohol counseling, as well as operating a private school, for its residents.

Abraxas Center
Forest, Pennsylvania
Cornell

July 8, 2004
A Tamaqua 16-year-old, who was committed to a juvenile center after being charged with shooting a friend in the face with a gun he stole from a borough pawn shop, escaped after attending a funeral Wednesday, police said.  Duane R. Allen II was court-ordered to attend the funeral and told two workers taking him back to the Cornell Abraxas center in Marienville, Forest County, that he was sick, state police at Hazleton said.  The workers stopped about 2:30 p.m. at Pilot Truck Stop in Sugarloaf Township, Luzerne County, where Allen fled from the worker accompanying him to the restroom, police said.  (The Morning Call)

Abraxas Youth and Family Services,
Washington County Juvenile Probation Office,
Pennsylvania
aug 28, 2014  observer-reporter.com

A report issued following the investigation into allegations of unethical practices at Washington County Juvenile Probation Office failed to address concerns raised by a former county employee who claims he was fired in retaliation for exposing the situation, his attorney said. The investigation, which was ordered by Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts after Washington County President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca received an unsigned letter alleging unethical and unprofessional behavior by the department heads of the juvenile probation office, was completed in the summer of 2012. It was later discovered that David Scrip, 53, of Monongahela, wrote the letter alleging the county’s chief probation officer, Daniel Clements, was coercing subordinates to make inappropriate recommendations to place children at a treatment center where his girlfriend worked. Scrip believed the relationship was a conflict of interest, and Clements coerced recommendations to have children placed at Abraxas Youth and Family Services to benefit his girlfriend, Beth Stutzman, whose job it was to solicit juvenile probation departments to send children to her company’s facilities, the letter states. Scrip filed a whistleblower lawsuit last week, claiming he was “unlawfully fired” after exposing the situation. Noah Geary, Scrip’s attorney, said the investigation failed to focus on allegations raised by Scrip. Instead, it focused on a single line in Scrip’s seven-page letter, in which he states the staff does not want to be involved in a “similar Luzerne County Juvenile Probation scandal.” The reference is to the 2011 “Kids for Cash” scandal in Luzerne County, where two judges were accused of accepting money from a builder of juvenile facilities in return for contracting with the facilities and imposing lengthy juvenile sentences. “It does not even address whether or not Clements was in a relationship with Stutzman,” Geary said of the report. “This is the premise of the whole situation. This Rieland guy did not even interview Stutzman.” The report, which was obtained by the Observer-Reporter, was written by James Rieland and determined there was no “cash for kids scheme operating in Washington County,” the document indicates. Rieland’s position and background were not contained in the report, and an AOPC spokesman declined to comment on how individuals are chosen to conduct investigations. The AOPC also declined to provide the report. The report determined no one from the JPO or the court gained personally or financially by placing youth at Abraxas, that the members of the JPO understand the acceptance of gifts is inappropriate and in violation of court policy and there was no “substantial increase” in placements at Abraxas. The report also notes it is not unusual for a court employee to resign and accept a position with a service provider, as Stutzman did. However, the report does not address whether there was a relationship between Clement and Stutzman or if such a relationship would constitute a conflict of interest. Pablo Paez, the vice president of corporate relations for The GEO Group, Inc., the Florida-based parent company for Abraxas, said Abraxas received youth placements from Washington County since 1981. “This alleged conflict of interest was fully investigated approximately two years ago by the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts, and the investigation did not substantiate these allegations,” Paez said in an email. Among others, Rieland interviewed O’Dell Seneca, former county Judge Janet Moschetta Bell, former juvenile Master Dennis Paluso and former court administrator Christine Weller. All of the probation officers were also interviewed, the report shows. Stutzman was not questioned. Various county officials said they were unaware of the allegations or the AOPC investigation until the lawsuit was filed. The investigation also reviewed the number of Washington juveniles placed at the facility. During the interview process, Rieland noted “several people interviewed stated that in the last nine months, probation officers were making more recommendations for Abraxas than in the past.” It was also noted in the report not all of the recommendations were accepted by the court. “If the court was not satisfied with the rationale of the JPO, the court offered another residential program,” Rieland said in the report. “This is the way it is supposed to work. The JPO makes a recommendation, testimony is taken and the court enters an order.” Fiscal payments made to the top seven treatment providers for the JPO over a three-year period were provided in the report. In 2009-10, the report claims Washington County paid Abraxas $507,896; in 2010-11, $429,207, and, in 2011-12, $433,598. Data provided by Washington County Controller Mike Namie resembled the AOPC report data. In 2009-10, the JPO spent $511,008 for Abraxas placements. That number dropped to $477,847 in 2010-11, and fell again in 2011-12 to $433,724. There is a discrepancy that the county is unable to explain for the 2010-11 fiscal year. The AOPC reports a smaller expense from that year than the county. Namie said he did not receive a Right To Know request from the AOPC for the data, and he did not know who provided it. The report notes there can be “substantial variation in payments from year to year.” The variation can be a result of changes in needs, program options, problems with service provider’s performance or a shift in philosophy, like a move toward shorter placement. Rieland did find an increase in payments from Washington County to another treatment facility, Mid-Atlantic. In 2009, the county paid the treatment center $42,792. The AOPC report shows the county did not contract with the facility. In 2011-12, the county paid the center $506,487, the report shows. The AOPC report concurred with the data. Rieland also reported he found no irregularities in the “number of youths placed at Abraxas.” Scrip, in his letter, noted in the two years prior to Stutzman’s employment with Abraxas, just 14 of the department’s 82 placements were at Abraxas. Between September 2011, when Stutzman accepted a position with Abraxas, and April 2012, 20 of the 50 placements went to Abraxas, the letter stated. The Observer-Reporter filed a Right To Know request for the placement data with the county. The requested data showed 86 Washington County youths, both male and female, were placed with Abraxas between 2009 and present. Secondary findings in the report included poor office morale, a lack of transparency in management decisions and poor organizational communication, among other things. The report showed the majority of the staff interviews described a “stressful work environment where they fear for their jobs or other subtle means of punishment.” Rieland noted in the report the “environment is most certainly part of the reason why one or more JPOs authored the unsigned letter.” “Management by fear is not productive and most likely negatively impacts the services to youth and families,” Rieland said in the report. “Real or perceived, the current work environment is not productive or heathy.” Rieland could not be reached for comment. Washington County Court Administrator Patrick Grimm declined to comment. Of the AOPC report, Washington County Commission Chairman Larry Maggi said, “We have not gotten a copy. Juvenile probation is under the judges of the Court of Common Pleas. We have no input except that it’s taxpayer-funded. “We have no say on hiring, firing or management of employees. That’s all (up to) the president judge. It’s under the court system. We didn’t know what was going on. We weren’t briefed on it. It’s been made very clear the commissioners have no say in those matters.” The board of commissioners was aware Scrip filed for unemployment compensation, but Maggi said the other members of the board of commissioners were not privy to background information about his case. “When the county is sued, we get a copy of the lawsuit,” Maggi continued. “We were not made aware of that until after it was filed. We are not in the chain of command of the probation office. We were not in the loop.”

Adams County Jail
Adams County, Pennsylvania
Aramark

March 26, 2009 The Evening Sun
Adams County will soon get into the culinary business - in jail. Starting in June, the county will be providing its own food service at Adams County Prison. The current contractor, Aramark Food Services, chose to cancel its contract with the county effective June 18. County Solicitor John Hartzell said the contract allowed for Aramark to choose not to renew with 90 days notice. The contractor planned on raising its rates by 25 cents per meal per prisoner, about a 5 percent increase. The county did not agree with the rate hike, believing they could do the job cheaper, or at least at the same cost as the contractor prior to the hike, Commissioner George Weikert said. Commissioners also said prison officials were not happy with the quality of the food served by Aramark. Weikert said several factors have been taken into account in starting a county service, including cost, food quality and nutritional value. Commissioner Glenn Snyder said some of the cost will be curtailed with the county in control because the county can use vegetables grown in the prison's new garden. Vegetables from the garden were used last year, but there was no reduction in the contractor's cost.

Allegheny Academy
Allegheny, Pennsylvania
The Academy System

September 14, 2003
Drastic disciplinary action has been taken at The Academy in the wake of the car crash death of a 17-year-old boy from York County who died after he escaped from the juvenile center Sept. 14.  Attempts also are being made to prevent future escapes from the facility, which has experienced a rash of runaways since April, said Joe Daugerdas, executive director of The Academy, formerly known as Allegheny Academy.  But he declined to specify actions because the state Department of Welfare is investigating the Sept. 14 incident in which Troy Lake of Dallastown, York County, escaped and was killed when he crashed a stolen car on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Somerset.  Lake was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:40 a.m., but his absence from The Academy wasn't reported to police until 6:30 a.m., when staffers found his bed was empty.  Daugerdas said he could not say how many employees were disciplined for the oversight, but on the night Lake and two other teens escaped, only one staff member was in charge of making required bed checks every 15 minutes.  That policy has been changed to rotate responsibility for bed checks to everyone working at night, Daugerdas said.  Besides interviewing all eight staff members on duty that night, investigators also talked with the other two escapees, who were picked up on the morning of Sept. 14 in McKees Rocks, he said. The pair spent the night of their escape in the woods behind The Academy and left the area on foot when the sun came up.  Although they shared with investigators details of how the three got away, Daugerdas said he could not make that information public.  Welfare Department spokeswoman Carey Miller said the department's investigation could take up to one month and result in requiring a plan of corrective action or action against its license.  Besides the internal changes, Daugerdas has signed an agreement brokered by James Rieland, Allegheny County juvenile court administrator, that calls for The Academy to call Baldwin Borough police within 10 minutes after a juvenile is discovered missing from the center.  Although that facility is in the Hays section of Pittsburgh, its property abuts a residential Baldwin Borough neighborhood.  The agreement requires The Academy to provide police with the name, age, race, physical description and home address of the escapee, as well as a photo if one is available, and staffers will notify police if and when escapees are found.  The agreement also calls for quarterly meetings between Academy officials and Baldwin police to discuss issues of concern.  Baldwin Borough Police Chief Chris Kelly said he has been trying since April to get Academy officials to discuss what they planned to do about the number of escapes from the facility since that time.  Kelly, who vented some of his frustrations at a Baldwin council meeting the day after Lake's death, claimed that 12 Academy juveniles have escaped in seven incidents since April, including the July 24 escape of two girls from a van driving them to the center.  Daugerdas said eight juveniles have escaped in five incidents and that all except Lake were found and returned.  Kelly has expressed his concerns in recent months in letters to Daugerdas and officials of the county's juvenile court system, which orders delinquent nonviolent offenders to The Academy's day and evening program for rehabilitation.  About 170 nonviolent juvenile offenders are in the program now.  Anne Edwards, an Agnew Road neighbor of The Academy, also has complained. She said she predicted to Daugerdas that nothing would be done about her concerns until someone got hurt. She was not happy last week when that prediction came true.  "I am saddened that it was a child's death that will bring attention to The Academy's lack of supervision and control," she said.  Also at last week's council meeting, a resident of Edward Drive, whose car was stolen by Lake, asked council for some relief from escapees from the Academy. Kelly said it was the second time the family had had a car stolen by a youth from The Academy.  Council approved a motion authorizing Kelly to "take whatever action is necessary to curb the runaways," and to hold The Academy to the promises it originally made to the borough to contact Baldwin police as soon as a juvenile escapes from the center.  Notification didn't always happen with the escapes this spring and summer, he said.  Some were reported to him by Academy officials long after the juveniles escaped and others were reported by residents who spotted the runaways in their bushes and sheds.  Most of the juveniles who have escaped from the facility have been out-of-county youths held temporarily at The Academy in preparation for entering Summit Academy, a residential juvenile facility in Butler County.  Housing the juveniles destined for Summit is an expansion of the original program presented when the facility opened amid much protest in September 1989.  Academy officials stressed at that time that they planned to operate an after-school, day and evening program for nonviolent offenders.  The juveniles would be brought to the center in vans after school and stay through the evening, when they would be returned via vans to their homes.  But about five years ago, The Academy started to house juveniles overnight. Now roughly 50 juveniles are at the center each night. Half of them are like Lake, awaiting a transfer to Summit Academy.  The other half of the overnight population are male juveniles who have broken the rules of the day and evening program and are required as punishment to stay overnight for a period of time.  Those juveniles used to be housed at Shuman Detention Center until Shuman became overcrowded, said Rieland, the county's juvenile court administrator.  He called the day and evening program "a good service provided at a relatively inexpensive cost" and said he still believes it's a safe program for nonviolent juvenile offenders from Allegheny County.  Rieland said The Academy has a good track record, since it has operated for about 20 years -- 14 at the present site -- without a major problem until the recent incident.  If the state takes any action at The Academy, it is likely to be only against the overnight program and not the day and evening program, he said.  (Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette)

September 18, 2003
Joyce Lake had just returned home Sunday evening when she got a call from officials at the Allegheny Academy juvenile detention center asking if she knew where her 17-year-old son Troy was.  "I said, 'Yes, I know where he is. He's at the morgue,' " said Lake, who learned of her son's death from state troopers, who visited her home in Dallastown, York County, at 10 a.m. Sunday.  Lake was killed at around 3:40 a.m. Sunday when he lost control of the stolen car he was driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Somerset. He was thrown from the car when it hit an embankment and was pronounced dead at the scene.  At the time of his death, Lake was supposed to be sleeping at Allegheny Academy in Pittsburgh's Hays section, where he was sent after violating his parole. Lake had been found guilty of stealing an all-terrain vehicle, and then violated his parole by getting caught for underage drinking, his mother said.  But staff members at Allegheny Academy didn't notice his absence until almost three hours after his death and apparently didn't know that he had been killed in a car crash until they talked to his mother at around 7 p.m. Sunday.  It was at 6:30 a.m. Sunday when an employee of Allegheny Academy called Baldwin Borough police to report that three teens had escaped.  Though it is located in Pittsburgh, Allegheny Academy abuts a Baldwin residential neighborhood and academy staff are supposed to alert Baldwin police whenever program participants escape, said Baldwin Police Chief Chris Kelly.  About 15 minutes before academy staff reported the escape, Baldwin police were notified by state police that a car registered to a Baldwin resident was involved in a fatal traffic accident on the turnpike. It turned out to be the car that Lake was driving. The car was stolen from a resident of Edward Drive, located a short distance from the academy, Kelly said.  Kelly said it appears the escapees left the center Saturday night but that their absence wasn't discovered until Sunday morning when it was time for residents to wake up. The other two escapees were picked up in McKees Rocks Sunday morning.  Allegheny Academy Director Joseph Daugerdaus said he is trying to find out why the center's policy of performing bed checks every 15 minutes was not followed Saturday night.  "It's not just open the door and check. Our policy states that you go in and you check to see their skin, to make sure they are really in the bed," Daugerdaus said.  "We have to figure out why the procedure was not followed and why it was not discovered that they were gone. Whoever did not do what they were supposed to do will be terminated," he said.  Daugerdaus said he expects an investigation from the state Department of Welfare as well. All escapes from the center are reported to the department. He said eight employees were on duty at the time -- a number that exceeds the welfare department's requirement of one staff per 16 residents.  Daugerdaus said it was the first time that any program participant who escaped was not caught and returned safely. "What happened is certainly a tragedy and it's definitely an exception and we hope it never happens again," Daugerdaus said.  Daugerdaus said Lake was sent to Allegheny Academy in preparation for being assigned to a residential facility. He was to be transferred to another center within days.  Joyce Lake plans to bury her son today. But after the funeral service she will start her search for answers in her son's death.  "I know he wasn't a perfect kid and he did have some problems. But I don't think he deserved to die. I have a court order that says my son was supposed to be under supervision at all times. That's what they were supposed to be doing for him."  (Post-Gazette.com)

Allegheny County Jail
Allegheny, Pennsylvania
Correctional Medical Services
September 5, 2014 waysandmeans.house.gov

The same issues have been raised at Allegheny County Jail Oversight Board meetings for months, said Common Pleas Judge Joseph Williams, a board member, on Thursday. Medical staff for Corizon Health Inc., the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company, attend the meetings and say that Corizon is understaffing health services at the jail, and that some inmates are not receiving correct medications, or medications on time. Judge Williams questioned whether the issues are related to the ongoing contract negotiations between Corizon and its staff. “If I look at it objectively, this is just a labor dispute,” Judge Williams said, a statement that was met with opposition by health staff members listening to the meeting. The medical staff voted in February to unionize under the United Steelworkers. Judge Williams suggested that an objective third party meet with both groups and return to the oversight board with recommendations. The chair of the oversight board, Judge Donna Jo McDaniel, said she would ask county Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s office to look into that recommendation. “We appreciate the judge’s concern and interest,” said county spokeswoman Amie Downs when reached by phone after the meeting, adding that the county executive’s office would wait to see what the judge’s suggestion was. She said William McKain, the county manager, will continue to monitor the contract Corizon has with the county to ensure that its provisions are met. Mr. McKain has said he meets regularly with Corizon representatives about the jail. Corizon, a for-profit prison health care provider that has an $11.5 million contract with Allegheny County, took over running the jail on Sept. 1, 2013. Since then, the company has been the focus of complaints about the delivery of medication and working conditions. An audit of the contract is underway by the Allegheny County controller’s office. Prior to the oversight board meeting, members of the medical staff and their union representatives gathered in the County Courthouse courtyard for an “information picket” to present their complaints about Corizon. “This is not a hospital. This is a jail,” said Sister Barbara Finch, a nun and registered nurse. But most of the inmates at the jail need some form of medical treatment, and she said Corizon should increase their staffing to better meet inmates’ needs. At the meeting itself, State College hairdresser Bill Harbadin told members of the prison board that his son, in jail for DUI charges, did not receive the Lithium he needed for his bipolar treatment for 21 days after arriving at the jail in May. Orlando Harper, the warden for the jail, said he would address operational concerns the staff brings to him. “We are confident in our staffing levels to meet patient care requirements, including giving out required medications on schedule,” said Corizon spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern in an email. She said patient confidentially issues prevented her from speaking about the bipolar medication case. Corizon has about 147 employees at the jail, as well as regional support staff. She said Corizon believes on-site labor management meetings, begun this week, will aid in resolving differences between employees and management. “This is not a labor dispute,” said Randa Ruge, an organizer for the Steelworkers union. She said the issue is health care workers advocating for the supply and medication to do their jobs.


Jun 8, 2014 post-gazette.com

Nurses tasked with medicating nearly 700 inmates per shift at the infirmary at the Allegheny County Jail are not sleeping at night due to "trepidation" over facing their daily workload, their colleagues testified Thursday before the county's Jail Oversight Board. Board members said they want to form a subcommittee to examine staffing concerns and questions about inmate care arising after Corizon Health Inc. took over management of the infirmary Sept. 1. Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams III -- presiding over the meeting in the absence of Judge Donna Jo McDaniel, board president and Common Pleas judge -- said county officers, board members and Corizon officials could "put their heads together" and come up with strategies to present at the board's next meeting, scheduled for September. He said he believes Judge McDaniel intends to have these discussions over the summer. "This is the third time I've been here, and I've heard innuendo that care is being compromised," Judge Williams said. "I'm not interested in Corizon's philosophy of care. I'm interested in dealing with the reduction in staff and smaller inventory of drugs available." Two nurses at the infirmary, Teresa Latham and Sister Barbara Finch, said nurses dispensing medication are responsible for six or seven pods apiece, each of which includes 100 inmates. Because nurses do not pre-pour the medication, they said, rounds are considerably arduous and time-consuming. Corizon officials presented board members with a health services report detailing improvements in intake procedure and pre-screening. Jail medical director Michael Patterson said doctors are working with the Allegheny County Health Department to develop more comprehensive screenings for sexually transmitted infections. Currently the infirmary only screens based on symptoms presented. That practice may miss a portion of the jail's "high-risk population," he said. Dr. Patterson added that a persistent concern is the long waiting list for referral for psychiatric care at Torrance State Hospital. Close to 20 inmates are currently awaiting mental health treatment at the state hospital, though that number has recently been as high as 30 or 40, Corizon officials said. Though Corizon's mental health director recently resigned, the Tennessee-based firm is looking for a replacement, officials said. They also reassured board members that a mental health nurse is available at the jail even off-shift and during weekends. "Recruitment is not the same as hiring," Marion Damick, the Pittsburgh representative of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, said in frustration. Board member Claire Walker, former executive director of the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation, thanked Corizon officials for the report, saying the level of attention and transparency was "so much better" than when the for-profit firm first took over last fall. No mention was made at Thursday's meeting of the suspension of five jail guards following an incident in which an employee entered the jail with a personal handgun. Ms. Walker said personnel issues are the province of jail management, not the oversight board.


Mar 15, 2014 triblive.com/news

Allegheny County restored the security clearance of a union organizer who worked at the county jail, allowing her to return to her former position, county spokeswoman Amie Downs confirmed Tuesday. Sister Barbara Finch lost her county security clearance at the jail in January, a move she interpreted as a firing. Finch was a lead organizer among employees of Corizon Correctional Healthcare, a Tennessee-based medical contractor that serves the jail. Corizon and the United Steelworkers are expected to begin contract negotiations soon, according to a joint statement from both organizations. In a prepared statement, Corizon's interim chief operating officer, Carla Cesario, said the company had no control over the removal of Finch's security clearance. “We are moving forward and will remain focused on our mission of providing quality care,” Cesario said.


Mar 2, 2014 post-gazette.com

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner announced today that she plans to conduct an audit of the contract between the county and Corizon Health Inc., which was hired last year to run the infirmary at the Allegheny County Jail. Earlier this month, Ms. Wagner sent a letter to the CEO of Tennessee-based Corizon, saying she had “grave and serious concerns” about health care and working conditions at the jail. In a statement from her office today, she said she remains concerned. “I remain gravely concerned by the credible reports our office has received regarding substandard care at the jail,” she said in a statement. “I’ve raised these concerns publicly, including at the Jail Advisory Board and in writing to Corizon. Yet, the responses to my questions have likewise been substandard and certainly not what I would expect from an entity that receives more than $11 million in taxpayer money annually.”

Corizon, which is a national prison health care provider, signed a contract with the county last summer that pays $11.5 million for the first year. Its management of health services at the jail began Sept. 1. The audit will cover the period from Sept. 1 through today. “We have received the letter indicating the Controller wants to conduct an audit," said Corizon spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern. ."It’s important to note that we are working in close partnership with the county and jail leadership to fulfill our mission. Our focus remains on supporting our staff who provide quality care to patients in the jail every day.” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said his office welcome's the audit. "We welcome audits of any department that result in recommendations that add value, are measurable and improve our county operations," county spokeswoman Amie Downs said in a statement. "This contract just was entered into in September of 2013, so it may be difficult to measure its compliance with such a short window being available for review, but we look forward to the results."

 

Feb 15, 2014 triblive.com

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner threatened to penalize the jail's new health care provider if it does not improve its performance. Wagner said her office has received complaints that Tennessee-based Corizon Health Inc. failed to distribute medication and treat inmates with some mental health problems, according to a letter she sent to Corizon CEO Woodrow A. Myers. Corizon started offering care Sept. 1, but its “period of transition” has expired, Wagner wrote in the letter dated Monday. “I regard the current situation as intolerable and outrageous, and I fully expect necessary changes to be urgently implemented,” Wagner wrote. A Corizon spokeswoman said the company plans to respond to Wagner's concerns in writing. “We certainly share her focus on taking good care of patients at the Allegheny County Jail,” spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern said. Wagner, who is on the county's Jail Oversight Board, said the county could impose financial penalties outlined in Corizon's contract. Wagner's office could withhold payments to Corizon and audit its work at the jail, she said. Corizon's five-year contract could cost the county more than $62.55 million. Wagner expected a response soon and said waiting 60 or 90 days would be “stretching it.” Corizon officials did not attend the board's Feb. 6 meeting. Allegheny Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel, head of the oversight board, met with Corizon Tuesday. McDaniel did not return calls. Corizon employees at the jail are to vote Friday on whether to unionize under a branch of the United Steelworkers. Wagner said she supports the efforts of workers to unionize. Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.


Feb 8, 2014 Pittsburg Post-Gazette

A nun who worked for five years as a registered nurse at the Allegheny County Jail infirmary was fired last week for spearheading unionization efforts, an organizer for the United Steelworkers union said Monday. Sister Barbara Finch, a Sister of St. Joseph of Baden, had her security clearances revoked and was dismissed from her job Thursday after she expressed concerns about staffing, safety issues and patient care during meetings at the jail, said Randa Ruge, the union organizer. "It became clear that she was one of the leading activists in the organizing drive," Ms. Ruge said, referring to ongoing unionization efforts at the jail. Ms. Ruge described Sister Barbara as a "sacrificial lamb" and said that the union is "concerned that taxpayer dollars are being used for union-busting." The Steelworkers union on Friday filed an unfair labor practice charge against Corizon Health Inc., the Tennessee-based firm that manages county jail health services. The charge, sent to the National Labor Relation Board, is that Corizon dismissed her in retaliation for participating in union activities. "This is a clear case of intimidation and union-busting at its worst," United Steelworkers International president Leo W. Gerard said in a statement. "Sister Barbara has been an outspoken advocate of change for these courageous workers and their patients, and this kind of illegal and unjust action, unfortunately, is par for the course with Corizon." "It is our policy not to discuss personnel issues in the news media. I can confirm that we abide by all labor laws; if there is a question to address with the NLRB, we will do so," said Susan Morgenstern, a Corizon spokeswoman. An Allegheny County spokeswoman also declined comment. Union members, jail employees and other union advocates held a protest Downtown Monday, bringing attention to Sister Barbara's complaint and making known their support for the right of workers to unionize. Corizon took over management of Allegheny County Jail health services in September, after signing a contract with Allegheny County last summer for $11.4 million a year. Steelworkers representatives have said that, since Corizon took over, they've received reports of bad working conditions. In January, the union filed a labor petition to unionize about 110 members of the Allegheny County Jail medical staff. The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled an election Feb. 14.

 

December 8, 2013 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The company hired to improve health care and cut costs at the Allegheny County Jail has struggled with one of its basic functions -- distributing medicine -- due to difficulties staffing the busy infirmary. Tennessee-based for-profit firm Corizon Health Inc., hired to replace the nonprofit Allegheny Correctional Health Services, would not discuss the problems last week, nor its decision to slash physician staffing at the jail to roughly one-third of its prior level. Emails between county jail staff and Corizon, though, document a string of medication distribution problems that one jail watcher called "terrifying." "I was just informed by the Captain on shift, the majority of the jail has not received medication AT ALL," wrote Deputy Warden Monica Long in an email to Corizon and jail staff on Nov. 17 at 1:03 p.m. "Staffing is at a crisis." The Post-Gazette obtained the internal emails and other documents through a request to the county under the right-to-know law. Asked about the emails on Thursday, following a meeting of the county Jail Oversight Board, Lee Harrington, Corizon vice president of operations, claimed no knowledge of any problems. "We're constantly adjusting our services to make sure that we provide the services as contracted," he said. He declined to detail the adjustments. Reading the emails, frequent jail visitor Marion Damick, the Pittsburgh representative of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, called the problems "abnormal. That never happened under Allegheny [Correctional], never. "That's terrifying, actually. There is absolutely no reason that they would ever miss medication," she said, adding that such shortcomings can only increase costs in the long run. She added that she is "not hearing bad news" about Corizon from inmates to date. Corizon took over the jail infirmary Sept. 1, following a lengthy process meant to pick the successor to Allegheny Correctional. Allegheny Correctional drew a steady stream of lawsuits stemming from inmate deaths and injuries, including some related to alleged failures to give inmates the right medicines. The nonprofit, which ran the infirmary since 2001, also allowed annual costs to creep up to around $12.5 million a year. Corizon agreed to take on the 2,500-inmate jail for $11.5 million the first year, with annual increases of 4.25 percent. Corizon said it would do a better job of staffing the infirmary. In a pre-takeover email dated Aug. 16 explaining why some Allegheny Correctional employees would soon lose their jobs, another Corizon vice president of operations, Mary Silva, wrote that "I ... really feel it is imperative to have adequate staffing on ALL shifts, not just day shift." After Corizon's Sept. 1 takeover, though, staffing did not stabilize. That led to disruptions to the daily "medication passes" to the jail's 35 pods. An Oct. 10 email from Ms. Long to Mr. Harrington and others asked for a "plan for successful implementation of medication passes" -- the term for the nursing staff's several-times-daily distribution to pods of medicines in packets stamped with the names of the receiving inmates. On Oct. 21, Warden Orlando Harper wrote to Mr. Harrington and others: "We are continuing to experience issues pertaining to the following: 1. Staffing, 2. Medication distribution." An email from Ms. Long complained that on Oct. 18 and 19, medication on Level 3 was passed out "after 11:00 p.m.," and on Oct. 20, "2 pods did not receive medication at all." She added that two pregnant inmates were "left in intake 24 hours" because Corizon nurses "did not know what to do" with them. An inmate on oxygen who "was supposed to be processed immediately" was left in the intake area for two shifts, she wrote. On Nov. 16, a jail sergeant wrote that "Level 7 hasn't received Medication" by almost 2 p.m. "This is on going [sic] problem." That day the person charged with solving the problem, longtime jail nursing director Kim Mike-Wilson, quit with no notice, according to the emails. The next day, Ms. Long characterized the situation as "a crisis." In a response email, Corizon assistant health service administrator Michael Barfield blamed the day's crisis on Ms. Mike-Wilson's departure and a nurse's mid-shift departure due to illness. The county declined to provide a list of Corizon staff inside the jail, indicating in a response to a right-to-know request that such information "is not directly related, or even relevant to" a contractor's performance of a governmental function. A Nov. 20 meeting of jail and Corizon officials on medication passes and other issues failed to iron out the problems. Ms. Long wrote to Mr. Harrington two days later saying she "Just received another call that [pod] 5E has not received medications thus far." Reached by phone Friday, Mr. Harper declined to detail his staff's interactions with Corizon. "Right now we're doing everything possible to make sure that our inmates receive the proper medical care," he said. In an email response to questions Friday, county manager William D. McKain wrote that Corizon's leadership has been responsive to concerns. He added that when transitioning from Allegheny Correctional to Corizon, "we expected that there will be a period of time in which there are problems and issues to be addressed.." There are often disruptions when a jail changes its medical provider, said Mark Stern, former medical director at the Washington Department of Corrections, now an assistant affiliate professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health. "It's not acceptable," said Dr. Stern, who worked briefly around 2000 for a company that merged into 35-year-old Corizon. "This is not [Corizon's] first rodeo. These problems are predictable and preventable." Failing to deliver necessary medicines regularly would be "a serious violation of the constitutional right of inmates," he said. "There are some medications where a deviation of a few hours or even a day or so may not make a difference. There are other medications were the timing is much more critical. "If we're treating tuberculosis and we don't treat it well in prison, then when they get out in the community, they're going to spread it." Mr. Barfield told the Jail Oversight Board Thursday that Corizon had "ramped up the clinic visits." He said the key was hiring more nurse practitioners. Jail medical director Michael Patterson highlighted for the board his focus on detecting and treating diabetes. Dr. Patterson appears to be the lone remaining full-time physician in the jail under Corizon. The firm's contract calls for one additional part-time physician, and former jail medical employees who quit recently said that Eugene Youngue is filling that role. Both Dr. Patterson and Dr. Youngue served the jail full time under Allegheny Correctional, along with physicians Lucille Aiken, Miguel Salomon and part-timer Morris Harper. Dr. Aiken in September filed a state Human Relations Commission complaint against the county and Corizon, claiming that she was sent packing before the firm's takeover as retaliation for her efforts to ensure quality care for inmates, and because of her gender and status as an immigrant from Italy. Allegheny Correctional also employed three psychiatrists and one psychologist. Corizon's contract requires that it provide one full-time psychiatrist and a part-time psychologist. Mr. Harrington would not provide a raw number of physicians working in the jail following the board meeting Thursday, and on Friday failed to respond to an email and hung up when reached on his cell phone. "We have a full complement of doctors," he said Thursday. "That's what we are contracted to provide."


December 8, 2013 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The company hired to improve health care and cut costs at the Allegheny County Jail has struggled with one of its basic functions -- distributing medicine -- due to difficulties staffing the busy infirmary. Tennessee-based for-profit firm Corizon Health Inc., hired to replace the nonprofit Allegheny Correctional Health Services, would not discuss the problems last week, nor its decision to slash physician staffing at the jail to roughly one-third of its prior level. Emails between county jail staff and Corizon, though, document a string of medication distribution problems that one jail watcher called "terrifying." "I was just informed by the Captain on shift, the majority of the jail has not received medication AT ALL," wrote Deputy Warden Monica Long in an email to Corizon and jail staff on Nov. 17 at 1:03 p.m. "Staffing is at a crisis." The Post-Gazette obtained the internal emails and other documents through a request to the county under the right-to-know law. Asked about the emails on Thursday, following a meeting of the county Jail Oversight Board, Lee Harrington, Corizon vice president of operations, claimed no knowledge of any problems. "We're constantly adjusting our services to make sure that we provide the services as contracted," he said. He declined to detail the adjustments. Reading the emails, frequent jail visitor Marion Damick, the Pittsburgh representative of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, called the problems "abnormal. That never happened under Allegheny [Correctional], never. "That's terrifying, actually. There is absolutely no reason that they would ever miss medication," she said, adding that such shortcomings can only increase costs in the long run. She added that she is "not hearing bad news" about Corizon from inmates to date. Corizon took over the jail infirmary Sept. 1, following a lengthy process meant to pick the successor to Allegheny Correctional. Allegheny Correctional drew a steady stream of lawsuits stemming from inmate deaths and injuries, including some related to alleged failures to give inmates the right medicines. The nonprofit, which ran the infirmary since 2001, also allowed annual costs to creep up to around $12.5 million a year. Corizon agreed to take on the 2,500-inmate jail for $11.5 million the first year, with annual increases of 4.25 percent. Corizon said it would do a better job of staffing the infirmary. In a pre-takeover email dated Aug. 16 explaining why some Allegheny Correctional employees would soon lose their jobs, another Corizon vice president of operations, Mary Silva, wrote that "I ... really feel it is imperative to have adequate staffing on ALL shifts, not just day shift." After Corizon's Sept. 1 takeover, though, staffing did not stabilize. That led to disruptions to the daily "medication passes" to the jail's 35 pods. An Oct. 10 email from Ms. Long to Mr. Harrington and others asked for a "plan for successful implementation of medication passes" -- the term for the nursing staff's several-times-daily distribution to pods of medicines in packets stamped with the names of the receiving inmates. On Oct. 21, Warden Orlando Harper wrote to Mr. Harrington and others: "We are continuing to experience issues pertaining to the following: 1. Staffing, 2. Medication distribution." An email from Ms. Long complained that on Oct. 18 and 19, medication on Level 3 was passed out "after 11:00 p.m.," and on Oct. 20, "2 pods did not receive medication at all." She added that two pregnant inmates were "left in intake 24 hours" because Corizon nurses "did not know what to do" with them. An inmate on oxygen who "was supposed to be processed immediately" was left in the intake area for two shifts, she wrote. On Nov. 16, a jail sergeant wrote that "Level 7 hasn't received Medication" by almost 2 p.m. "This is on going [sic] problem." That day the person charged with solving the problem, longtime jail nursing director Kim Mike-Wilson, quit with no notice, according to the emails. The next day, Ms. Long characterized the situation as "a crisis." In a response email, Corizon assistant health service administrator Michael Barfield blamed the day's crisis on Ms. Mike-Wilson's departure and a nurse's mid-shift departure due to illness. The county declined to provide a list of Corizon staff inside the jail, indicating in a response to a right-to-know request that such information "is not directly related, or even relevant to" a contractor's performance of a governmental function. A Nov. 20 meeting of jail and Corizon officials on medication passes and other issues failed to iron out the problems. Ms. Long wrote to Mr. Harrington two days later saying she "Just received another call that [pod] 5E has not received medications thus far." Reached by phone Friday, Mr. Harper declined to detail his staff's interactions with Corizon. "Right now we're doing everything possible to make sure that our inmates receive the proper medical care," he said. In an email response to questions Friday, county manager William D. McKain wrote that Corizon's leadership has been responsive to concerns. He added that when transitioning from Allegheny Correctional to Corizon, "we expected that there will be a period of time in which there are problems and issues to be addressed.." There are often disruptions when a jail changes its medical provider, said Mark Stern, former medical director at the Washington Department of Corrections, now an assistant affiliate professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health. "It's not acceptable," said Dr. Stern, who worked briefly around 2000 for a company that merged into 35-year-old Corizon. "This is not [Corizon's] first rodeo. These problems are predictable and preventable." Failing to deliver necessary medicines regularly would be "a serious violation of the constitutional right of inmates," he said. "There are some medications where a deviation of a few hours or even a day or so may not make a difference. There are other medications were the timing is much more critical. "If we're treating tuberculosis and we don't treat it well in prison, then when they get out in the community, they're going to spread it." Mr. Barfield told the Jail Oversight Board Thursday that Corizon had "ramped up the clinic visits." He said the key was hiring more nurse practitioners. Jail medical director Michael Patterson highlighted for the board his focus on detecting and treating diabetes. Dr. Patterson appears to be the lone remaining full-time physician in the jail under Corizon. The firm's contract calls for one additional part-time physician, and former jail medical employees who quit recently said that Eugene Youngue is filling that role. Both Dr. Patterson and Dr. Youngue served the jail full time under Allegheny Correctional, along with physicians Lucille Aiken, Miguel Salomon and part-timer Morris Harper. Dr. Aiken in September filed a state Human Relations Commission complaint against the county and Corizon, claiming that she was sent packing before the firm's takeover as retaliation for her efforts to ensure quality care for inmates, and because of her gender and status as an immigrant from Italy. Allegheny Correctional also employed three psychiatrists and one psychologist. Corizon's contract requires that it provide one full-time psychiatrist and a part-time psychologist. Mr. Harrington would not provide a raw number of physicians working in the jail following the board meeting Thursday, and on Friday failed to respond to an email and hung up when reached on his cell phone. "We have a full complement of doctors," he said Thursday. "That's what we are contracted to provide."

January 24, 2003
On Oct. 21, 1996, 33-year-old Charles Fine, a heroin addict From Monongahela, became the first inmate to kill himself in what was then the new Allegheny County Jail.  He rigged a makeshift noose out of his shoelaces and hung himself from a bunk in his cell.  Now, seven years later, the medical company that used to screen inmates for suicide risk at the jail is on trial in U.S. District Court, defending itself against a negligence claim.  Fine's stepmother, Barbara Mayfield, represented by local attorney Vincent Coppola, says employees of Correctional Medical Services Inc. of Missouri should have known Fine was going to kill himself.  Correctional Medical, the country's largest health-care provider for jails, pulled out of the Allegheny County Jail in 2000, but the move had nothing to do with the lawsuit.  Fine, who worked for a time as a welder, was jailed on Oct. 20, 1996, pending trial for retail theft and simple assault. Earlier that year he had also been jailed on drug possession charges and later released.  In both instances, according to the complaint, a nurse filled out a 10-question form used to determine if an inmate might be a suicide risk. Coppola said his answers to questions should have shown the medical staff fine was suffering from heroin withdrawal and that he was depressed and in "emotional distress."  Coppola has argued that the staff should have realized Fine might kill himself and placed him in the Mental Health Unit rather than in the general jail population. He said the staff should also have removed his shoelaces.  (Post-Gazette.com)  

Aramark, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
December 14, 2012 Philly.com
AN ARM of the food-services giant Aramark and a local minority-owned business will pay the city a total of $400,000 to settle a suit that accused the companies of fudging their numbers to skirt minority-participation requirements in a Philadelphia prison system contract, the city announced Thursday. "They really were denying opportunities for legitimate minority companies that wanted to work," said city Inspector General Amy Kurland, whose office oversaw the investigation. Aramark Correctional Services provides three meals a day to prisoners, but it is required to subcontract out 20 percent to 25 percent of the work to businesses owned by minorities, women or disabled persons. The suit alleged that Aramark and Strother Enterprises, a minority-business group in Philadelphia, employed a circular payment scheme to overstate how much of the business Strother was getting. Neither company admitted fault in the settlement, which will cost Aramark $352,000 and Strother $48,000. Both will also have to improve their compliance codes. Aramark described the problem as a "reporting discrepancy. "We have corrected the issue and implemented a comprehensive compliance program," the company said in a statement. Strother did not return a request for comment. Kurland said that schemes like this one are a "huge problem." "It's very common," she said. "We've approached companies that have done this and [they] said, 'Well, isn't this the way things are done in Philadelphia?'

August 30, 2012 Northwest Arkansas Business Journal
Former University of Central Arkansas president Allen Meadors is facing a misdemeanor charge stemming from a deal with food vendor Aramark. The office of Faulkner County Prosecutor Cody Hiland filed the charge on Wednesday, nearly a year after the UCA board began an investigation of Meadors. Hiland was out of the office Thursday morning and unavailable for comment. Meadors and board Chairman Scott Roussel apologized last year for not revealing that Aramark offered $700,000 for renovating the UCA president's home if its contract with the school was renewed. Several trustees have they didn't know the Aramark offer was tied to the renewal of its contract with UCA. The trustees said they thought the $700,000 was a gift. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Wednesday that Meadors' charge was solicitation of tampering with a public record, which "carries a punishment of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine." Meadors "is accused of urging a vice president to destroy a letter that said the offer would be in exchange for renewing Aramark's contract," the newspaper said.

April 27, 2012 Log Cabin
University of Central Arkansas Faculty Senate members are calling for a trustee’s resignation. The group voted Thursday on a resolution requesting Scott Roussel, a real estate business man of Searcy appointed to the board for a second term in 2008 by Gov. Mike Beebe, to leave his post. The action follows the board’s approval of a new deal with Aramark, one that would “wipe clean” $6.7 million in unamortized funds and interest. Roussel voted to approve the contract along with other trustees as it was presented, though governing groups on campus said they believed the trustee should recuse. Thursday’s resolution states that Roussel “was cognizant of the conditions described by Aramark in the acceptance of $700,000 in return for a seven-year, no bid contract for food services on the UCA campus...” It further explains that Roussel “would or should have been aware” of potential damage to the university’s reputation when he announced the large “gift” from the university’s food vendor, and did not disclose, by his account without purpose, that the pledge was contingent upon the renewal of the company’s contract. The money would have furthered renovations under way at the UCA president’s home that was occupied by former president Allen Meadors, who resigned last September after trustees learned of the stipulation. UCA conducted its own interviews shortly after the discovery, but then turned the investigation into possible improprieties by university staff over to Arkansas State Police. State police gave a “lengthy” case file to Twentieth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland earlier this month. Hiland said Friday that his office is still reviewing the file to determine if a criminal act has been committed.

September 7, 2011 Arkansas Times
"There's right and there's wrong and there's UCA." I don't even know what that means. I doubt that the Conway insider who uttered it to me Friday afternoon does either. I use it, though, because it conveys the relevant utter frustration. A few years ago the University of Central Arkansas was the hottest college in the state. It was located in a booming suburban college town. It had a politically astute president. Enrollment was skyrocketing. Television advertising was Landersesque. Then that politically astute president, Lu Hardin, got caught cutting ethical corners to gin up some bonus money for himself to pay gambling debts. He will be going to prison any day now, surely. The UCA Board of Trustees, looking around for the anti-Lu, found its man in Dr. Allen Meadors, a campus graduate with experience as a small-college president and a meek manner. Not long ago I made a crack about Hardin's ethical wasteland in the presence of a leading UCA staff member. It angered her. She explained that she loved the school and that it was steadily righting itself and, essentially, that a smart-aleck press commentator ought to watch his mouth. But now this: Meadors was revealed this week to have misrepresented to the UCA board that the campus food vendor, a company called Aramark, was donating $700,000 to fix up the president's official home across the street from the campus. The board, initially as blindly obeisant to administrative happy talk as with Hardin before, said sure, yes, without delay, we accept this gift for this most urgent academic need and we authorize preliminary architectural designs and cost estimates. Then came that pesky reporter for the statewide daily, famous for bedeviling Hardin, and still wielding the Freedom of Information law like a switchblade. She asked board members if they had known a little detail: Aramark actually would donate the money from one hand only if it was guaranteed that it would reel more money from UCA into the other hand by getting its food service contract renewed without competitive bidding for a period at least long enough for a guaranteed realization of enough profit to get back the gift. Why, no, we didn't know that, said some of these board members, and, by golly, we are just a little bit ticked. They called themselves to a special meeting. This was not charity, but amortizing. It was a food service vendor seeking to escape a new round of competitive bidding by going into the home improvement lending business on the side. It was an advance on marked-up grub the kids would eat later in their hostage environment. I'm advised that this kind of arrangement is not uncommon. But it ought to be. And if it is common, why conspicuously neglect to mention it? Meadors, going all-in for damage control, told the board in this second special meeting that he had erred and that he would recommend that the school not accept the money as offered. He recommended that the school open the food service contract for bidding. The board withdrew its previous approval for a housing allowance by which Meadors and his wife could rent suitable quarters elsewhere until the presidential home was renovated. Meadors' wife, a stronger personality, has been spending quite a bit of time with family in North Carolina. Just 24 hours later, on Friday afternoon, the board met in special session again, this time by phone. Then the board reconvened in public and bought out Meadors' contract. The board could have restored Meadors' authority to live temporarily off campus. But that might simply have kept matters festering — a la Hardin — and nobody wanted to go through that again. Meadors may be a bit of a victim, just as UCA. He clearly erred by not revealing the full nature of the arrangement with the food vendor. But it is entirely possible that he considered such deals commonplace. He may have felt some pressure close to home about inadequate living arrangements, the short-term solution to which got sacrificed in this fast-roiling controversy. So now UCA will start trying again to right the ship.

September 1, 2011 AP
A $700,000 gift from Aramark to the University of Central Arkansas came with a condition that Aramark's food service contract with the university be renewed. At least five members of UCA's Board of Trustees say they did not know about the condition. A letter from Aramark district manager to UCA vice president Diane Newton calls the money an unrestricted grant contingent upon a seven year extension of Aramark's food service contract. UCA President Allen Meadors told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he takes responsibility for the trustees not knowing the terms of the gift. Meadors says such conditions are not unusual. Trustee Rush Harding III told the Log Cabin Democrat agreed the transaction is common — but said trustees should have been informed.

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."

July 7, 2010 Evanston-Review
An on-site food services worker is charging that her employers, Evanston Hospital and Aramark Services, allowed co-workers to repeatedly harass and discriminate her despite her pleas to management for help. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Yaffa Washington, a member of a Hebrew Israelite sect who was born in Israel, said she was hired by Evanston Hospital in 2004 and soon thereafter began working for Aramark Services, on location at the hospital, 2650 Ridge Ave. Washington, an African-American, charges in her lawsuit that she was subjected to offensive racist and and anti-Semitic slurs, including references to her as the “Jew Girl,” soon after after she began working for Aramark. The lawsuit alleges that soon after informing Aramark officials that she was contemplating filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge if the harassment didn't stop – in what her lawsuit describes as “unlawful retaliation against her for engaging in legally protected activity” – Washington was fired. Aramark could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon. A spokeswoman for the hospital said Wednesday that the hospital had not been served notice of such a lawsuit and so could not comment.

March 6, 2010 Philadelphia Enquirer
Saying it is owed $7.3 million, Aramark Corp., the Philadelphia food-services provider, has sued a New Jersey operator of correctional facilities. In the suit, Aramark contends Community Education Centers Inc., of West Caldwell, N.J., has been in default on bills since at least June 2008. Locally, Aramark services Community Education Centers facilities in Philadelphia, Delaware County, Reading, and Trenton. Aramark's lawsuit, filed Feb. 18 in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, said Community Education Centers was overdue on $5.2 million of the total, and it requested that a judgment, including interest, costs, and attorney's fees, be entered in its favor. In an e-mailed statement yesterday, Community Education Centers said it "does not comment on pending litigation except to say that the two companies are in negotiations regarding the matter." Community Education Centers is one of a number of companies considered likely to bid on a prison privatization contract in Camden County. Last year, a unit of the company bought options on land in Camden as a potential site for a new prison, but the site has been ruled out by county freeholders because of neighborhood protests. The privately held company, which operates in 19 states, employs 4,500 and services nearly 30,000 individuals, did not comment specifically on the proposed privatization of Camden County's prison system. Among Community Education Centers' investors is Philadelphia private-equity firm LLR Partners. The firm's investment fund, LLR Equity Partners II L.P., in 2007 bought $53 million worth of preferred stock, according to a regulatory filing. LLR cofounder Seth Lehr, who is on Community Education Centers' board of directors, said the firm does not comment on companies in its portfolio.

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."

December 3, 2008 Star-Ledger
The family of a young girl paralyzed in a drunk-driving accident nine years ago received a $25 million settlement from Aramark Corp., the Giants Stadium beer vendor whose employees continued to serve the intoxicated fan who caused the crash. The settlement with the family of Antonia Verni, who is now 11, took place last year but was not disclosed until today, when a state appeals court ruled that sealed documents in the case must be made public. Antonia, a quadriplegic who requires a ventilator to breathe, received $23.5 million in the settlement, said the family's lawyer, David A. Mazie of Roseland. Her mother, Fazila Verni, received $1.5 million for injuries she suffered in the crash.

February 24, 2008 Naperville Sun
A company hoping to win another contract at the DuPage County Jail has donated thousands of dollars to elected county officials. Aramark, a Philadelphia-based company that has provided the jail's food service for 21 years, has poured $14,770 into campaign coffers of State's Attorney Joe Birkett, Sheriff John Zaruba, County Board Chairman Bob Schillerstrom and others since 1999, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. County Board members Brien Sheahan, Debra Olson and Mike McMahon have received several hundred dollars each. In a bidding process fraught with ambiguity and conflict, Aramark has been fighting for more than a year to continue serving food to jail inmates. When the bid was redone for the third time in December, the company submitted a $949,616 bid that was $6,000 lower than that of its competitor, Minnesota-based A'viands. But after the state's attorney's office said Aramark submitted a menu that didn't meet requirements, officials recommended the bid be awarded to A'viands. Aramark's menu diverged slightly by offering breaded fish patties rather than the specified fish fillets and 12-ounce instead of 8-ounce oatmeal servings, Assistant State's Attorney Tom Downing said. Potential savings -- However, County Board members are giving Aramark another shot at the contract, opting for a fourth bid instead of awarding the contract to A'viands. They say the county can save thousands of dollars by changing bidding requirements. Instead of stipulating a specific menu, board members want to mandate only certain nutritional requirements, as was done during the second round of bidding. Allowing bidders to submit their own menu resulted in a bid from Aramark that was $120,000 less than when it followed a menu mandated by the county. That cost difference is enough to justify yet another bid, said Sheahan, calling the whole process "ridiculous." "We're basically having a $120,000 argument over whether milk and oatmeal will fit on a tray, and I think we owe it to taxpayers to make sure we are getting the best value for their money," he said. "We're not interested in spending extra every year so people at the County Jail can eat fish fillets instead of fish sticks." Nothing to hide -- Sheahan said a $500 contribution from Aramark to his primary campaign had nothing to do with his support for a fourth bid. "I really don't care whether Aramark gets it or not," he said. "I want the lowest bid to get it. I think the interest of the committee is just to get the best value for taxpayers." Saying she believes Aramark has submitted responsible bids, Olson, of Wheaton, said she supports a fourth bid to potentially save the $120,000. "This is about saving taxpayers money," said Olson, who noted that she has supported extending the temporary contracts to A'viands. "Any implications that my motivations are other than in the best interests of taxpayers is insulting." Birkett, who has received $3,600 from Aramark, said the campaign contributions played no role in the opinion rendered by his office, which ruled Aramark's bid noncompliant. "If I'm asked for opinion or legal guidance, I give it, free from any political support I've received," Birkett said. The recipient of $4,500 from Aramark, Schillerstrom sided with the state's attorney, saying Aramark failed to meet the menu requirements. "I believe A'viands is the lowest responsible bidder," he said. "I think it's clear that Aramark did not comply with the bid." Zaruba did not return a phone call seeking comment. Nutrition requirements -- Disputes about nutrition requirements have plagued the bidding process, which began last March. After the county declared A'viands the winner of the first bid, Aramark filed a lawsuit claiming its submitted menus were deficient. Schillerstrom upheld the protest, finding that both companies failed to meet requirements and declared a second round of bidding. For the second bid, the county outlined more specific nutrition standards. But both companies fell short, saying it was impossible to meet sodium requirements. In the third bid, the county hired a nutritionist to create a specific menu. While A'viands said the menu gave clear and specific requirements, Aramark disagreed. "It was crystal clear to us that we were to submit a menu that exactly met those requirements, and that's what we did," said Perry Rynders, CEO of A'viands. Rynders expressed "significant disappointment" at the county's decision to hold another bid, saying no one had disputed that A'viands did meet requirements. Temporary contract -- To keep prison inmates fed, the county has issued a string of temporary contracts to A'viands since July. But it's difficult to attract and hire good workers at the jail while the contract remains in limbo, Rynders said. "It's very difficult for us to find staff to work on a temporary basis," he said. "Each time this comes up, they're wondering if their job is on the line. I don't think the County Board understands how difficult this is on us." Aramark spokesman Tim Elliot said the county should return to a nutrition-based bid instead of one based on a menu. That is standard procedure for most of the 700 correctional facilities the company services worldwide, he said. Aramark is a private company that is the 19th-largest employer on the Fortune 500, employing 240,000 workers in 19 countries. Hospitals, eldercare centers, schools, corporations and sports stadiums are among the company's clients. Board member Jim Healy of Naperville agreed with Aramark that the county's "ambiguous" menu should be thrown out in favor of nutritional requirements. "We don't care what you serve as long as you meet the nutritional standards," he said. The county should have stuck with very basic nutritional requirements as it had done until last year, said board member Jim Zay. "This is insane ... the more people we get involved, the worse it gets," Zay said. "This has been costing us hundreds of thousands more because we've been screwing around with it."

December 3, 2008 Star-Ledger
The family of a young girl paralyzed in a drunk-driving accident nine years ago received a $25 million settlement from Aramark Corp., the Giants Stadium beer vendor whose employees continued to serve the intoxicated fan who caused the crash. The settlement with the family of Antonia Verni, who is now 11, took place last year but was not disclosed until today, when a state appeals court ruled that sealed documents in the case must be made public. Antonia, a quadriplegic who requires a ventilator to breathe, received $23.5 million in the settlement, said the family's lawyer, David A. Mazie of Roseland. Her mother, Fazila Verni, received $1.5 million for injuries she suffered in the crash.

November 7, 2007 Financial Times
Madison Dearborn is preparing a sale of Valitas, a company that provides medical care to prison populations, three sources told mergermarket. An auction for the company will probably kick off early next year, and the company is working on putting together a staple financing package at the moment, according to one of the sources. UBS has been mandated to run the process, the second source said. Valitas’ EBITDA is around USD 50m, according to an industry banker. The company’s main subsidiary, Correctional Medical Services, reached USD 750m in revenues in 2007, according to its website. The company is likely to draw interest from private equity buyers only, as there are no natural strategic buyers for the asset, the banker added. Valitas could draw interest from Maximus, a listed provider of healthcare services to the US government, a second industry banker said. Madison Dearborn backed a management buyout of the Missouri-based company in 1997 from Aramark, the company that provides food service and uniforms to institutions, according to news reports. Under Aramark the division was called Spectrum Healthcare, and included a business that provided contract healthcare services to the US military. That business, however, was sold to Team Health, another Madison Dearborn portfolio holding, in 2002. Team Health itself was sold to the Blackstone Group, in 2005. The company is one of the oldest healthcare investments in Madison Dearborn’s portfolio, the industry banker said. A company spokesperson declined comment, and a Madison Dearborn official did not return calls.

March 18, 2007 The Oregonian
Federal court statistics show that plaintiffs filed nearly 4,200 cases under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs pay practices, in fiscal 2006, which ended Sept. 30. That's up from 4,040 cases in fiscal 2005 and 2,751 in 2003. In Portland this month, Richard Bird filed a class-action lawsuit against his ex-employer, Aramark Correctional Services Inc. He alleges the nationwide prison-service provider broke Oregon laws by failing to properly pay him and co-workers when they worked overtime, took rest periods and put in for their final paychecks. An Aramark spokeswoman said Friday that the company does not comment on pending litigation. Those claims surfaced in a state court -- Multnomah County Circuit Court, specifically. And although Oregon doesn't track civil cases by cause, attorneys say wage-and-hour claims are numerous in state venues. Why the flood of cases? It's easy for employers to make a mistake and relatively easy for employees to make them pay for it, said Nancy Cooper, an attorney with Bullivant Houser Bailey in Portland. Wage-and-hour rules are complicated and vary across state lines, making national firms such as Philadelphia-based Aramark vulnerable. Oregon, for instance, requires employers to provide paid 10-minute breaks, Cooper said. Arizona does not.

February 3, 2007 AP
The first time Joseph Neubauer took Aramark Corp. private in 1984, the deal was worth $889 million. When he and other managers led a leveraged buyout of the nation's largest food services company a second time, the price tag zoomed to $6.24 billion. And the biggest winner among shareholders at Aramark, which Friday completed its first week as a newly private company? Neubauer and his family, whose holdings soared in value to almost $1 billion. That puts Neubauer, 65, who came to the United States from Israel alone at the age of 14 and said he learned English from John Wayne movies, near the top of the list of beneficiaries from a wave of leveraged buyouts that has swept corporate America in the past year.

August 14, 2006 In These Times
While New Mexico’s landscape may make the state the Land of Enchantment, its rapidly growing rates of incarceration have been utterly disenchanting. What’s worse, New Mexico is at the top of the nation’s list for privatizing prisons; nearly one-half of the state’s prisons and jails are run by corporations. Supposedly, states turn to private companies to cope better with chronic overcrowding and for low-cost management. However, a closer look suggests a different rationale. A recent report from the Montana-based Institute on Money in State Politics reveals that during the 2002 and 2004 election cycles, private prison companies, directors, executives and lobbyists gave $3.3 million to candidates and state political parties across 44 states. According to Edwin Bender, executive director of the Institute on Money in State Politics, private prison companies strongly favor giving to states with the toughest sentencing laws—in essence, the ones that are more likely to come up with the bodies to fill prison beds. Those states, adds Bender, are also the ones most likely to have passed “three-strikes” laws. Those laws, first passed by Washington state voters in 1993 and then California voters in 1994, quickly swept the nation. They were largely based on “cookie-cutter legislation” pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), some of whose members come from the ranks of private prison companies. Florida leads the pack in terms of private prison dollars, with its candidates and political parties receiving almost 20 percent of their total contributions from private prison companies and their affiliates. Florida already has five privately owned and operated prisons, with a sixth on the way. It’s also privatized the bulk of its juvenile detention system. Texas and New Jersey are close behind. But in Florida, some of the influence peddling finally seems to be backfiring. Florida State Corrections Secretary James McDonough alarmed private prison companies with a comment during an Aug. 2 morning call-in radio show. “I actually think the state is better at running the prisons,” McDonough told an interviewer. His comments followed an internal audit last year by the state’s Department of Management Services, which demonstrated that Florida overpaid private prison operators by $1.3 million. Things may no longer be quite as sunny as they once were in Florida for the likes of Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the former Wackenhut, now known as the GEO Group of Boca Raton, Fla. But with a little bit of spiel-tinkering—and a shift of attention to other states—the prison privatizers are likely to keep going. The key shift, Bender explains, is that “the prison industry has gone from a we-can-save-you-money pitch to an economic-development model pitch.” In other words, says Bender, “you need [their] prisons for jobs.” If political donations are any measure, economically challenged and poverty-stricken states like New Mexico are a great target. In this campaign cycle, Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson has already received more contributions from a private prison company than any other politician campaigning for state office in the United States. The Institute of Money in State Politics, which traced the donations, reported that GEO has contributed $42,750 to Richardson since 2005—and another $8,000 to his running mate, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. Another $30,000 went from GEO to the Richardson-headed Democratic Governors Association this past March. Richardson’s PAC, Moving America Forward, was another prominent recipient of GEO donations. Now, its former head, prominent state capitol lobbyist Joe Velasquez, is a registered lobbyist for GEO Care Inc., a healthcare subsidiary that runs a hospital in New Mexico. But don’t get the idea that GEO has any particular love for Democrats: $95,000 from the corporation went to the Republican Governors Association last year alone. What companies like GEO do love are the millions of dollars rolling in from lucrative New Mexico contracts to run the Lea County Correctional Facility (operating budget: $25 million/year), and the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility ($13 million/year), among others. CCA also owns and operates the state’s only women’s facility in Grants ($11 million per year). To make sure that those dollars keep flowing, GEO and CCA have perfected the art of the “very tight revolving door,” says Bender, which involves snapping up former corrections administrators, PAC lobbyists and state officials to serve as consultants to private prison companies. In fact, the current New Mexico Corrections Department Secretary Joe Williams was once on GEO’s payroll as their warden of the Lea County Correctional Facility. Earlier this year, Williams was placed on unpaid administrative leave after accusations surfaced that he spent state travel and phone funds to pursue a very close relationship with Ann Casey. Casey is a registered lobbyist in New Mexico for Wexford Health Sources, which provides health care for prisoners at Grants, and Aramark, which provides most of the state’s inmate meals. In her non-lobbying hours, it turns out that Casey is also an assistant warden at a state prison in Centralia, Ill. It appears that even for a prison industry enchanted by public-private partnership, Williams and Casey may have gone too far.

May 1, 2006 Bloomberg
Aramark Corp., the food-service company that sells hot dogs and beer at Boston's Fenway Park and Shea Stadium in New York, received a $5.8 billion takeover offer from a group led by its chairman and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The group, which also includes JPMorgan Chase & Co., Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Warburg Pincus LLC, bid $32 a share, Philadelphia-based Aramark said today in a statement. That's 14 percent more than its April 28 close. Aramark's shares surged as high as $34.95 as investors bet the company, which also runs college and corporate cafeterias, would eventually fetch more from the buyout group or another acquirer. The company's board formed a committee of independent directors to review the proposal, Aramark said. ``There exists for insiders an opportunity to sell the company to a rival bidder or compete in a bidding war for the company,'' JPMorgan Chase analyst Michael Fox wrote in a report. Fox has a ``neutral'' rating on Aramark. Private-equity firms have announced more than $120 billion of takeovers this year, up from $83 billion in the same period of 2005, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Pressure to meet quarterly earnings targets and abide by new accounting and governance laws have pushed some companies to go private. Leveraged buyout specialists usually borrow about two- thirds of the purchase price to finance acquisitions. Their goal is to improve the operating performance of the companies they purchase, often by cutting costs, and then sell the companies in two to three years to make a profit.

Beaver County Jail
Beaver County, Pennsylvania
CiviGenics

May 24, 2007 Beaver Times
The Beaver County Commissioners' approval Thursday of a $72,000 payment to settle claims from the Massachusetts company that almost took over the county jail last year brings the total spent on trying to outsource the jail to nearly $1 million. CiviGenics was poised to assume control of the jail in October, but a ruling by President Judge Robert Kunselman ordering the county to obey an arbitrator's decision halted the deal. Instead, the county signed a new contract with jail guards. Commissioners had estimated that the county could have saved as much as $1.9 million annually by outsourcing the jail to CiviGenics. During the last week of December, the county paid CiviGenics $125,000 under the terms of its contract. Thursday's payment will cover additional expenses such as training and travel costs. "It's fair compensation," said Commissioners Chairman Joe Spanik after the board approved the payment. "They showed receipts for what (expenses) were there." In addition to the payments made to CiviGenics, the county's legal fees have reached nearly $793,000, said county financial administrator Rob Cyphert. That figure covers this year, 2006 and 2005, and includes not only work on privatization, but on contract negotiations with the union and settlement talks with CiviGenics. Commissioner Charlie Camp said he didn't regret trying to outsource the jail because "it was well within our rights to do that." Camp said the savings over the life of the guards' contract, estimated at $680,000 annually, will surpass the amount spent on CiviGenics and legal fees so the county won't really lose any money. "I regret we got two bad judgment calls from the arbitrator and the county judge," Camp said. Asked if he regretted pursuing privatization in light of the taxpayer money spent on the wasted effort, Spanik said outsourcing appeared to be a "good deal" for the county, and hindsight is always 20/20. "If I was a prognosticator," he said, "I'd hit the lottery." Initially, CiviGenics asked for $329,000 to cover its costs in preparing to manage the Hopewell Township jail, Cyphert said. Spanik said the county balked at that figure, though, and officials found some expenses they didn't think the county should pay. "We scrutinized the bills they submitted to us," Spanik said. When the $125,000 payment was made, county Solicitor Myron Sainovich said the county might consider reimbursing CiviGenics for additional costs, such as training and travel costs, because the county was unable to give the company any notice before nixing the contract. "Quite frankly, we would've been liable for those (expenses) because we were in breach," Sainovich said Thursday. Sainovich said the $72,000 doesn't compensate CiviGenics for "pain and suffering," but only for verifiable expenses.

January 10, 2007 Beaver Times
Beaver County has met its contractual obligation and paid $125,000 to the company that would have taken over the county jail if a court ruling had not nixed the deal, county solicitor Myron Sainovich said Wednesday. CiviGenics, a Massachusetts-based company, was paid in the last week of December, said Rob Cyphert, the county's financial administrator. Under terms of its contract with CiviGenics, the county was obligated to pay the company no more than $125,000 "for all reasonable and documented start-up expenses" if the county decided against outsourcing the Hopewell Township jail. That's exactly what happened after Beaver County President Judge Robert Kunselman ruled that the county was required to abide by an arbitration decision that prohibited privatization over the life of an arbitration-imposed three-year contract. County commissioners chose not to appeal Kunselman's decision. Instead of handing over management duties to CiviGenics on Oct. 31 as they had planned, commissioners agreed to a new four-year contract that was estimated to save the county about $600,000 a year. Commissioners had spent more than two years studying privatization and at least $500,000 over several months litigating their right to outsource the jail. They claimed the county would've saved $1.9 million a year by contracting with CiviGenics. Last month, commissioners raised county property taxes by 1 mill and laid the blame squarely at Kunselman's feet. The county's tax rate is now 18.7 mills. Sainovich said he hasn't heard of CiviGenics requesting additional money, but the county might consider paying for other verifiable training and travel costs. "The county will try and reimburse them for those (expenses) because we did kind of go up until the last hour," he said.

November 29, 2006 Beaver Times
A county judge believes that even if operations at the Beaver County Jail had been privatized, county residents would still have to pay higher taxes. In a written opinion released Tuesday, President Judge Robert E. Kunselman disputed county commissioners main argument: that turning over operations at the Hopewell Township facility to the CiviGenics company would save enough money that a tax increase could be avoided next year. Kunselman made his ruling in late October; Tuesdays opinion explained his reasoning. For months, commissioners pushed a plan that said that if the Massachusetts-based private correctional services company took over operations at the jail, the county could save $1.9 million annually. The changeover from county to private oversight was halted by Kunselman just a couple of days before the Oct. 30 switch was to take place. Beaver County Commissioners Chairman Dan Donatella said Tuesday afternoon that Kunselmans ruling was filled with errors, omissions and presumptions about the county's budget. He promised a written response to Kunselmans opinion within the next day or two. I am flabbergasted, Donatella said, adding that he thinks Kunselman purposely waited until the day after an appeal period had expired so that his written opinion wouldn't be questioned by a higher court. Earlier, however, commissioners said Kunselmans order barring privatization wouldn't be appealed because it was unlikely that a higher court would overturn the decision. Kunselman declined to comment on Donatellas remarks. Kunselman became involved in the jail issue when Service Employees International Union Local 668 sued the county earlier this year, saying it had to abide by a contract arbitration award. That arbitration included the prohibition of privatization for three years and requiring jail employees to make concessions. The arbitration was rendered moot when the county and jail employees came to an agreement in October on a new four-year contract. In his October opinion, Kunselman ruled there was no legal reason for the county to ignore the arbitration and privatize the jail. Also, Kunselman said in the opinion that during hearings on the arbitration award, county employees said the county would have a $140,000 deficit at the end of November and would be in the red by $3 million at the end of the year, if the arbitration was awarded. Kunselman said there was no direct proof that the arbitration was the reason for the deficit. He said that while the county projected a savings of $1.5 million in the first year of privatization, it also projected a $3 million budget deficit. Thus, we concluded that the county would have to increase taxes to pay for the CiviGenics contract anyway, Kunselman said.

November 9, 2006 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The legal fight over privatizing the Beaver County Jail has cost the county about $500,000, and that's just the beginning. The county commissioners will sit down soon with representatives of CiviGenics Inc., the company they had hired to run the jail, to work out a fair compensation for the company's troubles. "We have calculated the cost of preparing to take over the jail," company Chief Operating Officer Peter Argeropulos said, adding that CiviGenics had put more than 50 people through guard training and had assembled complete plans for the takeover and management. He declined to say what the calculated number was. CiviGenics responded to a county inquiry in the summer of last year, offering a deal that would have saved the county about $1.9 million a year. When the union representing the county-employed jail guards couldn't match the savings, the commissioners announced the switch, dropping the union and hiring CiviGenics starting Oct. 31. But four days before the takeover, Common Pleas Judge Robert E. Kunselman ruled that the county had to abide by an arbitration award that gave the union a new contract. The commissioners announced Oct. 31 that they had accepted a deal with the union and would not appeal the judge's ruling. Under the county's contract with CiviGenics, it owes the company $125,000 if the deal gets scratched "through no fault of the county." Asked if the company's costs exceeded $125,000, Mr. Argeropulos replied, "Oh, certainly." But he expressed confidence that a settlement could be worked out.

October 28, 2006 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Beaver County Jail will continue to be run by public employees, after a court ruling yesterday that derailed the county's privatization move. Beaver County President Judge Robert E. Kunselman upheld a June arbitration award that gave the county's jail guards a new three-year contract. The county had set Monday as the date for a Massachusetts firm, CiviGenics Inc., to take over jail operations, a move that would have left the unionized guards out of work. "It still hasn't hit home," union steward and jail guard Tom Trkulja said. "From the beginning we believed the law says what the law says and everybody has to follow it." The dispute has its roots in a series of cost-cutting moves made by the county commissioners over the last three years. Looking to pare the $6 million-plus jail budget, they decided to take proposals for private management. CiviGenics in the summer of 2005 made a proposal that would save the county $1.9 million a year, and with the union contract expiring in December, the commissioners demanded that the union meet that savings. When the union would not, the commissioners declared union negotiations at an impasse and signed a contract with CiviGenics in January. The union contract went to arbitration, but in June, before the arbitration panel finalized its ruling, the county enacted its contract with the private firm. CiviGenics has been hiring and training replacements for the 53 full-time and 17 part-time guards, who are members of Local 668 of the Service Employees International Union. The union, however, asked the court to enforce an arbitration award issued in June, which it regarded as binding. The commissioners argued that since the award would force them to take legislative action to raise money to pay the guards, state law rendered it advisory only. In a hearing before Judge Kunselman on Tuesday, county Financial Administrator Rob Cyphert testified that the county would run out of cash in about a month under the union contract, and would likely have to increase its debt load to stay afloat. The union, however, argued that the county created its own budget crunch by basing its budget on the CiviGenics deal. The county "engaged in bad faith bargaining by establishing a budget which could only be accomplished by the privatization of the prison without the legal authority to make such an assumption," the union's legal brief said.

October 27, 2006 The Beaver Times
Beaver County Courthouse workers voted on a contract proposal Thursday that union officials said was essential to keeping the county jail from being privatized, but results were unavailable late Thursday. Whether their new contract and the one approved this past Monday by jail guards actually save enough money to persuade the county commissioners not to privatize the jail this coming Monday remains to be seen. Service Employees International Union Local 668 members were called to a 4:30 p.m. meeting at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers hall in Vanport Township to vote on the proposal that SEIU state officials unveiled in a tense meeting Tuesday. Commissioners Chairman Dan Donatella and Commissioner Charlie Camp said late Thursday they had yet to be informed of the result of the union's vote. Commissioner Joe Spanik could not be reached for comment. The union is under pressure to resolve the situation because Beaver County President Judge Robert Kunselman is expected to issue his ruling today on whether the county must abide by an arbitration decision released earlier this year. If Kunselman would rule that the decision is not binding, the county would be free to pursue privatization. At the Tuesday meeting, SEIU leaders told courthouse workers that their new contract was being tied to the jail guards' contract. The savings from those two contracts would be combined to try to meet the financial demands of county commissioners, who want to privatize the jail to save approximately $1.9 million annually.

October 26, 2006 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Management of the Beaver County Jail is up for determination tomorrow, though whether it is by court order or through last-minute labor talks remains to be seen. County President Judge Robert E. Kunselman plans to issue a ruling tomorrow on whether the county can turn jail management over to a private firm Monday morning. Judge Kunselman held a hearing Tuesday and demanded briefs from union and county attorneys by this morning. The county commissioners are calling for a decision by tomorrow on an across-the-board contract offer that would keep the unionized, publicly employed jail guards in place but would include new contracts with five other unions representing county workers. The last-ditch deal was ratified by the jail guards Sunday, but faces an uphill battle with the other unions, which have been working without contracts for almost two years while rejecting similar offers. The unions held a tumultuous membership meeting Wednesday, with no agreement forthcoming. If the unions decline the contract offer and Judge Kunselman rules in the county's favor, CiviGenics Inc. will take over jail management Monday. The takeover would culminate a two-year effort by the commissioners to cut costs at the Hopewell facility.

October 25, 2006 Beaver Times
As the deadline for privatizing the Beaver County Jail looms closer, it appears the only way for jail guards to avoid losing their jobs is for courthouse union members to accept concessions, too. But, if an emergency meeting Tuesday of Service Employees International Union Local 668 members who work at the courthouse is any indication, those jail guard jobs are as good as gone. Courthouse workers were summoned to a meeting with state SEIU officials at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers hall in Vanport Township to hear a last-minute proposal to save the jobs of their SEIU brethren at the jail. Once there, according to one employee who attended the meeting but asked not to be identified, union officials told courthouse workers to accept the contract terms presented or Massachusetts-based CiviGenics would take over the jail. Some guards have applied to and been hired by CiviGenics, but most would be laid off if the company took over. The employee said the proposal would have workers pay 1 percent toward health-care insurance costs in 2007 and 2008 and 1.5 percent starting in 2009. Employees would receive raises of 2.5 percent on Jan. 1; 3 percent in 2008 and 3.5 percent in 2009. Courthouse workers have been without a contract since Jan. 1, 2004, and negotiations have snagged on wages and the county's demand that employees start contributing to health insurance costs. Other terms, according to the employee, include a one-week reduction in the maximum amount of vacation earned (from five to four weeks) and the loss of three holidays (Flag Day, Dec. 26 and an employee's birthday). The employee said the raucous meeting ended with frustrated courthouse workers leaving without taking a vote. Tuesday's meeting followed a vote by jail guards Monday to accept a contract proposal. Union officials would not publicly discuss the contract, but one said it was similar to an arbitration decision released earlier this year. That decision reduced the number of full-time guards, froze wages for jail guards for three years and implemented a 1 percent contribution toward health insurance. But it also prohibited the county from privatizing the jail for three years. County commissioners, though, rejected the arbitration decision, saying that the purported $450,000 in savings fell short of the estimated $1.9 million the county could save by having CiviGenics manage the jail in Hopewell Township. CiviGenics is scheduled to take over the jail Monday, so pressure is mounting on jail guards to do something or face layoffs. Whatever the guards agreed to apparently still didn't meet the commissioners' financial demands, so courthouse employees were asked to take concessions in order to package a cost-saving deal to the county. One flier being circulated around the courthouse Tuesday perfectly illustrated the feelings over the proposal. "We are not happy about this and hope that everyone will not be blackmailed by the commissioners," the flier read. In a related matter Tuesday, attorneys for the SEIU and the county debated the merits of the arbitration decision before Beaver County President Judge Robert E. Kunselman. Both sides said they expect Kunselman to issue a decision by Friday. The union wants Kunselman to order the county to abide by the arbitration decision, while county commissioners argue that the ruling would force them to raise property taxes to pay for the jail. Before that hearing began, Claudia Lukert, the SEIU's attorney, withdrew the union's request for an injunction, but she refused to explain why.

October 17, 2006 Beaver Times
A hearing that could decide the fate of the Beaver County Jail is expected to be moved up a week, as a final deadline looms. Civigenics is scheduled to take over management of the jail on Oct. 30, in a move that county commissioners have billed as one that will save taxpayers money. Within the past few weeks, representatives of Service Employees International Union Local 668 filed suit against Beaver County, asking a judge for an injunction that would stop the switchover from county to private supervision. Under the changeover, dozens of current jail guards would lose their jobs.

October 12, 2006 Beaver Times
Beaver County President Judge Robert Kunselman apparently doesn't believe in the old idiom "A day late and a dollar short." Even though CiviGenics is poised to take over management of the county jail Oct. 30, Kunselman has scheduled a hearing on a request for an injunction from the jail guards' union for Oct. 31. Beaver County Commissioners Chairman Dan Donatella said the head-scratching decision by Kunselman would not stop CiviGenics from taking over the jail as scheduled. "We can't sit around and speculate on what is going to happen," Donatella said. The judge's decision is bewildering because county officials have made it clear over the last few weeks in newspaper articles and letters to jail employees that CiviGenics would assume control Oct. 30. Kunselman did not respond to a telephone message left at his courthouse office Wednesday seeking an explanation for his decision. Dave Ramsey, the jail guards' union representative with Service Employees International Union Local 668, also did not return a message left at his office. To win an injunction, county solicitor Myron Sainovich said the union must prove to Kunselman that it is likely that it would prevail in litigation and that irreparable harm would occur if the jail were privatized. "I don't believe they can show that," Sainovich said. The Pittsburgh law firm of Thorp, Reed & Armstrong is representing the county in litigation about the jail. In a one-page order, Kunselman gave both sides until Oct. 27 to submit briefs "on the question of whether or not injunctive relief can or should be granted." This is the second recent court decision on the jail takeover that has raised the eyebrows of county officials. Six of the seven judges rejected a county request to recuse themselves from litigation involving the jail to avoid conflicts of interest. Judge Deborah Kunselman removed herself from any hearings citing her former position as county solicitor.

October 5, 2006 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Beaver County labor leaders might soon face a touchy, difficult choice. They hate seeing the county bringing in a private firm to run the county jail, and they feel betrayed by Democratic Commissioners Dan Donatella, a longtime friend of labor, and Joe Spanik, a labor official elected in 2003. But would they go as far as to shut down all political activities? Would they punish Mike Veon, of Beaver, and Vince Biancucci, of Center, incumbent Democratic state legislators counting on union support for re-election? Such a request is implied in a Sept. 26 letter from Kathy Jellison, president of Local 668 of the Service Employees International Union, to its members who are county employees working at the jail. "It is no longer acceptable for local party leaders and other elected officials to remain silent while asking us to help them," the letter says. "They must stand with us." The letter says Local 668 plans "to demand an immediate suspension of all electoral activity in Beaver County by organized labor. ... We are requesting that labor organizations shut down phone banks, labor walks and all other in-kind contributions. ... We are requesting that you and/or your family members not take part in any candidate on the ballot in the county. Cash contributions should be suspended as well." In a county that is still heavily Democratic and where organized labor is still a huge political force, the idea has people nervous, waiting to see if the request is actually made.

October 3, 2006 Beaver Times
In an order signed Monday, only Judge Deborah Kunselman recused herself from hearing any arguments, citing the fact that she was county solicitor when the move to privatize the jail began. The county had asked the judges to remove themselves from any cases concerning litigation with Service Employees International Union Local 668, which represents the jail guards. SEIU opposed the county's request, insisting that any arguments should be heard by a Beaver County judge. The union has asked for an injunction to halt the county from handing the reins of the jail to CiviGenics on Oct. 30 and it has asked the court to order the county to abide by an arbitrator's contract decision that prohibited the county from privatizing the jail. County commissioners have said the decision was not binding and that they don't have to obey it because doing so would force them to pass a tax increase to pay for jail operations. "This is a Beaver County problem," said Dave Ramsey, the jail guards' SEIU representative. "We're satisfied that this is going to stay before Beaver County judges." Ramsey said he found it insulting that Beaver County tried to get the jail litigation "shipped off to another county."

September 28, 2006 Pittsburg Post-Gazette
Barring further legal action, private enterprise will manage the Beaver County Jail beginning Oct. 30. The county issued a letter Tuesday informing jail workers -- who are all Beaver County employees -- that Civigenics Inc. would be taking over jail operations. The Marlborough, Mass., company operates prisons nationwide, including the jail in Columbiana County, Ohio, which borders Beaver. The announcement was not unexpected, since the county activated its contract with Civigenics June 22, and the contract gave the company 120 days to take over operations. The move has been opposed in court, however, by the local unit of the Service Employees International Union, representing corrections officers at the jail.

August 3, 2006 Pittsburg Post-Gazette
Lawyers representing Beaver County do not think county judges would be biased in the case pitting the county against its jail guards' union. But they do think there is an appearance of the possibility of bias, and are thus asking that the county's seven judges be recused from the case -- meaning it would be handled by a retired judge or one from another county. The county's attorneys -- Joseph Friedman, Kurt Miller and Amy Herne, of Thorp Reed and Armstrong, Pittsburgh -- made the recusal motion yesterday. "Because the county has set aside 10 percent of the general fund budget for the jail, any deviation from that budget will have a direct and material impact on the other operations funded through the general fund, including the courthouse and the court of Common Pleas," the argument for recusal reads. The judge, whoever it eventually is, will play at least a minor role in deciding the fate of the county jail, whether it will continue as a county-run, union-worked facility or whether it will be privately run. The county has signed a contract with a private firm, CiviGenics Texas Inc., to take over jail operations, looking for a savings of about $1.9 million a year. Meanwhile, the county went through arbitration with the guards' union over a contract that expired at the end of 2005, and the arbitration panel signed off on a deal that would keep the union guards in place but would cost the county more. The union regards the arbitration award as binding. The county regards it as advisory, arguing that holding to it would force county commissioners to take legislative action in the form of a tax hike, and that arbitration can't force a county to take legislative action. That's an argument the commissioners set in stone last Thursday, passing a three-page resolution stating the position that the arbitration award is advisory only and empowering the county's attorneys to fight it. The resolution states that county funds are already earmarked for other departments and programs, many of which are mandated by the state or federal government. Reserves need to be protected in case of cash-flow problems, meaning the only way to pay for the arbitration award would be to borrow money, paying it back through higher taxes later. "The commissioners hereby reject the award as an unconstitutional infringement on the legislative powers of the commissioners, and deem the award to be advisory only in nature ..." the resolution reads. The resolution brought a long pause from Commissioner Joe Spanik, a labor leader before his 2003 election. "That's a tough one," he said quietly, before eventually seconding Commissioner Charlie Camp's motion and voting for the resolution. After the meeting, Mr. Spanik said he felt the advisory nature of the award to be up to the courts to determine, though he backed the county's stance. The union, Local 668 of the Service Employees International Union, has filed a petition asking the court to enforce the arbitration award, and has also filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.

July 20, 2006 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Beaver County Commissioners are going full-steam ahead with plans to privatize the county jail while the union representing the guards is chugging right back with legal action to stop the move. "We feel we have to go forward with it," commissioners' chairman Dan Donatella said. "There is too huge a savings for the taxpayers for us not to." Meanwhile, the county's contractor, CiviGenics Inc., is interviewing potential guards. In response, the union: On July 10 filed a petition asking the county Common Pleas Court to uphold a favorable arbitration award. On July 12 filed a complaint with the state Labor Relations Board. On Monday filed a motion for an injunction to keep the county from continuing its move to CiviGenics. "The county commissioners want to be above the law, to ignore the arbitration award and do what they want anyway," union steward Tom Trkulja said. The issue has roots going back to late 2004, when the commissioners hired a private firm to manage the county-owned nursing home and started considering the jail as another candidate for privatization. The county put out a request for proposals early in 2005, and CiviGenics, based in Marlborough, Mass., offered a plan in June 2005 that included $1.8 million in annual savings. The county asked the guards' union to offer similar savings in a new contract -- the old labor agreement expired Dec. 31 -- but the contract went to arbitration when the union declined to match the private offer. On June 7, after seeing a preliminary proposal from the arbitrator, the county told the union it would go ahead with the CiviGenics deal. It sent an official letter to that effect June 22, the same day the arbitration award was announced. The union ratified the arbitrator's proposal, which offered about $400,000 in savings. The union -- Local 1168 of the Service Employees International Union -- contends that the arbitration award is legal and binding. "They can't just ignore it," business agent Dave Ramsey said. The county contends that while arbitration can determine what a contract will include, it can't stop the county from simply walking away and going in a different direction. "If an arbiter has that kind of power" -- to force a county into a union contract if it has other options -- "then the contract will run forever, and just keep getting renewed," Mr. Donatella said. In fact, Mr. Donatella said, the dispute could end up touching on some important uncharted territory. Depending what happens, the courts could end up determining whether counties have an automatic right to subcontract work, or if they only have that right when it is specifically allowed in their union contracts. "Many, many, many counties are watching this case," he said. If counties have a general right to employ subcontractors, it would make privatization a lot easier. Beaver County's old union contract said nothing about subcontracting work to a private business. The county contends that since it is not specifically forbidden, it is an option the county has. "That's a management decision," Mr. Donatella said. "I can't believe we don't have the right to manage." The union contends that since the arbitration award does include language on subcontracting -- the award says the county cannot subcontract work during the length of the new, arbitrated union contract -- then the county's hands are tied. "My understanding of the law is that if it isn't in the contract then you have to bargain for it," Mr. Ramsey said, "and that's what we did." He said top SEIU officials, like county officials, are watching the case closely. "They have to decide how they want to use their resources," he said. "I don't know if we're going to have purple shirts" -- the union's trademark color -- "marching in Beaver or not." Meanwhile, CiviGenics has until early September to take over jail operations, barring an injunction, and already is interviewing potential jail guards, including some union members. "Nobody really wants to work for this company," Mr. Trkulja said, "but some of the guys, because of the way their lives are, are going to have to." He said generally people are keeping quiet on the issue. There have been some hard feelings and a little name-calling, but nothing more serious than that, and union leaders are not asking members whether they are doing interviews. "There are mixed emotions down there," he said. "A lot of people are at somewhat of a low point."

July 18, 2006 Beaver Times
The union representing the Beaver County Jail guards filed for an injunction on Monday to stop the county from contracting with CiviGenics to manage the Hopewell Township jail. Service Employees International Union Local 668's motion for an injunction filed in Beaver County Court said allowing the county to contract with the Massachusetts-based CiviGenics would "cause immediate and irreparable harm to the employees," who would "suffer a loss of employment, medical coverage and other benefits ....." SEIU asked the court to grant an injunction "until (the union) has fully exhausted the administrative and judicial remedies." One of those remedies, presumably, is the union's request - filed July 10 - to have the county court force the county commissioners to honor an arbitration decision released by a panel last month. A neutral arbitrator and a union representative on the panel approved the decision, while county Solicitor Myron Sainovich, the panel's third member, rejected it. The union insists the arbitration decision is binding, but the county disagrees. Under the three-year decision, wages would be frozen and the number of full-time jail guards would be reduced, but the county would also be prohibited from privatizing the operation of the facility. The county's attorneys have said the arbitration decision would save the county $450,000 annually for three years, compared to the more than $4 million that would be saved by contracting with CiviGenics through 2008. Asked if the request for an injunction would affect the ongoing privatization process, Sainovich replied, "Not at this point in time." Claudia Lukert, SEIU's Harrisburg attorney, didn't return a message left at her office. County financial administrator Rob Cyphert said the county's contract with CiviGenics calls for the company to be reimbursed up to $125,000 for recruiting expenses "if they don't ultimately end up running the operation at the jail." A temporary halt to the process would not trigger that clause, Cyphert said. CiviGenics asked current guards to submit applications by July 14, and it was scheduled to hold a job fair at Penn State-Beaver today.

June 29, 2006 Beaver Times
How frayed has the relationship between Beaver County and the union representing its jail guards become amid contract arbitration and a move to privatize the jail? So tattered that when Service Employees International Union Local 668 business agent Dave Ramsey was told Wednesday that the county commissioners were disappointed in an arbitration decision that saved the county "only" $450,000 annually, this was his reaction: "Tell them to go (expletive) themselves, and you can tell them I said that." Well, then. The relationship won't improve now that an arbitration panel has issued a decision that would prohibit privatization from happening through 2008 and reduce the number of full-time guards, but would also freeze wages for three years and implement a 1 percent employee contribution toward health insurance. That's because county commissioners probably won't accept the deal, which they say falls far short of the estimated $1.9 million the county would save if the jail was outsourced to the Massachusetts company CiviGenics. "It is unlikely that this board is going to accept that," Commissioners Chairman Dan Donatella said of the decision by arbitrator Marc Winters that was agreed to by SEIU representative Rick Adams. The decision was issued Thursday, only hours after commissioners declared negotiations at an impasse and voted to authorize CiviGenics to start the takeover process. "We dislike just about everything (in the decision), but we're pleased they're not going to have any (privatization) for the life of the contract," Ramsey said. County Solicitor Myron Sainovich - who along with Winters and Adams made up the arbitration panel - rejected the decision. The arbitration decision would not keep the county from privatization, he said.

June 23, 2006 Beaver Times
A Massachusetts company could take over operation of the Beaver County Jail by October after county commissioners on Thursday declared negotiations with the guards at an impasse and unanimously approved privatizing the facility. "This," said Commissioner Joe Spanik, "is the next step forward." County Solicitor Myron Sainovich said officials hope to have CiviGenics in place no later than Oct. 15. Sainovich, who represented the county on the three-member arbitration panel in April, said Butler County arbitrator Marc Winters, the agreed-to neutral party, gave his proposal in May, but the county rejected it. Sainovich said the union rejected the proposal as well, although no union representative would confirm that on Thursday. Rick Adams, a representative for Service Employees International Union Local 668, argued for the jail guards in arbitration; he could not be reached at his Erie office. Sainovich would not release Winters' proposal because it was not a final decision. Winters did not return a telephone message left on Thursday. But Sainovich said late Thursday afternoon that Winters was preparing a revised proposal that would be given to both sides for consideration. Tom Trkulja, the guards' chief union steward, said he was unaware of the commissioners' vote.

June 23, 2006 Tribune-Review
A private company will take over management and operations of the Beaver County Jail by Oct. 15, county commissioners said Thursday. Putting CiviGenics Inc. in charge of the 360-bed jail in Hopewell will save the county $1.9 million in the first year of the deal, commissioners said in a news release. The county will pay CiviGenics $14.6 million over three years to run the jail. The union representing 72 county jail guards fought the move, fearing pay cuts and the loss of benefits, and they questioned private prisons' safety record and officials' rosy savings projections. "You shouldn't be imprisoning people for profit," Service Employees International Union Local 668 business agent Dave Ramsey said.

April 20, 2006 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The fate of Beaver County's push to privatize the county jail now rests in the hands of Marc Winters, an arbiter from Butler County. Beaver County officials and jail guards testified before a three-member arbitration panel April 12 and last Thursday, making their cases for alternative versions of how the Beaver County Jail should be run. With one of the three panel members selected by the county and one by the guards, however, it is essentially up to the one neutral arbiter, Mr. Winters, to say what should happen. The county has signed a contract with a Massachusetts firm, CiviGenics Inc., to take over management of the jail. The county says it can save up to $1.6 million a year by moving the jail into the private sector. The corrections officers union, working without a contract since Jan. 1, made a counterproposal, but it could not match the savings promised by CiviGenics. The union filed for arbitration after the county signed the CiviGenics contract. Neither guard nor county representatives would talk in detail about the proceedings, which were closed to the public. County financial administrator Rob Cyphert and jail Warden Bill Schouppe were the county's primary witnesses; three corrections officers testified for the union.

March 27, 2006 Beaver Times
The bitter contract negotiations between Beaver County Jail guards and the county will go before an arbitration panel next month at the county courthouse. County solicitor Myron Sainovich said last week that the county and the jail guards' union will square off April 12 and 13 in closed sessions. A three-member panel will hear arguments, but the decision essentially boils down to which side can win over the one neutral arbitrator. Sainovich will sit on the panel as the county's representative, and Rick Adams, a Service Employees International Union Local 668 business agent, will represent the guards. Butler County lawyer Marc Winters was picked as the neutral member by the county and the union. Sainovich said the two-day hearing will resemble a trial, with county officials involved in negotiations being called to testify. Although the county is poised to privatize the jail and allow CiviGenics to take over operations, county commissioners have said they would keep the jail under county control if they could get the financial concessions they're looking for. County officials have said the Massachusetts-based CiviGenics could save Beaver County $5 million over the next three years, but jail guards have questioned the validity of those estimates. The county has said the guards have not offered savings anywhere close to what CiviGenics is promising. As the arbitration process winds to a conclusion, the county continues to operate the jail, and guards continue to work under the terms of the contract that expired at the end of 2005.

February 16, 2006 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Beaver County commissioners yesterday unanimously passed a 2006 budget with no tax increase. The county's millage rate will hold at 17.7 mills, the same as it was in 2005. The projected total budget is roughly $257.5 million for the county's 29 separate funds and includes no major cuts or additions in funding or programs. The budget likely will be amended in the near future depending on the outcome of an arbitrator's decision on a contract between the county and the Local 668 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents the county jail's roughly 80 guards. The guards' contract expired on Dec. 31, and the two sides are at an impasse after the county decided to contract with a private firm, Civigenics, to run the jail. The county hopes to save upward of $1.5 million a year by switching to a private firm; guards are concerned that they might have to face sizable pay and benefit cuts to retain their jobs with a private company.

January 24, 2006 Beaver Times
Beaver County will pay CiviGenics $14.6 million over the next three years to manage the county jail, and it retains the right to cancel the contract at any time without giving a reason. Peter Argeropulos, CiviGenics' chief operating officer, said the deal is pretty typical of the company's other contracts. Current jail guards have said that private guards make considerably less than the $17.33 per hour the county now pays. Argeropulos said the wage scale would range from $10 per hour for entry-level guards to $14 per hour for guards with seniority. The benefits package would be a dramatic change for guards, who now pay nothing for health insurance. Argeropulos said company employees generally pay about 30 percent of health-insurance costs.

January 19, 2006 Beaver Times
Before the Beaver County Prison Board approved privatizing the Beaver County Jail, guards offered a plan that would have saved the county $1.6 million this year, the same as a private company has promised, a union official said Wednesday. "We tried to save (the county) as much money as we could," said Tom Trkulja, the chief union steward for the jail guards. Commissioners Chairman Dan Donatella said the contract with Massachusetts-based CiviGenics was executed Wednesday. "It's signed, sealed and delivered," he said. Trkulja charged that the county is demanding outrageous concessions from the guards that no other county unions have been offered. He said the guards have been asked to accept a 25 percent cut in hourly wages and pay a 25 percent health insurance premium while other county employees pay 1 percent. The county also wants to slash the number of full-time guards from 55 to 49 and part-time guards from 22 to 15, Trkulja said. Although it doesn't want to hurt other county workers, the union is exploring what bumping rights guards might have so they could move into other county jobs if they get displaced by CiviGenics, Trkulja said.

January 18, 2006 Beaver Times
Nearly two years after the Beaver County Commissioners first talked about privatizing the Beaver County Jail, the county prison board on Tuesday authorized them to contract with a Massachusetts company to run the Hopewell Township facility. "It's a contract that is good for the county," said Rick Towcimak, prison board member and county controller. Under the proposed contract with CiviGenics, the county would save a projected $5 million over the next three years. Most of the savings would come from the county no longer employing jail guards and having to pay their salaries and benefits. Tom Trkulja, the chief union steward for the county's jail guards, said the vote was a surprise to him and he again insisted that privatization would only create problems for the county and its residents. "Taxpayers are going to lose on this," Trkulja said. "We're all going to lose." Towcimak said he was initially skeptical about the savings expected from CiviGenics, but he is now convinced the figures are realistic. Also, he said the public would not be endangered by having a private company operate the jail, something the current jail guards have repeatedly warned about. "We've seen things happen down at the jail now, and it's not private," said Towcimak. Last month, a jail sergeant was fired for mistakenly releasing an accused child molester, the third time the sergeant had wrongly released an inmate in 2005. Towcimak said he had also received assurances from CiviGenics that the "vast majority" of jail guards would be offered jobs at comparable wages. Trkulja bristled at those comments, saying the union has been told that each full-time guard would have to accept an $18,000 pay cut.

January 1, 2006 AP
Beaver County says it is prepared to hire a private management firm to run the county jail, which officials say would save the county $5 million over three years. But the union representing the guards, whose contract expired Saturday, says it hopes a new proposal will save the county enough money to fend off privatization and ultimately save most of their jobs. "We're making every attempt we can to come up with ways to save them money, said Tom Trkulja, the union steward for the jail's 70 full-time and part-time guards. CiviGenics of Massachusetts has said it could save the county about $1.6 million a year over what it pays its guards currently - a projection disputed by the union. If CiviGenics is hired, the company would have the option of keeping the existing staff, but Trkulja said about 80 percent of the guards would probably not take the jobs because of the lower pay. Although negotiators for two sides are scheduled to meet Jan. 9, the county approved a budget last week that includes the $1.6 million annual savings expected if CiviGenics is hired.

December 27, 2005 Beaver Times
Under Beaver County's preliminary 2006 budget that commissioners should approve on Thursday, there won't be a county property tax increase for a second consecutive year. Commissioners are prepared to outsource the management of the jail to the Massachusetts company CiviGenics for a projected savings of nearly $5 million over the next three years, including at least $1.6 million in 2006. Savings achieved through no longer having to pay benefits could push those figures higher. Health coverage accounts for nearly $760,000, according to the county's 2005 budget, with dental and vision costing an additional $55,000. Taking all costs into account, the total savings from outsourcing could easily exceed $2 million annually. Service Employees International Union Local 668, the union representing county jail guards, has disputed the numbers contained in CiviGenics' proposal. And union officials have also been reviewing the contract proposal in an effort to submit their own proposal. The union's contract expires Dec. 31, and both sides have been negotiating. Donatella said commissioners expect significant savings from the jail whether they're provided by the union or CiviGenics. "We'll be more than happy to keep (the jail) in-house as long as the savings are there," Donatella said.

December 15, 2005 Pittsburgh Post Gazette
It is, essentially, a tale of 2 mills. If the Beaver County commissioners get a Massachusetts firm to run the county jail, or if they strike an equivalent deal with the union representing jail workers, they expect to pass a budget with no tax increase. If they keep running the jail under the terms of the existing union contract, they expect to pass a budget with a tax increase of about 2 mills. They plan to approve a preliminary budget Dec. 29, including the projected savings under the contract with CiviGenics, Inc., and then hunker down to see what happens next. If the union makes an offer with equivalent savings, they'll pass the preliminary budget essentially unchanged. If the commissioners sign with CiviGenics, they expect the union to go to court, seeking an injunction delaying the contract. If the court grants an injunction, the commissioners would be forced to continue operating the jail under the terms of the existing union contract, and would then pass a budget with a tax increase to pay for it. Dave Ramsey, business agent for Local 668 SEIU of the Pennsylvania Social Services Union, said the union would be coming up with a counter-offer, but that it would not match the one from CiviGenics. "We are going to make a proposal to them that includes enough people to actually man all the duty stations," he said, labeling the private proposal a "ghost offer" based on hiring and staffing assumptions that fly in the face of reality. Mr. Ramsey said the county was having trouble hiring corrections officers now, leading him to doubt whether CiviGenics can do so at lower wages. "The prospects of this proposal from CiviGenics being viable are not very high," he said.

November 6, 2005 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 
Beaver County is an unlikely place for a conservative revolution. Democrats hold a two-to-one registration advantage, have dominated county government for decades, own the state legislative seats. The steel mills are gone, but a blue collar is still a badge of honor and unions remain a political force. Inside the offices of the county commissioners, though, the flag of private enterprise is flying high -- high enough to draw repeated protests from local union officials. Over the last year, the commissioners have brought in new management for the county nursing home, outsourced services like printing, nursing home laundry and lawn care, and named a private restaurant to run the courthouse lunchroom as a for-profit entity, not to mention two rounds of layoffs, the first two in county history. And they're in the process of making two larger moves toward privatization: They solicited private companies to build and manage a regional juvenile detention center in the county and they have negotiated a tentative agreement for a private company to take over the county jail. The moves have local unions howling. "Our number one concern is for safety," said Ed Rowan, a correctional officer at the county jail and safety officer for Local 668 of the Service Employees International Union. "That's a big issue when it comes to private prisons. They have less training and lower wages." There is an even larger issue, though, that has the union's state headquarters on high alert as well. To put it simply, if this can happen here, it can happen anywhere. Beaver's move toward private management at the jail would be even more revolutionary, though it's not a done deal -- the union's contract runs through Dec. 31, and the county cannot make a change until then. The county does, however, have a basic agreement in place with CiviGenics Inc., of Marlborough, Mass. The bottom line is $1.8 million in promised savings annually, with perhaps another $600,000 in annual pension and benefit savings on top of it. If that happens, Beaver will be only the second county in Pennsylvania with a privately run jail -- the other is Delaware County, just south of Philadelphia. The protests of unions has been backed by a vociferous anti-private-jail lobby, which has Web sites and publications offering thousands of pages of horror stories and studies disputing the industry's claims of safety and savings. And in fact, Delaware has run into some recent problems, with five deaths in five months, sparking an internal investigation and one by the county district attorney's office. The county and jail operator The Geo Group Inc. are named in a $500,000 lawsuit by the family of a man who died in the jail of a drug overdose in April.

October 14, 2005 Beaver County Times
Beaver County Jail guards picketed the courthouse again on Thursday to protest the privatization of the jail, and a union official gave the county commissioners a petition bearing more than 1,400 names opposing the move. County residents are "beginning to become aware of what's happening, and they don't like it," said Dave Ramsey, the business agent for Service Employees International Union Local 668. Ramsey told the commissioners at their regular meeting that he noticed several resolutions on last month's agenda that addressed increases in contracts. He warned the commissioners that they'd be doing the same with CiviGenics if they outsource the jail to the Massachusetts company. Commissioners Chairman Dan Donatella didn't appeared swayed by the petition or the 1,472 signatures.

September 29, 2005 Beaver County Times
Beaver County Commissioner Joe Spanik is between the proverbial rock and a hard place as county officials inch closer and closer to privatizing the Beaver County Jail. "Absolutely, there's pressure," said Spanik, a longtime labor official who was elected in 2003 with the support of unions. As the move to privatize the jail in Hopewell Township picks up steam, Spanik has become the sounding board for not only jail guards, but local and state union officials who oppose outsourcing the jail's management to Massachusetts-based CiviGenics. Spanik found himself in an awkward position recently when the Beaver County Central Labor Council, on which Spanik sits, approved a resolution opposing privatization. Spanik abstained from the vote approving the resolution.

September 23, 2005 Beaver County Times
The debate over privatizing the Beaver County Jail intensified Thursday with jail guards picketing at the county courthouse and commissioners saying they might hire a public relations firm to counter union criticism. Prior to the commissioners' meeting at 10 a.m., about 30 people - mostly guards, their families and other union colleagues - carried signs and passed out fliers protesting the possible hiring of CiviGenics, based in Marlborough, Mass., to manage and staff the jail. Standing with other protesters along Market Street, Tom Trkulja, the guards' union steward, reiterated his stance that a purported $5 million in savings over three years is being exaggerated.
Not only would hidden costs ultimately cost taxpayers more in the long run, but private jail guards are not as dedicated as public ones, he argues, which would compromise the safety of guards, inmates and residents. During the commissioners' meeting, Ramsey presented Commissioners Chairman Dan Donatella with a resolution from the Beaver County Labor Council opposing privatization and asking that the county disclose CiviGenics' record, including its operation of the Penn Pavilion minimum-security jail in New Brighton. Donatella said the board is considering hiring a public relations firm that would direct the county's response to the union's attacks on privatization. "We need to show the taxpayer where we're coming from," he said. Donatella said a public-relations campaign might include pamphlets, radio spots and newspaper ads. "We're going to present the facts," he said, "and we'll let the public decide."

September 22, 2005 Pittsburgh Post Gazette
For nearly a year, the Beaver County commissioners have been talking about hiring a private firm to run the county jail. In that same time, the union representing corrections officers at the jail has been making dire predictions about the impact of such a move. And last night, the Beaver County Central Labor Council told the commissioners at their meeting that they too object to the county prison board negotiating a contract with CiviGenics Inc., the Marlborough, Mass. company that submitted the sole proposal to manage the jail. All three commissioners serve on the prison board. The labor council said it opposes "any scheme that risks the health and safety of all [county] residents by contraction with out-of-state contractors who don't care about Beaver County and whose sole concern is taking precious taxpayer dollars out of the community." The council claims CiviGenics' projected savings of $1.8 million per year in operating costs is vastly overstated, partly because it's based on a jail budget larded with overtime. The council also said CiviGenics' numbers do not account for increased costs from a higher number of escapes and assaults they expect from a lower-paid corrections staff. But the "No. 1 concern is safety," said Ed Rowan, a corrections officer and safety officer for Local 668 of the Service Employees International Union. "That's the big issue when it comes to a private prison," he said. "You have people with less training making lower wages.

Bedford County Jail
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
PrimeCare

January 6, 2009 AP
A prison health care provider and the family of a western Pennsylvania man who died in a prison have settled a lawsuit. John Margo claimed his son, 23-year-old James Margo, started to go through heroin withdrawal at the Bedford County Prison when he was jailed in June 2002. The suit claimed medical personnel did nothing to help him. He died July 5, 2002. A lawyer for PrimeCare Medical Inc. says terms of the settlement can't be released. PrimeCare has denied responsibility throughout the case. Margo had been in prison for a parole violation in a drug case.

Chester County Prison
08/15/13 The mercury

PHILADELPHIA — The estate of a Coatesville man who died in Chester County Prison while awaiting sentencing on drug charges has sued the prison, as well as the facility’s private health-care provider, for allegedly mistreating his acute diabetes. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, contends that medical officials at the prison in Pocopson ignored the fact that Rae-mone Aaron Carter Jr. had a history of diabetes and neglected to seek hospital care for him until it was too late to prevent his death. Instead, the suit alleges, Carter was given Pepto-Bismol instead of insulin for his symptoms. One of the attorneys for Carter’s estate, which includes his mother, Lisa M. Shelton of Lancaster, and four children, called the way Carter was treated “a colossal failure.” “Mr. Carter would be alive today if fundamental standards of professional medical practice were followed by his caregivers at the Prison,” commented Michael F. Barrett, an attorney with the law firm of Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett, & Bendesky, which filed the suit. The complaint seeks compensatory as well as punitive damages. Carter, 26, was a member of the large drug ring led by Coatesville resident Phillip Dimatteo, which was broken up by state, federal, and local police in 2011. Carter pleaded guilty to drug charges connected with the ring in late 2011, and was scheduled to be sentenced in May 2012. He passed away on March 16, 2012. In the six-count complaint, his estate alleges that Carter showed escalating symptoms of diabetic problems over a period of approximately one week starting March 11, 2012. He died in Chester County Hospital after being transferred there from the prison. The suit says that various employees of PrimeCare Medical services, which operates the health facilities at the prison, ignored the fact that he had a family history of diabetes and delayed administering routine blood tests or seeking hospitalization.

Children's Advocacy Center
Erie, Pennsylvania
Cornell

June 12, 2009 Erie Times-News
A Cornell Abraxas mental-health aide was charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old resident at the center. Police said the girl, now 15, told a counselor at the Children's Advocacy Center that Kito Dixon, 29, made inappropriate comments to her and touched her breast April 11 as she was getting ready for bed at the residential rehabilitation center for troubled juveniles, at 429 W. Sixth St. Police said a security video from the hallway outside the girl's room showed Dixon standing at her doorway for several minutes. It also showed him entering the room but does not show what happened inside, according to a criminal complaint. The video was at the same time as when the girl said the incident occurred. Dixon was charged Tuesday with institutional sexual assault, indecent assault and corruption of minors. He has been released from the Erie County Prison on $7,500 bond. Messages left at Cornell Abraxas were not returned Thursday.

Cornell-Abraxas Erie
Erie County, Pennsylvania
Cornell

April 21, 2010 Erie Times-News
A former Cornell-Abraxas mental-health aide was sentenced this morning in Erie County Court to serve six to 20 months in the Erie County Prison for having indecent contact with a 14-year-old resident at the center. Kito Dixon, 30, must also serve also serve six years probation and pay court costs, Judge Ernest J. DiSantis Jr. said. The sentence in Erie County Court came after Dixon pleaded no contest in March to charges that he had indecent contact with a female resident at the center in April 2009, and, in a separate case, pleaded no contest to charges that he drove his car into a yard toward three people on June 12.

March 6, 2010 Erie Times-News
A former Cornell Abraxas mental-health aide pleaded no contest Friday in Erie County Court to charges that he had indecent contact with a 14-year-old resident at the center. Kito Dixon, 30, did not contest counts of indecent assault and corruption of minors. In exchange for his plea, the prosecution dropped a third-degree felony charge of institutional sexual assault. Cornell Abraxas is a licensed residential facility for children and youth located at 429 W. Sixth St. As a part of the plea, Dixon agreed to undergo an assessment by the Erie County Adult Probation sexual offender group. In a separate case, he also pleaded no contest to three counts of simple assault. He admitted he drove his car into a yard toward three people on June 12. The charges together carry a maximum possible penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a $35,000 fine. Erie County Judge John Garhart set sentencing for April 21. Police said a girl, now 15, told a counselor at the Children's Advocacy Center that Dixon made inappropriate comments to her and touched her breast April 11 as she was getting ready for bed at the residential rehabilitation center for troubled juveniles. Police said a security video from the hallway outside the girl's room showed Dixon standing at her doorway for several minutes. It also showed him entering the room but does not show what happened inside, according to a criminal complaint. The video was at the same time as when the girl said the incident occurred.

Cornell-Abraxas Howe
Howe Township, Pennsylvania
Cornell

August 22, 2011 Erie Times-News
State police are searching for two boys who escaped this morning from a Forest County juvenile detention facility. The boys, a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old, were last seen running into the woods near the Cornell Abraxas Foundation in Howe Township around 4:30 a.m. They were described as black, wearing black shirts, light-colored pants and tennis shoes.

July 7, 2008 Erie Times-News
Four 18-year-olds were jailed over the weekend, charged with causing a riot at a juvenile detention facility in Forest County. State police at Tionesta, along with units from Ridgway, Kane and Clarion, were called to the Cornell Abraxas facility in Howe Township on Saturday at about 10:30 p.m. Police said one juvenile and three staff members were assaulted, although none was seriously hurt. Three buildings were damaged and windows, desks, chairs and other furniture were vandalized, with damage totaling about $5,000, according to police. Derek Barnes, Richard Gale, Rasheed M. Seward, all of Philadelphia, and Vernon L. High, of Chester, were each charged with riot, institutional vandalism, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and corruption of minors, according to police. Police said the four 18-year-olds incited additional juveniles to participate in the riot. The four were arraigned and placed in Warren County Jail with bail set at $25,000 each.

June 11, 2006 The Derrick
A boy escaped from the Cornell Abraxas facility Sunday morning but was captured several hours later, said state police in Tionesta. The 17-year-old youth fled into nearby woods after leaving the juvenile drug and alcohol treatment facility in Howe Township, Forest County, police said. He was found Sunday morning by staff members not far from the facility at 59 Blue Jay Road, police said.

Cornell-Abraxas Quincy
Quincy Township, Pennsylvania
November 1, 2004 Public Opinion
A 17-year-old boy allegedly assaulted three Cornell Abraxas staff members at 9 p.m. Thursday at the treatment center in Quincy Township. The boy allegedly punched, kicked and head-butted Leslie Fitch, 27, Chambersburg, David Black, 46, Chambersburg, and Robert Reed, 31, Gettysburg, after they attempted to restrain him, according to police. All three staff members suffered minor injuries, police said.

Correctional Physicians Services
October 14, 2002
State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, the Republican candidate for the 12th District, has accused his Democratic opponent, Howard Rovner, of lying and misstating facts during Rovner's press conference last week.
  Greenleaf was referring to assertions made both during the debate, hosted by program director Darryl Berger, and in a written statement issued to the media at the press conference Wednesday in Norristown.  Greenleaf, a lawyer, did legal work for Correctional Physicians Services Inc., which was awarded a $49 million contract in 1995 to provide medical services to inmates at the state's prisons. The firm paid Greenleaf, who was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, $2,000 every other week for more than two years as compensation for legal work.   In his press release, Rovner said Greenleaf approved the contract and later accepted a $20,000 campaign contribution from the company's president.   "That's a lie and you know it," Greenleaf said. "The state legislature approves no contracts. That's the governor's office."   Plus, Greenleaf added, he had no connection with the company when the original agreement was drafted in 1990, and the only legal services he provided Corrections dealt with the firm's out-of-state clients.   Rovner has called for an immediate investigation into Greenleaf's actions.   He said he would like to know exactly how much the senator received as part of his involvement with Corrections and as a member of the firm's oversight committee during the company's sale in 2000.  (The Intelligencer)  

Curran-Fromhold Prison
Pennsylvania
Prison Health Services

May 10, 2006 Philadelphia Weekly
A new federal civil rights lawsuit alleges mistreatment of a Curran-Fromhold prison inmate that culminated in a brutal rape. Attorney Rich Ostriak of the law firm Ostriak Birley filed the suit last week in U.S. District Court, demanding unspecified damages on behalf of inmate Thomas Moore, who entered the Philadelphia prison system in January 2005, awaiting trial on robbery charges, and fought with a pair of inmates over use of the phone on his first day there. Moore was transferred to restrictive confinement, otherwise known as "the hole," where his complaints about severe pain and difficulty breathing were ignored for almost three days before he was taken to the infirmary. On June 20 he was transferred to Frankford Hospital to receive coronary angioplasty and an arterial stent. The suit alleges Prison Health Services failed to deliver his required heart medications for five days after he returned to jail.

August 16, 2001
Three suicides in a month, mentally ill patients being drugged senseless, filthy treatment rooms, staffing shortages, management systems unable to cope.  Those are just some of the medical problems two consultants have found within the city's prison health-care system, according to secret reports obtained by the Daily News.  It is a system operated by a Tennessee conglomerate that the city pays $25 million a year.  The city's contractor, Prison Health Services, a subsidiary of American Service Group Inc., freely admits it's losing money in Philadelphia, but insists the quality of care has not dipped.  Though the Street administration professes to be happy with its contractor, ignorance can be bliss. On critical issues, administration officials don't appear to be carefully supervising the private company, in part because they have a minuscule oversight unit.  The city's contract with PHS lacks the precision tools for tight oversight.  Dr. William Patterson, a Washington psychiatrist, noted that the average mental-health caseload has been running at 1,600 inmates, far above the contract estimate of 1,000 inmates and far beyond the staffing level PHS set up.  Patterson also found that about 1,500 of 1,600 inmates were getting prescribed drugs.  But PHS's Newkirk conceded: "We are treating more people than what we were staffed for. You see that in Dr. Patterson's report.  What was in the contract is what we have. That's the fact. As a result, we probably are giving more medications than we would if we had more staff."  Among the other issues raised by the city consultants: * Hygiene - Greifinger found the medical units at Curran-Fromhold and the Detention Center were dirty. He found infirmary cells with food scattered around with bloody bandages. Refrigerators contained both food and medicine. Biohazardous waste was left uncovered.  * Medication - For all the problems with drugging mental-health patients, Greifinger found that the half of the doses given to patients at the Detention Center were undocumented.  * Records - One reason the city was so pleased with the expanded PHS contract was that inmates would be cared for by only one medical unit rather than the dual system that existed when Hahnemann University Hospital provided mental-health care.  But an integrated system still doesn't exist more than a year after PHS gained control of the entire contract.  * Testing - Only 22 percent of female inmates were tested for sexually transmitted diseases, though prison policy and the contract require all women to be tested.  Consultant Patterson closed with a warning that the next round of class-action lawsuits will be over improper mental-health care for inmates.  (Daily News)

August 16, 2001
When Kyle York, 20, showed up at the Philadelphia prisons, his life was in utter shambles.  After ingesting PCP on New Year's Eve last year, he'd gone into a hallucinatory rage, shooting his mother, shooting at his father and inflicting a grazing wound to himself.  Less than three months later he was dead.  And Blake Berenbaum, the attorney hired by York's parents, is trying to learn what happened to the troubled young man.  Was he beaten to death by prison guards? Given too many injections of sedatives by prison physicians? Was it a combination of the two? Or did he meet his fate by some unknown means?  Prison spokesman Bob Eskind said York had been under "four-point restraint," meaning that four guards each took a limb.  Both Eskind and Berenbaum said a PHS doctor had given York a dose of Ativan, a sedative. Berenbaum identified the physician as Benjamin Caoile. Put into an infirmary bed, York was still combative, Berenbaum said. At that point Caoile left York and the guards in the room.  Berenbaum said records show that the doctor ordered the nurse to give York "another" injection of Haldol and Benadryl, both sedatives. To Berenbaum, that suggests there were earlier and unrecorded doses of those drugs.  When Caoile returned about 15 minutes later, York was in an unresponsive state and emergency measures were started. York never regained consciousness and died on March 14.  (Daily News)

September 15, 2000
Jose Santiago was arrested on drug charges Sept. 13. While in police custody, the 28-year old diabetic received three insulin shots. But after he was transferred to prison custody on Sept. 15, his condition deteriorated and he died Sept. 16. The medical examiner stated that the death was diabetes related.

City Councilman Angel Ortiz wants an investigation to take place. He said, "Mr. Santiago was totally neglected by health services at Curran-Fromhold. He didn't commit suicide. He was just not given medical assistance."

Pending in U.S. district Court is a suit filed by seven diabetics and the American Diabetes Association against the city. They contend that the police denied them proper care while in police custody.

Dauphin County Prison
Dauphin, Pennsylvania
Aramark
Aug 27, 2014 pennlive.com

Dauphin County probation officials are looking into how the 15-year-old charged in the shooting death of Malik Stern-Jones escaped from authorities' custody Aug. 5. Also looking into the escape is Abraxas Youth and Family Services, in whose custody Niejea Stern had been Aug. 5 when he escaped while at the Children's Resource Center in Harrisburg for questioning, said Pablo Paez of the GEO Group of Florida, who responded for Abraxas. "This was a unique and unfortunate situation which is currently under investigation. Abraxas has had no other escapes from secure detention or secure treatment programs," Paez said, adding the company has had a 38-year partnership with Dauphin County. Amy Richards Harinath, county spokeswoman, said the teen was in custody of Abraxas Youth and Family Services personnel, with whom the county contracts for services. "No county probation officers were present," she said. Jeffrey Haste, chairman of the county commissioners, said anytime there is an escape, whether from work release or other custody, the county reviews procedures and how they occurred. Niejea Stern, charged Aug. 20 with homicide in the shooting death Aug. 19 of Malik Stern-Jones in Hall Manor, escaped at the Children's Resource Center, where he had been taken for an interview on an unrelated matter, District Attorney Ed Marsico said Tuesday. Stern was serving time in a juvenile detention center in connection with a robbery charge, Marsico said. Haste said from what he has been told, detention officers "did mostly everything they normally do. The kid was a persistent kid." He said Chad Libby, county probation services director, is looking into the matter. Marsico said Stern's legs were unshackled, but not his wrists, when he asked to use the bathroom. He fled, eluding detention guards and police. Haste said the escapes are among other matters scrutinized when the county's contract with Abraxas comes up for review annually.

September 20, 2005 Patriot News
While Dauphin County Prison's food service vendor has agreed to reimburse the county $65,000, there was no criminal intent behind the overbilling, authorities say. The agreement reached between Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp. and the county district attorney ends a several-month grand jury investigation started last year into allegations of watered-down food and overcharging. Aramark did provide adequate food as called for in its contract with the Swatara Twp. prison, but the investigation showed the county was billed for meals that were not made, said District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr. The $65,000 is for overbilling that occurred in 2002 and 2003, Marsico said. The investigation was spurred by repeated inmate complaints. While there were menu changes under the current contract, Marsico said the investigation found Aramark was providing the required meal content. Aramark officials refused to discuss what went wrong on their end or what steps they've taken to make sure the problem does not reoccur

September 20, 2005 AP
Dauphin County Prison's food service vendor agreed to reimburse the county $65,000 for overbilling during 2002 and 2003, authorities said. Officials said there was no criminal intent behind the overbilling, and Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp. did provide adequate food as called for in its contract with the prison. "I'm very pleased with the amount of money we received," District Attorney Edward M. Marsico said. "I believe it more than covers any loss the county may have had." Masrisco said much of the overbilling occurred because the company had charged a flat amount for meals instead of tracking the actual ups and downs of the jail population, and he said both prison officials and the company would keeping a more careful eye on how many meals actually are provided.
Aramark officials declined to discuss what went wrong what steps they were taking to prevent a recurrence. "We fully cooperated with the inquiry and consider the situation to be resolved," company spokeswoman Sarah Jarvis said.

March 19, 2004
A 16-year old Harrisburg boy escaped from a Dauphin County juvenile detetnion center, using a stock to disable a locked door and a walkie-talkie to create confusion.  The teenager, who then outran two guards, remains at large following the escape at about 1 a.m. Tuesday from the Schaffner Youth Center in Steelton.  No one was injured, according to county spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher.  The teen, who was admitted Saturday on unspecified misdemeanor charges, is not considered dangerous. His name and the nature of the charge was not released because of his age.  Two guards have been suspended without pay pending a review of the facility, which is managed by Cornell Abraxas and holds about 65 youths, Kocher said.  "We did have several unfortunate breakdowns in security," she said.  (AP)

February 1, 2004
Officials are looking into whether a food service company is cutting back on the amount of food served to prisoners. Reporter Chris Schaffer has the exclusive story.  When inmates come to the Dauphin County Prison food service giant Aramark provides the food they eat. A few months ago county officials began looking into the company's books, as part of a contract renewal process. They saw documents including years of menus, instructions, and budgets.  Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste: "The numbers didn't quite match up - it appeared in our minds that we had been over-billed"  The county renewed its contract with Aramark. In early November, the prison went into a partial lock-down because of what the warden called "heightened tension levels" among inmates. At that time a corrections officer told WHP-CBS-21 that one factor leading to the increase in tension was that food portions appeared to be smaller.  Another source now says documents suggest that for years, inmate portions have been reduced or watered down to save money. Soon the investigation will go before a grand jury in Dauphin County.  A representative from Aramark would only say quote, "we did receive a request for information from the Dauphin County District Attorney's Office, and we are cooperating fully.  Commissioner Haste says the discrepancies he noticed could be accounting errors, but;  "If in fact there's criminal intent I'm going to recommend we prosecute to the extent we can prosecute"  Aramark is a world-wide company, headquartered in Philadelphia. It provides food for sports stadiums, hospitals and universities in addition to more than 300 correctional facilities.  (WHPTV.com)

DuPont Laboratories
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Wackenhut (Group 4)

April 30, 2008 Philadelphia Daily News
A former postal employee serving a year's probation for stealing bars of gold from an express-mail package was jailed yesterday for three months for violating his probation. Edward Henderson, 22, of Dover Street near W. York Street, ran afoul of the feds after he told his probation officer he had been fired from his job as a security guard for Wackenhut Security. Todd Schaffer, the probation officer, testified at a hearing yesterday that Henderson found a SIM card for a cell phone in a storage locker at DuPont Laboratories and used it for several months in his own cell phone. A SIM card is a tiny data card that stores account information. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joan Burnes said Henderson used the SIM card between May and August 2007, ringing up charges of almost $1,750 to call his girlfriend and family members. Henderson was charged in Common Pleas Court last August with theft by unlawful taking and with receiving stolen property. Those charges are still pending. A condition of Henderson's probation was that he not commit any federal or state crimes. U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Rice was not pleased. Last May, Rice sentenced Henderson to a year's probation for stealing 15 bars of .9999 fine gold from an express-mail package, valued by authorities at about $11,850. Burnes said Rice had given Henderson an opportunity last year to set himself straight but he blew it. Burnes asked that the judge jail Henderson for three months. Henderson admitted he had "done a foolish thing" but said he hadn't deliberately violated his probation. Defense attorney Maranna Meehan said she thought three months in jail was a "bit excessive." "I'm asking for a second opportunity for [him]," she said, adding that Henderson was supporting his mother and his 3-year-old son. But this time, Rice was not so understanding. "I had confidence in you, I gave you a chance," he told Henderson. "You made a promise to me and you broke it." The judge was just getting warmed up. "You just don't get it. I think you just thought you could get away with it because you're wearing a uniform," Rice said, his voice rising a few decibels. Rice also ordered Henderson to make restitution of $1,750 to DuPont Labs. Rice ordered Henderson to be taken into custody immediately.

Elizabeth Township
June 22, 2007 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
A former Elizabeth Township district judge is about to embark on a new venture -- as a blogging federal prisoner. Ernest Marraccini, 62, was sentenced Thursday to 16 months in a yet-to-be-determined federal prison and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine. Marraccini pleaded guilty in March to one count of obstructing justice for coaching a witness to lie to a grand jury. As he left the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Alan N. Bloch, Marraccini thanked his supporters and promised to post a diary online from prison -- even if he has to mail the daily entry to a friend. Federal prisoners are not typically given access to the Internet. "I've already found someone who's agreed to do it," said Marraccini, who will remain free on bond until he is told where to report. Marraccini obstructed the investigation of former Allegheny County Chief Deputy Sheriff Dennis Skosnik. Skosnik was sentenced last year to five years in prison on a variety of charges, including taking bribes to promote the construction of a private jail facility at Swiss Alpine Village -- the Route 48 shopping center where Marraccini's office was located. In 2001, Gary McDermott, of Stowe, paid for a trip to the Bahamas for Marraccini and a friend. In exchange, Marraccini spoke favorably about the jail facility at public meetings, prosecutors said. Marraccini later tried to get McDermott -- an FBI informant -- to tell the grand jury that he was repaid for the trip.

February 1, 2007 Tribune-Review
A former district judge said Wednesday he reluctantly agreed to plead guilty to obstructing a federal corruption investigation of the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office. "People who are innocent frequently believe that they must take the 'percentage play' because they have a lot to lose if the jury finds them guilty," said Ernest L. Marraccini, an Elizabeth Township district judge from 1992 until he resigned in December. Marraccini, 62, was charged Tuesday with obstruction of justice in connection with an investigation into former Chief Deputy Sheriff Dennis Skosnik, who pleaded guilty last year to taking bribes to promote the construction of a private jail in the shopping center where Marraccini's office was located. Prosecutors allege Marraccini got an all-expense-paid trip for two to the Bahamas in 2001 from the person trying to build the private jail. Investigators said Marraccini tried to get a witness to lie in 2005 to a federal grand jury looking into the trip. Marraccini's attorney, Victor H. Pribanic, said that Marraccini was given the trip by former sheriff's deputy Gary McDermott, of Stowe, and that it was McDermott his client later tried to influence. McDermott was identified in 2005 as an informant in the federal probe of the planned facility at Swiss Alpine Village, a shopping center on Route 48. Skosnik, 55, a friend of McDermott's, pleaded guilty in June to related bribery, witness tampering and other charges. He is serving a five-year sentence in a federal prison in West Virginia. Pribanic said the Bahamas trip "was not a quid-pro-quo thing. I think it was more like a gift in gratitude for things (Marraccini) had already done." Marraccini, who said he was a grocery bagger at his cousin's store in Elizabeth Borough before successfully running for district judge in 1992, spoke in favor of the alternative inmate facility at public meetings and elsewhere, Pribanic said. Pribanic claimed McDermott repeatedly approached Marraccini to get him to fix cases and accept bribes, but Marraccini rebuffed him. The attorney said he hoped U.S. District Judge Alan N. Bloch would consider that at the plea hearing, scheduled for March 15. McDermott did not return calls for comment. U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan declined to comment on the case. Reached at home yesterday, Marraccini said he and a longtime male friend who lives with him went on the trip together. He suggested that the fact that he is gay might have played a role in triggering the investigation. "There are some people who have a very difficult time simply accepting gay people no matter what they do," Marraccini said. The state Court of Judicial Discipline reprimanded Marraccini in October after he was accused of calling some defendants "morons" when they hesitated to leave the court after he summarily dismissed their traffic cases. He resigned two months later. Marraccini said he was "sad" to no longer work as a district judge. He joked that he is thinking of writing his memoirs. "With any luck, I'll get to go on 'Oprah' and cry, I'll get to be on 'The View' and insult somebody famous, then maybe Jay Leno will call me a name. And with any luck I'll get rich and become a celebrity ... and turn this lemon into lemonade," he said.

Erie County Jail
Erie, PA
Prison Health Services
July 19, 2005 Red Nova
Erie County must soon come up with another $311,877 to pay 2004 medical expenses at the Erie County Prison.  Warden James Veshecco said medical costs have been rising partly because the number of inmates has been increasing. The average population was 705 in 2004, compared with 676 in 2003.  The $311,877 will be on top of the regular premium of $1.3 million already paid in 2004, he said.  Veshecco said the prison is receiving more inmates who need mental health treatment and related prescriptions. There are also more women, some of whom are pregnant.  The county has contracted with Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn., since 1999 to provide all medical care and pharmaceutical costs at the prison.  Because of the rising costs, the county in recent years agreed to a contract that set limits on the amount that the insurance company would pay for inmates who go to hospitals and other facilities and for pharmaceutical products. The prison must pay any amount above that.  In 2003, the premium was $1.2 million and the county had to pay an additional $60,000 for exceeding the cap. In 2004, the prison once again exceeded the caps and had to pay $207,365 more for off-site visits and $104,512 more for pharmaceutical products, totaling $311,877.  The premium to PHS has been increased to nearly $1.5 million for 2005, exclusive of the money owed if the caps are exceeded.

Franklin County Jail
Pennsylvania
EMSA/Prison Health Services

EMSA was warned that it -- not taxpayers-- must pay any legal damages that might be awarded in connection with the death of an inmate last month. (Columbus Dispatch, Oct.5, 2000)

Inmate, Rocky Eickstadt, dies of complications from diabetes. Jail records show he requested medical help not knowing he was diabetic, complaining of problems and did not see a jail nurse for eighteen days. Family is suing. Three lawsuits are pending against EMSA and one against CMS in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on other issues. (Columbus Dispatch, Oct.5, 2000)

EMSA replaces correctional medical services after CMS was repeatedly faulted by Franklin County officials for being short staffed. Commissioners warned EMSA that poor service would not be tolerated after national media reports linking the company to suits and improper care. (Columbus Dispatch, Oct. 5, 2000)

George W. Hill Correctional Facility
Thornton, Pennsylvania
Community Education Centers (formerly run by GEO Group, formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
Jan 5, 2014 The Pennsylvania Record

A former suburban Philadelphia prison inmate who claims she was forced to live in “inhumane, barbaric conditions,” and suffered daily pain for a period of months due to a failure to get her proper medical care while behind bars has filed a federal civil rights complaint against those responsible for her care. Bridget Simonds, of Secane, Pa., filed suit Dec. 24 at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Delaware County, Correctional Medical Associates Inc., Community Education Centers Inc. and others over the poor treatment she alleges she received in late 2011. The plaintiff says she suffered a work related injury while on work release from the Delaware County Prison on Dec. 28 of that year. At the hospital, doctors diagnosed Simonds with a comminuted distal radial fracture, after which she was taken to the George Hill Correctional Facility with instructions to undergo an orthopedic evaluation in three days. She was never given such an evaluation, however, but was instead held for two additional months without a further doctor’s consultation or a cast to stabilize her injury, the lawsuit states. The plaintiff filed two separate grievances during this time, reminding the prison of her medical needs, but they were ignored, Simonds claims in her lawsuit. The defendants instead “continued to deny plaintiff treatment and failed to transport her to the hospital or an orthopedic surgeon for follow up care,” the complaint states. “Despite Plaintiff’s continued requests, the defendants intentionally, maliciously, and/or recklessly failed to provide plaintiff with the needed medical care during the course of her incarceration.” As a result of the defendants actions, or rather inactions, Simonds was “forced to suffer severe and constant pain, and was denied necessary medical devices and/or treatment, resulting in extreme indignity, humiliation, emotional distress, as well as severe physical discomfort, and a serious decline in her medical condition,” the lawsuit states. By the time Simonds was released from prison in late February 2012, the suit claims, her bones had improperly set, leading to what the plaintiff says was a severe exacerbation of her initial injury, causing permanent nerve damage and paralysis of her right, long finger. On March 7, 2012, Simonds was forced to undergo an open reduction, internal fixation surgery with median nerve release and placement of plates and screws, according to the complaint. As a result of the defendants’ combined negligence, Simonds was forced to spend money on medical care, she suffered from physical injury and emotional distress, and she incurred other financial expenses and losses. The additional defendants named in the complaint are Dr. Phillips, the head of the medical department at the George Hill Correctional Facility, Corrections Officers Dixon and Stacey, and a Jane Doe medical staff officer. There is also an additional John Doe corrections officer named in the complaint. The first names of the three aforementioned defendants are not known at this time. The complaint contains counts of inadequate medical care, custom and policy of unconstitutional conduct, and negligence. The plaintiff seeks unspecified compensatory damages, plus interest, costs, attorney’s fees and other relief. Simonds is being represented by Philadelphia attorney Thomas Bruno, II, of the firm Abramson & Denenberg P.C. The federal case number is 2:13-cv-07565-TON.


November 27, 2013 correctionsone.com

THORNBURY — The allegations are vivid: African American inmates placed for hours at a time in a "dirty cell" strewn with rotten food, human feces, and urine. White guards "waterboarding" black prisoners with pepper spray until they vomit. K-9 officers letting "their dogs urinate on the belongings and bedding" of black inmates. The claims are spelled out in lawsuits filed by two guards at Delaware County's prison, the George Hill Correctional Facility in Thornbury. The private company that runs the prison denies the accusations, and a lawyer for the county prison board called them "sensational" and noted they had not been substantiated. But the charges, leveled in complaints filed this fall, represent the latest criticisms of the 1,883-bed prison and its operator, Community Education Centers of New Jersey. Concerns over conditions for inmates and workers sparked a protest in recent weeks. On Friday, a group of human rights advocates held an open meeting in which they hoped to share their concerns with county and prison officials. No representative of the county or the prison attended. "The ultimate goal is to establish a citizens' advisory committee," said the Rev. Keith Collins, who heads the group. "Right now, everything is shrouded." Collins, of the Church of the Overcomer in Chester, said the agenda was to include abuse of prisoners, overcrowding, lack of effective reentry programs, lack of opportunity for religious services, and treatment of visitors. Community Education Center, which the county hired in 2009 to run the jail, declined to discuss the allegations. "While the company does not comment on pending litigation or complaints such as these," spokesman Christopher Greeder wrote in an e-mailed statement, "we do strenuously deny these allegations and are confident these matters will be dealt with appropriately in due course." This is not the first time the company has come under fire. In 2010, at least seven inmates were mistakenly released from the Thornbury jail. In New Jersey, its halfway houses have drawn scrutiny from state officials. Residents at its Philadelphia halfway house won a class-action lawsuit after being denied adequate medical care there. The George Hill guards - Angelina Blocker of Philadelphia and Silver Black of Lansdowne - are suing for wrongful termination, breach of contract, harassment, and other related complaints. Neither Blocker nor Black was available for comment, according to their lawyer, Stewart C. Crawford Jr. He said he stood behind every allegation in the lawsuits. "Our investigation has also produced a number of independent sources to support these allegations," he said. Calls to prison superintendent John A. Reilly Jr. were referred to Robert DiOrio, solicitor for the Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors, which is responsible for administration of the jail. DiOrio said he had not heard of the abuse allegations in the lawsuits. "They are certainly sensational," DiOrio said of the allegations. "That doesn't mean they are true." Marianne Grace, the county's executive director, said during her impromptu tours of the prison she had not seen any evidence of the claims made in the lawsuits. The 2013 budget for the prison is $43 million - 13 percent of the county's overall budget. By contrast, Montgomery County, which has a capacity of 2,080 beds, budgets $30 million; York County, with a capacity of 2,694, budgets $41 million. Blocker was fired in June 2012 for allegedly exaggerating an incident report. In 2007, a racially charged photo of her with a noose around her head was found in a union mailbox. Blocker is African American. Silver Black, who is also African American, was fired March 26, 2012, for allegedly being late. During her nearly eight-year tenure at the prison, Black had been written up three times for lateness - twice while under the protection of the Federal Family Medical Leave Act, according to the lawsuit. The two suits charge that African American guards are discriminated against and held to different standards than their white coworkers. They cite an alleged 50 percent drop in the number of black correctional officers at the prison. They also contend that black guards receive a disproportionate number of write-ups and that black guards who take and pass tests to become supervisors are disqualified while white officers receive the questions in advance. Collins said he was outraged at the abuse and discrimination allegations in the lawsuit and by what he has heard from prisoners. McClatchy-Tribune News Service "This needs to stop," he said. "It's a human rights issue."

April 15, 2011 Delco Times
Delaware County Deputy District Attorney James Mattera could soon be moving to the county owned George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornton, where he would oversee the records department as a first assistant superintendent. The prison saw a string of embarrassing accidental releases last year, resulting in public admonishments from elected officials and the hiring of a prison specialist to help shore up deficiencies. Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors Solicitor Bob DiOrio said Mattera would be an employee of the privately owned management company that oversees the prison, Community Education Centers Inc. County council Chairman Jack Whelan said there had been some technological improvements made at the prison, but having Mattera as the human element overseeing the operation would also be a benefit. He added that the move could result in a net savings to the county, as Mattera’s replacement at the district attorney’s office would likely earn less than his current $83,000 salary.

February 14, 2011 Delco Times
Three Rastafarians who sued the county-owned prison and its management company in August for gender, racial and religious discrimination recently filed an amended and more narrow complaint in federal court. “The new complaint drops some claims and focuses the case where I think the problem really lies,” said Brian Appel, of the firm Choi and Associates P.C. “I’ve taken out any kind of sex discrimination or gender discrimination, taken out any issues of race.” Appel represents Nigel LeBlanc, Eugene Briggs and Zayid Bolds, three professed followers of the Rastafari movement and former prison guards at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornbury. The trio originally alleged in a filing in Eastern Pennsylvania District Court that religious, sexual and racial discrimination led to their terminations in early 2009. According to the suit against the prison and its private, for-profit management company, Community Education Centers, Rastafarians are prohibited from cutting the hair on their head, including facial hair. That prohibition conflicted with the male grooming policy for CEC, which fired all three men shortly after taking over operations at the prison in January 2009. Christopher Greeder, spokesman for CEC, said he was unable to comment on ongoing litigation. Community Education Centers’ grooming policy states male guards must be clean shaven, have neatly combed hair and that hair length “shall not extend beyond the collar,” though the suit noted the policy does not specifically say hair must be cut to that length. Female guards with long hair are instructed to pull it up into a bun. According to the suit, each of the former guards did put their dreadlocks into buns pulled tight against the top of their heads, “professionally tied into styles that were neat and clean.” But the former guards said they were constantly harassed for their hairstyles and that working conditions quickly eroded after each began following the Rastafari movement.

December 15, 2010 Philadelphia Inquirer
Two Delaware County jail employees have been suspended after a prisoner was prematurely released last week when they failed to finish reading the bail conditions for the inmate, officials said. At least seven inmates at the George Hill Correctional Facility in Thornbury Township have been mistakenly released this year through paperwork errors or confusion over identities. Officials have acknowledged problems with procedures and paperwork. Christianus Felten, 42, of Upper Darby, is again behind bars after spending a night out. Felten, in jail awaiting trial in an alleged burglary, was approved for electronic home-monitoring after his bail was reduced at a preliminary hearing Dec. 7, according to Robert DiOrio, solicitor for the Delaware County Prison Board. Felten was freed when two jail employees - an intake clerk and a sergeant - did not confirm his eligibility for release with the bail office and released Felten before final approval for home-monitoring, according to officials. "That portion of the paperwork was not read by the officials on duty," said DiOrio.

December 14, 2010 Delco Times
For the seventh time this year, a prisoner at Delaware County prison was released prematurely. Alleged burglar Christianus E. Felten 42, of Upper Darby, was back behind bars within 15 hours after his untimely release Dec. 7, according to officials. But the slipup has prison board officials once again looking into intake and release procedures at the county jail. “I’m certain the prison board will review this matter, as far as the procedures that were not followed, in an effort to avoid similar circumstances in the future,” said Prison Board Solicitor Robert DiOrio. Felten was arrested Nov. 13 after allegedly breaking into a home on Millbank Road in Upper Darby. He was arrested again a day later after briefly escaping from a constable as he was being loaded into a prison van. At his preliminary hearing Dec. 6, Felten’s bail, originally set at 10 percent of $50,000, was reduced to unsecured bail with the condition the he be approved for electronic home monitoring before being released. That’s where officials said the mix-up occurred. The record’s clerk received the paperwork on Felten’s bail reduction, but missed the part about the electronic home monitoring. Felten was released at 9 p.m. Tuesday. The following day, the person with whom Felten was staying called to report that the electronic home monitoring had not been set up and prison officials realized what had occurred and Felten was back in jail by 12:30 p.m., according to officials. Six other prisoners, including a murder suspect, were accidentally released in recent months. All have been recaptured.

October 7, 2010 Delco Times
Confusion over a prisoner’s status led to another early release at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornbury over the weekend, though it was of a different kind than plagued the prison over the summer. Cyril Devine, 49, of Downingtown, a former oil company executive sentenced to prison in August for child pornography, was set free after serving a weekend at the prison this month. But Devine, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to six counts of possession of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility, was supposed to serve at least two months. Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge James Bradley sentenced Devine to two to six months imprisonment beginning Oct. 1, plus seven years probation. But prison Solicitor Robert DiOrio said Devine showed up at the prison Friday, Sept. 10, with a probation and parole form indicating he was supposed to begin serving weekend sentences. DiOrio said Devine was admitted as a weekender, despite a lack of any sentencing paperwork at the prison, and released the following Sunday. He showed up again on Oct. 1 and was again released the following Sunday. The prison — now in receipt of his actual paperwork from the courts — discovered the discrepancy and recaptured him Tuesday, said DiOrio. The sentencing sheet indicated Devine was to be granted “immediate nonstationary work release,” but no rules or regulations indicated he was to serve weekend sentences.

September 15, 2010 Delco News
Delaware County Council recently called for a complete investigation into the unauthorized release of three prisoners from the county prison since June 14. Two of the inmates are back in custody and federal marshals are looking for the third. Significant changes in prison release procedures are in place at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Concord Township, and additional safeguards are being formulated as part of an investigation. “Public safety is county council's top priority and we won't tolerate mistakes when it comes to our criminal justice system and the safety of our residents,” said County Council Chair Jack Whelan. “We have asked for a full investigation of the inmate release procedure. A stricter, more fail-safe policy is already in place with more changes to come as the investigation continues.” Whelan said several county employees were involved in the prison incidents. One was fired and the others disciplined. The George Hill facility, which is the fifth largest county prison in the state, is operated by Community Education Centers Inc., a New Jersey-based company that has run the prison since January 2009. John Reilly, Jr. oversees CEC's operations for the county. He detailed three procedural changes that have been instituted since June 15 and said he has also launched a review of the clerical records process to streamline and strengthen paperwork procedures.

September 3, 2010 Philadelphia Daily News
It's happened again at the Delaware County prison. Yet another inmate was accidentally released this week from the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, county officials confirmed yesterday, making for the sixth such incident there in recent months. Gary Tagland, 21, was discharged Tuesday from the prison - even though he was supposed to be transported back to a New Jersey state prison, where he was doing five years for a robbery in Pennsauken. "I don't know what happened. The prison is going to have to answer that question," said Deputy District Attorney Daniel McDevitt. He said a fax sent to the prison last month should have prevented "this very thing from happening." Tagland, of Cherry Hill, was released the same day that county officials announced they were tightening procedures at the privately run prison in Thornton following the accidental release of five inmates - including an alleged killer from Germantown - in recent months. "We have asked for a full investigation of the inmate-release procedure," County Council Chairman Jack Whelan said in a statement Monday. "A stricter, more fail-safe policy is already in place with more changes to come as the investigation continues." The prison, operated for about $43 million a year by New Jersey-based Community Education Centers, disclosed last week that David Wilson, who was convicted of a firearms offense, and Ateia Polk, who is facing robbery and assault charges, had walked out of the prison due to clerical errors. In June, murder suspect Taaqi Brown, 22, was released by mistake. He surrendered the next day. Wilson hasn't been apprehended. The circumstances of the other two recent mistaken releases were unclear but Prison Superintendent John Reilly Jr., the county official who monitors CEC's performance, said they are back in custody. McDevitt said Tagland was brought to Delaware County from a New Jersey state prison last month to face drug-paraphernalia and motor-vehicle charges from a Springfield arrest last year. He pleaded guilty to the drug charge. "At that point, our case is closed and he should have been returned to New Jersey," he said. Tagland was apparently re-arrested Wednesday by New Jersey authorities after he failed to turn himself in, McDevitt said. It was unclear yesterday what led to the latest error. Reilly said last week that the company has had problems handling and interpreting incoming documents. But in Tagland's case, there should have been no doubt about his status, because the D.A.'s office had faxed a notice to the prison before his arrival, McDevitt said: "It was supposed to be a fail-safe to let the prison know that the guy shouldn't be let go." State Rep. Stephen Barrar, who represents portions of Delaware and Chester counties, said last week he plans to introduce legislation requiring public notification of escapes and accidental discharges. CEC said yesterday that it is "reviewing and rapidly implementing major changes."

September 1, 2010 Delco Times
Delaware County Council Tuesday called for a complete investigation into the unauthorized release of three prisoners from the county prison since June 14. Two of the inmates are back in custody and federal marshals are looking for the third. Significant changes in prison-release procedures are in place at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornbury, and additional safeguards are being formulated as part of an investigation into the inmate-release process. “Public safety is county council’s top priority and we won’t tolerate mistakes when it comes to our criminal justice system and the safety of our residents,” said council Chairman Jack Whelan. “We have asked for a full investigation of the inmate-release procedure. A stricter, more fail-safe policy is already in place with more changes to come as the investigation continues.” Whelan said several county employees were involved in the incidents. One was fired and the others were disciplined. “And quite frankly, they should have been,” Whelan said. “I can expect that you are not going to see anything like this in the future.” The prison, which is the fifth-largest county prison in the state, is operated by Community Education Centers Inc., a New Jersey-based company that has run the facility since January 2009. Prison Superintendent John A. Reilly Jr. detailed three procedural changes that have been instituted since June 15 and said he has also launched a review of the clerical-records process to streamline and strengthen the paperwork procedures at all levels.

August 31, 2010 Philadelphia Inquirer
Kelly DeLuca was talking on the cell-block pay phone after 8 p.m. at the Delaware County prison when she got unexpected news: She could go home. "I'm not supposed to go home," DeLuca said she told the guard. It was May 6, and she had nine days of an 18-day sentence left to serve for violating probation on a criminal-trespass charge. "Not my . . . problem," came the response, said the 43-year-old Havertown mother, who says she was told to hang up, pack up, and get ready to be discharged in time to catch the 9:40 p.m. SEPTA bus to Chester. She said she was not allowed to make any calls and was given two bus tokens. An hour later, DeLuca, a well-educated woman whose life spiraled downward because of alcohol, found herself standing on a Chester street corner, dressed in sweatpants and blue fuzzy slippers, with no cash and one token left. DeLuca is at least the fourth prisoner in recent months to be mistakenly released from the state's only privately run county prison - the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. "It is obviously very embarrassing and completely unacceptable," County Councilman Andy Lewis said Monday. Until hearing from a reporter about the DeLuca case, he had been aware only of three others, including a murder suspect who turned himself in. Two are still at large, one convicted of firearms violations, the other charged with robbery. "We have to make sure it does not happen again," Lewis said. Community Education Centers Inc. of West Caldwell, N.J., which has operated the county prison since January 2009, has attributed the three previous mistaken releases, all since June, to paperwork errors. "The company is working very closely with the county to review its policies and procedures," Christopher Greeder, a spokesman for CEC, said Monday. He said he was not aware of DeLuca's mistaken release. County Executive Marianne Grace said Friday that the County Council would conduct an investigation and review all policies and procedures surrounding prison releases. The Thornbury Township facility has a budget of $44 million from the county and houses about 1,800 inmates. The District Attorney's Office said Friday that its criminal investigation division also would investigate mistaken releases. DeLuca's attorney, Robert C. Keller of Havertown, confirmed his client was mistakenly released early.

August 28, 2010 Philadelphia Inquirer
The Delaware County executive vowed Friday to have a "serious discussion" of ways to improve security at the county prison, from which three inmates were mistakenly released this summer. Marianne Grace said the county was calling for a complete investigation and review of all policies and procedures surrounding prison releases. "Public safety is our number-one priority," Grace said. She said that on Monday, she would set up a meeting between prison and county officials to address the issue, but added that no written report was likely to be made public. Grace called inmate-release procedures a "multilayer process that is complex" and involves a number of departments, including the county's Office of Judicial Support and the company that operates the prison. "The human errors which are occurring are unacceptable," Grace said. Grace said she knew of three prisoners' being mistakenly released this year and added that she was surprised to learn that media reports had documented as many as five. Grace also said she did not know that, according to a report on the state Department of Corrections website, two prisoners walked away last year. The District Attorney's Office said Thursday bench warrants had been issued for Ateia Polk, 32, of the 4500 block of North 11th Street, and David Jeffrey Wilson, 19, of West 22d Street in Chester. Both were freed because of paperwork errors. On June 14, murder suspect Taaqi "Fame" Brown of Germantown was released after he was confused with another inmate with a similar name. He turned himself in a day later. Community Education Centers Inc. (CEC) of West Caldwell, N.J., has operated the country prison since January 2009. Officially known as the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, the Thornbury Township prison operates on a budget of $44 million from the county and houses about 1,800 inmates. It is the only privately run county prison in the state. Calls Friday to John J. Clancy, chief executive officer of CEC, for comment were not returned. Prison Superintendent John A. Reilly and Warden Frank Green also did not return calls; nor did John Hosier, chairman of the board of the Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors, and County Solicitor Robert DiOrio. The District Attorney's Office said Friday that its criminal investigation division would also investigate the mistaken releases. Susan Bensinger, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, said county prisons "set and follow their own policies and procedures." The state inspects prisons regularly. Delaware County passed its most recent inspection, in 2008. It is scheduled for another by the end of the year.

August 27, 2010 Philadelphia Daily News
The privately run George W. Hill Correctional Facility has been struggling this summer with what you might call a prisoner-retention problem. Delaware County authorities discovered this month that two inmates had been mistakenly released from the prison due to clerical errors. Neither has been heard from since. It's the fifth time that this has happened in recent months, according to a county official. The prison, operated by New Jersey-based Community Education Centers for $43 million a year, made headlines in June when accused killer Taaqi Brown walked out because of a records snafu. Brown, 22, of Germantown, turned himself in the next day, and the CEC clerk who let him out was fired. Now, the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force is searching for David Wilson, 19, of Chester, who was convicted in July of a firearms offense, but was released from the prison Aug. 4, two weeks before he was to be sentenced. Federal authorities also are looking for Ateia Polk, 32, of Philadelphia, who is on the lam after the prison released her last month prior to her trial on robbery, assault and related offenses. Polk is accused of stealing jewelry from an Upper Darby beauty parlor and threatening to stab the owner with a hairpin. "We're not pointing the finger at anybody," said prison Superintendent John Reilly Jr., who oversees CEC's performance on the county's behalf. "This is an in-house problem that needs to be resolved here." Reilly said that Polk was released because a prison employee misinterpreted a judge's order. The clerk apparently thought that "no bail" meant that Polk could leave without posting bail. "She just made a colossal mistake," Reilly said. In Wilson's case, the prison never received a fax from the county's Office of Judicial Support stating that his bail had been revoked. But Reilly said that a prison employee should have double-checked that he was cleared for discharge. "You need to do a more thorough search," he said. "The bottom line is, you are responsible when you open the back door." Reilly said that the prison's records department has been having trouble handling the thousands of documents it receives every week. He described it as a systemic problem that CEC is working to correct. "They don't have a process in place to accurately accept all these documents," Reilly said. "They just come flying in. There's a real breakdown in their process at that point." In some cases, such as Polk's, overwhelmed employees are simply misreading the paperwork. "It's a longstanding problem with the records department being able to process the volume," Reilly said. CEC took over the operation of the county prison last year after the GEO Group abandoned its contract due to "financial underperformance and frequent litigation." Located in Thornton, it is the only privately run county prison in the state. CEC spokesman Christopher Greeder declined to elaborate on the discharged inmates, other than to say that "the matter is under review and the company is working closely with the county." "This is the first crisis of the CEC era, and we're going to see how good they are," Reilly said. "They'll have to get through it."

August 2, 2010 AP
A U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia says prison officials can ban employees from wearing Muslim headscarves out of safety concerns. The judges say the case is a close call. But they say prison officials have legitimate concerns the headscarves can hide contraband or be used by an inmate to choke someone. The 2-1 decision is a defeat for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The commission believes the three Muslim women employed at the Delaware County Prison in Thornton had to compromise their religious beliefs to keep their jobs. Monday's ruling upholds a district judge who dismissed the EEOC lawsuit. The suit was filed against the Geo Group, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based contractor that operated the prison.

July 31, 2010 Philadelphia Inquirer
Three former prison guards have sued the Delaware County prison, alleging religious, sexual, and racial discrimination after they were fired for not cutting their hair, which they say their religion forbids. Nigel LeBlanc, Eugene Briggs and Zayid Bolds, all of Philadelphia, are followers of the Rastafarian movement, which prohibits cutting hair on the head, including facial hair, according to their lawsuit. They were asked to choose between their jobs and their religion, said Jennifer L. Zegel, attorney for the men. The prison is run by the New Jersey-based Community Education Centers (CEC), which took over from GEO Group on Jan. 1, 2009. The men were fired seven days later for failure to comply with the company's grooming policy.

June 17, 2010 Delco Times
Taaqi Brown’s taste of freedom lasted a little more than 12 hours. It likely will take a lot longer than that for Delaware County prison officials to get the bad taste out of their mouth from Brown’s sojourn. The county was jolted early Tuesday morning with news of an “escape” from the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. Uh, not exactly. As we learned a few hours later, Brown did not escape. He walked out the front door. After he was given his walking papers by prison employees. That’s how a man who police believe is responsible for opening fire on a crowded playground, in the process killing an unintended victim, was returned to society. Make no mistake, Taaqi Brown was not incarcerated for a minor offense. He is an accused killer. He was confined to 22-hour-a-day lockup in the Delco jail. He wore the distinctive red jumpsuit that identifies him as a high-risk inmate. And yet he was still given his walking papers and allowed to stroll – or perhaps walk as quickly as his legs would carry him – to his girlfriend’s black SUV, which was waiting for him outside. That’s because Brown had learned earlier in the day that he was going to be cut loose. He contacted family members, who made sure Brown had a ride when he became a free man. Prison officials are now referring to the mistaken release as a paperwork snafu. A simple human error. You can say that again. For his part, District Attorney G. Michael Green didn’t sound as if he was totally convinced. While announcing that Brown’s brief respite had earned him a felony escape charge, Green insisted, “I want to know everything that happened here.” He’s not the only one. Here’s what apparently went down. An inmate named Brown was in fact supposed to be released. But it appears that it was Tarriq Smith-Brown, Taaqi’s brother, who had done time on a minor drug charges, who was supposed to be cut loose. If that sounds a little hard to believe, you’re not the only one who feels that way. Neither Green nor Prison Superintendent John Reilly, while indicating that it appeared to be a simple clerical error, were willing to rule out something else. Something more sinister. And they vowed to get to the bottom of it, including any possibility that Brown got an assist from inside the prison. Reilly indicated that the records clerk involved in Brown’s release apparently failed to double-check the name while preparing the paperwork that was supposed to free Tarriq Brown but instead opened the door for Taaqi. It strains credulity that no one at the prison realized that a suspected killer who was isolated in the prison as a high-risk inmate was simply going to be allowed to walk out the front door. At worst it points to a serious security breach at the facility. But even if it was a simple clerical error, it fuels public distrust in the operation of the prison, which continues to be run by a private firm, Community Education Centers. The county has had mixed results at the prison since privatizing the operation when it built the new jail several years ago. The prison was first run by Wackenhut, which then was transformed into GEO, and for the past few years by CEC. Lawsuits, staffing and other problems have been persistent issues. Reilly, who noted the facility has had more than 3,000 discharges this year without incident and 9,500 last year, knows all too well that when the prison does things right, it doesn’t get attention. The mistaken release of a suspected killer does. It does things like spark a countywide manhunt. It puts citizens on edge. It fosters distrust in the county’s ability to keep its citizens safe from criminals. “We need to solve the problem,” Reilly said. He’ll get no argument here. This can’t happen again. County and prison officials need to make sure it doesn’t.

June 16, 2010 Philadelphia Daily News
It wasn't "Prison Break" but, rather, prison breakdown in Delaware County Monday night, when a murder suspect was accidentally set free from the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. In an equally astonishing move, the prisoner, Taaqi Brown, who could face life in jail if convicted of first-degree murder, turned himself in yesterday and willfully went back to prison less than 24 hours after he was released. Now detectives are investigating if Brown's release was the result of human error or, perhaps, the result of careful, human calculation. Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, whose department arrested Brown, 21, last year in the murder of 19-year-old Aaron Kearney, said he got the call about Brown's release about 10 Monday night. "My first reaction was 'What the f---!' It's not like he's in for DUI," Chitwood said. "My second was to ask 'How did this happen?' " Chitwood said he was later informed that Brown's brother, Taariq Brown, 23, who also was at the prison, was supposed to be the inmate released yesterday. When he was released instead, Taaqi Brown, of Germantown, called his girlfriend, who picked him up, Chitwood said. Brown's taste of freedom sent officers from numerous agencies on an all-out manhunt yesterday. But about 11 a.m., Brown's father contacted an inspector he knew in Philadelphia's Northwest Detectives and said his son wanted to surrender, according to police. Chitwood said Brown and his father were worried that he'd be shot to death by cops. "It was the best thing for me to do," Brown told NBC 10, which rode with him as he surrendered. "I would hate for police to run up on me and feel as though I'm armed or I got a weapon on me." Brown maintains his innocence in the video and in a surreal, media-saturated moment, was recorded listening to a KYW Newsradio broadcast about his "escape." Brown is charged with shooting Kearney to death in broad daylight on a crowded Upper Darby playground on May 2, 2009. Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green said Brown would face an additional charge of escape because he knew that he should not have been released and did not speak up. He acknowledged that someone should have noticed that Taaqi Brown was in jail without bail, that he was in 22-hour lockup and that he wore a different-colored jumpsuit - red - to denote his alleged violent crime. "There were an obvious number of indicators that should have set off bells and whistles," Green said. Prison Superintendent John Reilly Jr. said it was too early to determine whether Brown's release had been an accident or perhaps an inside job. "We can't rule out that these two didn't try to orchestrate it," Reilly said. "I can't rule out that they didn't get the records girl to submit Taaqi Brown's data as a discharge." County detectives were planning to interview the 23-year-old records clerk who was hired three months ago, as well as corrections officers and "anyone in the prison that could have facilitated the discharge process," Reilly said. Even though the brothers' names are similar, the records clerk should have noticed that they had a different inmate number, birth date and court-identification number, he said. "This could have been a colossal mis-hire," Reilly said. "If that's what it is, we'll address it." The George W. Hill Correctional Facility is the only privately run county prison in the state. Last year, New Jersey-based Community Education Centers (CEC) replaced the GEO Group as prison operator. The records clerk is an employee of CEC. From 2002 through 2004, three inmates were mistakenly released from the county prison. In one instance, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound black man named Markish Thomas was released instead of a Mike Thomas, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound white man with blond hair and blue eyes.

May 20, 2010 Philadelphia Inquirer
A company that formerly operated the Delaware County Prison has settled a federal class-action lawsuit involving strip-searches of incoming inmates charged with minor crimes. The $2.9 million settlement awards up to $400 each to about 10,000 inmates at six GEO Group facilities. Prisoners at the Delaware County facility, now operated by Community Education Centers of West Caldwell, N.J., who were strip-searched between Jan. 30, 2006, and Jan. 30, 2008, may be eligible for settlement awards. The lawsuit named five other GEO Group prisons, in Texas, New Mexico, and Illinois. "As a direct result of this litigation, GEO has changed its strip-search policies in those prisons which it still operates," an attorney for the plaintiffs, Joseph G. Sauder of Haverford, said in an e-mail. A call seeking comment from the Florida-based GEO Group, which operated the prison until December 2008, was not returned. John A. Reilly, superintendent of the prison, when asked about the current strip-search policy, said, "I have no idea. See you." He then hung up. "In our view, there is simply no justification for this kind of invasive body search for those individuals coming to the institution who pose no security risk to the institution," said David Rudovsky, a Philadelphia lawyer who also represented a plaintiff in the case. Those eligible to apply for settlement include prisoners who were not accused of drug, weapons, or violent crimes; those involving probation or parole violations; and those who did not behave in a manner that would give guards cause to conduct strip searches. According to court documents, one of the main plaintiffs, Penny Allison of Media, was arrested in November 2005 for driving under the influence and was placed in a first-time offenders program. Allison failed to appear for a hearing and a bench warrant was issued. She was stopped by Springfield police for an expired registration in July 2006, arrested, and then transferred to the prison. While being searched, a female corrections officer looked at Allison's bra and remarked, "Nice bra," according to court documents. The bra was not returned upon her release eight days later, the documents said. Allison was arrested in December 2007 and pleaded guilty to a second DUI, records said. She was sentenced to 15 weekends and strip-searched upon entering the prison. "During these strip searches, the corrections officer brings all of the weekend females into a classroom-size room and strip-searches them one by one in front of all the other females," court documents said of the Delaware County facility.

March 6, 2010 Philadelphia Enquirer
Saying it is owed $7.3 million, Aramark Corp., the Philadelphia food-services provider, has sued a New Jersey operator of correctional facilities. In the suit, Aramark contends Community Education Centers Inc., of West Caldwell, N.J., has been in default on bills since at least June 2008. Locally, Aramark services Community Education Centers facilities in Philadelphia, Delaware County, Reading, and Trenton. Aramark's lawsuit, filed Feb. 18 in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, said Community Education Centers was overdue on $5.2 million of the total, and it requested that a judgment, including interest, costs, and attorney's fees, be entered in its favor. In an e-mailed statement yesterday, Community Education Centers said it "does not comment on pending litigation except to say that the two companies are in negotiations regarding the matter." Community Education Centers is one of a number of companies considered likely to bid on a prison privatization contract in Camden County. Last year, a unit of the company bought options on land in Camden as a potential site for a new prison, but the site has been ruled out by county freeholders because of neighborhood protests. The privately held company, which operates in 19 states, employs 4,500 and services nearly 30,000 individuals, did not comment specifically on the proposed privatization of Camden County's prison system. Among Community Education Centers' investors is Philadelphia private-equity firm LLR Partners. The firm's investment fund, LLR Equity Partners II L.P., in 2007 bought $53 million worth of preferred stock, according to a regulatory filing. LLR cofounder Seth Lehr, who is on Community Education Centers' board of directors, said the firm does not comment on companies in its portfolio.

November 19, 2009 Delco Times
A union representing approximately 300 employees at the county-owned George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Concord recently reached a three-year contract agreement with the private company the county has hired to run day-to-day operations at the prison. Members of the Delaware County Prison Employees Independent Union voted 155-14 Monday to accept the contract, which offers a 12 percent wage increase over three years, retroactive to June 1. The contract expires June 2012. Union President Michael Pelleriti said his members were not happy with the fact that they now have to pay $36 per month for single-coverage health care, but the contract does allow members to opt out of hospitalization insurance. Overtime and vacation time will now count as hours worked under the contract, said Pelleriti, and there is now a disciplinary arbitration procedure in place. “This gives the members protection against unjust terminations,” he said. “The negotiations were very difficult and tedious, but we did come away with something we feel we can live with for the next three years.”

July 18, 2009 Philadelphia Inquirer
Back on the street after a record-setting 14-year jail sentence for contempt, H. Beatty Chadwick is learning that he needs a quick update on the 21st century. Like, what's with those cell phones everyone has plugged to their ears? What's with the Internet? And does he get a PC or a Mac? As Chadwick, 73, rejoins the "land of the living," he's discovering all the things that must be done in what has become a "complicated society." In an interview, he also launched into an unprompted critique of the 1,800-inmate Delaware County jail. The former Main Line corporate lawyer was jailed by a Delaware County Court judge in April 1995 for failing to turn over $2.5 million in alimony to his ex-wife, Barbara "Bobbie" Applegate. The couple were married for 15 years. Chadwick contended that he lost the money in a bad overseas investment. The judge believed Chadwick had hidden the money from his ex-wife and ordered him jailed until he produced the millions. Court-ordered investigations conducted since he went to jail have turned up no money. Petitions for release over the years were denied by numerous judges, who believed he had the money. Last week, President Judge Joseph P. Cronin Jr. ruled that keeping Chadwick in jail had lost "coercive effect," even though he thought Chadwick "had the ability to comply." Standing outside a Lancaster Avenue cafe in Wayne this week, Chadwick looked at a street he no longer recognized. The traffic, he said, is worse. He wondered what had happened to a small grocer he once frequented. Chadwick has e-mail and Internet service to set up - neither was in wide use when he went to jail - and is busy with mundane tasks: retrieving belongings from storage, getting the electricity turned on in his Wilmington apartment . . . and changing all his subscriptions to a new address. Chadwick was an avid reader in jail, devouring the Wall Street Journal and the Economist, among others. He was one of about 150 inmates who held a job at the prison. His first position, assigned a few years after he arrived, was as the assistant to the official who classified prisoners upon entry as minimum, medium, or maximum security. For the last six years, Chadwick worked in the prison library, where he helped inmates with letter-writing and tutored for GED exams. He also volunteered legal advice. Chadwick said he was "shocked" how poorly educated some inmates were. "Writing was one of the hardest things," said Chadwick. "The idea of writing really flummoxes a lot of people." Some inmates he encountered dropped out of school in the sixth grade and could only read on a second-grade level. Others did not know their multiplication tables. "One thing I missed in jail was not being able to cook," said Chadwick, who read Bon Appetit while imprisoned. His first meal on the outside was a veggie taco from Ruby Tuesday. Next up was a roasted chicken at home. Cable TV? "I haven't tried [getting] that yet," said Chadwick, who in jail got by with rabbit ears and a handful of channels. Back in 1995, a good system had about 50 channels. Pay-per-view was not commonly used. Chadwick says he was lucky that his son, William, who lives in King of Prussia, is helping with the transition and providing transportation. "If I didn't have him, I'd be in great difficulty," he said. The two grew closer while he was in prison. Chadwick says he has seen other inmates who have had a difficult transition to post-prison life. When first released, prisoners without support from family or friends are dumped on a Chester street corner with "nary a penny" and must fend for themselves, inmates told him. "They do nothing about trying to get people jobs, housing, or even their next meal," Chadwick said. At one point, Chadwick said, the prison dropped former inmates at a mall, but this was halted after mall managers complained that the former inmates were stealing from stores, he said. For most of Chadwick's tenure, the county's George W. Hill Correctional Facility was run by the GEO Group. Community Education Centers of New Jersey took over the contract in January. Bill Palatucci, a spokesman for Community Education Centers, said policies, including release procedures and the maximum jail population, are set by the county. "We are simply acting as their agent," Palatucci said. Superintendent John A. Reilly Jr. did not return a call for comment. Linda Cartisano, County Council chair, did not return calls. Over the years, Chadwick had a number of cellmates. He said one man, unable to raise $500 bail, spent six months waiting to plead guilty to drug possession. He said the prison was often overcrowded, with three prisoners sometimes housed in cells meant for two. He never had more than one cellmate, he said.

June 11, 2009 Delco Times
The daughter of a opiate-addicted man who hanged himself while incarcerated has filed a lawsuit against the private, for-profit company that was running the George W. Hill Correctional Facility at the time of his death. Thomas Bryant, 38, of Lower Chichester, underwent a mental-health screening and health-services physical examination about 3:15 a.m. Nov. 14, 2007, the day after he was committed to the facility under the management of Geo Group Inc. It was at that time that Bryant’s “opiate dependency and narcotics dependence was made known ... but no psychiatric consultation or drug-abuse treatment was prescribed,” according to the lawsuit, filed June 3 on behalf of Jessica Bryant at the Media Courthouse and alleging wrongful death. During his four-day confinement, the lawsuit states, Bryant began to show signs and symptoms of drug withdrawal — ranging from inability to sleep or eat for three days, nausea, cold sweats and unbearable pain — but his complaints were ignored. Alone in his cell on Nov. 16, Bryant hanged himself with linens provided by the defendants, the suit states. “Had defendants provided Thomas Bryant with the appropriate medical care for his opiate withdrawal, drug detoxification, and/or appropriate suicide screening and precautions for known risks ... Thomas Bryant would have been unable to commit suicide,” the lawsuit alleges. The GEO Group Inc. is named as a defendant, along with former Warden Ronald Nardolillo, Classification Counselor Michael Moore, correctional officers T. Hammett and Connie Danley, Dr. William Purner, and all others responsible for medical care of Bryant during his confinement from Nov. 13-16. The Geo Group Inc., formerly Wackenhut Corp., was responsible for day-to-day operations at the 1,900-bed prison in Concord until January of this year. Nardolillo, Danley and Purner are no longer with the county facility, prison Superintendent John Reilly said Wednesday. Though Moore remains an employee at the prison, the status of the others named in the suit was not immediately known. Reilly said Wednesday he was unaware of the lawsuit and had no comment, but was familiar with Bryant. Reilly said Wednesday he remembered meeting with family and returning belongings the day after Bryant’s death, which he described as “sad.” Procedure dictates all lawsuits be forwarded to prison Solicitor Robert D’Orio on receipt, Reilly said. Neither D’Orio nor anyone at Geo Group Inc. in Boca Raton, Fla., could be reached for comment after business hours Wednesday. According to Daily Times archives, Bryant was remanded to the prison following an arrest in Chester on a probation violation for drug paraphernalia.

May 14, 2009 Delco Times
Two corrections officers at the county-owned George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Concord have been suspended pending an investigation into a fracas May 3, prison officials have confirmed. Details were still vague Wednesday with an in-house investigation ongoing, but facility Superintendent John Reilly said there was an allegation that Sgt. Matthew Talley had beaten an inmate. The district attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division is also investigating, said spokesman Michael Mattson. A letter to the Daily Times from another inmate who claimed to have witnessed the event described Talley savagely beating a handcuffed man until he could no longer stand on his own. Talley’s attorney, Joe McIntosh, said the man had attacked another officer and his client’s actions “were defensive as a result of a combative inmate.” “We cooperated and did an interview with CID and it is our position that any actions on the part of Mr. Talley were justified by the inmate’s actions,” said McIntosh. No charges had been filed as of Wednesday. Talley and Corrections Officer Mark Lombardo have been suspended without pay pending the investigation. There was no telephone number listed for Lombardo. Bill Palatucci, spokesman for New Jersey-based Community Education Centers Inc., the for-profit company that took over prison operations in January, said the company is aware of the investigation and will “actively pursue it,” but could not comment further.

April 1, 2009 Delco Times
A 2008 lawsuit alleging the private, for-profit company that formerly ran the Delaware County prison routinely violated strip-search prohibitions for minor offenders will move forward, following a ruling in federal court last week. The GEO Group Inc., formerly Wackenhut Corp., was responsible for day-to-day operations at the 1,900-bed George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornton until January of this year. It is responsible for dozens of jails and similar facilities nationwide, according to the company’s Web site. Plaintiffs Penny Allison of Media and Zoran Hocevar of Upper Darby allege GEO and up to 100 of its employees routinely strip-searched nonviolent, non-drug offenders entering or transferring into its facilities, in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights. They are seeking class-action status and demanding a jury trial. Allison had served 15 weekends at the facility on a DUI charge, according to the complaint. Each time she entered the facility, Allison alleges she was strip-searched in front of other female weekend inmates. Hocevar was arrested for drug possession in 2005, according to the complaint. This later led to a bench warrant being issued for Hocevar’s arrest after he allegedly mistakenly failed to appear for a court date. Hocevar was arrested on that warrant and transported to county prison, where he was allegedly strip-searched in front of other detainees. Last year, GEO successfully petitioned the court to throw out three counts of battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress. GEO had asked the court to further dismiss three counts seeking monetary damages for the alleged Fourth Amendment violations, a demand for declaratory relief regarding those alleged violations, and a demand for preliminary and permanent injunction for those alleged violations. In his 49-page order, Senior District Judge for the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Jan E. DuBois went over several standards set forth by U.S. Supreme Court rulings relative to what privacy, if any, detainees in a custodial facility could reasonably expect. Chief among them was a 1984 Supreme Court case relating to the search of prison cells. GEO had argued that case undermined a 1979 decision that assumed inmates — both convicted prisoners and pretrial detainees — retained some Fourth Amendment rights. GEO also argued DuBois should view this suit using a more general standard of privacy the Supreme Court established in a 1987 ruling, which would paint the strip-search policy as constitutional, granted it was “reasonably related to general penological interests.” DuBois rejected both arguments, however, due to lack of any credible examples the later cases undermined or overruled the 1979 case. “This court will not disregard controlling Supreme Court precedent that has not been specifically overruled by subsequent Supreme Court cases,” wrote DuBois in the order. DuBois also noted all courts faced with the issue have ruled blanket strip searches of detainees unreasonable and, therefore, unconstitutional. He noted last week’s ruling would not prejudice GEO’s ability to argue the constitutionality of its alleged actions at the summary judgment stage or at trial.

December 22, 2008 Philadelphia Enquirer
AT ONE END of Delaware County's rekindled debate over prison privatization, you'll find Wally Nunn, a tough-talking fiscal hawk and former county councilman. At the other, Fay Kallenbach, a bereaved mother. The George W. Hill Correctional Facility is ground zero. Nunn led the 1995 effort to privatize the county jail, outsourcing its operation to the GEO Group, a multinational corrections corporation. He stands by his decision today, saying the move cut government waste and saved taxpayers millions of dollars – including the more than $30 million the county saved by hiring GEO, then called Wackenhut Corrections Corp., to build the current prison in 1998. "It's a success right there, by definition," Nunn said. Fay Kallenbach has a different perspective. She says privatizing the prison has put inmates in the care of a money-hungry "machine" that cuts corners anywhere it can. Her son, comedian Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, died in April of complications from cystic fibrosis while in prison custody. She says he didn't receive the crucial treatment that had kept him alive for 39 years. "They definitely killed my son," she said of Florida-based GEO. The deep philosophical divide between Kallenbach and Nunn is typical when it comes to prison privatization, a love-it-or-hate-it concept that pits labor unions against politicians and corporate leaders against inmate-advocacy groups. Regardless, if Nunn is considered Delaware County's "father of privatization," his first born remains an only child in Pennsylvania – and there have been some growing pains lately. In the 12 years since the county handed the jailhouse keys to GEO, no other county in the state has followed its lead. Now, the company is terminating its $40-million-a-year contract there, ridden out of town by an onslaught of lawsuits and inadequate profits. A new firm takes over on New Year's Day. All about the $$$ -- Prison Superintendent John Reilly Jr. oversees GEO's performance at the 1,883-bed lockup in Thornton, and he doesn't shy away from discussing the good, the bad and the ugly. There has been plenty of each, from huge cost savings and indemnification from civil-rights lawsuits, to filthy showers and dead inmates. The cost of operating the prison - nearly $45 million when you factor in the superintendent and his staff – is the single largest expenditure of county tax dollars in the budget. It is expected to eat up 15 percent of the $303 million budget next year. But GEO has run the prison cheaper than the county ever could, Reilly said. And outsourcing still saves the government an estimated $3.2 million a year, according to Delaware County Executive Director Marianne Grace. By having Reilly and his staff on the premises, the county's version of privatization is ideal because the government is able to keep an eye on GEO and implement hefty fines - more than $700,000 this year - when the jail is understaffed. "Our security, maintenance and food service is similar to, and in some instances maybe better, than when the county ran it," Reilly said. Proponents of privatization say profit-driven companies can eliminate patronage jobs, play hardball with the labor unions and find new efficiencies without a substantial drop-off in services. Government officials "tend to hire people that have worked on their campaigns or political-patronage people," Nunn said. "Corporations tend to hire people that are competent and capable. They can manage more effectively than a public entity can." Critics say the profit incentive is a double-edged sword, and that the industry makes its money on the backs of inmates and guards by reducing personnel costs and cutting back on inmate care. "I don't trust them as far as I can throw them," said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute and a lobbyist for the Florida Police Benevolent Association, a union that represents police and correctional officers. "All those millions of dollars they are making that are going into corporate executives' pockets should have been put into inmates services," he said. Delaware County officials say they are generally satisfied with GEO's performance here since 1996, with one large caveat: The medical services in the prison have, at times, fallen woefully short. Employee turnover in that department has been extremely high in recent years, Reilly said, and the company has gone through eight health-services administrators since 2004. As a result, the daily "pill call" for inmates, for example, is sometimes run by nurses who are incompetent or overworked, he said, and the backlog of prisoners waiting for medical attention can exceed 400 cases. "The medical department has underperformed here," Reilly concedes. GEO has spent an inordinate amount of time and money fending off federal lawsuits, including wrongful-death cases. The frequent litigation is one of the main reasons the company is bailing out on its contract next week. In 2006, the company agreed to pay $100,000 to the family of Rosalyn Atkinson, a 25-year-old mother of two who died from a toxic dose of a blood-pressure drug while in prison custody. In October, GEO agreed to an undisclosed settlement in the case of Cassandra Morgan, 38, who died in 2006 of complications from an untreated thyroid condition while jailed on a shoplifting charge. GEO also paid $125,000 in 2005 to the family of a prisoner who hung himself with his bootlaces and agreed to a $300,000 settlement in 2000 involving another suicide. Fay Kallenbach and her attorney are awaiting more medical information before deciding whether to move forward with a lawsuit on behalf of her son, a longtime member of Howard Stern's "Wack Pack." Prison officials say they are not at fault in his death. While the Delaware County prison was far from a utopia when it was run by the county - seven guards were convicted of federal charges stemming from inmate beatings in 1994 - GEO's correctional officers have compiled a lengthy rap sheet since the jail was privatized. This year a K-9 officer pleaded guilty to having sex with an inmate in his pickup truck, and a guard admitted to sending a forged letter to the state parole board so her boyfriend - a convicted murderer - could move in with her. In 2006 the jail's former work-release supervisor, who is now registered under Megan's Law as a sex offender, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting an inmate, and a guard pleaded guilty in federal court last year to conspiracy to commit bank robbery. Two other guards were convicted of participating in a 2002 attack on an inmate who claimed that he was handcuffed and pummeled with a basketball and that his pants were pulled down. That inmate's attorney, Jon Auritt, has said the incident reminded him of "Abu Ghraib, except without the dogs." GEO later paid an undisclosed settlement in that case, though. Prison staff incorrectly released three inmates between 2002 and 2004, and in 2006, GEO agreed to pay a settlement to an innocent man who sued the company because he was imprisoned for more than 40 days. It was a case of mistaken identity. GEO officials declined to be interviewed for this story, as did state Rep. John Perzel, R-Phila., a paid member of its board of directors. The company did not admit any wrongdoing in the lawsuits it settled. Pa. counties unreceptive -- In 1998, the state Supreme Court approved the privatization of the Delaware County prison, ruling against the prison guards' union, which had filed suit to block the outsourcing. At the time, labor leaders fretted that the ruling would pave the way for other counties to hire firms to run their own jails. That never happened. While privatization has taken off in other states, particularly Texas, the George W. Hill Correctional Facility remains the only privately-run county prison in Pennsylvania, largely due to strong union resistance, according to Richard Culp, a prison privatization expert and professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. "It's a matter of labor costs, pure and simple," said Culp, who has worked as a consultant for the Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors. Beaver County tried to privatize its prison in 2006, but was bombarded by union opposition. The county lost a ruling by an arbitrator, which was upheld in Common Pleas Court, according to county Commissioner Charles Camp. Beaver County officials decided not to appeal the case because the legal bills were getting so high, he said. "We had everyone coming at us," Camp said of the unions that fought the privatization proposal. "It would have saved us a million bucks a year," he said, adding that the county is now facing a $2 million budget deficit and is planning layoffs. Large corrections companies increasingly are looking to the federal government for their profits, and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and other federal agencies have been expanding their use of private companies in recent years, Culp said. While Culp recommended that counties and other government agencies keep a short leash on those firms – as Delaware County does – he said the industry has become more "professional" since the mid-1990s. "I think the market has shaken out a lot of the underperformers and poor performers and people that got into it to make a fast buck," Culp said. The future is CEC -- Community Education Centers (CEC), a smaller, privately-held company that specializes in inmate re-entry services, will replace the GEO Group on Jan. 1 at the Delaware County prison. Based in West Caldwell, N.J., CEC operates county prisons in Texas, Arizona and Ohio, as well as treatment centers within publicly-run prisons. In Philadelphia, it runs Hoffman Hall, a residential re-entry center for city inmates that opened in July, and Coleman Hall, which runs a work-release program for state inmates. William Palatucci, a CEC senior vice president, said the Delaware County prison will become the largest county jail in the company's network. Most of the existing GEO guards will keep their jobs, and county officials say that guards that once worked for GEO are interested in coming back now that the company is leaving. CEC made headlines in 2004 when a Coleman Hall resident was shot to death in his room, and the company is being sued by the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project on behalf of several inmates who said they were denied adequate medical care there. Palatucci declined to comment on the litigation, but said the company planned to bring to the Delaware County prison a "renewed commitment to quality operations." "I think competition is good for everybody. It keeps the public sector and private sector on their toes," he said. "At the end of the day, that's good for the taxpayer." Robert Eskind, spokesman for the Philadelphia Prison System, said the city is "pleased so far" with CEC's performance at Hoffman Hall. County officials say CEC could be a better fit than GEO at their jail, particularly because the company has experience in reducing recidivism. Overcrowding has long been a problem there. John Hosier, chairman of the county Board of Prison Inspectors, is optimistic about the changing of the guard, but warned against unrealistic expectations. "We can hope for the best," Hosier said, "but it is a jail."

November 14, 2008 Delco Times
The victim remained shackled Thursday and the defendant was free, but that will change after an ex-Delaware County prison correctional officer was sentenced to three to 23 months in jail for having sex with a 25-year-old female inmate earlier this year. Michael Waters, 38, of 200 block of South Church Street, Clifton Heights, will report Monday to his former work site — the Delaware County prison, after Judge William R. Toal Jr. imposed the sentence. “Frankly, I am appalled at this type of conduct,” said the judge. “He (Waters) certainly abused his position.” The judge allowed Waters to remain free until Monday to allow time for him to handle personal matters, as well as to alert the prison to security concerns and possibly make arrangements for him to be moved to another facility. Waters, who was employed with the GEO Group that was running the county prison at the time, had sexual trysts with the woman while she was on work release off the prison grounds. As Waters was being sentenced, the dark-haired victim, who was transported from the prison, sat on one side of the courtroom staring straight ahead. The defendant’s wife, who is confined to a wheelchair, was on the other side sobbing. Neither gave a statement in court. Deputy District Attorney Michael Galantino recommended the jail stint, calling the sentence “appropriate” considering the charges against Waters. The defendant pleaded guilty in July to a charge of institutional sexual abuse. “When somebody is in charge of supervising inmates and takes advantage of one as he did, it disrupts the entire system,” Galantino said outside the courtroom. Defense attorney Ronald Smith said that Waters is the father of two sons, one of whom suffers from epilepsy. He asked the court for leniency, citing the needs of his family, as well as Waters’ cooperation from the beginning. Waters appeared remorseful as he looked back at his wife and mother, who were in court together. “I apologize to everybody I affected — my family and the people at work,” he said. He lamented he lost his job, is losing his home and said his family is dependent on him. Outside the courtroom, Galantino said he sympathized with the family, but maintained that Waters should have thought about them before he committed the crime. “It’s always amazing when someone doesn’t consider the family while committing the crime, and then at the sentencing presents their family’s needs as a reason for leniency,” said Galantino. “It is clear he has hurt more than one victim.” Galantino said the sentence took into consideration Waters’ cooperation. “The (state’s recommended) guidelines could have gone higher,” he said. Smith called the crime an “aberration” on the part of his client, stating he had a “spotless record.” The defense attorney sought a probationary term. At the time of the plea, Galantino said there was no allegation of force. The law provides that a person employed at a correctional institution commits a crime if there is sexual intercourse with an inmate or detainee. Prison Superintendent John Reilly Jr. said that Waters had been employed since Nov. 16, 1998, with the GEO Group. He was earning $16 an hour at the time he was terminated last March, after the charges surfaced. Waters was arrested after the female inmate told authorities that while she was on work release, she and Waters would hook up off of the prison grounds. She told investigators she first met Waters while he was patrolling at the prison and she told him where she would be working that day. He replied, “Maybe I’ll stop by,” according to a court document. She said Waters picked her up on at least four occasions for sex between Feb. 25 and March 20, according to the court document.

October 28, 2008 Philadelphia Inquirer
A 44-year-old East Lansdowne man hanged himself Saturday inside his cell at the Delaware County prison, authorities said. The privatized jail is run by the GEO Group, which has settled several wrongful-death lawsuits there in recent years, including one suicide. Citing frequent litigation and other reasons, the company announced in August that it is ending its agreement to operate the prison in early January, a year before its contract expires.

October 24, 2008 Philadelphia Daily News
The Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors didn't have much of a choice yesterday in deciding which company would run the George W. Hill Correctional Facility next year. Only one firm in the country was willing to assume the $40 million annual contract left behind by the Florida-based GEO Group, which is skipping town amid a flurry of costly lawsuits and an inability to turn a substantial profit at the 1,883-bed county lockup. The five-member board awarded the contract to Community Education Centers (CEC), a smaller company that specializes in inmate re-entry programs and, according to its Web site, "believes in the opportunity for redemption" and providing "second chances" to ex-offenders. John Reilly, the jail's acting superintendent, who oversees GEO's performance on the county's behalf, said that CEC will begin managing the prison on Jan. 5 and is expected to retain most of the 500 GEO employees. The prison, located in Thornbury, has been operated by GEO, formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp., since 1996 and is the state's only privatized county jail. The cost of running the prison - about $43.8 million this year - is the single largest expenditure of county tax dollars in Delaware County's $316 million annual budget. But officials say that the public-private partnership has saved taxpayers millions. After getting word in August that GEO was bailing out on its contract, which ran through 2009, the prison board asked 11 companies if they wanted to give it a shot.

October 23, 2008 Delco Times
An out-of-court settlement was ironed out Wednesday in the federal civil suit over the death of Cassandra Morgan, whose family maintained she was improperly treated for a debilitating mental illness and a hypothyroid condition while an inmate at Delaware County’s prison leading to her 2006 death. The terms of the settlement reached over the noon recess included a confidentiality clause, according to attorney James Mundy, who represented the victim’s family. “We are barred from discussing the outcome,” said Mundy. All he would say is that the parties were “satisfied.” U.S. District Court Judge Berle M. Schiller told the jury about 2 p.m., following four days of testimony, their services were no longer needed and “the case has been resolved.” At the start of the proceedings Wednesday, before the jury was brought in, Schiller indicated the trial could go into next week because of the unavailability of a witness for the defendant’s side. He said such an extension would pose a “hardship” on the jurors who were told the trial would end by Friday. “I don’t think anyone wants to retry this case,” said Schiller. The judge said that problem could be remedied by alternatives, including converting the proceedings to a bench trial and allowing him to make the final ruling. He then advised both sides that talking to each other could “eliminate” the need for a bench trial. Earlier, Schiller reportedly dismissed parties originally named in the lawsuit except for Dr. Grato Paneque, a psychiatrist employed at the prison, as well as the Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors and the GEO group, a Florida company that operated the prison while Morgan, 38, was an inmate there on a shoplifting offense. Morgan, who was in jail for six weeks, died at Riddle Memorial Hospital after suffering a seizure at the prison and lapsing into a coma in her jail cell. Carolyn Short, the attorney representing the prison board, presented one witness Wednesday — Dr. Peter Crino, a neurologist who heads the Epilepsy Center for the University of Pennsylvania. Crino, testifying as an expert, discounted claims the prison was at fault for failing to properly treat Morgan before her March 29, 2006, death. However, on cross-examination by Mundy, the attorney cast doubt on some of the records that Crino used in arriving at his conclusion. Mundy said one of the reports indicated the patient “walked in” and was “pregnant.” He said Riddle’s computer had mixed the medical report on Morgan, who was not pregnant and came to the hospital by ambulance on a stretcher with the record of another patient. Crino was to be re-examined by Short following the luncheon recess. However, it wasn’t necessary once the settlement was reached.

October 22, 2008 Philadelphia Inquirer
A nurse who cared for Cassandra "Sandy" Morgan at the Delaware County jail told jurors in a federal courtroom yesterday that she wanted to do more for her but was limited by the law. "I just wanted her so badly to go to psychiatric hospital," Maureen Hoffman, a nurse at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, testified at the civil trial. But each time Hoffman spoke with the jail staff psychologist, she said, he reminded her: "We can't. Nobody is going to take her." Morgan, 38, of Aston, died after she suffered a seizure at the jail on March 25, 2006. Morgan suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and did not tell jail staff that she had a thyroid condition and needed medication. She died after five weeks of incarceration without her medication. Her family has sued the county Board of Prison Inspectors and the company that operates the jail, arguing that Morgan should have been sent for outside psychiatric help. Yesterday, Hoffman and forensic psychiatrist Kenneth Weiss testified that the jail did everything possible for Morgan within state law.

October 21, 2008 Philadelphia Inquirer
The Delaware County medical examiner yesterday defended his conclusion that an easily treatable thyroid condition caused the death of a 38-year-old Aston woman at the county jail. Cassandra "Sandy" Morgan died in March 2006 after being held for five weeks at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility on a shoplifting charge. Morgan had schizophrenia and did not tell jail staff that she needed a thyroid-replacement hormone. Her family has sued the jail in U.S. District Court, arguing that its staff should not have depended on Morgan as the sole historian of her medical past and should have called 911 more quickly when she suffered a seizure. Lawyers for the Morgan family wrapped up their presentation of testimony yesterday with Morgan's younger sister, Erika, and the medical examiner, Frederic Hellman. Hellman, who performed an autopsy on Morgan, said she suffered a slow decline during her incarceration because she did not receive the hormone. Without the medication, her metabolism slowed and her blood pressure and heart rate dropped, along with her temperature, eventually causing a seizure, he testified. Soon after jail medical staff transferred Morgan to Riddle Memorial Hospital, she was severely hypothermic, with a temperature of 82.8 degrees, according to hospital records. But John Gonzales, who represents jail staffers named in the suit, argued that Morgan did not show the classic symptoms of hypothroidism: cold, dry skin, loss of hair, weight, gain and low body temperature. Nurses who checked Morgan's vital signs during her incarceration found her temperature within normal range and her skin warm and pink, according to nursing logs.

October 18, 2008 Philadelphia Inquirer
Cassandra "Sandy" Morgan, who was arrested for stealing from a Wal-Mart that she believed she owned, should have been taken to a hospital, not a jail, a psychiatrist testified in federal court yesterday. Morgan, 38, of Aston, suffered from schizophrenia, and her condition had grown worse when the police caught her trying to take toys in February 2006. "I think she was a medical psychiatric emergency from the minute she was taken into that prison," said Eric Fine, a clinical psychiatrist and associate professor at Jefferson Medical College. The psychiatric care she received during her five-week incarceration at the Delaware County jail was "an incompetent level," Fine testified yesterday. Morgan died of complications from a thyroid condition for which she did not receive medication while in jail. Her family has sued the George W. Hill Correctional Facility and the GEO Group, a Florida-based company that operates the jail. Fine testified as an expert for the plaintiff. Lawyers for the jail argue that Morgan was appropriately cared for at the jail: She was visited four times by contracting psychiatrists who prescribed antipsychotic medication. She was housed in the infirmary, where nurses monitored her and correctional officers looked in on her every 15 minutes. Morgan did not tell jail staff that she had a thyroid condition, and although several of her siblings said they talked to a jail counselor about the medications Morgan needed, the jail contends that it never knew. Defense lawyers also argue that Morgan did not pose a clear and immediate danger to herself or others, and therefore could not have been committed to a hospital because she did not meet the legal standard. Fine disagrees. He faulted the two psychiatrists who saw her, Grato Paneque and Hani Zaki, for trusting Morgan to give them an accurate medical and mental health history. Had they investigated her past, they would have found that she had been hospitalized 14 times in the three years before her arrest and had been released from Crozer-Chester Medical Center nine days before her arrest, Fine testified. With her medical history in hand, Fine added, doctors might have seen that Morgan's case required more proactive measures than simply prescribing medication and observing her. "If you don't have the history in a psychiatric patient, you know virtually nothing," Fine testified. "Cassandra Morgan was not capable of presenting her history." Morgan refused to take her psychiatric medication during her incarceration and became more withdrawn, a sign that she was in acute mental distress, Fine said. "We're always sensitive when patients change from agitated to withdrawn," Fine said, adding it's a signal that "thoughts are going on that are not being shared." The plaintiff's attorneys are expected to wrap up their case Monday. The defense will present its case next week.

October 16, 2008 Delco Times
A psychiatrist employed at Delaware County prison testified in federal court Wednesday that Cassandra Lynn Morgan was “obviously delusional,” but stated he could not force her to take her medications. Dr. Grato Paneque testified during day two of the trial in the lawsuit over Cassandra Lynn “Sandy” Morgan’s death on March 29, 2006. Morgan, who was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, died after lapsing into a coma on the floor of her jail cell at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility about six weeks after being arrested for shoplifting. Morgan, 38, who was imprisoned for six weeks without a preliminary hearing, died at Riddle Memorial Hospital. Delaware County Medical Examiner Fredric N. Hellman ruled Morgan’s death was caused by complications from a hypothyroid condition, which was not treated during her incarceration. Morgan’s family filed the civil suit in 2007 against the GEO Group that operates the county prison, Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors and several physicians, among others. The suit alleges her death was the result of the prison’s failure to treat her thyroid condition. Morgan’s family is seeking unspecified damages. Paneque testified that Morgan, who was housed in the prison’s infirmary, told him of her psychiatric history, but did not say anything about her medical condition. He said Morgan refused to take her psychiatric medication, not uncommon for paranoid schizophrenics. “I cannot force medication against their will unless there is imminent danger to her self or others,” said Paneque, who was hired by the GEO Group to provide psychiatric services to inmates. Morgan, he said, did not appear to be a danger to anyone. Testimony by Paneque and Dr. John Fraunces, a retired prison psychologist, painted a very sad picture of a mentally ill woman behind prison bars. Both said that since most mental hospitals were shuttered years ago, prisons have become the mental hospital of last resort. “It’s a lot cheaper to house a person in a prison than a state mental hospital,” said Fraunces. Dr. William Purner, the current medical director of the prison, said he was the acting medical director working part time in March 2006 when Morgan was incarcerated. Purner testified he never saw Morgan as a patient at the prison. It was only after she was brought to Riddle, where he was on staff, that he treated her as a patient. It was then, Purner said, he got Morgan’s medical history from her family. Purner testified that as a prison physician, he is not permitted to solicit information about a prisoner’s medical history. James F. Mundy, attorney for the plaintiffs, questioned Purner about a two-week period during which Morgan’s vital signs were not taken. “Was that routine procedure?” he asked. “That’s not a standard of care of any individual under any condition,” Purner replied. “No medical doctor ever examined Cassandra Morgan during the entire six weeks Cassandra Morgan was at the prison?” Mundy asked. “I found no notes to that effect,” Purner stated. Mundy also reviewed documents that indicated the prison nursing staff believed Morgan’s condition was deteriorating. On March 21, eight days before Morgan died, a nurse wrote in the infirmary log that her body temperature was 92.7 degrees. Purner testified that if he had seen that temperature, he’d have asked a nurse to take it again. He added that it is possible the notation was an error. After that entry, there is a 12-hour gap in the log as the records are missing, something Purner acknowledged.

October 15, 2008 Philadelphia Daily News
A lawyer for the family of Cassandra "Sandy" Morgan, a mentally ill woman who died two years ago after having been held for five weeks in the Delaware County prison, asked a jury yesterday to give Morgan the "justice she never received from" prison officials and doctors who worked for the prison. Morgan, 38, died in Riddle Memorial Hospital on March 29, 2006, four days after she lapsed into a coma at the prison. She died as a result of complications caused by hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain important hormones. Morgan's family filed suit in federal district court in July 2007, alleging that her death resulted from the prison's failure to give her medication for the thyroid problem and to follow its own rules. The family is seeking unspecified damages. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

October 7, 2008 Philadelphia Inquirer
Sandy Morgan didn't have a receipt when she walked out of the Boothwyn Wal-Mart with more than $500 worth of dolls, toys and girls' clothes. In her mind, she didn't need one. She owned Wal-Mart, she told a manager who tried to stop her. Sandy knew things others didn't. She knew she owned many stores and she knew the television transmitted demons. She took care to protect her family: She threatened the demons with knives and a broken mop handle; she threw away food she was sure was poisoned. It was a strain, fighting things no one else saw. Once her sisters watched as Sandy wandered into the street and looked up at the sky. She asked God to take her. But that February afternoon in 2006, it was the police who took Sandy. Arrested for shoplifting, the 38-year-old college graduate from Aston was ordered held on $10,000 bail and taken to the Delaware County jail. Within the first hours of Sandy's incarceration, a physician's assistant guessed she might be mentally retarded. Within a day, a doctor diagnosed her as schizophrenic. Within eight days, a psychiatrist declared her incompetent to stand trial. While the court waited for a competency report, Sandy waited in jail. For five weeks, she saw no visitors. She never went outside. She hid under covers and stared at the walls. She went two weeks without a shower because the nurses were afraid to go near her. "Time to get out!" Sandy told a nurse after a week in jail. After two weeks, "Are you here for Jesus?" After a month, "Is [that] a horse over there?" If a local hospital hadn't released Sandy from its psychiatric ward weeks earlier, she might not have been arrested. If she had threatened to kill the Wal-Mart employees, or herself, the police could have taken her to a hospital. If jail officials had called Sandy's family, they might have known what was wrong when she collapsed in her cell, her arms and legs flailing, her body cold. But Sandy wasn't lucky like that. A grim diagnosis -- Later, Sandy's story would come out slowly, in dozens of depositions, after her family sued the jail, the company that runs it, and the hospital that released her weeks before her arrest. There would be many sides to the tale, a tangle that a jury is scheduled to work out next week. But it started in 1985, when Sandy was 17 and heading off to York College. That's when her family noticed something was wrong. The sixth of seven children, Cassandra "Sandy" Morgan had been a bright, fearless child with a vivid imagination. She excelled in school, played field hockey, ran track, and loved writing and singing contests. She wanted to be a nurse. But the summer after she graduated from Chester High School, she became afraid. She told her younger sister, Erika, that someone was trying to break into their house. In her dorm room, she saw spiders crawling on the walls. Sandy's brother James, seven years her senior, was a rookie in the York Police Department in 1986 when he received a call from campus that Sandy had been raped. He rushed to the hospital. But doctors found no evidence of assault. After prolonged questioning and numerous tests, they diagnosed Sandy, then 18, with paranoid schizophrenia. They prescribed Haldol, a psychotropic drug. Sandy tried to go back to school, but the hallucinations drove her home to her mother and sisters Erika and Jamie. She wrote poetry about her struggle to hold on to her dreams that was published in an anthology in 1988. At home, Sandy found purpose in caring for her diabetic mother, who was bedridden. Willie Mae Morgan needed insulin shots, which all three sisters helped to administer. Sandy often bathed her mother and helped prepare her meals. The regular schedule helped Sandy remember when to take her medications. She stayed active. She played piano and attended church. She tried to teach herself how to speak Chinese. Sandy eventually returned to school, attending class part time until graduating from Neumann College in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts. Her whole family went to her commencement. Erika, three years her junior, watched Sandy smile for the cameras, "chest pumped out and posing." A mind unravels -- In March 2003, Sandy's mother died of pancreatic cancer. Sandy was devastated. She stopped eating. She slept fitfully. She refused her medications - not just the Haldol, but the Synthroid doctors had prescribed two years earlier for hypothyroidism. The condition was easily manageable with drugs, but if untreated, it could lead to coma, even death. Without her mother to care for, the hours and days fell out of a recognizable pattern. Without her medication, her hallucinations and delusions flourished. "God is talking to me," she told Erika and Jamie, who also still lived in their mother's house on Jennifer Lane. "Come with me to see God and the angels." She thought the family dog was the devil. Her sisters caught her choking it. She worried that Satan had taken over her family and would harm her nephews and nieces. Once she chased Erika down a hallway with an 8-inch butcher knife, screaming, "Who are you?" Her family sent her to Crozer-Chester Medical Center 13 times in three years, committing her against her will to the psychiatric ward. They wanted the old Sandy back, and they hoped the doctors could persuade her to take her medicine. But five, 20, even 90 days in the hospital never seemed to be enough. Each time she returned home, Sandy's interactions with the world in her mind became more frightening. On Jan. 19, 2006, Sandy's sisters heard a loud crash. They ran to the kitchen and saw Sandy break a mop handle across her hip. She swung the broken sections ather sisters, saying, "Demons get out, demons get out!" Jamie and Erika called the police, who took Sandy to Crozer-Chester, where orderlies stood by ready to restrain her. A social worker noted that Sandy was "psychotic, paranoid, refusing antipsychotic medication, and a danger to herself and others." Crozer-Chester asked permission to hold Sandy for up to 90 days for treatment, which the Delaware County court granted. In his reports, Rommel Rivera, Sandy's attending psychiatrist, said she should be forced to take her psychotropic medication. On her first day there, she was given an injection of Geodon. She later agreed to take Risperdal, Klonopin and injections of Haldol. But that wouldn't last. Rivera suggested that Sandy's frequent hospitalizations showed she might need more help. He suggested sending her to Norristown State Hospital. She could be held at the psychiatric hospital for more than 90 days - long enough, her family hoped, to get her back on her meds. A social worker met with Sandy and her sisters on Jan. 26 to discuss Norristown. Sandy, who had become less agitated after the injections, agreed to go if she could take her keyboard and her Bible. The three sisters hugged one another tightly. Sandy smiled, something Jamie and Erika hadn't seen her do in a while. "You are finally going to get the help that you need," Jamie told her. But four days after the family meeting, another psychiatrist, Usha Kotihal, inexplicably took over Sandy's care – a change neither doctor was later able to explain. Kotihal determined that Sandy's mental state had improved and that she no longer posed a threat to herself or others, she later testified in a deposition. She gave Sandy a 100-milligram injection of Haldol decanoate - a long-acting drug with a half-life of three weeks - and sent her home on Feb. 7, 2006. Erin King, Sandy's case manager, later testified that she couldn't believe it. During the car ride home, Sandy was laughing and talking to the voices in her head. "What's so funny?" King remembered asking her. "Wanna let me in on the joke?" "No," Sandy said. Nine days later, Sandy, convinced she owned Wal-Mart, was arrested. Hospital or jail? More than 70 percent of the patients in state psychiatric hospitals suffer from schizophrenia. Mental-health officials often struggle to get patients adequate treatment, given the national trend away from institutions and toward residential care. Without medication, schizophrenics relapse within six weeks, on average, said Amy Brodkey, a psychiatrist who directed the mental-health court at Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute for six years. "It affects people's thinking, it affects their emotion, their cognition," Brodkey said. "The prognosis is still not good." Under state law, a person must pose a "clear and present danger" of bodily harm to himself, herself or others within the last 30 days to be committed to a hospital. Many wind up in jail, as police officers decide what to do with someone who broke the law but is not necessarily dangerous. A conundrum -- At the police station, Detective Tom McNichol and another officer asked Sandy to empty her pockets and sit on a bench outside the station's three cells. As McNichol called her house, Sandy asked for her Bible back. Later, McNichol testified that he called Jamie, who told him that Sandy was supposed to be going to the hospital. She gave him a number to contact Erin King. According to McNichol, Jamie told him Sandy was no longer welcome at home. "What are we supposed to do with her?" McNichol said he asked. "I don't care what you do with her," Jamie said, according to McNichol. Jamie denies that. In her testimony, she said she didn't know of Sandy's arrest until she heard a message the police left on her answering machine later that night. She testified that she did not go to the station to see her sister because it was late. McNichol called King. Could she pick Sandy up and have her committed to the hospital? King told him it wasn't possible. Sandy wasn't a threat to herself or others, so she could not be committed against her will. "We can't release her to the streets," McNichol recalled thinking. The police charged Sandy with retail theft, defiant trespass (she'd been warned previously not to bother employees at the Wal-Mart), and disorderly conduct. During her video arraignment, Sandy told Judge Stephanie Klein, "I'm the boss. I'll put you in jail," McNichol said in an interview. The prosecutor wrote "crazy" on her copy of the charges. Klein ordered a competency evaluation and set bail at $10,000. Sandy was then taken to the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornton, southwest of Media, the state's only privately operated jail. Ten thousand dollars is a high bail for a retail theft charge for someone with no arrest record, Montgomery County chief public defender Stephen Heckman said. "If she had no mental-health issues, she would not have gone to jail. Not for retail theft," Heckman said. "It's almost doing them a favor . . . it may be the quickest route to treatment." A question of competence -- The Delaware County jail, a 1,883-bed facility, is required by contract to adhere to basic national medical guidelines. Upon arrival, inmates are typically given a physical and mental-health evaluation and tested for communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV. When Sandy arrived, she told the corrections officers she was innocent. When she struggled, two officers wrestled her to the ground and handcuffed her, according to jail logs. The officers took Sandy to a physician's assistant, Lisa Black, who asked Sandy about her medical history. Sandy appeared confused and was combative, she noted. Black asked Sandy whether she was taking medication or under the care of a doctor. No, was the answer. Had she ever had high blood pressure, diabetes or a psychiatric disorder? No. Had she been hospitalized for an emotional or nervous problem? "None of your business," Sandy said, according to Black's intake form and testimony. Black decided Sandy was mentally retarded or mentally ill; she later said she believed Sandy was unable to tell her what her diagnosis was. Jail medical officials depend almost exclusively on inmates to tell them about their health. At the Delaware County jail, the medical staff is not required to check out inmates' medical histories. Inmates can decline medical care. Whether an inmate is mentally capable to help manage his or her medical care is for jail staff to decide. According to the policies of the GEO Group Inc., which ran the jail, mentally unstable inmates should be transported immediately to a hospital. But finding beds can be difficult. Not dangerous enough -- Black assigned Sandy to a room in the infirmary on suicide watch, figuring she was mentally ill, she later testified. Officers looked in on Sandy every 15 minutes to make sure she wasn't hurting herself and had not fallen ill. The next day, Sandy admitted to psychiatrist Grato Paneque that she had been on medication. When Paneque visited again four days later, Sandy said she had been hospitalized, according to Paneque's records. Sandy did not say she had schizophrenia, but the psychiatrists who visited her during her first days in jail gathered as much and prescribed Risperdal. Sandy did not mention her hypothyroidism. The last time she is known to have taken her Synthroid prescription was on Feb. 2 at Crozer-Chester. Even in the last five days of her hospital stay, she refused it. None of the psychiatrists or medical staff who met with Sandy at the jail called her family to determine what medications she was taking. No one contacted the doctors who had treated her at Crozer-Chester, where she had been hospitalized more than a dozen times. The county employs two mental-health liaisons at the jail to help inmates, yet jail officials say they had no contact with Sandy's caretakers in the infirmary. Sandy's brother James and three of her sisters said they called the jail to find out what was happening. Lisa and Jamie Morgan testified that they told a jail social worker about Sandy's thyroid condition. They hoped that once Sandy was declared incompetent to stand trial, she would be transferred to Norristown State Hospital. Sandy's caseworker, Erin King, indicated in her phone log that on Feb. 23 she spoke with Kirk Benson, a mental-health liaison at the prison. King said she told him that Sandy had schizophrenia and suffered from hypothyroidism. Benson testified that he didn't remember speaking to King. A counselor arranged for James Morgan to talk to his sister. "I don't belong here," Sandy told him. "I know," James remembers telling her. "I'm working on it." James continued to call Sandy's public defender for updates. None of her family members posted the $1,000 it would have cost to bail Sandy out of jail. James said he thought he needed the full $10,000. His sisters said they didn't ask about bail because they did not understand the process. They did not try to see Sandy, either, because they thought inmates in the infirmary could not have visitors. A psychiatrist the county hired evaluated Sandy on Feb. 24 and determined that she was not competent to stand trial. It took several weeks for the report to be transcribed and sent to her public defender, a delay that is not uncommon. Meanwhile, Sandy became more withdrawn and hostile. She hid under blankets in her cell. She fought nurses who tried to take her vital signs. They wrote "caution" next to her name in infirmary logs. One nurse said that Sandy was sometimes "wild-looking." During 59 nursing shifts, Sandy's vitals were recorded only 17 times. Nursing notes say she would ask for showers and was "malodorous," but was denied because she was too hostile. Records show she showered just four times in five weeks. On Feb. 26, a nurse wrote in the infirmary log, "needs 302," referring to the state mental-health law that allows for a person to be hospitalized against his or her will. The next day, and again on March 2, nurses noted "302?" On March 21, a nurse wrote that Sandy was getting worse and refusing medication. On March 22, a nurse scribbled, "Wrote in toothpaste, delusional," and "psychotic, poor impulse control." Two days later, Michael Harper, another public defender, petitioned the court to have Sandy transferred to Norristown State Hospital. All things considered, Sandy's case was moving along quickly, Harper said. "A two-month turnaround is about the best we can do," he later testified. But for Sandy, it wasn't fast enough. Unexplained collapse -- The next day, March 25, Officer Rasheeda Hackett walked past Sandy's cell about 3:15 a.m. and saw her gripping the sink, her legs shaking. Then she fell. By the time a nurse reached her, Sandy was convulsing. She bit her tongue. Her eyes were open, looking to the right. She was incontinent. Sandy had no history of seizures. When she stopped flailing, she was put on a stretcher and taken to another room in the medical wing. Black, the physician's assistant who had placed Sandy in the medical wing five weeks earlier, administered Dilantin, an antiseizure drug. No one contacted the doctor on call that night or dialed 911. Instead, medical staff took Sandy's blood pressure, pulse and heart and respiration rate. Ammonia revived her somewhat, but she did not respond to pain or to her name. Seizures in an adult not known to have a history of them should be treated as an emergency, said Christopher Rees, an attending physician in the emergency department at Pennsylvania Hospital. The patient should be immediately taken to a hospital to determine what caused the seizure and whether it stopped, he said. About 4:15 a.m., a nurse noticed that Sandy's pupils were not responding to light, indicating possible brain death. "It means you're dying or dead," Rees said. "That's the end." But the jail medical staff didn't call 911 until 4:42 a.m., an hour and a half after Sandy collapsed. In the ambulance, Sandy had another seizure. When she arrived at Riddle Memorial Hospital, her body temperature had dropped to 82.8 degrees. Machines kept her alive for four days while her family gathered to say goodbye. Before the hospital disconnected Sandy, before her organs were harvested for transplant, James sat next to his sister and wept. He hugged her, stroking her hand and her face. "I'm so sorry," he told her. A long deterioration -- The autopsy revealed that Sandy died from profound hypothyroidism with probable myxedema coma, an end stage of hypothyroidism that causes a firm swelling in body tissues. About half of the people who develop myxedema coma die, said David Cooper, director of the Johns Hopkins Thyroid Clinic. Hypothyroidism means the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormone to maintain body functions at a normal pace. It is one of the most common conditions in internal medicine, said Stephen Rosen, chief of endocrinology at Pennsylvania Hospital. The condition usually results when the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland. In the days leading to Sandy's death, her heart rate must have slowed and her blood pressure may have dropped, Cooper said. She likely started breathing more slowly. Her voice may have lowered or become hoarse as her larynx became engorged from the swelling. Her extremities were probably cold to the touch as her body shifted blood flow to preserve her vital organs, Rosen said. Four days before Sandy collapsed, a nurse recorded her temperature at 92.7 degrees, according to jail records. The nurse, Maureen Hoffman, testified that it was a transcription error. But Cooper, who is not involved in Sandy's case, said hypothyroidism takes a long time to kill, probably longer even than the five weeks Sandy was in jail. A check of Sandy's vital signs should have indicated to nurses that something was wrong. "I can guarantee you her temperature was not normal the day before," he said. "I can guarantee you it was not normal a week before." Body temperature that drops to 95 degrees or lower is a red flag, Rosen said. Suicide-watch logs kept by jail officers who looked in on Sandy every 15 minutes are missing for the final three days she was at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. Records listing the drugs Sandy was offered are missing for March, legal documents show. Wide-reaching suit -- In July 2007, Sandy Morgan's family filed a lawsuit in federal court against several jail staff, Delaware County, Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Usha Kotihal, and GEO. In August, GEO announced that, in part due to the high cost of litigation, it would end its involvement at the jail at the end of the year. The lawsuit is set to go to trial next week. Harold Goodman, the lead attorney representing the Morgan family, accuses Kotihal of "abandoning" Sandy, discharging her without proper prescriptions, a post-treatment plan, or a call to the family explaining why she was not being sent to the state hospital. Morgan's family argues that the jail was ill-prepared to care for their sister and should have sent her to a mental-health facility. Amalia Romanowicz, a lawyer representing Kotihal and Crozer-Chester, declined to comment. In her court motions she argued that Kotihal and the hospital did what was required of them by law: They treated Sandy until she was no longer a threat to herself and others. Kotihal, in her deposition, said that although Sandy was still showing signs of psychosis upon discharge, she had returned to her "base line." In their court motions, lawyers for the GEO Group and jail staff dispute the cause of death, saying that Sandy showed no signs of medical distress until she collapsed. They said it was her and her family's responsibility to inform them of her thyroid condition. Suicide watch -- Throughout Sandy's 38-day incarceration, corrections officers looked into her cell every 15 minutes and noted her activities using codes. On the morning of Feb. 25, Sandy was Code 2, "yelling or screaming." On March 5, she walked around for much of the afternoon, singing, cursing, and talking to herself. But most times, officers looked in to see that Sandy, who had only a toothbrush and a Bible in her cell, wasn't doing anything. During entire eight-hour shifts, officers noted Sandy was Code 8, standing still, or Code 10 and 11, sitting or lying quietly in bed. Sandy Morgan, who was dangerous enough to be locked up in jail on suicide watch but not dangerous enough to be sent to a hospital, died in front of officers who checked her every 15 minutes of each day.

September 19, 2008 AP
A wrongful-death lawsuit can proceed against doctors and a private prison where a schizophrenic woman collapsed and later died after weeks in the infirmary, a federal judge ruled. Meanwhile, the company that runs the nearly 1,900-bed Delaware County Prison near Philadelphia is ending its 12-year management of the site, citing frequent litigation and higher-than-expected costs. At least six of the prison's inmates have died of unnatural causes or questionable circumstances since 2001, according to news accounts. They include the April death of comedian Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, a Howard Stern sidekick who died of complications from cystic fibrosis at age 39. The prison is run by the Geo Group Inc., formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., which runs about 50 corrections and immigration sites in the United States. In the latest wrongful-death case, U.S. District Judge Berle M. Shiller ruled this month that a jury could find the prison's contract doctors, along with a hospital doctor and others, negligent in the care of Cassandra Morgan. Morgan, 38, had a long history of schizophrenia and also suffered from a serious thyroid condition. She was hospitalized at Chester-Crozer Medical Center in early 2006 and was scheduled to be transferred to a state psychiatric hospital, but was instead discharged by Dr. Usha Kotihal despite evidence she would not voluntarily take her medication, the ruling said. In discharge papers, Kotihal noted that Morgan was uncooperative, angry and delusional, according to the suit. Days later, Morgan was arrested for shoplifting at a Wal-Mart. "Cassandra was under a delusion that she owned the Wal-Mart," the suit states. Morgan was brought to the prison on about Feb. 16 and housed in the infirmary because of her apparent mental illness. Although she did not acknowledge her medical history or take the anti-psychotic medication prescribed, prison medical staff failed to adequately evaluate and treat her, the suit charges. One prison doctor upped her dosage in the hope that "she would come around," even though she wasn't taking the lower dose, the suit alleges. The suit also alleges that family members called repeatedly to try to inform prison officials of her medical conditions, but were not able to get the information to the medical staff. On March 25, she collapsed and started seizing. More than 90 minutes later, she was taken to a hospital, where her body temperature was recorded as 82.8 degrees, the judge found. With thyroid hormones 14 times normal levels, she was judged to be in a hypothyroid-related coma. She never regained consciousness and was taken off life support four days later, the ruling said. "Obviously, we're pleased that after months of discovery, the judge has cleared the way for us to begin trial," said lawyer Harold Goodman, who represents the family. The case is set for trial on Oct. 14. Lawyer Carolyn Short, who represents the Geo Group Inc., declined comment. Lawyer Amalia V. Romanowicz, who represents Kotihal and the hospital, did not immediately return a message Thursday. Goodman also represents Kallenbach's mother, who has blamed her son's death on inadequate prison medical care. Kallenbach had been arrested on a child-luring charge. A separate pending lawsuit accuses the Geo Group of routinely strip-searching minor offenders at the Delaware County Prison, in violation of court rulings that ban the practice unless there is reason to suspect they are hiding contraband. The Geo Group had 2006 revenues of $860 million.

September 3, 2008 Delco Times
The Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors spent 90 minutes in a "lively" executive session Tuesday morning "identifying, assessing and reviewing" options in the wake of the GEO Group Inc.'s decision to pull up stakes by year's end, said Acting Prison Superintendent John Reilly. The GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp., is the private, for-profit company that has been running the county-owned George W. Hill Correctional Facility in one form or another since 1995. The company announced in a release Friday it would cease operations there on Dec. 31. With the holiday weekend, Tuesday was the first opportunity the board had to go over its options - essentially whether to engage another private provider, revert to operating the jail on its own or form some hybrid of the two. "That is going to be the best-kept secret in Delaware County for awhile," said Reilly. "The board has a direction and we're going to proceed - at least in the short term - in this direction, and I don't believe we should be discussing it publicly because it might impact negotiating strategies." Which at least suggests there is someone the board could potentially negotiate with, but Reilly was sticking with the "identified, assessed and reviewed" line. Executive sessions are not open to the public and little was initially revealed on Tuesday's extensive discussions. Reilly did say the board hoped the short-term phase would near completion by its next public meeting Sept. 17, but isn't setting any rigid timelines. Tuesday's meeting also reportedly culminated in a conference call with GEO Group Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Wayne Calabrese. According to GEO's release Friday, the Concord facility is the only local county jail the company manages. Though it generates about $38 million in annual operating revenues, GEO Chairman and Chief Executive Officer George C. Zoley said his company would cease management of the 1,883-bed jail "due to financial underperformance and frequent litigation." Reilly said in its letter to the county, GEO also cited "higher-than-average workers' compensation claims" as a reason for pulling out of the local prison market. Reilly estimated the facility constituted about 70 percent of GEO's corporate litigation expenses, so it was unexpected it would pull out, but not entirely surprising. GEO and the prison board signed an $80 million, two-year contract extension last year that was set to expire Dec. 31, 2009. Prison board Solicitor Bob Diorio said GEO was able to leave before that date without penalty because of an escape clause that allows either party to give 120 days notice.

August 30, 2008 Philadelphia Daily News
Running the George W. Hill Correctional Facility is a tough job. So tough, in fact, that the GEO Group is walking away from a $40-million-a-year contract to operate Delaware County's 1,883- bed prison. Buried under a mountain of lawsuits - with another high-profile wrongful-death suit imminent - the Florida-based company announced yesterday that it's leaving the county lockup a year before its contract expires at the end of 2009. "I just think they're losing money here," said the prison's acting superintendent, John Reilly Jr., who oversees GEO's performance on the county's behalf. The company's chief executive, George C. Zoley, said in a statement yesterday that "financial underperformance and frequent litigation" drove the decision. Formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp., GEO has been running the prison in Thornbury Township since 1996. State Rep. John Perzel, R-Phila., is on GEO's board of directors. Reilly said GEO has done a "better than adequate job," while saving Delaware County taxpayers millions of dollars. But the company also has been a near-constant source of negative headlines. A former K-9 officer at the jail pleaded guilty last month to having sex with an inmate in his pickup truck at a nearby grist mill, and a corrections officer admitted in court that same week to sending a fraudulent letter to the state parole board so her boyfriend - a convicted murderer - could move in with her. Another GEO guard pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit bank robbery; the prison's former work-release supervisor is a registered Megan's Law sex offender, and the warden was fired last winter. The family of comedian Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, 39, the longtime member of Howard Stern's "Wack Pack" who died in April while in prison custody, is planning to sue GEO, alleging that prison medical staff failed to treat his cystic fibrosis. The county prison board will hold an emergency closed-door session Tuesday to assess its options, which include returning management of the prison to the county government.

July 30, 2008 Delco Times
A former guard at Delaware County prison pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge that he had sex with a 25-year-old female inmate while he was employed at the facility. Michael Waters, 37, of the 200 block of South Church Street, Clifton Heights, stood beside defense attorney Ronald Smith as he admitted to a charge of institutional sexual assault. Deputy District Attorney Michael Galantino said the offense carries a maximum of seven years in jail, but under the state's recommended guidelines, Waters could receive a probationary sentence up to nine months in prison. "I will be seeking a sentence of three to 23 months in jail," said Galantino. Waters will remain free on $2,500 bail pending sentencing set for Oct. 21. Acting Prison Superintendent John Reilly Jr. said Waters was employed with the GEO group that has managed the prison since Nov. 16, 1998. He was earning $16 an hour at the time he was terminated in March, after the charges surfaced, said Reilly. Reilly termed the crime "a horrific lapse in judgment." Waters is the second employee of the GEO group to enter a plea this week. Nytara Hall, 30, who also was employed by GEO, pleaded guilty to a forgery charge Tuesday and lost her prison post. Galantino said the inmate, who told investigators about her sexual trysts with Waters, is now out of jail. The prosecutor said she was aware of the terms of the plea when the defendant waived his preliminary hearing in April and nothing has changed since then. "There was no allegation of force," said Galantino. The law provides that a person employed at a correctional institution commits a crime if there is sexual intercourse with an inmate or detainee. Senior Judge William R. Toal Jr. delayed sentencing to allow time for Waters to undergo a state-mandated evaluation to determine if he fits the criteria to be classified as sexually violent offender. Waters was arrested after the female, who was an inmate at the time, told authorities she was on work release and she and Waters would hook up off prison grounds. She told investigators she first met Waters while he was patrolling at the prison and she told him where she would be working that day. He replied, "Maybe I'll stop by," according to a court document. She said Waters picked her up on at least four occasions for sexual trysts between Feb. 25 and March 20, according to the court document. She said she and Waters had sex at least four times inside Waters' pickup truck. Waters told authorities that afterward, he would take her to the SEPTA bus stop at Cheyney Road and Route 1, where she would take the bus back to the prison.

July 19, 2008 Philadelphia Inquirer
The comedian Kenneth Keith Kallenbach died of complications from cystic fibrosis, according to an autopsy report released yesterday by the Delaware County medical examiner. Kallenbach, 39, was best known as a member of the "Wack Pack" on Howard Stern's radio show. He suffered from the inherited disease and died April 24 at Riddle Memorial Hospital after being transferred from the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Thornbury, where he had been held since mid-March. After an autopsy in April, the medical examiner said further investigation was needed to determine the cause of death. Yesterday's report indicated the manner of death to be "natural," brought on by cystic fibrosis with pneumonia and sepsis. Kallenbach's family has alleged that he did not receive the proper medical treatment for his condition while in the county prison and that his health deteriorated dramatically. Kallenbach was arrested on a charge of attempted child abduction. He denied any wrongdoing. A call to his mother, Fay Kallenbach, yesterday was not returned. The family's attorney, Harold I. Goodman of Philadelphia, said that the report confirmed what family members suspected as the cause of death and that they are reviewing all records before deciding whether to proceed with litigation. "Reading this report along with prison records certainly suggests he did not get the degree of care and treatment" needed, said Goodman. He said the prison was aware of Kallenbach's condition and "wasn't properly treating him for it." Kallenbach called home a week before his death asking his mother to intervene and saying he didn't think he would "make it" in jail. A message left for John C. Reilly Jr., acting superintendent at the prison, was not returned. Since 2005, at least eight people have died at the Delaware County facility, the state's only privately run jail. Several of those deaths resulted in lawsuits by family members who said the facility did not provide adequate medical care or proper supervision for inmates. GEO Group, which runs the jail, operates prisons around the country. Its operations in Texas have been criticized over poor conditions and the treatment of some of its prisoners.

July 2, 2008 Philadelphia Daily News
A WEEK BEFORE Kenneth Keith Kallenbach died, the Delaware County comedian's health had deteriorated so badly that prison officials tried to send him home on "compassionate release." Kallenbach, 39, a longtime member of Howard Stern's "Wack Pack" who suffered from cystic fibrosis, was rapidly shedding weight while jailed on a parole violation. Even the Upper Chichester cop who arrested him in March for allegedly trying to lure a teenage girl into a car was shocked by his gaunt appearance at his preliminary hearing April 15. "He looked bad," Officer Michael Smalarz recalled last week. "I said, 'Kenny, man, you're really losing weight.' " He was dying. But despite the mid-April request that Kallenbach be released - a practice reserved for seriously ill, nonviolent inmates - the county probation office insisted that he stay in jail until he could undergo a psychosexual evaluation, according to John Reilly Jr., acting superintendent at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. Delaware County Adult Probation and Parole Services refused to send Kallenbach home, Reilly said, even though he was being held on a parole violation from a prior DUI arrest - not on the attempted- kidnapping charge involving a minor. Kallenbach's mother, Fay, already had posted bail on that charge. It wasn't until the morning of April 24 that a county judge agreed to rescind the warrant on the parole violation. Kallenbach had died a few hours earlier at Riddle Memorial Hospital. "It was just too late," said Fay Kallenbach, who intends to sue the prison for failing to treat her son's cystic fibrosis, a chronic condition in which abnormally thick mucus builds up in the lungs and digestive system. A painful memory -- He died more than two months ago, but his mother still has trouble holding back the tears when she recalls her final moments with her son in the hospital's intensive-care unit. "He tried to open his eyes, and his eyes rolled back in his head and he never regained consciousness," she said. "All I saw was skin and bones. He had lost so much weight, he just looked emaciated. I held his hand for a while and talked to him. Evidently, his brain was working but his body had shut down." Reilly declined comment yesterday because of the pending litigation, but in an interview shortly after the death he defended Kallenbach's treatment. He said that Kallenbach was seen twice a day by a nurse and had access to "all of his prescribed" medication and an oxygen machine, but that he had been refusing treatment. An April 30 autopsy performed by Delaware County Medical Examiner Frederic Hellman did not immediately reveal a cause of death, and the tissue-analysis results have not come back. Hellman initially had declined to conduct an autopsy, accepting the determination by hospital clinicians that Kallenbach had died from pneumonia and septic shock due to complications from cystic fibrosis. But he decided to perform the examination after the family raised concerns about his medical treatment. At that point, Kallenbach's body already had been embalmed "We're in America," Fay Kallenbach said. "He shouldn't be dying in jail from pneumonia when they knew he had cystic fibrosis." Kallenbach posted $5,000 bail shortly after her son's March 17 arrest on charges of harassment and attempted luring of a child. He was returned to prison custody a week later, however, because the arrest, and the fact that he had been driving a car without a breath- alcohol ignition interlock device, violated his parole on an old DUI charge, Reilly said. "He called me, and he was so weak I could hardly understand him," Fay Kallenbach said. "He said, 'Mom, do whatever you can, please, to get me out of here because I don't think I'm going to make it.' " She blames the prison for her son's death, claiming that the medical staff failed to treat his cystic fibrosis, but says that the probation officials who kept him there are "equally responsible." She said he had managed the chronic ailment by taking enzymes to help digest his meals and by using a salt-water breathing machine at their Boothwyn home. Awaiting information -- The family's attorney, Harold I. Goodman, said that he is awaiting additional records before deciding whether to sue the county and the GEO Group, a Florida-based firm that runs the prison. Goodman said that he has notified both entities that his firm is investigating the matter. GEO spokesman Pablo Paez declined to comment on the case. Reilly said a deputy warden called the county probation department around April 17 and asked if Kallenbach could be released due to medical reasons while he awaited a hearing on the parole violation. The prison occasionally contacts judges, prosecutors or probation officers to request "alternative incarceration" for nonviolent inmates who are "gravely or seriously ill," Reilly said in April. The practice - which also saves money because the publicly funded prison is no longer responsible for expensive medical care - typically is used for inmates such as Kallenbach jailed on a probation or parole violation, rather than convicts serving time, Reilly said. The request was denied, according to Reilly. Fay Kallenbach still can't understand that. If a judge had set bail at 10 percent of $50,000 on the more-serious criminal charges and determined that Kallenbach was not a danger to the community, why wouldn't the probation department let him out on house arrest when he became sick? "The whole system just went against him," she said. Mark Murray, the deputy director of Delaware County Adult Probation and Parole Services, who Reilly said had blocked Kallenbach's release, declined to comment on the case. Kallenbach - known for his cheesy rock songs, goofball antics on "The Howard Stern Show" and the occasional movie cameo - was a notoriously heavy drinker, but didn't have a history of violent crimes or sex crimes, Upper Chichester Police Detective John Montgomery said. "He was picked up a couple times for intoxication and stuff like that, but he wasn't viewed as a dangerous criminal or anything - not until this latest incident, which raised eyebrows," Montgomery said. Police say Kallenbach tried to pull a teenage girl into his car on March 17. At his preliminary hearing, Magisterial District Judge David Griffin held him for trial on all charges, including attempted kidnapping. The case never made it to trial. Fay Kallenbach said that her son was driving to the post office that afternoon and yelled to a 16-year-old girl, " 'Hi, I'm Kenneth Keith,' because everyone knew him in Boothwyn from TV commercials and appearances. He was just friendly that way and would hand out his little business card he had." She says that county officials treated her son as if he were guilty of a sex crime by insisting on a psychosexual evaluation while he was dying in jail. "He was accused of it, but he didn't have his day in court," she said. "He was never convicted."

June 30, 2008 Delco Times
A former Delaware County prison guard has been charged with forging a supervisor's signature in an attempt to convince state parole officials to allow a convicted murderer to move in with her. Nytara Hall, 29, who was a sergeant at the county prison, has been suspended without pay pending termination, according to Prison Superintendent John Reilly. Hall, of the 700 block of South Juniper Street, Philadelphia, asked three prison officials on May 9 to send a letter on her behalf to the Pennsylvania Probation and Parole Board, according to the affidavit of probable cause written by county Detective Thomas Worrilow. Hall allegedly told the prison officials that George Kidd, her "Muslim husband," was being released from federal prison. A letter from her employer, Delaware County prison, was needed if Kidd was to reside with her, according to the affidavit. The letter was to state that it was not a conflict and that she does not possess a firearm. The same day she made her request, however, Hall sent the letter herself, and forged the signature of a prison official, the affidavit states. Three days later, Deputy Warden Mario Colucci received a call from a parole agent questioning the authenticity of the faxed letter. The person whose signature was on the fax denied writing or signing the letter, the affidavit states. Prison officials questioned Hall about the letter as well as about her "husband," since she was not married. Hall allegedly explained that she was not legally married, but considered Kidd, who had been sentenced to 10-20 years for third-degree murder, her husband in a religious marriage. On June 24, Worrilow interviewed Hall, who allegedly admitted she produced the letter and faxed it to the parole board. She also admitted that the purpose in doing so was to obtain parole for Kidd. Hall was arraigned on charges of forgery and tampering with public records. She was released on $35,000 unsecured bail.

April 29, 2008 Philadelphia Inquirer
An autopsy will be performed tomorrow on Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, a 39-year-old comedian who died Thursday after contracting pneumonia at the Delaware County jail, where he was awaiting trial. Since 2005, at least eight people have died at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, the state's only privately run jail. Several of those deaths resulted in lawsuits by family members who say the facility did not provide adequate medical care or proper supervision for inmates. Kallenbach suffered from cystic fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease. He had been housed at the jail since mid-March, when he was arrested on a charge of attempted child abduction. He was taken to Riddle Memorial Hospital April 21, where he died. Kallenbach's mother, Fay, said her son called her a week before his death, asking her to intervene and help him receive better treatment. He said he didn't think he would "make it" in the jail, she said. "He managed [his condition] perfectly well at home," she said. "He was only in there for about a month." The prison had no comment on Kallenbach's death. GEO Group operates prisons around the country, and its operations in Texas have been sharply criticized over poor conditions and the treatment of some of its prisoners. At the Delaware County facility last year, a woman who suffered from a thyroid condition died at the jail where she had been held for six weeks. Family members said she did not receive her medication during her incarceration. "There is an awful lot of deliberate indifference to the medical needs" in the prison, said Harold I. Goodman, a lawyer currently suing the company that operates the jail on behalf of the woman's family. GEO did not comment on this case. In 2005, five inmates died within a five-month span, drawing scrutiny from Delaware County District Attorney Michael Green. Two men apparently committed suicide, one died after a fist fight, another died of a heroin overdose, and another man was found dead in his bed. No criminal charges were filed, but GEO Group has settled lawsuits with several families who sued on behalf of their relatives. In 2006, GEO paid $100,000 to the family of Rosalyn Atkinson, 25, who died in 2002 because of a fatal overdose of a high-blood pressure drug administered by jail medical staff. Atkinson had been at the jail for only 18 days. GEO also agreed in 2005 to pay $125,000 to the family of John Focht, 43, who used his boot strings to hang himself in 2002. Jon Auritt, a Media lawyer who handled both cases, is reviewing another case of inmate death that occurred in October. David Dewees, who was in his 40s, died from what appeared to be a seizure from hypoglycemic shock, Auritt said. Dewees suffered from diabetes and had been at the jail only a few months at the time of his death, he said. "They tried to save him once he went into this coma," Auritt said yesterday. "I don't know whether or not there was anything they did or could have done that could have changed things." A private forensic pathologist is reviewing an autopsy of Dewees, and Auritt expects to determine by the end of the summer whether to pursue the matter in court. Angus Love, executive director of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, said the number of deaths in three years was exceptionally high. "I'm suing Bucks County, and I don't think they've had any deaths in custody in five years," he said. Love is suing the GEO Group on behalf of an AIDS-infected inmate who allegedly did not receive his medications for more than five months. He said a Delaware judge released the man from prison early, citing the prison's failure to provide needed medicine. GEO, based in Florida, also has been under fire in Texas, where it operates more than a dozen correctional facilities. Last fall, the Texas Youth Commission abruptly canceled its $8 million contract with GEO after investigators found unsanitary living conditions at its juvenile facility. Several of the teens said they were sexually assaulted by a guard who was a convicted sex offender, according to lawsuits. GEO lost its contract at an adult facility in west Texas last year after an inspector reportedly characterized the prison as "the worst correctional facility I have ever visited." The inspection was sparked by an inmate's suicide. Texas legislators have called for a review of all of GEO's contracts with state and local agencies. GEO spokesman Pablo Paez did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. The Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors, a group of five people who oversee the contract with the jail and appoint the superintendent, agreed in May 2006 to renew GEO's contract for another 19 months. The board members are satisfied with GEO's performance, said Robert M. DiOrio, a Media lawyer who acts as spokesman for the board. "The prison board is always concerned about inmate deaths and very much regrets any death in the prison," DiOrio said. "Just because a family member in a distraught state expresses culpability for a death doesn't necessarily mean at the end of the day that the prison board or GEO is found to be liable." Fredric Hellman, Delaware County medical examiner, said Kallenbach's death initially did not raise any suspicions.. "The initial information I was provided with on Thursday indicated that his death was due to natural disease," he said. But he decided to perform an autopsy on Kallenbach, who often appeared on Howard Stern's radio show, when Kallenbach's mother raised questions about her son's treatment in jail.

April 25, 2008 AP
Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, an actor, comedian and long-running member of Howard Stern's "Wack Pack," has died in custody. He was 39. Kallenbach, who was arrested in March for allegedly trying to lure an underage girl into his car, contracted pneumonia at a prison outside Philadelphia and died Thursday morning at a suburban hospital, his mother, Fay Kallenbach, said Friday. Stern first reported the news on his Sirius Satellite Radio show Thursday. The long-haired Kallenbach, whose goofball antics included attempting to blow smoke from his eyes, made dozens of appearances on Stern's show beginning in 1990. Stern once likened him to MTV's Beavis and Butt-head and wrote in his 1993 book "Private Parts" that Kallenbach was the "ultimate airhead." More recently, Kallenbach, of Boothwyn, Pa., starred in commercials for ESPN's "Monday Night Football" and Stride chewing gum. He also appeared on Jay Leno's "Tonight" show on NBC and had uncredited parts in HBO's "Sex and the City" and the Tom Cruise film "Jerry Maguire." Kallenbach was arrested in Upper Chichester Township, Pa., in mid-March on a charge of attempted child abduction. He had denied any wrongdoing. His mother accused the Delaware County Prison of failing to provide adequate medical care, saying her son, who had cystic fibrosis, called her a few days before his death and begged her to intervene. "They weren't treating him properly for his disease and this is how he contracted pneumonia," Fay Kallenbach said. Pneumonia is a complication of cystic fibrosis. Pablo Paez, spokesman for GEO Group Inc., the Florida-based company that runs the prison, declined to respond to Fay Kallenbach's allegation, citing privacy laws. He said Kallenbach had been housed at the prison since March 27, and was taken to Riddle Memorial Hospital near Media, Pa., on Monday. "We provide appropriate care for all the inmates at the facility," Paez said.

March 26, 2008 Philadelphia Daily News
A K-9 officer at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility was charged yesterday with multiple counts of institutional sexual assault for allegedly taking an inmate to a nearby grist mill for sex in his pickup truck, Delaware County authorities said. Michael Waters, 37, an employee of the GEO Group, the Florida-based company that runs the county prison, admitted to having oral and vaginal sex with the female work-release inmate, according to the criminal complaint. The 25-year-old woman told detectives on Friday that Waters, who became a K-9 officer last year, would pick her up from her job at McDonald's and take her to the historic Newlin Grist Mill near the prison or to the parking lot of the Springfield Mall for sex. Such relationships between guards and inmates are prohibited by law - even if the sex is consensual. "That is a felony of the third degree," said John Reilly, the prison's acting superintendent. "It could be wholly consensual, it could be a product of deep and abiding love, and it is still the crime of institutional sexual assault." Waters, of Clifton Heights, was hit with four counts of that crime yesterday and is expected to be arraigned today in Concord District Court. His wife answered the door yesterday at their Church Street home but declined comment. "It's a tragic lapse of judgment," Reilly said of Waters' actions. Other GEO employees at the Delaware County prison have experienced similar lapses in recent years. The jail's former work-release supervisor, for instance, is registered as a Megan's Law sex offender. Joseph Henderson, of the Wissinoming section of Philadelphia, is currently on probation after pleading guilty in 2006 to sexually assaulting a female inmate while transporting her back to prison. Former guard Henry Myers pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit bank robbery. Myers, also of Philadelphia, was indicted in 2005 for casing banks in three armed heists and was sentenced to three years in prison. In 2004, a GEO lieutenant at the county prison was fired for beating an inmate "to a pulp," as the then-warden put it, and two other guards received probationary sentences after an inmate claimed in 2002 that they handcuffed him, pummeled him with a basketball and pulled his pants down. Reilly acknowledged that some GEO employees have previously had trouble staying out of jail themselves, but said that he could not recall any new incidents over the past couple of years - aside from Waters'.

January 31, 2008 AP
Court rulings prohibit routine strip searches of minor offenders, but a privately run prison conducts them on all new inmates, a lawsuit charged. The potential class-action suit, filed in federal court this week against The Geo Group, involves a drunk-driving suspect who was strip-searched at a county prison the firm manages near Philadelphia. "It's humiliating," lead plaintiff Stephen D. Bussy, 53, said Thursday. Bussy, a home-health worker and college graduate from Media, said he was strip searched during intake last summer at the Delaware County Prison. A second full-body search occurred during his four-month stay — he was unable to post bail — in a shower littered with feces, the lawsuit states. The Geo Group, previously known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., does not comment on pending litigation, spokesman Pablo Paez said Thursday. The company, with 2006 revenues of $860 million, manages 49 corrections and immigration facilities in the United States, many of them in Texas and California. The firm, based in Boca Raton, Fla., also operates a half-dozen sites overseas. Bussy's lawyers are seeking to have his lawsuit apply to possibly thousands of minor offenders who were stripped-searched at a Geo Group-run prisons nationwide, but a judge must first grant class-action status. More than a decade ago, a group of women protesting a pigeon shoot were arrested and strip-searched in the Schuylkill County jail. The case led to a precedential ruling in 1993 in which U.S. District Judge Franklin Van Antwerpen wrote: "The feelings of humiliation and degradation associated with being forced to expose one's nude body to strangers for visual inspection is beyond dispute." Other federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have issued similar guidelines. Authorities must have reason to think a minor offender is hiding drugs or other contraband to search them, civil rights lawyer say. This week's complaint mirrors similar class-action suits filed around the country against government agencies. Authorities in Camden County, N.J., last year agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle suit over prison strip searches conducted between 2003 and 2005, while other suits are pending in Philadelphia and Lancaster. "The rule appears to be at this point, you can't have a blanket policy," said David Rudovsky, a University of Pennsylvania law professor who represents Bussy. "You would think that prison officials would be aware of it and would be careful."

January 31, 2008 Philadelphia Inquirer
A team of lawyers with a record of winning class-action cases across the country today hit the Delaware County prison and others across the country, alleging that thousands of people were illegally strip- searched for minor offenses. The federal lawsuit was filed against the Geo Group Inc., a Florida company that runs the jail in Delaware County and numerous other states. The suit listed a single plaintiff: Stephen Dimitri Bussy, 53, a home health-care worker in Media who was strip-searched after a drunken driving arrest last year. Bussy represents a class of people nationwide who were allegedly victimized by strip-searches for minor offenses in Geo Group jails, the suit says. The suit lists damages at $5 million, but lawyers say that is considered to be a baseline figure for that type of class-action suit. The Inquirer reported last month that three guards from Delaware County's George W. Hill Correctional Facility said all prisoners entering the facility were strip-searched - including people held for minor violations, such as failing to make child support payments or those held because they could not pay outstanding traffic tickets. The suit cited that Inquirer series and mentioned the three guards' statements. Other jails and police lockups across the state also followed the same strip-search practices, The Inquirer reported. Since the series, legislators have called for improved police training and some cities have already changed their policies. Federal judges across the nation have ruled that blanket strip-search policies for people arrested for minor crimes violate the U.S. Constitution's protection from "unreasonable" search and seizure. Bussy, a University of Massachusetts graduate, was arrested by Media police on July 31, 2001, on charges of drunken driving, public drunkenness and criminal trespass. The suit says Bussy could not post the required $500 bail and was taken to the county jail, in Thornton, where he was strip-searched, the suit said. "In connection with the strip search, plaintiff was required to completely disrobe and lift his testicles. Plaintiff's anal cavity was also visually inspected by a correction officer," it said. Only Geo Group, which operates dozens of prisons across the nation, was named in the lawsuit, although the suit listed "John Does 1-100" as possible other people to be include in the future. Officials from Geo Group could not immediately be reached for comment. In past interviews, Geo spokesman Pablo Paez has declined to discuss the corporation's policy on strip-searches. Some of the lawyers filing the suit have been working with a group of attorneys that won a $7.5 million settlement from Camden County for allegedly strip-searching thousands of people illegally in its prison. Two of the lawyers, Christopher G. Hayes and Daniel C. Levin, also sued the Philadelphia Corrections Department, seeking $15 million for allegedly conducting more than 20,000 illegal searches. That suit is pending. Two other lawyers involved in the new suit, Philadelphia's David Rudovsky and Joseph G. Sauder, of Haverford, currently are involved in a class-action suit against the Lancaster County prison for allegedly conducting thousands of illegal searches there. "What's interesting against this one, we are suing Geo Corporation," Rudovsky said in an interview after the suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. "We've defined the class of inmates who are in county or municipal jails. So it's a national class-action suit that we're seeking." The lawyers are seeking class-action status for the suit.

December 1, 2007 Philadelphia Daily News
The warden at Delaware County's prison was fired yesterday, but the multinational corrections company that runs the tax-funded facility won't say why. Warden Ronald Nardolillo was "reassigned" from the George W. Hill Correctional Facility and left the prison grounds at about 11 a.m., according to John Reilly, who, as acting superintendent, oversees the GEO Group's performance there on behalf of the county. "My hope is they are doing all that is necessary to determine what happened and how it can be prevented from happening again," Reilly said of Nardolillo's dismissal. "He didn't go gracefully," one prison guard, who asked not to be identified, said of the outgoing warden. The Daily News reported Wednesday that Nardolillo, who earned about $130,000 a year, had been in the county's crosshairs for about 18 months amid frequent complaints from employees about his harsh management style. The relationship between Nardolillo and the county was further strained in recent weeks with the discovery of a racially charged photograph aimed at the prison guards' union chief. A photo of Angelina Blocker, who is black, with a noose around her head was found in a union mailbox, setting off a GEO investigation. County officials called in detectives following what Reilly described as Nardolillo's "clumsy" handling of the situation. "Instead of facing the issue head-on, there's all kinds of games and machinations and denials," Reilly said Tuesday. The source of the photograph has not been determined, he said. GEO spokesman Pablo Paez, citing corporate policy, declined to discuss the photograph or answer questions about why Nardolillo was reassigned or where he is going. The Florida-based company has run the prison since 1995, when county officials decided to privatize the operation as a cost-saving measure. Its board members include state Rep. John Perzel, R-Phila. The arrangement with GEO, which is unique among county prisons in Pennsylvania, has saved the county millions in construction and operating costs and protects the county from most lawsuits filed by inmates and their families. But anti-privatization advocates condemn the practice, saying that companies like GEO are ultimately accountable to their stockholders, not the taxpayers. GEO has had its fair share of mishaps over the years in Delaware County - including settling wrongful-death lawsuits, letting inmates walk out because of mis-identification and firing several guards who committed serious crimes of their own. County officials, however, say they are largely satisfied with the company's performance and recently awarded it an $80 million contract extension that runs through 2009.

November 28, 2007 Philadelphia Daily News
The GEO Group, a multinational corrections company, will continue operating Delaware County's prison through 2009 under the terms of an $80 million contract extension announced yesterday. But the warden GEO hired in 2004 to run the tax-funded facility might not make it through the end of the year, according to prison sources. Warden Ronald Nardolillo's $130,000-a-year job is in jeopardy amid a spate of complaints from his staff and county officials who say his dictatorial style is causing frequent problems, the sources said. The George W. Hill Correctional Facility has been run by the Florida-based company since 1995, but Delaware County officials hold the purse strings and have the final say on how it is run. And they want Nardolillo out. "The issue here is a poor management climate, and it stems directly from his deficiencies as a warden," said John Reilly, the acting superintendent and top county official at the prison. "We don't believe we're getting our money's worth from that position," he said. "We're not getting $130,000 worth of effort. He doesn't have $130,000 worth of ability." Formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp., GEO beat out two rival corrections companies last year to maintain control of the lockup, one of the largest in its international network. County officials who oversee the prison have been dissatisfied with Nardolillo for the past 18 months and recently have been "keeping him off to the side," dealing mostly with his staff, Reilly said. "Not one day goes by that a GEO employee doesn't complain to us about something that was said or done to him or her, or a friend of his or hers, by the warden. It's constant," Reilly said. GEO spokesman Pablo Paez declined to comment yesterday and Nardolillo did not return phone calls yesterday or Monday. As Nardolillo, a former New York City police officer, struggles to hold on to his job, GEO is trying to determine the source of a racially charged photograph aimed at the the prison guards' union chief. The picture, placed in a union mailbox several weeks ago, shows a noose drawn around the head of Angela Blocker, who is black. Reilly said the incident is evidence of continued mismanagement on Nardolillo's watch. "It's par for the course. Instead of facing the issue head on, there's all kinds of games and machinations and denials," Reilly said.

September 28, 2007 AP
Prison officials in Delaware County violated workplace discrimination laws when they fired a Muslim nurse who insisted on wearing a head scarf on the job, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charged yesterday. The agency charged in a lawsuit that the Geo Group Inc., a private company that operates the county prison in Thornton, refused to make religious accommodations for Carmen Sharpe-Allen and other female Muslim employees. Sharpe-Allen, who had a good performance record, was fired in December 2005 after a meeting with warden Ronald Nardolillo, the suit said. The prison "has forced its Muslim female employees to compromise their religious beliefs by removing their khimars while on duty or risk termination," according to the federal suit. The prison instituted the ban on head scarves in early 2005, the suit said. Calls to the Florida-based Geo Group and to Nardolillo were not immediately returned.

September 5, 2007 Daily Times
A nurse at George W. Hill Correctional Facility was recently put on administrative leave for allegedly violating a prison policy forbidding association or relationships with prisoners that would be “contrary to the best interest of GEO (the private firm that runs the prison) or the safety or security of the facility,” the Daily Times has learned. According to internal documents, a licensed practical nurse was in contact with at least two inmates via contraband mobile phones found in their cells. The nurse did not return calls for comment; the Times is not identifying her because she has not been charged with any crime. A DVR recording showed the nurse, whose cell phone number was identified on both phones’ number storage systems as “Baby Girl,” calling one of the prisoner’s phones from a fax machine with working voice line located in the prison medical unit, according to the documents. No one else was observed using the line, and the call time matched that recorded by the prisoner’s phone, according to the report. The report also notes the nurse’s personal cell phone number was listed among the stored numbers in the contraband phones of two inmates. Neither inmate cooperated with the investigation, according to the report. During the Aug. 10 search of one cell on a tip, which turned up the first phone, officials also found contraband allegedly including suspected marijuana, several cigarettes, a phone charger, lighters and three pictures, two of which were a female later identified as the nurse. A search of the other cell turned up a phone and charger, plus three additional pictures “immediately identified as” the nurse. The searches led Warden Ron Nardolito to authorize the investigation that day into the possibility of an inappropriate relationship between the nurse and an inmate, according to prison documents. The nurse was allegedly contacted by telephone several times by prison officials, but ended the call before any conversation took place. She was scheduled to work shortly thereafter, but did not appear and was subsequently sent a letter informing her she was on administrative leave and not permitted to report to work without prior authorization from the human relations office. Prison Solicitor Robert DiOrio confirmed the nurse had been suspended without pay pending the conclusion of an investigation being conducted by GEO and the prison supervisor’s office. Another internal document from the prison indicates U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Trish Pepe notified the prison Aug. 1 that Correctional Officer Saye Gartie had been arrested for immigration law violations and is currently being held in York County Prison, pending deportation. Neither Pepe nor GEO prison officials returned calls seeking details on the arrest or background investigation techniques for potential prison employees.

August 3, 2007 Delco Times
A guard at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility (Run by Geo Private Prison) was arrested early Thursday, charged with attempting to lure two teenage girls into his car, Chief John Finnegan confirmed Thursday night. Samuel Willis, 32, of Glassboro, N.J., was arraigned on charges of stalking, luring a child into a motor vehicle, harassment, disorderly conduct and recklessly endangering another person. Magisterial District Judge Spencer B. Seaton Jr. set bail at $100,000 cash at a preliminary arraignment. According to Finnegan, Willis was arrested in the 2400 block of West Ninth Street by officers Donald Jackson and Victor Heness, members of the city's newly established curfew unit. Shortly before 1 a.m. Thursday, the officers observed two young females as they were standing near a yellow Toyota Matrix with New Jersey tags, according to the arrest affidavit. As the officers approached the car, the driver flashed a badge and identified himself as a correction officer. "Due to the age of the girls he was talking to, the two officers decided to investigate further," police said. The girls, ages 15 and 16, appeared to be close to tears, officials said. The girls were unharmed. According to the affidavit, the girls told police the driver had followed them for about four or five blocks, driving behind them and asking them to come over to his car. He told the girls he was a "nice guy." Willis, who was wearing a prison guard uniform, allegedly told the girls he was a guard and that he was looking for an escaped convict and he wanted their help. When they continued to walk away his demeanor changed, authorities said. "When the girls attempted to leave fearing for their safety, he ordered them to stay and to listen to him," according to authorities. One of the girls had a cell phone in her hand and was about to dial 911 when the two officers arrived. According to officials, Willis had been a guard at the county prison for 10 days. He had finished his shift 40 minutes before approaching the girls, police said. He allegedly told police that he was on his way home from work and decided to pull over to the side of the road to take a nap. Inside of Willis' car, police found a pair of children's toy handcuffs, an emergency light, several badges, coloring books, sticker books and stuffed animals.

July 25, 2007 Philadelphia Enquirer
A mentally ill woman died last year after being held for six weeks in Delaware County Prison without receiving medication for a thyroid condition, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court. The suit says the family of 38-year-old Cassandra "Sandy" Morgan of Aston repeatedly "attempted to contact" the privately operated county prison to express concern over her mental condition and hypothyroid problem. The family's lawyer, Harold I. Goodman, said the family had been "virtually ignored." Morgan died in Riddle Memorial Hospital on March 29, 2006, four days after lapsing into a coma at the prison. Her death resulted from complications caused by hypothyroidism. She had been imprisoned after being charged with shoplifting at the Wal-Mart in Upper Chichester on Feb. 16, 2006. James Morgan, her brother, said that the Public Defender's Office had not returned his repeated calls for help, and that the prison had made no attempt to contact them about his sister's medical condition. "At any point in the system where she could have been saved and treated humanely, there were lapses," said Goodman, of Philadelphia. The lawyer called the case an "institutional failure" and a convenient way to get Morgan off the streets. Michael Joseph Harper, the assistant public defender who represented Morgan, said he had not heard from her family until she had been hospitalized in a coma. "I returned those calls." Among defendants in the lawsuit are the county, the prison, Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, and the Geo Group Inc., the Florida company that manages the prison. A call to John Reilly, deputy superintendent of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility - the county prison - was not returned yesterday. Robert DiOrio, the lawyer for the prison, said he was not familiar with the case and would not comment.

December 12, 2006 Delco Times
Delaware County officials say they are closing in on a small group of crooked prison guards as they implement sweeping policy changes aimed at ending the contraband trade at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. The goal, according to Deputy Superintendent John Reilly, is not just to slow the influx of drugs, cigarettes and cellular phones, but "eradicate" the prison’s black market altogether. Last month, the county Board of Prison Inspectors unanimously voted to ban all tobacco products from the premises -- even within parked cars. While the measure was passed partly to clean up the prison grounds and prevent employees from leaving their posts for frequent smoke breaks, it is also designed to counteract what Reilly called a relatively small group of "corrupt corrections officers" running a lucrative contraband ring inside the Concord lockup. "We now know who the players are," Reilly said, citing "phenomenal intelligence" from inmates, their families and former guards. "It’s just a question of following them every day, pursuing them every day and getting rid of them," he said. Employees are currently permitted to drive off the prison grounds to smoke a cigarette, but starting next month they will be barred from leaving the facility’s secure perimeter once they begin their shift -- whether it be a standard eight hours or a 16-hour double. Exceptions will likely be made for medical conditions. County officials hope the no-tobacco policy, combined with an increased K-9 presence in the parking lots and daily shakedowns, will staunch the smuggling of cell phones, cigarettes and drugs into the prison. Several guards walking to their cars have turned around upon seeing drug-sniffing dogs, Reilly said. Michael Pelleriti, president of the Delaware County Prison Employees Independent Union, which represents the guards, said some members have complained about the smoking policy. But he said the union had little say because the county owns the property. Reilly said certain corrections officers are using their female colleagues as "mules" to smuggle contraband into the jail, usually by hiding it in a body cavity. Without probable cause, a body cavity search is illegal. He said the GEO Group Inc., the Florida-based firm that has managed the publicly funded prison since 1996, is planning to implement a cell phone scanner to prevent such activity. The company is also considering purchasing a body scanner -- which presents an image similar to an X-ray -- to detect contraband hidden in body cavities. "It’s a for-profit business," Reilly said of the prison’s black market. A pack of cigarettes, for instance, can be sold for between $40 to $50, according to word of mouth. The going rate for a cell phone is considerably higher. Cell phones are particularly problematic in jails because they can be used to intimidate witnesses or order drugs, among other criminal activities. Some prisoners, including accused killer Lamar Haymes, have attempted to coordinate an escape using an illegal phone. Prison officials have had trouble stemming the drug trade in recent years, as evidenced by the case of Brian Sullivan, the 25-year-old Marple resident who overdosed twice while in prison custody. The second one killed him in April 2005. "They use these inmates that are given preferential treatment to run the drugs for them inside the prison," said Richard Golomb, the Philadelphia attorney who sued GEO in October 2005 on behalf of the Sullivan family. The inmates that move the drugs for the guards are known as "trustees," he said. GEO settled the Sullivan suit about three months ago for a "substantial" amount, Golomb said Monday. The settlement included a confidentiality clause, which he said prevented him from disclosing the amount. GEO admitted no wrongdoing, as is standard with such cases. "They have problems in that facility," Golomb said of the drug activity.

December 5, 2006 Philadelphia Enquirer
Higher costs at the state's only privately managed prison are the major contributor to an $11.3 million, or 3.8 percent, increase in Delaware County's proposed 2007 general budget. The George W. Hill Correctional Facility is expected to cost $41.1 million to run in 2007, up $4 million from this year's $37.1 million. Even so, the county would hold the line on taxes by using a $8.8 million surplus from the 2006 budget. Revenue this year will be $7.3 million higher than the $293.4 million budgeted. The jump in prison expenses results from higher management fees paid to the Geo Group Inc., the private manager, and an increase in the number of local inmates incarcerated. That occurred after the prison returned 350 inmates to Philadelphia this year to relieve overcrowding, thereby giving up rental income that had offset the prison's costs since it opened in 1998. The prison has a capacity of 1,851 inmates, according to the Geo Group. "Corrections is the budget item that is straining every budget," said Marianne Grace, the county's executive director.

June 29, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer
Guards at the Delaware County jail have extended their labor contract from June 30 to July 17 as their employer, Geo Group Inc., studies their latest demands. The county's George W. Hill Correctional Facility is the only privately operated prison in Pennsylvania. Members of the Delaware County Prison Employees Independent Union have rejected two earlier company offers by lopsided margins. In the latest vote, on June 20, the margin was 101 members against ratification to 58 for it. "We expect a positive response from the company," union president Mike Pelleriti said. A Geo spokesman declined to comment.

June 21, 2006 Delco Times
Delaware County prison guards voted down a second contract proposal on Monday and authorized a strike by a nearly 2-1 margin. The new contract garnered more support than one that was rejected last month, 183-11, but union members remain dissatisfied with wages, overtime restrictions and perhaps other issues, said Michael Pelleriti, president of the Delaware County Prison Employees Independent Union. "There are some people that feel the wages are not sufficient at this point," Pelleriti said. The union, which represents about 300 guards at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Concord, voted against the contract 101-58, despite the fact that GEO Group Inc. had dropped vacation restrictions and reinstated "shift splitting," in which guards divvy up their mandated overtime. Pelleriti said wages also had been improved over the first proposal, but declined to specify by how much. The current starting hourly wage is $11.24, with an increase to $13.40 after 90 days. "Right now, the wages are still a little low," compared to what other corrections officers are making nationally and across the tri-state area, Pelleriti said. "Some of the members see that and they want to catch up to everyone else." In addition to increased wages, the guards want time-and-a-half for working more than eight hours, instead of only receiving overtime pay when they work a double shift or more than 40 hours a week. Pelleriti said there could be other areas of discontent that have not yet been relayed to the union leadership. "We still have our feelers out and are trying to pinpoint exactly where the problems are," he said. A vote against the contract was a vote to authorize a strike -- something the union could not legally do prior to 1996 when the county ran the prison and the guards were government employees. As GEO employees, the guards have the right to walk out. Last month, GEO secured a new $58 million county contract to operate the prison through 2007. The contract will boost GEO’s revenue by at least 10 percent in the first year. Some union members feel their pay should increase accordingly, according to one guard who voted against the contract. "They got $58 million," said the guard, who declined to be identified. "The personnel that are part of the union want some of that money." While a strike has been authorized, Pelleriti said the union intended to continue talking with the Florida-based company and considers a strike to be the "last resort." "We’re more than willing to go back to the table and try to iron out the differences," he said. A GEO spokesman did not respond Monday to a request for comment and has previously said the company would have no public comment until an agreement is reached. The guards are currently working under an extension to the labor contract that was ratified in 2003 after three votes by the union membership. The new three-year contract would be retroactive to June 1 and run through May 2009. The county Board of Prison Inspectors, which contracts with GEO and monitors its performance at the prison, has remained neutral during the labor negotiations. If a strike were to occur, however, the prison board "certainly would support GEO," said board Solicitor Robert DiOrio. "Because they’re employees of a private company, they would have the right to strike, but then there are public safety issues that would have to be addressed," DiOrio said. "The personal rights of the employees would not be able to trump the public safety, in my opinion."

May 31, 2006 Delco Times
With a staggering vote of 183-11, prison guards at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility overwhelmingly rejected a labor contract proposed by GEO Group Inc. Michael Pelleriti, president of the Delaware County Prison Employees Independent Union, said he wants to return to the bargaining table to renegotiate wages, vacation restrictions, sick time and other provisions in the contract. While the union, which represents nearly 300 guards at the county prison, has not authorized a strike, Pelleriti said he would not rule it out if GEO refuses to budge. "A strike down the road - if talks break down - is always an option," Pelleriti said late Tuesday afternoon after the votes had been tallied. No date has been set for further negotiations. The vote came after GEO granted concessions on a health-care provision that union officials say would have increased premiums for all guards. Under the revised proposal, the current health-care plan remains in place - single guards receive full coverage and married guards pay $200 a month for their spouses and children. The contract would run from June 1, 2006 to Dec. 31, 2010 and raise wages between 3.5 percent to 8 percent in the first year, 4 percent in the second and third year and 2 percent in the last seven months. Pelleriti said many guards were satisfied with the proposed health-care coverage, but the union may push for increased wages or work rule changes in response to the "excessive mandated overtime" at the prison. Some guards, he said, are required to work 16-hour shifts every other day. "If we're going to continue that, they need to be compensated," he said. A GEO spokesman could not be reached Tuesday and Warden Ronald Nardolillo declined to comment. Robert DiOrio, solicitor for the county Board of Prison Inspectors, said the board does not interfere in labor negotiations. In 1996, the county outsourced the management of the prison to GEO, formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp. "We have never gotten involved in any employment affairs of Wackenhut or GEO," DiOrio said. "It's just none of our business." Last week, GEO secured a $58 million contract to run the prison through 2007. The 19-month contract will boost the company's revenue there by at least 10 percent in the first year and another 4 percent in the last seven months of the contract, plus additional compensation when the prison population exceeds 1,883 inmates. GEO will not reveal its profit margin at the publicly funded prison. Based in Boca Raton, Fla., the company operates 61 facilities in four countries that generate more than $600 million in annual revenue.

May 27, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer
GEO Group Inc. will continue to manage Delaware County's George W. Hill Correctional Facility through 2007, despite a rash of incidents there, including inmate deaths. The Board of Prison Inspectors this week voted to renew the firm's contract, raising its monthly fee by 10 percent to $3 million when the new 19-month pact begins June 1. The county has increased its 2006 jail budget by 30 percent to cover higher costs, due to the new contract and a growing number of local prisoners. "We have never wanted for customers," said Robert D'Orio, the board's solicitor. The board has been "generally pleased" with GEO, which has managed the jail in Thornton since its opening in 1996. "The other providers out there also have problems," he said. "It is not an easy operation when you run a jail." A spokesman for GEO, formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp., didn't return phone calls. The Delaware county facility is the only privately run adult jail in Pennsylvania. House Speaker John M. Perzel (R., Phila.) is on the GEO board of directors. But D'Orio said, "I'd bet that most or all of the board had no idea" of Perzel's ties before recent news articles. GEO recently paid a $100,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that the jail failed to diagnose or treat a grave illness that caused inmate Rosalyn Atkinson's death in 2002. Six inmates have died of unnatural causes since 2001. C. Scott Shields, a lawyer in Media who has represented inmates and their families, said GEO has "serious personnel issues" at the jail. Shields won a undisclosed settlement for James Johnson, who was held 44 days at the jail by mistake by GEO employees "who were completely indifferent" to his plight, Shields said.

May 15, 2006 News of Delaware County
Prison board officials hope to make a decision by the May 17 meeting on who will run the Delaware County Prison. "We'll continue to talk to bidders of the next few days," said board president Wallace Nunn. "Hopefully we'll be able to make a decision." The prison has been under contract with GEO Group Inc. since August 1995. In June 2003, they renewed the contract for a three-year base with subsequent terms of three years until 2009. The contract allows the county to receive bids from other companies every three years. With the deadline on May 31, Nunn insisted the board hoped to reach a decision by the May 17 board meeting. The board, "would have to get an extension at the point," Nunn said if they did not have a decision by the May meeting. He added that the board would like to avoid that process. The prison board originally formed a four-member committee to review the proposals. The members were prison board solicitor Robert DiOrio, board member George Hill, prison CPA Chris Reynolds and Richard Culp, the assistant professor at the department of public management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. On April 19 they announced three additional members; Blank Rome attorney Lawrence Beaser, the county finance department's James Hayes and Delaware County Councilman Jack Whelan. "The county said, we'd like to be at the table," Nunn said of the county members being added. The committee has narrowed GEO's competition for running the prison to one other company, Management and Training Corporation (MTC). GEO has run the Delaware County Prison since it became the first privatize facility in 1993. The prison accounts for the largest cost for the taxpayers in the county with $37 million budgeted for 2006. With facilities all over the world, GEO has 44 correction and detention centers in the United States. A worldwide organization, GEO has accumulated almost $613 million in revenue for 2006 including over $72 million in profits, according to the New York Stock Exchange. The MTC's philosophy to prisons is "rehabilitation through education," according to communication director Carl Stuart. "We believe inmates can only succeed when given the opportunity to better themselves while imprisoned," Stuart wrote in an email. Created in 1981, MTC operates 12 correctional facilities in the United States and 25 federal Job Corps centers, according to Stuart. The company earned about $468 million in revenue for 2005. Nunn removed himself from the selection process last month because of his employment with CitiGroup. "One of those (CitiGroup) divisions or another may or may not have at some point in time dealt with one or more of the people that are making the proposals," Nunn said. "I don't know that we've done any business," Nunn said. "But just to be sure since we're so large."

March 14, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer
Disoriented and scared, Rosalyn Atkinson awoke crying and asked the nurse at her bedside a prophetic question: "Am I going to die?" It was Oct. 18, 2002, and Atkinson was on the 11th day of an 18-day odyssey that would take her from the Delaware County jail to a local hospital, back to jail, and then, as she feared, to her death. Officially, Atkinson, 25, died because of a fatal overdose of a single high-blood-pressure drug administered by jail infirmary staff, the Delaware County medical examiner determined. Jail operators admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to a $100,000 settlement. For Atkinson's two children, it means each will receive $31,782.42 after legal fees and medical costs, according to a court document filed early this month. The story of the final weeks of Atkinson's life, however, encompasses far more than a single error in a prison infirmary. A review of court filings and medical and hospital records provided by Atkinson's family revealed: Prison staff did not consistently provide prescribed medication, failed to monitor her vital signs, and misinterpreted Atkinson's psychotic behavior as a sign of drug abuse. Atkinson was jailed on a probation violation three days after she was diagnosed with a severe form of lupus, a potentially fatal autoimmune disorder that can cause psychotic behavior. She was locked up because of a shoving match with another woman at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in which no one was injured. Probation officers ignored numerous pleas from her mother to give Atkinson house arrest instead of incarceration. When Atkinson fell seriously ill, the jail transferred her to Riddle Memorial Hospital, which later sent her back to prison even though, medical records show, she was still suffering from delusions. Atkinson died about 40 hours later. Six inmates have died from unnatural causes since 2001 at Delaware County's George W. Hill Correctional Center in Thornton. Operated by the GEO Group, it is the only privately run adult jail in the state. In addition to Atkinson's death, two prisoners committed suicide, another was killed by a fellow inmate, and the fourth died of an overdose of heroin smuggled into the jail. A fifth died in 2005 of head and neck injuries after repeatedly throwing himself against his cell door, county officials said.

February 3, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer
A Colwyn man who was imprisoned for 44 days last year after Delaware County jail officials refused to check his repeated, and true, claim that they had the wrong person has netted a cash settlement, court records show. James J. Johnson, 28, filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that correctional officers missed opportunities to verify his identity and threatened to charge him with additional crimes if he did not stop claiming that he was not Shawn Carter, the name on the arrest warrant used to jail him. Shawn Carter is also the real name of rap artist Jay-Z and a common alias in prison, a search of prison aliases on the state Department of Corrections Web site shows. The county jail is run by the GEO Group, formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp., of Boca Raton, Fla., and is the only privately run prison in the state. The company, not the county, is responsible for all settlements and court awards. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed. Throughout the intake process, jailers at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility missed numerous opportunities to correctly identify him, the suit alleged. The Carter named in the arrest warrant had a dragon tattoo. Johnson did not. Authorities never compared the two men's fingerprints, the suit said. Also, the prison failed to compare his physical characteristics to those of the Carter named in the warrant and ignored the results of an iris scan that confirmed he was the wrong man, the suit stated.

December 6, 2005 Delco Times
While several Delaware County municipalities are planning to levy a new $52 tax on their workers and increase property taxes for their residents, county government is eyeing the same slice of your pie. The $293.7 million 2006 budget proposal county council will present this morning holds property taxes at 4.45 mills for the second year in a row. That translates into $572 for the average assessed property of $128,500. The county prison, meanwhile, is expected to absorb an additional $8.7 million in tax dollars. Operated through a contract with GEO Group Inc., total 2006 spending at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility is estimated at $37.4 million, an increase of 30 percent over this year's budget. Spending there increased about 19 percent between 2004 and 2005. The county Board of Prison Inspectors voted in October to terminate a lucrative Philadelphia inmate housing contract. Overcrowding has become so severe at the prison that the board was forced to begin sending 350 inmates back to the city and give up between $1 million to $1.5 million in annual profits.

December 2, 2005 Delco Times
The former Delaware County prison supervisor charged with sexually assaulting a female inmate waived his preliminary hearing Thursday. Joseph Franklin Henderson, an employee of GEO Group Inc., is charged with two counts each of institutional sexual assault, bribery and official oppression. He was in Concordville District Court, accompanied by his attorney Robert Dixon. Henderson was brought to court from Chester County prison, where he is being held. Henderson is accused of sexually assaulting the female inmate twice. Both times, Henderson allegedly picked up the woman from her work-release job and instead of dropping her off at the prison, drove her to secluded areas, where sexual activity occurred. The alleged victim told investigators that on three occasions, Henderson picked her up from her job, drove to a secluded spot, then threatened to interfere with her upcoming parole hearing if she didn't perform oral sex, according to the affidavit of probable cause. She also claimed Henderson used personal information about her ailing relative, saying she wouldn't be able to visit with the relative if Henderson went to the parole board about her, the affidavit states.

November 17, 2005 Philadelphia Inquirer
Delaware County's beleaguered jail wants to add 350 beds, even as it begins returning that number of inmates to Philadelphia. The George W. Hill Correctional Facility, the only privately run prison in the state, will end its practice of leasing beds to Philadelphia by late May, said prison board chairman Charles P. Sexton. The county is getting rid of the city prisoners because its jail is overcrowded, and expectations are that the local inmate population will keep growing. The decision to expand comes as the Delaware County jail has been faced with a spate of deaths and lawsuits in recent months, including a heroin overdose. A correctional officer was charged with raping a female inmate last week. Officials also recently announced that they would be seeking bids on the contract held by GEO. Sexton said that announcement was not connected to the recent deaths and that GEO would be considered if it bid. He also said the state would inspect the prison in 2006. The jail had been the only one in the state to take advantage of a loophole that allowed it to opt out of annual state inspections. Instead, it has been inspected every three years by a national corrections association. District Attorney G. Michael Green has been investigating how drugs that killed inmate Brian Sullivan on April 15 got into the prison. He died of a heroin overdose. Sullivan's father, who claims he'd warned jail officials that his son was an addict and needed help, has filed suit against the prison seeking $500,000. The GEO Group, not the county, would be fiscally responsible for any award or settlement. As part of that investigation, a visitor was arrested last week after attempting to smuggle drugs into the jail in her vagina, a jail official said. Also last week, a guard was charged with sexually assaulting a female inmate on two separate occasions, most recently on Nov. 7.

November 10, 2005 Delco Times
The supervisor of the work-release program at George Hill Correctional Facility was on his way to county lockup late Wednesday, charged with sexually assaulting a female inmate twice in a prison van. Dropping his head into his hands, Joseph Franklin Henderson, 47, of the 2100 block of McKinley Street in Philadelphia, made a plea for unsecured bail -- but Magisterial District Judge Richard Cappelli was adamantly opposed. Henderson, an employee of GEO Group Inc., is charged with two counts each of institutional sexual assault, bribery and official oppression. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 17. He's accused of sexually assaulting a female inmate twice, first back in late September or early October, and again on Monday. Both times, Henderson picked the woman up from her work-release job and instead of dropping her off at the prison, drove her to secluded areas. Allegations involve both oral and vaginal sex. Back at county detective headquarters, Henderson admitted he had oral sex with the woman two times, according to the affidavit. He said he was neither threatening nor forceful, and that the woman had been coming on to him.

November 2, 2005 Delco Times
Lying on his stomach and propped up by his elbows, a middle-aged man stares through a window with a slightly curious, but otherwise blank, expression. The window doesn't lead outside, but to a secluded hallway where a prison guard is staring back. It is the guard's sole responsibility to prevent that inmate from becoming another Michael Rafferty, the accused triple-murderer who died in August after slamming himself into a prison wall. The guard, an employee of the private corrections firm GEO Group Inc., has been assigned to one-on-one suicide watch, the most intense form of observation practiced at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. While this particular inmate is isolated in a small room, he is one of hundreds of mentally ill inmates living at the overcrowded county prison on Cheyney Road. Like other prisons around the country, it has become a repository for some of society's most unstable citizens. "Prisons are housing more and more mentally ill people because we have no other place to put them," said Jessica Raymond, a member of the Pennsylvania Prison Society who monitors conditions at the county prison. The society advocates for better living conditions for inmates. Last year, the county prison expanded its medical unit to 53 beds, more than twice the size of the previous unit. During a recent visit, it was packed with inmates, some wearing "suicide gowns" that will rip if used as a noose. Frank Green, an assistant superintendent employed by the county to monitor GEO's management of the prison, said that volume is not unusual. "It's double the workload," he said. "It makes everything tougher." The increasing workload, combined with high turnover and low wages, prompted 15 registered nurses, physician's assistants and nurse practitioners to unionize in September, voting unanimously to join the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. In March, about 80 other GEO employees - including all the licensed practical nurses -- unionized through Teamsters Local 312. "If you have substandard salary and benefits, you simply cannot recruit and retain the kind of quality professionals you need to do the job," said April Smith, director of organizing for PASNAP. Nurses at the prison, for example, receive no paid vacation during their first year on the job, according to Smith. Temple University Hospital, she said, gives new nurses three weeks paid vacation. Delaware County's jail is the only privately run county prison in the state. Reducing labor costs is one of the ways GEO and other private corrections firms are able to run prisons more cheaply than the government that hires them. With privatization comes a tradeoff in the level of services, said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Institute, a group that opposes privately run prisons. He said private corrections companies are prone to "cut corners" - including in the administration of medical services - in order to maintain their profitability. "Why is it better for the county to do it? Public officials are accountable to the public. The board of directors for GEO is accountable to whom, the public? Hell, no. They're accountable to the shareholders," Kopczynski said. "And what are the shareholders interested in? The profit. They have to turn a profit." "Guess what, that's bad criminal justice policy," he said.

October 29, 2005 Delco Times
A Delaware County prison guard has been indicted on a federal conspiracy charge for his role in three armed bank robberies in 2004. Henry Myers, an employee of GEO Group Inc., is one of five defendants named in the indictment filed by U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan on Oct. 20. Although Myers is not charged with robbing the banks, he allegedly played a pivotal role in the conspiracy. "He cased the banks," said Vickie Humphreys, an FBI spokeswoman. Myers and four other men allegedly conspired with Burnie Tindale -- who was charged earlier this year -- to rob the Artisans Bank in Wilmington, Del., on April 14, the Citizens Bank in Brookhaven on June 15 and the M & T Bank in Bristol, Bucks County, on Sept. 27. Myers allegedly "cased" a PNC Bank on Bustleton Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia and provided bank layout information for the robbery. That robbery, however, was ultimately not committed, the indictment states. Myers was also advised of the location of "switch" cars to be used in the Citizens Bank robbery, in the event the cars had to be retrieved if the robberies were unsuccessful, according to the indictment. Switch cars are usually parked about a mile from the robberies and used by the robbers after they abandon stolen get-away cars.

October 20, 2005 Delco Times
Concerned that overcrowding at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility could expose Delaware County to future lawsuits, the county is pulling out of a contract to house hundreds of Philadelphia inmates. The Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors voted Wednesday to terminate the contract effective Jan. 15, more than four months before it was scheduled to expire. The move will free up about 350 beds at the prison but cost the county approximately $1 million a year in profits.

October 20, 2005 Philadelphia Enquirer
The parents of an inmate who died in jail of a heroin overdose are suing the facility, claiming the drug was easily accessible to prisoners and, in some cases, smuggled in by guards. Paul and Maureen Sullivan of the Philadelphia suburb of Broomall filed a federal lawsuit last week seeking more than $500,000 in damages. Their 26-year-old son, Brian Sullivan, died in Delaware County's George W. Hill Correctional Facility on April 15 from a heroin overdose, a medical examiner's report shows. He was in jail for failing to attend a court-ordered drug treatment program after a DUI arrest. It was the second time in six months that Sullivan had overdosed on heroin while in the county prison, despite his parents' pleas with corrections officials to help their son fight his addiction. The lawsuit accuses the county, Geo Group and the prison board of allowing Sullivan "to remain in a general prison population into which heroin was smuggled and easily accessible by prisoners," even though he had a history of abusing drugs while in custody. The lawsuit also alleges that some corrections officers were smuggling drugs into the jail. The suit adds to a growing list of problems at the state's only privately run county jail, which announced Wednesday that it would ease overcrowding by returning about 350 Philadelphia inmates to the city.

September 24, 2005 Delco Times
A convicted murderer who died last month while in custody at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility gave no indications in the weeks leading up to his death that he was planning to kill himself, according to a prison report released Friday. Kevin Parks, who killed his wife with a claw hammer in June 2003, died Aug. 2 at Riddle Memorial Hospital after he was found unresponsive in his cell. The original prison incident report implied that he might have committed suicide by overdosing on prescription medication he could have been hoarding. But a new report by The GEO Group, which manages the publicly funded prison, suggests otherwise. The prison lieutenant who listened to several of Parks’ telephone conversations beginning July 1 said the inmate "sounded upbeat and gave no indications of his contemplating or planning suicide ..the general topic of these conversations consisted of baseball, food and letters he had received from various individuals," the report states. At Wednesday’s prison board meeting, Chairman Charles Sexton Jr. questioned John Hurley, GEO’s senior vice president of North American Operations, about the possibility that Parks may have intentionally overdosed. "How can they hoard medication? Because my understanding is the way it’s supposed to be done is when medication is given to an inmate, they are supposed to take the medication in front of the individual that’s giving it" to ensure that it is swallowed, Sexton said.

September 22, 2005 Delco Times
The multinational corrections corporation that manages the George W. Hill Correctional Facility was informed Wednesday that it will be forced to compete with other companies to maintain its $28 million-a-year county contract that expires May 31. At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the five-member Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors took the first steps toward opening the contract to companies other than The GEO Group Inc., voting unanimously to compile bidding specifications by Dec. 15. The board's actions come amid a spate of high-profile deaths at the prison, including those of accused triple murderer Michael Rafferty, 29, who died Aug. 18 after jumping from his bed into a wall, and convicted wife-killer Kevin Parks, who died Aug. 2. A prison incident report suggests that Parks may have committed suicide by hoarding prescription medication. "Competition is healthy," Sexton said, adding that he had personally decided six months ago to put the contract out to bid and had since discussed it with other board members who "had no problem with it." Nonetheless, two other recent deaths and a near suicide are not helping GEO's image. Clyde Tyler, 49, a convicted rapist, died March 27 during a fistfight with another inmate. Brian Sullivan, 25, of Broomall, Marple Township died April 15 of an overdose.

September 19, 2005 Philadelphia Inquirer
James Johnson can trace his troubles back to rapper Jay-Z's Hard Knock Life. He spent more than a month and a half in jail in Delaware County charged with a crime he didn't commit, accused of being a man he wasn't. And prison officials had to ignore a lot of facts to keep him there. Five years later, Johnson, now head custodian at the World Cafe Live on Walnut Street in West Philadelphia, learned that the past has a way of catching up with a man. Johnson spent 44 days in the George W. Hill Correctional Facility beginning April 6 for crimes committed by a man known as Shawn Carter. During that time, he told guards, a counselor, a public defender and prosecutors that he was the wrong man. Nobody listened. Any of these known facts could have sprung Johnson: He was in jail at the time of Carter's arrest. Johnson's sister and sister-in-law are Hill Correctional Facility employees. Officials ignored their pleas that Johnson was not Carter. Carter had a dragon tattoo, which was described in the arrest warrant. Johnson did not. Authorities never compared the two men's fingerprints. Officials had photographs of both men. Carter is 3 inches taller than Johnson. His case adds to pressure against the appointed county prison board and the GEO Group, the private firm that runs the jail. A series of recent prison deaths - five in five months - has brought the scrutiny of the county's top prosecutor and prompted an internal investigation by the company. And earlier this year, GEO agreed to pay $125,000 to the family of an inmate who hanged himself by his boot strings in 2002. Now, Johnson is suing the county, the correctional facility, and GEO, accusing them of violating his civil rights. Because of the lawsuit, county and company officials refused to comment on the Johnson case. While Johnson was complaining on the inside that he was wrongly jailed, his fiancée, Shilonda Hargrove, was banging on doors on the outside. "My fiancée kept calling and calling and saying, 'All you have to do is look at the fingerprints,' " Johnson said last week. He said GEO also refused to hear the pleas of his sister and sister-in-law, both correctional officers at the jail. At the prison, Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green's office has been investigating four deaths - a heroin overdose, two apparent suicides, and an unexplained fatality. The fifth death stemmed from a fight, and the killing was ruled self-defense.

September 6, 2005 Philadelphia Inquirer
Delaware County's privately run prison has come under the scrutiny of county investigators, and the company that runs the facility was scrambling to examine its policies and identify any missteps after five questionable inmate deaths in the last five months, officials said. Four deaths - a heroin overdose, two apparent suicides and an unexplained fatality - are under review by Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green. The fifth death, from a fistfight, was investigated earlier this year, but no charges were filed. William M. DiMascio, executive director of the Prison Society in Philadelphia, said five questionable deaths in as many months seemed unusually high. The George W. Hill Correctional Facility is privately run by GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp., but controlled by an appointed board. Prison and county officials have refused to release incident reports for the deaths. Charles P. Sexton, chairman of the county Board of Prison Inspectors, was unavailable for comment, said the board's attorney, Robert M. Diorio. The prison has room for 1,800 prisoners sleeping two to a cell. Now, the prison averages 2,000 inmates a day and is in some cases sleeping three to a cell. GEO agreed to pay $125,000 in a settlement earlier this year to the family of an inmate, John Focht, 43, who used his boot strings to hang himself in February 2002, court documents show. "It seems awfully suspicious when somebody is willing to pay out $125,000 in a case where somebody killed themselves," said the Prison Society's DiMascio. "It just seems pretty obvious that something has gone awry."

August 25, 2005 Delco Times
What is going on at Delaware County’s prison? Answers were few this week, even as bodies continue to pile up at the county-owned facility in Concord Township known as the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. Two high-profile inmates have died there in the last month, both apparent suicides. Last Thursday, it was Michael Rafferty, the 29-year-old Drexel Hill man who was awaiting a court date for stabbing to death his parents and a neighbor and seriously wounding the neighbor’s wife. On Aug. 2, it was Kevin Parks, the 42-year-old Bethel Township man beginning a life sentence for beating his wife, Teresa, to death with a hammer. Both men had histories of mental illness. Parks may have overdosed on medication he stashed away in his cell, according to preliminary reports. Rafferty died from injuries he sustained when he leaped from a table and slammed into a prison cell wall. On top of those deaths, a prisoner named Vincent Burton was found dead in his cell on Sunday morning; his cause of death remains undetermined. Last month, an unidentified inmate nearly killed himself by hanging from his bunk; fortunately, he was found in time to be revived. And last March, a convicted serial rapist named Clyde Taylor died after a fistfight with another inmate. Some might argue that these prisoners only got what was coming to them. But that would be wrong; whatever their crimes, or alleged crimes, none of these men was sentenced to death. They were, however, in the care and custody of Delaware County and its agents. But trying to get any answers from county officials this week was almost impossible. Prison Superintendent George W. Hill, for whom the jail is named, was unavailable, as was prison board Chairman Charles Sexton. Members of county council and other prison board members had little to say. The GEO Group, contracted by the county to run the 1,800-inmate lockup, declined comment on any of the prison’s policies. Only prison board lawyer Robert DiOrio had anything substantive to say, and that wasn’t much. "The prison board has nothing to determine at this time as to whether or not any of these deaths was preventable," he said. "Sometimes procedures are followed that are good procedures and valid and recognized procedures throughout the industry and nevertheless people still find a way to take their lives, unfortunately, without anyone being culpable except themselves." Here’s a translation: The board members appointed by the county to oversee the operations of the prison don’t have any idea what’s going on out there, or whether standard rules and regulations are in place. That’s simply not good enough -- particularly in the cases of Rafferty and Parks, who were more vulnerable than other inmates because of their mental illnesses. Why was Parks moved out of the prison’s medical unit, even after his sentencing judge ordered that he be carefully monitored? How does a prisoner "hoard" medication in his cell? What kind of medications were being given to Rafferty and was anyone watching him a day after he had to be restrained while suffering demonic delusions?
Without any better explanations from county officials, it seems that oversight is, minimally, lacking at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. Taxpayers need to know that those being remanded to county custody are being monitored and accounted for. There’s no reason for Delaware County’s prison to become a branch office of Delaware County’s morgue.

August 23, 2005 Delco Times
An inmate at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility died this weekend of undetermined causes, following the deaths of two high-profile prisoners this month, a suicide resuscitation last month and the March beating death of a convicted serial rapist during a fistfight with another inmate. The Delaware County District Attorney’s office is reviewing the death of Vincent Burton, 42, who was found dead in his bunk Sunday morning, according to a prison report released Monday. Burton’s cause of death is pending an autopsy by the county medical examiner, but the prison report stated that no signs of foul play were observed. Also under investigation is the death of Michael Rafferty, the Upper Darby man accused of stabbing his parents and neighbor to death during a July 23 rampage. Rafferty, who according to a family attorney had been diagnosed as having depression with psychosis, died last Thursday after jumping from his bed into a wall. Another inmate, convicted wife killer Kevin Parks, died Aug. 2 at Riddle Memorial Hospital of undisclosed causes. Though the medical examiner has not ruled in that case, either, a prison report suggests that Parks may have overdosed by hoarding prescription anti-depressant medication. Parks’ defense attorney, Stephen Patrizio, said Monday that Parks was "absolutely" a known suicide threat. Convicted of killing his wife Teresa Parks with a hammer, Parks said in court: "I look forward to the time when we will be united in heaven." "Judge (Frank) Hazel specifically ordered that he be monitored very closely and carefully," said Patrizio. "My understanding is he was in the medical unit, but due to either overcrowding or some determination made by a doctor there, he was removed from the medical unit," Patrizio added. That statement could not be verified Monday by anyone affiliated with the prison.

July 24, 2005 Delco Times
Seventeen health-care professionals at the Delaware County prison have signed cards indicating they want to unionize, a union official said Saturday. April Smith, director of organizing for the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, said all but one of the nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants at the facility signed union cards over the last two weeks.  "We’re delighted that the professionals at the George W. Hill correctional facility have decided to join PASNAP," Bill Cruice, the union’s executive director, said.  The Thornbury prison is managed through the GEO Group Inc., formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp., through a publicly funded contract. Its daily average population last year was 1,785 residents.  Representatives from the GEO Group Inc. were also unable to be reached Saturday.
In March, non-security employees voted to join Teamsters Local 312 by a more than 2-1 margin. That union covers about 80 employees such as counselors, supervisors, clerical workers and some medical personnel.  The prison guards, who number about 280, have been represented by the Delaware County Prison Employees Independent Union since 1999.

April 16, 2005 Delco Times
A prosecutor said Friday that Sandra Denise Belt has pointed an accusatory finger at everybody but herself in the theft of more than $26,000 while working as a clerk for the Wackenhut Corp., which ran Delaware County’s prison. Belt, 36, of Colmesneil, Texas, who worked in a prison, will now be part of the inmate population as she was sentenced Friday to 11½ to 23 months in jail. Assistant District Attorney Gregory Hurchalla said that Belt, whose husband worked as an assistant warden, has refused to accept any responsibility "despite overwhelming evidence." A jury convicted her of theft charges following a trial last month. "She was living a comfortable lifestyle," said Hurchalla. "There’s no reasonable explanation as to why she stole the money. She’s willing to point the finger at everybody but herself."

March 31, 2005 Delco Times
Sandra Denise Belt testified that when she was hired as a clerk handling inmates’ money for the Wackenhut Corp. that ran Delaware County’s prison, she told officials that she wasn’t good with numbers. "I told them when I took this job I transposed numbers real bad," she said. Belt, 36, of Colmesneil, Texas, whose honey-colored hair cascaded to her waist as she spoke with a sugary Southern accent, was found guilty Tuesday of charges she pocketed more than $26,000 while working at the Thornbury-based facility. Following the verdict, as tears rolled down her face, Belt was handcuffed and taken off to prison to await sentencing, which Judge George Koudelis tentatively set for Tuesday. The judge raised her bail from 10 percent of $10,000 to $10,000 cash bail.

December 30, 2004 Newsof DelawareCounty.com
With the prisoner population at Delaware County's George W. Hill Correctional Facility on the rise, some inmates are complaining about conditions, including claims of overcrowding, problems accessing attorneys and counselors, and a lack of maintenance or cleanliness. "Intake there's three to a cell," said George W. Hill inmate Wanell Davis. "They got you in like a dog bed. You sleep on a floor."
Davis, of Wilmington, Delaware, had served one year in the facility awaiting sentencing at the time of the interview. He said overcrowding has caused overfilling of cells, mostly in receiving areas, but also in other parts of the prison. Board solicitor Robert DiOrio, however, confirmed that the facility's population has risen by "several hundred" in recent years, but said cell capacity is only exceeded in receiving areas, and only for very brief periods when it is unavoidable. Currently, DiOrio said, the population is not exceeding capacity. Davis, however, disagrees. "They're supposed to give out this thing, it's called care bags," he said. "We're short on something they're supposed to give us-soap, toilet paper ... We just got the water fixed. The water was broke for six months. There's guys that haven't cleaned their cells for six months." "The people that come in and out, they don't clean the blankets," Mark said. "They give you no cleaning materials." DiOrio confirmed that occasionally water service is interrupted. Other prisoners say they have trouble speaking with counselors or lawyers. Defense attorney Mike Malloy, who practices in Media, said he has experienced long waits when going to visit with clients at the prison. "They seem to be understaffed and they also have a high (employee) turnover rate," Malloy said. Prisoners also spoke of guards selling cigarettes for as much as $5 a piece in the smoke-free facility. DiOrio said this was against the rules, but said it was an employment issue for GEO, the private company that manages the jail. The county plans to increase its funding for the prison for 2005, with most of the new money going toward that contract, Delaware County budget director Dan Fahey said. The cost of the contract is increasing about $1.29 million, bringing it to $31.97 million for 2005.

December 11, 2004 Delco Times
Criminal justice expenditures are set to increase by 10.5 percent in 2005 because of $4.6 million in new spending at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, which is managed by The GEO Group Inc., formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp. The 4.45 property-tax millage requirement will remain the same in 2005 if the proposed budget is adopted at Tuesday’s council meeting, as expected. The $28.7 million in anticipated spending at the county prison -- an increase of 18.9 percent over 2004 -- is due to an all-time-high prison population that has recently peaked at 1,870 inmates, according to prison board Chairman Charles P. Sexton Jr.

November 19, 2004 Delco Times
Delaware County’s 2005 budget proposal shows a spending increase of $12.4 million but holds the property tax millage at the 2004 rate. Criminal justice expenditures would increase 10.5 percent, fueled by $4.6 million in new spending at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility. Total county spending at the prison, which is managed by The GEO Group Inc., formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp., is expected to reach $28.7 million in 2005 -- a 19 percent increase over 2004.

June 13, 2004
The GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp., fired the warden of the George W. Hill correctional facility Thursday. According to Delaware County Prison Board Chairman Charles P. Sexton, Jr. and several other high-ranking county sources, Warden John "Doug" Caulfield was let go for both budgetary and personal reasons.  "I'll confirm that Caulfield's out," Sexton said. "But I won't comment any further because it's not a county personnel matter."  Sources said the budgetary issues stemmed from a failure on Caulfield's part to meet staffing levels agreed upon in the county's contract with the corrections conglomerate.  A clause, fought for by county negotiators, was put in place to penalize GEO for a failure to meet or maintain staffing standards on a monthly basis.  (Delco Times)

February 9, 2004
A Delaware County prison guard was fired Tuesday after an internal investigation found that he had assaulted an inmate, the prison warden said. Lt. Victor Lay was given a letter of termination from the GEO Group Inc. - formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corp. - after he physically assaulted an inmate last month, said Warden Douglas Caulfield.  "He used excessive force to control an inmate who was being uncooperative with (returning to his cell)," said Caulfield.  "There are acceptable ways of handling such an insurgent. We do have a force continuum in place that calls for light force to be taken. But for some reason, Lay just snapped on the guy and started beating him to a pulp," he said.  The identity of the inmate was not available.  Caulfield said Lay was immediately suspended from his job pending an internal investigation. GEO corporate offices gave Caulfield the green light earlier this week.  "We have a zero tolerance policy for this type of behavior," Caulfield said.  Caulfield, who could not confirm Lay’s residence or salary, said questions had been raised about Lay’s performance before.  "I know he’s had a history of questionable behavior," Caulfield said. "We’ve just never able to nail him down until now. We finally had other officers come forward and tell us about this."  Delaware County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Brielmann said the case has not been referred to his office for review, although Caulfield said he expected that such a referral was "imminent."  Since Delaware County privatized its jail operations in 1996, a series of alleged misconduct and outright crimes by correctional officers, on and off the job, have been reported.  Among them:- On Aug. 11, 2001, an altercation between since convicted murderer Kareem Bahiy and Wackenhut correctional officer Thernell Hardy Jr. resulted in criminal charges against Hardy.  Bahiy, 24, of Philadelphia, is serving a life sentence after killing Springfield CVS manager John DiOstilio in June, 2001.  Former district attorney Patrick Meehan said Hardy, 35, of Chester, stabbed Kareem Bahiy, 24, of Philadelphia in the neck after a conversation Meehan termed "aggressive."  Hardy was charged with aggravated and simple assault and related offenses and was subsequently fired by Wackenhut.  Hardy, who had worked at the jail since 1999, denied stabbing Bahiy with a knife, claiming the prisoner’s injury was caused by Hardy’s thumbnail.  - On April 18, 2001, off-duty Wackenhut correctional officer Jermaine Richardson of Philadelphia was arrested for shooting a man in the city that night.  Richardson was charged with attempted murder and related offenses for allegedly firing at Bruce Cox in the 1000 block of 64th Street. Cox was treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for gunshot wounds to his legs, police said. The case was dismissed in Philadelphia because an eyewitness refused to testify and Richardson was allowed to return to work at the prison after a suspension.  - In June 1999, Wackenhut hired as a correctional officer Michael D. Kemp Carter of Chester. Carter had entered the county’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for first-time offenders earlier that year after admitting to stealing computers from the Chadds Ford office of accounting firm Deloitte & Touche, where he had worked as a security guard.  Carter was fired by Wackenhut in December 1999 and later accused of leading a forgery ring. He told prosecutors that he supplied three co-defendants with numerous fraudulent checks, including some stolen from Wackenhut and drawn on a company account.  In 2001, he pleaded guilty to a pair of felony theft charges related to $12,200 in bad checks.  - In March 1998, Wackenhut suspended Assistant Warden Richard Robinson indefinitely after he was accused of improper contact with a female inmate. A criminal probe into the matter by Delaware County detectives found no criminal wrongdoing. Robinson no longer works at the jail.  - In two separate incidents in February 1997, officials reported the company fired five male correctional officers accused of sexually harassing female colleagues.  (Zwire)

December 16, 2002
Unless contraband cigarettes stop flowing through George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Philadelphia, the warden could be sent to jail, a Deleware County official said in October.  Charles Sexton, chairman of the Deleware County Board of Prison Inspectors, which oversees the Wackenhut-operated facility, told Warden John Caulfield he had to eliminate the black market in cigarettes and narcotics, allegedly aided by correctional officers, or defend himself against charges that could send him to jail.  A June search of one prison building turned up 117 packs of cigarettes and unauthorized money.  Sexton told Caulfield he would try to have the new warden arrested if the cigarette and alcohol contraband problem continued to go unchecked.  (Corrections Professional)

November 26, 2002
A Delaware County corrections officer with a criminal history is jailed in the prison she guarded on charges that she delivered a death threat to a witness in a police officer's murder.  Police say Angeline McKellar, while working Wednesday at the Delaware County prison, told a female inmate who is a state's witness in the October 2001 shooting death of Chester Police Cpl. Michael Beverly that she would be killed, according to the affidavit of probable cause.  A review of Delaware County court files shows that McKellar established a criminal history while working as a guard at the prison.  She was sentenced to one year's probation in March 1999 for simple assault, stemming from a 1998 Chester bar fight. In September 1999, McKellar was sentenced to one year's probation after pleading guilty to welfare fraud. In August 2001, she was sentenced to time served in an in-patient program and community service for driving under the influence the year before.  A document dated May 25, 2000, says that McKellar was employed as a guard at the prison, but it is unclear how long she had worked there. She has been suspended without pay, Robert DiOrio, solicitor for the county Prison Board, said yesterday.  Though the Prison Board is charged with running the county prison, Diorio said hiring and oversight of guards are handled by the for-profit Wackenhut Corrections Corp., a Florida company that has a contract with Delaware County to operate the prison.  (Philadelphia Inquirer)

November 5, 2002
Delaware County executive director Marianne Grace has submitted a $245.8 million proposed county budget for 2003 that calls for a 7.9 percent tax increase.  A substantial increase is proposed in the cost of running the county prison, which is operated by the for-profit Wackenhut Corrections Corp. in 2001, Wackenhut said it was losing money on the prison and began taking steps to end its contract with the county.  The county subsequently renegotiated the contract and gave the company more money.  Wackenhut then decided to stay.  (Philadelphia Inquirer)

July 18, 2002
The new warden at Delaware county's prison was put on notice yesterday that if he does not stop the flow of contraband cigarettes into the facility in the next month, he could end up in a cell of his own.  Charles P. Sexton, the chairman of the Delaware County Board of Prison inspectors, which oversees operations at the George W. Hill correctional Facility, told Warden John D. Caulfield at a board meeting that some "guards are corrupt and profit off of certain people's misfortune- the inmates who have trouble getting off (tobacco)."  Caulfield had just started his first day on the job, replacing James Janecka, who had been assigned by Wackenhut Corrections Corp., the company that has a contract with Delaware County to operate the prison.  John Reilly, the prison's assistant superintendent, said after the meeting that an investigation in January concluded that "there was a significant black market in cigarettes and narcotics" at the prison.  A search last month of one building turned up 117 packs of cigarettes and money in excess of the amount prisoners are allowed to have, Reilly said.  Also, one guard was fired and two others were disciplined earlier this year for allowing sexual contact between inmates and visitors and for bringing in food, whiskey and cigarettes.  Turnover and understaffing at the prison are a longstanding problem that contributes to contraband smuggling, Reilly said.  The prison is 22 guards short, and more than two-thirds of the staff had worked there for less than four years.  (Penna Edition)

March 7, 2002
Life behind bars at the Delaware County Prison wasn't so bad - if you had a little money and knew the right guard. You could get sex, booze, food, cigarettes and other comforts, according to an internal prison investigation. But the gravy train might be over. The "right guard" has been fired. Delaware County District Attorney Patricia Holsten said she was investigating the money-for-sex scheme for "possible criminal activity." Reports say the guard, who has not been identified, permitted visitors and inmates to have sex in exchange for cash. Holsten said prison officials had never told her about the case. She had to read about it in the Delaware County Daily Times, which reported the allegations Monday after obtaining the results of an internal prison investigation.  Two other guards were disciplined following the probe, Prison Board Solicitor Robert DiOrio said. He said the investigation confirmed the officer had permitted male inmates to have intercourse with female visitors on several occasions. The prison, the George W. Hill Corrections Facility in Concord , is run by Wackenhut Corrections Corp., a private company.  (Philadelphia Daily News)

October 9, 2001
Charles P. Sexton Jr. would like to see more prison cells - a lot more prison cells - built at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, Delaware County's prison.  It's not that Sexton, the head of the county board that oversees the prison operation, is expecting a Delaware County crime wave. The 1,634-bed prison, opened in 1998 and operated for the county by Wackenhut Corrections Corp., has more than enough space for all of the county's inmates.  Instead, he wants to greatly expand the county's current practice of taking in prisoners from other counties, because that policy brings in millions of dollars and promises millions more - money that could help pay the substantial cost of housing Delaware County inmates.  (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

August 16, 2001
A suspended Delaware County prison guard surrendered to authorities yesterday after a warrant was issued for his arrest in the stabbing of an inmate inside his cell.  Thernell Hardy Jr., 33, of Chester, voluntarily turned himself in to the district attorney's office in Media.  Delaware County District Judge Richard M. Cappelli arraigned Hardy on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and a weapons offense. Hardy has worked for 22 months as a private guard at the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Concord Township.  He posted 10 percent of $5,000 bail and was released. The inmate, Kareem Bahiy, 22, who is awaiting trial in the June 5 slaying of John Ostilio, the night manager of a CVS pharmacy in Springfield, received four stitches to close a three-quarters-of-an-inch cut on the right side of his neck Saturday night at Crozer-Chester Hospital.  (Daily News)

August 14, 2001
Delaware County authorities say a prison guard stabbed the accused killer of a CVS pharmacy night manager inside his prison cell on Saturday night.  But the suspended guard, Thernall Hardy Jr., 33, of Chester, said he had been struggling with the inmate when his arm slipped and his right thumbnail left a gash in the prisoner's neck.  Delaware County District Attorney Patrick Meehan said Hardy would be charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and possession of an instrument of crime.  (Daily News)

July 26, 2001
Five years ago, it was the corrections industry equivalent of a Hollywood marriage: The Delaware County prison contracted its total operation - management, medical and food - to Wackenhut. It would be the second-largest prison to be operated by Wackenhut in the world, and the first county prison to be privatized in the Northeast.  It's all over now, a marriage of five years that was terminated in a week. "Nothing is forever," Sexton said last week. "You've got to be ready when things change, and we were. " What changed is that Delaware County, borrowing a page from other governments, found a way to make money at its prison.  Wackenhut responded by saying it wasn't getting a fair share of the proceeds.  In 1998, Delaware County began taking inmates from overflowing prisons in Chester County and the City of Philadelphia and charged $55 and $57 a day respectively. (The fees have since risen to $58 and $60 a day.)  Meanwhile, it was paying Wackenhut about $35 a day for each prisoner (now up to about $39), regardless of county of origin.  Now, the prison board, which has contracts to take 100 Chester County and 300 Philadelphia inmates, is looking to increase its import business. It is about to open a 220-bed unit for minor offenders, including repeat drunken-driving offenders. This will free up space in the main prison for more outsiders. Sexton says he is interested in deals with the state, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.   Meanwhile, Wackenhut said the daily per-inmate fee of $39 wouldn't cover its increasing costs, especially the medical and litigation expenses posed by additional prisoners.   So it said it would end its contract to run the 1,538-bed complex in western Delaware County on Nov. 11, and the prison board responded by saying it would run the prison - as it had before.  Now cut Wackenhut out of the deal and add the 220 beds created by the opening of the minor-offender unit. At a projected rate of about $60 a day, that is 620 inmates times $60 times 365 days. That's $13.6 million at full capacity. Let's figure the daily average will be only two-thirds of that. Now we're at about $9 million.  But might we also be creating a public detriment by putting all these financial incentives on filling Delaware County beds with inmates from elsewhere? Might decisions by the criminal justice system be based not on what is right and fair for society and the criminal, but rather on what is financially most beneficial?   "Absolutely not," Sexton said.   I want to believe that, but first I want to see how this whole new world of prisons as money makers shakes itself out.  (The Inquirer)

July 19, 2001
Delaware County authorities will take over at least some operations of the county prison once the private firm running the facility leaves in the fall. The prison board voted 5-0 in favor of a resolution Wednesday not to seek a third-party contractor to replace Wackenhut Corrections Corp. of Palm Gardens, Fla. The company invoked an escape clause in its contract with the prison board last week and will cede operations Nov. 11. Company officials said Wackenhut was not making enough money to justify continuing the arrangement. (AP)

July 11, 2001
Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (NYSE: WHC) today reported that it has issued a 120-day notice to the Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors, pursuant to the terms of its contract, to discontinue its operation of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility, located in Thornton, PA, effective, midnight November 11, 2001.  Mr. George C. Zoley, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wackenhut Corrections, said, "We are pleased with our accomplishments in Delaware County, including the development of a new prison facility on time and under budget, saving the County approximately $30 million over its initial construction cost estimates.  However, we have been unsuccessful in negotiating a proposed contract amendment with new financial terms we believe are necessary to satisfactorily address the county's planned intake of additional prisoners from outside the county and risks of higher medical costs and litigation associated with such prisoners.  "The Delaware County Prison has been a financially under-performing contract for some time.  The discontinuance of this contract eliminates the negative impact that higher than anticipated inmate medical and litigation costs have had on our earnings over time.  The Company does not expect the discontinuation of the current management contract to have any impact on the Company's financial guidance for the fiscal year 2001," Mr. Zoley concluded.  (PR Newswire)

May 30, 2001
A Delaware County prison guard turned herself in yesterday on charges of supplying inmates with cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana, authorities said.  Lisa Clark, 27, of Philadelphia, was caught in April with 13 packs of cigarettes, according to an incident report from the George W. Hill Correctional Facility.  She later admitted to Delaware County detectives that she had been smuggling marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol into the prison to sell to inmates, authorities said.  (The Inquirer)

Joseph E. Coleman Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Community Education Centers

July 12, 2005 Philadelphia Daily News
An inmate at a halfway house in Juniata Park was found shot to death in his room yesterday morning, police said. Geary Turner, 56, was shot once in the chest and pronounced dead at the scene at about 8 a.m., said Sgt. John Taylor of the homicide division. Security is tight at the Joseph E. Coleman Center, named after the late City Council president. The 300-bed community corrections center is occupied by ex-state prisoners. Though it is called a halfway house, it looks like a medium security prison. The facility is surrounded by high chain-link fences and barbed wire. Inmates may leave the facility on work passes, but must return by night. The facility, which opened in November 2001, is operated by a Roseland, N.J., company called Community Education Centers. Last September, one of CEC's youth facilities - the Wynona M. Lipman Education and Training Center in Newark - came under fire when a prison worker severely beat a 17-year-old inmate. Though CEC either fired or suspended 8 staff members, the facility had admissions suspended by state officials due to the violence. Last month, the Lipman center was permanently closed because of financial problems, just three years after it had opened.

Lancaster County Prison
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Correctional Care, Inc. (formerly run by Armor Correctional Health Services)
February 20, 2008 The Times-Tribune
County officials are mum on a report released by the regional chapter of an international justice advocacy group that calls for a number of reforms to medical care at Lackawanna County Prison. In a report released to The Times-Tribune, Pax Christi of Northeastern Pennsylvania alleges existing conditions such as heart problems and broken ribs were not addressed when inmates arrived, distribution of medication was deficient and sporadic, requests for medical care were answered slowly, and prenatal care for pregnant inmates was almost nonexistent. The report, based on face-to-face surveys of 16 current or former inmates, also suggests medical care has been rationed to boost profits for the medical care provider. “We feel there are very, very serious criticisms that need to be followed up on,” said Father William Pickard, who serves as chaplain for the county’s prison ministry program on behalf of the Diocese of Scranton. Father Pickard also is a member of the regional chapter of Pax Christi, an international Catholic nonprofit group that advocates peace, justice and human rights. Provider under fire -- Medical care at the prison is provided under contract by Correctional Care Inc., of Moosic, a company co-owned by the prison’s medical director, Dr. Edward Zaloga. The report says the relationship is a potential conflict of interest and suggests that money not spent on medical care results in higher profits for CCI. “It’s an inference, but it would seem to be to his (Dr. Zaloga’s) advantage, for example, not to fill medications,” said Joan Holmes, a member of Pax Christi and volunteer with the prison ministry program. Attempts to reach Dr. Zaloga were unsuccessful. It is not clear exactly how Dr. Zaloga would directly benefit from limiting or denying care. Under its five-year contract that expires Nov. 14, 2009, Correctional Care Inc. is paid a flat fee of $250,000 a year regardless of medical expenses and is reimbursed separately for all costs of medical care inside and outside the prison. The report does say that inmates have “major consternation” with Dr. Zaloga and says the fact “that the person best positioned to provide inmates with care was the one they most disrespected was telling.” In the report — dated Jan. 29 — Pax Christi recommended that the Prison Board hire an independent party to evaluate the prison’s medical services. The purpose of the study is not conflict, but change, said Mrs. Holmes. The idea for a review was triggered by the birth of a baby in a prison cell on July 10, Father Pickard said. Then-inmate Shakira Staten, 22, of Chambersburg, accused Lackawanna County Prison officials of ignoring her repeated pleas to go to the hospital before her daughter dropped from her womb and to the floor of a cell monitored by a closed-circuit television camera. Although the Prison Board initially denied the staff did anything wrong in that incident, county officials later publicly apologized to Ms. Staten for what happened. According to the report, Ms. Donate denied Pax Christi access to current inmates. Father Pickard and Mrs. Holmes conducted interviews during regular visits with prisoners as part of the prison ministry program. Joseph Rogan, Ed.D., heads the regional chapter of Pax Christi. Other members of the prison health care review team included Sister Barbara Craig of the Sisters of Mercy and Ann Marie Crowley. Inmates give examples -- The report details many complaints registered by the interviewed inmates. Among them were the claims of two women who were pregnant while incarcerated. The report says the pregnant inmates received no checkups after entering the prison, and “received inconsistent prenatal vitamins and received no prenatal care.” Another inmate reportedly claimed that “medicines are routinely replaced or unavailable to save the (medical care) firm money.” Several complaints were reported about a lack of response to inmate requests to see a doctor or to file grievances about medical care denials. “A few did get the care they requested ... ,” the report says. “Most, however, reported that their requests were ignored, or, if addressed at all, only very slowly. When they did get attention, in many cases no treatments were prescribed. One (inmate) was told that he was just getting old.” The report said two interviewed inmates independently confirmed that when one inmate they knew filed a grievance about medical care, the “entire unit was locked down while a guard read the details of the inmate’s complete medical history over the intercom for all to hear.” None of the interview subjects is identified in the report, and it contains a disclaimer that says some responses “may have been colored by personal motives.” However, the document also says that there were underlying themes amid the responses that triggered the recommendations. “We thought there was enough of a common thread there to release the report,” Father Pickard said. “I could tell by (the inmates’) emotions that they were sincere, that they went through a terrible ordeal. They weren’t play-acting. It was very obvious in the interaction I had with them.” Prisoners faced possible retribution by answering the survey questions, Father Pickard said. The committee recorded a majority of the inmates’ names, and Father Pickard said the committee verified what inmates told them “as best they could.” However, Mrs. Holmes admitted they did not have a way to verify all claims. Pax Christi received 38 responses when input was solicited, but was only able to interview 16 people because of time and logistical constraints. Of the 16 people who responded, 14 were current inmates. The report recommends that the Prison Board: Review the prison’s inmate intake procedures. Review the prison’s medical response procedures. Review the possibility that inmates with mental health issues could be better placed. Review whether inmates who have substance-abuse problems could be served through treatment and education. Review the prison’s policies and procedures related to pregnant inmates. Review the prison’s food-service system to determine whether inmates receive proper nutrition. Officials not talking -- County communications director Lynne Shedlock said the study was referred to Prison Warden Janine Donate, who was not immediately available for comment. “There is no further comment until the warden has had a chance to review it,” Ms. Shedlock said. “She’ll present a report back to the Prison Board at the appropriate time.” Majority Commissioner Mike Washo, who chairs the board, was out of town and not available for comment. Minority Commissioner A.J. Munchak, who served as Prison Board chair when he was majority commissioner through last year, deferred questions to Mr. Washo. “Any official response has to come from the chairman,” Mr. Munchak said. Commissioner Corey O’Brien, also a member of the Prison Board, declined comment as well. In addition to the three county commissioners, the Prison Board includes District Attorney Andy Jarbola, Sheriff John Szymanski , Judge Vito Geroulo and County Controller Ken McDowell. Mr. McDowell said he read the study and anticipates the warden will review it and make a report to the Prison Board. Efforts to reach Mr. Jarbola, Mr. Szymanski and Judge Geroulo were unsuccessful.

September 22, 2006 Intelligencer Journal
Charges will not be filed against the head of a Florida-based private medical services company unless new information comes to light, District Attorney Don Totaro said Thursday. Doyle Moore, CEO of Armor Correctional Health Services, was being investigated by Totaro’s office for allegedly falsifying information on an application for a county contract. Totaro based his decision on an affidavit Armor submitted in February when it applied for a 5-year, $17-million contract to provide all medical services to Lancaster County Prison. The affidavit — one of three submitted by Armor — sought information on “employee criminal history.” A county detective discovered Moore was convicted in Massachusetts in 1994 of tax evasion, a felony offense. Moore was sentenced to 2 years in prison, but he never served jail time, according to an article in the Boston Globe, because a judge suspended the prison term. Moore also was fined $68,650 and ordered to pay all legal costs, the paper reported. The instructions on the “employee criminal history” affidavit required the person completing it to place his or her initials next to one of two statements: The first stated no one who would work on “this contract” has ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony or has any criminal action pending. The second stated some employees have been convicted of crimes and instructs the person completing the document to list the names of those workers. An “X,” rather than someone’s initials, was typed on the line next to the first statement. “This affidavit was the only one of the three that did not include space for a signature or a notary seal,” Totaro said. Although Moore signed the two other affidavits, Totaro said there was no way to prove he completed the third one because it had no signature and no initials on it. Had Totaro been able to prove Moore completed the document, Moore could have been charged with falsifying an official document because of his criminal record. “There is no way for us to prove who completed this” affidavit of employee criminal history, Totaro said. “Our burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, and we cannot meet that burden.” ••• In June, county prison Warden Vince Guarini told the prison board Armor was the most qualified firm to provide medical services to the county prison. He has been pushing for about a year to outsource those services to save money and because the current in-house program is understaffed and cannot provide sufficient care to the prison’s 1,200 inmates. With Guarini’s endorsement, the prison board voted at its June meeting to recommend the county commissioners negotiate a contract with Armor. But shortly after the commissioners were charged with that task, Commissioner Molly Henderson has said, the board received e-mails from the public regarding the track record of Armor and several of its executives, including Moore. James Laughman, the county’s interim director of human services, said the e-mails contained newspaper articles that suggested Armor and its executives had used various forms of influence to procure contracts to provide prison medical care, primarily in Florida, and that Moore’s former company, Prison Health Services, had been sued several times for providing poor service to its customers. Guarini said he received that information, too, moving him to ask the district attorney’s office to investigate. That is when the county detective discovered Moore’s 1994 tax evasion conviction. Guarini has said he knew nothing about Moore’s conviction before the detective discovered it. ••• Contracting for prison health care is new to Lancaster County, said Totaro, who sits on the county’s prison board. Guarini, who said he’s known Moore for more than 30 years (the two worked together in the 1970s when Guarini was deputy warden of Delaware County’s prison and Moore was a health care professional there), was responsible for the process of soliciting bids and reviewing contracts. “The documents the county sent out to potential bidders were provided by the warden,” Totaro said. “The warden obtained these documents from Armor.” Guarini deferred all comment on the Armor situation to Laughman. Laughman said “there were serious flaws throughout the process.” “It appears going to Armor (for documents used in the bidding process) was a huge concern,” he said. Laughman also said he found it “alarming” the affidavit of employee criminal history did not require a notarized signature of the person who completed it. Totaro concurred with Laughman’s assessment of the process. “It most certainly was flawed,” he said. Armor’s attorney could not be reached Thursday for comment. As the county moves forward with its search for a prison health care provider, Laughman and county solicitor Don LeFever will oversee the process. “We are starting over again from square one,” Totaro said. He added that he is “confident” the process has been corrected.

Lackawanna County Jail
Correctional Care, Inc., National Corrective Group (formerly run by PrimeCare)

January 29, 2010 Courthouse News
Now they're privatizing the justice system. It's not enough that we hire mercenaries to fight our wars and interrogate our prisoners overseas, and let private companies imprison our citizens at home, now we're letting private debt collectors use district attorneys' letterhead to threaten people with jail - so long as the collectors kick back some money to the district attorneys. I didn't believe it either, until I read Courthouse News reporter Erin McCauley's story this week, and read for myself the federal class action Shouse v. National Corrective Group and Andrew Jarbola III. But there it is, in a federal court filing. The class claims that "approximately twenty" Pennsylvania counties have contracts with the National Corrective Group, allowing it to use the counties' "district attorney brand." Lackawanna County District Attorney Andrew Jarbola - the only named DA defendant - "permits NCG to use his office, his official letterhead and his signature in communicating with individuals who have issued checks which have been dishonored," according to the complaint. "NCG thereupon uses the district attorney's identity in threatening prosecution and imprisonment, stating or implying that criminal charges have been filed and that court appearances will be required, and stating that payments are due that far exceed the amount of the dishonored check." The debt collectors also tell debtors - in violation of Pennsylvania law - that they may not pay their creditors directly: they have to pay the National Corrective Group, masquerading as the district attorney, and they have to pay extra, according to the complaint. The class claims that Jarbola and other district attorneys have "authorized NCG to use their name, signature and letterhead to charge individuals numerous incidental fees over and above an administrative and accountability class fee. These incidental fees include late payment fees, rescheduling fees, payment/convenience fees and overpayment/handling fees. "Pursuant to the contract with NCG, Defendant Jarbola receives 100 percent of the administrative fees generated by NCG. NCG receives 100 percent of the class fees and incidental fees." Let us pause for a moment, to let this sink in. I'm not a lawyer, but I know a constitutional violation when I see one. I'm not an expert on elephants either, but I'd know it if you dropped a dead elephant in my living room. After these bogus, private district attorneys browbeat and effectively extort money from debtors, with threats of jail, I wonder if they really could send them to prison? They could send them to one of the dozens of private prisons that incarcerate thousands of people all over the country. I've worked in private prisons, and I know what the private contract does - it enables both the government and the private company to duck liability for what goes on inside the walls. We all know what our private mercenary armies have done in Iraq. Remember the Blackwater guards who were charged with murdering 17 people, for no particular reason, in Baghdad's Nisour Square? Those charges were dismissed because of government misconduct. That's what a private contract does, and despite any claims you may hear to the contrary, that's what it is supposed to do: to let both the government and the mercenaries walk. The U.S. Navy hires private contractors to scrub and paint ships at its San Diego base, leaving the sailors free to do - what? Our 535 water boys in Congress push privatization of government services because it's supposed to be cheaper and more "efficient." But how is it efficient to pay a private company to do what sailors would have to do anyway? It's just another way to curry favor with campaign contributors. We let bankers write our banking regulations; we let hedge fund sharks write the no-rules for hedge funds; for eight years we let oil companies write our energy and environmental policies; and now we've made it possible for U.S. citizens to be threatened with jail by bogus, private "prosecutors," and sent to private prisons. All that's left is to let private companies set up private courts to try people - perhaps corporations could try their own employees, and punish them in their own private jails. They could charge advertisers for naming rights to the prisons, like we do with our sports temples ... I mean stadiums. The system going on today in Pennsylvania resembles in many ways the system of "tax farming" under Louis XVI. French tax farmers paid off the king and then got to keep all the taxes they could collect from the people. Do you recall how that worked out? King Louis ended up a head shorter.

December 15, 2009 Times-Tribune
County commissioners are expected to sign a new contract with the current Lackawanna County Prison medical care provider today that will ensure the cost of medical care at the prison, in the future at least, is not kept secret. But the new contract will be signed despite Correctional Care's refusal to hand over, or make public, detailed financial records to prove what the cost of medical care at the prison has been during the last five years. Meanwhile, the commissioners and county controller's office approved paying $114,083 to Correctional Care to cover hospital bills, $75,000 of which was paid without receipts to back up the payment. Not until last month were county officials given access to the records, and only then under a confidentiality agreement, which barred discussing or making copies of the records, or taking notes. Majority Commissioner Mike Washo said the county prison board, of which the commissioners are a part, made demands of Correctional Care, and those demands have been met. "We may not have been fully satisfied with (Correctional Care) not releasing records, but we have to look at the impact on the county budget. We have to look at the whole picture. I'm confident we made the right choice," Mr. Washo said. Though a confidentiality agreement is in place, the county still has a lawsuit, filed in September, to compel Correctional Care to make public its financial records related to medical service at the county prison. Part of the suit is to satisfy the state Office of Open Records, which ruled that financial records related to Correctional Care's pharmacy must be turned over to the president of the local chapter of a Catholic human rights advocacy group. The group, Pax Christi, represented by the ACLU of Pennsylvania and Cozen O'Connor law firm, has joined the suit on the county's side. While the county had refused to pay Correctional Care any additional expenses without first seeing receipts for payments - the exception is a $143,660 monthly bill required by the previous contract - the commissioners last month approved two payments to the vendor for hospital bills. One payment, worth $39,083, was made so Correctional Care could settle a lawsuit filed by Community Medical Center against the prison vendor and the county for $135,000. The three parties settled the matter out of court, said county solicitor Larry Moran, and the lawsuit was discontinued. CMC spokeswoman Jane Gaul declined to comment on the settlement. Efforts to reach Dr. Edward Zaloga, the prison medical director and co-owner of Correctional Care, were unsuccessful. A second payment of $75,000 was made to Correctional Care to pay bills at Moses Taylor Hospital. Mr. Washo said there was concern about whether inmates would be accepted in the future because bills hadn't been paid. Moses Taylor spokeswoman Meaghan Comerford confirmed Correctional Care made a payment to the hospital, but declined to comment otherwise. But that second payment to Correctional Care was not supported by receipts for the expenses, said county Chief Financial Officer Tom Durkin. Mr. Washo said the decision to pay $75,000 - without receipts - was made because Mr. Durkin had reviewed the records for Correctional Care, under the confidentiality agreement, and determined the county owed at least in excess of that. "We knew we owed them money. This was an amount we were comfortable providing them because we saw documentation in excess of that amount," he said. The county will not make further payments until Correctional Care has given the county adequate information, Mr. Washo said. Mr. Durkin said he doesn't know yet how much the county owes Correctional Care under the previous contract - no other bills have been submitted by the vendor in addition to the hospital bills. In a countersuit to the county's September lawsuit, Correctional Care had indicated $471,931 was still owed by the county. Efforts were unsuccessful to ask Controller Ken McDowell on Monday why his office approved the payment without backup documentation. Speaking in general terms on the Correctional Care issue last week, Mr. McDowell said he would not authorize payment "unless I am satisfied it is reasonable and that we were provided with satisfactory evidence of such."

December 2, 2009 The Times-Tribune
A national law firm has agreed to represent the local chapter of a Catholic human rights advocacy group in its fight to obtain financial records from the medical care provider for Lackawanna County Prison. Philadelphia-based Cozen O'Connor and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed a motion Monday on behalf of Pax Christi to intervene and join with Lackawanna County in its lawsuit against its prison health care vendor, Correctional Care Inc. The county lawsuit asks that Correctional Care be compelled to release detailed financial records related to pharmaceutical services, so the county can comply with a state Office of Open Records ruling that found the records must handed over to Pax Christi. The lawsuit also requests Correctional Care be compelled to release all financial receipts and invoices to back up county payments it has received for services. Since the suit was filed in September, the county and Correctional Care signed a confidentiality agreement allowing only county Chief Financial Officer Tom Durkin and county Deputy Controller Reggie Mariani to view the records. Although a confidentiality agreement is in place, solicitor John O'Brien said the county is still pursuing release of all financial records. The motion to intervene taken Monday adds the weight of Cozen O'Connor and the ACLU to the county's suit. "The more interests, motivations and legal rights put forward to obtain these documents, the better chance we have of getting them," said ACLU staff attorney Valerie Burch. Cozen O'Connor, which recently opened a branch office in Wilkes-Barre, is one of the largest law firms in the U.S. "Our plan is to cooperate with the county to get those documents," Cozen O'Connor attorney Micah Knapp said. Attempts to reach Edward Zaloga, M.D., owner of Correctional Care, were unsuccessful. Despite the lawsuit, the county and Correctional Care are in negotiations on a new contract. The current contract was extended by a month, until Dec. 15, to work out details on a new contract. Cozen O'Connor and the ACLU are also seeking a special injunction to ensure records from Correctional Care's current contract are not destroyed.

November 11, 2009 The Times-Tribune
The Lackawanna County Prison Board unanimously approved a new contract for its prison health care vendor based on a proposal that did not include details other bidders were required to submit. Meanwhile, one of the rejected bidders said his proposal could have been more cost-effective than the one submitted by Correctional Care Inc., but county officials did not give him an opportunity to clarify or negotiate costs in the proposal. Correctional Care provided no cost estimates for the next three years for hospitalization, pharmaceuticals or any indication of what staffing levels will be under the new contract, as required by the county's October request for proposals. Instead, the company made reference to a large packet of financial records given to prison board members Oct. 26. Correctional Care didn't have to provide new information on staffing levels or costs because the firm has already proven itself, said minority Commissioner A.J. Munchak, a prison board member and longtime friend of Dr. Edward Zaloga, prison medical director and co-owner of Correctional Care. Asked if he knew how much it will cost the county to send inmates to hospitals for treatment under Correctional Care's proposal, Mr. Munchak said, "I'm not going to do your research for you." Efforts to reach Dr. Zaloga were unsuccessful. Tom Durkin, the county's chief financial officer, estimated the county's cost to send inmates to a hospital under the current contract with Correctional Care has been less than $103,000 per year, based on records the vendor provided to the prison board. However, he acknowledged he could not say for sure how much it cost because the records were not specific. Because Correctional Care provides no breakdown of estimated costs for services in its proposal, there is no way to determine how much the company is budgeting for hospitalization in its $6.7 million bid, Mr. Durkin acknowledged. How much Correctional Care budgets for hospitalization matters because the county must pay the difference if costs exceed the vendor's estimate. Prison board members raised this concern in rejecting the proposal of Health Professionals Limited. The Denver, Colo.-based vendor submitted a bid with a price significantly lower than Correctional Care. Correctional Care's new contract will cost $187,237 a month, compared to $143,660 a month under the previous deal. Health Professionals Limited submitted a proposal that would have cost $147,050 a month. Health Professionals Limited left out the cost of hospitalization and underestimated staffing needs and the cost of pharmaceuticals, Mr. Durkin and prison board members said. For instance, Health Professionals included funding for a physician/medical director who would work only 12 hours per week. Dr. Zaloga is at the prison 40 hours a week, Mr. Munchak said. "They grossly misrepresented themselves," said District Attorney and prison board member Andy Jarbola. "They basically tried to misinform us." Dr. Larry Wolk, chief operations and medical officer of Health Professionals Limited and a native of Lackawanna County, denied any misrepresentation and said the company would have answered the prison board's questions if asked. "We do this for 190 jails in 20 states," Dr. Wolk said. "To say that we don't know what the cost is, is pretty inaccurate." The Health Professionals proposal estimated costs for pharmaceuticals at $140,000 a year. Pharmaceuticals have cost an average $253,000 a year since Correctional Care took over at the prison in November 2004, Mr. Durkin said. Dr. Wolk said his company can obtain lower prices for medications because of its size. "By our estimates, Lackawanna County is spending a lot, lot more than they should be (for pharmaceuticals)," he said. Majority Commissioner Corey O'Brien said the prison board had a sense of staffing levels needed at the prison and what the cost of hospitalization was. With that information, it decided Correctional Care offered the better deal. He said Health Professionals Limited was not called because "we did not have questions on their proposal." "(Correctional Care was) the lowest, most responsible bidder," he said. The prison board on Friday approved a $6.7 million contract with Correctional Care after the county agreed to a confidentiality agreement that allowed county officials to view company records, but forbid them from discussing the records, making copies or taking notes. The county had to file a lawsuit to gain access to detailed financial records in September after Correctional Care refused to turn them over. Dr. Wolk said he was surprised by an arrangement in which a prison medical care provider would retain ownership and control of receipts, invoices and other financial records related to billing. "We may be the vendor that's providing the health care, but we consider that information to be property of the county," Dr. Wolk said.

November 10, 2009 The Times-Tribune
A confidentiality agreement between Lackawanna County and its prison health care vendor is "legally inappropriate" and does not supersede the state's Right to Know Law, said attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union and Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. Lackawanna County entered into a confidentiality agreement with Correctional Care Inc. last week, clearing the way for county officials to inspect financial records of the vendor. The county filed a lawsuit to gain access to the records in September, after Correctional Care refused to turn them over. The county's suit was filed in part so it could comply with a state Office of Open Records ruling that the records be released to Pax Christi, a Catholic human rights advocacy group. In October, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of Pax Christi. The county's suit remains active, despite the confidentiality agreement, under which county officials are forbidden to discuss, make copies or take notes related to the Correctional Care records. The county's position remains that Correctional Care must release the records to the public, majority Commissioner Corey O'Brien said Monday. He said the county agreed to the confidentiality agreement because it was the only way to obtain quick access to the records before deciding on a new prison health care contract. Correctional Care's original contract was set to expire Sunday. The Lackawanna County Prison Board unanimously approved a new three-year, $6.7 million contract with Correctional Care on Friday. The contract still must be approved by county commissioners. "We believe it's public information," Mr. O'Brien said of the financial records. "(Correctional Care) disagrees. We've not waived any claims with respect to what is public information." The courts have repeatedly ruled that confidentiality agreements between a public agency and a second party are inappropriate and unenforceable, said Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. She questioned the county awarding a new contract to a vendor that refuses to release documents that by law are public records. "It's legally inappropriate. ... And I question why an agency would renew a contract with someone who doesn't comply with the law," she said. "Any vendor that doesn't want to recognize legal authority shouldn't be a government contractor anymore." County Solicitor John O'Brien agreed that a confidentiality agreement is not enforceable if the records are public - but said it will take a court decision to determine whether they must be released. In a defining case, Lackawanna County Judge Terrence R. Nealon ruled in September that records of an agency vendor are public if the vendor is performing a government function. He ruled that SWB Yankees, the management group that operates Lackawanna County's minor-league baseball team and stadium, cannot keep its contracts with concessionaires secret from taxpayers. The ACLU is reviewing the action taken by the county and will continue to seek the records on behalf of Pax Christi, said Valerie Burch, an ACLU staff attorney. "The right to view these financial records belongs to the people," she said. "The county does not have the power to contract that right away." Pax Christi's determination to obtain the records has not diminished, said Joseph Rogan, Ed.D., president of the local chapter. He said he was surprised the county's one-day review of Correctional Care's books was adequate to award a new $6.7 million contract. "If this is the way the county conducts its financial affairs, it's no wonder that it is in such dire straits," Dr. Rogan said.

October 3, 2009 The Times-Tribune
A proposal by Correctional Care Inc. to provide medical care to Lackawanna County Prison will cost $1.2 million more per year than the service the company currently provides, a review of four medical care provider proposals shows. But even if county officials went with the lowest bidder, Correctional Telecare Solutions, the cost of medical care would be $1.1 million more per year. The county made public Thursday the four proposals submitted for medical care provider at the county prison. Last week, the Lackawanna County Prison Board voted 5-2 to exclusively negotiate a contract with Correctional Care and discard the three other proposals. The vote came two days after a lawsuit was filed raising concerns about the accountability of Correctional Care, which has refused to release financial records to reconcile bills submitted to the county. The county filed suit Sept. 28 to compel Correctional Care to release the financial records and information about its pharmacy vendor, which the company has refused even to name. County taxpayers pay $1.7 million annually to provide medical care to the prison under the current contract with Correctional Care. But without financial invoices to back up the cost from Correctional Care, it is unclear what the actual cost is. Dr. Patrick Conaboy, who submitted a proposal through a Scranton startup company Epidarus Medical Management, said he couldn't be sure how accurate his bid was because the prison was unable to provide direct financial information on its medical care. "If they were able to supply better information, I think it would have changed the pricing totally," Dr. Conaboy said. Dr. Conaboy, who realized he was a "dark horse" pick because he was a startup company, said he also offered a one-year contract in his proposal that could be renegotiated once he understood what the costs were to provide medical care. In its proposal, Correctional Care priced the cost per year to provide medical care at between $2,630,287 for 900 inmates and $2,919,619 for 1,000 inmates. Correctional Telecare, the low bidder, would cost on average per year between $2,591,148 for 900 inmates and $2,879,053 for 1,000 inmates. The county prison population fluctuates between 900 and 1,000 inmates. No matter the outcome of the prison board meeting, majority Commissioners Corey O'Brien and Mike Washo said there isn't an extra $1 million in the county budget available to pay for medical care at the prison. "I've said that relentlessly now, we can't afford these proposals," Mr. Washo said. He recommended scrapping all the proposals and starting over. "I don't know where the money would come from, I have no idea, but we're not raising the taxes." Epidarus Medical Management submitted a proposal to offer services on an average of $3.1 million a year, with no mention of an amount per inmate. Harrisburg-based Primecare Medical, which manages medical care for 31 prisons, submitted a proposal that would have cost on average $3.8 million a year for 850 inmates. In a letter to the editor published in The Times-Tribune on Friday, minority Commissioner A.J. Munchak questioned the county's timing in filing a lawsuit against Correctional Care two days before proposals were discussed by the prison board. Mr. Munchak pointed out county solicitor Larry Moran is the brother-in-law of Epidarus owner, Dr. Conaboy. As chief solicitor of litigation for the county, Mr. Moran handled filing the lawsuit against Correctional Care. Asked Friday if he was suggesting impropriety by Mr. Moran or the majority commissioners, Mr. Munchak would say only "the timing is suspect." Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Washo called any implication of impropriety "ludicrous." "A.J. must be confusing us with his administration. I'm not going to dignify that kind of comment with a response," Mr. O'Brien said. Mr. Washo said the timing of the lawsuit was coincidental and the issues raised in the lawsuit against Correctional Care had been developing for months. Mr. Moran called Mr. Munchak's comments "despicable" and said they were made to divert attention from Correctional Care and its co-owner, Edward Zaloga, M.D., a longtime friend of Mr. Munchak. "I think his smokescreen bomb is a dud," Mr. Moran said. "It's a transparent effort to divert scrutiny from his lifelong friend, a friend who despite a ruling of the (state) open records office and a lawsuit has refused to account for the expenditures of millions of dollars over five years." Dr. Conaboy, who also denied any impropriety. "More than half the city is related to me in someway," he said. "I will tell you I never had a single discussion with anybody in the commissioner's office."

September 25, 2009 Scranton Times
A Lackawanna County Prison inmate made half a dozen requests seeking medical help for a severe skin condition, but was ignored until the American Civil Liberties Union intervened, an ACLU attorney said Thursday. The inmate's condition became so severe it shocked Valerie A. Burch, an attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "He looked like a burn victim," she said. "He had severe psoriasis all over his body. His skin was cracked and bleeding. It was immediately apparent this man was not getting the treatment he needed." Prison advocacy group Pax Christi and the ACLU of Pennsylvania brought the case of inmate Cal Burns, 32, to light after a decision by the Lackawanna County Prison Board to negotiate a new contract with the current prison medical care provider, Correctional Care Inc. The decision was made on a 5-2 vote, with majority county Commissioners Corey O'Brien and Mike Washo voting against negotiating with Correctional Care and discarding proposals from three other medical care providers. Board members who voted for retaining the company said they are satisfied with the medical care provided at the prison. Told of the board's action, Ms. Burch said she was surprised. The ACLU receives more inmate complaints about medical care at Lackawanna County Prison than from any other prison in the state, she said. Complaints are so common, she said, they are immediately assigned an attorney, bypassing a standard screening process. "This is one (prison) we've been watching because we do think the medical care at Lackawanna County Prison is bad," Ms. Burch said. The ACLU and Pax Christi are each actively investigating complaints at Lackawanna County Prison, according to officials at both organizations. However, they said it is difficult to measure exactly how many complaints they receive. Mr. Burns remains in the prison and could not be interviewed Thursday. He gave Ms. Burch permission to speak with The Times-Tribune on his behalf. Ms. Burch said she visited the prison in March to interview Mr. Burns. The inmate's pain was so intense, he could not sleep, Ms. Burch said. Mr. Burns submitted six requests for medical treatment over a period of several weeks, she said, but prison officials failed to respond. "Before jail, he was getting injections that kept him completely healthy and normal," she said. "In prison, he wasn't getting the same treatment. They reduced it to a cream, which was obviously inadequate." Ms. Burch said she sent a letter to Warden Janine Donate, threatening a cruel and unusual punishment suit if Mr. Burns did not receive different treatment. Soon after, proper treatment was given, and Mr. Burns has since recovered, Ms. Burch said. Citing medical privacy laws, Ms. Donate refused to discuss Mr. Burns' case, or the claim his requests for treatment went unanswered. She insisted Correctional Care provides satisfactory medical care to inmates. The state Bureau of Corrections gave Lackawanna County Prison a 100 percent rating in 2009 for an inspection that included questions about medical care, she noted. "We've been inspected on state and federal levels several times since 2004 ... and we've never had any notable issues," she said. "So on an objective level, yes, they're doing what they're supposed to be doing within the standard of a medical provider of the prison." Minority county Commissioner A.J. Munchak, Judge Vito P. Geroulo, District Attorney Andy Jarbola, Controller Ken McDowell and Sheriff John Szymanski - the prison board members who voted for negotiating a new contract with Correctional Care - said they were unfamiliar with Mr. Burns' case and stood by their votes Thursday. "There are a couple of people who are dissatisfied with the care and that's the basis of (complaints)," Mr. Munchak said. "The bottom line is medical complaints have decreased substantially." Mr. Jarbola said claims made by Pax Christi can't be trusted. "I don't give Pax Christi any credibility whatsoever," he said, declining to elaborate. He said he is unaware of any ACLU concerns with the prison, but would be open to hearing about them. Judge Geroulo, who regularly speaks with inmates, said it is "extremely rare" he receives complaints about medical care at the prison. "I get hundreds of letters per year directly from prisoners, I question any prisoner before me that looks like they need medical attention and I immediately speak with the warden if there is a problem," the judge said. Judge Geroulo said he is aware of inmate complaints about the types of medications they receive. He said Correctional Care told him while some medications may have different brand names, inmates are receiving the same types and quality of medicine. The judge said he was unfamiliar with Mr. Burns' experience, and could not comment. Pax Christi has never been concerned with who is providing medical care at the prison, said Joseph Rogan, Ed.D., president of the local chapter. "We've never asked to have anybody replaced," he said. "What we've asked for is good health care and we believe the county has a duty to take care of their inmates."

May 7, 2008 The Times-Tribune
The medical care provider at Lackawanna County Prison filed a lawsuit against the president of a local social justice advocacy group, alleging defamation, slander and interference with contract because of a report that blasted prison health care. Correctional Care Inc., of Moosic, filed a three-count complaint against Joseph Rogan, Ed.D., seeking damages in excess of $50,000. Mr. Rogan, who heads Pax Christi of Northeastern Pennsylvania, said he had not seen the lawsuit as of Tuesday afternoon. Pax Christi, an international nonprofit Catholic organization that advocates peace, justice and human rights, issued a report calling for major reform of the prison’s medical care. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges tortious interference with existing contractual relations, intentional interference with prospective contractual relations, and defamation, libel and slander. The report suggested prenatal care was inadequate and requests for medical care were answered slowly, among other things. The report, based on face-to-face surveys of 16 current or former inmates, also suggested distribution of medication was deficient. “Mr. Rogan acted irresponsibly and without sufficient due diligence in issuing his report, and as a result, has harmed our client,” said attorney James Scanlon, representing CCI. Pax Christi submitted the report to the Prison Board on Jan. 29. Warden Janine Donate subsequently issued a response dismissing the allegations at a Prison Board meeting March 12. Minority Commissioner A.J. Munchak, who formerly served as Prison Board chairman, had not seen the lawsuit but said he was surprised one hadn’t been filed sooner.

March 13, 2008 The Times-Tribune
Several members of the Lackawanna County Prison Board on Wednesday railed against a review of prison health care released last month by the regional branch of an international social justice group. Pax Christi, a Catholic nonprofit group that advocates peace, justice and human rights, undertook the project after the birth of a baby in a prison cell in July. Among a multitude of Pax Christi’s allegations rebutted by Warden Janine Donate were deficient distribution of medication, ignored inmate requests for care and almost nonexistent prenatal care. Ms. Donate assured the Prison Board that pregnant inmates are given appropriate prenatal care and prenatal vitamins. “As for the allegation that inmates are ignored and services have significant delays, it’s simply not accurate,” she said. The survey’s eight recommendations were based on 16 face-to-face interviews with current and former inmates. Fourteen were current inmates interviewed by members of the prison ministry program. However, Pax Christi was denied access to prison inmates when Joseph Rogan, Ed.D., head of the regional Pax Christi chapter, made the request in December. Ms. Donate said she denied the request because she’d never met Dr. Rogan and did not know who the other members of the review team were or what qualifications they had to conduct a health care survey. District Attorney Andy Jarbola, a member of the Prison Board, questioned the qualifications of the review team and the way in which the study was conducted. “I have a huge problem with this report,” he said. “We have no idea whether these individuals have done such a survey in any other prison or institution anywhere in Pennsylvania or the United States.” Compared with the 5,000 inmates incarcerated since Correctional Care Inc., of Moosic, took over the prison’s medical care, the number of complaints was minuscule, Mr. Jarbola said. “If you’re only talking about 16 complaints over 5,000, that’s less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the individuals that were incarcerated,” Mr. Jarbola said. Other members of the health care review team included the Rev. William Pickard, Joan Holmes, Sister Barbara Craig, of the Sisters of Mercy, and Ann Marie Crowley. Members of Pax Christi were not specifically invited to Wednesday’s Prison Board meeting. The group has not been contacted by county officials and only knew the warden was reviewing its findings from a Feb. 20 article in The Times-Tribune. Contacted later by phone, Dr. Rogan said he hopes the commissioners send a response. “Nothing changes in terms of our views,” Dr. Rogan said, adding that he expects the group will make a decision about how to proceed at its next meeting March 26. “I would guess (the group) would be interested in pursuing it further. It’s not expected that we drop the ball now.” Minority Commissioner A.J. Munchak, former Prison Board chairman, said the report should not have been given credence by the board. “All it is, is a shot at our prison and a shot at the doctor who’s running this,” he said of Dr. Edward Zaloga, the prison’s medical director and his longtime friend. “I think it’s absolutely terrible, and if it were up to me, this wouldn’t have even been addressed here today in public.”

February 20, 2008 The Times-Tribune
County officials are mum on a report released by the regional chapter of an international justice advocacy group that calls for a number of reforms to medical care at Lackawanna County Prison. In a report released to The Times-Tribune, Pax Christi of Northeastern Pennsylvania alleges existing conditions such as heart problems and broken ribs were not addressed when inmates arrived, distribution of medication was deficient and sporadic, requests for medical care were answered slowly, and prenatal care for pregnant inmates was almost nonexistent. The report, based on face-to-face surveys of 16 current or former inmates, also suggests medical care has been rationed to boost profits for the medical care provider. “We feel there are very, very serious criticisms that need to be followed up on,” said Father William Pickard, who serves as chaplain for the county’s prison ministry program on behalf of the Diocese of Scranton. Father Pickard also is a member of the regional chapter of Pax Christi, an international Catholic nonprofit group that advocates peace, justice and human rights. Provider under fire -- Medical care at the prison is provided under contract by Correctional Care Inc., of Moosic, a company co-owned by the prison’s medical director, Dr. Edward Zaloga. The report says the relationship is a potential conflict of interest and suggests that money not spent on medical care results in higher profits for CCI. “It’s an inference, but it would seem to be to his (Dr. Zaloga’s) advantage, for example, not to fill medications,” said Joan Holmes, a member of Pax Christi and volunteer with the prison ministry program. Attempts to reach Dr. Zaloga were unsuccessful. It is not clear exactly how Dr. Zaloga would directly benefit from limiting or denying care. Under its five-year contract that expires Nov. 14, 2009, Correctional Care Inc. is paid a flat fee of $250,000 a year regardless of medical expenses and is reimbursed separately for all costs of medical care inside and outside the prison. The report does say that inmates have “major consternation” with Dr. Zaloga and says the fact “that the person best positioned to provide inmates with care was the one they most disrespected was telling.” In the report — dated Jan. 29 — Pax Christi recommended that the Prison Board hire an independent party to evaluate the prison’s medical services. The purpose of the study is not conflict, but change, said Mrs. Holmes. The idea for a review was triggered by the birth of a baby in a prison cell on July 10, Father Pickard said. Then-inmate Shakira Staten, 22, of Chambersburg, accused Lackawanna County Prison officials of ignoring her repeated pleas to go to the hospital before her daughter dropped from her womb and to the floor of a cell monitored by a closed-circuit television camera. Although the Prison Board initially denied the staff did anything wrong in that incident, county officials later publicly apologized to Ms. Staten for what happened. According to the report, Ms. Donate denied Pax Christi access to current inmates. Father Pickard and Mrs. Holmes conducted interviews during regular visits with prisoners as part of the prison ministry program. Joseph Rogan, Ed.D., heads the regional chapter of Pax Christi. Other members of the prison health care review team included Sister Barbara Craig of the Sisters of Mercy and Ann Marie Crowley. Inmates give examples -- The report details many complaints registered by the interviewed inmates. Among them were the claims of two women who were pregnant while incarcerated. The report says the pregnant inmates received no checkups after entering the prison, and “received inconsistent prenatal vitamins and received no prenatal care.” Another inmate reportedly claimed that “medicines are routinely replaced or unavailable to save the (medical care) firm money.” Several complaints were reported about a lack of response to inmate requests to see a doctor or to file grievances about medical care denials. “A few did get the care they requested ... ,” the report says. “Most, however, reported that their requests were ignored, or, if addressed at all, only very slowly. When they did get attention, in many cases no treatments were prescribed. One (inmate) was told that he was just getting old.” The report said two interviewed inmates independently confirmed that when one inmate they knew filed a grievance about medical care, the “entire unit was locked down while a guard read the details of the inmate’s complete medical history over the intercom for all to hear.” None of the interview subjects is identified in the report, and it contains a disclaimer that says some responses “may have been colored by personal motives.” However, the document also says that there were underlying themes amid the responses that triggered the recommendations. “We thought there was enough of a common thread there to release the report,” Father Pickard said. “I could tell by (the inmates’) emotions that they were sincere, that they went through a terrible ordeal. They weren’t play-acting. It was very obvious in the interaction I had with them.” Prisoners faced possible retribution by answering the survey questions, Father Pickard said. The committee recorded a majority of the inmates’ names, and Father Pickard said the committee verified what inmates told them “as best they could.” However, Mrs. Holmes admitted they did not have a way to verify all claims. Pax Christi received 38 responses when input was solicited, but was only able to interview 16 people because of time and logistical constraints. Of the 16 people who responded, 14 were current inmates. The report recommends that the Prison Board: Review the prison’s inmate intake procedures. Review the prison’s medical response procedures. Review the possibility that inmates with mental health issues could be better placed. Review whether inmates who have substance-abuse problems could be served through treatment and education. Review the prison’s policies and procedures related to pregnant inmates. Review the prison’s food-service system to determine whether inmates receive proper nutrition. Officials not talking -- County communications director Lynne Shedlock said the study was referred to Prison Warden Janine Donate, who was not immediately available for comment. “There is no further comment until the warden has had a chance to review it,” Ms. Shedlock said. “She’ll present a report back to the Prison Board at the appropriate time.” Majority Commissioner Mike Washo, who chairs the board, was out of town and not available for comment. Minority Commissioner A.J. Munchak, who served as Prison Board chair when he was majority commissioner through last year, deferred questions to Mr. Washo. “Any official response has to come from the chairman,” Mr. Munchak said. Commissioner Corey O’Brien, also a member of the Prison Board, declined comment as well. In addition to the three county commissioners, the Prison Board includes District Attorney Andy Jarbola, Sheriff John Szymanski , Judge Vito Geroulo and County Controller Ken McDowell. Mr. McDowell said he read the study and anticipates the warden will review it and make a report to the Prison Board. Efforts to reach Mr. Jarbola, Mr. Szymanski and Judge Geroulo were unsuccessful.

August 18, 2007 Times-Tribune
The Lackawanna County Prison’s medical director was fired from a similar post at a Pittsburgh-based health care services company in 1999 in an apparent dispute over a new treatment for hepatitis C in state prisons the company served. Company officials could not be reached to explain his termination, but in a lawsuit later filed against the company, Dr. Edward J. Zaloga claimed he was fired because he disagreed with a plan to begin treating the liver disease with a then-new, unproven drug that ultimately would be a waste of taxpayer money. The treatment “would waste more than $7 million of the (state) taxpayers’ money on unnecessary and unwarranted medical treatment,” he charged in a suit filed against Wexford Health Sources Inc. in November 1999. He claimed in his suit that his management practices had created a profit for the company of $4.1 million, and the company — which at the time was trying to get the state to pay for the new treatment — feared it might have to pay for treating inmates if the state found out about its profits. He was fired for raising the concerns, he alleged. The suit demanded more than $1 million in unpaid wages, expenses, lawyer’s fees and punitive damages. The company, in its legal responses, denied earning anywhere near $4 million. It denied his other claims as well. County judges rejected Dr. Zaloga’s suit in separate rulings in 2002 and 2004 with one judge writing that Dr. Zaloga failed to establish “a report of wrongdoing ... or waste.” Wexford in its legal filings acknowledged firing Dr. Zaloga but did not say why. Dr. Zaloga is now co-owner of a company, Correctional Care Inc., of Moosic, that provides medical services to county prison inmates, and oversees those services. A former inmate, Shakira Staten, 22, a federal prisoner who gave birth at the prison July 10 and has since been transferred to Adams County Prison to await sentencing, has sued him, the company and the prison in federal court. She claims she was a victim of cruel and unusual punishment because her pleas to be taken to the hospital when she went into labor were ignored and she had the baby alone in a cell. The county Prison Board this week apologized for the way she treated and blamed a Correctional Care nurse for “serious errors of judgment” that included failing to properly monitor her labor and unnecessarily delaying taking her to the hospital. The board barred the nurse from working in the prison. A secretary in the company’s office said Dr. Zaloga was not available for comment and would only reply to written questions. A secretary at Wexford Health Sources said no company officials would be available to comment until next week. Dr. Zaloga was Wexford’s regional medical director for its central Pennsylvania operations from Feb. 1 to Sept. 29, 1999, the day the company’s operations director dismissed him, according to court records.

November 24, 2004 Scranton Times Tribune
PrimeCare Medical Inc., the Harrisburg company that lost out last month on a lucrative contract for medical care at the Lackawanna County Prison, hit the county with a $926,000 lawsuit Tuesday.  PrimeCare President Carl A. Hoffman claims county officials, namely Commissioner Robert C. Cordaro, breached an oral agreement with him when they hired another company to take over prison medical services. Earlier this year, PrimeCare said it would forgive about $400,000 in outstanding bills in exchange for a new five-year contract, according to the lawsuit.
The county paid PrimeCare $900,000 instead of the $1.3 million owed and later awarded the health care contract to a local upstart company, Correctional Care Inc.

October 15, 2004 Scranton Times Tribune
Divided on the issue days ago, Lackawanna County Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to award a multimillion-dollar prison health-care contract to a new, local provider instead of the veteran incumbent company. Correctional Care Inc., of Moosic, was founded four months ago by Dr. Edward Zaloga and investors Joseph Compagnino, William Drazdowski and Ronald Halko for the sole purpose of taking over medical operations at the county jail. The upstart company beat out
PrimeCare Medical services of Harrisburg for the five-year service contract.  Having no experience to draw on, the company was unable to estimate its annual cost, Commissioner A.J. Munchak said. PrimeCare has been the prison's health-care provider since 2001. It has been working without a contract since January and proposed a $5.4 million five-year contract. The question of the contract had been hotly contested since May, when PrimeCare officials answered the Prison Board about concerns raised in a county grand jury report. In it, jurors cited "failure to adequately treat inmates for serious medical conditions" and "failure of medical staff to report, document or question suspicious injuries."

Luzerne County Court
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care LLC
Jan 13, 2014 philly.com

Years after he took money to send them to privately run juvenile detention centers, a former Luzerne County Court judge must now pay former detainees back for violating their civil rights, a federal judge in Wilkes-Barre has ruled. In an opinion released Thursday, U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo cleared the way for about 2,500 plaintiffs to collect damages from Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., one of two former judges convicted in the "kids for cash" corruption scandal. How much Ciavarella will owe will be determined later, Caputo said. Ciavarella was sentenced in 2011 to 28 years in prison for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from the builder and co-owner of two Northeastern Pennsylvania private prisons. In exchange, he backed county contracts with the facilities and increased their inmate counts by imposing harsh sentences on children, some as young as 10, who came before his court. The state Supreme Court threw out thousands of his convictions, saying the justices had no confidence they were decided fairly, given Ciavarella's criminal conduct. Since then, several of the former detainees have sued him and other members of the conspiracy. In his ruling Thursday, Caputo ruled that judges "no matter how corrupt" are protected by judicial immunity for all decisions made from the bench. But actions Ciavarella took outside court, including closing the county's government-run detention center and instituting a zero-tolerance policy believed to have sent hundreds of teens to lockup for alleged parole violations, left him open to the suits, he decided. Ciavarella, who remains in a federal prison in Illinois, did not dispute that argument before Caputo's ruling. His attorneys did not return calls for comment Friday. "We're happy to see that there's some further closure and that Judge Caputo has found Judge Ciavarella liable for his actions," said David S. Senoff, a Philadelphia lawyer representing several of the juvenile plaintiffs. Suits against other members of the "kids for cash" conspiracy have largely favored the plaintiffs. The two private detention centers at the center of the scandal, PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care, recently agreed to settle for $2.5 million. In 2011, Robert K. Mericle, their builder, offered to pay $17.75 million to settle claims against him. A federal court has also found Michael T. Conahan, another Luzerne County judge serving more than 17 years in prison for his role in the scandal, liable for yet-to-be-determined damages. Senoff said Friday his clients would continue to pursue civil claims against Robert Powell, the former co-owner of the detention facilities.

 

August 6, 2013 neontommy.com

A Pennsylvania judge convicted of accepting bribes from owners of private juvenile detention facilities in exchange for keeping the facility well-populated has lost an appeal. Judge Mark A. Ciavarella is set to begin serving his 28-year sentence. Following a federal investigation, Ciavarella and fellow "Kids for Cash" Judge Michael Conahan were found to have received $2.6 million from the owners of two facilities, run by PA Child Care and sister company Western PA Child Care. Ciavarella's efforts to ensure that the juvenile facilities remained full included sentencing Hillary Transue, then a high school sophomore, to three months in jail for making fun of her school's principal online. Other instances include a seventh-grader jailed for 48 days for throwing a piece of steak at his mother's boyfriend and an 11-year-old boy sentenced for calling the police after being locked out of the house by his mother. According to BoingBoing: The judges helped the detention centers land a county contract worth $58 million. Then their alleged scheme was to guarantee the operators a steady income by detaining juveniles, often on petty stuff...[The Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, PA] cited hundreds of examples where teens accused of minor mischief were pressured to waive their right to lawyers, and then shipped to a detention center. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out hundreds of convictions issued by the two judges after their scheme came to light.


August 6, 2013 neontommy.com

A Pennsylvania judge convicted of accepting bribes from owners of private juvenile detention facilities in exchange for keeping the facility well-populated has lost an appeal. Judge Mark A. Ciavarella is set to begin serving his 28-year sentence. Following a federal investigation, Ciavarella and fellow "Kids for Cash" Judge Michael Conahan were found to have received $2.6 million from the owners of two facilities, run by PA Child Care and sister company Western PA Child Care. Ciavarella's efforts to ensure that the juvenile facilities remained full included sentencing Hillary Transue, then a high school sophomore, to three months in jail for making fun of her school's principal online. Other instances include a seventh-grader jailed for 48 days for throwing a piece of steak at his mother's boyfriend and an 11-year-old boy sentenced for calling the police after being locked out of the house by his mother. According to BoingBoing: The judges helped the detention centers land a county contract worth $58 million. Then their alleged scheme was to guarantee the operators a steady income by detaining juveniles, often on petty stuff...[The Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, PA] cited hundreds of examples where teens accused of minor mischief were pressured to waive their right to lawyers, and then shipped to a detention center. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out hundreds of convictions issued by the two judges after their scheme came to light.

November 4, 2011 Washington Post
The former owner of two for-profit juvenile detention facilities was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison for his role in a kickback scheme that led the state Supreme Court to vacate the convictions of thousands of juveniles who appeared before a now-jailed Pennsylvania judge. Robert Powell pleaded guilty in 2009 to concealing a felony and an accessory charge in the so-called “kids for cash” scandal. Powell, 52, testified earlier this year that he was forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to former Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan in return for their support of his two private juvenile detention centers. He said the judges extorted more than $725,000 from him after they shut down the dilapidated county-run detention center and instead sent juveniles to his new lockup outside the city of Wilkes-Barre and to a sister facility in western Pennsylvania.

August 11, 2011 AP
A longtime northeastern Pennsylvania judge has been ordered to spend nearly three decades in prison for his role in a massive juvenile justice bribery scandal that prompted the state's high court to toss thousands of convictions. Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in federal prison for taking $1 million in bribes from the builder of a pair of juvenile detention centers in a case that became known as "kids-for-cash." The Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. Ciavarella, 61, was tried and convicted of racketeering charges earlier this year. His attorneys had asked for a "reasonable" sentence in court papers, saying, in effect, that he's already been punished enough. "The media attention to this matter has exceeded coverage given to many and almost all capital murders, and despite protestation, he will forever be unjustly branded as the 'Kids for Cash' judge," their sentencing memo said. Federal prosecutors accused Ciavarella and a second judge, Michael Conahan, of taking more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities' co-owner. Ciavarella, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom demeanor, filled the beds of the private lockups with children as young as 10, many of them first-time offenders convicted of petty theft and other minor crimes. The judge remained defiant after his arrest, insisting the payments were legal and denying he incarcerated youths for money. The jury returned a mixed verdict following a February trial, convicting him of 12 counts, including racketeering and conspiracy, and acquitting him of 27 counts, including extortion. The guilty verdicts related to a payment of $997,600 from the builder. Conahan, meanwhile, pleaded guilty last year and awaits sentencing.

February 19, 2011 AP
A former Juvenile Court judge was convicted Friday of racketeering in a case that accused him of sending young offenders to for-profit detention centers in exchange for millions of dollars in illicit payments from the builder and owner of the lockups. Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella, 61, left the bench in disgrace two years ago after prosecutors charged him with engineering one of the biggest courtroom frauds in U.S. history by using juvenile delinquents as pawns in a plot to get rich. Federal prosecutors accused Ciavarella and a second judge, Michael Conahan, of taking more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities' co-owner. Ciavarella insisted that the payments were legal and denied that he incarcerated youths for money. A federal jury in Scranton returned a mixed verdict, convicting Ciavarella of 12 counts, including racketeering and conspiracy, and acquitting him of 27 counts, including extortion. The guilty verdicts related to nearly $1 million that the builder paid to the judges.

February 15, 2011 AP
A former northeastern Pennsylvania judge admitted Tuesday that he was deep in debt and living beyond his means when he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the builder of two privately owned juvenile detention centers, but he insisted the payments were legal "finder's fees" and not bribes as the federal government has alleged. Ex-Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella took the witness stand at his federal racketeering trial and tried to stem the damage from a week of testimony that he took more than $2 million in illegal kickbacks from the builder of the juvenile lockups and extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities' co-owner — a scandal known as "kids for cash" that resulted in the dismissal of thousands of juvenile convictions. At times, he seemed like a witness for the prosecution. Ciavarella, 61, admitted that he filed false tax returns related to the payments. He also admitted that he plotted with former Judge Michael Conahan to defraud the federal government of the taxes they owed — and that he took steps to conceal the payments because he knew they would look bad to the public. "I made the wrong decision and I paid dearly for that," Ciavarella told jurors at the federal courthouse in Scranton. "And that's OK because I have to suffer the consequences of my decision." Prosecutors allege the judges shut down the decrepit county-run juvenile detention center in 2002 and arranged for the construction of the PA Child Care facility outside Wilkes-Barre. Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court, stocked the private jail with young offenders whose crimes were often minor. Many of the teens had never been in trouble before, and some were locked up even after probation officers recommended against it. Ciavarella, who has denied any link between the payments he received and the youths he sent to the facility, said he viewed the money as legitimate. He said the builder, Robert Mericle, offered to pay him a "finder's fee" because Ciavarella had introduced him to Robert Powell, the developer and co-owner of PA Child Care. He said he took Mericle at his word that the payment was legal. Ciavarella said he thanked Mericle and considered the payment "manna from heaven." That's because he needed the money. Assistant U.S. Attorney William Houser used cross examination to portray Ciavarella as a man swimming in debt and looking for a way out. When Ciavarella received a $330,000 payment from Mericle in late January 2003 — the first of what would be three hefty payments from the builder related to the construction and expansion of PA Child Care and a sister facility in the western part of the state — the judge immediately sent two dozen checks to creditors, primarily credit card companies. Ciavarella also repaid a $150,000 loan from Barbara Conahan, Judge Conahan's wife. In all, he eliminated $311,000 in debt from the proceeds of the money he got from Mericle. "We were living beyond our means," he acknowledged. Houser said the debt showed Ciavarella had a clear "motive for the crime." The former judge testified clearly and confidently as he responded to questions from his own attorneys Tuesday morning, rejecting the government's allegations that he took bribes from Mericle and extorted money from Powell, a high-powered attorney. He said Powell couldn't be touched. "You didn't demand anything from Bobby Powell," Ciavarella said. "He had an ego bigger than this room. . There was absolutely nothing I could do to hurt Mr. Powell financially." Powell has said that he was forced to pay $590,000 to a company controlled by the judges and another $143,000 in cash to Conahan. The judges allegedly disguised the payments as rental income from a Florida condo owned by their wives. Powell testified that Conahan and Ciavarella pressured him to make payments, going so far as to request more money even as a federal investigation was under way. Ciavarella called Powell's testimony "ludicrous and ridiculous." He insisted Powell's payments were rent, and had nothing to do with the juvenile detention centers. He said Conahan told him that Powell had agreed to pay $15,000 a month for 60 months for use of the condo — a total of nearly $1 million. He testified that Conahan made those arrangements, not him. Houser was incredulous. He asked Ciavarella why Powell — a wealthy, successful businessman and personal injury lawyer — would agree to pay nearly $1 million in rent on a condo that the judges' wives had purchased for only $785,000, and for which Powell would receive no ownership interest. "That's what Powell wanted," Ciavarella insisted. He said Powell didn't want to own the condo because his wife would then have a claim on it — a reference to earlier testimony by a defense witness that Powell was having an affair and planned to get a divorce. Powell's attorney has denied the allegation. Houser also pointed out the Pennsylvania Constitution forbids judges from accepting payment of any kind, other than salary, "for the performance of any judicial duty." Ciavarella responded that he wasn't acting in his official capacity as judge when he put Mericle in touch with Powell, but as an elected official trying to do right by the county's troubled youth. But he said he knew how the enormous sums he got from Mericle and Powell would be perceived. "I didn't want the publicity and I didn't want the scrutiny. That's what I was trying to avoid," he said. "I did the wrong thing." Houser was merciless, grilling Ciavarella for more than three hours and getting one damaging admission after another. Almost as an aside, Ciavarella acknowledged that he pocketed $15,000 to $20,000 in cash from a golf tournament fundraiser held in 2005 as part of his judicial retention campaign. He said he kept the cash in the house, used it for personal expenses such as dinners out, and failed to list it on his campaign finance report. The defense expects to rest its case Wednesday. Closing arguments will follow. Conahan, the other judge, has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and awaits sentencing.

February 9, 2011 CNBC
The builder of two private juvenile detention facilities said Wednesday that he paid $2.1 million to a judge in northeastern Pennsylvania who steered him the work, but he viewed the payments as "finder's fees," which are standard practice in the commercial real estate business. Robert Mericle testified at the trial of former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella, who sent juvenile offenders to a detention center that Mericle built outside of the city of Wilkes-Barre. Federal prosecutors allege that Ciavarella took illegal kickbacks from Mericle and extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facility's developer. Mericle told jurors that he visited Ciavarella in his courthouse office and said he wouldn't have had the opportunity to build PA Child Care without the judge, who had referred him to developer Robert Powell. Mericle, the owner of a commercial construction company with more than 200 employees, said it's standard industry practice to pay referral fees to individuals who put deals together. He said he paid a $1 million referral fee for PA Child Care. "If anybody deserves it, it's you," Mericle told Ciavarella. "I agree," Ciavarella said, according to Mericle's account. Mericle said he paid another $1 million referral fee after building a second detention center for Powell, this one in Butler County, in the western part of the state. Under cross-examination, Mericle said he did not consider the money he paid to Ciavarella to be a kickback or bribe. Prosecutors allege that Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, orchestrated a scheme to shut down the dilapidated county-run detention center and arrange for the construction of the PA Child Care lockup in Luzerne County. Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court, is accused of stocking the private jail with young offenders whose crimes were often minor. The state Supreme Court threw out thousands of juvenile convictions issued by Ciavarella, saying he disregarded the constitutional rights of the defendants. By the fall of 2007, Ciavarella was aware that federal law enforcement authorities were looking into the payments. But even then he questioned Mericle about the status of the latest referral fee he was to supposed to receive — $150,000 for a 24-bed expansion of Western PA Child Care. Mericle testified that he went to see Ciavarella in his chambers one day. He said he found Ciavarella behind his desk with the lights dimmed. Ciavarella put his fingers to his lips to hush him, presumably believing his office to be bugged, and wrote a message on a slip of paper. "Wired? Yes No Circle One," the note said, meaning he wanted to know whether the finder's fee had been deposited into his bank account. Mericle circled no. Ciavarella then motioned for Mericle to go into a courtroom, where the pair sat at a table and Ciavarella told him that a grand jury was investigating. He told Mericle that he could go to jail if authorities found out that he had directed the referral fees to be funneled to him through Powell. Mericle testified that he believed Ciavarella wanted him to alter documents to make it look as if the payments had been made directly to the judge — not to Powell — in order to give the appearance of legitimacy. "Rob, I'm not asking you to lie or perjure yourself," Ciavarella said, according to Mericle. "I'm asking you to go back to your office and look at those records and recognize I could go to jail." A few days later, Mericle was about to leave his office to return to Ciavarella's chambers when the builder was visited by IRS and FBI agents. Mericle initially lied to law enforcement officials and to a grand jury. He has pleaded guilty to concealing evidence that Ciavarella committed tax fraud, and faces up to three years in prison when he is sentenced. Mericle said he initially lied to protect his friend. Ciavarella was Mericle's attorney until 1996, when he became a judge, and Mericle said he viewed Ciavarella as an older brother. As Mericle's construction company grew and prospered, he lavished gifts on the judge. He said he gave $5,000 cash to Ciavarella each Christmas. "I did not want to be the person to lay Mark out," he said.

February 8, 2011 AP
A northeastern Pennsylvania judge accepted kickbacks and extorted money in a $2.8 million scheme to turn the courthouse into a "cash cow" by locking up juvenile offenders in privately run detention facilities, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday as the former judge's trial began. Lawyers delivered opening statements in the case of one-time Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella, who has denied authorities' allegations of a racketeering plot. His attorney on Tuesday called the government's case "ludicrous" and said that while Ciavarella may have exercised poor judgment, he did not break the law. In a courtroom scandal known as "kids for cash," the government has charged Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, with orchestrating a scheme to shut down the county-run detention center and arrange for a private facility to be built and run by cronies. Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court, is accused of stocking the private jail with young offenders whose crimes were often minor. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod told jurors that Ciavarella accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from Robert Mericle, a locally prominent construction company owner and the builder of the PA Child Care detention center outside Wilkes-Barre. Ciavarella also extorted cash from the center's co-owner, Robert Powell, and threatened to send juvenile delinquents elsewhere if he didn't get the money, Zubrod said. The judges are accused of laundering the money through a series of shell companies, disguising some of the illicit cash as rental payments on a Florida condominium owned by their wives. Ciavarella "used his judicial office to enrich himself in direct violation of his duty and oath as judge," Zubrod said, turning "the high office of judge into a cash cow, a money-making machine." He said Powell knew he was being extorted, but he felt he had no choice but to pay because the detention center carried a $12 million mortgage and he needed Luzerne County to house its juvenile offenders there. The judges "had him over a barrel," he said.

February 6, 2011 Standard Speaker
The words poured out of Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. like sweat on that warm afternoon two Julys ago - fragments of truth and excuses interspersed with the arrogance and defiance that defined his time as a judge on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. Ciavarella, subpoenaed to testify about alleged impropriety in a civil case on his docket, had turned his cross-examination into an exercise of catharsis and confession. The former judge, eschewing brevity and practicality, transformed each answer into a point-by-point rebuttal to the charges that ended his career and irrevocably tarnished his reputation. "I did not consider what I did to be illegal," Ciavarella said, matching his recollections and equivocations against the six-month-old allegations that he and a colleague accepted $2.8 million in illegal payments to support the development of a pair of for-profit detention centers. Ciavarella's testimony, a tapestry of extraordinary admissions and denials, came three weeks before U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik rejected the plea agreement that would have guaranteed him 7½ years in prison. At the time, Ciavarella had nothing to lose. His words, transmitted in bold, brash strokes as his attorneys sat in stunned silence, were little more than an attempt at saving face and rationalizing away the sins that led to his undoing. Now, with Ciavarella set to stand trial Monday on a 39-count indictment stemming from the same allegations of kickbacks and collusion, those long-ago words have new significance. They offer a glimpse at Ciavarella's possible defense strategy - a Herculean task for a man who, in the same line of questioning, admitted being a "corrupt judge" and confessed that he never paid taxes on any of the payments he received. And, they bolster a prosecution case that hinges on allegations Ciavarella and his colleague, Michael T. Conahan, conspired with the backers of the for-profit facilities to secure a lucrative county contract, and that Ciavarella used his power as the juvenile court judge to keep the beds at those facilities filled. A private facility -- Until the first of the for-profit juvenile facilities opened in 2003, wayward Luzerne County youths often wound up at the county-owned detention center - a six-decade-old former women's prison on North River Street in Wilkes-Barre. Ciavarella, the juvenile court judge from 1996 to 2008, detested the facility, publicly criticizing its infrastructure and cleanliness while privately soliciting proposals from private developers to build a replacement. "The place is old," Ciavarella decried in April 2000. "It suffers from leaky pipes that we can't get to because they're buried behind 2-foot-thick concrete walls and the interior is infested with cockroaches and rodents." Ciavarella turned to the private sector after his original plan - to have the county build a replacement facility - became mired in election-year politics. "I went to the county commissioners and I asked them to build a new detention center," Ciavarella said during his cross-examination two summers ago. "They told me they would, but they didn't want to build it and announce it until after the election." The election passed, but the commissioners still had not taken action on building a new juvenile detention center. One commissioner, citing a study that showed the cost of a new facility between $4 million and $5 million, said he favored building a replacement or contracting with a private developer. Commissioner Stephen A. Urban opposed closing the county-owned center and, later, the immense costs associated with leasing the for-profit center, Pennsylvania Child Care in Pittston Township. Urban, testifying last year before a state panel probing Ciavarella and Conahan, said repairs and improvements to the county-owned facility could have been completed for $2 million to $4 million. Ciavarella, disgusted and impatient, turned to Conahan, his friend and one-time neighbor. "I said, 'If you know anybody that has the wherewithal to build a facility, tell them to build one because this place is a dump and it shouldn't be open,'" Ciavarella testified. 'The boss' got it done -- Conahan, known in courthouse circles as "the boss," had the power, influence and connections to make the privatization of the county's juvenile detention a reality. "He was the one that made it all possible," Ciavarella said during his cross-examination two years ago. "He put the people in the room that came up with the financing to build the facility." Conahan, the county's president judge from 2002 to 2007, brought in business partners Robert J. Powell and Gregory Zappala to finance the project and used his power to compel the county commissioners into contracting with their facility - at a cost far higher than the projected price of a new county-owned juvenile jail. By the fall of his first year heading the courts, Conahan made the unilateral decision to stop sending juveniles to the county-owned detention facility and sent the facility's operating license back to the state Department of Public Welfare, even though it had been granted to the Luzerne County government, not the courts. Urban, the longtime minority commissioner and frequent critic of the insular ways of county government, saw Conahan's maneuvering as a thinly veiled effort to ensure a stream of county business for the for-profit facility - a sleight of hand Urban's colleagues did not seem to notice or mind. "The judge said, 'we're not sending anybody there,'" Urban recalled. "The other two commissioners then voted for a budget that defunded positions of the child-care workers (at the county-owned facility). And then they closed the facility, and the county was then forced to use the detention center that Mr. Powell and Zappala had built at the cost of about $100 extra per day, per bed than it was costing us in our own facility." The county paid $9 million to lodge juveniles at the for-profit facility, Pennsylvania Child Care, in the two years between the closing of the county-owned facility and the approval of a 20-year, $58 million lease. Urban, who voted against the lease agreement, and the county controller at the time, Stephen L. Flood, objected to the high cost and nature of the agreement. There were no bids and no negotiations. At first, concerned -- Early in his campaign for a new detention facility, Ciavarella cast himself as something of an altruist in a judge's robe - an empathetic father figure intent on giving mischievous youths housing with better amenities, mental health services, infrastructure and cleanliness than the county's cavernous dungeon of a juvenile jail. As Ciavarella became more involved with the process any notion of altruism drowned in a stream of cash from Powell, a Drums attorney who argued civil cases before Ciavarella, and Robert K. Mericle, a prominent developer whose firm built for-profit facilities for Powell and Zappala in Pittston Township and Butler County. Mericle met Ciavarella in his chambers in April 2002 and offered a "finder's fee" - 10 percent of the total cost of the contract for constructing the facilities. Ciavarella, recalling the conversation during his cross-examination, said he decided almost immediately to share the payment with Conahan. "I walked over to his chambers and told him what had transpired in my chambers," Ciavarella said. "(Conahan) said to me 'that is one hell of a friend you have.' That was the end of it." Mericle funneled the "finder's fee" - about $440,000 each according to Ciavarella - through a matrix of transactions, first from his company to Robert Matta, the former president of Miners Bank, then to Beverage Marketing, a company owned by Conahan, then to the judges. Powell rewarded Ciavarella and Conahan with more than $772,500, including $520,000 disguised as rent payments on a condominium the former judges owned in Jupiter, Fla., and $182,500 in cash stuffed in FedEx boxes and hand-delivered, via an emissary, to the judges. Ciavarella said he paid taxes on the Powell money, but thought Conahan would cover the taxes on the Mericle payments. He did not declare either set of payments on his annual state financial disclosure form. "I did not consider the money that I was receiving to be illegal mob money," Ciavarella said during his cross-examination two summers ago. "I was told it was legal money. I was told it was something that I was entitled to. And for that reason, I did not have a problem with where that money went or how it came to me." Tricky tactics -- Ciavarella's tactics in the juvenile courtroom were admittedly illegal. The former judge, known since childhood as "Scooch," used a celebrated "zero tolerance" approach to juvenile crime along with unconstitutional tricks - including habitually failing to inform defendants of their right to an attorney and jailing them for the most minor offenses - to keep the private jails full and profitable. He balked when state officials confronted him about the county's unusually high juvenile detention rates. "He wasn't pleased at all with being questioned," Richard J. Gold, the deputy secretary of the state Office of Children, Youth and Families, said. Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court from 1996 to 2008 and served as president judge from 2007 until his resignation from the bench in January 2009, had been sending juveniles to detention at a rate more than twice the state average and the county was exceeding state reimbursement limits by $2 million per year. "Any way you looked at it, their numbers were out of sync," Gold said. Ciavarella sat silent, harboring the true reason for the outsized numbers and costs, as one of the other officials in the room answered, "We're working on it." Pennsylvania Child Care sued two Department of Public Welfare auditors and Flood, the former county controller, in December 2004, after Flood released documents to the media from an unfinished state audit that called the lease a "bad deal." The audit found that Pennsylvania Child Care had turned a 28 percent profit in the first year of the lease, Gold said. The county, he said, could have built three juvenile detention centers for the cost of what it paid to lease the for-profit center. Ciavarella, a defendant in a series of civil lawsuits filed by the juveniles who appeared in his court, defended his courtroom behavior in a March 2009 interview on the ABC News program "20/20." Ciavarella, accosted by reporter Jim Avila and a camera crew outside his Kingston condominium, objected to the notion he had "sold kids down the river." "You take a look at their file and you look to see if this was the first time they had a run-in with the law," Ciavarella told Avila. "It might have been the first time they're in front of me. You may be surprised that it's not going to be as clear-cut as they would like you to think."

May 27, 2010 Billings Gazette
A state panel investigating the "kids for cash" scandal in northeastern Pennsylvania called Thursday for improved oversight of judges among dozens of other recommendations meant to strengthen the state's juvenile justice system. The Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice was created last August by the Legislature and Gov. Ed Rendell to look into the causes of the judicial scandal at the Luzerne County Courthouse and to suggest ways to prevent a recurrence there or elsewhere. Former judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella are charged in federal court with racketeering for allegedly taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to place youth offenders in for-profit detention centers. Conahan has agreed to plead guilty for his role in the $2.8 million scheme. Ciavarella awaits trial. The state Supreme Court tossed thousands of juvenile convictions after federal prosecutors charged the judges last year. In its report, the interbranch commission said that corruption in the Luzerne County courthouse "has been deeply ingrained for many years" and that "many individuals may be seen to have shared the responsibility" for failures in the juvenile justice system there, including prosecutors, public defenders and probation officials. The commission's work also revealed failures in state oversight of the court system. Its recommendations cover a range of issues, from improving the state Judicial Conduct Board _ the agency that investigates and prosecutes misconduct by Pennsylvania judges _ to ensuring that juveniles have access to legal representation, to reducing or eliminating the use of shackling in juvenile courtrooms. The commission voted Thursday to approve the report and recommendations and send them to Rendell, Chief Justice Ronald Castille and legislative leaders.

January 25, 2010 AP
A northeastern Pennsylvania prosecutor has dropped her effort to retry as many as 46 youths who appeared before a judge charged in a corruption scandal, bringing an end to a legal saga that involved an estimated 5,000 tainted juvenile convictions. The agreement between defense lawyers and Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll means that none of the thousands of youths who appeared before disgraced former Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. between 2003 and 2008 will face retrial, and all will have their juvenile records wiped clean. "It's in the interest of fairness and justice that these cases be reversed, too," Carroll said in court Monday, exactly one year after Ciavarella and another judge were charged with accepting millions in kickbacks to place juvenile offenders in for-profit detention centers. Anthony Brennan, who spent more than a year in detention after being caught breaking into an abandoned building when he was 15, said he was gratified by the decision. "It's a sense of relief," said Brennan, now 18, of Hazleton. "I can get on with my life now." The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has said that Ciavarella ran a kangaroo court in which he systemically denied youths their constitutional rights, including the right to counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. After being found delinquent, the youths were often shackled and taken to private jails whose owner was allegedly paying bribes to the judge. Federal prosecutors have said that Ciavarella and another former Luzerne County judge, Michael Conahan, took a total of $2.8 million in payoffs.

December 8, 2009 Philadelphia Inquirer
A special panel investigating judicial corruption in Luzerne County heard a woman testify last night that her 14-year-old daughter was sent to jail by former Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. despite her warnings that the girl was epileptic and subject to seizures under stress. "Two days later, I got a call at 5 in the morning telling me that she had had a seizure," she said. "I almost lost her." Mother and daughter sat side by side in witness chairs before the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, which is conducting hearings into judicial corruption here. For at least five years, young defendants routinely appeared in Ciavarella's courtroom without lawyers for hearings that lasted just a few minutes. After being found delinquent, the youths were taken to private jails, often in shackles. Federal prosecutors charge that the owner of two of the jails paid some $2.8 million in bribes to Ciavarella and former Judge Michael T. Conahan. The mother said her daughter was released from the detention center, placed under house arrest, and not allowed to go to school despite being an A student. After being allowed to resume her schooling, she said, her daughter was very introverted. "I had to force her to go to her prom. It's taken a lot of years for her to come out of her shell, and I blame Ciavarella for that." The girl was accused of defacing public property with a felt pen, using phrases such as "Vote for Michael Jackson." Her daughter testified that during her hearing, Ciavarella and the policeman who arrested her spent most of the time talking about a previous night's football game. Asked what she had learned from her experience with the juvenile justice system, she said: "People in power are not always people we should trust." Seven children and their parents, most of whom were in tears for at least part of their testimony, appeared last night. The commission members appeared shaken and angered by the testimony. A college student told the commission that when she was 16 years old she was arrested for "giving a police officer the finger." She said a probation officer advised her that she didn't need an attorney, but Ciavarella sentenced her to two months in prison even though she had no record. She was placed in shackles and taken out of the courtroom to detention. She said she was a good high school student, involved in numerous extracurricular activities, and plans to go to law school. A 16-year-old girl who was sent away for eight months by Ciavarella when she was 13 for fighting with another girl in school testified that she had emotional scars from the experience that made her unable to return to school after she completed her sentence. "I am unable to deal with large groups of people, and I am now being homeschooled," she said. Judge John Cleland of the state Superior Court, chairman of the commission, said the juveniles' testimony would "serve as a reminder to us that court policies and court procedures have real-life consequences for people. Good and bad." The child defendants were among about 6,000 young people whose convictions were overturned in October by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on grounds they did not get a fair hearing in Ciavarella's court. Earlier in the day, witnesses painted a picture of a legal establishment bending to the iron will of Ciavarella. "We trusted the judge," said Thomas Killino, a former assistant district attorney when asked why he did not challenge many of Ciavarella's actions, including illegally obtaining forms from young defendants waiving their right to a lawyer. Much of the questioning centered on why prosecutors, probation officers, and public defenders did not challenge Ciavarella's failure to explain to defendants the consequences of waiving their right to counsel and of pleading guilty. This process, called a colloquy, is required by state court rules. "Did it ever bother you that there was no colloquy?" asked George D. Mosee, head of the juvenile division of the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. "It was a fast-paced environment," Killino replied. "This was the established practice of the court. Everyone went along with it." Mosee, who oversees the prosecution of about 10,000 juveniles a year, added: "I've never prosecuted a child who didn't have an attorney. How do you handle it?" Killino said he was told that the defendants had signed written waivers outside the courtroom and that he believed those overrode the requirement for a colloquy in open court to determine that the juveniles understood that they had a right to an attorney. When Killino confirmed estimates that more than half the child defendants who appeared before Ciavarella did not have attorneys, Judge Dwayne D. Woodruff asked him if he had ever read the juvenile law that required them to have counsel. Killino said he had read parts of the law but not the entire law. Later, Woodruff said he had heard about 4,000 juvenile cases and every defendant had a lawyer. Judge John C. Uhler asked Killino if there were instances when defendants without lawyers were sentenced without ever speaking in their own defense. Killino said there were, and that in those cases Ciavarella would move right on to sentencing in a matter of minutes. Later, Uhler said that in his 20 years as a juvenile court judge, no defendant had ever appeared before him without an attorney. Killino testified that he and other prosecutors did not have enough information available to them to determine whether a sentence from Ciavarella was unduly harsh. "Didn't you want to know?" demanded Jason D. Legg, a commission member who is a prosecutor from rural Susquehanna County. "It was not part of our purview," said Killino. Later, Legg said he prosecutes hundreds of juveniles every year and they always have legal representation.

November 23, 2009 Claims Journal
Two former county judges accused of taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send juveniles to private detention facilities are partially immune from civil lawsuits, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Friday. The decision by U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo could make it harder for the people suing former Luzerne County judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. to collect damages. Caputo said Ciavarella will avoid civil consequences for "the vast majority'' of his conduct, because much of it occurred inside a courtroom, such as determination of delinquency and sentencing. He said Conahan largely would not be immune, because his alleged actions were more administrative in nature, such as signing a placement agreement with the detention centers. The decisions have no bearing on the federal criminal charges that Ciavarella and Conahan are currently facing in what has become known as the kids-for-cash scandal. Marsha Levick, a lawyer with the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, a co-counsel for plaintiffs in the case, said Friday she did not consider the ruling to be a major setback. There are more than 400 named plaintiffs in the case, and lawyers are seeking class-action status. "I think what's important is the judges remained in the litigation,'' Levick said. "Conahan is extremely vulnerable because most of what Conahan did with respect to the plaintiffs' allegations, it was all outside the courtroom.''

November 11, 2009 Philadelphia Inquirer
To the frequent frustration and occasional exasperation of a special panel investigating judicial corruption in Luzerne County, yesterday's testimony gave off the steady and unmistakable sound of the buck being passed. Phrases like "I was not aware," "Yes, but," and "It was not my responsibility" wafted from the witness chair as officials who oversee the county's courts denied knowing that thousands of adolescents were being locked away, often for petty offenses, after hearings in which they had been effectively denied lawyers. When Luzerne County District Attorney Jacqueline Musto Carroll challenged the 11 members of the state-appointed Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice to "tell me what you do when you have a judge who is a crook," she was promptly interrupted by the questioner-in-chief. "You report him," interjected John M. Cleland, the commission chairman and a judge on the state Superior Court. Cleland and his fellow panelists have until May 31 to discover how two former judges, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, managed to get away with what federal prosecutors say was a five-year, $2.8 million kickback conspiracy, a scheme that one juvenile-justice advocacy group called "one of the largest and most serious violations of children's rights in the history of the American legal system." Musto Carroll said she was unaware that more than half the teenagers whose cases came before Ciavarella did not have legal representation. She said the judge's "zero-tolerance" policy was a result of the 1999 Columbine High School shootings. "I think Judge Ciavarella was probably doing what he thought he ought to do," the district attorney testified. "I have heard in a number of cases, what he did actually straightened out kids' lives. Some went on to get scholarships and college educations." That brought an angry response from panel member Robert L. Listenbee, head of the juvenile unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. "Ms. Carroll, I remind that you and I as attorneys took an oath to uphold the Constitution. There were children here whose basic constitutional rights were being violated every day. Let's keep that in mind." Lawyer Kenneth J. Horoho Jr., a commissioner from Pittsburgh, offered a litany of questions about Musto Carroll's having not known or questioned Ciavarella's methods. Horoho concluded, "The bottom line is that 'zero tolerance' went unchallenged by your office." "Don't worry about Luzerne County," Musto Carroll assured the commission. "As long as I'm here, it's in good hands." Yesterday's first witness was David W. Lupas, Musto Carroll's predecessor as district attorney and now a county judge, who said that none of his assistants ever brought concerns about Ciavarella's conduct to his attention. Panel member Dwayne D. Woodruff - the head juvenile judge in Allegheny County, and a former Pittsburgh Steelers safety - noted that 54 percent of the children brought before Ciavarella did not have lawyers. "Would you expect your assistant D.A.s to come to you with that?" Woodruff asked. "No one came to me," Lupas said. Cleland interjected, "I could understand a case here and a case there. But 6,000 cases? This went on for years, and it was a massive deprivation of rights. No assistant D.A., no public defender, no private lawyer ever raised a question? That's hard to believe." Basil G. Russin, who has been chief public defender in Luzerne County since 1980, said that even if he had known the extent of Ciavarella's denial of rights to juvenile defendants, he would not have had many options. "We don't have the time or the money to look into things very deeply. We just do the best we can," he said. Besides, Russin said, the judges' get-tough stance against juvenile misbehavior had wide public support. "Everybody loved it. The schools loved it because they got rid of every problem kid. The parents loved it because there were kids they couldn't control. The cops loved it because it got kids off the streets, and the D.A. loved it because they were getting convictions." In earlier testimony, Sandra Brulo, a former Luzerne County probation official, said she had raised concerns about Ciavarella with her boss, but did not hear back. "Don't you think you should have taken it further when you didn't get any satisfaction from your supervisor?" asked Ronald P. Williams, a panel member from nearby Wyoming County, raising his arms in amazement. "I took it to my boss," Brulo replied. "That's as far as I thought I should go." She testified that probation officers, not attorneys, asked young defendants to sign forms just before they entered Ciavarella's courtroom that waived their right to a lawyer. Commissioner George D. Mosee, a deputy Philadelphia district attorney, asked Brulo if this was a proper role for probation officers. "We did what the judge instructed us to do," she said. "Even when their very liberty was at stake?" Mosee asked. Brulo did not answer. Joseph Massa, senior counsel for the state Judicial Conduct Board, which investigates complaints against judges, told the panel that his agency had acted properly more than two years ago when it referred allegations it received against Ciavarella and Conahan to federal prosecutors. By not acting on its own, the board allowed the jurists to stay on the bench until they resigned this year. The judges stepped down after a federal grand jury indicted them on racketeering, bribery and fraud charges. "To allege the [Judicial Conduct Board] members put their heads in the proverbial sand while juveniles in this county were sent to the hoosegow is a disgrace," Massa told the panel. Ciavarella is accused of taking bribes from operators of two for-profit detention centers in return for sending children to the centers. Conahan is accused of securing lucrative contracts for the private jails, which the state paid according to the numbers of inmates they housed. Once the scheme was set up, prosecutors say, Ciavarella guaranteed that the jails were filled with a steady stream of juvenile offenders. Ciavarella and Conahan are awaiting trial. They initially pleaded guilty but withdrew their pleas after a federal judge rejected the terms of their plea agreements.

October 29, 2009 AP
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed thousands of juvenile convictions issued by a judge charged in a corruption scandal, saying that none of the young offenders got a fair hearing. The high court on Thursday threw out more than five years' worth of juvenile cases heard by disgraced former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella, who is charged with accepting millions of dollars in kickbacks to send youths to private detention centers. The Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, which represents some of the youths, said the court's order covers as many as 6,500 cases. The justices barred any possibility of retrial in all but a fraction of them. "This is exactly the relief these kids needed," said Marsha Levick, the center's legal director. "It's the most serious judicial corruption scandal in our history and the court took an extraordinary step in addressing it." Children routinely appeared in front of Ciavarella without lawyers for hearings that lasted only a few minutes. Ciavarella also failed to question young defendants to make sure they fully understood the consequences of waiving counsel and pleading guilty, showing "complete disregard for the constitutional rights of the juveniles," the Supreme Court said. After being found delinquent, the youths were often shackled and taken to private jails whose owner was paying bribes to the judge. Federal prosecutors have said that Ciavarella and another Luzerne County judge, Michael Conahan, took a total of $2.8 million in payoffs. "Ciavarella's admission that he received these payments, and that he failed to disclose his financial interests arising from the development of the juvenile facilities, thoroughly undermines the integrity of all juvenile proceedings before Ciavarella," the Supreme Court said.

October 28, 2009 The Citizens Voice
Former Judge Mark A. Ciavarella said little during a hearing today on his request to be dismissed from a series of civil lawsuits filed in the aftermath of the Luzerne County kids-for-cash scandal. Ciavarella, who is representing himself, declined to make a formal argument before U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo, instead deferring to a brief he filed asking for dismissal on grounds of judicial immunity. Ciavarella's co-defendant, former Judge Michael T. Conahan, did not attend the hearing, despite previously asking to be dismissed from the case. Both former judges have said their alleged conduct in the kids-for-cash scheme, including the closure of a county juvenile detention facility and the contracting with a private jail, were within the bounds of their duties as judges and courthouse administrators. Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the lawsuits, the hundreds of juveniles sentenced by Ciavarella between 2003 and May 2008, argued Ciavarella and Conahan's conduct went beyond the scope of normal court business. Conahan acted as a political lobbyist when he forced the closure of the county facility and pressured county commissioners to approve a lucrative lease with the private facility, the plaintiffs' attorneys said. Ciavarella acted as a dictator on the bench, running a "star chamber" that left juveniles' constitutional rights in tatters, the attorneys said. "Ciavarella made up the rules on his own," Marsha Levick, the legal director of the non-profit Juvenile Law Center, said. "He may as well have set up the courtroom in his garage and put on the black robe." Levick acknowledged the difficulty of clearing the hurdle of judicial immunity, which was designed to give judges freedom to make rulings without fear of legal retribution. "There is no question we are testing the bounds of established legal principles," Levick said. "But we have never seen anything like this."

October 25, 2009 Philadelphia Enquirer
In October 2005, a 16-year-old boy appeared in Luzerne County Court to answer charges that he had shot out several windows in a city home with a BB gun. The boy had never been in trouble with police before, and even the homeowner asked the judge to be lenient, according to a federal lawsuit. Nevertheless, Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, after repeatedly silencing the boy's court-appointed attorney, ignored the homeowner's request and in a matter of minutes banged his gavel and said, "Adjudicated delinquent!" The boy was handcuffed, shackled, and taken in a van about 50 miles to a juvenile "boot camp" for the next three months, the complaint states. The boy's brief hearing in dark-paneled Courtroom 4 was closed to the public, but it was witnessed by an assistant district attorney, the public defender, other lawyers, probation officials, bailiffs, clerks, and other court staff, according to the suit, filed by the Juvenile Law Center of Philadelphia. Now the monumental task facing a special 11-member commission investigating what one advocacy group called "one of the largest and most serious violations of children's rights in the history of the American legal system" is to determine how something like that could happen, how it can be prevented - and why no one spoke up. State Superior Court Judge John M. Cleland, chairman of the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, said the goal is to identify "those who knew but failed to speak" and "those who saw but failed to act." While it cannot indict or prosecute, the commission is empowered to investigate and recommend legislation, rules, and other procedural changes. Ciavarella is accused of taking bribes from private prison operators for every child he sent to two private juvenile detention centers. Also accused is fellow Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan, who secured lucrative contracts for the private jails, which were paid by the state according to their number of inmates. Last month, Conahan and Ciavarella pleaded not guilty to federal racketeering charges. They had agreed to plead guilty in February to lesser charges that called for 87-month prison sentences, far below federal guidelines. But a federal judge rejected the deal and said the two judges had not fully accepted responsibility. They switched their pleas to not guilty, and prosecutors secured a 48-count indictment that includes racketeering, bribery, and extortion charges. Ciavarella presided over juvenile court in Luzerne County between 2003 and 2007. According to the Juvenile Law Center, children were summarily dispatched to incarceration after the briefest of hearings, often without legal representation. Parents who had accompanied their children to court and expected to return home with them instead left, stunned and bewildered, without them. The Juvenile Law Center alleges that something clearly was unusual about Ciavarella's courtroom. To wit: A 15-year-old boy was sent away for three months for pushing a classmate into a locker. A 15-year-old girl was jailed for shoplifting a $4 jar of nutmeg. A 13-year-old girl went before Ciavarella for fighting on a school bus. The judge asked why she had done it. Rather than answer, the girl started crying. The lawsuit states that Ciavarella sent her away for three months for not answering his questions. Records and interviews paint a picture of a kangaroo court. Yet no one involved, directly or indirectly, spoke up. Lawyers, elected officials, police, school administrators, teachers, probation officers, prosecutors, and civil servants charged with protecting children all remained silent. Ciavarella guaranteed that the jails were filled with a steady stream of juvenile offenders. The prosecutors say the two judges received kickbacks totaling $2.6 million from the former owner of two detention facilities and their developer. There were bright red flags all over the city well before the judges were charged in January. The Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader published articles in 2004 raising serious and disturbing concerns about juvenile cases. Robert Schwartz, the Juvenile Law Center's executive director, said in an interview that detention-center workers had been told in advance - before the hearings in Ciavarella's courtroom - how many new child inmates to expect at the end of each day. For the commission, which has the power to subpoena witnesses, there is no shortage of places to look. The other judges. Judge Chester B. Muroski, who succeeded Ciavarella as president judge this year, said he and his colleagues on the bench had been completely shielded from the proceedings in juvenile court, first by Conahan and later by Ciavarella when they served as president judge. He said the court seldom met as a unit to discuss court matters. In 2006, when he began to suspect kickbacks, he contacted the FBI. The court staff. Muroski said Conahan and Ciavarella had packed the courthouse with relatives. Conahan's cousin was the court administrator, a brother-in-law was jury management supervisor, and another brother-in-law was paid $1.1 million in public funds for court-ordered psychological evaluations. According to Muroski, other court-related workers knew they were "there at Conahan's pleasure." "When I bucked them in 2005, they reassigned me," he added. "That was a message to everyone: Keep your mouth shut." According to the Juvenile Law Center, Ciavarella routinely pressured probation officers to recommend detention even when it was not appropriate. Often probation officers advised juvenile defendants to appear before Ciavarella without legal counsel. Sometimes, the center said, he pressured them to change their more lenient recommendations to detention. The center cited the case of a 14-year-old boy arrested for stealing loose change from unlocked cars. Police told his mother that he would receive probation because it was a minor offense. Just before entering Ciavarella's courtroom, his mother was asked to sign a waiver of counsel. She said she wanted her son to have a lawyer, but could not afford to pay one. He appeared before Ciavarella without counsel - and after a three-minute hearing was sent to a detention center for a year. The county commissioners. To further the kickback scheme, the center said, Conahan shut down Luzerne County's juvenile detention facility in 2002, contending it was unsafe. Then he persuaded the county commissioners to enter a 20-year, $58 million agreement with PA Child Care L.L.C. to lease the new private facility. Soon Ciavarella was filling the prison beds with delinquents, allegedly in exchange for kickbacks. "Conahan had no power to close the center like that," said Ronald P. Williams, a member of the interbranch commission and a former commissioner in nearby Wyoming County. "Why did the commissioners allow him to get away with it?" The schools. Ciavarella's "zero tolerance" policy was warmly embraced by school administrators, teachers unions, and many teachers, Muroski and Williams said. "Everybody loved him," said Muroski. "He was putting bad kids away. That's how it was perceived." Indeed, even six months after the scandal became public, two administrators at the Wilkes-Barre Area Vocational Technical School wrote a letter to the editor of the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader praising Ciavarella. "His dedication to working with our students created a bond of trust and confidence among him, the students and the staff," the administrators wrote. The state court system. The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board, which is charged with investigating and prosecuting complaints of wrongdoing by judges, received an anonymous complaint about Conahan in 2006. However, the board has strict confidentiality rules, and it has refused to say whether it followed up on these allegations. The interbranch commission had hoped to hear testimony from the board at its first hearing two weeks ago, but the appearance by a board representative was canceled pending resolution of the confidentiality issue. Ciavarella's tough stance with juveniles had widespread public support. In 2006, the Wilkes-Barre Friendly Sons of St. Patrick named Ciavarella its man of the year. This prompted U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski (D., Pa.) to read a congratulation into the Congressional Record. The commission, which must complete its work by May 31, plans to hold two days of hearings in Wilkes-Barre next month. Among the scheduled witnesses is Judge Arthur E. Grim, a special master appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review about 6,000 juvenile cases handled by Ciavarella. Because of the allegations of wrongdoing, the state Supreme Court has already overturned hundreds of convictions on the ground that Ciavarella violated the constitutional rights of the defendants.

October 15, 2009 Philadelphia Inquirer
The question hung over the hearing like a toxic cloud all day long: How could two judges in Wilkes-Barre conspire over several years to deprive hundreds of children of their most basic constitutional rights and send them off in shackles to detention centers in which they had personal financial interests? "There is no precedent that provides guidance about how to proceed with anything we are being asked to do," said Judge John M. Cleland of the state Superior Court, chairman of the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice. The 11-member commission has been established to investigate what Cleland called "the breathtaking collapse of the juvenile justice system in Luzerne County." It includes judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and victims' advocates. They sat grim-faced and listened to the first day of testimony on the extraordinary case of two former Luzerne County judges - Mark A. Ciavarella and Michael T. Conahan - who are accused of taking $2.6 million in bribes from private prison operators over a period of seven years for sending young offenders to two private juvenile detention centers. Under the "cash-for-kids" scheme, prosecutors say, the judges conspired to deprive young defendants of their right to counsel, ordered them into detention even when probation officers didn't recommend it, pressured probation officials to change their recommendations, and institutionalized them for offenses as minor as fighting with other students in school. The main witness was Judge Chester B. Muroski, who took over as president judge in Luzerne County after the scandal broke. Muroski said that in 2005 he was in charge of the court's juvenile dependency function and complained because his unit was underfunded by $800,000 while Ciavarella's juvenile delinquency court was $2 million over budget. He said that a few days later Conahan transferred him to criminal court even though he had not handled a criminal case since 1979. But several commission members pressed Muroski on why he and other Luzerne County Court judges had not done more to stop Conahan and Ciavarella. "We knew there was something not right," he said. "But the scheme was so contrived and had so many labyrinths that at first we didn't know money was involved. Our main concern was the high incarceration rate." Cleland said the commission would seek to identify "all of those involved who, whether by action, inaction, or silence, whether by willful choice or benign ignorance, engaged in an assault on the fairness and impartiality of our legal system." In addition to the other judges, the commission wants to know the roles of prosecutors, public defenders, defense attorneys, police, school administrators, probation officers, court staff, county commissioners, and state agencies with responsibilities for juveniles. To these, Muroski added another layer of responsibility - the public. "A lot of people admired what these judges were doing," he said. "Many people knew how quick these proceedings were, but they supported them." Muroski said school administrators, teachers, and police supported and applauded the judges' efforts to get disruptive youths out of the classroom and off the streets. And he said there was nepotism in the courtroom itself that provided a "protective shield" for Conahan and Ciavarella. Muroski noted that between 2001 and 2007, Dr. Frank Vita, Conahan's brother-in-law, was paid $1.1 million in public funds for court-ordered psychological evaluations - and many of these reports had evaluation references that were copied and pasted from other reports. Muroski said that he and the other judges were kept in the dark about juvenile court proceedings by Ciavarella and Conahan, and that the court seldom met as a unit to discuss problems. "What you had was a perfect storm for a court gone rogue - no meetings, no information, and public support." State Rep. Todd Eachus (D., Luzerne) testified that in 2006, the state Public Welfare Department informed state legislators from the Wilkes-Barre area that there was an inordinate amount of incarceration of juveniles in Luzerne County, "but they said they would handle it." Eachus, a cosponsor of the bill that created the commission, said Conahan and Ciavarella were responsible for "one of the darkest chapters in Pennsylvania history." State Sen. Lisa Baker (R., Luzerne), the bill's other principal sponsor, cited an "atmosphere of intimidation that permeated the courtroom and the courthouse." Then she asked: "Do we really want a commonwealth where we rigorously track every dollar that moves through casinos, but where we casually lose track of the constitutional rights of thousands of kids?" There was considerable discussion on whether the State Judicial Conduct Board, which is charged with investigating and prosecuting complaints against judges, had received complaints about the two judges. Muroski said he believed a complaint had been filed in 2005, but he could not confirm this. Muroski said Conahan arbitrarily, without consulting the other judges, shut down a county juvenile detention center in 2002 on grounds it was substandard, paving the way for their young offenders to be sent to the favored private center. This prompted Judge John C. Uhler of York County, one of the 11 commission members, to ask, "Did you or your colleagues ever challenge the closing of this center?" "We were astonished that he did this, but what could we do?" Muroski replied. "The commissioners went along. They could have stopped it." The expressions on the commission members' faces went from anger to disbelief to shock as the testimony unfolded. The plan is to hold as many hearings as necessary, including two days of sessions next month in Wilkes-Barre. The scandal led the state Supreme Court to overturn hundreds of convictions on the ground that Ciavarella violated the constitutional rights of youths who appeared in his courtroom without lawyers for hearings that lasted just a few minutes. More convictions are under review. Last month Conahan and Ciavarella pleaded not guilty to federal racketeering charges growing out of the scheme. They had agreed to plead guilty in February to lesser charges that called for 87-month prison sentences, far below federal guidelines. But a federal judge rejected the deal and said the two judges had not fully accepted responsibility for the crimes. They switched their pleas to not guilty, and prosecutors secured a 48-count indictment that includes racketeering, bribery, and extortion charges.

September 10, 2009 Times-Leader
A federal grand jury filed a 48-count indictment Wednesday against Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, charging the former Luzerne County judges with racketeering, extortion, bribery, money laundering, fraud and tax violations. The indictment, issued by a grand jury in Dauphin County, alleges Conahan and Ciavarella received millions of dollars in illegal payments in connection with improper actions they took to facilitate the construction and operation of the PA and Western PA Child Care juvenile detention centers, according to a press release issued by U.S. Attorney Dennis Pfannenschmidt. In addition to the charges, prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of at least $2.8 million they allege is the proceeds of criminal activity, the release said. Pfannenschmidt issued the press release at around 5 p.m. Wednesday. The document provided only a vague description of the charges. It did not provide any further details of the former judges’ conduct. A copy of the indictment could not be obtained Wednesday as it was not publicly filed with the federal court’s electronic system. Pfannenschmidt did not respond to a request to provide a paper copy of the indictment. He also declined to comment further on the case. Speculation that Conahan and Ciavarella would be indicted has been rampant since a plea deal the men reached with federal prosecutors fell apart last month. The former judges pleaded guilty in February to charges of honest services fraud and tax evasion under plea agreement that called for them to serve 87 months in prison. They withdrew the plea on Aug. 24 after U.S. District Judge Edwin Kosik rejected terms of the agreement, saying the men had not adequately demonstrated they accepted responsibility for their conduct. Ciavarella’s attorney, Al Flora, and Conahan’s attorney, Philip Gelso, declined comment on the indictment. Flora said he expects Ciavarella and Conahan will next appear before a federal magistrate judge for arraignment on the charges. He did not know when that arraignment would take place. The charges contained in the indictment are far more serious and carry significantly stiffer sentences than what Conahan and Ciavarella faced under the plea deal, according to Douglas McNabb, a Washington, D.C., defense attorney who specializes in federal law. “It is a very serious set of charges that could bring substantial jail time if they are convicted on all counts,” McNabb said. For instance, McNabb said the money laundering and fraud charges alone each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Although the indictment was not available, information contained in a complaint filed against Conahan and Ciavarella in January and documents filed in connection with charges against two other defendants involved in the scheme provide some insight into the conduct that likely was the basis of the indictment. The extortion charge likely refers to attorney Robert Powell, who co-owned the PA and Western PA Child Care Centers. Powell alleges Ciavarella demanded he pay kickbacks totaling $772,500 to compensate the judges for decisions they made that benefited the two juvenile centers. Those decisions included Conahan’s closure in 2002 of the county-run juvenile facility. Prosecutors allege Ciavarella, the county’s long-time juvenile judge, ensured a high occupancy rate at the centers by incarcerating youths even when probation department officials recommended against detention. Powell pleaded guilty in July to failing to report a felony and being an accessory after the fact to tax evasion for his role in the scheme. In addition to the money he paid, prosecutors allege Powell helped funnel approximately $2 million that was paid to the judges by Robert Mericle, the contractor who built the two centers. That funneling of money is likely the basis of the money laundering charge contained in the indictment. Money laundering involves a scheme to disguise the source of illegally obtained income to make it appear as though the money was legitimately earned. According to the initial complaint filed against Conahan and Ciavarella, Powell disguised the money he paid the judges by listing it as rental payments for a Florida condominium owned by the judges’ wives. Prosecutors also alleged the part of the money Mericle paid was funneled through Vision Holdings, a company Powell owned. It was not clear Wednesday whether the money Mericle paid could be considered as part of the money laundering charge. Prosecutors do not contend the payment of the money was illegal, which is a necessary element of money laundering. Mericle pleaded guilty last week to failing to report a felony. Prosecutors say Mericle knew that Ciavarella had not reported the money Mericle paid him on his income tax returns, but failed to disclose that information to federal authorities. At Mericle’s plea hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod said the $2 million Mericle paid was a “finder’s fee” to reward Ciavarella for introducing Mericle to Powell. Zubrod said the payment of the fee itself is a standard practice in real estate and is not illegal. The illegality came when Mericle failed to reveal that information to a grand jury and federal prosecutors when questioned about it.

August 1, 2009 Philadelphia Inquirer
In a major reversal, a federal judge rejected plea agreements yesterday for two disgraced former Luzerne County Court judges accused of taking kickbacks for sending juveniles to for-profit detention centers. U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik issued a five-page order saying Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan had taken actions or made public statements since their February guilty pleas that demonstrated that they had not accepted responsibility for their crimes. The order opened the door for the defendants to withdraw their guilty pleas and go to trial, renegotiate their plea deals, or throw themselves on the mercy of the court, said Daniel Richman, a law professor at Columbia University and a former federal prosecutor. For the third option, however, "this judge has demonstrated that there might not be that much mercy involved," Richman said. The agreements, in exchange for pleading guilty to corruption and tax fraud, had been criticized as too lenient. Both defendants were facing 87 months - less than 71/2 years - in prison, which was "well below the sentencing guidelines for the charged offenses," Kosik wrote. Ciavarella and Conahan originally faced maximum sentences of 25 years each and substantial fines, Kosik wrote. The plea deals were binding, meaning the judge did not have the discretion to impose his own sentence. "This is a relatively rare instance," Richman said, "where a judge is given a take-it-or-leave-it choice on sentencing, and the judge chose to leave it." Ciavarella and Conahan are accused of collecting a total of $2.6 million over seven years from a former owner of two for-profit detention centers - one in Luzerne County and the other in Butler County - and their developer. The ex-judges are accused of helping the detention centers obtain $58 million in contracts, suppressing a critical audit of one of the centers, and closing a competing county-run detention center. "The matter is under review with our client and in consult with the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Al Flora Jr., Ciavarella's lawyer. Conahan and his lawyer could not be reached for comment. "We are reviewing the court's order to determine the appropriate course of action in this case in light of the court's ruling," Martin C. Carlson, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, said in a statement. Kosik wrote that in the presentence report, Conahan "refused to discuss the motivation behind his conduct, attempted to obstruct and impede justice, and failed to clearly demonstrate affirmative acceptance of responsibility." Ciavarella, Kosik wrote, "continues to deny what he terms 'quid pro quo,' his receipt of money as a finder's fee." Kosik said Ciavarella's denials "are self-serving and abundantly contradicted by the evidence." In a brief interview with the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice on Monday, Ciavarella took issue with the way the media have described him. "You people said I took bribes, that I committed extortion, that I traded kids for cash, that I had a quid pro quo," Ciavarella told the newspaper. "Where in my guilty plea does it say that?" Marsha Levick, chief counsel for the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, which is seeking to overturn rulings against juveniles the ex-judges sent away and who has filed civil-rights lawsuits on the youngsters' behalf, said she did not anticipate Kosik's rejection of the plea deals. Levick said the order reflected Kosik's "concern about the magnitude of what happened in Luzerne County and the importance of restoring public confidence in the justice system." As for the defendants, "I think it's pretty bad news for them," Levick said. In his order, Kosik paraphrased what has been said about judges, that "integrity is their lot and proper virtue, the landmark, and he that removes it corrupts the fountain." "In this case, the fountain from which the public drinks is confidence in the judicial system, a fountain which may be corrupted for a time well after this case."

July 28, 2009 American Free Press
Lawyers who argue that thousands of juveniles were sentenced to prison terms by corrupt judges are petitioning a US federal court in Pennsylvania to preserve the case record so they can sue for damages. Attorneys are seeking to stop the destruction of files related to the cases of an unknown number of juveniles who received prison sentences for minor offenses from two judges who were later found to have accepted bribes from private prison companies. The petition before a federal judge in Scranton, Pennsylvania came after the state's Supreme Court in March agreed to expunge the youths' criminal records, but also ordered the destruction of their files. Without at least one copy of the relevant files, attorney Lourdes Rosado told AFP, the juveniles will be unable to pursue a civil case seeking damages. "The federal court needs that information in order to decide whether or not that claim is valuable and whether or not the children are entitled to relief," said Rosado, associate director of the Juvenile Law Center, a non-profit group which advocates for children's rights. After months of procedural battles, the state Supreme Court agreed last week to preserve under seal a copy of documents related to 400 juveniles who have so far been identified as victims and have filed lawsuits. But, according to Rosado, the total number of victims "could be up to 6,500" and attorneys are now calling for a class action lawsuit to be certified for all the children who appeared before the judges between 2003 and 2008. Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania admitted last February to having accepted 2.6 million dollars from private prisons in exchange for giving juveniles sentences that were disproportionate to their offenses. Ciavarella and Conahan have filed a petition seeking the dismissal of lawsuits seeking damages, citing "the doctrine of judicial immunity." Among those sentenced by the judges was a young man who received nine months for having stolen a jar of nutmeg worth four dollars, and another juvenile who was sentenced to three months for stealing some change from a car.

July 24, 2009 The Morning Call
The sense of putrefaction in everything the Pennsylvania Supreme Court touches keeps growing. Even if this court did not play a key role in other scandals -- including the illegal pay grab for judges and other politicians, and the illegal enactment of slot machine casino legislation -- its actions in the Luzerne County Court corruption case would illustrate just how wretched it is. Most recently, we learned that the Supremes connived to help a fellow robe wearer, former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella, escape accountability in lawsuits that threaten to put a dent in the millions of dollars in payoffs he took. (Ciavarella and another judge pleaded guilty in federal court in a case that involved the placement of juveniles -- on the flimsiest of evidence and in return for big payoffs -- in a commercial detention facility run by the son of a former Supreme.) On Wednesday, the front page had an Associated Press story saying the current Supremes refused to preserve juvenile records deemed essential for the lawsuits. That story noted a ''Hobson's choice'' offered by the court. It would preserve the records of any juvenile who requested it, but that would mean the juvenile's ''adjudication'' (in essence, a finding of guilty by Ciavarella the crook) would be reinstated. We'll let you smart alecks preserve the documents necessary for you to sue our kindred spirit, the Supreme seemed to be saying, but maybe we'll throw you back in juvie jail for trying to exercise that right. On Thursday, a smaller AP story said the Supremes would allow records to be preserved, but only for juveniles who have already filed lawsuits against Ciavarella. Records showing how Ciavarella victimized thousands of other juveniles, who might sue if they can get the documentation to prove their claims, will not be protected. It was not clear if the Hobson's choice was still in place. Ciavarella and fellow Judge Michael Cannon began their corrupt jurisprudence in 2003, taking money to confine juveniles in a private jail owned by Gregory Zappala, the son of former Supreme Stephen Zappala Sr. By 2007, the Pennsylvania Juvenile Law Center found a pattern of children being denied their rights in Luzerne County. In April 2008, the JLC petitioned the Supremes to intercede. The Supremes trashed the petition without explanation. In this climate, similar to the one in Mississippi involving civil rights cases a half century ago, there was no way those two Luzerne judges were going to be held accountable in any state court. (All state courts are regulated by the Supremes.) When the two judges were finally prosecuted in federal court in January, the state Supremes were forced to act. They appointed a master, retired Berks County Judge Arthur Grim, to investigate. By March, the Supremes had to accept Grim's recommendation to vacate the obviously bogus Luzerne County juvenile adjudications. In May, the Supremes issued a notice saying the juvenile victims could get copies of their records, but the JLC observed it was ''replete'' with so much legalese that parents could never understand it, and it also gave them only a few weeks to act. The JLC asked the Supremes for a clarification the families could understand. They refused, again with no explanation. A few days later, however, Master Grim did issue an order to provide for such a clarification. That move was killed by the Supremes the very next day. When the JLC sought a federal court order to protect the records, the state Supremes sent a letter to the federal court opposing it, and kept that letter secret from the JLC or any of the parents. The feds went along with the Supremes, citing ''federalism'' prerogatives that serve to keep systems independent of each other. A JLC motion then observed that the Supremes delivered a threat. ''The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in denying requests for preservation of a single copy of juveniles' records for the sole purpose of federal litigation, has explained that it will not permit juveniles' adjudications to be vacated ... if they request a copy of their records to prevent their destruction,'' the JLC motion says. In other words, if you try to preserve the proof so you can sue our fellow robe wearer for some of the loot he took in illegal payoffs, we may arrange for you to do it from a cell in a juvenile detention center. All Pennsylvanians, not just the families of Luzerne County, need to start looking at what happened here -- and they need to start sniffing at the smell of putrefaction -- from a very personal viewpoint. If innocent, or relatively innocent, children in one county can be incarcerated just so a couple of judges can collect millions, it can happen anywhere. It can happen to your children, and you can expect no help from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In fact, you can expect the opposite. I keep wondering what it will take for people to get angry enough to demand that their elected officials make some changes.

February 26, 2009 New York Times
More than 70 juveniles and their families filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday against two former judges who pleaded guilty this month in a scheme that involved their taking kickbacks to put young offenders in privately run detention centers. The suit contends that before resigning last year, the judges “used kids as commodities that could be traded for cash,” placing an “indelible stain” on the juvenile justice system of Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania. The suit, filed in the Federal District Court in Scranton by the Juvenile Law Center, seeks to have all profits that the detention centers earned from the scheme placed in a fund that would compensate the youths for their emotional distress. In an earlier filing, the law center, based in Philadelphia, asked the State Supreme Court to clear the records of all juveniles who appeared before the judges, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan. The suit brought Thursday is the third filed on behalf of juvenile offenders. The two others, one of which also seeks class-action status, were filed by private lawyers. Mr. Ciavarella and Mr. Conahan pleaded guilty on Feb. 12 to federal charges of wire and income-tax fraud for having taken more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to the two privately operated centers, run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care. “Judge Ciavarella’s placement of so many children in juvenile facilities without regard for their underlying charges suggests a Procrustean scheme that violated one of the core principles of the juvenile justice system — the right to individualized treatment and rehabilitation,” Lourdes M. Rosado, associate director of the Juvenile Law Center, said in a statement. Lawyers for the two former judges declined to comment on the suit. As for the criminal investigation of court personnel, two additional people have already been charged, and federal officials say they may soon charge others involved in the scheme.

February 19, 2009 Standard-Speaker
A witness will testify that one or both of the disgraced Luzerne County judges who’ve pleaded guilty to accepting millions in kickbacks have “direct connections” to jailed mobster William “Big Billy” D’Elia, according to a petition to be filed today in the state Supreme Court by lawyers for the owners of the Standard-Speaker. The petition asks the court to vacate a $3.5 million defamation verdict issued by suspended Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. in June 2006 against The Scranton Times L.P., a related company called The Times Partners and former Citizens’ Voice reporter Edward Lewis. Following a non-jury trial, Ciavarella ruled in favor of West Pittston businessman Thomas A. Joseph, who claimed he was defamed in a series of newspaper stories in 2001 following federal raids at Joseph’s business and homes owned by Joseph, D’Elia and others. In its petition, Scranton Times L.P. alleges that then-President Judge Michael T. Conahan and his first cousin, Court Administrator William T. Sharkey Sr. “steered” the case into Ciavarella’s courtroom, ignoring the usual practice in which cases were assigned on a rotating basis. Ciavarella issued one-sided rulings and ignored evidence that Joseph and D’Elia were close associates who were suspected of money laundering, the petition says. D’Elia was arrested on money laundering charges in May 2006, a month before the trial. Joseph was never charged. In his opinion, Ciavarella wrote “there was no credible evidence presented at trial linking the two men beyond being social acquaintances.” In the past week, Conahan and Ciavarella have pleaded guilty to accepting $2.6 million in kickbacks from a juvenile detention owner and contractor and Sharkey has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $70,000 from the county. “The unusual handling of judicial assignments in Joseph v. Scranton Times, the scope and subject of newspaper articles in question, and a cascade of recent revelations regarding corruption in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas strongly suggest the $3.5 million non-jury verdict was rigged …” the petition says. “Petitioners have identified a potential witness who, on reliable information and to Petitioners’ belief, would testify concerning direct connections between D’Elia and Judge Conahan and/or Judge Ciavarella.” The petition asks the court to allow Scranton Times L.P. to gather evidence that it believes will reveal additional evidence of ties between D’Elia and one or both of the judges. Kevin C. Abbott, an attorney for Scranton Times L.P., declined comment on the petition or the identity of the unnamed witness. “We’re going to let it speak for itself,” he said. Joseph and his attorneys did not immediately return phone messages. Conahan, Ciavarella and Sharkey could not be reached for comment. Ciavarella’ attorney, Albert Flora Jr., said he hadn’t seen the petition and could not comment. Conahan’s attorney, Philip Gelso, and Sharkey’s attorney, Bruce Miller, did not immediately return phone messages. D’Elia’s attorney, James Swetz, did not immediately return a phone message. D’Elia, 62, the longtime reputed head of the Bufalino crime family is serving nine years in federal prison for money laundering and witness tampering. Scranton Times L.P.’s petition argues that Ciavarella ignored evidence in federal search warrant affidavits presented during the trial that stated D’Elia and Joseph were “involved in and/or have knowledge of various federal criminal violations.” The affidavits quoted confidential sources who alleged Joseph and D’Elia were involved in money laundering. The petition also argues that Sharkey and Conahan worked together to ensure the pre-trial hearings and the actual trial would be assigned to Ciavarella even though Ciavarella and Conahan had assured Scranton Times L.P. that the selection of a trial judge would be made at random by the Court Administrator’s Office. The petition cited a record recently obtained from the Court Administrator’s Office that notes the case was assigned by WTS, which are Sharkey’s initials, at the direction of MTC, which are Conahan’s. Conahan refused a request from Scranton Times L.P. to have a judge from another county hear the case. Scranton Times L.P. unsuccessfully appealed the Ciavarella’s verdict in state Superior Court, which upheld the verdict in September. The petition to be filed today cites numerous aspects of the corruption investigation that led to charges against Conahan, Ciavarella and Sharkey including: A statement from attorneys for Robert J. Powell, a Butler Township attorney whose company allegedly paid some of the kickbacks to the two judges, that claimed Conahan and Ciavarella had extorted payments from him because he was “particularly vulnerable to the pressures that these Judges could bring to bear on him and his clients.” A review of the system for appointing neutral arbitrators in certain insurance cases in Luzerne County Court ordered by President Judge Chester B. Muroski in reaction to media reports of rumors of case-fixing and the possible manipulation of that process by Conahan and Ciavarella. A column in the legal journal The Legal Intelligencer citing rumors that “the investigation of the judges was the result of William D’Elia talking. D’Elia has been in federal custody since October 2006. In July 2007, he appeared before a Dauphin County grand jury that later recommended perjury charges against Dunmore landfill magnate Louis A. DeNaples. DeNaples is accused of hiding his ties to D’Elia and other crime figures when seeking a state casino license. Joseph appeared before the same grand jury in August 2007. Federal prosecutors say D’Elia aided the Dauphin County case against DeNaples and he could win a reduced sentence for continued cooperation. The perjury case against DeNaples has been stalled by his appeals in state Supreme Court. Conahan and DeNaples served together on the board of First National Community Bank in Dunmore, where DeNaples was chairman until federal bank regulators suspended him in reaction to the perjury charges in January 2008. Conahan resigned from the board last month after the charges against him were announced. In the past two weeks the bank has filed legal action to collect $4.15 million from defaulted loans guaranteed by Conahan, Ciavarella, bank board member Michael G. Cestone, Powell and his law partner, Luzerne County Prothonotary Jill A. Moran. The loans were taken by W-Cat Inc., the company behind a failed townhouse development in Wright Township.

January 27, 2009 AP
Two Pennsylvania judges agreed Monday to plead guilty to fraud charges accusing them of taking $2.6 million in kickbacks in return for placing juvenile offenders into certain detention facilities. The plea agreements for Luzerne County President Judge Mark Ciavarella (shiv-ah-REL'-lah) and Senior Judge Michael Conahan (CON'-ah-han) call for sentences of more than seven years in prison. Both judges have agreed to step down from the bench. Authorities say the judges took kickbacks between 2003 and 2007 in exchange for guaranteeing the placement of juvenile offenders into facilities operated by PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care LLC. In some cases, Ciavarella ordered children into detention even when juvenile probation officers did not recommend it. "They sold their oaths of offices to the highest bidders," Deron Roberts, chief of the FBI's Scranton office, said at a news conference Monday. U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson stressed the charges were "the first developments in an ongoing investigation" into public corruption at the courthouse in Wilkes-Barre. PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care have not been charged with wrongdoing. Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll said her office would review cases in which offenders might have been improperly placed into juvenile detention. The Juvenile Law Center, a Philadelphia-based advocacy group, complained last year to the state Supreme Court about the treatment of children in Luzerne County juvenile court, asking for the nullification of decisions in hundreds of cases. Juveniles were often denied their constitutional right to lawyers and were disproportionately sentenced to ill-advised, out-of-home placements, the group said. "We feel that it's a great day for the young people and the youth of this area to see the system really does work, the system really isn't rigged against them," said Jack Van Reeth, whose daughter was ordered detained in 2007 by Ciavarella. "It's just wonderful to see that the scheme of jailing for dollars has come to an end." Jessica Van Reeth, then 16, was sent to a juvenile wilderness camp for three months after admitting that she had possessed a cigarette lighter and pipe in school. She told The Associated Press last year that the items were found in a purse she agreed to hold for a friend. The family, expecting probation, waived her right to a lawyer, unaware of the potential consequences. Jack Van Reeth said Monday his daughter is "extremely happy. She said that this is better than Christmas."

Moshannon Valley Correctional Center
Clearfield, Pennsylvania
GEO Group (bought Cornell)

February 18, 2012 Centre Daily Times
A push by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to cut costs may result in the closing of the beleaguered Moshannon Valley Correctional Center in Clearfield County. The 1,495-bed, low-security prison owned by the Florida-based GEO Group, opened after much controversy in 2006 as the only privately operated prison in Pennsylvania. Last Tuesday, the prison’s union voted against taking a pay cut, a move that will may cost the GEO Group its federal contract, according to Thomas Hearn, vice president of the local chapter of the International Union of Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America, which represents 145 employees at the Decatur Township facility. “The company had some real concerns that if they weren’t able to meet the financial package the federal government wants to see, then they may lose the contract to house the inmates at that prison,” Hearn said. Stan LaFuria, president of the Moshannon Valley Economic Development Partnership, confirmed the GEO Group had asked for concessions from the union. “Our organization has heard about the situation with the GEO Group and their employees,” he said. “We are truly hoping that any issues will be resolved. The last thing in the world we want is for anything to happen to that facility, which is extremely important to our area.” The prison, which was built at a cost of $54 million, primarily houses criminal aliens, may be affected by a proposal by President Barack Obama to drop funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program from $240 to $70 million, officially announced on Monday. The union did not take a position on the employees’ decision not to take a pay reduction from $21.65 per hour to $18.65 per hour, according to Hearn. “The members determine their own future and the union supports them in their decision,” Hearn said. “I know you hear a lot about how the union wants you to do this or that, but the decision is our membership’s to make.” Andy Rebar, a Decatur Township (Clearfield County) supervisor whose son works at the prison and was present for the meeting, said the vote was tough for those who took part because of its potential consequences, but the more important vote was held in August 2011, when the prison employees voted to unionize. “That may have been the one that cut off their nose to spite their face,” he said. Rebar said he couldn’t understand what had happened that had resulted in the prison’s contract being renegotiated by the federal government. “The contract wasn’t up until 2016,” he said. “I don’t know what happened or what changed there.” The facility is competing for a contract with a private prison in northeast Ohio, according to both Rebar and Hearn.

September 17, 2009 The Tribune-Democrat
Two former guards at a federal prison in Philipsburg pleaded guilty Wednesday to providing inmates with contraband, including cell phones, cigarettes, MP3 players and muscle enhancers. Bryan Williams II and Ryan J. Spicher were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson in Johnstown to one year of probation and a $1,000 fine each. They had pleaded guilty to one count each of providing contraband inside the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center in Centre County. The prison is a low-security lockup for male prisoners in the federal system. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie L. Haines said Williams was involved in the criminal activity from June 2007 to Dec. 11, 2007. Spicher furnished the contraband to inmates from January 2007 to Aug. 31 of that same year, Haines said. The men could have faced prison terms of up to six months and fines of up to $5,000. Moshannon Valley prison is run by Cornell Cos.

February 11, 2009 The Progress News
At yesterday's Clearfield County commissioners' meeting, Decatur Township Supervisor Andy Rebar asked the commissioners to correct inequities in property taxes by performing a countywide property reassessment. According to Mr. Rebar, county residents are unfairly shouldering too much of the property tax burden while commercial property owners are getting a break. Mr. Rebar said the impetus for this occurred when the Cornell private prison opened several years ago in Decatur Township. He said it was projected to provide local municipalities and the school district with $1 million a year in tax revenue, but after the county assessed the property it only ended up paying roughly half that. Mr. Rebar said he then looked at what other commercial property owners were paying in real estate taxes and said he discovered that they were disproportionately low when compared to residential properties.

May 5, 2008 The Progress News
Some 126 local, county and state officials and guests gathered Friday at Brady Township Community Center for the Clearfield County Association of Township Officials Spring Convention. There are 30 second class townships in the county as well as 19 boroughs and one city… Andy Rebar, Decatur Township supervisor, spoke to the group about the Cornell facility that he said is a federally funded, federally contracted private prison built in Decatur Township. He said he was "wholeheartedly" in favor of it and the annual funding for the township was to be $57,000 to $62,000 but instead only $15,290 was received. He said the township has hired a legal team and will fight this. He asked for help from other officials by writing a letter of support. He said property assessments need to be fair and balanced. Clearfield County commissioner Mark McCracken said the county is aware of the situation and is taking action.

September 22, 2007 Altoona Mirror
A federal judge has rejected a request by an inmate at the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center to stop sending “Latino” inmates to the facility. Rudolph P. Keszthelyi contended in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Johnstown that prison authorities are segregating primarily illegal immigrants at Moshannon Valley, a private prison operated by Cornell Co. Inc. of Houston, Texas. The prison, located in the Phillipsburg area, has been open for about a year. In his suit, Keszthelyi claims that the atmosphere at the prison is volatile because of a large number of Latino inmates, and a minority of black inmates from Washington, D.C., are being housed there. The prison holds few whites. Keszthelyi asked for an injunction to bring about an immediate change so that the inmate population will be more racially balanced. Federal magistrate Lisa Pupo Lenihan recommended in August that no injunction be issued because she said Keszthelyi could not show “irreparable harm” if the request was denied. The inmate filed objections to Lenihan’s report, arguing that segregation of inmates was illegal and noting that “the atmosphere at Moshannon Valley is oppressive, as at any time the majority of Latino prisoners can decide to take matters into their own hands and cause harm to a minority group or one individual.” He said the situation is causing him “severe emotional distress.” U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson this week adopted the magistrate’s recommendations and dismissed the request for an injunction. The magistrate said any request for an injunction “must always be viewed with great caution because judicial restraint is especially called for in dealing with the complex and intractable problems of prison administration.” She said “The federal courts are not overseers of the day-to-day management of prisons.” Keszthelyi claims a race riot broke out Feb. 6 at the prison, resulting in a month-and-a-half lockdown of the facility.

May 1, 2007 Centre Daily Times
A school district and township, set to take in more than $200,000 in annual property tax revenue from Pennsylvania's first private prison, are now appealing a county assessment of the $74 million facility in an effort to get additional funds. The appeals process could take months and discussion at the first hearing Monday indicated the matter is likely headed to the Clearfield County Court of Common Pleas. "This is an unusual facility that is going to take some unusual valuation, conclusions, theories, projections and assumptions, and I see this case in court," said Anthony R. Thompson, an Allentown attorney representing Cornell Cos. Inc. -- a Texas firm that built the Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility. The 1,300-bed prison, owned by W.B.P. Leasing Inc., is located in Decatur Township, which filed an appeal in March. Shortly thereafter, the Philipsburg-Osceola Area school board authorized its solicitor, Winifred Jones-Wenger, to join with the township in the appeal. She has not yet filed the paperwork to intervene but plans to do so, she said Monday. But the local solicitors won't be handling the case themselves. The township and school district have retained a Pittsburgh firm, Hollinshead, Mendelson, Bresnahan and Nixon. Clearfield County assessed the prison at about $2.5 million, and its market value is listed about $10 million. From the time Decatur Township and Philipsburg-Osceola Area School District received their first tax payments from the facilities, officials from both entities voiced displeasure, saying the revenue wasn't what they expected. The facility cost $74 million to construct. In correspondence dating back to the late 1990s, the prison had promised almost $1 million annually in combined tax revenues and payments. The township and school district haven't seen a third of that since the prison opened a year ago, and they won't, based on the current full assessment. But Cornell, which was embroiled in a legal battle over whether state law allows private prisons, has said the scope of the project changed significantly, resulting in a much smaller facility with less business than was first proposed seven years ago. At the onset of the hearing Monday, the county assessment appeals board asked to see an appraisal of the prison. Attorney William P. Bresnahan, of the Pittsburgh firm, was unable to provide one because an appraiser had only been retained 10 days ago. He asked the board for more time. "We thought it would be much more helpful if we went through this proceeding with the real estate appraiser to give you his insight," he told the board. In an interview afterward, Bresnahan explained that finding someone certified in Pennsylvania who could appraise the prison was a difficult task. But Paul Griffith, of Integra Realty Resources, was retained, he said. Thompson asked the board not to allow the hearing to continue. The matter will go to court, he said, and he would like to see it "resolved sooner rather than later." He also questioned whether the board had the authority to issue a continuance for the hearing. The board decided to talk with its solicitor and make a decision sometime this week.

February 8, 2007 Altoona Mirror
An inmate at the recently opened private prison in Clearfield County wants more diversity in its population. Rudolph P. Keszthelyi, serving a 10-year federal sentence, said the prison, Moshannon Valley Corrections Center, and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons have limited the population to illegal immigrants who have committed crimes and to inmates from Washington, D.C., who are almost all black. Keszthelyi says it’s a violation of the 14th Amendment to segregate inmates. Keszthelyi said in its first five months, the facility experienced two food strikes and “numerous violent assaults between prisoners of different ethnic origins.” He was one of two Moshannon Valley inmates whose lawsuits were filed in the U.S. District Court clerk’s office in Johnstown this week. The second inmate, Ervin Leka, serving 18 months for conspiracy to possess marijuana, complained that the prison is stamping mail that inmates send to their families outside the U.S. with large red letters, stating “Inmate Mail.” “My family is in a small village and now is ostracized because somebody saw the envelope with ‘Inmate Mail’ stamped on it,” Leka stated in a complaint to prison authorities.

February 7, 2007 WJAC TV
Security has been heightened and the Moshannon Valley Corrections Center remains on lockdown, after a Tuesday lunch-hour inmate fight. According to officials, at least one person was hurt and additional personnel had to be called in to help clear the scene. Prison administrators said things got out of hand when two groups of inmates began arguing about a basketball game. One inmate suffered a head injury and a medical helicopter was called to the scene. Ambulance and other emergency crews were called in, but were held at the prison perimeter until the scene was secured. There is no word yet on other possible injuries.

January 15, 2007 Centre Daily Times
The Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility, a $74 million private prison expected to provide an economic boom to Clearfield County, will not generate the amount of tax revenues it promised local officials years ago. Cornell Companies Inc., a Texas-based firm that owns the facility and may soon merge with Veritas Capital in New York, says the 1,300-bed facility is markedly smaller than what was initially proposed. And that's why the prison's tax bill is several hundred thousand dollars less than local officials expected. "The scale of the project was cut fairly significantly," said Christine Parker, a Cornell spokeswoman. In correspondence dating back as early as 1999, Morris and Decatur townships and the Philipsburg-Osceola Area School District were told that they would see almost $1 million annually in combined tax revenues and payments. The townships and district haven't seen a third of that since the prisoners arrived in spring 2006. And they won't ever see what they expected, now that the facility has been fully assessed. "I truly hope that this is a mistake and not some sort of favoritism," said Andrew Rebar, supervisors chairman of Decatur Township, where the facility is located. "I won't be able to live with that." In a letter to the state attorney general in 2001, then- Superintendent Sam Peterson explained the grave situation facing the Philipsburg-Osceola school district and how he thought the private prison would help. At the time, concerns were raised about whether state law would allow a private prison to be built, and the project was in jeopardy. "I have seen our district student population drop by 1,000 since the late 1970s," Peterson wrote. "This is primarily due to the decline of the coal industry and the loss of a couple of significant employers." Based on company-driven estimates, the facility would bring $600,000 annually in property taxes to the school district, he said. "I have lived in this area for 26 years and can assure you that nothing of such magnitude has ever presented itself as a viable economic option to the area's residents," he wrote. The attorney general allowed the project to move ahead. But it wasn't the same project that was originally proposed. In the seven years that had passed in resolving legal issues, the federal Bureau of Prisons changed the scope of the project. The prison was supposed to comprise three buildings. Now it has only one. And Cornell, Parker said, "lost all of the business that would have come along from it." Private prisons sprung up elsewhere, and "the needs of the federal Bureau of Prisons changed," she said. So did the expected tax revenue. Last week, Philipsburg-Osceola Area school officials said they did not receive any tax payments from the prison. After digging further through their records, they realized that they did receive about $51,000, which was based on a partial assessment of the facility. Now the facility has been fully assessed at $2.5 million. And, at most, the district will receive $232,730 annually from it in tax payments. "I would love to have it much higher, but I am very restricted by what I can do," said Mary Ann Wesdock, director of the Clearfield County Assessment Office. "I have to work within the structure that we have with regard to our base year and the values that we are permitted to use." Clearfield County's last reassessment was in 1989. Rebar said he was sick to his stomach when he realized that the township would receive only about $15,000 annually in tax revenues. "It is a drop in the bucket," said Rebar, who expected about $60,000. "That is our philosophy here." Morris Township, where the prison's water tower sits, is also not satisfied. Cornell's chief operating officer, in a 1999 letter to the township, said its general contractor would make a "one-time only investment in Morris Township of $250,000 upon the township's endorsement of this facility." The letter also indicated that the township would get an annual $191,734 payment in lieu of property taxes. Troy Hill Road, near the prison, also was supposed to be paved by Cornell, the letter indicated. Township Solicitor F. Cortez Bell III said the township hasn't received anything. Although a prison building was not constructed in Morris Township as planned, "there is a water tower." "The supervisors have authorized me to take whatever action is necessary," said Bell, who also is a Clearfield County assistant district attorney. "We have even talked about eminent domain proceedings." Morris Township would have received payments, Parker said, if the prison was constructed as originally planned.

January 10, 2007 Centre Daily Times
Uncertain of what its financial situation is, the Philipsburg-Osceola Area school board is trying to decide which way to throw the dice as it develops next year's budget. And the one revenue source the board hoped to get tax dollars from this year -- the newly constructed private prison -- appears to have slipped between the cracks. The district has not received a single tax payment from the prison so far, school officials said Tuesday. The crux of the dilemma facing Philipsburg-Osceola is that the board must have a preliminary budget drafted by Jan. 25. But school officials, who just stepped into their positions a few months ago, say they have no clue what all of their expenses are and don't want to rely on the figures contained in the previous deficit-laden budget. The board could wait until the end of the year to draft a complete budget, but then it must vow not to raise taxes above the state-mandated limit of 4.9 percent. If the district needed additional revenue, it would have to cut staff and programs in order to pay for its expenses. "I don't want to do that," said Cathy Hayes, a board member. On the other hand, if the board decided to increase taxes more than 4.9 percent, its budget would need voter approval by referendum. Several school officials doubted that they could win the taxpayers' support. Nor are they sure the community could handle any more tax increases. Last year, the board increased taxes 27 percent in Clearfield County and 5 percent in Centre County. "I could not, in my best judgment, ask to go over 4.9 percent. It would just be devastating," said Mike Conte, the school district's director of finance. "Whatever we have to do, we have to keep within that range." The budget constraints, including the tax-increase limit and early budget schedule, are all the result of the state's latest property tax law, Act 1. The legislation mandated a series of new budget changes for almost all school districts across the state. The board was at odds over what to do by the end of its meeting Tuesday night. It is expected to decide at its next meeting on Tuesday. Board member Thad Ritter appeared to be supportive of drafting a preliminary budget by next week. He said if the district had to raise taxes above 4.9 percent, it would have to sell its case to the taxpayers and explain what programs would be cut without the additional revenue. "I think we need to submit the preliminary budget just in case we need the referendum," he said. The board was hoping to receive some tax revenues from the Moshannon Valley Correctional Facility. Earlier reports show that the district expected at least a couple hundred thousand annually. The prison is up and running, and Conte said the district has not received any payments to date.

March 25, 2003
Ending a four-year standoff, a Texas corrections firm has won the go-ahead to build Pennsylvania's first privately owned prison, officials said Tuesday.  The 1,000-bed prison for federal inmates, which will be built by next year on reclaimed strip mines in Clearfield County, Pa., will be maintained and operated by Houston-based Cornell Companies, Inc. Cornell owns eight other prisons nationwide.  The company was stalled in Pennsylvania since 1999 because state law does not allow private firms to house federal prisoners. But a rare agreement, finalized this week, will let Cornell guards use deadly force to control prisoners - with authority delegated by the federal Bureau of Prisons.  No other prison in the state will be allowed to be owned by a private company.  (AP)

March 23, 2002
For more than two years, Pennsylvania's Attorney General Mike Fisher has stood by his objections to Cornell Corrections' plans to build a private prison in Clearfield County, saying that state law did not allow a corporation to be a jailer.  In an exclusive interview with the Progress, Mr. Fisher said his office has formulated a plan that might "satisfy everyone concerned."  "What we're trying to do is federalize the prison," Rep. Lynn Herman said yesterday, "it will then be legal."  Cornell, which would be the contracted operator of the facility, would also own the property and the structure, allowing the local tax-base to benefit.  Not everyone sees the proposal as good news, however.  "It was Mr. Fisher who said that private companies cannot own and operate prisons without the General Assembly's authorization," said state Rep. Camile "Bud" George, D-74 of Houtzdale, in a statement this week.  "I can assure you that authorization has not been given."  He called the proposal a "deal kept secret from the media, the citizens of Clearfield County and legislators of all stripes," and said the issues has become "a political animal rather than a question of what is right for the people..."  (Clearfield Progress) 

The federal government yesterday lifted a moratorium that helped put a two-year freeze on what would be Pennsylvania's only privately owned prison.  That left developers suggesting that the Clearfield County project could go to construction by spring.  But they still face stiff opposition from Gov. Tom Ridge and state Attorney General Mike Fisher.  "Our position has remained unchanged, that state law as currently written doesn't allow incarceration of inmates by private entities," Fisher spokesman Sean Connolly said yesterday.  The federal government froze work in June 1999, when a locally based group, the Citizens Advisory Committee on Private Prisons, filed a complaint charging that bureau hadn't done environmental homework on the project.  Wednesday, federal Judge D. Brooks Smith in Johnstown ruled that all was well -- a decision that opponents are deciding whether to appeal.  (Post Gazette)

Monroe County Correctional Facility
Monroe County, Pennsylvania
Canteen (formerly run by Aramark)

September 10, 2009 Pocono Record
A new company is serving meals to inmates and staff and the Monroe County Correctional Facility. Canteen Correctional Services, a division of Compass Group USA, has been doing the cooking since Sept. 1. Canteen was awarded a three-year contract at $622,388 per year, replacing Aramark, which had been employed at the Snydersville jail for five years. Staff members are happy with the new menu and larger portions, says Acting Warden Donna Asure. "We've gotten great comments," said Asure, who also is a county commissioner. "The staff is satisfied with the staff meals." Four Canteen employees, assisted by inmates who apply for positions, prepare about 1,200 meals daily in the prison kitchen. Inmates eat in the day rooms of their assigned units. Staff members eat in the employee dining room. Aramark was the subject of at least a few complaints before losing its bid for a renewed contract. "We have had several complaints," Asure said. "We tried to work things out." The county has options to extend Canteen's contract beyond the current three years, she said.

Montgomery County Jail
Eagleville, Pennsylvania
Correctional Medical Care
October 04, 2013 courthousenews.com
(CN) - Prison medical staff must face claims that they let a detainee die after ignoring her severe chest pain and bloody vomit so as to avoid paying for her outside treatment, a federal judge ruled. Dorothy Kenney sued Montgomery County, Pa.; Correctional Medical Care Inc. (CMC); and seven prison medical staff members in federal court on behalf of the late Patricia Pollock. Shortly after Pollock, then 25, allegedly told her mother that she was severely nauseous on Sept. 22, 2011, Upper Moreland Township police arrested her, and took her to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility to await trial the next day. When Pollock told a prison nurse that she was in pain, could not move her left arm, and had been taking clonazepam, an anti-anxiety medication, for about two years, the nurse recommended benzodiazepine-withdrawal treatment, Kenney said. Although another nurse allegedly saw Pollock later that day "yelling in her cell that she could not breathe" and "that her chest felt 'like something [was] pressing all the way down to [her] back,'" Dr. Margaret Carrillo refused to order outside treatment or testing, for which Correctional Medical Care would have had to pay, the plaintiff continued. Pollock, having complained for days, told a nurse that she had been vomiting blood, had rib pain, and could not breathe, so Dr. Carrillo finally saw her and ordered intravenous fluids, judging that she was a drug user susceptible to bacterial endocarditis, Kenney said. A nurse allegedly found Pollock "naked and wrapped in a sheet for most of the evening shift on the medical unit" and unable "to drink fluids ... without the assistance of her cellmate." The next morning, Pollock was sent to the emergency room and diagnosed with massive organ failure due to bacterial endocarditis, but her heart stopped during her airlift to another hospital for immediate surgery, the plaintiff claimed. The complaint asserts claims for state-law negligence, deliberate indifference, failure to train, incentivizing staff to curb outside medical referrals and testing, and wrongful death. The defendants moved to dismiss, and Senior U.S. District Judge Jan DuBois partially denied the motions last week. "Dr. Carrillo had been aware of Pollock's shortness of breath, severe chest pain, abnormal echocardiogram, and deteriorating condition for at least 36 hours before she personally saw Pollock for a diagnostic," DuBois wrote. "Further, even when Pollock had deteriorated to the point where 'she had been vomiting blood, that she was suffering from rib pain and weakness, and that she could not breathe,' Dr. Carrillo continued the course of benzodiazepine-withdrawal treatment and did not conduct further diagnostic testing. "It was not until Sept. 27, 2013, when Pollock was experiencing massive organ failure and required emergency surgery, that Dr. Carrillo referred her to the emergency room," DuBois continued. "Plaintiff further alleges that Dr. Carrillo did not make these decisions with regard to the serious risk to Pollock's health, but rather because she was financially motivated not to order diagnostic testing and/or refer patients for outside treatment. "These allegations are sufficient to state a claim of deliberate indifference against Dr. Carrillo," the judge ruled. Though the court tossed aside Nurse Mary Rhinehart's argument that that Dr. Carrillo was solely responsible for Pollock's care, it dismissed the civil rights claims against Christine Irvine R.N., whose involvement in Pollock's care is not detailed in the complaint. Pollock's administratrix may amend her complaint within 20 days, the ruling states. When Pollock was arrested, she had been unable to pay 10 percent of her $10,000 bail for retail theft, possession of drug paraphernalia, and DUI charges, a Philadelphia online newspaper, Newsworks, reported.


Jun 5, 2013 nbcphiladelphia.com

Patricia Pollock lay dying from a heart condition in the Montgomery County prison, so weak she couldn't drink liquids without help and so distressed she stripped off all her clothes. But somehow, a private contractor failed to catch or treat Pollock's illness, which made breathing a struggle, caused her organs to fail, and eventually took her life. Or at least, that's the claim of civil-rights attorney Jonathan Feinberg. He is representing Pollock's estate, which filed a lawsuit against Montgomery County and Correctional Medical Care, a company hired to provide medical services to the prison. The suit, filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in May, claims that CMC's care was so poor that Pollock's constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment was violated. This isn't the first time that CMC, based in Blue Bell, Pa., has been in the news. In April, New York's Attorney General office said it was investigating the company, which has also operated in that state. Before then, New York's Commission of Correction found wrongdoing by the company in the deaths of some inmates. An attorney for CMC said the company provides quality care. The cause of Pollock's 2011 death, an autopsy report shows, was a heart condition known as "acute fulminant verrucous endocarditis." According to the suit, CMC treated Pollock for drug withdrawal instead, and by the time she was transferred to an outside hospital and received diagnostic testing, it was too late. Pollock was 25, in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility awaiting trial because she was unable to pay 10 percent of her $10,000 bail. She faced charges for alleged retail theft, possession of drug paraphernalia and a DUI. Feinberg, of the law firm Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg, said CMC knew that Pollock had a history of using intravenous drugs. So it should have been able to diagnose her heart condition, as it often afflicts such users, he said. "This is a condition that, if treated properly, should not result in death," Feinberg said. "The fact that she ended up dead obviously shows that there was a very significant breakdown in the way care was provided." Timothy Myers, an attorney for CMC, said the company's job is difficult because inmates often come into prison with serious medical problems. And in this case, Myers said it was even tougher because Pollock initially denied her drug use. "So it makes it harder to diagnose problems when the patient is not honest," he said, adding that it's "just not feasible" to "evaluate and inspect ... every inch of an inmate's body in order to make some kind of diagnosis preliminarily." CMC was paid about $4 million annually for its work in Montgomery County. Trouble in New York, too. Critics of the company say it has a pattern of being at least partially at fault in the deaths of prisoners. New York's Commission of Correction, which examines inmates' deaths, found that CMC has sometimes failed to follow its own regulations and put prisoners in danger over the last few years. A Correctional Medical Care nurse "clearly left his patient in an emergent life-threatening status without appropriate medical attention," one commission report noted. Another report stated that the death of 60-year-old inmate Joaquin Rodriguez "may have been prevented had he received timely medical care and received proper supervision" from CMC. The commission said the Monroe County jail should terminate its contract with the company as a result. CMC did not respond to several requests for comment on the commission reports or the New York Attorney General's investigation. The Attorney General's office would not explain why it is scrutinizing CMC, but it did request a copy of Pollock's lawsuit. Prisoners' rights advocates say that private correctional companies, such as CMC, put profits before people. Feinberg alleges that CMC faced a "powerful financial disincentive" to conduct diagnostic testing on inmates or send them to an outside medical provider. "The fact that those two things cost money, that they're expensive and that those have to be paid for by this private health provider, do raise serious questions," he said. Myers said that the belief that CMC has such a disincentive "is utterly and completely false." Montgomery County spokesman Frank Custer declined to comment on the suit, explaining that the county's attorneys "would not presume to comment on the case since we will not be defending it." Dr. Margaret Carrillo, CMC's medical director at the time of Pollock's death, is also named in the suit. She, too, took a pass on commenting. New contract, CMC is no longer providing medical services for the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Since 2012, PrimeCare Medical, Inc. has done that job. Custer would not provide details about the county's decision to switch contractors. Though CMC is based in Pennsylvania, it does not currently provide medical services for any prisons or jails in the state, according to its website. That's not for lack of trying, though. CMC placed a bid to provide inmate health care in Philadelphia starting this year, but failed. The company continues to work inside several New York county jails. And some of CMC's old staff is working for PrimeCare in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, including its former medical director, Dr. Carrillo.

March 20, 2010 Democrat & Chronicle
During the past decade the family that now manages medical care for Monroe County jails has been entangled in lawsuits with claims ranging from significant misappropriation of company funds to unusual contentions that marital infidelity led to a private investigator bugging their house. Emre Umar, the president of Correctional Medical Care Inc., is now accused in a local lawsuit of harassing and ultimately firing a jail medical employee, April D'Amico of Rochester, who alleges she had an affair with Umar. D'Amico alleges that Umar assured her "that she was a valuable employee; that he would always take care of her; and, that if she ever tried to use their relationship against him that he 'would destroy' her." When D'Amico wanted to end the relationship, Umar proceeded to call her dozens of times, constantly harassing her before finally firing her, alleges the lawsuit, filed this month in U.S. District Court in Rochester. Timothy Myers, a Pennsylvania-based attorney representing Umar and his company, said the allegations "are baseless." The attorneys are seeking dismissal of the lawsuit and allege that D'Amico cost Correctional Medical Care "hundreds of thousands of dollars" through "misconduct." Despite the legal issues for Correctional Medical Care, there have not been any concerns raised about the medical care the company provides. In isolation, D'Amico's federal lawsuit may not raise questions about the management of CMC. But Umar and his wife, Maria, the company's chief executive officer, have been involved in another unusual lawsuit, in which the couple alleged they were harassed by a Chicago businessman and his contracted private investigator after Maria broke off a seven-year relationship with the businessman. And Emre Umar and his father, Dr. Kenan Umar, were embroiled in litigation against each other after the sale of a previous prison health care provider the two managed and owned, court records from Pennsylvania show. The father and son accused each other of harming the company through unauthorized personal use of its revenues. Reached Tuesday at his office near Philadelphia, Emre Umar declined to comment about his current or past litigation. He did say the company is providing quality medical care for Monroe County's two jail facilities. Sheriff's Office spokesman John Helfer also said CMC is providing good care to inmates. He noted that CMC is accredited by a national agency. "We have found they either meet or exceed those (accreditation) standards," Helfer said. Privatized jail care -- The county privatized jail medical services about a decade ago but has struggled to settle on a company to provide quality, cost-effective care. The first company hired was Prison Health Services, but the county stopped contracting with PHS in 2003 in the aftermath of an inmate death in which the state was sharply critical of care. The county then contracted with Correctional Medical Services into 2008. The county is now suing CMS, alleging that the company did not provide staffing at the jails as contractually promised. CMS has denied the allegations. In 2008, the county began its contract with Correctional Medical Care, the Umar-run company. The County Legislature unanimously approved the CMC contract. The county contends that CMC was the best choice among five providers that answered a request for proposal — or RFP. Asked whether any information about past lawsuits involving Umar came to light during the county's due diligence, county spokesman Noah Lebowitz responded in an e-mail: "It doesn't appear so based on the information in the RFP file." The key issues for county officials were a company's "proposed fees; understanding of the project; degree of relevant experience; technical competence; references; capacity and availability to perform the services; and local office," Lebowitz wrote. County officials believe that privatized health care, like that provided by CMC, is "the best way to ensure quality services at a fair cost for taxpayers," Lebowitz wrote. The Umars have experience managing a major prison health care provider — Correctional Physician Services Inc., which provided care in Pennsylvania state prisons and elsewhere. CPS was created in 1989 by Dr. Kenan Umar, who later employed his son, Emre, and made him a vice president, court records show. In 1999, Dr. Umar alleged that his son removed all of the CPS money from a bank account — more than $1 million — without permission. Emre Umar contended he was entitled to the money, and the two negotiated a settlement agreement. Not long thereafter, in March 2000, they sold the company to Prison Health Services for $14 million. At that point, the company was significantly in debt and much of the sale proceeds were used to pay major creditors. More father-son lawsuits ensued with various charges and counter-charges, but the litigation was apparently resolved with settlements, according to court records and attorneys. More lawsuits -- The Umars opened Correctional Medical Care in 2001, Pennsylvania corporate records indicate. Between 2000 and 2007, according to a federal lawsuit, Maria Umar had a "personal relationship" with a Chicago businessman, Douglas Gray. In his response, Gray called the relationship "extra-marital." The lawsuit alleges that Gray and his wife harassed the Umars after the end of the relationship. In fact, the lawsuit, filed by Correctional Medical Care and Emre and Maria Umar alleged, Gray hired a private investigator to run a background check on Emre Umar. The couple alleged that the investigator also surveilled the Umars, "including eavesdropping through surreptitious electronic devices that they planted" in the Umars' home. The lawsuit was settled out of court. Court records show the case was dismissed after settlement in 2008. D'Amico's local lawsuit against Umar was filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court. According to her lawsuit, she was hired as health services administrator for the Monroe County Jail in March 2008. Emre Umar was her supervisor and constantly pushed her for personal information, she alleges. She acknowledged an affair beginning in September 2008. When she tried to end the relationship, she claims, Umar harassed her constantly through phone calls. D'Amico said she was fired on Feb. 1, 2009. D'Amico "is a disgruntled employee who was discharged for very good cause," said Umar's attorney, Myers. In court filings, CMC maintains that D'Amico caused the company "to be assessed hundreds of thousands of dollars" because of noncompliance with Monroe County contractual requirements. County officials say there were "considerable financial penalties" assessed against the company for not meeting agreed-to staffing levels. D'Amico's attorney, Christopher Enos, declined to comment.

May 27, 2005 The Morning Call
The Montgomery County district attorney's office is investigating whether the extension of a $3.15 million contract for inmate medical services at the county prison in Eagleville was improper. District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. said Thursday that acting Prison Warden Julio Algarin asked him to probe a one-year contract extension with Correctional Medical Care, based in Skippack, but declined to comment on any specific allegations that prompted the investigation. ''The letter from Mr. Algarin said there had been allegations raised that the [prison] board engaged in some kind of impropriety surrounding the medical contract,'' Castor said. ''He asked us to look into whether that was true or not.'' Richard Winters, the prison board's solicitor, said some members of the public have raised concerns that the contract was extended because ''someone received something in exchange for that recommendation.''

National Park Services
Philidelphia, Pennsylvania
Wackenhut (Group 4)

September 13, 2007 AP
Private security guards who have protested what they call poor working conditions at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell voted Wednesday to unionize. The Wackenhut Services Inc. workers voted 31-2 to join the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, district organizing coordinator Jeff Hornstein said. Fifteen guards did not vote. The secret ballot election was held at a community hall a few blocks from Independence National Historical Park, which is also protected by the National Park Service. Wackenhut did not respond to two previous attempts by workers to gain recognition, Hornstein said. Marc Shapiro, senior vice president at Florida-based Wackenhut, said in order for the balloting to be valid, it must follow standards set by the National Labor Relations Board. "If it is an election that is sanctioned by the NLRB, we would certainly support it," Shapiro said. The voting followed a meeting during which two employees spoke of low wages, unpaid sick days, no health insurance, and spending their own money to winterize their uniforms. "We have to make sure we stay warm," guard Lamontez Bentley said. "We simply cannot afford to get sick." The meeting was attended by U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-Pa., who promised to ensure that the company improves conditions for workers "protecting our national treasures." "I'm going to put their feet to the fire for sure," Brady said. Hornstein asked Brady to work in Congress to withhold contracts from Wackenhut, which the government has hired to protect sites including nuclear weapons facilities and the Department of Homeland Security complex. Wackenhut, which has more than 35,000 employees, is owned by U.K.-based G4S.

New Morgan Academy
Morgantown, Pennsylvania
Cornell

June 15, 2010 Reading Eagle
The weekend melee at Abraxas Academy in which five residents attacked eight counselors was the first major incident at the treatment center for juvenile offenders in New Morgan since it reopened in October 2006, police said Monday. Caernarvon Township Police Chief Paul R. Stolz Jr. said the melee Sunday also was the first in which officers had to remove juveniles from the facility since his department took over coverage of the borough from state police on April 1. Information on calls before April 1 was not immediately available from state police. But Stolz said state police had told him they had not had a lot of calls to the facility, which originally opened in 2000. In Sunday's melee, five juveniles from Philadelphia were charged with assaulting counselors. An 18-year-old was taken to county prison. The other four are in the county youth center. Some counselors had broken bones and other injuries, but none of the injuries was life-threatening, police said. Stolz said his department also handled two assaults at Abraxas in April. In one, a resident was charged with assaulting a staff member. In the other, a juvenile was charged with assaulting another juvenile. Both of those accused remained at the academy while their cases were handled in juvenile court, he said. The only other call was last week when police helped an ambulance crew remove a juvenile who was having mental health problems, Stolz said.

July 14, 2009 Reading Eagle
The state Department of Public Welfare has suspended admissions to Abraxas Academy in New Morgan while it investigates why the boys detention center failed to report suspected abuse in a timely manner. This marks the third time in 2009 that the state has temporarily closed admissions to Abraxas, welfare department spokeswoman Stacey L. Witalec said Monday. Witalec refused to give specifics about the most recent abuse allegation, citing confidentiality requirements. "We continue to have concerns about the facility to maintain health and safety for the kids," Witalec said. "If they continue to correct deficiencies, then it's planned for admissions to reopen in two weeks." The juvenile detention center off Interstate 176 is licensed to take as many as 82 boys ages 12 to 18 years old. The boys have committed offenses that require a secure lockup, such as aggravated assault or armed robbery. They usually are not first-time offenders. Admissions to the academy were closed Feb. 4 to Feb. 25 because the state was concerned about a lack of supervision at the facility, Witalec said. They were suspended again April 27 to June 15 over the untimely reporting of suspected abuse. Jon Swatsburg, senior vice president at Abraxas Youth and Family Services, said the April suspension and the most recent one, July 7, stemmed from the same incident. He said a teenage boy had broken off a wooden bed slat and was prepared to use it as a weapon against a staff member. While the boy was being restrained, he received a minor injury to his eye, Swatsburg said. The boy was immediately treated by a nurse, and while the incident went into the boy's medical file, it wasn't included in a report to the state, Swatsburg said. Swatsburg called it a communications gap and said he understands why the welfare department was concerned. Abraxas, a division of Cornell Cos. of Houston, initially opened in New Morgan in 2000 but relinquished its license two years later after six escapes and several reports of sexual assaults, most involving employees abusing clients, according to the state. The facility reopened in 2006 with new management and staff. "We did a poor job in the initial operations of the facility," Swatsburg said Monday. "All eyes are going to be on us, and it's going to take a long time for that to go away." Witalec said the state has substantiated five cases of abuse at the facility since it reopened. The state has stepped up regular and unannounced visits to the center, she added.

November 17, 2006 Reading Eagle
Lawyers for New Morgan borough on Friday asked a federal judge in Reading to dismiss a suit filed by the owner of New Morgan Academy juvenile treatment center, claiming the academy is trying to sidestep local zoning ordinances and state courts. Cornell Cos. Inc., Houston, has sued the borough and its council members, claiming they violated Cornell's constitutional rights by interfering with its plans to reopen the academy. The original facility had closed in October 2002, two years after opening, after a series of escapes and sexual assaults. In July, the borough adopted a zoning amendment forbidding the operation of a detention facility. The borough then sent letters to the state departments of welfare and education alerting them that Cornell intended to operate what the borough called a detention center. At the time, Cornell was seeking a state license to reopen. It subsequently got the license and reopened with 16 beds in October. It is treating two, low-level sex offenders from Philadelphia. But borough attorney Mark Himsworth told U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel, who was presiding in The Madison, that Cornell had never sought an occupancy permit or zoning approval from the borough, and needs to do that first. If occupancy was denied, he said, the legitimate process would be to challenge the denial to borough council and possibly in state court before considering a federal suit. And Thomas P. Hogan, attorney for the council members, said Cornell had not met federal law by not specifying what the individuals had done, and that they were given immunity from lawsuits by three separate state laws. Council members named in the suit are Dena L. Geunes, Tressie Marroon, Richard Venezia and Robert G. Williams. Borough Manager Carolyn Williams is also named. Cornell attorney Antoinette R. Stone told Stengel that Cornell knew it would be denied zoning and occupancy because of what she called the borough's long history of unlawful conduct against Cornell. She said the law doesn't require an effort in futility. Stengel indicated he would rule in early December, but briefly sparred with Stone over what the academy really is. “It's a juvenile prison, isn't it?” Stengel asked, noting that for years as a Lancaster County judge he had sent juvenile offenders to such facilities. Stone said it wasn't, but it was a secure boarding school operating exactly the same as the previous facility. Stengel asked whether it has locks. Stone said it does, but said that under state definitions it's not a detention center. She said Cornell has never had or sought a license for a detention facility in New Morgan and has never operated one.

November 17, 2006 Reading Eagle
The Texas-based owner of a New Morgan treatment facility for juvenile offenders has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the borough of interfering with the facility's plans to reopen. Cornell Cos. Inc., Houston, initially opened the 214-bed Cornell Abraxas Academy in October 2000, just north of the Conestoga landfill in New Morgan. The facility closed Oct. 27, 2002, following a half-dozen escapes and 14 sexual assaults. But it reopened last month, with 16 beds available to low-level sex offenders. So far, two sex offenders from Philadelphia are being housed for treatment, officials said. Antoinette R. Stone, a Philadelphia lawyer representing Cornell Cos., said the reopening would not affect the lawsuit. The suit requests a court order to allow the facility to remain open and the borough to pay unspecified damages. Lawyers representing the borough and its council members have asked that the case, before U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel, be dismissed. Stone charged in the suit that the borough interfered with Cornell's efforts to obtain a state license to reopen. “Instead of contacting Cornell to discuss concerns, the defendants continue their interference with Cornell's efforts to reopen,” Stone wrote. “The defendants' unlawful and unjustified actions constitute a gross and shocking abuse of government authority undertaken for the purpose of preventing Cornell from resuming operations at New Morgan as a lawful secure care facility for juvenile offenders.” In July, the borough amended its ordinance to forbid a secure detention facility from operating in New Morgan, according to Stone. Stone said in the suit that the academy is not a detention facility, but a school for juvenile offenders. Hogan said Cornell has not even applied to the borough for a use and occupancy permit as required by law. “Cornell has not even taken the first step, which is to address the zoning issues,” Hogan said.

November 9, 2006 Reading Eagle
The Cornell Abraxas Academy, a former juvenile-detention center in New Morgan that closed in October 2002, has reopened with two teenage sex offenders from Philadelphia County. “We're a secure boarding school for low-level offenders,” Gregory Swatsburg, assistant facility director, said Wednesday. Plans call for accepting one youth each week until all 16 beds for which the state currently licenses it are filled, he said. “These kids have crossed the line but they're not violent or hard-core sex offenders,” he said. The 14- to 18-year-olds are being enrolled in a treatment program that can last nine to 12 months, he said. The 214-bed facility just north of the Conestoga Landfill opened in October 2000 with an emphasis on treating and educating the state's worst juvenile offenders. The center shut down after a half-dozen escapes and 14 sexual assaults on inmates, most committed by staff members.

January 29, 2006 AP
A private-prison firm hopes to regain its license to run a detention center for serious juvenile offenders in Berks County. The state closed the New Morgan Academy in 2002, after just two years of operation, because of a series of escapes, sexual assaults on residents and other problems. The Cornell Companies, which calls itself the nation's third-largest private correctional firm, had said as late as December it wanted to reopen the campus as a boarding school for emotionally troubled youths. But the Houston-based company has since decided to apply to run a detention center for the most serious juvenile offenders from around the country. Some local officials are disturbed by the company's revised plan, which they said was announced without their input. "All they had been talking about for all these years seems to have taken a rather dramatic turn," said state Rep. Samuel E. Rohrer, a Robeson Township Republican.

November 10, 2005 Reading Eagle
A former juvenile-detention center in New Morgan that was closed in 2002 after escapes and abuse of inmates by staff is expected to reopen late next year as a school for emotionally troubled young people, officials said Wednesday. Cornell Cos. Inc., Houston, parent company of Cornell-Abraxis, which owns New Morgan Academy, plans to turn the facility into a day school and boarding school for emotionally troubled people up to age 21, Cornell officials said. Cornell would retain ownership of the 214-bed facility on 55 acres just north of the Conestoga Landfill, according to Chuck McLister, divisional director for Cornell. McLister said the firm is in negotiations with the state and hopes to have an operating permit in time to open in September. New Morgan Academy opened in October 2000 with an emphasis on treating and educating the state's worst juvenile offenders. Between July 2001 and April 2002, there were 14 substantiated sexual assaults on inmates, all but one or two committed by staff members, according to the state Department of Public Welfare. Two escapes also occurred at the facility, which was closed in October 2002 and put up for sale with a $25 million price tag. "At the end of the day we couldn't put a package together that met everyone's needs," said Paul B. Doucette, a Cornell spokesman. "It is a very expensive asset and it's just sitting there empty, and that is not a good thing for a business asset to do." Kathy Brill, whose Chestnut Hill Road home in Caernarvon Township is about a half-mile from the site, plans to reserve judgment until details are finalized. "If these are kids who are allowed to walk freely and go home when they want, then that is one story," Brill said. "If it is more of the same, then obviously we are going to be upset. "They have demonstrated they can't keep them in."

March 7, 2003
Berks and several other counties have interest in turning the vacant New Morgan Academy into a regional facility for prison inmates with special needs. Those prisoners could include women or perhaps inmates with mental problems.  The center shut down in October following a series of sexual and physical assaults of juveniles.  The site is owned by Cornell Abraxas, a subsidiary of Cornell Companies Inc., Houston.  Sources estimate the sale price would be at least $20 million.  Paul B. Doucette, director of public affairs for Cornell, said the company would keep its options open regarding New Morgan Academy.  “We are in talks with a variety of different prospects, some of whom are interested in buying or leasing it for different purposes,” Doucette said. “We haven't ruled out anything.”  “We'd like to do something with it as soon as possible,” he said. “Right now it represents a cost to us, and we aren't producing any revenue.”  Kathy J. Brill, who lives on Chestnut Hill Road about a half-mile from New Morgan Academy, was shocked to hear of the interest being shown by Berks and other counties.  Brill, a longtime critic of the juvenile center, thought that the academy would be vacant for a number of years because of its high asking price.  “Right now I am sick to my stomach,” she said after hearing of the county plan. “This is ridiculous.  Put the knife in and turn it one more time.”  (Reading Eagle)

January 24, 2003
Cornell Companies Inc. (NYSE:CRN - News), which builds and operates prisons, said on Friday it was exploring all options for a youth center, which was closed last year.  The closure of the facility, New Morgan Academy, will result in a 25-cent-per-share charge against the company's 2002 earnings, it said in a statement.  (Yahoo finance)

November 3, 2002
Two years ago, the privately owned New Morgan Academy, combining high security and intense therapy, opened its doors as Pennsylvania's newest alternative for handling delinquent teens with mental illness.   But last week, the Berks County center shut down following the Conviction of two staff members on criminal charges and what one juvenile justice official called "an unheard of" number of physical and sexual assault allegations over the past two years.  The problem facing the counties now is the same one that caused them to send teens to New Morgan in the first place -- a shortage of residential facilities that will accept teens who run away, are unpredictably violent and sometimes suicidal.  State officials say there were 31 separate substantiated reports of abuse against teen residents during New Morgan Academy's two years of operation.  Sixteen cases involved sexual abuse, including the assault of a 15-year-old McKeesport girl in June by a staff member. In some cases, the assaults included sexual intercourse between an adult staff member and a teenage resident.  New Morgan was run by Cornell Companies of Houston, which operates private prisons and other facilities around the nation.  While declining to discuss specifics of individual cases, state officials said none of the 15 acts of physical abuse resulted in broken bones or a resident's hospitalization.  As they relinquished New Morgan's license, Cornell officials acknowledged there were too many abuse incidents.  "Those are bad numbers. We're not backing off from that," said Bill Cammarata, who is director of operations for Cornell's eastern region.  When New Morgan opened, it overestimated how many qualified workers it could find, and underestimated how much statewide demand there would be for a program like theirs, said Jack Godlesky, Cornell's eastern region vice president.  The financial difficulties stemmed from the state's reluctance to grant Cornell, or any other center, designation as a secure residential treatment facility -- a locked facility focused on behavioral health treatment. State officials at the time said such facilities as New Morgan were too much like jails and not enough like treatment centers to get the designation.  Without the designation, counties could not seek Medicaid reimbursement to offset the $260 to $280 per day cost to house each youth. Because of the cost, Philadelphia -- which at one point accounted for nearly half the 200 residents there -- stopped sending teens to New Morgan in January.  But the larger and ultimately unconquerable problem proved to be filling out its staff with people who would not end up abusing residents.  The staffing problems persisted, though, despite raising starting salaries "several times," Godlesky said.  (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

September 29, 2002
Two Western Pennsylvania girls, one from Murrysville and one from McKeesport, were sexually molested by staff members while living in group homes. And both say that earlier in their placements, they were physically hurt in altercations with staff.   Such injuries in group homes are rare, according to the State Department of Public Welfare statistics Ronald Davidson, a clinical psychologist who has investigated 175 homes in a dozen states in the past eight years for Illinois, says the figure "doesn't pass the sniff test. That stinks. Right away my BS meter goes into the red zone.   I would recommend that an outside organization take a very close look at the agency saying that."   He concedes that children may exaggerate, but, just as often, he said, they don't report what has happened to them.   The McKeesport girl who was sexually assaulted at New Morgan Academy said that was her experience. She said she saw staff members improperly touch several girls who didn't report it, and she knows of another girl who was molested and refused to tell.   New Morgan officials said they investigated every allegation they received.   The McKeesport girl said she doesn't know why some girls don't tell, but what happened to her when she told may be revealing. She says when she reported the physical assault to her probation officer, he didn't believe her story.   She said the staff member told the probation officer a different story. "It was their word against ours, and other staff would back them up," she said.   And when she reported the sexual assault, no one believed her initially either, and she was subjected to taunts from staff members and girls. New Morgan officials denied that staff mistreated the girl.   In addition, the McKeesport girl's clinician at New Morgan ordered her to keep quiet about the sexual assault during a review of her case by an Allegheny County judge. The girl tried to tell the judge anyway, but the clinician cut her off.   The girl said it wasn't as tough at other places where she'd stayed, such as Mars Home for Youth and Bethesda Children's Home in Meadville, but she said of New Morgan, "That program was dirty."  (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

September 28, 2002
A private juvenile detention center opened two years ago to treat the state's worst youth offenders will close in the wake of sexual and physical abuse cases involving staff members, officials said.   The 214-bed New Morgan Academy opened outside of Morgantown Sept. 29, 2000, espousing a philosophy of "treating troubled youth with dignity and respect" but lost its state license due to the cases.   "We have had a series of people who not only failed to abide by (company) policy, but failed to abide by state law and common decency," said Paul B. Doucette, spokesman for the operator, Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc.   Last week, four employees at the southern Berks County facility were suspended for roughing up a 15-year-old boy last Sunday to teach him a lesson, Doucette said. Those employees will be fired, he said.   The state Department of Public Welfare, meanwhile, said Friday that there were 14 substantiated sexual assaults on the inmates from July 2001 to April, almost all involving direct abuse by staff members.   After a February audit, the center was given a six-month license, which expires Wednesday and would not have been renewed, department spokesman Jason Pagni said. Cornell would give up its license rather than have the agency issue an emergency order to remove the children, he said.   Cornell, the nation's third-largest private correctional firm with some 75 facilities around the nation and 30 in Pennsylvania, had billed New Morgan Academy as a unique combination of juvenile-justice programs and mental-health services.   "We have had difficulty attracting and retaining qualified staff," he said.   "We've done background checks, mentoring. ... We've done everything we know to do to stop that, and we haven't been able to."   Doucette said similar problems were not present at Cornell's other prisons in the state. And, he said he did not want people to think the company believes the juvenile inmates cannot be treated.  (AP)

September 25, 2001
Five escaped youths from New Morgan Academy were captured Monday, and officials at the youth detention facility plan to keep the teens confined to their rooms until an investigation is completed.  State police continued an investigation into the Sunday night escape of the five youths, who crawled through a large hole that had been cut in a chain-link fence.  (AP)

September 24, 2001
Five teen-age boys serving time at a juvenile detention center in Berks County have escaped and two of them remained at-large hours later.  The escapes Sunday evening came less than two months after officials of New Morgan Academy promised to neighbors that improved security would prevent further breakouts.  The boys escaped through a hole in a fence.  On June 10, a 15-year-old Philadelphia boy escaped from New Morgan and was caught a short time later.  In August, academy officials held a meeting with neighbors and told them that several measures had been taken to prevent such future escapes.  (AP)

December 20 ,2000
A private company that operates prisons say it cannot find enough workers for its newest lockup in Morgantown, Berks County, a company official said. About 100 jobs remain unfilled at Cornell Corrections Inc.'s New Morgan Academy, a juvenile jail that opened Oct. 2. It has room for 214 youths. (Feb. 15, 2001)

Northampton County
GEO Group
October 19, 2011 The Morning Call
Republican Ron Angle touted his record and experience while Democrat Scott Parsons said he would bring "civility" back to Northampton County Council, during a Slate Belt Chamber of Commerce-sponsored debate. About 80 people filled Wind Gap Fire Hall Tuesday night to hear borough Council President Parsons, take on Angle, the firebrand three-term county council incumbent. Most of the 20 questions submitted by the audience and chamber officials focused on taxes and the 9 percent tax increase proposed by Executive John Stoffa. Angle has yet to reveal how he'll cut spending in the 2012 budget; council is scheduled to consider amendments at the end of November. "Am I tough to serve with?" Angle said. "I'm probably very tough to serve with, because frankly your dollars are very important to you. When government takes your dollars they owe you a complete explanation." Parsons said he wasn't familiar enough with the county budget to take a stand on Stoffa's tax increase. Instead he said council has ignored $20 million in improvements to Gracedale nursing home. Angle said he favored addressing capital needs a decade ago when then Democratically-controlled council floated $110 million in bonds. He noted taxes have doubled in Wind Gap since Parsons took office. Parsons said the borough, facing reduced property tax revenue, raised taxes to increase services and staff. "When you pay your tax bill as long as you're getting a good return on what you're paying, you're happy," he said. "You can't just be cutting everything and have nothing in return." Asked why voters should choose him over Angle, Parsons said Angle's often gruff demeanor impedes council from getting things done. "I would be civil," Parsons said. "I would listen to everybody's concerns. I wouldn't be name-calling, political back stabbing. You have to work together." Angle said he recently struck a deal with Charles Chrin of Chrin Bros. Sanitary Landfill that will net the county $2 million over five years and pointed to the leadership role he took last year in reworking the current county budget. "Many days I'm very civil," Angle said, "but when I have to get tough, I can get very tough." Turning to campaign financing, Angle defended his acceptance of a $3,000 donation from a political action committee for the GEO Group Inc., an operator of private detention centers. The check came days after Angle urged council to pave the way for a GEO-run facility in Upper Mount Bethel Township.

February 16, 2011 Trading Markets
Ron Angle, as Northampton County Council president, received a $3,000 campaign contribution from a company seeking a deal with the county to build a detention center and house illegal immigrants in the Slate Belt. The political action committee for the GEO Group Inc. made the payment in October, days after Angle urged colleagues on County Council to act quickly and authorize County Executive John Stoffa to explore the company's proposal. Asked Monday about the contribution, Angle said he told representatives of the company that he wouldn't support the project if Slate Belt residents didn't like it. Angle eventually did lead council to back away from the deal. "They didn't buy any influence," Angle said of the GEO PAC's contribution. "They bought my disinfluence." Angle disclosed the check as required in a publicly available campaign finance report he filed with the state. His campaign raised less than $5,000 during the period. Under the deal proposed by the Florida-based GEO Group, Northampton County would seek a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house people who are in the U.S. illegally. The county would then subcontract the work to GEO, which operates more than 40 prisons in the U.S. and abroad. Supporters of the project, who early on included Angle, touted it as a way to bring new tax revenue to the Bangor Area School District without attracting new students. Slate Belt leaders said it would also bring sorely needed jobs to the area. Local residents, however, did not see the project as a good neighbor. Angle said he spent $680 of the GEO group's campaign money to poll Slate Belt residents. He said he asked how they felt about having the detention center on a 128-acre tract south of the Portland Industrial Park in Upper Mount Bethel Township. Based on negative feedback from the poll, Angle persuaded council in November to rescind its call for Stoffa to start talks with ICE about a month after it gave the go-ahead. Essex County, N.J., is reportedly now in line to get the contract with ICE. Angle is the only Northampton County Council member who received money from the GEO Group in 2010, according to campaign finance records. Angle then was council president and now serves on council. His district includes the Slate Belt. Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, said it's not unusual for elected officials to accept campaign money from companies doing business with the government. "This kind of relationship makes good campaign fodder," Borick said. Angle, a Republican, is running for re-election this year. Council President John Cusick said in an interview he was not aware of the GEO Group's PAC contribution to Angle. He said he finds the amount and timing troubling considering Angle's rush to put the resolution authorizing talks with ICE on council's agenda.

Northhampton County Prison
Easton, Pennsylvania
Aramark

PrimeCare
January 2, 2006 The Morning Call
Because of a lack of medical treatment, Trent Apple claims his multiple sclerosis deteriorated so much he had trouble walking. Yahteek Miles says his broken wrists went untreated for nearly two months, causing permanent problems with his hands. And the family of Donald Weiss Jr. alleges he killed himself after mental health experts failed to provide adequate psychiatric care. Each of these individuals served time at a county prison where a private business provided medical services. And each of them has had a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on his behalf, alleging the business failed to provide sufficient medical care in an effort to save money. Across the nation, prison health care companies have come under increased scrutiny, with prison watchdogs questioning whether the profit motive has harmed the quality of prison health care. Prisons that have hired private medical companies generally have done so because of the promised financial savings for taxpayers. ''If they're doing it cheaper, it's usually because they're cutting something, and those cuts have consequences for the quality of care,'' said David Fathi, an attorney with the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. Locally, PrimeCare Medical Inc., based in Harrisburg, provides services at four prisons - in Lehigh, Northampton, Berks and Monroe counties. Schuylkill County is considering hiring it. Inmates have filed dozens of suits against PrimeCare, which serves 22 county prisons in Pennsylvania. In Northampton County, at least 16 suits have been filed against the company since it started providing services there in 1999, the most against any local prison served by PrimeCare. Traditionally a litigious group, inmates often file handwritten suits on a variety of issues that end up being dismissed as frivolous. But in Northampton County, many of the suits against PrimeCare involve prisoners with private attorneys. And many of their cases have been given court approval to move forward. One of the more significant Northampton County cases involved a seriously ill inmate who reached a $150,000 settlement in 2003 with the county and PrimeCare. It alleged that PrimeCare failed to fill prescriptions and gave incorrect prescriptions and that the prison delayed access to medical care. PrimeCare has been an improvement over Wexford Health Sources Inc., which provided medical care at the Lehigh County Prison until 2004, Sweeney said. PrimeCare is better partly because it's more oriented toward county jails than Wexford, he said. Inmates have shorter stays in county jails than those in state prisons, so their medical needs are different. But the owner and president of PrimeCare, Carl A. Hoffman Jr., has a questionable medical record. In 1997, the Pennsylvania Board of Osteopathic Medicine disciplined him. It issued a formal reprimand and fined him $500. At the time, Hoffman owned Pennsylvania Institutional Health Services, the predecessor to PrimeCare, which was contracted to provide medical care at five state prisons.

November 19, 2005 The Express-Times
Six Northampton County Prison guards sickened by exposure to mold filed notice Friday of their intent to sue the county and several past and present county officials. A construction company, an environmental cleanup contractor and a food services corporation are also named as defendants in the document. The plaintiffs suffered both respiratory and gastrointestinal infections after an ongoing expansion at the jail stirred up mold that contaminated the air and food there, according to their attorney, John P. Karoly Jr. County officials have long known mold is a problem at the prison, but did not act quickly enough to fix it, he said. Also, Karoly said his clients meals were fouled by mold because of flaws in the jail food service provider's storage and preparation methods. The county is trying to cover up the mold problem, he said. "These plaintiffs have been attempting to get more information about what they've been exposed to and they've been denied that information." All of the men have received medical treatment for their illnesses and a few of them were hospitalized, Karoly said. They continue to work at the prison, he said. Northampton County Executive Glenn Reibman, who is named in the notice, did not return a phone call for comment Friday evening. Other defendants named in the notice are former Director of Corrections James Smith, Director of Corrections Todd Buskirk, Acting Warden Scott Hoke, Daniel J. Keating Construction Company, of Philadelphia, CMC Environmental Hazard Abatement Inc., of Jim Thorpe, Pa., and Aramark Correctional Services, Inc., of Philadelphia. In 2003, state prison inspectors found moldy areas and moisture-related damage in the prison. The mold was blamed on a leaky shower system in one of the cell blocks. At the time officials acknowledged that the mold was a "very serious" health risk and said they intended to replace the shower system.

September 7, 2005 The Express-Times
Three Northampton County Prison inmates have contracted antibiotic-resistant staph infections, and three others may have the disease, according to the prison's health care provider. All infected prisoners and those who may have the disease were segregated from the general prison population, and every prisoner was inspected to rule out additional cases, PrimeCare Medical spokesman Todd Haskins said Tuesday. PrimeCare of Harrisburg has the contract to provide medical care to the prison's 600 inmates. Haskins said the prisoners have methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a skin disease that results in slow-to-heal boils or sores. The bacteria can lead to serious wound infections, blood infections and pneumonia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. PrimeCare adopted an MRSA prevention and treatment policy in June and put information about the disease in the pay envelopes of the prison employees. They received the information shortly before the disease was detected this week, Haskins said.

August 9, 2005 The Morning Call
Northampton County Prison has stored food in a bathroom, did not have hot water or soap for kitchen workers to wash their hands and used refrigerators not cold enough to safely store food. The conditions are revealed in the Easton Health Bureau's inspection records of 2004 and 2005, which were released last week to The Morning Call following a legal challenge by the newspaper to the city's refusal to make the records public. City inspector Ed Ferraro, interviewed about the city's inspection of prison conditions, described the violations as so severe that, had they been found in a private business, he would have asked the owner to close voluntarily until problems were corrected. Like other food establishments, county prisons are covered by a patchwork of agencies. And just like restaurants and food retailers, some prisons are inspected more often than others and score better or worse than others. Northampton County Prison failed two categories in its 2004 inspection by state officials, which is separate from inspections done by the city. It failed to meet general cleanliness standards because of missing and damaged floor tiles, and it failed to provide health exams to kitchen workers to ensure they are disease-free. While maintaining a clean kitchen is ultimately the responsibility of Northampton County Prison administrators, the county pays a private company, Aramark, to run its food services. Aramark is responsible for how the kitchen runs on a daily basis, Buskirk and Hoke said, and violations such as storing chicken and roast beef at room temperature and storing boxes of dry food in the bathroom would fall under Aramark's responsibility.

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station
York County, Pennsylvania
Wackenhut (Group 4)

January 6, 2009 Chicago Tribune
Federal energy regulators have proposed a $65,000 penalty for Exelon Corp. after guards at the utility holding company's nuclear plant in Pennsylvania were seen napping on the job. Exelon terminated its contract with security service provider Wackenhut Corp. in 2007 and shifted to an in-house team, not long after Wackenhut security officers at Exelon's Peach Bottom plant were videotaped dozing while on duty. The tapes showed the armed guards taking brief naps in the nuclear plant's "ready room," where they are free to relax when not on patrol but must be ready to respond if called. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission launched a review of procedures at the plant in September 2007, after learning of the existence of video recordings, the NRC noted Tuesday. The investigation, completed in July, found "multiple occasions" in which guards were "inattentive" and other guards had failed to tell their supervisors about the behavior. Chicago-based Exelon "has made wide-ranging changes to its security program at Peach Bottom and at other plants it owns as a result of these events," the NRC noted Tuesday, in a release that pointedly didn't use the words "nap" or "sleep." The commission said it will continue to emphasize that "inattentiveness on the part of those charged with the vital task of protecting and operating our nuclear power plants [is] completely unacceptable."

February 28, 2008 AP
The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission acknowledged Thursday that more should have been done to thoroughly investigate a tip that security guards routinely took naps while on the job at a Pennsylvania nuclear plant. It wasn’t until a videotape of guards sleeping in a “ready room” at the Peach Bottom plant in south-central Pennsylvania surfaced several months later that the NRC announced in September a special investigation. The tip was in the form of a letter, which the NRC received last spring from a former employee who was writing on behalf of current employees. After the NRC received the letter, it allowed the Exelon Corp., owner of the plant, to investigate the allegations. In doing so, Exelon found no evidence that guards were taking nap breaks. NRC Chairman Dale Klein testified Thursday during a Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee hearing that one reason may be because there was collusion by the guards to sleep during their shifts. He said the letter’s author asked not to be contacted, and Klein said the agency made a mistake by honoring that request. “We were not as rigorous as we should have been,” said Klein, adding that the NRC is taking action to prevent similar problems at all nuclear plants. After the videotape surfaced, Exelon Corp. fired the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based Wackenhut Corp. as its security guard provider at Peach Bottom and its other plants. While acknowledging there was wrongdoing, company and nuclear oversight officials at the hearing sought to minimize the risk that the sleeping guards posed. Christopher Crane, Exelon’s chief operating officer, said the guards in the ready room were not at a guard post, but were instead in a staging area to assist other guards if there was an incident. The company has 17 reactors at 10 plants nationwide in Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said the event was inexcusable, and he was concerned there was a culture at the plant that discouraged employees from coming forward to report problems. He said the NRC had reported a “white” finding for the incident based on their agency’s color-coded threat analysis, which means the sleeping guards presented a low to moderate threat.

January 20, 2008 York Daily Record
U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, R-York County, said federal officials should have taken a closer look into initial claims that Wackenhut Corp. security guards had been sleeping on the job at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station. A more comprehensive investigation into the plant's security problems alleged in a March letter drafted by John Jasinski to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission may have uncovered other evidence of guard inattentiveness, he said. "They should have erred on the side of a greater investigation," Platts said. "Given the information that there was a breach, they should have had broader look into all layers of security." In March, Jasinski, a former head of Wackenhut Corp. security at the power station, sent a letter to the NRC that described how guards had witnessed other officers sleeping inside the plant's bullet-resistant enclosures, or guard towers, and other areas at the plant. Commission and plant officials both looked into Jasinski's claims, but were not able to substantiate the allegations, said Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman. "In regards to the letter," he said, "there was not a lot of tangible proof that guards were inattentive in the guard towers." While the commission wasn't able to tackle evidence of security problems at the plant, Kerry Beal, a former Wackenhut officer, did record his fellow guards sleeping in a secure location within the power station. Between March and August, Beal videotaped members of security team sleeping in the plant's ready room. In September, CBS News aired Beal's videos which eventually led to the plant terminating its contract with Wackenhut and creating a new in-house force, Exelon Nuclear Security. In the wake of Beal's recording, both the NRC and Exelon launched investigations to find out why guards couldn't keep their eyes open while on duty. "When the video did come out," Sheehan said, "we had tangible proof that guards were inattentive instead of a letter that made vague assertions that guards had been inattentive in the towers." But some lawmakers have taken issue with the NRC's response to the power station's security failures and have committed to conducting reviews of how the commission handled the situation. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement that the NRC's failure to act on "credible allegations of sleeping security guards" has raised troubling questions. "It appears that there has been a systematic failure, by both NRC officials and the nuclear plant licensee, to ensure that these high-risk facilities are secure and employees are not discouraged from expressing concerns about safety," he said. Next month, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee will meet with NRC officials to discuss the issue. Also, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has requested that the Committee on Environment and Public Works hold a federal field hearing that would focus on the recent security lapses at the power station.

December 14, 2007 Patriot-News
Wackenhut, one of the largest security firms in the world, just lost its contract to protect 10 nuclear power plants. One of them was Three Mile Island. The company can blame it all on a simple video tape that documented about 10 of its employees sleeping on the job at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in York County. Chicago-based Exelon Corp., owner of the TMI, Peach Bottom and Limerick plants in Pennsylvania, released a statement today saying it would not renew its contracts with the security firm when they expire next year. Instead, Exelon will take responsibility for plant security in house. Exelon fired Wackenhut from Peach Bottom shortly after the video tape was made public in late September. Today's announcement severs Exelon's relationship with the security company at all of its plants by July of 2008.

December 4, 2007 AP
A former plant operator suggested "brutal" 12-hour shifts made guards inattentive at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station. "Your body is not designed to work 12 hours a day," Robert Hall said at a public meeting Monday at the nearby Peach Bottom Inn. "The schedule is brutal. It's a killer." Peach Bottom spokeswoman Bernadette Lauer said plant security officers overwhelmingly elected to work the 12-hour shifts, however. The meeting was held to discuss U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission follow-up inspections on security officer attentiveness at the plant. Between March and August, Wackenhut security officer Kerry Beal videotaped fellow security officers napping in the plant's ready room. Guards in the ready room are allowed to read, study or relax, but are expected to remain ready to respond to a plant emergency. The power station has terminated its contract with Wackenhut and put its own security force, Exelon Nuclear Security, in place on Nov. 1. NRC officials and Exelon Nuclear representatives met to discuss follow-up inspections the NRC has been conducting. The agency sent a team in September to evaluate security. That inspection confirmed guards had been sleeping on the job and the ready room had been dimly lit and poorly ventilated and provided little to stimulate the officers. The plant has improved temperature control and installed a computer the officers can use. A second team visited Nov. 5. Among other findings, the team found Exelon failed to provide proper oversight of its former Wackenhut security force, and communication among officers was weak, NRC security inspector Dana Caron said. Supervisors discouraged security officers from reporting inattentiveness, Caron said.

October 30, 2007 The Patriot-News
The Wackenhut security officer who used a video camera to expose sleeping co-workers at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station will not be allowed to keep his job when plant owner Exelon takes over security operations at the York County facility. Kerry Beal, who lives in southern Lancaster County, was notified by mail Saturday that his application for a position with the Exelon-led force at Peach Bottom was being turned down. “We regret to inform you that you do not meet the selection criteria established for a position with Exelon Nuclear Security at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station,” said the letter, signed by Matthew Smith, manager of site human resources at Peach Bottom. Beal’s video resulted in investigations by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Exelon. The NRC, which licenses commercial nuclear plants, concluded that as many as 10 security officers employed by the global security firm Wackenhut slept while on duty, a violation of federal licensing regulations. Exelon responded by firing Wackenhut from Peach Bottom and launching a review of its contracts with the company at nine other plants, including Three Mile Island and Limerick. Exelon announced it would take over responsibility for security at Peach Bottom and would allow Wackenhut employees to apply to keep their jobs. Wackenhut’s last day at Peach Bottom is today. None of the 10 officers identified in the video will be hired by Exelon, said Bernadette Lauer, a company spokeswoman. Lauer said Beal’s decision to video tape co-workers and later release the video to WCBS-TV in New York city, were not factors in the company’s decision to turn down his application. “We’re grateful that he raised the issue so we can address it,” she said. “But it had nothing to do with him not being hired by Exelon.” Beal’s attorney, David Wachtel, said his client was disappointed and concerned about his future. “We will get all the facts and see what to do,” Wachtel said, but added that “it looks like retaliation.” If so, Beal could file a claim of discrimination under the Energy Reorganization Act. The act prohibits employers from firing or discriminating against workers who refuse to engage in any practice prohibited under the ERA or the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan would not comment on Exelon’s decision to reject Beal’s application. Beal filmed members of a security team at Peach Bottom sleeping in a “ready room” at the plant on four occasions between February and August. The NRC, which is continuing to investigate, issued a subpoena for the hard drive of Beal’s personal computer. The subpoena is being challenged by his attorneys.

October 5, 2007 York Dispatch
A March letter to the federal agency charged with oversight of Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station warned of security guards sleeping while on duty. Because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission knew about the issues and did nothing, an unnamed security guard videotaped his colleagues sleeping at the nuclear power plant in June, said Peter Stockton, a senior investigator for the national watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, or POGO. "The NRC knew about this, about the problems at Peach Bottom way before the videotape became news," Stockton said. "They knew about it and did nothing." The tape, which aired on WCBS in New York, showed guards nodding off while on duty. It prompted power plant operator Exelon to fire its security provider, Wackenhut. And the tape set off an investigation by the NRC, which concluded last week. The NRC and Exelon will hold a public meeting to discuss the incident at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Peach Bottom Inn at 6085 Delta Road in Peach Bottom Township. Letter from former employee: The March letter, written by a former employee of Peach Bottom, said security guards were exhausted and fatigued after working excessive over-time and having difficulty adjusting to 12-hour shifts. As a result, guards were taking "power naps which last 10 to 15 minutes or longer." The former employee wrote the letter on behalf of some security guards, who feared reprisal if they came forward, Stockton said. "The officers are becoming very adept at coordinating amongst themselves. Officers fall asleep quickly while on duty and are able to wake momentarily when called for radio checks and then fall right back to sleep," the letter said. POGO provided the letter, but withheld the former employee's name. The NRC confirmed the authenticity of the letter, and that an agency inspector on site at Peach Bottom had received it. "We did not ignore the concerns, we looked at them," said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the NRC's Region 1, which includes Peach Bottom. "Resident inspectors are trained to watch for those issues and when we get an allegation, we also convey it to the company." However, Sheehan said "based on the information we were provided at the time, we were unable to substantiate the concern." Guards knew: Security guards knew the NRC's methods for identifying personnel sleeping on duty, according to the letter, which included contacting Wackenhut and informing them of complaints prior to taking any investigatory actions. "They know how the NRC and licensee operate and feel no one wants to really find out if anyone is sleeping, because they already know they are," the former employee wrote in March. "Our moral and religious obligations have been met and only you can decide whether you will act accordingly or hide behind policies and procedures that have proven ineffective in the past." U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, R-York County, said he is "disconcerted" with the reports he has seen. The NRC agreed to give a special briefing to Platts and U.S. Sens. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Bob Casey, D-Pa., he said. "I will be looking for not just what went wrong at the plant, but also what the NRC did with the information it had," Platts said. Sheehan said while the NRC will discuss the investigation next week, it could be until the end of October that it releases any possible penalties assessed on Exelon.

September 25, 2007 Philadelphia Inquirer
Exelon Corp., the nation's largest producer of nuclear energy, said yesterday that it was moving to terminate a contract with Wackenhut Corp. to provide security at Exelon's Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station after reviewing videos of guards "nodding off or sleeping" at the York County, Pa., power plant. Alerted by a reporter from New York's WCBS-TV, both Exelon and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said last week that they were investigating security at the Susquehanna River plant. Chris Crane, chief operating officer of Exelon Generation, said that station representatives showed the videos to Exelon officials on Friday and that Exelon quickly decided to end Wackenhut's role at the plant. Peach Bottom is one of 10 sites where Exelon produces energy from 17 nuclear reactors. "This is not acceptable, and we will not tolerate it," Crane said in a statement. "I want to be clear that nothing has happened at Peach Bottom that represents a security or safety threat to the public. We are dealing with unacceptable behavior, and we will fix it." In a conference call with reporters, Crane said the videos had been taken by a Wackenhut security officer over the course of several months, starting in February. Crane said the guards shown to be inattentive were not responsible for patrolling the plant, but were on duty in a "ready room" so they could respond immediately if a security threat was detected. Crane said the video raised concerns about Wackenhut's performance. He said Exelon planned to review the contractor's role throughout Exelon's nuclear facilities, for which Wackenhut has provided security since 1999. Exelon also owns Philadelphia's Peco Energy Co. A spokesman said Wackenhut does not provide security to Peco. Crane said the video of the guards "clearly shows behaviors that are not tolerable." Guards in the room are allowed to read while on duty, or to use training programs on computer terminals, but are required to stay awake and alert, he said. Peach Bottom guards are paid $18.78 to $21.32 an hour, Exelon said. Crane said that while the problem was apparently limited to one of four security crews, it was worrisome that the videos had been taken over several months. "If this has been going on on a crew for a period of time, it's got to have some tacit acceptance in that crew," he said. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has two resident inspectors at Peach Bottom, said Thursday that it was sending a five-member team to assess plant security and Exelon's response to the situation. "We continue to believe the site is secure," Samuel J. Collins, the NRC's regional administrator, said in a statement. Plant personnel are required to report security lapses, but it is unclear whether the guard who recorded his sleeping colleagues had done so. "The employee says he has, but there is no corroborating evidence," Crane said. Exelon said the guards involved - "fewer than 10," a spokesman said - had been barred from the site, pending completion of Wackenhut's own investigation. Crane said Wackenhut was providing replacement personnel to augment the plant's security force. Based in Florida, Wackenhut is a subsidiary of G4S P.L.C., a British-based multinational that calls itself "the world's leading provider of security solutions." Marc Shapiro, a G4S senior vice president, said Wackenhut was confident its investigation would show the Peach Bottom problem to be isolated. "We know this is an anomaly, and not representative of our company," Shapiro said. Activist groups have long complained that nuclear plants pose large security risks. The issue gained new prominence after the 9/11 attacks raised concerns that terrorists could build a so-called "dirty bomb": a conventional device that would spread toxic nuclear materials. The NRC has periodically cited nuclear-plant operators for security lapses. Last month, an NRC inspector found an armed guard asleep at a gate outside the Indian Point nuclear generating station in Buchanan, N.Y., about 35 miles north of New York. Indian Point is operated by Entergy Corp. of New Orleans, the nation's second-largest nuclear operator.

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

July 19, 2013 ncnewsonline.com

NEW CASTLE — A mystery surrounds Lawrence County’s jail. It doesn’t involve the lockup so much as what the Lawrence County commissioners may do with it. For some time now, the commissioners have been involved in a mostly secretive effort to look into having a private operator run the facility. The commissioners have solicited offers and, supposedly, one company has responded. But what that response is remains part of the mystery; the commissioners won’t say. Instead, the New Castle News was told it would have to file a request under Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law in order to obtain information about the proposal. Why? Presumably the commissioners have ready access to the proposal, so all the right to know filing does is drag things out. But this has been the general process the commissioners have followed with their jail privatization initiative. They have had no substantive public discussions about their intentions and have not articulated precisely what they hope to achieve. Similarly, we don’t know what methods or insights they are using to assess any proposals, as the county has never had private jail operations before. Even the Lawrence County Prison Board, which oversees the jail and its operations, has been kept in the dark, with several members saying they have not been informed of any privatization offers. And in an odd exchange at this week’s prison board meeting, Commissioner Robert Del Signore said he has not even looked at the proposal the commissioners received. “I don’t want to look at it,” Del Signore said. “I don’t want to be swayed one way or another.” Huh? How does any commissioner plan to assess the proposal if he is unwilling to review it? So this merely adds another baffling layer to the whole thing. As we have said previously, we support the idea of looking at ways to privately run some government operations. If it reduces costs or promotes efficiency, that serves the public good. But none of that involves secrecy. To the contrary, a step as unique as turning the county jail over to a private operator ought to be handled as openly as possible. The fact the commissioners have opted for a high level of secrecy merely adds to the questions. After all, the commissioners do not own the jail. It is the property of the people of Lawrence County. And good government procedures dictate that the taxpayers ought to be kept in the loop when major changes such as this are explored. Furthermore, any privatization move with the jail involves policy matters that absolutely should be handled in public. The commissioners need to rethink their approach, and taxpayers should demand it.



June 4, 2013 citizensvoice.com

Pennsylvania will let its final contract with a downtown Hazleton correctional facility lapse at the end of the month, state Rep. Tarah Toohil said Monday. Toohil, R-Butler Township, received notice from the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett that the contract will expire with Community Education Centers of West Caldwell, N.J. She pressed to close the correctional facility, as did leaders of the local government and the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce, because of crimes linked to the center's inmates. Two other state contracts with the facility expired last year. CEC did not say whether it planned to close the facility or perhaps look for funding to house federal or county inmates in Hazleton. When buying MinSec in late 2012, however, CEC said it sought to move the facility out of Hazleton and was seeking another site. In Hazleton, inmates released on passes or those who settled in the area after serving sentences have been involved in murders, bank robberies and other crimes. Many merely failed to return to the facility on time, so police had to apprehend them. "We had such crime and loss of business," Toohil said. We're very, very glad and very thankful that Gov. Corbett has listened to our concerns. He's seen the detrimental impact and granted our request." Mayor Joseph Yannuzzi said if the facility closes, Hazleton will move "one step toward restoring our reputation and the perception of downtown." Hazleton police Chief Frank DeAndrea credited Toohil for tenaciously opposing the facility and said the end of the state contract gives him a reason to celebrate. But he said the facility still might get federal contracts, and people whom the facility brought to Hazleton will remain. "The community is going to be left with the scars of this facility. For quite some time, the people who have moved into and located into our area and the illegal businesses they set up will remain," DeAndrea said. He listed drug sales, theft rings, prostitution, gangs and copper thefts as types of activities that resulted from the center's presence. He will continue working with Toohil and other leaders to advocate laws that protect Hazleton and other communities from hosting correctional facilities. "I recognize that this facility brought a ton of ugliness and black marks to our community, but if we can use it to better or, possibly, save another community that's what it's all about," DeAndrea said. West Hazleton Borough has seen its share of crime related to inmates, or former inmates, borough police Chief Brian Buglio said. Buglio recalled a 2010 murder, a bank robbery and stolen vehicles and vehicle break-ins when he committed by people who stayed at the facility. Like DeAndrea, Buglio said some former inmates have decided to stay in the area or formed ties with the community. Though some inmates have been rehabilitated and may not commit future crimes, he predicted other inmates will fall back into the same lifestyle that brought them to the facility in the first place - but now they will commit crimes locally. Specifically, Buglio pointed to the Dec. 6, 2010 murder of Abdul Hakeen Shabazz, a 30-year-old father, who was shot while selling $400 of marijuana to two brothers, Izel and Isiah Garrett and their cousin, Tyrek Smith. The Garretts, who are from Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, were in West Hazleton to visit their father, Calvin Garrett, a former MinSec inmate. The Garretts were found guilty of killing Shabazz, while Smith was found guilty of a robbery charge. Buglio also talked about an April 2012 bank robbery spree. In total, Shawn Luther Kelley, a former MinSec resident who police said lived in the area after he was released from the facility, was accused of committing a robbery at Citizen's Bank, West Hazleton and also robberies at banks in Hazle Township and in Hazleton during a two-week spree. Kelley was originally charged by local police, but now faces federal charges related to the crimes in May 2012. His trial has been continued until July 15. Buglio said he was "extremely happy" to hear the facility's contract won't be renewed, not only as police chief but for the residents of West Hazleton and Hazleton. "Murder. I don't know that it gets any worse than that," Buglio said. A MinSec alumnus, Joseph Cedeno, is charged with stabbing a man to death in Carbondale in October 2012, In another murder in 2009, a former inmate was the victim. Allen Fernandez was executed in Ransom Township, Lackawanna County, after being driven there from Hazleton. Lew Dryfoos, who was president of the chamber when the effort to oust MinSec began, said the facility drained resources of the police in Hazleton, West Hazleton and the state police. "If you had wanted to come up with a way to wreck our downtown, you would have been hard pressed to come up with something worse than MinSec. Although MinSec's closure alone won't fix all of downtown's problems, it is certainly a very positive development," Dryfoos said. Chamber President Donna Palermo said she always had difficulty knowing how many residents the facility contained. Late last September, 28 of 118 inmates transferred out of Hazleton when the state ended contracts for treating people who had issues involving mental health, alcohol or other drugs in the facility. "We are just so happy that the state has seen just how destructive this facility has been for our downtown and our businesses and finally saw that the many, many incidents that we have been reporting to them, has been harmful to our community and surrounding communities," Palermo said. "We at the chamber want to especially thank Gov. Corbett and Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel for making this decision and a special thank you to Rep. Toohil." Crimes involving inmates at the facility slowed and inspections intensified after Wetzel met with state lawmakers in April 2011 in Hazleton. In letters to the editor, inmates received thanks for helping with community projects and for carrying boxes for two senior citizens moving into a new apartment. "They're not doing the same things they were when 14 or 15 of them would hang out on the corner," Mayor Yannuzzi said, but he added the perception of the facility was slower to change. MinSec purchased the Altamont Building, 145 W. Broad St., at Broad and Church streets, in 2008 for $2.18 million. In December 2012, CEC acquired MinSec and said it sought a new location for a corrections center. Attempts to obtain comments from CEC were unsuccessful on Monday. On May 23, the company issued a news release saying that is contracts were renewed in New Jersey and at 11 corrections facilities in Pennsylvania. The company's website, however, indicates it had 12 facilities in Pennsylvania. State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, complemented Wetzel and the chamber for addressing the numerous complaints about the facility. "The downtown location of this particular facility, in the heart of the Hazleton business district, presented significant problems for city businesses and the community," Yudichak said. Toohil hopes private investors will find a new use for the Altamont, which was built as a luxury hotel in the 1920s and served as a personal care home in the 1960s. "My dream for that building is it will be recognized for the beautiful building it is," she said.Yannuzzi said investors were interested in the building previously and he expects that the building will sell if the owners advertise it at a market price. "I don't think it will be as difficult as you think," he said. "It's a beautiful building. It needs some investment." Kelly Monitz, Amanda Christman and Jill Whalen, staff writers, contributed to this story.

January 6, 2010 Star-Tribune
Hundreds of Pennsylvania prisoners who might have saved a cash-strapped private prison in western Minnesota from closing will go to state prisons in Michigan and Virginia instead. Those 2,000 medium-security inmates will be sent to under-used prisons that operate in similar fashion to what's being done in Pennsylvania, said Jeffrey Beard, the state's secretary of corrections. Minnesota had sent a proposal to Pennsylvania in hopes of keeping a private prison in Appleton open. That prison, which in past years had handled overflow from state-owned prisons in Minnesota and Washington, will close Feb. 1. Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), which owns the prison and runs 64 prisons in 19 states, is seeking a new state or federal contract to reopen the prison sometime this year. "A significant portion of that facility would have to be occupied" to reopen, said CCA spokesman Steve Owen. Pennsylvania's decision was a disappointment, he said. "Had that contract been secured, we could have kept Appleton open." Owen said his company had no advance notice of Pennsylvania's intentions when the decision was made in December to close the prison. It was an economic decision, he said, because occupancy at the 1,600-bed prison had dwindled to about 200 prisoners. The Minnesota Department of Corrections sent prisoners to Appleton in recent years when state-run prisons were full, but that need diminished with expansions in Faribault and other prisons, Deputy Director David Crist has said. Appleton also lost all of the inmates it once housed from Washington state. Kansas, Nevada and Oklahoma also asked for the Pennsylvania prisoner transfer, for which Pennsylvania would have paid all costs. Prisoners would remain in out-of-state prisons for three years. Pennsylvania's prison population stands at more than 51,000 in buildings intended to house 43,222 inmates. The Appleton closing will throw as many as 125 employees out of work. Owen said Wednesday that 18 workers from Appleton have thus far been hired by other CCA prisons. Appleton Mayor Ron Ronning, a prison employee, has said the closure will hit hard in the city of 2,700 residents.

August 18, 2007 Times-Tribune
The Lackawanna County Prison’s medical director was fired from a similar post at a Pittsburgh-based health care services company in 1999 in an apparent dispute over a new treatment for hepatitis C in state prisons the company served. Company officials could not be reached to explain his termination, but in a lawsuit later filed against the company, Dr. Edward J. Zaloga claimed he was fired because he disagreed with a plan to begin treating the liver disease with a then-new, unproven drug that ultimately would be a waste of taxpayer money. The treatment “would waste more than $7 million of the (state) taxpayers’ money on unnecessary and unwarranted medical treatment,” he charged in a suit filed against Wexford Health Sources Inc. in November 1999. He claimed in his suit that his management practices had created a profit for the company of $4.1 million, and the company — which at the time was trying to get the state to pay for the new treatment — feared it might have to pay for treating inmates if the state found out about its profits. He was fired for raising the concerns, he alleged. The suit demanded more than $1 million in unpaid wages, expenses, lawyer’s fees and punitive damages. The company, in its legal responses, denied earning anywhere near $4 million. It denied his other claims as well. County judges rejected Dr. Zaloga’s suit in separate rulings in 2002 and 2004 with one judge writing that Dr. Zaloga failed to establish “a report of wrongdoing ... or waste.” Wexford in its legal filings acknowledged firing Dr. Zaloga but did not say why. Dr. Zaloga is now co-owner of a company, Correctional Care Inc., of Moosic, that provides medical services to county prison inmates, and oversees those services. A former inmate, Shakira Staten, 22, a federal prisoner who gave birth at the prison July 10 and has since been transferred to Adams County Prison to await sentencing, has sued him, the company and the prison in federal court. She claims she was a victim of cruel and unusual punishment because her pleas to be taken to the hospital when she went into labor were ignored and she had the baby alone in a cell. The county Prison Board this week apologized for the way she treated and blamed a Correctional Care nurse for “serious errors of judgment” that included failing to properly monitor her labor and unnecessarily delaying taking her to the hospital. The board barred the nurse from working in the prison. A secretary in the company’s office said Dr. Zaloga was not available for comment and would only reply to written questions. A secretary at Wexford Health Sources said no company officials would be available to comment until next week. Dr. Zaloga was Wexford’s regional medical director for its central Pennsylvania operations from Feb. 1 to Sept. 29, 1999, the day the company’s operations director dismissed him, according to court records.

April 7, 2004
The family of a 43-year-old man who was found hanging in his prison cell two days after a 2002 drug arrest filed suit this week charging "reckless indifference" on the part of Delaware County’s prison officials.  Attorney Jon Auritt, who represents the family of John Focht, is seeking the standard in excess of $50,000 in damages from several named defendants including the Wackenhut Corp., which manages the prison, and the Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors.  The litigation was filed on behalf of the victim’s estranged wife, Vanessa Fay Focht Bowen of Ridley Township, and their four children, ranging in ages from 14 to 25.  Attorney Robert DiOrio, solicitor for the prison board, declined comment on the litigation filed in Delaware County Common Pleas Court. "We literally just read it and are reviewing it," he said.  Auritt in the suit said that Focht had a history of depression and attempted suicide that caused him to be hospitalized. He said prior to being arrested in February 2002 in Darby Borough, Focht was drinking 20 beers per day and using cocaine.  The litigation charges that because of his prior suicide and other issues related to his addiction, he was to be observed at 15-minute intervals.  "On Feb. 5, 2002 at about 7:30 p.m. within two days of decedent’s arrival at the prison, (Focht) was found hanging from a noose made from his bootlaces which were attached to the wall grating in his cell. "When he was discovered, decedent was dead and it is believed he had died about an hour before," Auritt states in the suit.  (Delco Times)

January 22, 2004
A Northampton County bargaining unit alleges county officials unfairly eliminated six jobs in the county prison's kitchen, which was privatized this month.  The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 88 filed a complaint last Thursday with state labor officials, saying the county had engaged in unfair labor practices. The six prison kitchen workers were part of the so-called "residual unit" of county workers who voted last July to organize. The group does not yet have a contract, and meetings to discuss the deal have proven difficult. Internal memos between county and union officials detail a tense exchange of comments that led to the collapse of talks. The complaint of unfair labor practices filed last Thursday is a one-page document that does not elaborate on details of the claim against the county. But officials said the complaint stems from administrators' decision to eliminate six county jobs and bring in a private company to run the prison kitchen. County Corrections Director H. James Smith said the workers have been encouraged to re-apply for work with the new company, Aramark Correctional Services, which is already running the kitchen.  (The Express-Times)

January 5, 2004
A man killed a female co-worker at a prison halfway house and substance-abuse treatment center in North Philadelphia on Monday, then fatally shot himself, police said.  "It appears to be a murder-suicide," said Officer Richard Devlin, a police department spokesman.  Police said Vivian Figueroa, 34, was shot once in the head at around 12:20 p.m. inside a third-floor office in a portion of the building operated by Liberty Management, a private company under contract with the state Department of Corrections.  The shooter was identified by police as Shawn Gilmore, also 34. Police said both worked at Liberty Management. About 77 inmates and recent parolees live at the center, according to Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton. No residents were involved in the shooting, she said.  McNaughton said she did not know whether employees at the halfway house were usually subjected to security checks on their way in and out of the building. Some Department of Corrections halfway houses have a relatively low level of security and do not require employees to be checked for weapons, she said.  Distraught relatives of the man and woman gathered outside the building in the hours after the shooting and engaged in a series of angry exchanges with each other.

Pennsylvania Legislature
Aramark, GEO Group
February 21, 2012 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
After decades of explosive growth, prison systems face some of the same cost-cutting pressures as other parts of state budgets. Gov. Tom Corbett proposed no increase in prison funding in next year's budget, which — if the state Legislature agrees — would stop a decades-long trend of rapidly rising costs. Similar cost pressures in other states prompted a private prison company to set aside $250 million to buy and run state prisons. Officials here say full privatization — which Ohio did with one of its prisons last year — is off the table. "We're reviewing everything, but the full and total privatization of an SCI (state correctional institution) is not something we're looking at," said state Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan Bensinger.

May 16, 2011 AP
The cafeteria in Pennsylvania's Capitol is reopening under new management 18 months after it was briefly shut down by a rodent infestation. The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reports a local company is reopening the cafeteria Monday as Capitol Restaurant by C&J Catering. The caterer took over control of the cafeteria after food services giant Aramark scraped its three-year lease in December. The state Department of Health shut down the cafeteria for two weeks in December 2009 over a rodent infestation. It soon reopened but more problems were discovered a month later during an unannounced walkthrough. Catering company owner Jamie Berger has been selling salads and sandwiches from kiosk outside the cafeteria for the last month. She says her employees will conduct weekly health inspections so previous problems don't return.

September 16, 2010 Think Progress
In December 2009, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a powerful front group that helps corporate representatives craft template legislation for state lawmakers, funded partially by the private prison industry — hosted Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce (R) and began debate on legislation that would provide broad powers to local police to arrest anyone who might look like an immigrant. ALEC then distributed the template legislation to its members. The January/February 2010 edition of ALEC’s magazine highlights the draft version of SB1070 — the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” — as model legislation. In April of this year, Pearce then introduced ALEC’s template as the infamous SB1070 law. Notably, the ALEC task force which helped Pearce devise his racial profiling law included Laurie Shanblum, a lobbyist from the mega-private prison corporation Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) which previously played a role in privatizing many of Texas’ prisons. An investigation from Arizona’s KPHO-TV found more ties between SB1070 and the private prison industry: Paul Senseman, Gov. Janet Brewer’s (R-AZ) deputy chief of staff was a former lobbyist for CCA (his wife is still a lobbyist for CCA) and Chuck Coughlin, Brewer’s campaign chairman, runs the lobbying firm in Arizona that represents CCA. In These Times reporter Beau Hodai, who also reported much of SB1070’s connections to the private prison industry, has a chart to explain the relationship. CCA is set to receive well over $74 million in tax dollars in FY2010 for running immigration detention centers. In a presentation given earlier this year, Pershing Square Capital, a hedge fund with a large financial stake in CCA, suggested that CCA’s profitability depends on increasing numbers of immigrants sent to prison. Many of the legislators helping to earn CCA more profits with radical anti-immigrant bills mirroring SB1070 have been recipients of private prison industry cash or have worked closely with the CCA-funded ALEC organization: – TENNESSEE: Earlier this year, legislators in Tennessee passed an immigration bill with provisions “similar to, but less harsh than, those of SB 1070, including requiring city and county jails in the state to report any person who may be in violation of immigration laws to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” But that wasn’t enough: right-wing local lawmakers also passed a resolution honoring Arizona’s SB1070, and a delegation of state lawmakers promised to introduce an anti-immigrant bill even “broader” than SB1070 in 2011. Many of the leading local lawmakers who voted for the anti-immigrant bill and resolution received thousands of dollars from CCA’s political action committee in the past two years, including State Reps. Gerald McCormick ($250), Barrett Rich ($500), Eric Watson ($250) and State Sens. Bill Ketron ($1,000), Jim Tracy ($500), Dolores Gresham ($1,000), Bo Watson ($500), and Jack Johnson ($500). Tracy, who sponsored the resolution honoring Arizona’s SB1070, also received $2,000 directly from CCA founder Tom Beasley, reports the Nashville City Paper. CCA retains five lobbyists in the state and spent at least $50,000 this year to lobby on immigration and other issues. – OKLAHOMA: Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK), who won her party’s nomination to run for governor this year, received the maximum donation permitted by law from CCA. State Rep. Randy Terrill (R-OK), who announced that he was planning an “Arizona-Plus” immigration bill that would be harsher than SB1070, is a proud member of the CCA-funded American Legislative Exchange Council. – COLORADO: A group of Republican lawmakers in Colorado, after a research trip to Arizona this summer, have stated that they plan on passing a SB1070 law in Colorado next year. CCA’s lobbyists in Colorado have raised funds for many of the lawmakers in the group. CCA lobbyist Margy Christiansen raised $400 State Rep. Randy Baumgardner, one of the leaders of Colorado’s Arizona expedition, and CCA lobbyist Jason Dunn raised $150 for State Sen. Mike Kopp, the Republican minority leader who is promising to promote an SB1070 bill next session. – FLORIDA: During the gubernatorial primary campaign between disgraced businessman Rick Scott and Attorney General Bill McCollum (R-FL), the prospect of importing Arizona’s SB1070 became a prominent issue in the race, with both candidates promising to bring a version of the law to the state. While many Florida Republicans recoiled at the idea, which stands to alienate many Hispanic voters, a cadre of state lawmakers and candidates for the state legislature, most funded by the prison industry, announced their support for an SB1070-type law. State Rep. Bill Snyder, who has received $500 from CCA, pledged to introduce a bill more draconian than SB1070. State House candidate Ben Albritton, another outspoken supporter of SB1070, took $500 from CCA, and State Rep. Joe Negron, who has been working with Snyder to sponsor the bill, received $1,000 from the Geo Group, another major private prison contractor which operates immigrant detention centers. Overall, the Republican Party of Florida has been the biggest recipient of prison industry cash in the past two years: $37,000 from CCA and $145,000 from the Geo Group. – PENNSYLVANIA: In the Key State, State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-PA) introduced the ALEC-drafted “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” one month before State Sen. Russell Pearce (R-AZ) introduced his version of the bill in Arizona. Metcalfe is a highly active member of ALEC. He was paid $1,500 by ALEC just to attend its meetings with CCA lobbyists on how to draft the law. In Tennessee, the average daily number of immigration detainees sank to 40 in FY2009, down from 95 in FY2008. This may change with CCA’s aggressive lobbying for more laws encouraging aggressive arrests of immigrants or people who look like immigrants. Charles Maldonado, who has reported on CCA’s corrupting influence at the Nashville City Paper, notes that CCA may see new business at its West Tennessee Detention Facility with the passage of more SB1070-related laws. ALEC, with funds from several private prison companies, helped sponsor “truth-in-sentencing” and “three-strikes-you’re-out” laws all over the country for the past two decades. These laws have greatly increased incarceration rates, and have contributed to America’s distinction of having the largest prison population in the world.

January 4, 2010 Tribune-Democrat
State employees and visitors can again buy food and coffee in the Capitol cafeteria. The privately run eatery at the state Capitol opened its doors Monday morning after being shut down for more than two weeks for a cleanup. State inspectors had found mouse droppings and other health hazards. Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp. holds the contract to operate the cafeteria on the ground floor of the statehouse. Officials acknowledged that the cafeteria had not been inspected for four years, even though state law requires annual inspections. The cafeteria will be inspected monthly for the next six months, they said.

December 18, 2009 Tribune-Democrat
The cafeteria in Pennsylvania’s Capitol was shut down and workers scoured the facility Friday after health inspectors found evidence of a rodent infestation and dishwashing water that wasn’t hot enough. The ground-floor cafeteria, a popular coffee and lunch spot for visitors to the statehouse and people who work there, was closed Thursday after state Department of Agriculture officials made an unannounced inspection. “There were mouse droppings around the facility too numerous to mention,” said Justin Fleming, a spokesman for the state Agriculture Department. Aramark Corp., the Philadelphia-based food service company that runs the cafeteria, said the problems were being corrected.

November 19, 2009 Pittsburg Tribune-Review
State Rep. John M. Perzel exercised an option to buy 5,000 shares of stock in a prison company — days before a grand jury recommended felony charges against him and fellow Republicans — and then resigned from the company's board the day he was charged. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission records show Perzel, the former House speaker from Philadelphia, on Oct. 28 exercised options that he earned as a board director of Geo Group for stock valued at the time at $105,360. On Nov. 12, he resigned from the board, which he joined in 2005. He had just been elected to another term. Attorney General Tom Corbett on Nov. 12 charged Perzel with masterminding a "sophisticated criminal strategy" to spend more than $10 million of taxpayer money on political campaigns. Perzel did not respond Wednesday to messages left with his Harrisburg and Philadelphia offices. Asked whether Perzel was asked to resign, Geo Group spokesman Pablo E. Perez wrote in an e-mail: "Our company has no comment beyond the information it has disclosed through its public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission." The SEC filing states his resignation did not involve "any disagreement with GEO concerning its operations, policies or practices." Perez said the company does not have contracts in Pennsylvania. Last year, Geo Group withdrew from a nearly $40 million-a-year management contract to run an 1,883-bed Delaware County prison. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company held the contract since 1995 and had another year to go. Perzel, who owns a home in Boca Raton, joined Geo Group's board while serving as House speaker. The company formerly was known as Wackenhut Corrections. According to a Geo Group proxy statement for the April stockholders meeting, Perzel served on four of its committees — including the audit and compensation panels. During fiscal 2008, according to the filing, he was compensated $147,953 in board fees and options. Perzel's job in the Legislature pays him about $78,000 annually. Perzel exercised his options on 5,000 Geo Group shares Oct. 28 — the first day he was able to do so, the SEC filings show. He has given House caucus officials no indication he might resign his legislative seat, said House GOP spokesman Stephen Miskin. He is not required to resign unless convicted. Under House rules, he would give up his minority chairmanship of the Urban Affairs Committee if a judge would order a trial. If convicted, Perzel could face loss of his pension, which would be based on years of service and three highest consecutive years of salary. He was paid $114,915.55 annually as speaker, a post he held from 2003-07. His pension could top $100,000, according to estimates that the Tribune-Review compiled. Robert Gentzel, press secretary for the State Employees Retirement System, said no official figure is readily available on Perzel's maximum pension benefits. By law, a retired legislator cannot earn more in a year on a pension than his or her highest annual income while in office, he said. Perzel is charged with theft, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, conflict of interest, and hindering apprehension or prosecution. Two House aides charged in the scandal — John Zimmerman and Jill Seaman — are suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the charges, Miskin said.

November 12, 2009 Philadelphia Inquirer
At 59, John Michael Perzel has lived a life of contradictions. He was a brilliant political strategist who had to repeat the 10th grade. He was among the state's most prolific fundraisers, but was uncomfortable in crowds. He went from being one of the most recognizable state politicians - the speaker of the House with aspirations of the governor's mansion - to little-heard-from back-bencher two years ago. Now, Perzel, who serves on the board of one of the nation's leading private prison companies, begins a fight to stay out of jail. State prosecutors today charged him with criminal counts in the funding of a software program used in political campaigns in the ongoing Bonusgate probe.

November 5, 2007 Altoona Mirror
As Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections plans to build three more prisons, a state House bill would ensure that the state — not private companies — will operate them. Corrections officials await funding requested in their budgets to build the prisons on existing grounds at Huntingdon, Rockview in Centre County and Graterford in Montgomery County. Private companies could not operate those, or any other prisons in Pennsylvania, if lawmakers pass a bill discussed during a public hearing Oct. 25. It also would instruct a legislative task force to investigate the feasibility of privately run institutions, which supporters say cost the state less, provide better quality inmate care and can solve overcrowding problems. Some state governments contract with companies operating private prisons, although Pennsylvania does not. However, the state is home to one private prison, which opened last spring in Clearfield County west of Philipsburg. Texas-based Cornell Companies Inc. operates the Moshannon Valley Correctional Institution. Inmate assignments are made through a contract with the federal Bureau of Prisons. The state has no affiliation with the facility. Low-security inmates are housed at the prison, mostly from Washington, D.C. As of Thursday, the prison’s population was 1,482. If the moratorium bill passes, it will not affect the Clearfield County facility. “We’re not trying to shut anybody down or say all private facilities are bad,” said state Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks, Judiciary Committee chairman. He supports the bill and led the recent hearing. Clearfield County Commissioner Rex Read said the private prison has benefited the county with jobs. A community group, on which Commissioner Mike Lytle participates, meets regularly to discuss any concerns related to the facility. “I think it has gone very well,” Read said. “There are a lot of area people that work there. I can’t really say anything negative about it.” As of August, three of the state’s 27 prisons were not housing inmates beyond capacity. “We’re growing about 200 inmates a month,” spokeswoman Susan McNaughton said. ‘‘We’re very crowded.’’ In addition to the three new facilities planned, new emergency housing units will help alleviate overcrowding. Nathan A. Benefield, director of policy research for the Commonwealth Foundation, said overcrowding and the state’s cost per inmate — $31,363 in 2005-06 — is enough to consider privatization. Although the state will not seek private prison contracts, it contracts for some halfway houses and prison services, such as food and health care. Despite those private contracts, Caltagirone said the state shouldn’t compromise public safety by allowing fully private facilities. ‘We’re not dealing with choir boys here; we’re dealing with murderers,’’ he said. ‘‘Certainly, I think we don’t want to compromise public safety by saving money.’’ William Sprenkle, corrections deputy administration secretary, testified during the Oct. 25 hearing that evidence shows no great difference in cost between state and private prisons. He also discussed problems in Louisiana’s private prisons, which had more inmate escapes, more reports of aggravated sexual misconduct and less monitoring and control of substance abuse among inmates. Roy Pinto, vice president of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, said prison positions, and any other involving public safety, should remain with the government. ‘‘The growing trend across the country is a lot of states are bailing out of these private prisons because they find that they end up costing more money, not less,’’ he said.

August 31, 2006 Philadelphia City Paper
Will the pay-raise issue cost incumbents as dearly in the Nov. 7 general election as it did in last May's primary? Back then, "lifer" incumbents were tossed from the ballot by newcomers funded by angry voters and grassroots organizations. The backers were mad that House and Senate members voted themselves a raise at a secret legislative hearing in 2005. The "throw the bums out" approach worked well in rural areas, even after some returned the money or gave it to charity, and later in the year, the raises were repealed. But for all the stir, it had no effect on city incumbents. Two Democrats, Tim Kearney and Brendan Boyle , vying for the House seats held by entrenched Northeast Republicans, think the disdain could soon return. Kearney, who works for a health-care transportation company, is running for the second time against House Speaker John Perzel , a dominant fixture who represents the 172nd District. Perzel has unabashedly said he has no regrets about accepting the raise. If the state wants to attract the best and the brightest (supposedly including himself), proper compensation is essential, he maintains. Kearney admits he has a challenge, but says he is better prepared than two years ago. He thinks he could find help in two issues: the pay raise and a potential conflict of interest for Perzel. As reported by the Inquirer in July, there is a possible ethical issue looming involving Perzel's position on the board of directors of the Geo Group, Inc., which privately runs prisons. Geo Group wants to take over a competitor that has state contracts for several juvenile detention centers. "When I go door-to-door in the district, I hear from people that they are still mad about the pay raise, upset that Mr. Perzel not only took it, but wouldn't return it after it was repealed," says Kearney. "They also are talking about Mr. Perzel's side deals such as with the Geo Group. They all read the papers."

July 24, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer
A deal brewing on Wall Street involving a $220 million-plus takeover of a company that runs private prisons could put House Speaker John M. Perzel in an ethical bind, experts say. Perzel (R., Phila.) is on the board of directors of Florida-based Geo Group Inc., the nation's second-largest private-prison company, which recently submitted a takeover bid for competitor Cornell Cos. Inc. Geo doesn't conduct any business with state government, though it does run the Delaware County prison. But Houston-based Cornell has at least $50 million worth of contracts with the state to run 17 juvenile detention centers across Pennsylvania. Experts on ethics and corporate governance said that although Perzel might not now have an ethical dilemma, that could change if the Cornell purchase is successful. As the ranking House member, Perzel holds major sway over public policy, and is a chief crafter of the state's $26 billion budget. As such, he has influence over state spending while also serving on a board in an industry whose bottom line depends on privatizing a governmental service: prisons. "It puts him on two sides of the transaction," said Charles Elson, director of the University of Delaware's Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance. "If the acquisition goes through, he may want to rethink his board service. It would be problematic." Al Bowman, Perzel's spokesman, said the speaker did not know that Geo had bid for Cornell or that the Texas company had state business. Bowman said that it was premature to discuss the issue but that Perzel, in the event the bid is successful, would consult with lawyers to determine his options on the board. "Whatever the conflicts of interest may or may not be, they will be handled appropriately," Bowman said. In an interview in March, Perzel stressed that Geo didn't have any state business in Pennsylvania and that there was no current legislation before the House dealing with prison privatization. Even if there were, he said, he would not abstain from voting, unless the bill pertains specifically to Geo. "As a member of the board, I oversee the company. I don't write the contracts," he said. "... Why would it be wrong for me to vote to allow private prisons?" In June, Cornell announced that it was putting itself on the auction block, and within the last two weeks, Geo made a bid, a source familiar with the sale confirmed. Andy Merrill, a spokesman for Cornell, declined to comment about the Geo bid or Perzel's potential conflict, beyond what the company announced in June. Perzel, who was named to the board in January 2005, was paid about $99,000 that year in stipends, meeting fees and stock options. After learning of Perzel's role with Geo, Rep. Michael McGeehan (D., Phila.) introduced a bill to bar legislators from serving on corporate boards for pay - a prohibition similar to one for members of Congress. Pennsylvania's rules governing conflicts of interests are vague, leaving Perzel in the position to decide for himself what he should do, said Peggy Kerns, the director of the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures' Ethics Center. "He should look at Pennsylvania's law and decide what his own ethical standards are and then be prepared to justify his decision to the public," she said.

June 29, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer
A bipartisan group of House members yesterday unveiled sweeping proposals to restore the public's faith in the General Assembly and to give rank-and-file legislators more power in the lawmaking process. The ideas range from imposing term limits on committee chairs to rules prohibiting the consideration of bills in the wee hours of the morning. In a separate news conference an hour later, another House member, Rep. Michael McGeehan (D., Phila.), announced he was introducing legislation that would bar legislators from serving on corporate boards for pay. Although McGeehan said the legislation was not directed at any one person, it was clear that it was in part prompted by House Speaker John M. Perzel (R., Phila.). As a director of GEO Group Inc., a Florida-based company that runs private prisons, including one in Delaware County, Perzel makes $20,000 a year, in addition to meeting fees and stock options. McGeehan said he was basing his proposal on rules of the U.S. House, which limits outside employment for congressmen. Without such a restriction, McGeehan said, "it raises a question, a cloud in the public's mind about our personal business and the peoples' business." Beth Williams, Perzel's press secretary, said the speaker has not yet seen the legislation and had no comment on it yesterday.

May 25, 2006 Pocono Record
Pennsylvania House Speaker John Perzel was out of town a week or so before the Primary Election, when the Republican-led General Assembly declined to vote on property tax reform legislation. Perzel was in Boca Raton, Florida, attending a board meeting of the GEO Group Inc., of which he is a member. GEO Group Inc. is a company that runs private prisons. Pennsylvania taxpayers pay Perzel $108,724.46 a year. But the House Speaker bowed out of discussions over property tax reform, an issue of vital concern to Pocono residents and tax-strapped citizens elsewhere, so that he could serve a for-profit corporation. He gets $20,000 from GEO for his services, as well as stock options and other compensation for attending meetings. Pennsylvania imposes no limits on its state lawmakers' outside income. The General Assembly was conceived as a citizens legislature, after all, one that would benefit from the temporary services of ordinary, committed Pennsylvania residents who would conduct the state's business but ultimately return to their civilian jobs. Ah, the good old days! Pennsylvania also has no lobby disclosure law, so taxpayers have no way to determine whether GEO Group Inc. is wining and dining their legislators with an eye toward picking up operations at a county prison or a state penitentiary or two and running them for a profit. Perzel also was among the chief architects of the ill-fated pay raise that lawmakers passed without public hearing last summer, then rescinded in November after a public outcry. Perzel's 34-percent raise temporarily brought his salary to $145,553 per year. Many lawmakers opted to return their extra pay once they voted to repeal the raise. Not Perzel. He kept the money. He stands to gain at least $3,403 per year in his already generous state pension thanks to that raise. Angry Pennsylvania voters bumped the top two Republicans in the Senate in last week's primary. Maybe voters in Perzel's district will vote him out in November, when he faces Democratic challenger Tim Kearney, who received 2,426 votes in the primary to Perzel's 2,100. Perzel has been in the state House for 28 years. Given his recent performance, voters are entitled to conclude that he is putting his own interests ahead of his constituents'. It's time to sweep Perzel and others of his ilk from the House.

May 12, 2006 The Tribune-Democrat
Barb: Arrogance has toppled many a politician, and House Speaker John Perzel wins an award for arrogance by skipping property-tax talks to attend a company board meeting in Florida. Perzel, a Philadelphia Republican, gets paid $20,000 a year plus stock options to serve on the board of GEO Group, which runs prisons and residential-treatment facilities. GOP legislators, meeting without their leader, ultimately postponed a vote on the legislation, even though the Senate and the governor had supported it. Someone got their money’s worth from Perzel last week, but it wasn’t state taxpayers.

May 11, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer
A week after he missed a key session of the state House to attend a corporate board meeting in Florida, Speaker John M. Perzel yesterday downplayed his absence and defended his voting record. "I took a leave of absence for a personal day... . My attendance record speaks for itself," Perzel (R., Phila.) said. Since the legislative term started in January 2005, Perzel has attended 82 of 86 voting days for a 95 percent attendance record. The comments were Perzel's first on the topic since The Inquirer reported that he missed 42 votes May 3 because he was attending the annual meeting of Geo Group Inc., a Boca Raton-based company that runs private prisons. He is one of seven members of the company's board of directors. That day in Harrisburg was marked by a bill that didn't see a vote - legislation to provide property-tax relief that had already passed the Senate. House Majority Leader Sam Smith (R., Jefferson) postponed an expected vote on the bill after hours of closed-door discussions in which Republican members said it didn't provide enough tax relief. The move angered many Democratic legislators and Gov. Rendell. Critics, including the head of a leading government watchdog group, had said that by being in Florida on such a crucial day, the speaker put his private affairs above his public duties.

May 5, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer
Wednesday's was one of the most important sessions the state House has had in a long time - a day the chamber was expected to put the legislative final stamp on a property tax relief plan years in the making. But as the bill unexpectedly unraveled, people throughout the Capitol began to wonder: Where's House Speaker John Perzel? Even his second in command, House Majority Leader Sam Smith, who talked to him several times on the phone that day, said he didn't know his whereabouts. Perzel (R., Phila.) was in Florida, preparing for an entirely different kind of vote. He was attending corporate meetings of GEO Group Inc., the Boca Raton company of which he is a board member. At yesterday's annual meeting at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, where Perzel was staying, shareholders of the publicly traded company voted to give him another term on the board. The job pays $20,000 a year, plus stock options and thousands of dollars more to attend meetings - including about $5,000 to attend this week's. Through his spokesperson, Perzel declined to comment yesterday. "It certainly seems the speaker's priorities are askew," said Barry Kauffman, executive director of Common Cause of Pennsylvania, a government watchdog group. "The board he is most responsible to is called the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. This is where his priorities should have been. When asked Wednesday afternoon about the speaker's whereabouts, his spokeswoman, Beth Williams, said he was out of town on personal business. She would not elaborate. Pablo Paez, a spokesman for GEO, confirmed that Perzel attended board meetings in Florida over the last two days. Perzel, who makes $112,689 a year as speaker, was appointed to the seven-member GEO Group board of directors in January 2005. GEO runs 61 prisons and residential treatment facilities worldwide, including the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in Delaware County. GEO's contract is up for renewal this year, and the county is interviewing three finalists, including GEO, to operate the prison. In an interview with The Inquirer in March, Perzel said he considered the seat on GEO's board "an opportunity to see the real world, to see how business decisions are made and it gives me experience there that I can use here." In addition to his $20,000 director's compensation, Perzel pocketed at least $20,000 last year for attending board and special committee meetings. He also owns 2,700 shares of GEO stock, corporate filings show.

December 4, 2005 Pittsburg Tribune
The Sunshine State seems to exert a magnetic-like pull on some of Pennsylvania's most powerful politicians. State House Speaker John Perzel's district is in Philadelphia, but you wouldn't immediately realize that by reviewing property tax records in Palm Beach County, Fla. Those records indicate Perzel and his wife, Sheryl, bought a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in unincorporated land near Boca Raton in April. The sale price: $332,000. The purchase occurred less than three months before Perzel helped shepherd through the General Assembly sneaky pay raises of as much as 54 percent for every legislator, the state judiciary and key state administrators. The cash grab occurred without any public input or debate among lawmakers. Perzel was among the legislative leaders who defended the raises with suspect rationalizations. In January, Perzel was named a director of the GEO Group, a company that manages many correctional facilities across the country. In addition to his current $108,724 House speaker's salary, he will earn an extra $20,000 this year for his GEO role. GEO board members also are paid $1,500 for every board meeting they attend. The board convened 11 times during fiscal 2004, according to federal Securities and Exchange Commission filings. It's unclear how many directors' meetings Perzel has attended. But thanks to his real estate purchase in April, he shouldn't have had much difficulty getting to them. GEO board meetings are held at its headquarters in -- you guessed it -- Boca Raton.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court
GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections)
February 12, 2003
A plurality of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled a county prison board, that privatized its prison operation in 1995, is not considered a statutory employer under the Worker's Compensation Act and, therefore, is not immune to a negligence suit filed by an injured employee of the prison's management firm.  The crux of the majority opinion.  The court concluded the Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors was not immune from the suit because there existed no enforceable contract between the board and the purported statutory employer, Delaware County, which officially owns the prison.  The responsibilities of the board are stipulated only in enabling legislation conferred on the prison board by the General Assembly.  The decision, announced Jan. 2, affirms a Commonwealth Court ruling in 2001 that reversed a trial court decision finding the board was the statutory employer of the appellate and, thus, immune from the suit.  The suit originated from an incident involving John Peck, a corrections officer at the Delaware County prison, who slipped in a puddle of water and fell on Sept. 10, 1996, while he was employed with the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation.  Peck's fall caused injuries to his left shoulder that necessitated two surgeries.  He filed for a worker's compensation claim against Wackenhut, which has managed the prison since August 1995, and was awarded benefits.  Peck also brought a negligence suit against the prison board for failing to maintain the prison in a safe condition.  The Supreme Court's ruling is based on the finding from McDonald that an entity cannot serve in a dual capacity as "owner" and "employer."  While the Delaware County Board of Prison Inspectors maintained it is the prison's employer under contract with the prison's owner, Delaware County, the court said this could not stand without a contract between the two entities.  (Pennsylvania Law Weekly)

Philadelphia Prison System
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Corizon (bought Prison Health Services, formerly run by Liberty Management
)

February 12, 2013 philly.com

CITY COUNCILMAN Jim Kenney is demanding that someone from the Nutter administration testify at his hearing on the city's prison health-care contract and is threatening to subpoena the city or withhold funding from the Law Department if the city doesn't cooperate. In a letter to City Solicitor Shelley Smith on Friday, Kenney said that he was "prepared to use all resources and powers available to me as a councilperson" to compel the city to answer his questions about why Corizon Health - fined for violating the city's minority-contracting rules last summer and frequently criticized for poor care - is getting a new $42 million contract. Kenney's letter came after the Daily News reported that the city will not provide a witness for the Feb. 27 hearing. Responding to questions from an attorney representing a Corizon competitor that lost out on the contract, Smith wrote in January that she would look into his complaints. In the meantime, she wrote, the city would not make anyone available for Kenney. Smith declined to comment for this story. "We will respond directly to Councilman Kenney on this issue and not through the Daily News," she wrote in an email Friday. Kenney, in his letter, wrote that "City Council, the inmate population, as well as the public at large, have a right to know how a vendor who fraudulently benefited from laws established to assist legitimate minority-owned businesses, is awarded a contract over a legitimate minority-owned local business." The administration said that the other vendor, a smaller company called Correctional Medical Care, was deemed inadequate to care for 8,600 city inmates.



January 09, 2013 By Sean Collins Walsh The Philadelphia Daily News
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Philadeplphia's prison system is set to renew its contract for providing inmate health care with a company that last year was found to have violated the city's minority-participation requirements and has been accused of neglecting patients in many states. Corizon, the largest prison health-care company in the nation, recently agreed to a new $42 million year-to-year deal for Philly's prison health care beginning in March, although the contract has not been finalized. Now, before ink has touched paper, a councilman is asking why the city is still doing business with a questionable firm, and a rival company is asking why it didn't get the job after offering to do it for less. In July, Corizon agreed to pay the city $1.85 million after an investigation found that the company was using a sham female-owned subcontractor to say it met city requirements for participation by firms owned by minorities, women or disabled people. Corizon declined to comment. Mayor Nutter's spokesman, Mark McDonald, said that the company has reformed its practices for minority participation in Philadelphia and elsewhere. He added that the prison health facilities have maintained national accreditation under Corizon. Councilman Jim Kenney on Tuesday asked the city to delay signing the contract so that Council can hold a public hearing on the issue. By using a renewable one-year agreement, and not a longer-term deal, he said, the administration avoided having the contract reviewed by Council. "This is a way to get around City Council," Kenney said. "It's all being done behind the door." McDonald, however, said that renewable contracts are standard and allow the city to better manage the vendor. The new contract originally was to begin last September, but was pushed back six months so that the city could evaluate Corizon after resolving the settlement, McDonald said. Correctional Medical Care, a Corizon rival owned by a woman, said that it placed a bid that would have cost the city $3.5 million less per year and couldn't have started on the original date. Its lawyers now are asking the city why it went out of its way for Corizon when CMC was ready to go. McDonald said that CMC's offer, although cheaper, was "deemed not to be up to the standard of care of the prison system." The Philadelphia Prison System, which has about 9,000 inmates, did not return requests for comment. Corizon donated $1,000 to Mayor Nutter's campaign committee in April, according to city records. Prison Health Services, which merged with another company to form Corizon in 2011, had donated $5,000 to Nutter in 2008. PHS also had given Kenney $1,000 in 2010 and $500 in 2007. Corizon has run into serious issues in recent years, including a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Idaho inmates that alleged extreme cases of negligent care over 30 years. The Tennessee-based company also has been probed in Vermont and other states.

August 28, 2012 Philadelphia Daily News
TONY WILLIAMS felt his leg snap when he jumped off a top bunk in a Philadelphia prison cell two years ago and landed awkwardly on the concrete floor. But a prison doctor called the injury a sprain and sent him back to his cell. That misdiagnosis of a broken leg was just the beginning. Williams, incarcerated for a parole violation, was made to wait weeks for treatments, didn't receive rehabilitation after surgery and was repeatedly ignored when he complained of pain, according to a suit he has filed against the city and Corizon, a for-profit private firm that provides health care to the city's roughly 9,047 inmates. "Trying to see a doctor is like trying to get out," said Williams, 30, who needs a brace and a cane because his leg didn't heal properly. According to a doctor's review ordered by his attorney, Williams' injuries are "both serious and permanent." Williams is one of many who have filed suit against Corizon - a Tennessee-based firm formerly known as Prison Health Services - over the years. But city officials say they are satisfied with the service. And Corizon is looking to keep its multimillion-dollar contract, which recently expired, with the city. "We do offer the same range of services someone would get in the community," said Prison Commissioner Louis Giorla, who said he didn't know the particulars of Williams' case. "In correctional health care, the level of complaints is very high." Corizon last month paid a $1.8 million fine to the city for allegedly skirting minority-participation guidelines, but worked out a deal that preserved the right to bid on contracts. The previous contract expired, but the city granted an extension to Corizon while it seeks bids. Giorla said the new contract will be issued soon. A spokesman for Corizon declined to make anyone available for an interview, saying in a statement that the firm wanted to stay out of the media during the contracting process and does not comment on pending litigation. "What we can say is that our caregivers work hard every day to provide quality, compassionate care to our patients in the Philadelphia Prison System," spokesman Brian Fulton said. Since 1995, the firm has been paid $196 million by the city for providing medical and pharmacy service. That includes hiring doctors and nurses, assessing inmates, doing sick calls and providing medication. The local complaints over Corizon - which provides prison health care to 345,000 inmates in 29 states - are not unique. A recent court-ordered report in Idaho blasted Corizon, saying a poor quality of care constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" - allegations the company disputed. Attorney Geoffrey Seay, who represents Williams, said he has seven current or pending suits against Corizon and the city. "There is a pattern of negligence," he said. "They're not getting the proper evaluation, the proper treatment." The city has paid out at least $1 million since 1995 to settle suits brought by former inmates over medical care, according to the city law department. Among the biggest settlements was $300,000 paid to a man who never received needed eye surgery while in prison and went blind in one eye. When a suit is settled, Corizon typically pays additional damages to the victim, the city said. Corizon's contract with Philadelphia was terminated for several months in 2002 after complaints from prison advocates about a diabetic inmate, who died in 2000 after missing insulin treatment. But the city ultimately signed with Corizon again, citing affordability and pledging oversight. Experts agree that prison health care is a challenge that requires catering to a growing population that often has serious health concerns like chronic illness and drug addiction. Ballooning costs have led many cities and states to outsource health care. But prison advocates caution that you get what you pay for. "I think we need to start with the proposition that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. The private providers say they can do the same job, do as good a job, save money and generate profits for their shareholder," said David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project. "If they're going to try to do it more cheaply and at the same time generate a profit, they are going to cut corners." Officials said that outside monitors visit the prisons twice a year and that the facilities meet national accreditation standards. Bruce Herdman, chief of medical operations for the prisons, said the full-time medical staff makes 145,000 sick-call visits every year. Still, former inmate Lisa Holland says she didn't get adequate treatment during a recent jail stint. Holland, 46, was arrested July 12 on drug charges. Seay, who also represents Holland, said she is innocent but got taken into custody because her son was arrested for drugs. When Holland was arrested, she wasn't permitted to take a dose of the morphine she needs to manage severe pain she has struggled with since a 2000 car accident damaged her spine and crushed her leg. By the time she got to prison, she was in severe withdrawal, vomiting and defecating. She said it was four days before a doctor sent her to the hospital. "Every shift, every person I asked to take me to the hospital. I laid on the floor soiling my clothes," said Holland, who plans to sue Corizon and the city. "They treated me like a dog. They made me feel terrible." Giorla said the prisons deal with a large number of substance-addicted people who experience withdrawal. He said inmates receive a medical evaluation to see if they need medications. "If it's therapeutic and it's necessary and there's no substitution, we'll provide it. If it's not necessary, we won't provide it," he said. Civil-rights attorney David Rudovsky said private health care in prisons requires substantial oversight. "Whether it's Corizon or [Prison Health Services] or a new provider, in my experience, the problems of inadequate medical care [will continue] unless the city provides an adequate amount of money, the provider has some integrity, and there's some very detailed oversight," he said.

July 26, 2012 Miami Herald
Florida prison vendor agrees to hefty fine in Pa. case The company awaiting final approval from Gov. Rick Scott's administration to privatize health care services for most Florida prison inmates has agreed to pay a $1.85 million fine in Philadelphia for skirting minority contracting requirements. The vendor, Prison Health Services, now known as Corizon Health, is accused of falsifying official documents and federal prosecutors are looking for evidence of mail and wire fraud. News accounts in Philadelphia newspapers report that the city's inspector general, Amy Kurland, as describing the arrangement as a classic "pass-through" in which health care for city jail inmates was subcontracted to JHK Inc,., a female-owned business in Indiana that handled pharmaceutical supplies. The company said it had permission from prison employees for the arrangement. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter called the city's settlement with the company"a significant moment that sends a very, very strong message to everyone who does business with the city," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. As the story was breaking in Philadelphia, Scott's Department of Corrections was formally asking the Legislature for approval to shift $58 million in health care funds across categories so that it can hire Corizon and a second private vendor, Wexford Health Sources, by January 2013.

May 29, 2001
When Teresa Dorsey, mother of two and a hospital employee, drove past the old North Philadelphia factory, she often wondered what the workmen were doing.  The rumor was that the ancient hulk in this industrial brownfield on 17th Street near Cambria might be transformed into a community center.  Last Monday evening, she and dozens of her neighbors learned the answer.  The Philadelphia Prison system is set to open in mid-June a 232-bed prison for minimum and medium security female inmates who will get job training skills as they near their release date.  "The city went about this in an underhanded and secretive way," said Dorsey, who after the meeting gathered 125 signatures from neighbors telling the Street administration that they hadn't known anything about the prison.  Indeed, the flier announcing last Monday's meeting referred to a "residential treatment program for women" and made no reference to a prison.  Prison Commissioner Thomas Costello swallowed some crow yesterday, saying, "The prison system was probably remiss on this."  Liberty Management found an old factory building in an area zoned for industry and, according to the city code, for prisons.  There was no required zoning hearing at which the public could protest.  he Nicoletti family, which owns Liberty Management, signed a contract with the Rendell administration in late 1999, calling for the city to pay $27.50 per inmate per day with a guarantee of at least 200 inmates.  Nicoletti family members are also major contributors to Rendell and other pols.  Rose Williams, who lives on Tucker near 15th and Lehigh, said, "Usually when stuff is done under cover, it's not good for the general public."  (Daily News)

Philipsburg, Pennsylvania
Cornell

December 16, 2002
Northwest of town is the patch of reclaimed strip mine that heavy equipment groomed 3 1/2 years ago for a privately operated 1,000-inmate prison complex.   But the ground sits vacant.  What looked like an employment bonanza, so big that it drew 6,100 employment-seekers between two job fairs, has been in a three-year stall, a high-level impasse over the constitutional propriety of a private company holding prisoners in Pennsylvania.  Behind closed doors, a stalemate has broken, and negotiators are molding an accord, said Rep. John Peterson, the Venango County Republican who inherits this area next month through reapportionment.  "I don't know if we'll have anything in time for Christmas," said Peterson, who joined Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., in trying to shepherd an agreement that would let Cornell proceed with construction. "It's been brighter recently."  "I think we're very close. Whether it's a week or the end of the month, I don't know," Cornell spokesman Paul Doucette said. "We've made significant progress in the last six months. ... We've moved the ball by several orders of magnitude."  But near Philipsburg, Cornell plans a Pennsylvania first.   The company wouldn't simply sell its services to help government operate a prison. It would own and run the lockup, taking inmates assigned by the federal government and housing them in three compounds.  But either way, he said, the Bureau of Prisons would honor the contract to send 1,000 inmates.  Cornell would provide everything from medical care to special discipline and employ the guards who, in turn, could employ deadly force when things went awry.  On that central point, in 1999, state Attorney General Mike Fisher dug in his heels against Cornell and the federal Bureau of Prisons, the agency that hired Cornell to build the prison.  Nothing in state law says a private company or anyone but government can hold prisoners, Fisher insisted.  Nothing in state law says they can't, Cornell replied.  Cornell created some of that problem itself, trumpeting the project -- $14.53 an hour for guards, 40 percent above the average wage here -- before checking for legal stumbling blocks, said Sen. John Wozniak, D-Johnstown, a supporter of the prison project.  It's uncertain where Fisher, the federal Bureau of Prisons and Cornell stand now on the legality of privately operated prisons. Like many of the elements of the shrouded negotiations, it's being kept secret.  Doucette said one solution that won't be used was a proposed resolution placed on the table early in the talks: Attempting to turn the prison complex into a federal enclave that could be shielded from state laws.  Cornell's local support wasn't unanimous, though.  The plan gathered critics who said local government and environmental regulators were allowing Cornell to rush headlong into doing ecological harm, a dispute that critics lost when they took it to the federal district court in Johnstown.  Statewide, opposition built in some corners of organized labor over Cornell's plans to use nonunion guards.  (Post-Gazette.com)  

Snyder County Jail
Selingrove, Pennsylvania
Aramark

October 17, 2005 The Daily Item
The Snyder County prison board has received a verbal agreement that a food service company will continue feeding inmates through the end of the year. The board's one-year contract with Aramark expired Oct. 1, but the county is presently engaged in a legal battle with the Teamsters Union regarding last year's hiring of the independant food provider. The issue came about last fall when the prison board decided to eliminate staff at the prison who had been preparing meals and hire the company with an aim of saving about $100,000 a year. The union filed a grievance, claiming the county violated the labor relations law by cutting eight union positions. The grievance was upheld by the State Labor Relations Board, but now the county is appealing. Pending the appeal, the county approached Aramark about continuing to provide three meals daily even after its contract ended.

March 31, 2005 The Daily Item
Six months after the Snyder County prison board made a cost-cutting move replacing four union employees with a food-service company, the state labor board has ordered the county to reinstate the workers. Teamsters Local 764, which represents the prison employees, charged the county with unfair labor practices for hiring Aramark Food Service to provide meals to inmates in place of four union kitchen employees. The prison board inked a one-year contract with Aramark Oct. 1, claiming the outside contractor would save the county about $100,000 a year. The union sought to keep the four employees on the payroll, but county officials said Aramark had its own employees. Citing the single meeting between the union and prison board on the matter, the labor board found "no evidence" the two parties engaged in mediation and determined the county failed to "bargain in good faith." In its ruling, the labor board ordered the county to rescind the contract with Aramark, restore the food service work to the union, rehire the four employees and pay them lost wages and benefits.

February 10, 2005 Daily Item
Police clad in riot gear were called Tuesday night to assist Snyder County Jail corrections officers in dealing with 13 hungry and angry inmates who refused to return to their cells until they received more food. The prisoners, federal and out-of-county inmates, were in the recreation room Tuesday evening when they became upset that the commissary failed to arrive on time, Warden George Nye said. When prison staff tried to move them back to their cells, he said, 13 inmates refused to budge. About 15 police equipped in full riot gear showed up at the facility at 600 Old Colony Road. Nye said negotiations with the prisoners began immediately. The main request from the inmates was for sandwiches, he said. "They were hungry and angry because they didn’t get the commissary," the warden said, referring to food items prisoners are allowed to buy with their own money. Sandwiches were made and brought in for each protesting inmate. Afterward, the inmates returned to their cells without injury to anyone involved or damage to the facility, Nye said. The incident lasted about four hours, he said.The extra food was a concession the warden was willing to oblige. Nye conceded the inmates had received substantial meals before Aramark Food Services took over the kitchen a few months ago and began serving daily meals of 3,000 calories. The switch is saving the county about $100,000 a year. "We had a heck of a menu before," Nye said. Inmates "don’t get the extras, like ice cream, that they used to get." Teamsters representative Donnie Deivert said budget cutbacks are putting the corrections officers he represents at risk.

South Mountain Secure Treatment Unit
South Mountain, Pennsylvania
Cornell
May 4, 2006 The Record Herald
The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's Office of Children, Youth and Family will take over management the South Mountain Secure Treatment Unit for juvenile offenders on South Mountain Road starting July 1. The move also affects residents from the South West Secure Treatment Unit in Torrance, which is closing, according to Stacey Ward, spokesman for DPW. They will be moved to South Mountain. “One of the things we look at every year is fiscal responsibility. Occupancy was an issue,” Ward said. The South Mountain facility was maintaining an 80 percent occupancy rate. There are now 27 residents in the 52-bed facility that has been managed by Cornell Companies Inc. since 1997. “Through combining the two, we'll be at almost 98 percent,” she added. The secure treatment units house more aggressive and difficult court-adjudicated juveniles who have experienced difficulty adjusting to other placements and have extensive placement histories. The state also is hoping to absorb as many of the 71 Cornell employees at South Mountain as possible, she said. “We have heard from a lot of them and they are interested in staying. They become so committed to these kids, they want to stay,” added Ward.

State Correctional Institution, Albion
Albion, Pennsylvania
Prison Health Services (now Corizon)
February 23, 2012 Erie-Times News
An Erie County jury has awarded a Philadelphia man $312,000 for injuries he suffered while he was imprisoned in the State Correctional Institution at Albion. With the verdict, the panel found that the private health-care provider in the prison, Prison Health Services Inc., was negligent in the care it provided inmate Derrick Jones, also known as Derrick Alexander, after he first broke his ankle and then, while still in a cast, fell down a flight of stairs in 2006. Jones, 41, obtained medical tests upon his release from prison in 2008, which confirmed he had suffered herniated discs and knee-ligament tears as a result of the events in prison. He will suffer lifelong complications from the injuries, which, experts said, were not properly treated while Jones was in custody. The trial was held in Judge John Garhart's courtroom. The verdict returned Friday by the jury awarded $400,000 in damages; however, the panel found Jones was 22 percent responsible for the injuries. It is not known if Prison Health Services plans to appeal.

State Correctional Institution, Dallas
Dallas, Pennsylvania
MHM Correctional Services, Prison Health Services

February 25, 2010 Times Leader
The parents of a convicted murderer who committed suicide at the state Correctional Institution at Dallas have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against prison officials, 10 guards, two companies that provide prison health services and state Department of Corrections officials. Among the allegations in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Robert and Phyllis Bullock, of Dallas, is that corrections officers taunted their son, Matthew Lee Bullock, provided the means to commit suicide – a bed sheet he used to hang himself – and encouraged him to do so. A Luzerne County jury found Bullock guilty of third-degree murder but mentally ill in the strangulation death of 33-year-old Lisa Hargrave, who was 22 weeks pregnant, in the couple’s Wilkes-Barre apartment on Jan. 1, 2003. The jury also found Bullock guilty of involuntary manslaughter but mentally ill for the death of the fetus. The lawsuit, filed in Luzerne County Court and transferred on Wednesday to U.S. District Court, details Bullock’s extensive mental health history, including 11 psychiatric disorders and more than 20 documented suicide attempts in the 10 years prior to his incarceration. Despite a court order that he was to be housed at a secure mental health facility for the needed treatment period, Bullock was confined in various state prisons, where he attempted suicide in May 2007, January 2008 and May 2009, the suit states. Bullock told staff at SCI Dallas on July 31, 2009 that he was “stressed” because his victim was related to a prison employee and that he was hearing voices, and he also cut the inside of his wrists on that date, the suit states. Despite all that, Bullock’s psychiatric medication was decreased and he was placed in a Restricted Housing Unit (RHU), which is not designed for confinement and treatment of the mentally ill, the suit states.

State Correctional Institution, Greensburg
Greensburg, Pennsylvania
CiviGenics
December 14, 2007 AP
A former drug and alcohol counselor at the State Correctional Institution-Greensburg must register as a sex offender under Megan's Law. That provision has been added to the probation sentence 42-year-old Tina Martinez of Donora received for performing a sex act on a convicted murderer at the prison. Ms. Martinez worked for Civigenics, a private Massachusetts company that contracted with the state Department of Corrections. She was fired after the sex occurred in 2006. Martinez was sentenced to six months' probation in September. The Megan's Law provision was added by a judge yesterday. She must register as a sex offender with state police for the next 10 years.

September 15, 2007 Tribune-Review
A Westmoreland County jury deliberated about three hours on Friday before finding a former drug and alcohol counselor guilty of having a sexual relationship with an inmate at the state prison in Hempfield. After two days of testimony and closing arguments yesterday morning, the six-man, six-woman jury convicted Tina Martinez, 42, of Donora in Washington County, of a felony charge of institutional sexual assault. Martinez was sentenced by Westmoreland County Judge Debra A. Pezze to serve six months on probation. She had faced a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Pezze said the sentence was within standard guidelines for someone with no prior criminal record, which was the case with Martinez. "Society is a victim and in a way this activity can threaten the safety and security of staff and other inmates," said Westmoreland County Assistant District Attorney Mike Pacek. Prison officials said the sexual behavior between Martinez and the inmate could lead to other problems, such as blackmail of the lockup's staff, contraband being brought into the facility or even riots. Capt. Richard Bell, SCI Greensburg's intelligence officer and lead investigator in the Martinez case, said her prosecution was a signal to others who work with state prison inmates. "We must preserve the professionalism and integrity of the institutions," Bell said. Martinez was accused of having oral sex with a 30-year-old inmate who was serving a portion of his 8- to 20-year third-degree murder sentence at the State Correctional Institution at Greensburg for killing a Pennsylvania drug dealer in 1998. The inmate, who is not being identified by the Tribune-Review because he is a victim of a sexual assault, said Martinez was the aggressor in the relationship that was conducted in April and May 2006. Martinez, who worked as a drug and alcohol counselor for a private company that contracted with the state Department of Corrections, contended she initially started up a friendship with the inmate and felt compelled to yield to his sexual advances for fear that she would lose her job. Defense attorney Lou Anne Demosky asked jurors to acquit Martinez because she never voluntarily consented to having sexual relations with the inmate. "She's guilty of being stupid but she's not guilty of this crime," Demosky said. Martinez worked for Civigenics, a Massachusetts company that provides drug and alcohol counseling services to inmates in prisons throughout the country. Demosky said Martinez was fired from her job, which she had held since December 2005.

August 24, 2006 The Tribune-Review
A drug and alcohol counselor faces criminal charges after allegedly having sexual encounters with an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Greensburg. Tina Martinez, 42, of McKean Avenue, Donora, Washington County, is charged with one count of institutional sexual assault. According to a criminal complaint, Martinez was employed as a drug and alcohol counselor with Civigenics, of Massachusetts, at the time of the alleged assaults in April and May. The state pays Civigenics to provide drug and alcohol treatment services to inmates, said Angie Marhefka, spokeswoman at the Hempfield Township prison. Civigenics treats 50 males at the prison, according to the company's Web site. It also offers programs at state prisons in Albion, Graterford and Somerset. The alleged victim, 29, told investigators he was performing janitorial duties in the therapy rooms when Martinez assaulted him. According to the complaint, Martinez fondled him and engaged in oral sex with him.

State Correctional Institution, Laurel Highlands
Berks County, Pennsylvania
Prison Health Services

July 23, 2007 Reading Eagle
Sixty-year-old Robert J. Martinolich asked a Berks County judge Monday to temporarily release him from a life sentence for killing a couple in Ruscombmanor Township in 1969 so he can receive treatment for back problems. “Without an operation, I will be completely paralyzed,” Martinolich told Judge Jeffrey K. Sprecher. “I need to have the surgery, and I need it immediately.” Martinolich, formerly of Selden, N.Y., claimed he is not receiving proper medical care at the State Correctional Institution at Laurel Highlands, Somerset County. “The medical treatment is so grossly incompetent and inadequate,” Martinolich said. Laurel Highlands houses 1,000 inmates and provides special services for elderly prisoners and those with medical problems. Martinolich asked Sprecher to order the state prison to release him to a hospital until he recovers. Sprecher said he would appoint an attorney to represent Martinolich and ordered him returned to Laurel Highlands.

State Correctional Institution, Mahanoy
Mahanoy, Pennsylvania
Prison Health Services

June 12, 2007 Republican Herald
An inmate at State Correctional Institution/Mahanoy has sued the state Department of Corrections and the prison’s health provider, alleging incorrect treatment left him with burns. In a nine-page lawsuit filed Friday in Schuylkill County Court, Willie Riddick alleged the selenium sulfate prescribed for his facial skin condition burned his face and neck. Riddick, who filed the lawsuit himself, is seeking unspecified monetary damages exceeding $20,000 against the department, Prison Health Services Inc., Tennessee, the prison’s health care provider, Marsha Modery, a PHS employee, and Marva Cerullo, the prison’s health care administrator. He did not demand a jury trial. He alleged that he was taken several times in 2003 to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center for an examination by a dermatologist. The dermatologist prescribed plexion cleanser and tazorac cream for the condition, and specified no substitutions for the medications, according to the lawsuit. However, on Sept. 23, 2005, Modery prescribed selenium sulfate, which caused the burns, the lawsuit reads in part. Riddick alleged he went to sick call at the prison, and the medication was changed back to plexion cleanser, with triple antibiotic ointment given to him for his burns. Riddick said he filed a grievance, but that Cerullo denied it, saying the burns were a rash, and her determination was upheld on appeal to higher prison authorities. He alleged he was injured, and those injuries cause several ill effects. “Plaintiff has suffered, among other things, painful burns on his face and upper neck which he will have to live with for the rest of his life,” according to the lawsuit. Riddick also alleged he will have to undergo corrective surgery and continuing care once he is freed from prison. Modery and Cerullo are liable for his injuries because they did not exercise proper care in treating him, did not obtain and adequate history and did not warn him of the risk of selenium sulfate, Riddick alleged. PHS is liable because it failed to train its personnel properly and imposed budget constraints that limited treatment options, Riddick alleged. The department is liable for the actions of PHS employees because they provide care at its SCI/Mahanoy facility, according to the lawsuit.

State Correctional Institution, Muncy
Muncy, Pennsylvania
Wexford Health Sources

May 12, 2005 Wilkes Barre Times Herald
The family of a Wilkes-Barre woman who suffered a fatal asthma attack while in prison will receive $2.15 million in a settlement of a lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections and a health care provider. Erin Finley, 26, died on Aug. 29, 2002 after medical personnel at the State Correctional Institution at Muncy ignored her repeated pleas for help, according to a federal lawsuit filed by her mother, Christine Thomas of Wilkes-Barre. Evidence uncovered by Thomas’ attorney, Dan Brier of Scranton, showed Finley desperately sought medical care for severe asthma she had had since she was a child, but she was repeatedly rejected based on a prison doctor’s belief that she was “faking” her symptoms.
The federal suit, filed in June 2003, alleged employees of SCI Muncy and its health care provider, Wexford Heath Sources Inc., showed a “callous and deliberate” indifference for Finley. Finley continued to have problems breathing and on July 27 wrote another request, asking a different physician to see her “as soon as possible.” “My asthma is so bad and Dr. Bardell says I am faking it. I don’t know what else to do,” the request stated. On the morning of her death, Finley phoned her mother in a hysterical state, saying she could not breathe. At around noon she was directed to go to the infirmary, where a physician’s assistant examined her. The assistant told Bardell that Finley needed to go to the hospital, but he refused to see her and left the prison at 2:40 p.m. Twenty minutes later, Finley lost consciousness and stopped breathing. She was transported to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 4:11 p.m.

Temple University
Temple University Acts on Ethics Complaint Filed Against Authors of Private Prison Study Press release re Temple complaint reolved 2014
TempleUniversity response letter July 2, 2014

Oct 11, 2014, fitzgibbonsmedia.com  

Philadelphia, PA -- Starting this week, ColorOfChange.org will run a moving billboard around Temple University for ten days, 8 hours a day, calling on President Neil Theobald to take definitive action to address corruption of the school's academic integrity by for-profit prison companies. Starting Oct. 13th, ColorOfChange will have a positional billboard running for 4 weeks near Roosevelt Expressway and W. Cayuga Street. The billboards read: "Temple professors published an unethical private prison study" "Tell Temple University: Set a higher standard of ethical research" "Temple University: Private prisons corrupt academic integrity" Images of the moving billboards may be seen here:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.colorofchange.org/images/Templebillboardlive.jpg https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.colorofchange.org/images/Templebillboards2.jpg

Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org said, “Temple officials have failed to take any definitive public action to address the growing student, faculty, and public outrage at the private prison study published by Temple professors, which praised for-profit prisons without any mention of the study's private prison funding. “Private prisons are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses of the past 30 years and they depend on this type of inaccurate and unethical research to legitimize their bad practices in the eyes of the public. The study has had significant real world harm, with Michigan passing a devastating privatization bill following the study’s release, and Temple needs to contend with the impacts of this unethical study in a real way. “More than 25,000 ColorOfChange members are calling on President Neil Theobald to move forward new policies that will require Temple researchers to reveal funding sources at all stages of the publication process, from working papers to final reports. By failing to strengthen the school's ethics policies, Temple is keeping the door open for future corruption by for-profit prisons and violating it's commitment to ethical research that furthers innovation, critical thinking, and the public good.”

ColorOfChange.org launched a petition calling on President Theobold to investigate the report back in July. Since then the petition has garnered over 25,000 supporters. http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/temple_university/

With over 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.

 

Jul 16, 2014 philly.com

Temple University has completed its review of an ethics complaint on a study conducted by two professors that described economic savings from private prisons - without disclosing that they had received funding from the prison industry. The university, however, will not disclose the findings or say whether any action was taken against the authors. "It's a personnel matter," Brandon Lausch, a Temple spokesman, said Wednesday. "I can't go into details." He said the examination was concluded July 2. "They are fairly close-mouthed about their investigation," said Alex Friedmann, managing editor of the Prison Legal News and associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center, who filed the ethics complaint with Temple in June 2013. He alleged that when economics professors Simon Hakim and Erwin Blackstone released a working paper in April 2013, they did not properly disclose that they had received financial support from private prison operators, including the Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America, the nation's largest private corrections company. In op-ed newspaper articles, the professors wrote that their research had found that privately run prisons worked as well as or better than government-run institutions and could provide long-term savings to taxpayers of 12 percent to 58 percent. Neither of the longtime Temple faculty members could be reached for comment Wednesday. Friedmann said he received a letter this month from Michele Masucci, Temple's interim senior vice provost for research, informing him that she had completed her review of his complaint. She said the university would "address its conclusions, including any action" to Hakim and Blackstone individually. Masucci told Friedmann that the professors' working paper had been withdrawn and was no longer widely available, and that the research had received no university grant money. Last month, Hakim and Blackstone told an Inquirer reporter that they had been conducting similar research for decades and always disclose funding sources when they publish their final report. Lausch, the Temple spokesman, said the final version of their report, "Prison Break, A New Approach to Public Cost and Safety," was published last month by the nonprofit Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. The report says the study was funded in part by the private corrections industry. ColorOfChange, an online civil rights organization based in Oakland, which recently mounted a campaign in support of Friedmann's ethics complaint, said Wednesday that nearly 25,000 of its members had sent e-mails to Temple.


Jan 13, 2014 philadelphiaweekly.com

When Alex Friedmann, the editor of Prison Legal News, read Temple University’s Center for Competitive Government’s press release last spring touting a new study regarding the benefits of private prisons, he was a bit surprised. The study found that private, contracted prisons have a “long-run savings of 12 percent to 58 percent when comparing private and public” prison facilities, and they are able to “generate significant savings without sacrificing quality.” Friedmann, himself a former prisoner in a private facility, was perplexed because every other study he’d reviewed on the topic — including reports from Arizona’s auditor general and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance — had found otherwise. Then he came to the very last line of Temple’s press release, which noted, in part: “The study received funding by members of the private corrections industry.” As the social-justice magazine In These Times points out on Friday, that little detail “inspired questions, to say the least.” Friedman filed an ethics complaint with Temple with the Human Rights Defense Center in June. It’s a clear problem, he tells Philadelphia Weekly, when the private prison industry (or any industry) funds academia for its own purposes. In an email, he cites other sporadic instances where it’s happened: “A Vanderbilt study in 2008, a Harvard Law Review article in 2002, various reports by the Reason Foundation — all funded by or connected with the private prison industry,” he says. “I wouldn’t call it a trend, but rather an ongoing, deliberate strategy by private prison companies to solicit and fund research that supports their talking points. This is akin to the Tobacco Institute funding research that found smoking isn’t bad for you, doesn’t cause cancer, etc.” Industry-funded studies, he notes, “provide a veneer of respectability — an academic gloss — to the self-serving claims of private prison companies, such as cost savings and competence, when the realities of prison privatization demonstrate otherwise.” Friedmann says he tries to send Michele Masucci, Temple’s Vice Provost for Research, an email regarding his complaint “about once a month.” Masucci responded to In These Times’ inquiry about the complaint: “In order to protect the integrity of the review process including the rights of all individuals involved, we cannot share the status of ongoing investigations.”

Three Mile Island
Wackenhut
October 22, 2004 York Daily Record
About five miles from the gates of Three Mile Island, a Lancaster County resident found two unloaded, semi-automatic rifles housed within a hard case. The weapons case fell Wednesday afternoon from the rear of a truck driven by a TMI security officer while en route to the plant along Route 441 in Conoy Township, said Ralph DeSantis, a spokesman for AmerGen Energy, which runs Three Mile Island. The officer had returned from an offsite firing range about 15 miles from TMI when plant officials noticed that the truck's tailgate was down and the guns were missing. The plant and Wackenhut Corp. are conducting an investigation to figure out how the firearms got from the back of a TMI security truck onto Route 441, DeSantis said. Early Wednesday, the TMI security guard and one other officer, both employed by Wackenhut Corp., traveled to the offsite firing range with the weapons. Both officers are weapons instructors and train other Wackenhut guards stationed at TMI. Only the instructors are authorized to transport the weapons, DeSantis said. The case fell from the back of the truck and landed alongside Route 441 when the officers were on their way back to the plant.

Westmoreland County Prison
Westmoreland, Pennsylvania
Cornell
/NaphCare
March 22, 2013 therepublic.com

ERIE, Pennsylvania — A woman is suing the health services provider at a western Pennsylvania county prison claiming a doctor and other medical staff didn't properly respond to her complaints of pain and bleeding after she fought with another inmate while pregnant, resulting in her son being stillborn. Officials with Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources didn't immediately respond to an email requesting comment after hours Friday on the lawsuit filed by Tiffany Pollitt and Brian Camp Sr. of Erie. The couple alleges their son, Brian Jr., was stillborn in August 2009, several days after Pollitt says she was hit in the abdomen by another inmate while she was nearly eight months pregnant at the Westmoreland County Prison. The lockup about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh and it employees are not named in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Erie.

March 3, 2006 Tribune-Review
A federal judge has ruled against Westmoreland County and a company previously hired to run the local jail in a lawsuit filed by the family of a Sewickley Township man who committed suicide while behind bars in 2003. The ruling means the lawsuit can go forward. Westmoreland County, Cornell Companies Inc. and NaphCare Inc. had asked U.S. District Court Judge William L. Standish to dismiss the lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed last year by Renee L. Wright, who contends the county and prison officials acted recklessly by not preventing the April 18, 2003, suicide of her brother, Robert R. Steadman. Steadman, 33, hanged himself in his cell four days after he was incarcerated for failing to make a payment as ordered by a family court judge. Prison officials kept him in a regular cell even though he had been put on suicide watch during a previous jail stint four months earlier. In the lawsuit, his family contends that county and prison officials should have placed Steadman on suicide watch in a special unit with enhanced surveillance during his incarceration in April because he had been deemed a suicide risk only months before. The Steadman suicide was one of several at the county jail in recent years. The lawsuit cites three other inmate suicides that occurred between 2000 and 2003. A fourth inmate took his own life in 2004. In the aftermath of the Steadman case, the county cited financial reasons for replacing Cornell, took over management of the prison, and revised its policy regarding how it deals with potential suicide risks.

July 15, 2005 Tribune-Review
A former inmate at the Westmoreland County Prison claims in a federal lawsuit that he needs a liver transplant because of substandard medical care he received while an inmate there. Harvey C. Roupe Jr., 45, who now lives in Washington, Washington County, alleges in a civil rights complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh that repeated pleas to prison and county officials for permission to continue special treatments he needed for a pre-existing liver disease and hepatitis C in 2002 and 2003 were ignored. Roupe claims his right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was violated. Listed as defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, are Westmoreland County; the prison; Cornell Corrections Inc., the private company that formerly operated the prison; the prison's former warden, Michael Millward; and Cornell's former medical supervisor, William Nicholson. Lisa Tauser, of Houston-based Cornell Corrections, said it is the company's policy not to comment on pending litigation. After a two-year contract with Cornell to operate the prison expired in May 2003, county commissioners decided to return to an in-house warden system to save money.  

August 5, 2003
Three days after suddenly ending his sex assault trial with a guilty plea, 32-year-old Marc Filippino ended his life Monday morning at Westmoreland County Prison.  Filippino, formerly of Monroeville, faced a seven- to 20-year prison term for rape and assault. He ended his trial last week by pleading guilty to burglary, aggravated indecent assault, aggravated assault and making terroristic threats in a July 2001 case involving a Unity Township woman in her home.  Filippino acted as his own attorney, insisting he be allowed to question his accuser himself. The court heard several hours of testimony, but before Filippino began cross-examining the Unity Township woman he asked Westmoreland County Judge Richard McCormick Jr. to reinstate his attorney. He then pleaded guilty.  Filippino faced additional charges for a Penn Township rape, but that trial had not been scheduled. He was convicted a year ago for two other assaults and sentenced to 2 1/2 to five years in jail.  Deputy Coroner Joe Musgrove said Filippino was seen alive at a 7 a.m. security check at the prison. Another inmate spotted his body hanging in his one-man cell five minutes later. "He knotted his shoelaces and affixed them to an air register above the sink ... a good seven feet up. He put that around his neck and asphyxiated himself," the coroner said. Filippino was declared dead at 8:08 a.m.  County detectives and the coroner are investigating, Musgrove said. The hanging was the fifth suicide at the Westmoreland County facility since 2001.  (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

April 21, 2003
A 33-year-old inmate used his shoelaces to hang himself at the Westmoreland County Prison early Friday morning.  Robert R. Steadman, of Hutchinson, had been in the county lockup since April 14 on charges related to a domestic dispute.  It was the second hanging death this year at the prison in Hempfield Township.  (Tribune-Review)

April 18, 2003
Westmoreland County wants to hire a warden to run its prison again.  The county fired its own warden and hired Cornell Corrections of Houston, Texas, to run the county prison two years ago after a scandal that involved inmates selling drugs with the help of some guards.  Yesterday, two of the county commissioners said the county will not sign a new pact with Cornell, whose current contract will expire May 31.  Instead, the county will advertise this weekend for a new warden.  Commissioners Tom Balya and Tom Ceraso said the decision was made for financial reasons.  "If we can save $200,000 in the management of the prison, I think we're going to take that step," Balya said.  Ceraso, chairman of the county prison board, said it was not necessary to take any formal action because the Cornell contract will expire automatically.  (Pittsburgh Post-Gazzete)

November 13, 2002
The crowding at the Westmoreland County Prison has grown worse in the past month, Warden Mike Millward said yesterday.  Millward told the county Prison Board the population had climbed from 530 inmates in early October to 561 yesterday.  That, Millward said, is 45 more than capacity, but prison officials have been able to deal with the problem.  A little more than a year ago there were enough empty beds in the prison that county officials marketed the facility to federal authorities and other counties in an attempt to make some more money.  Yesterday, only 11 out-of-county prisoners remained there, Millward said.  (Post-Gazette.com)

October 8, 2002
Two Westmoreland County commissioners said Monday that the company hired last year to run the jail is not making enough money and should be replaced.  Tom Ceraso and P.Scott Conner said the experiment of converting the prison to private management while keeping it a publicly owned facility has failed.  "We haven't made any money," Ceraso said.  Cornell Corrections Inc., a Houston-based, publicly traded company, was hired in May 2001 to run the prison for $360,000 a year and to provide a warden and deputy warden.  As part of the deal, Cornell was given permission to add one bed to each of the 40 cells that would then be leased to other counties and the federal government.  Money generated from the leases would be paid to the county and cover the cost of Cornell's contract.  The county was expected to be paid about $400,000 for the leased beds, while Cornell estimated it would earn about $250,000.  For the fiscal year that ended July 31, Cornell paid the county $335,000 for the leased cells.  But Warden Michael Millward, who is a Cornell employee, said the company took in no money from those additional inmates housed at the prison.  Officials said overcrowding at the prison has left the management company unable to allocate space to out-of-country inmates.  Millward said at no time in the last year has the prison housed more than 20 inmates from outside Westmoreland County.  While revenues have not met expectations, the cost to run the prison has increased under Cornell's stewardship.  The county budgeted $8.5 million to run the jail in 2001 and last year spent $9.6 million.  This year the county budgeted $9 million for the jail and to date has spent $7.3 million.  "It wouldn't be ethical," Millward said of the attempts to fill the additional beds with inmates outside of Westmoreland County in order to generate revenue.  Even though revenues from leased cells have not met expectations, Cornell has made enough money through other services to cover the cost of its contract, the warden said.  Millward said Cornell has increased revenues by assessing room-and-board charges to inmates and collecting restitution payments from inmates who are allowed to leave the prison each day for work assignments.  Conner said the county should consider turning over all functions of the prison to a private company of return its management to county control by hiring a warden.  Conner was rebuffed last year in his attempts to turn over all operations of the prison to a private company.  Ceraso voted against hiring Cornell, saying he preferred that the county hire a new warden who would work directly for the prison board and commissioners.  He said yesterday that he still wants the county to hire its own warden when Cornell's two-year contract expires in May.  (Tribune-Review)

Wexford Health Services Inc.
Arizona prisons in health-care quandary: February 16, 2012, Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic. Expose on for-profit health providers

August 18, 2007 Times-Tribune
The Lackawanna County Prison’s medical director was fired from a similar post at a Pittsburgh-based health care services company in 1999 in an apparent dispute over a new treatment for hepatitis C in state prisons the company served. Company officials could not be reached to explain his termination, but in a lawsuit later filed against the company, Dr. Edward J. Zaloga claimed he was fired because he disagreed with a plan to begin treating the liver disease with a then-new, unproven drug that ultimately would be a waste of taxpayer money. The treatment “would waste more than $7 million of the (state) taxpayers’ money on unnecessary and unwarranted medical treatment,” he charged in a suit filed against Wexford Health Sources Inc. in November 1999. He claimed in his suit that his management practices had created a profit for the company of $4.1 million, and the company — which at the time was trying to get the state to pay for the new treatment — feared it might have to pay for treating inmates if the state found out about its profits. He was fired for raising the concerns, he alleged. The suit demanded more than $1 million in unpaid wages, expenses, lawyer’s fees and punitive damages. The company, in its legal responses, denied earning anywhere near $4 million. It denied his other claims as well. County judges rejected Dr. Zaloga’s suit in separate rulings in 2002 and 2004 with one judge writing that Dr. Zaloga failed to establish “a report of wrongdoing ... or waste.” Wexford in its legal filings acknowledged firing Dr. Zaloga but did not say why. Dr. Zaloga is now co-owner of a company, Correctional Care Inc., of Moosic, that provides medical services to county prison inmates, and oversees those services. A former inmate, Shakira Staten, 22, a federal prisoner who gave birth at the prison July 10 and has since been transferred to Adams County Prison to await sentencing, has sued him, the company and the prison in federal court. She claims she was a victim of cruel and unusual punishment because her pleas to be taken to the hospital when she went into labor were ignored and she had the baby alone in a cell. The county Prison Board this week apologized for the way she treated and blamed a Correctional Care nurse for “serious errors of judgment” that included failing to properly monitor her labor and unnecessarily delaying taking her to the hospital. The board barred the nurse from working in the prison. A secretary in the company’s office said Dr. Zaloga was not available for comment and would only reply to written questions. A secretary at Wexford Health Sources said no company officials would be available to comment until next week. Dr. Zaloga was Wexford’s regional medical director for its central Pennsylvania operations from Feb. 1 to Sept. 29, 1999, the day the company’s operations director dismissed him, according to court records.

June 10, 2003
The company that provides health care to inmates in Pennsylvania's 26 state prisons will terminate its contract with the state, citing cost overruns.  The state's $493 million contract with Wexford Health Services Inc. was to run through October 2007.  The company cited soaring pharmaceutical costs and an unexpected increase in the number of state inmates for the decision.  Wexford, in a January letter, told the state Department of Corrections that it planned to end the contract in September.  (AP)

York County Prison
York, Pennsylvania
Prison Health Services

May 20, 2008 The York Dispatch
York County no longer must defend itself against a federal discrimination lawsuit filed late last month by a former nurse at the county prison. York City resident Oreal Marsh, who is black, alleges in the lawsuit that she was subject to a pattern of discrimination including racially themed comments and abuse. She claims in the April 30 lawsuit that she was hired in October 2005 and fired almost a year later without warning or reason. The alleged reason was that she had received a note from an inmate, according to the lawsuit. Marsh lists both York County and Prison Health Services Inc. as defendants in the lawsuit. Dismissed: But York County was dismissed as a defendant via a May 16 court order precipitated by a letter from county solicitor Mike Flannelly to Marsh's legal team. He argued Marsh was never a prison employee, he said, and her lawyers agreed. The company provided contracted health services at the prison until 2006. The current provider is PrimeCare Medical Inc. "Their legal action was more appropriately directed at Prison Health Services," he said. Because they agreed, the county is able to save money, time and effort trying to prove in court that the county shouldn't be involved in the lawsuit, Flannelly said. Prison Health Services has not yet responded to Marsh's allegations in court. But a representative has said the company has policies and procedures that offer zero tolerance for discrimination. Through a representative at their law office, Marsh's attorneys declined comment.

May 12, 2008 The York Dispatch
A former nurse at the York County Prison filed a federal lawsuit last week alleging gender and race discrimination. York City resident Oreal Marsh, who is black, alleges in the lawsuit that she was subject to a pattern of discrimination including racially themed comments and abuse. Marsh claims in the April 30 lawsuit that she was hired in October 2005 and fired almost a year later without warning or reason. The alleged reason was that she had received a note from an inmate, according to the lawsuit. Only four: She was one of only four black nurses out of almost 70 working at the prison, Marsh said in the lawsuit. She is seeking an unspecified amount of lost wages, health benefits and other compensation. The lawsuit names York County and Prison Health Services Inc. as defendants. The county contracted with Prison Health Services for medical care at the facility until 2006, according to Warden Mary Sabol. The current provider is PrimeCare Medical Inc. County Solicitor Mike Flannelly said he could not comment on the lawsuit without first seeing it. But he said the county has a blanket nondiscrimination policy in place. Prison Health Services said it, too, has a similar policy, said spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern in an e-mailed statement . "We have not yet seen this lawsuit," she said. "But our company policies and procedures are designed to ensure respect for all employees, with zero tolerance for discrimination."

September 13, 2003
Let’s say you need a plumber to come to your house. Now you have to decide, to quote the “Ghostbusters” movie, “Who ya gonna call?”  You probably wouldn’t call a plumber who screwed up the last time he came to the house, particularly if your neighbors have told you the same plumber messed up at their places, too.  Well, maybe you like the guy. You’ve known him for years, and you think he’s getting a bad rap. Still, it’s your money, and you want to spend it wisely. At the least, you’d have to seriously consider hiring a different plumber.  That’s why comments made this week by Tom Hogan, York County Prison warden, and county Commissioner James Donahue seem so cavalier.  The situation is this, and keep in mind the plumber at your house when you read this:  The commissioners are considering a $4 million contract with a private provider of prison health care. Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn., has performed medical care and health monitoring to the county prison since 1993. That includes health screenings of new inmates — an important task for all kinds of obvious reasons.  As the Daily Record’s Jim Lynch reported Wednesday, the company recently fell behind by more than 500 inmate exams — not five, not 50, but 500 — in York County. Mr. Lynch’s story also detailed a number of other troubling examples of the firm’s performance, from New York City to Nevada. In Florida, Pinellas County switched providers in 1994 after determining that Prison Health Services couldn’t fulfill its duties.  The company defends its procedures, noting that any company doing what it does will get targeted for inmate lawsuits. “We’re not perfect, but we certainly don’t sweep things under the rug,” said Doyle Moore, the company’s founder.  In York County’s case, according to Mr. Hogan, the backlog has been cleared up and was “immediately corrected” once prison brass was made aware of the situation. The explanation was, ironically, that the firm had people out sick and fell behind.  “My only concern was that they didn’t feel it was necessary to discuss it with me,” Mr. Hogan said.  Even more surprising was this comment from Mr. Donahue: “I really don’t think that what’s happened in other places matters here.”  Mr. Donahue should know better. Of course it matters. This company offers the same service in other prisons. Surely during the commissioner’s many years as an executive with Sears he would have checked out potential problems involving vendors who were being paid millions of dollars.  According to Mr. Hogan, bid petitions are out for a new contract, and Prison Health Services appears to be the low bidder for another four-year pact. The firm’s chances of continuing to have the county contract appear bright.  It may very well be that this company is the best firm to provide this service. Still, we’d feel a lot more confident if the public officials making the decision acted as though they were interested in recognizing that the circumstances demand tougher scrutiny.  Being a smart consumer makes sense whether you’re running a house or a business. Or a prison.
(Daily Record)

December 26, 2002
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service chose the Marriot over Motel 6 for its prisoners last week.  And guess who will be paying for room service.  The "Marriott" - a 300-bed detention facility in Elizabeth, N.J. - charges $160 per day for prisoners to reside there.  "Motel 6" - the York County prison - charges $60 per day.  Yet, some mastermind in the federal government. someone who is clearly overpaid, decided to ship INS detainees to the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility and shut down its relationship with York County.  (York Daily Record)

December 23, 2002
County commissioners have decided to end the contract to house U.S. INS detainees at the county prison.  Nine male prisoners went ot the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility in NJ, which York County Warden Tom Hogan said charges the INS $160 per day to house a prisoner.  Many of the prisoner workers that would be let go are represented by Teamsters Local 430, and local president Kevin Cicak said he remains optimistic that the contract between the INS and York County may yet be worked out.  "The federal government is the only institution I can think of that would look at what they are paying, decide they're paying too much, and go out and pay 2 1/2 times more," he said.  (AP)

December 20, 2002
By the time York county commissioners vote whether to accept or reject the latest contract offer from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service today, their decision may be moot.  Federal officials have already begun diverting INS detainees from York County Prison.  And so far, those detainees are being sent to prisons that charge the government more than York County does for housing them.  INS officials routed two women to a government prison in Arlington, Va.  Nine men wound up in a private prison in Elizabeth, N.J.  York County and INS officials have been in negotiations for weeks since the establishment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  At issue is the $60 per diem rate York County wants to charge the federal government for housing detainees.  Earlier this year, auditors with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General told the INS it was paying York County too much.  What is puzzling to some, including Rep. Todd Platts, is why the INS is sending its detainees to prisons that charge far more than the $60 fee at York County Prison.  According to Platts and Hogan, the Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility charges the INS a daily rate of $150 to $160 - roughly 2 1/2 times the rate here.  (Daily Record)