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ACA accreditation does not determine constitutionality. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. at 543 n. 27; Rufo v. Inmates of Suffolk County Jail, 502 U.S. 367, 391 n. 13 (1992). "It is absurd to suggest that the federal courts should subvert their judgment as to alleged Eighth Amendment violations to the ACA whenever it has relevant standards." Gates v. Cook, 376 F.3d 323, 337 (5th Cir. 2004).  Although ACA standards "may be a relevant consideration," compliance with them "is not per se evidence of constitutionality."  Id. "[A]ccreditation, in itself, is not a clear indication that [defendant] is properly following its policies and procedures."  Ruiz v. Johnson, 37 F.Supp.2d 855, 924  (D. Tex. 1999) rev'd and remanded on other grounds by Ruiz v. U.S., 243 F.3d 941 (5th Cir. 2001).

"I was the person who doctored the ACA accreditation reports for this company."
Donna Como, former employee of CCA. Pahrump Valley Times, December 19, 2008

Correctional Corporation of America Accreditation Report Misses Stark Reality: August 1, 2012, Truth Out. Headline says it all.

CCA Pays Over $22,000 to American Correctional Association to Claim “Stamp of Approval” at Five Private Prisons

Alexander Youth Services Center, Alexander, Arkansas
(AKA Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center)
Group 4 (formerly run by Cornell)

January 26, 2008 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
The state's youth detention center near Alexander has been accredited for the first time by a national correctional association. But while officials expressed optimism that the center's beleaguered past was nearing an end, two days later they were explaining a Jan. 19 incident involving mistreatment of a teenager that resulted in the firing of three staff members. The private Virginia-based company, G4S, operates the 140-bed detention center under a contract with the state Youth Services Division. Officials said Wednesday the American Correctional Association inspected the quality of life, security, food service, medical care and educational programs in November at the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center, and later accredited the facility. Center administrator Todd Speight said he viewed accreditation as a sign that the center was making progress. "I see this as turning a corner," Speight said. "We've got a long way to go, but we're making good progress." The previous contractor, Houston-based Cornell Companies Inc., was fired in late 2006. G4S has run the center for about a year. Previously known as the Alexander Youth Services Center or the Alexander Juvenile Correctional Facility, the center is the state's largest youth residential treatment facility. Two days after announcing the accreditation, officials said one staff member lost his job for using inappropriate physical force and two others were fired for trying to protect him. Speight said a male employee physically restrained a 17-year-old boy in a dormitory in a manner that was "completely inappropriate." He said two others were fired for misleading investigators because the original report attempted to conceal the nature of the scuffle. Speight, who did not disclose the employees' names, said he was disappointed by the firings, but stressed that center employees are hard workers who try to do their best. "These three did something inappropriate and were held accountable," he said. The Bryant Police Department and the Arkansas State Police are investigating. Scott Tanner, a state ombudsman for juvenile justice issues, said the teenager apparently suffered a sore ankle but his safety was not an issue. "This doesn't seem to be standard operating procedure, but something out of the ordinary," Tanner said. The center's history includes incidents of abuse, mismanagement and educational shortfalls. In 2003, the state and the U.S. Justice Department signed a court agreement to improve shortcomings in fire prevention, suicide prevention, religious policies and educational programs.

American Correctional Association, Lanham, Maryland
Correctional Corporation of America Accreditation Report Misses Stark Reality: August 1, 2012, Truth Out. Headline says it all.

Aug 6, 2015
Buying Access: How Corporations Influence Decision Makers at Corrections Conferences, Trainings, and Meetings

Private corrections companies, which contract with corrections departments and facilities to oversee and provide services to incarcerated people, make up a multibillion-dollar industry. Every year, they devote resources to building influence with decision makers in order to find and capitalize on new business opportunities. One key avenue of influence is through professional corrections associations, which are non-profit organizations that support corrections officials, including wardens, administrators, state Department of Corrections staff, sheriffs, and others through events, trainings, and public policy advocacy. This report first details how companies spend millions of dollars sponsoring conferences, paying vendor fees, and providing other funding to gain access to the professional corrections associations. This report then shows how corrections companies leverage this access in ways that can influence decision makers and benefit the companies’ bottom lines. Considering corrections companies’ track records of providing low-quality services that harm prisoners, communities, and taxpayers, the influence they exert through professional corrections associations is cause for concern. The research in this report is based on limited information that professional corrections associations make publicly available. Consequently, the report’s findings constitute only a portion of the total contributions made by companies and the subsequent opportunities they receive to influence decision makers. Private companies make contributions to professional corrections associations. In 2014, sponsors, vendors, corporate partners, and other non-individual entities contributed at least $3 million to five of the largest professional corrections associations, including the American Correctional Association, the American Jail Association, the Association of State Correctional Administrators, the Corrections Technology Association, and the National Sheriffs’ Association. In return, corrections contractors are able to build relationships with and influence decision makers in key ways: Corrections companies send executives and staff to professional corrections association conferences to meet decision makers. Many companies receive lists of attendees, allowing the corporate staff to target certain corrections officials. Corrections companies lead trainings and workshops at conferences. Often times, companies will directly market goods and services. Corrections companies host conference events where their executives and marketing staff meet with and give speeches to corrections officials. Corrections companies market their products and services at conference vendor booths to identify potential government customers and generate leads. Corrections companies advertise on conference materials, such as the program books, hotel room key cards, tote bags, and take-home mugs. This marketing encourages officials to consider the companies’ products and services when making purchasing and outsourcing decisions.

Aug 22, 2014

I've dealt with surly, armed prison guards in my reporting career, but Tuesday was the first time the encounter involved a PR man kicking me out of a convention I had personally requested to attend, paid for, and traveled across country to attend. On Tuesday, the director of government and public affairs of the American Correctional Association (ACA), a prison trade group, pulled me out of a seminar at their conference in Salt Lake City, which I'd been attending for several days. Flanking him were two men in Utah Department of Corrections uniforms, with pistols and tasers on their hips. The convention is a twice-yearly affair, and I've been to it before. Hundreds of prison staff and members of the vast industry surrounding corrections touch down on an American city to discuss all things prison related. This week, Salt Lake City laid out the red carpet. Downtown restaurants posted signs welcoming the prison industry. Hotels printed the ACA insignia on their keys. Bars hosted parties sponsored by corrections companies. The local prison had inmates press an "ACA 2014" license plate for each convention guest. The ACA is the largest and oldest correctional association in the world, and their conventions offer a rare glimpse into the world of US prisons. Vendors in the exhibit hall openly discuss their increasing sales of SWAT-style equipment to prisons. Visitors can check out the new tech like drone-detection devices, surveillance systems, and shank-proof e-cigarettes. People hold workshops on issues like sex between prison guards and inmates and the problem of drug-dealing staff. Serious topics like suicide among transgender inmate populations are often revealingly discussed in terms of liability and cost. But in attending ACA conventions, I've also been surprised at how many reformists there are. When I attended an ACA convention in Tampa six months ago, the main plenary was composed of wardens and mental-health workers discussing the need to reform the use of long-term solitary confinement (called "restrictive housing" in ACA jargon). In Salt Lake City, prisoner mental health and the rampant problem of hepatitis C (affecting 40 percent of inmates) were major topics. For someone who writes about prisons and is accustomed to being stonewalled at every turn, the ACA conventions have felt refreshingly transparent. After workshops or at company-sponsored meet-and-greets, most people are very willing to speak to a journalist, and I have always identified myself as such. While in Salt Lake City, I was live-tweeting throughout the convention, posting revealing tidbits from workshops and notes on a visit to a local jail. This may have had something to do with why, on the fourth day, a man named Eric Schultz, the ACA's director of government and public affairs, came into a workshop and asked me to step outside. Standing at each side of him was an armed Utah correctional officer. He told me I was going to have to leave. The guards ushered us into an empty room. The reason for my dismissal changed as Mr. Schultz and I talked. First, he told me I wasn't registered as media. I explained to him that when I called to register, I was told there were no media passes, and that I should register through the normal channels. He then told me the problem was that I wasn't displaying my Mother Jones credentials, which was required by policy (I still have not been able to find that policy). I told him that could easily be remedied. "It's nothing against you or Mother Jones," he said. "But you are just going to have to leave." The burly guard stepped in closer. After I left the convention center, I called the main ACA office in Virginia to ask again whether media were allowed to attend the convention. The man who answered told me yes, they were. "Any media?" I asked. “Yes,” he said. My editor, Monika Bauerlein, called Eric Schultz several times to discuss the matter, leaving voicemails and receiving no return calls. I later called up Schultz to ask whether he wanted to comment for this post. He hasn't responded. The ACA functions as the de facto oversight organization for our prison system. They set the professional standards and conduct audits. I've been told by many that their accreditation carries weight in court. What are we to infer when an institution whose purpose is to make sure our prisons are up to par doesn't allow the public to see what it's doing?

CONNEAUT, Ohio — A private prison in Ohio has been making headlines in all the wrong ways since the state sold the facility in 2011. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) paid the state $72.7 million for the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in an unprecedented move that the company’s representatives predicted would serve as a model for other states at the time. The private prison company sent correspondence to leaders in 48 other states, trying to encourage them to make similar deals. Instead, Ohio has fined the company nearly $500,000 because of various violations found during audits of the facility. An audit released Sept. 25 of last year found that the institution was in compliance with American Correctional Association standards in 94 percent of the categories measured, but was only 66.7 percent in compliance when it came to standards set by the state of Ohio. The audit also found that some staff members at the facility, “expressed safety concerns due to low staffing numbers and not having enough coverage.” The report indicated that several doors were padlocked shut, blocking the main escape path in the case of a fire and all 12 staff members interviewed didn’t know which key opened the firebox. The document also noted that Emergency Breathing Apparatus’s were difficult to find, often locked away, and hadn’t been inspected. The audit also found that there were no correctional officers near the medical unit, even though there were many inmates being treated and picking up medications, leaving staff members in an unsafe condition. Another section reported that some inmates felt unsafe and didn’t believe staff members had the authority to improve the situation. Problems in the medical unit were also reported, with inmates often waiting longer than required for doctor appointments and various steps being skipped or forgotten during clinical visits. The facility also reportedly failed to notify other facilities when it transferred inmates with staph infections. An additional walkthrough conducted on Sept. 4 “found unacceptable living conditions of inmates being housed inside recreation areas, with no immediate access to running water for hydration, showers and the use of a toilet.”’ A report from April 7 indicated that an inmate convicted of murder or aggravated murder was working inside the entry building, which was strictly forbidden as “a serious security breach.” A follow-up visit in November found that many of the issues were being addressed, but local citizens and political representatives voiced their own concerns in the meantime. Officials in the small neighboring town of Conneaut reported an increase in crime related to the facility, which they say began after the state transferred responsibility for the facility to CCA. Crime data from the local government indicates that officers responded to 229 calls related to the prison in 2012, nearly four times the amount that occurred in the prior year. This led City Councilman Neil LaRusch to write a letter to the governor’s office asking for assistance. LaRusch sited earlier promises that his local police would not be burdened by the sale of the prison to a private company and pleaded for assistance. “The city is not financially in a position to add more officers to deal with this private prison. With this situation getting out of hand at this pace, what can the governor propose to assure the safety and security of the citizens of Conneaut?

August 22, 2011 Palm Beach Post
Under pressure from Gov. Rick Scott's office, Florida prison officials quietly terminated a $180,000, 10-month contract with a Washington, D.C. woman hired to oversee the state's planned privatization of health care for prisoners. Department of Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss hired Elizabeth "Betty" Gondles almost immediately after his appointment to head the state prison system by Scott in January. Buss and Gondles had worked together during his tenure as prisons chief in Indiana. Last week, Buss' agency yanked five requests for bids to privatize medical services at all of the state's prisons, which house more than 100,000 inmates. Corrections officials said at the time they were canceled the requests for proposals pending further review. But on Monday, Gondles -- who had at least two months left on her contract as the department's interim health care authority -- was let go. "Her work has been completed," DOC spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said. Scott's staff had raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest on the privatization process because Gondles is married to James "Jim" Gondles, executive director of the American Correctional Association. The association is the only organization that accredits state prison medical services, and the contracts would have required the medical service company or companies hired by the state to pay dues for prisons to join the association and the cost of audits by the association, according to the governor's staff and the request for proposals. Lawmakers estimated privatizing health care at the state's 60 state-run prisons would save $75 million. In a separate action, lawmakers also have required the Department of Corrections to start the process of privatizing not just health care but all operations for prisons south of Ocala.

February 28, 2005 In These Times
"ACCREDITATION IS AWARDED to the 'best of the best' in the corrections field,'" as the ACA explains on its Web site ( "Accredited agencies have a stronger defense against litigation through . . . the demonstration of a 'good faith' effort to improve conditions of confinement." Yet the fact remains that the ACA is still a private, non-governmental organization with no authority to change prison conditions or to enforce standards. The ACA's accreditation process is kept secret from the public; all that outsiders know for sure is which facilities have been accredited. Today, only 10 percent of government-managed facilities are ACA-accredited, compared with 44 percent of privately managed prisons. Texas leads the pack in prison privatization, followed closely by Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Colorado. How meaningful is ACA accreditation? In July 2004, a severe prison riot broke out at the ACA-accredited Crowley County Correctional Facility, a CCA prison near Pueblo, Colo. For nearly six hours, several hundred Colorado and out-of-state prisoners wreaked havoc on the prison, destroying cells, furniture, plumbing and equipment. Prison administrators had continually ignored complaints about food quality, conditions of confinement and the physical abuse of prisoners. At the time of the riot, only 33 guards were watching over 1,122 prisoners. Several of those guards fled the facility in panic. An extensively detailed 174-page "After Action" report, prepared by the Colorado Department of Corrections, noted CCA's deficiencies and serious errors in running the prison. But CCA retained both its contract to run the prison and its accreditation. In September 2004, prisoners rioted at Kentucky's Lee Adjustment Center, another CCA-run, ACA-accredited prison. Correctional officers working there make less than $ 8.00 an hour, and sometimes work 12-hour shifts. The government-run Mississippi State Penitentiary, which was taken to court in July 2002 over its filthy, vermin- and mosquito-infested death row cells, is also accredited by the ACA (see "Cruel as Usual," January 19, 2004). So is the Santa Fe County Detention Center, run by the Management and Training Corporation, which faces a federal lawsuit for violations of civil and constitutional rights, including its former practice of mandatory strip searches of every inmate.

February 28, 2005 In These Times
IN 1971, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST Jessica Mitford attended the 101st Congress of the American Correctional Association (ACA) in Miami Beach. The ACA was founded in 1870 as the National Prison Association by reform-minded wardens who saw promise in the rehabilitation, religious redemption and humane treatment of prisoners. By 1971 they had developed a substantial membership, attracting 2,000 attendees to that year's congress. In her seminal 1973 book, Kind and Usual Punishment: The Prison Business, Mitford reported that the organization had shifted its focus from reforming and rehabilitating prisoners to reaping profit from incarceration. Exhibitors, she wrote, sold everything from tear gas grenades to stun gun prototypes. And with prisons facing costly lawsuits instigated by prisoners, litigation, Mitford wrote, was "very much on everybody's mind." Thirty years later, how much has changed? The 2005 winter conference in Phoenix -- attended by an estimated 4,000 -- found the ACA still touting its principles: "Humanity, Justice, Protection, Opportunity, Knowledge, Competence and Accountability." The organization stresses that it brings together individuals and groups "that share a common goal of improving the justice system." But with the prison industry now bringing in annual revenue of $ 50 billion, the ACA seems most intent on "improving" profits. Today's ACA is a sleeker version of the organization Mitford examined, complete with online certification courses for correctional employees (starting at $ 29.95) and an expensive prison accreditation process that claims to instill transparency and accountability. Members are enticed to earn accreditation in order to receive up to a 10 percent discount on prison liability insurance (see "A Dubious Distinction"). Keeping litigation costs down is only one way prison corporations profit from incarceration. In addition, for-profit prisons also increase revenues by contracting with other corporations to provide substandard or overpriced services to prisoners. In some states, companies like Microsoft pay prisons to employ prisoners at wages far below market rates. The conference was financially supported by private prison giants such as the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the GEO Group (formerly known as Wackenhut), Correctional Services Corporation (CSC) and Correctional Medical Services (see "Detention Blues," July 5, 2004 for background on CSC). The titles of the dozens of overlapping workshops indicated what the ACA defined as the latest trends in corrections: "Faith-Based Juvenile Programming," "Anti-Terrorism in Correctional Facilities," and "Can't Simply Paint it Pink and Call it a Girl's Program." The real draw of the ACA conference was the exhibitors, who had two full days to showcase their wares. The exhibition hall corridors had been given names like "Corrections Corporation of America Court," "Verizon Expressway," "Western Union Avenue," and "The GEO Court Lounge," where one could sip Starbucks and eat free glazed doughnuts. Here, the discussions were all about increasing profit margins, lessening risks and liabilities, winning court cases, and new, improved techniques and technologies for managing the most troublesome inmates. In the glaringly bright exhibit hall, attendees buzzed around booths, snapping up freebies and admiring the latest in prison technology. Following a day of tours at Arizona jails and prisons, about 60 conference-goers headed to the Canteen fete at an upscale Italian restaurant in the nearby Arizona Center. Cocktails and bottles upon bottles of wine were poured out prior to a multicourse meal. Wardens and top-ranking corrections administrators from Arizona, New Mexico and Maryland sat in the outdoor patio under heat lamps. Salesmen from Canteen were pressing flesh and passing out business cards. There were smiles all around. Like so many other private companies working in prisons, Aramark and Canteen have had their share of problems. Aramark was singled out by "Stop the ACA" union-organized protests outside of the conference. On the third day of the conference, protesters snuck in and placed informational materials in the toilet seat cover holders of convention center bathrooms. The glossy GEO world magazine, distributed at the ACA conference, trumpeted the success of the largest "Private-Public Partnership in the World," a sprawling detention center complex in Pecos, Texas. Known as the Reeves County Detention Facility (RCDC), the complex consists of prisons for both Bureau of Prisons and Arizona state inmates. According to GEO, "the joint venture . . . between GEO Group and Reeves County has been a rewarding challenge." Unmentioned was the fact that a Reeves County judge, Jimmy Galindo, is facing a lawsuit over his role in granting the private operation and expansive construction of RCDC. According to the local Odessa American newspaper, building RCDC has led to the "near financial ruin of the county." RCDC is currently the subject of an FBI and Texas Ranger investigation into tampering with government documents. (In addition, two corrections officers resigned in early January 2005 over sexual molestation charges.) The RCDC is a private-public partnership in more ways than one. Randy DeLay, the brother of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), lobbied the Bureau of Prisons to send its prisoners to RCDC, at the behest of county officials. Randy DeLay isn't the only member of his family with an interest in corrections. In December, Rep. DeLay accepted a $ 100,000 check from the CCA for the DeLay Foundation for Kids. The CCA has become a leader in securing private prison contracts. In FY 2003, the CCA generated more than $ 268.9 million in revenue. Greasing the palms of legislators nationwide hasn't hurt: In 2004, the CCA's political action committee gave $ 59,000 to candidates for federal office -- 92 percent to Republicans. This is part and parcel of an industry in the business of locking up human beings. As the industry has grown, the ACA has moved away from the ideals of rehabilitation and redemption of the human spirit. Today, human beings behind bars are little more than commodities to be traded on the open market. Bill Deener, a financial writer for the Dallas Morning News, writing about recent gains in the private prison market, put it this way: "Crime may not pay, but prisons sure do."

Contractual statements of work generally specify that compliance will be required with the same procedural rules, regulations, and standards that are in force in the public facilities. For example, correctional administrators reported that 57 of the 91 contracts in force at the end of 1997 required that facilities achieve ACA accreditation within a specified time. In addition, administrators reported that 61contracts explicitly required compliance with conditions established in consent decrees or other court-mandated standards. Achieving ACA accreditation is not an outcomes-based performance goal. Rather, ACA standards primarily prescribe procedures. The great majority of ACA standards are written in this form: “The facility shall have written policies and procedures on . . . .” The standards emphasize the important benefits of procedural regularity and effective administrative control that flow from written procedures, and careful documentation of practices and events. But, for the most part, the standards prescribe neither the goals that ought to be achieved nor the indicators that would let officials know if they are making progress toward those goals over time. (Abt Associates, "Government's Management of Private Prisons," September 15, 2003)

Arizona Department of Corrections
A Corrections employee lost his job last week, more than a month after he sent 8,000 e-mails to prison officials around the country  eliciting support for Terry Stewart's bid to lead a private, national correctional organization.  Stewart, who led the state prison system from 1995 to 2002, is running for president-elect of the American Correctional Association.  (Arizona Daily Star, April 29, 2004)

Camino Nuevo Women's Prison, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Corrections Corporation of America

October 11, 2007 Albuquerque Journal
Before Anthony Townes started working at Nuevo Camino in July 2006, he went through a school offered by the Corrections Corporation of America, according to the company's Web site. He was also trained on where all of the cameras were positioned. Three CCA prisons are accredited by the American Correctional Association. Camino Nuevo had yet to receive its accreditation. The prison is supposed to go through an ACA audit next month. ACA officials told the Journal on Wednesday that there are no standards regulating where cameras should be placed and how much of a prison should be monitored. CCA's spokesman Steve Owen said his company would wait to review camera placement after the sheriff's office finished its investigation. But "I don't think there is a correctional facility in the country that has every area of a prison covered by a camera," he said. "Cameras are one of many things you utilize to maintain safety and security in a facility."

Delta Correctional Facility, Greenwood, Mississippi
Corrections Corporation of America

October 4, 2005 Greenwood Commonwealth
The contract between Corrections Corporation of America and Leflore County continues to be pushed back after four months of negotiations. On Monday, The Board of Supervisors approved another extension of the contract until Oct. 10 as the board attorney and CCA ironed out their differences. Within that contract was a clause stipulating that the jail acquire accreditation by the American Corrections Association, "within a reasonable amount of time." Jeb Beasley, who represents the company, said to comply with accreditation standards would cost much more than the annual $15,000.

September 28, 2005 Greenwood Commonwealth
Corrections Corporation of America and the Leflore County Supervisors can't seem to find a solution to the issue of national accreditation for the Leflore County Jail. Supervisors want the question answered before they agree on a new contract for CCA to operate the jail. Accreditation means the jail would meet national standards established for operation of a jail, including safety of prisoners and education of corrections officers. The American Corrections Association would provide accreditation for the jail. "Accreditation is a certificate that basically verifies you are staying within the standards," said Jerry Parker, warden of the jail and its neighbor, Delta Correctional Facility. But the jail's designation comes with a $15,000 yearly fee, which CCA says would be better spent elsewhere. For instance, said Parker, the 12-year-old indoor locks could be replaced for the cost.

September 7, 2005 Greenwood Commonwealth
A representative of an architectural firm has received the authority to negotiate with Malouf Construction over the cost of the Leflore County Justice Center project. Also Tuesday, the supervisors delayed a decision on whether to allow the removal of a clause in the county jail's contract that requires accreditation by the American Correctional Association. Jerry Parker, warden of Delta Correctional Facility, which houses the jail, asked the board that the clause be removed. Parker said that the jail adheres to the ACA standards already and that removing the accreditation requirement would save $10,000 that could be used to improve the jail. Improvements he suggested included an upgrade of the security system and construction of an interior wall to separate pods. Removing the requirement wouldn't change the way the facility operates, Parker said. Plus, he added, jails of this size seldom are accredited anyway.

Florida Department of Corrections
August 22, 2011 Palm Beach Post
Under pressure from Gov. Rick Scott's office, Florida prison officials quietly terminated a $180,000, 10-month contract with a Washington, D.C. woman hired to oversee the state's planned privatization of health care for prisoners. Department of Corrections Secretary Edwin Buss hired Elizabeth "Betty" Gondles almost immediately after his appointment to head the state prison system by Scott in January. Buss and Gondles had worked together during his tenure as prisons chief in Indiana. Last week, Buss' agency yanked five requests for bids to privatize medical services at all of the state's prisons, which house more than 100,000 inmates. Corrections officials said at the time they were canceled the requests for proposals pending further review. But on Monday, Gondles -- who had at least two months left on her contract as the department's interim health care authority -- was let go. "Her work has been completed," DOC spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said. Scott's staff had raised concerns about a potential conflict of interest on the privatization process because Gondles is married to James "Jim" Gondles, executive director of the American Correctional Association. The association is the only organization that accredits state prison medical services, and the contracts would have required the medical service company or companies hired by the state to pay dues for prisons to join the association and the cost of audits by the association, according to the governor's staff and the request for proposals. Lawmakers estimated privatizing health care at the state's 60 state-run prisons would save $75 million. In a separate action, lawmakers also have required the Department of Corrections to start the process of privatizing not just health care but all operations for prisons south of Ocala.

Hernando County Jail, Hernando County, Florida
Corrections Corporation of America

April 16, 2010 St Petersburg Times
Let me see if I understand this: Hernando County Sheriff Richard Nugent tours the county jail managed by Corrections Corporation of America and discovers the need for millions of dollars of repairs. The contract with CCA requires it to maintain the facility other than "major" repairs. One has to wonder what category the problems discovered by the sheriff fall under. Commissioners are shocked, absolutely shocked. Well, where have you all been? It appears that Hernando facility managers had not been to the jail in over a decade. Huh? CCA is in this business for a profit. If it's going to cost money and affect the bottom line for its shareholders, then it is going to think twice before expending money. Now the irony of all this is that the Hernando County Jail is ACA (American Correctional Association) accredited. One has to wonder if the ACA actually toured this jail or if ACA accreditation has nothing to do with running a jail. I wonder how much CCA paid the ACA for this? Ken Kopczynski, Private Corrections Working Group, Tallahassee

April 15, 2010 St Petersburg Times
With Hernando County taxpayers apparently on the hook for possibly millions of dollars in repairs to the county jail, officials on Wednesday were asking how things could have gotten so bad. Where were the red flags? And why had no one noticed the deteriorating conditions? The most recent inspection and accreditation reports, which were touted in recent weeks by jail operator Corrections Corporation of America as evidence of its superior administration, show no signs of trouble. County jails used to be inspected by the state's Department of Corrections but the law changed in the mid 1990s, county purchasing director Jim Gantt said Wednesday. Now, jails are inspected annually by officials certified to inspect based on the Florida Model Jail Standards. The jail met those requirements during an inspection in January. "I found no serious violations while inspecting and I recognize your continuing effort to make improvements to maintain a clean and safe facility,'' inspector Michelle Isaacson wrote to jail warden Russell Washburn on Jan. 12. "This shows your strong commitment and ownership in your facility.'' Isaacson could not be reached Wednesday to comment on her findings. In recent weeks, CCA has been countering assertions from Sheriff Richard Nugent that he could operate the jail better and cheaper than CCA, which has run the facility for 22 years. On Tuesday, Nugent told the County Commission that after a tour last week of the jail he has changed his mind about wanting to take over the jail. He showed commissioners photographs of cracks in walls and floors, water lines on equipment where water flows into the buildings, rusty doors and hinges and electrical outlets out of which rainwater sometimes flows. The facility, he concluded, has deteriorated to the point that "significant repairs and improvements must occur very soon.'' County Administrator David Hamilton called conditions at the jail "unacceptable'' and "appalling'' based on what he saw at the facility. Gantt said provisions in the jail contract clearly state CCA is responsible for maintenance, including routine maintenance. The county is on the hook for "major repairs or replacements of major components at the detention facility,'' the contract states. Those include air conditioning, roof systems, elevators, fire detection and suppression systems'' as well as plumbing systems. County Commission Chairman John Druzbick toured the facility last week. Commenting on the Florida Model Jail Standards review, he noted on Wednesday, "If they passed this one, I'd hate to see the ones they didn't pass.'' A medical inspection required by the standards dated Oct. 1, 2009 stated "no serious or notable violations were found.'' Last September, the U.S. Department of Justice, which at the time was still housing federal immigration prisoners at the jail, conducted its regular monitoring and found the facility "satisfactory,'' which is its highest rating. Also late last year, three correctional officials from out-of-state facilities representing the American Correctional Association, toured the jail and concluded that it met 100 percent of the mandatory standards to become accredited and 97.4 percent of the nonmandatory standards. Those officials toured the jail for six hours observing "quality of life,'' "conditions of confinement'' and "environmental'' issues, among others. "The overall living conditions throughout the facility were very good,'' the report states, even noting that since tap water in Florida is warm and the jail provides coolers throughout the facility, that "speaks well of the facility.'' The only deficiencies noted were in the amount of space in cells and the failure of showers, toilets and sinks from meeting standards but "the team received no complaints about these conditions or access to the hygiene areas.'' In the area of sanitation, the report notes that the jail "is exceptionally clean and it is apparent this is the norm'' and touts the kitchen as "very clean and orderly.'' No issues related to the condition of the jail were noted in the report from interviews with 35 inmates and 60 staff members. "Virtually all staff had good attitudes about their work and the administration of the facility,'' according to the report. "All state that they felt safe in their work environment and that they had input into policies and procedures covering facility operations. There was a truly family-like feeling among staff.'' Druzbick said that, despite the positive comments from the outside entities, the county and CCA are the ones who must make amends for allowing the jail to deteriorate. He said the county must now begin inspecting the jail annually, if not more often. And he said the county should consider taking CCA up on an offer to provide an office at the facility for county staff to monitor maintenance. "The oversight on this building has not been followed through with,'' he said. "We are to blame for a part of it and so are they.''

The Hernando County Jail receives a high score after being reviewed by the American Correctional Association. However, of the six areas that did not meet the recommendations, five were the same ones mentioned in the jail's last audit three years ago. Among them are the following: The jail exceeded its recommended housing capacity by about 10 inmates, housed inmates 15 years old and younger, lacked enough single-cell rooms for inmates, did not have enough "day room" space for inmates to spend time outside their cells, and did not have an indoor exercise facility. Of the six areas, Warden Jim Cooke says he has no plans to change any of them and will simply ask the ACA's commission to reconsider flagging them. In late 1999, The St. Petersburg Times investigated and found that in 1998, the jail had a 78 percent turnover in staff, and 44 percent of officers were not certified. (Hernando Times, October 5, 2000)

Reeves County Detention Center, Pecos, Texas
February 6, 2009 KRISTV
As officials in a remote West Texas county have sought to keep their local prison full and financially viable, it has become the scene of mounting inmate unrest, including two riots in the last six weeks. Reeves County faced a major boondoggle _ a prison without prisoners _ when it turned to a private company, The GEO Group Inc., about five years ago to manage its sprawling detention center and fill it with federal inmates. The influx of prisoners has allowed the facility, the county's largest employer, to stay in operation, but not without a series of disturbances and protests, some of them incendiary. The prison and its management have come under increasing scrutiny as authorities dealt with the latest incident, a riot that started Jan. 31 and left buildings heavily damaged. The riot followed a similar disturbance in another portion of the prison in December. Two employees were taken hostage and an exercise room was burned. That incident caused at least $320,000 worth of damage, according to county records. These and other matters detailed in news accounts and court documents indicate widespread tension among inmates over a variety of issues, most notably medical treatment. And, for some observers, they give more voice to the oft-stated criticism of private prisons. "Generally, these (disturbances) are not random," said Bert Useem, a Purdue University sociology and anthropology professor who has written extensively on prison issues. "They occur in prisons that are facing serious difficulties." The GEO Group did not respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press seeking comment. The publicly traded company based in Boca Raton, Fla., has attracted scrutiny before over conditions in its prisons. In 2007, the Texas Youth Commission fired the company after nearly 200 teenage offenders were removed from a juvenile justice center it operated in Bronte, citing health and safety violations. The company has also come under fire for its operation of a facility that houses illegal immigrant detainees in Pearsall, Texas. A federal lawsuit charges that two Mexican immigrants were not treated for their mental illnesses. Meantime, correctional officers at the facility are threatening to strike over pay and working conditions. "They operate as a bare-bones, profit-making machine," said Howard Johannssen, an official with the union representing the Pearsall officers. In Reeves County and Pecos, its largest town, The GEO Group is largely viewed as the savior of a sinking ship. At the time the company was hired to manage the prison, the county was unable to find enough inmates to fill a newly built third unit. The lack of prisoners put the county at risk of defaulting on the bonds used to finance the unit's construction. Since joining forces with The GEO Group, the county has filled the center with more than 3,300 federal inmates, including more than 1,207 in unit III, turning the situation around. Many of the prisoners are non-U.S. citizens. The facility employs more than 500 people, most of whom work for the county, and has become increasingly important to the economy as the area has lost several other employers in recent years. "Any small community with a prison that employs that number of people would see (the value of having such a facility)," said Robert Tobias, executive director of the Pecos Economic Development Corporation. The significance of The GEO Group's work on the county's behalf was underscored in January 2006 when the Pecos Area Chamber of Commerce gave the company its "Citizen of the Year" award. At the presentation, chamber president Jim Dutchover cited the company for injecting an "infusion of ideas and money" into the community. But recent events have cast the situation in a different light, leaving the impression that the prison, while full, has been poorly run. "Prisoner riots are a relatively rare occurrence," wrote the American Civil Liberties Union in a letter to the Department of Justice requesting that it investigate the center. "For this reason, two serious disturbances within a two-month period at a single facility is sufficient cause for great concern." According to information posted on the Web site of another advocacy group, the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the latest riot began when authorities refused to respond to prisoners' request that a gravely ill inmate be released from solitary confinement and transferred to a hospital. A federal lawsuit filed by an inmate in 2007 claims prisoners were sprayed with mace after staging a hunger strike to protest the quality of medical care and meals. As part of the suit, filed without an attorney, the prisoner included an undated memo purportedly from a prison official saying he was working toward improving meals, medical care and recreational equipment. The prison was accredited last month by the American Correctional Association, the nation's only such program for adult and juvenile detention facilities. The accreditation, required by the federal Bureau of Prisons, was based largely on the results of an on-site audit in October in which representatives of the organization would have reviewed paperwork and interviewed inmates outside the presence of prison authorities, said James Gondles, the group's executive director. "To my knowledge, our auditing didn't raise any red flags," he said. However, because of the riots, it is likely that another auditing team will be sent to the prison, Gondles said. "Are we concerned when an incident happens at an accredited facility?" he said. "The answer is yes."

Rolling Plains Regional Jail, Texas
Federal authorities say they are investigating allegations that workers at a detention center have mistreated in mates.   Inmate complaints at the Rolling Plain Regional Jail and Detention Center in Haskell range from not getting enough soap and lotion to a lack of proper medical treatment, said Patricia Mancha, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  A special assessment team dispatched from Washington to investigate is expected to issue a report in a few weeks, Mancha said. The 551-bed private jail contracts with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Dallas.  Judy Morrell, a corrections officer for two years, said she quit recently over "inhumane" treatment of inmates. She alerted federal officials about the conditions weeks ago.  "Animals were treated better than the inmates," Morrell, who lives in Seymour, told the Wichita Falls Times Record News in a Thursday story. "I refuse to be a part of it anymore."  Because of overcrowding, some inmates were forced to sleep on the floor and given rations that were substandard and irregular, she said.  (AP, April 16, 2004)

Suffolk County House of Corrections, (AKA South Bay House of Corrections) Suffolk County, Massachusetts
September 7, 2001 Boston Globe
The two men Suffolk County Sheriff Richard J. Rouse had chosen to lead an inquiry panel into his troubled department abruptly withdrew yesterday, citing concern about the appearance of conflicts of interest. As the Boston City Council moved toward its own hearings into a department beset by charges of systemic abuse and low standards, officials moved to resuscitate Rouse's probe after its co-leaders suddenly announced they could not serve. The Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III abandoned plans to help lead the inquiry after the Globe reported that Rivers's nonprofit organization, the Ella J. Baker House, is slated to receive $99,000 over three years in funds obtained by the sheriff's department through a federal grant. ''To avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, even though none exists, and to ensure that there is no lingering hint of impropriety, I am recusing myself from participation,'' Rivers said. Rivers, pastor of the Azusa Christian Community in Dorchester, called for the George Lewis Ruffin Society, an organization of minority law enforcement officers in the state, to help organize an independent review. Two weeks ago, after a two-month investigation, a Globe series reported that sexual misconduct and brutality by Suffolk County guards is more widespread than previously acknowledged, and that Rouse was sometimes not working a full day. ''In view of the fact that a disproportionate percentage of the inmates in the Suffolk County House of Correction are black and brown, it is essential that an independent investigation be conducted to ensure that their legitimate interests and basic civil rights are defended,'' Rivers said. He added that he hoped the Ruffin Society would help develop an ''ombudsman structure which will provide some reasonable measure of public oversight of the operations of the jail.'' A representative of the Ruffin Society could not be reached for comment. Joining Rivers in withdrawing from the investigative panel Rouse announced last week was James A. Gondles Jr., executive director of the American Correctional Association. Gondles said he was dropping plans to serve as the panel's chief administrator because of his association's past and current ties to Rouse's department. In his place, Gondles said, the association's president, Betty Adams Green of Tennessee, a Nashville juvenile court judge, would select the correctional experts to review Suffolk County. ''I had in my own mind an issue that if the jail were accredited by the ACA, it would at least appear to be a conflict of interest for me as executive director and an employee to be on any kind of review team,'' Gondles said. ''No ACA employee is going to be a part of the team.'' Gondles's organization received $10,000 from Rouse's department for an audit of the Nashua Street Jail, the sheriff department's facility for detainees awaiting trial. In his annual report to staff members, Rouse said the American Correctional Association review was glowing in its praise of the department. Months later, seven officers were indicted in federal court on charges of beating inmates. The department has paid another $10,000 fee to the American Correctional Association for an audit, this time of the House of Correction, where prisoners serve sentences. The audit is scheduled for later this year. Rouse, through a spokesman, maintained yesterday that he saw no conflict of interest in Gondles's original role. ''We do not believe there was a conflict of interest,'' said the spokesman, Richard M. Lombardi. ''We respect the determination of the ACA to handle their review. Once we made the request of the ACA it was totally in their hands.'' Despite the withdrawal of Rivers and Gondles and the new role for Green, Lombardi insisted that plans for the review had not changed and that it was proceeding on course. Asked about the ACA's experience with similar reviews of other departments nationwide, the sheriff's department could not cite any cases it had examined before enlisting the agency to organize a search. But Green, who has specialized in juvenile corrections for 15 years, said she is confident that the panelists she has selected will conduct a thorough review in Suffolk County. ''The interest of the ACA is to constantly improve the quality of correctional services and programs, and to ensure a safe environment, both for the offenders we serve as well as the staff,'' Green said yesterday. She said it was her decision to have the American Correctional Association go forward with Rouse's request for a review. In defending the choice of the organization to review the department, Green said the association routinely offers ''technical assistance'' to some of the 20,000 correctional facilities that are its members. But when asked if she considered the Suffolk review to be technical assistance, Green said it would be ''far, far different.'' Citing American Correctional Association policy, Jeff Washington, deputy executive director, said yesterday that the organization would not divulge any information about past facilities where they have intervened unless those facilities granted permission to do so. The group was involved in a controversial review of the Maine Youth Center, a juvenile detention facility for the state that came under heavy criticism in October 1998. State officials in Maine hired the organization to conduct an independent investigation after the state Department of Education cited poor conditions at the center and Amnesty International documented complaints of abuse. But Maine legislators rejected the group's 10-page report as inadequate, saying it included few specifics and that its recommendations were too broad. The state quickly ordered a second review of the department by Edward Loughran, former head of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, who issued a scathing report. Following Loughran's review, Governor Angus King unveiled a $25.5 million improvement plan for the state's juvenile corrections system. Meanwhile, the Boston City Council yesterday moved toward public hearings to investigate Rouse's department. The council's action came after a more-strongly worded resolution calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor was derailed by councilors who noted that an FBI probe is under way into allegations of abuse by Suffolk County guards. ''The FBI and the US attorney are all over that building right now,'' said City Councilor at Large Stephen J. Murphy. ''Let the US attorney and the FBI do their job, and appoint an independent commission on the management to look into those problems.'' City Council President Charles C. Yancey said he intends to meet with Rouse tomorrow to discuss upcoming City Hall hearings and to stress the need for an outside review of the Suffolk County sheriff's operations.

Tennessee Legislature
Sep 1, 2015
State lawmaker wants feds to look at Tennessee prison problems, questions impartiality of selected group
NASHVILLE -- A top Tennessee House Democrat questioned Monday whether the planned outside review of state prison problems by the American Correctional Association will provide an accurate picture, calling instead for a "truly independent" examination by a federal agency. Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart of Nashville also said the Republican-run Legislature should reinstate a special legislative oversight panel on prisons that GOP leaders abolished four years ago. Stewart's comments came at a news conference during which he sought to cast doubt on the impartiality and adequacy of the ACA, an official accrediting agency. The ACA's heads are state prisons officials from across the country. The lawmaker said Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield instead should enlist help from the National Institute of Corrections, an agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. It provides technical assistance and training to state prison systems when asked by states. As reports of problems about violence against guards and alleged reclassification of such offenses to lesser categories continue to be made, not only by correctional officers but by a former prison warden, Schofield announced last week he has asked the ACA to look into those and other issues including understaffing at some state prisons. That announcement came in a Senate State Government Committee hearing, which followed up on a similar House hearing on problems. Schofield later told reporters the ACA audit of operations at around five of the state's 13 prisons would be done on top of a preannounced audit. Stewart sought to cast doubt on having preannounced examinations, noting it gives time to prison officials to prepare, and he questioned just how impartial the process is. He pointed to documents from the Correctional Accreditation Managers Association, an affiliate of the ACA that helps prison officials prepare for accreditation visits. That includes advice to prison officials on what kinds of hotels to use for housing auditors and on the offering of "gifts" to auditors, instructing prison officials to spend no more than $25 on such gifts for auditors and to make sure they can be "easily carried on a plane." "Everything we see about the organization suggests that it is essentially working hand in hand with our correctional management," Stewart said. "That may serve some purposes, but it disqualifies it as the organization that should be conducting this particular independent review." He said there is "no reason to believe [the ACA] is anything more than a rubber stamp." "We need an independent outside group and we also need to reverse the very, very poor decision by Republicans in the legislature to get rid of the Corrections Oversight Committee," Stewart said. Meanwhile, Stewart said, "I think the best thing the commissioner could do is invite the NIC in to do a truly independent audit. We don't have the Corrections Oversight Committee so, unfortunately, we don't have a team of legislative experts that have spent years learning about our prisons like we used to." Shortly after assuming total control of the Legislature in 2011, Republicans abolished the panel. House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, said recently it was "probably a mistake." But Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said regular committees can handle such work. Stewart said they're trying, but only after problems erupt. He said if Schofield and Tennessee Department of Correction officials, who say there is no real problem due to their policies, are indeed correct, "they should have no reason to fear a truly independent investigation." Stewart also questioned state officials' figures indicating that prison violence is down. It amounts to little more than "a shell game," he said, because the agency reclassified assaults. "We've been hearings assaults are down. But as assaults went down, related provocations went up, so it's pretty obvious that what you've got is a reclassification." Asked about Stewart's remarks about the ACA, TDOC spokeswoman Neysa Taylor said that "much like the Bar Association and the American Medical Association are the governing bodies for attorneys and doctors, the American Correctional Association and the National Institute of Corrections are both organizations that correction departments look to for leadership, guidance and best practices. "In the past," Taylor said, "we've worked with and attended trainings provided by both entities. While we've asked ACA to conduct this review, we will continue our ongoing relationship with NIC, as well." The department is now working with NIC officials to determine when the review will take place, Taylor said.

Vermont Legislature
Corrections Corporation of America
October 19, 2005 Rutland Herald
The Indiana resident starts work Nov. 7 as the Springfield prison's new superintendent. Ashburn started working at the sheriff's office in his Maryland hometown while still in high school. He became department sheriff and helped to open a county jail and a state prison. He later worked as an instructor at the Maryland Police and Corrections Training Academy. Robert Kupec, facilities executive for the Vermont Department of Corrections, said he was particularly impressed with Ashburn's experience setting standards and accreditation with the American Correctional Association. Ashburn also worked for Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest private prison management company, for seven years. He was CCA's warden at Marion County Jail, a 1,000-bed prison in Indianapolis, Ind., two years ago and has served as senior director of customer relations and business development at CCA's corporate office. Ashburn's connection with the private company raised flags for Kurt Staudter, chairman of the town's Community Liaison Committee. "I don't have any respect for CCA as a company," he said. CCA came under criticism after a riot last September at its 800-inmate Lee Adjustment Center in Kentucky. Half of those inmates were Vermont prisoners, some of whom were involved in the riot. The riot incident, which occurred after Ashburn worked for CCA, put a spotlight on Vermont's policy of sending large numbers of prisoners out of state. The Corrections Department sent a staffer to the Lee Adjustment Center to monitor the treatment of Vermont inmates there. CCA agreed to pay a $10,000 fine for failing to adequately organize, equip, train the staffers whose job was to respond to the riot. When the Springfield prison was built two years ago, Howard Dean promised the committee that as long as he was governor, the state's prison system would not be privatized. Staudter said privatization has become a constant concern.