CCARAP SHEET

If you find our website useful, please consider sending us a contribution!!!
PCWG, 1114 Brandt Drive, Tallahassee FL 32308


Adams County Correctional Facility, Natchez, Mississippi
Jun 13, 2014 sfgate.com

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — The attorney for an inmate indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to commit murder related to a deadly prison riot in Mississippi told a judge Thursday the defendant wasn't ready to plead guilty as everyone expected. Jesus Beltran-Rodriguez was one of five inmates indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder in relation to the May 20, 2012, riot at the Adams County Correctional Center. He had pleaded not guilty to the charge May 22, but was scheduled for a change of plea hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in Natchez, according to The Natchez Democrat. In an appearance before U.S. District Judge David Bramlette, Rodriguez, speaking through an interpreter, told the judge he had questions for his attorney. After a 15-minute conference, his attorney, Damon Stevenson of Jackson, told Bramlette that he met with his client Monday and Rodriguez had indicated at that time he was ready to move forward with the plea. "Since Monday, it appears some issues have arisen," Stevenson said. "He has been informed that mother is gravely ill, and he is very emotional. At this time, I don't think he is able to think clearly." Bramlette granted a request from Rodriguez's attorney to delay the plea hearing. One guard was killed and 20 people were injured in the May 20, 2012, riot at the privately-run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, which holds immigrants convicted of crimes while being in the U.S. illegally. Court records show Beltran-Rodriguez is one of the inmates suspected of beating the guard, Catlin Carithers, who died. The prison holds nearly 2,500 inmates, most of them convicted on charges of coming back to the U.S. after deportation for being in the country illegally. The prison is operates by Nashville, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation's largest private prison companies. Several other inmates have been charged — or convicted — with participating in the riot.


May 30, 2014 clarionledger.com

Three people have been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to commit murder related to a deadly prison riot in Mississippi. Federal prosecutors say in a news release Friday that Hector Miguel Diaz-Osuna, Ricardo Gonzalez-Porras and Jesus Beltran-Rodriguez were indicted by a grand jury. Prosecutors say Gonzalez-Porras is also charged with assaulting a prison guard. Two other defendants, Juan Geraldo Arredondo and Ernesto Granados, are charged in the indictment with rioting. One guard was killed and 20 people were injured in the May 20, 2012, riot at the privately-run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, which holds immigrants convicted of crimes while being in the U.S. illegally. Court records show Beltran-Rodriguez is one of the inmates suspected of beating the guard, Catlin Carithers, who died. The prison holds nearly 2,500 inmates, most of them convicted on charges of coming back to the U.S. after deportation for being in the country illegally. The prison is owned by Nashville, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation's largest private prison companies. Several other inmates have been charged — or convicted — with participating in the riot. Gerson Benavides was sentenced Thursday in federal court to 75 months imprisonment. Benavides was previously convicted of rioting at the Adams County Correctional Facility. Benavides was also ordered to pay restitution of $1.3 million. Humberto Cuellar was sentenced Thursday 110 months imprisonment. He also was previously convicted of rioting. He also was ordered to pay restitution of $1.3 million. Correction officer Catlin Carithers was killed and 20 people were injured as the riot grew to involve hundreds of inmates. They caused an estimated $1.3 million in damage. The prison holds nearly 2,500 inmates, most of them convicted on charges of coming back to the U.S. after deportation for being in the country illegally. The FBI has said in court records that the riot was started by a group of Mexican inmates, known as Paisas, who were angry about what they considered poor food and medical care and disrespectful guards. Paisas are a loosely affiliated group within the prison, without ties to organized gangs, the FBI has said.


Mar 12, 2014 United States Attorney Gregory K. Davis

NINE INMATES PLEAD GUILTY TO RIOTING AT ADAMS COUNTY CORRECTIONAL CENTER Natchez, Miss. Gerson Benavides, age 30, Joel Oswaldo Ramirez-Nunez, 33, Humberto Cuellar, 41 Hiasom Ali, 36, Raybel Granillo, 29, Margarito Munoz-Astello, 37, Ricardo Quintana, 27, Ruben Coronado-Licon, 22, and Bertil James, 38, pleaded guilty on March 11,  2014 before Senior U.S. District Judge David C. Bramlette III, to one (1) count of Rioting in a Federal Correctional Facility, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and FBI Special Agent in Charge Daniel McMullen. The offense occurred on May 20, 2012 at the Adams County Correctional Center. During the riot, several correctional officers were assaulted and one Correctional Officer (CO) died as a result of injuries he received during these assaults. Other COs were taken captive and held hostage for several hours by participants in the riot. Total damage to ACCC was estimated to be $1,305,142.00. The defendants were serving federal prison sentences at the prison. All of the defendants with the exception of Ali and James are citizens Mexico. Ali and James are citizens of Egypt and Trinidad and Tobago, respectively. Each defendant faces a maximum prison sentence of ten years, fine of $250,000.00 and supervised release term of 3 years. The defendants will be sentenced on May 29 and June 12, 2014. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Lemon is prosecuting the case.


Aug 15, 2013 tulsaworld.com

HOLDENVILLE - A fight between inmates at the Davis Correctional Center last week resulted in two prisoners in hospitals and the prison being locked down. The Davis facility is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, a private prison contractor. It houses medium- and maximum-security male inmates for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. When corrections officers tried to break up the altercation Friday night, one of the inmates charged at an employee with a crude prison weapon commonly called a "lock in a sock," a DOC incident report states. Officers used pepper spray to subdue the prisoners, according to the report. The fight was between suspected members of the "Irish Mob" and "United Aryan Brotherhood" gangs, records indicate. Afterward, staff members searched the cells of the inmates involved and found numerous homemade metal weapons, other "lock in a sock" weapons and bloody clothing. Friday's fight follows a June 30 gang brawl that involved at least 20 prisoners fighting with handmade weapons at the same prison. Several prisoners were taken to hospitals then. The June fight involved members of the Indian Brotherhood and Crips gangs, according to incident reports. In March, CCA officials declined to call a four-hour disturbance at the Cushing prison they operate a riot, even though inmates smashed windows, breached security doors and were pepper-sprayed after they fashioned weapons from destroyed property, records show. CCA officials characterized the incident as "inmates being disruptive in one of the housing units." The inmates involved were prisoners of the Puerto Rican government that CCA supervised under contract.

Private Prison, Public Problem: June 6, 2012, Jackson Free Press. Excellent piece on how this prison was built and CCA's operations.

July 24, 2013 ktvu.com
JACKSON, Miss. — Ten people have been indicted for their roles in a riot at a prison in Natchez that left one guard dead, federal authorities said Wednesday. The indictments, announced Wednesday by FBI Special Agent In Charge Daniel McMullen and U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Daniels, are in addition to nine others previously charged in connection with the May 20, 2012, riot at the privately-run Adams County Correctional Center. The prison is owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation's largest private prison companies. McMullen and Daniels said the defendants were charged with instigating, conniving, willfully attempting to cause, assisting, or conspiring to cause any mutiny or riot at a federal correctional facility. Indicted were: Gerson Benavides, 29; Adrian Romero-Carrera, 27; Carlos Flores, 40; Ruben Coronado-Licon, 22; Ricardo Quintana, 28; Margarito Munoz-Astello, 36; Bertil James, 38; Ian Jeffrey Reid, 43; Haisam Ali, 36; and Raybell Granillo, 28. During the riot, several corrections officers were assaulted and one officer, Catlin Carithers, died from injuries he received. Other guards were held hostage for several hours. It took hours for authorities to suppress the riot, which caused an estimated $1.3 million in damage. Prosecutors have said that Marco Perez-Serrano, also known as Jesus Fernando Ochoa, was the first inmate to attack Carithers during the riot. Carithers died and 20 people were injured as the riot grew to involve hundreds of inmates. Perez-Serrano pleaded not guilty in April to a charge of rioting. A change of plea hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13 in U.S. District Court in Natchez. Inmate Jesus Beltran-Rodriguez, also suspected of beating Carithers, and Humberto Cuellar, accused of taking a different guard hostage during the uprising, are scheduled for trial Oct. 7. They have pleaded not guilty to rioting. The prison holds nearly 2,500 inmates, most of them convicted on charges of coming back to the U.S. after deportation for being in the country illegally.

 

July 20, 2013 blog.gulflive.com

JACKSON, Mississippi -- An inmate suspected of participating in the fatal beating of a guard during a prison riot in Mississippi last year is expected to plead guilty next month. Prosecutors say Marco Perez-Serrano, also known as Jesus Fernando Ochoa, was the first inmate to attack correction officer Catlin Carithers during the riot at the privately run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez on May 20, 2012. Carithers died and 20 people were injured as the riot grew to involve hundreds of inmates. Perez-Serrano is charged with rioting. A change of plea hearing is scheduled for Aug. 13 in U.S. District Court in Natchez. His attorney, Joe Hollomon, did not immediately respond to a phone message. The prison holds nearly 2,500 inmates, most of them convicted on charges of coming back to the U.S. after deportation for being in the country illegally. The prison is owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation's largest private prison companies. Several other inmates have been charged with participating in the riot. Perez-Serrano was indicted in February. He pleaded not guilty in April. An FBI affidavit filed in the case said inmates stacked food service carts from the kitchen and climbed on to a roof where Carithers was stationed with another guard. The affidavit says Perez-Serrano was the first person seen attacking Carithers when he hit him with a food tray. After other inmates joined in the attack on Carithers, Perez-Serrano was seen hitting another guard with the tray, according to the affidavit. The inmates used keys they took from the guards to get into secured prison areas where more correction officers were attacked, according to the affidavit. Perez-Serrano also was seen destroying prison property, including a surveillance camera, and fought with members of the special response teams that responded to the riot, authorities say. Inmate Jesus Beltran-Rodriguez, also suspected of beating Carithers, and Humberto Cuellar, accused of taking a different guard hostage during the uprising, are scheduled for trial Oct. 7. They have pleaded not guilty to rioting. Carithers family filed a federal lawsuit alleging that inadequate staffing and poor treatment created a dangerous environment at the facility. In a statement after the lawsuit was filed, CCA said it "takes the safety and well-being of our staff very seriously, and we work diligently to provide our dedicated correctional officers, chaplains, nurses and teachers the training, security and support systems they need in this very challenging field." "In addition to conducting our own thorough review, we have cooperated fully with law enforcement throughout their investigation of the incident, and we support full prosecution of those inmates responsible for this disturbance," the statement said. The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, said prison officials were told by an informant days before the riot that the situation was becoming volatile and that the officials failed to warn Carithers that he and other guards were on an inmate "hit list." Carithers was off the day of the riot but was called in to help, his family has said. The FBI has said in court records that the riot was started by a group of Mexican inmates, known as Paisas, who were angry about what they considered poor food and medical care and disrespectful guards. Paisas are a loosely affiliated group within the prison, without ties to organized gangs, the FBI has said. It took hours for authorities to control the riot, which caused an estimated $1.3 million in damage. The prison's special response team and the Mississippi Highway Patrol's SWAT team worked to end the riot while state and area law enforcement officers, some from neighboring Louisiana, helped secure the outside.


Jul 6, 2013 necn.com

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A prison company wants a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by relatives of a guard who was killed during a prison riot in Mississippi. Correction officer Catlin Carithers was beaten to death during the May 20, 2012, riot at the privately run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Natchez against Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the prison. The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, says CCA "created a dangerous atmosphere for the correction officers by depriving inmates of basic needs and treating them inhumanely." A motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed Wednesday says, among other things, that CCA is immune from the claims in the lawsuit because they are barred "by the exclusive remedy provision in the Mississippi Workers' Compensation Act." The argument is that workplace injuries should be compensated by workers' compensation, not through litigation. "Carithers's death was caused by the willful conduct of a third party (inmates) because of his employment status as a correctional officer at ACCF and while working on the job. Therefore, his death is compensable under the Act," the motion said. The lawsuit says prison officials were told by an informant in the days before the riot that the situation was becoming volatile and that the officials failed to warn Carithers that he and other guards were on an inmate "hit list." Besides the Workers' Compensation Act, the motion provides an alternative argument to dismiss the lawsuit — that the allegations fail to state a claim. "Defendants did not assault or batter Carithers; inmates did. Moreover, regarding the alleged failure to disclose the inmate informant's "black list" report, the Complaint fails to allege the reliance, proximate causation, and legal duty requirements of a fraudulent concealment claim," the motion says. Carithers was off the day of the riot but was called in to help, his family has said. It took hours for authorities to control the riot, which grew to involve hundreds of inmates and injured at least 20 people. The prison holds nearly 2,500 inmates convicted of crimes while being in the U.S. illegally. The FBI has said in court records that the riot was started by a group of Mexican inmates, known as Paisas, who were angry about what they considered poor food and medical care and disrespectful guards. Paisas are a loosely affiliated group within the prison, without ties to organized gangs, FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden has said. Several inmates have been charged with rioting in the case. The prison's special response team and the Mississippi Highway Patrol's SWAT team worked to end the riot while state and area law enforcement officers, some from neighboring Louisiana, helped secure the outside.


May 13, 2013 www.clarionledger.com

At least one email allegedly sent by an inmate informant to the chief of security at the Adams County Correctional Center predicted the riot that broke out the next day resulting in a guard’s death. Other emails described a “hit list” of prison guards, one of whom was the guard killed. In a lawsuit filed in connection with the May 20 riot, the family of Sgt. Catlin Carithers, the prison guard who was killed, point to these emails and information from the informant as reason to believe Corrections Corporation of America was negligent in Carithers’ death. CCA is the Nashville-based parent company of the Natchez prison. According to copies of the emails obtained by The Clarion-Ledger, the security chief was warned that the leadership of certain prison groups wanted to meet with the warden to ask for changes in medical, food, recreation and laundry arrangements. The emails appear to have been sent to the prison’s security chief from an inmate who had a cellphone inside the facility. At 10:14 p.m. on May 19, the email writer says that the situation is more serious than prison officials seemed to think. He indicated there would be meetings the next day for the heads of the groups to list their requests to Warden Vance Laughlin. The email characterizes one of the new leaders as having a “couple riots on his belt,” and the informant believed most of the inmates would follow him. “People will be ready 4 war tomorow (sic), I am not joking,” he writes, going on to say, “Any officer that disrespect an inmate will be punish (sic).” In the same email, the informant warns leaders would present changes, and if the facility did not comply, they “will burn the place down.” He then warns that it would be a peaceful demonstration, but if the staff interfered, it could “get ugly.” He ends the email by telling them to get ready, that this was serious, and could involve as many as 1,600 inmates. Up to 700 inmates are believed to have participated in the riot. The prison holds nearly 2,500 inmates convicted of crimes while being in the U.S. illegally. CCA officials would not comment on the informant’s warnings but condemned the actions of the inmates. “CCA takes the safety and well-being of our staff very seriously, and we work diligently to provide our dedicated correctional officers, chaplains, nurses and teachers the training, security and support systems they need in this very challenging field,” said CCA spokesman Steve Owen. “In addition to conducting our own thorough review, we have cooperated fully with law enforcement throughout their investigation of the incident, and we support full prosecution of those inmates responsible for this disturbance. There is never an appropriate justification for an inmate to instigate and participate in violence against a correctional officer.” Alex Friedmann, an associate editor at Prison Legal News, said he corresponded with the informant for several months. He said the informant told him when Laughlin met with two men he thought were leaders, they assured him there would be no problem. What the warden didn’t know was that those men were no longer “shot callers.” “CCA didn’t know and these guys didn’t say they’d been forced out by the other inmates. They weren’t aware these guys had no say anymore and no power to control the guys in their groups. The next day the inmates begin congregating on the yard,” he said. “The guys who were there at the time took a strong, hard response, and they threw tear gas from the roof to break up the congregation, and they climbed up on the roof and assaulted the guards throwing tear gas at them.” Carithers, 24, was on that roof. According to one of the emails, the writer also told prison officials Carithers was one of several guards who was on a “hit list,” designated to be injured or worse if there was any trouble. Inmates stacked food carts to get to the roof to attack Carithers and the others. During the riot, fire also broke out. Carithers wasn’t supposed to work on the Sunday of the riot. He recently had received a promotion to senior corrections officer that took him off the weekend shift. “They called him in for backup,” his brother Josey Carithers said at the time. “I know my brother, and I bet he got in his truck and hauled butt to go help. He was ready.” Emails supposedly from the inmate to the chief of security a few days later said he couldn’t accept that someone as young as Carithers died because of the warden’s “stupidity.” The security chief wrote back saying he felt terrible about it because he was the one who called Carithers to come into work on his day off, resulting in his death. The lawsuit brought against CCA by Carithers’ family is based on the claims that CCA was aware of the hit list and was aware that officers on the hit list would be injured or punished. Carithers was not warned when he was called into work that day. “The inmate informant further asked why the Facility security officer put Catlin on the front line when the facility administration knew he would be ‘eaten alive’ by the inmates,” the complaint states. The complaint also states CCA officials put their guards in further danger by maintaining a less than adequate staff with underequipped and undertrained officers. In addition, the complaint states, CCA “further created a dangerous atmosphere for the correction officers by depriving the inmates of basic needs and treating them inhumanely.” The suit asks CCA for past medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, funeral and related costs, future lost income, future emotional distress, loss of consortium, attorney fees, punitive damages, prejudgment and post judgment interest and any other damages warranted under the circumstances. The family’s attorneys did not return calls for comment, and both the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office said they could not comment on the ongoing investigation. The FBI has said in court records that the riot was started by a group of Mexican inmates, known as Paisas. Paisas are a loosely affiliated group within the prison, one of many groups referred to as “nations,” because they usually congregate based on what country they are from or what language they speak, Friedmann explained. Several inmates have been charged with rioting in the case. One of them, Marco Perez-Serrano, has been identified as the first person to attack Carithers when he hit him with a food tray. Carithers was beaten to death with a lunch tray.

May 18, 2013 www.clarionledger.com

The Corrections Corporation of America board chairman reportedly denied a request at Thursday’s annual stockholders meeting for a moment of silence in memory of murdered prison guard Catlin Carithers. Monday will mark one year since Carithers was killed after being called in on his day off to help quell a prison riot at the CCA-owned Adams County Correctional Center facility near Natchez. Thursday was the first stockholders meeting since the May 20 riot. Stockholder Alex Friedmann said when he asked for the moment of silence, CCA Board Chairman John D. Ferguson refused to honor the request, saying CCA had honored Carithers in other ways. The meeting was at CCA headquarters in Nashville, where approximately 30 people stood outside, some with signs, protesting the privately-run prison company. The meeting inside was formal and businesslike, Friedman said, as only stockholders, executives and staff are allowed to attend. Friedman, who said he owns CCA stock in order to communicate issues with executives, previously served a six year sentence at a CCA prison and is president of a watchdog nonprofit group that opposes private prisons called Private Corrections Institute. “In that one meeting CCA would not give 30 seconds of respect (for Carithers),” Friedman said. “It speaks volumes how the company thinks of its employees and how it treats them.” CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in an emailed response that Friedman “would stop at nothing” to disparage CCA and its employees. “Yesterday, professional corrections critic Alex Friedman shamefully attempted to exploit the tragic death of Catlin for his own personal agenda,” Owens said. “These antics do not honor his memory.” Friedman said a number of other “activist stockholders” attended Thursday’s meeting, including members of the Jesuits religious order and other religious groups. Owens said CCA has “honored his memory in a number of ways, both at the Adams County Correctional Facility and throughout the company.” The family of Carithers filed a lawsuit this month in connection with the May 20 riot saying CCA was negligent in Carithers’ death. The lawsuit cites information from an informant predicting the riot and suggesting Carithers was on a “hit list.” Friedman said he attended a CCA stockholders meeting in 2008 when the board honored someone’s memory with a moment of silence, but he believed the board had a different chairman at the time. “This is the only time, at the annual meeting, that shareholders could recognize Mr. Carithers,” Friedman said. Owen said CCA takes the safety and well-being of the staff very seriously, and the entire CCA family has been “deeply saddened” by Carithers’ loss. A federal judge recently rescheduled the trial of an inmate who is accused of being the first person to attack Carithers during the riot, in which 20 others were injured, for Aug. 19. In other CCA news, The Natchez Democrat reports that a new company will take over operations of a facility in Wilkinson County, which is currently run by CCA, in July. Management and Training Corporation, a Utah-based private corrections company, reportedly received a five-year contract with the Mississippi Department of Corrections to operate the facility.


May 2013 Associated Press Newswires

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The family of a guard killed during a prison riot in Mississippi filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday that says inadequate staffing and poor treatment created a dangerous environment at the facility. Correction officer Catlin Carithers was beaten to death during the May 20, 2012, riot at the privately run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez. It took hours for authorities to control the riot, which grew to involve hundreds of inmates and injured at least 20 people. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Natchez against Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the prison. A CCA spokesman didn't immediately respond to phone and email messages Wednesday. CCA "created a dangerous atmosphere for the correction officers by depriving inmates of basic needs and treating them inhumanely," the lawsuit says. It also says that prison officials were told by an informant in the days before the riot that the situation was becoming volatile and that the officials failed to warn Carithers that he and other guards were on an inmate "hit list." Carithers was off the day of the riot but was called in to help, his family has said. The prison holds nearly 2,500 inmates convicted of crimes while being in the U.S. illegally. The FBI has said in court records that the riot was started by a group of Mexican inmates, known as Paisas, who were angry about what they considered poor food and medical care and disrespectful guards. Paisas are a loosely affiliated group within the prison, without ties to organized gangs, FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden has said. Several inmates have been charged with rioting in the case. One of them, Marco Perez-Serrano, has been identified as the first person to attack Carithers when he hit him with a food tray. A complaint filed by an FBI agent says prisoners took food service carts out of the dining hall and kitchen and stacked them on top of each other to climb onto the roof, where Carithers was working. Carithers joined CCA in 2009. His cousin, Jason Clark, told The Associated Press in an interview after the riot that Carithers was engaged to be married and excited about a recent promotion that took him off weekend shifts. He had been trained in recent years as part of the prison's special response team and was called to work Sunday to help with the uprising, Clark said at the time. The prison's special response team and the Mississippi Highway Patrol's SWAT team worked to end the riot while state and area law enforcement officers, some from neighboring Louisiana, helped secure the outside.

October 12, 2012 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 
NATCHEZ, Miss. — A federal grand jury has indicted an inmate who authorities have identified as an alleged instigator of the May 20 prison riot at the Adams County Correctional Center that left a guard dead. The Natchez Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/X0841l ) that Yoany Oriel Serrano-Bejarano has been charged with instigating and conspiring to cause the riot. Court records say prisoners were angry about their treatment the day the riot erupted. In September, an FBI agent stated in an affidavit that Serrano-Bejarano was one of a number of inmates who stacked food carts in order to reach correctional officers on the roof of one of the prison's buildings during the riot. Prison guard Catlin Carithers was assaulted on the roof and later died from his injuries. At least 20 people were injured. Authorities say Serrano-Bejarano had a prison staff radio during the riot, assaulted a hostage and contributed to the destruction at the facility. The prison holds nearly 2,500 illegal immigrants convicted of crimes in the United States. It's owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation's largest private prison companies. An FBI agent's affidavit in the case said the riot was started by a group of Mexican inmates, known as Paisas, who were angry about what they considered poor food and medical care and disrespectful guards. Paisas are a loosely affiliated group within the prison, without ties to organized gangs, FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said. Court records show Serrano-Bejarano was released from prison Aug. 28 for his previous crimes, but has been in federal custody since Sept. 5. Another inmate, Juan Lopez-Fuentes, pleaded guilty in August to charges related to the riot and is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 19.

September 6, 2012 AP
One inmate has pleaded guilty to participating in a deadly prison riot in Mississippi, while a second prisoner has been charged in the case. One guard was killed and 20 people were injured in the May 20 riot at the privately-run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, which holds illegal immigrants convicted of crimes in the United States. Yoany Oriel Serrano-Bejarano was charged Tuesday. A complaint filed by an FBI agent says he assaulted a guard and helped other inmates climb onto the roof of a building where correction officer Catlin Carithers was beaten to death. The affidavit says prisoners took food service carts out of the dining hall and kitchen and stacked them on top of each other to climb onto the roof where Carithers was assaulted. "Serrano-Bejarano has been identified as one of the inmates who held the food carts so the inmates could access the roof," the complaint says. The court documents also say that Serrano-Bejarano assaulted a different guard, was seen with a prison guard's radio, and destroyed cameras and windows. Serrano-Bejarano is at least the second inmate charged in the case. Court records did not list an attorney for him. Juan Lopez-Fuentes pleaded guilty to participating in the riot during a hearing Aug. 27 in U.S. District Court in Natchez. He faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing on Nov. 19. Lopez-Fuentes was charged with leading a group of inmates who took hostages in one section of the prison. He forced one of the hostages to relay orders for tactical teams to drop their weapons and back off, according to court records in his case. Lopez-Fuentes was serving time for two previous felonies at the time and was facing deportation. The FBI affidavit doesn't say why Serrano-Bejarano was being held in the prison, though it says he was released Aug. 28 and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement for deportation. The criminal charge will allow authorities to hold him pending the outcome of the case. Court records say the prisoners were angry about their treatment the day the riot erupted. The prison holds nearly 2,500 illegal immigrants, most of them convicted on charges of coming back to the U.S. after being deported. The prison is owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation's largest private prison companies. The FBI says in court records that the riot was started by a group of Mexican inmates, known as Paisas, who were angry about what they considered poor food and medical care and disrespectful guards. Paisas are a loosely affiliated group within the prison, without ties to organized gangs, FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden has said. It took hours for authorities to control the riot, which grew to involve hundreds of inmates and caused an estimated $1.3 million in damage. The prison's special response team and the Mississippi Highway Patrol's SWAT team worked to end the riot while state and area law enforcement officers, some from neighboring Louisiana, helped secure the outside.

August 14, 2012 Commercial Appeal
A deadly riot at a prison for illegal immigrants in Mississippi was started by a group of Mexican inmates angry about what they considered poor food and medical care and disrespectful guards, according to an FBI agent's affidavit. One guard was killed and 20 people were injured in the May 20 riot at the privately-run Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, which holds illegal immigrants convicted of crimes in the U.S. The leaders of the Mexican inmates, known as the Paisas, demanded to take a list of grievances to the warden that day and told others in the group to disobey orders from prison staff, according to the FBI affidavit. The affidavit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Jackson, is part of a complaint charging one of the inmates with rioting. Correction officer Catlin Carithers was beaten to death during the riot, which officials have said involved as many as 300 inmates and left the prison badly damaged. The affidavit does not say who killed Carithers. The affidavit says the Paisas were the most influential group in the prison. But it had recently gone through a shake-up in its leadership because members thought the old leaders weren't effective in communicating complaints to prison officials. The new leaders — Ernesto "Neto" Granados and Juan "Bobby" Arredondo — allegedly ordered the Paisas to disobey prison staff by refusing to return to their cells until their demands were met. FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said Paisas are a loosely affiliated group within the prison, without ties to organized gangs. "The Paisas were further instructed by their new leaders to destroy the prison if staff made any attempts to break up the riot," the affidavit said. It says damages to the prison are estimated at more than $1.3 million. "In addition to destroying the prison, Paisas planned to assault the correction officers." At one point, the inmates gained access to a section of the prison by telling the warden they wanted to go back to their cells, but they ended up taking more hostages once they got into that part of the facility, the affidavit said. Other inmates were able to break through a fence and get a 32-foot ladder, which they used to get on the roof of a building. That's where Carithers was killed. The affidavit describes a chaotic scene in which inmates were picking up tear gas canisters and hurling them back at guards. Some guards locked themselves in safe rooms, but the inmates used keys taken from other officers to get into the rooms. They also looted the kitchen and commissary. The affidavit is part of a criminal complaint that alleges that Juan Lopez-Fuentes was in charge of a group of inmates who took hostages in one section of the prison. Lopez-Fuentes allegedly forced one of the hostages, a prison guard, to relay orders for tactical teams to drop their weapons and back off. The prison's special response team and the Mississippi Highway Patrol's SWAT team worked to end the riot while state and area law enforcement officers, some from neighboring Louisiana, helped secure the outside, officials have said. The prison holds nearly 2,500 low-security inmates, with most serving time for coming back to the United States after being deported. The facility is owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corp. of America, one of the nation's largest private prison companies.

May 22, 2012 Colorlines.com
A Mississippi jail is on lockdown today after a Sunday night riot left one prison guard dead and as many as 20 inmates and guards injured. According to sheriff’s reports, the violence began as a gang feud and soon engulfed the privately operated facility, which holds 2,500 non-citizens incarcerated for reentering the United States after deportation and for other charges. But the fragments of information that have emerged from inmates and advocates suggest that the violence had more to do with a pattern of abuse and neglect that has emerged at privately run, for-profit prisons. The Adams County sheriff’s office and the Corrections Corporation of America, the behemoth prison company that operates the facility for the federal Bureau of Prisons, have tightly controlled news of the riot and what caused it. In statements, officials say the violence emerged out of thin air and soon “turned into a mob mentality,” according to Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield. “This could have happened anywhere, anytime,” Mayfield told the Associated Press. Prison watchdogs say that’s not necessarily true. What little independent information that has emerged from inside Adams County Correctional Center suggests a different story—one of mistreatment and abuse at the hands of guards that may have reached a breaking point. At 5 p.m. on Sunday evening, an inmate reportedly phoned a local TV station with a cell phone, sending photos to confirm that he was indeed held inside the facility. “They always beat us and hit us,” the prisoner told the local reporter. “We just pay them back. We’re trying to get better food, medical (care), programs, clothes, and we’re trying to get some respect from the officers and lieutenants.” According to the news report, the prisoner said that nine guards had been taken hostage. In an interview with Colorlines.com, Patricia Ice, who directs the legal program at the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, said that her organization has heard reports of neglect and abuse inside the Adams County facility. Ice said she received a call last month from a California woman who reported medical neglect of a family member in the jail. “I got a complaint from a family member saying that a man had lung cancer and was being ignored,” Ice said. “Three weeks earlier, he was examined by a doctor and diagnosed with lung cancer but had not received any treatment at all.” Prisoners' rights advocates say that the accounts of these inmates are consistent with documented conditions in private prison facilities around the country. “Private prisons have a financial incentive to spend as little as possible in order to make a greater profit,” said Bob Libal of Grassroots Leadership. Libal is a longtime advocate for the rights of prisoners held in private facilities. “They skimp on staff salaries and training, which leads to high turnover rates. They spend as little as possible on services in order to maximize profit. This mentality leads to poorly run facilities where abuse, neglect and prisoner uprisings are common.”

May 22, 2012 Clarion Ledger
A U.S. Representative is calling for an investigation into the Adams County Correctional Center, where a riot on Sunday left a guard dead and several other people injured. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., is the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, and thus oversees the Bureau of Prisons. WAPT-16 reports he has called the inspector general to start the inquiry into the facility and how it manages inmates. "There are some issues with the privately run facilities, so I think between the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Homeland Security, you will see some restricting of that process," Thompson said.

May 21, 2012 Clarion Ledger
At least one former employee of the Adams County Correctional Center said he was sad but not surprised when he heard that things had turned violent inside the facility. Donnie Hedgepeth of Lincoln County said he worked there when the facility opened in 2009 until sometime in 2010. He said he quit his job because he believed the jailers were outnumbered. "I told everyone before I left, 'I know what's going to happen,'" he said. "It was too unsafe the way it was. There were too many prisoners for each guard." Hedgepeth said when he worked there the ratio was somewhere between 200 and 300 prisoners per guard. There was one guard per pod of up to 300 prisoners, and three pods per dorm. Each dorm had one officer per pod, he said. "I don't know that it's still like that. It could have changed," he said. "But I didn't like working there. It was too unsafe for me." Emilee Beach, a prison spokeswoman, did not return an email seeking comment on how many corrections officers there were as opposed to prisoners.

May 21, 2012 AP
As many as 300 inmates, some of them armed with makeshift weapons such as broomsticks, rioted at a privately run prison for illegal immigrants, beating a guard to death and injuring 19 people, a sheriff said Monday. More than two dozen officers were held hostage at some point during the hours-long spate of violence Sunday, including a group of 15 who had to be rescued by special response teams, Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said. A gang fight set off the violence, the sheriff said. The guard was killed on the roof of one of the prison buildings. Sixteen prison employees were treated for various injuries and released from a hospital. Three inmates were hurt, officials said. The Adams County Correctional Facility holds nearly 2,500 illegal immigrants, with most serving time for coming back to the United States after being deported, said Emilee Beach, a prison spokeswoman. Some of the inmates have also been convicted of other crimes. The guard killed was identified as Catlin Carithers, who joined Corrections Corporation of America in 2009 and was a senior correctional officer, the Nashville, Tenn.-based company said on its website. CCA is one of the largest private prison companies in the country. Carithers' cousin, Jason Clark, said the slain guard was engaged and was excited about a recent promotion that took him off the weekend shifts. He had been trained in recent years as part of the prison's special response team and was called into work Sunday to help with the uprising. "He liked protecting people," Clark said, adding that his cousin had worked as a volunteer firefighter. It wasn't immediately clear if the gang fight started between members of the same gang or rival groups, but the situation escalated quickly and spread throughout the prison, Mayfield said. "They had makeshift weapons, broom handles, mop handles, anything they could pull apart, trashcan lids for shields, anything they could grab," Mayfield said. At one point, the inmates set a fire in the prison yard. Frank Smith, who runs the online prison watchdog group Private Corrections Working Group, said riots are usually caused by poor conditions, but the sheriff said that was not the case. "The big problem is CCA tries to cut corners in every possible way. They short-staff, the don't fix equipment, and things just get more and more out of control, and that's what leads to these riots. It's just about maximizing short-term profits," he said.

May 20, 2012 CNN
A prison guard was killed and several employees injured Sunday in a riot at the Adams County Correctional Facility in Natchez, Mississippi, officials said. The 23-year-old guard appeared to suffer "blunt trauma to the head," said Adams County Coroner James Lee. The riot, which began about 2:40 p.m., was still going on Sunday night, the facility's operator said in a statement. Local and state law enforcement officials as well as authorities from the Federal Bureau of Prisons were helping the facility quell the violence. "The disturbance is contained within the secure perimeter of the facility, with no threat to public safety," the statement said. Five employees and one inmate were taken to a hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries, while additional staff members were being treated at the prison. Johar Lashin told CNN that he'd heard a lot of noise and commotion when he talked around 6 p.m. with his brother Jawad, an inmate at the Natchez facility serving time for aiding and abetting illegal immigrants. His brother said he was not participating in the riot, despite pressure from other inmates to do so. The cause of the incident is under investigation. Rusty Boyd, a spokesman with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, said Sunday evening that 45 to 55 units from that state agency are helping corrections officers deal with the situation. The facility is a 2,567-bed prison that houses adult men who are in the United States illegally and charged with crimes. It is owned by the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America. Warden Vance Laughlin described the facility as quiet and with "few problems" in a March 2010 article in The Natchez Democrat, a few months after it opened to incarcerate illegal immigrants detained for mostly low-security crimes. At that point, it contained more than 2,000 inmates -- more than two-thirds of whom were of Mexican descent, although scores of nationalities were then represented.

April 21, 2009 Natchez Democrat
Eric Staiger just moved to Natchez and now he and his family need a place to live. Staiger is a newly hired assistant warden at the Correction Corporations of America facility and has not been able to find rental housing since he began searching prior to his move to Natchez. “It’s been a challenge so far,” Staiger said of locating a rental house for himself, his wife and their two kids. He started his search on the Internet before he left his home in Ohio. “I thought it would be easier,” he said. “Now I’m just relying on word of mouth and working with my Realtor.” And Natchez Realtor Sue Stedman said while she’s thrilled to see job growth in the community, she isn’t surprised by Staiger’s struggle. “There aren’t many rentals out there right now,” Stedman said. “And some people are going to notice a shortage.” But Stedman said while rentals can be hard to come by, the sale market in Natchez is doing well. Stedman said the number of houses for sale in the area has reached pre-Katrina levels. But that won’t help Staiger. CCA Warden Vance Laughlin said upper level management at the prison is being hired from within the company. Laughlin said his group of managers is coming to the area with the intent of being promoted out of Adams County, and are not in the market to buy a house. “They need rentals,” Laughlin said.

March 15, 2009 Natchez Democrat
Last week, as most of the Adams County Supervisors were in town taking care of county business, one supervisor was in the nation’s capital taking county business to a whole other level. Supervisor Darryl Grennell was in Washington D.C. for the National Association of Counties’ Legislative Conference, and in the midst of lectures and meetings Grennell was able to meet with some of the nation’s higher-ups to talk county business. On Monday, Grennell was able to meet with U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran to discuss several issues pertinent to Adams County. “I think it was a very productive meeting,” Grennell said. “He was very receptive.” Grennell said while no formal actions came from the meeting, he was glad to have had the opportunity to make Cochran aware of what’s going on in Adams County. Grennell said he and Cochran were able to discuss the repair projects at Marblestone Alley and West Stiers Lane, acquisition of federal stimulus money for road repairs in the county and the new Corrections Corporation of America prison. “Basically he said he’d make some phone calls on the county’s behalf,” Grennell said. “It went well.” While work on the Marblestone Alley and West Stiers projects isn’t new, Grennell said he was grateful to have had a chance to talk about stimulus funding and the CCA prison. The county hasn’t gotten any firm commitments on stimulus funding and the prison is currently without prisoners since it has not secured any contracts that would provide inmates. “Hopefully this can get the ball rolling,” Grennell said. Supervisor Mike Lazarus said he hopes the county will be able to see positive results from Grennell’s visit. “It’s always good to have connections,” Lazarus said. “It’s big. It keeps our name at the top of the list when projects come up. It’s very helpful for us.”

January 8, 2009 Natchez Democrat
On Dec. 1 Corrections Corporation of America completed construction at its new prison on U.S. 84, but the facility is without prisoners. Warden Vance Laughlin said the facility looks great. The halls are quiet, the beds are empty and there aren’t any guards on duty. And that won’t change anytime soon. Laughlin said he’s not expecting any inmates until at least June. The hold up comes from a missing, but crucial, federal contract. Once in place, it’s the contract that will fill the jail with the all-important prisoners. The contract, which was originally expected to be in place by Oct. 1, is “delayed indefinitely,” Laughlin said. Laughlin said he’s hoping it will be in place by the first quarter of this year. But once the contract is in place it will be at least 120 days before the prison sees its first inmate. That 120-day period will be used for hiring and training guards and other employees. And there’s no clear answer on exactly what’s stalling the contract. Laughlin said he thinks the general economic slow-down has had an impact on the contract. Additionally, the money to be used for the contract has not been finalized. CCA marketing director Steve Owen said he attributes some of the delay to administrative changes as high up as the White House. Owen said those changes have an impact on Congress, which ultimately controls the budget for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. And Congress has yet to finalize the bureau’s 2009 budget. “Government contracts can move slowly,” Owen said. “Sometimes these things can just drag out.” But the slow pace of progress isn’t reason for concern, Owen said. Owen said he’s confident the federal contract will come through — but if it doesn’t there are other options. “Still our focus is on what we pitched the facility for,” he said of CCA’s intent to pursue a federal contract. Both Laughlin and Owen said if the federal contract fails, the prison can, and will, pursue other contracts.

November 3, 2008 Natchez Democrat
If country music songs are to be believed, prison cells are the loneliest places to be, but being warden of a prison with no prisoners isn’t much fun either. Vance Laughlin, warden of the new Adams County Correctional Facility, told members of the Rotary Club of Natchez that he’s got plenty of time on his hands in the next couple of months. Just call if you need a hand with anything, he told the crowd, joking, at least a little. Laughlin said Wednesday that a delay in granting a federal prison contract means the new facility is vacant for just a little while longer. Originally, Corrections Corporation of America, the owner of the private prison, expected the contract would be announced Oct. 1, Laughlin said, but now it looks like it will be in the first quarter of 2009. Originally, CCA had announced they would start accepting job applications in October, but Laughlin said the delay in the contract has delayed the need for hiring just a bit longer. “We’re (still) coming,” Laughlin said. “Once we start hiring, it’s going to be very, very visible … lots of big ads … just give us some time.” The time is no problem, Laughlin said, in fact he said he’s looking at it as a positive factor. “From my perspective, as warden, it gives me another two to three months to get things set up,” he said. Construction on the $140 million, 2,500-bed facility is expected to be complete by Dec. 1, he said. But even if CCA receives the much-anticipated contract to house illegal immigrant prisoners — ones who will likely be deported after their sentences are served — the first prisoner would not report to the facility until 120 days after the contract is awarded. But, Laughlin said, CCA would begin screening applicants the very next day after the contract is awarded. “We’re very hopeful for this contract, but we could not get it,” he said. “If so, we have a plan B and we have a plan C. “The (Federal) Bureau (of Prisons) is a very important customer so they get first shot,” he said.

April 21, 2008 AP
Gov. Haley Barbour has signed into law a bill that gives a privately owned jail in Natchez the authority to house federal and state inmates. The Adams County Correctional Center is currently under construction and is slated to be completed in December 2008. Barbour said signing "this legislation is appropriate as the state continues to find alternative housing solutions for our growing inmate population." Governor. The correctional facility is located on more than 140 acres in southwest Mississippi near Natchez. It is owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

August 1, 2007 Clarion Ledger
A 1,668-bed private prison being built in Adams County secured the final $500,000 in matching funds today to extend the Natchez sewer lines to the site. The Delta Regional Authority will provide that money for the Corrections Corporation of America prison, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2008. Funding for the sewer project will accelerate completion of the project, which is expected to create approximately 300 jobs. The funding was announced today in a joint news release from Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott, Gov. Haley Barbour and 3rd District U.S. Chip Pickering. "Southwest Mississippi is an important part of our state and this new facility will help create economic confidence in the area by generating hundreds of new jobs," Cochran said in the news release. Lott noted in the news release that the sewer project has an additional benefit. "Anytime you expand or upgrade water or waste water service, it is a well-placed, long-term investment in the community that can promote new residential and commercial growth," he said.

June 12, 2007 Natchez Democrat
The board of aldermen agreed on a more binding agreement between the city and county governments regarding water and sewer services to a private prison Tuesday. Walter Brown, who represents the private prison company CCA and the city waterworks, asked the aldermen to sign an interlocal agreement. The agreement would spell out more specific responsibilities of the parties involved, Brown said. The city and county are applying for grants to fund the water and sewer infrastructure to the proposed prison near Cranfield. An interlocal agreement would help secure those grant monies, Brown said. The project will still require no city or county taxpayer money, he said. The interlocal agreement would simply say, “We’re doing our part of the project, and they’re doing theirs,” Brown said. Because CCA wants to meet the GO Zone deadline to benefit from financial incentives, time was short, Brown said. “CCA still wants to take the deed by July 1,” Brown said. “We’re really under the gun to meet their timeline.” Some of the parties involved, such as Adams County Water Association and the county have asked for changes to the original draft of the agreement, he said, so he did not have the final document at Tuesday’s meeting. That didn’t sit well with Alderman James “Ricky” Gray. “It’s kind of unusual for me to sit up here and vote for something I haven’t seen and the city attorney hasn’t read over,” Gray said. “I like to read over something before I vote and sign it.” Since time was of the essence, Alderman Jake Middleton suggested the board give the mayor and board attorney authorization to review the document before they signed it. “I don’t think they’re going to sign off on something that’s not beneficial,” Middleton said. Brown said he would be happy to get copies of the draft to anyone interested. The board voted authority to the mayor to sign the agreement.

May 3, 2007 Natchez Democrat
The new prison needs $4 million in water and sewer infrastructure, but if all goes as planned, the county and city won’t have to shell out a penny of their own. If plans fall through, the money may come out of taxes the company would be paying to the county. Adams County Water Association plans to provide the water, and Natchez Water Works will provide the sewer for the Corrections Corporation of America private prison near Cranfield. However, they need the money for things like labor, pipes and a water tank. So the city and county are looking to get money through grants that private CCA can’t get. The county board of supervisors approved the project Tuesday and asked the Southwest Mississippi Development District to hunt for grants and loans. Such grants could come from several places, including federal funds and the Delta Regional Authority, attorney Walter Brown said. Hopefully, the grants won’t require matching funds, said Brown, who represents CCA locally and Natchez Water Works. “A 10 percent match is normally required, but we’ve asked for it to be waived,” Brown said. “If not, we’ll figure out how to handle it. Most logical would be a tax increment financing bond.” Such a bond would use the company’s future taxes to pay off the debt. That way, the county isn’t losing any money it currently has, Brown said. Previously, CCA and county representatives said no city or county money would be required if the prison located in Adams County. That worries Supervisor Henry Watts. “Full disclosure is always my concern — full disclosure on the front end, letting the supervisors know,” Watts said. “Give us a good idea what kind of money the taxpayers of Adams County are having to put up, not only on the prison but on any proposal.” Tuesday’s supervisors meeting was the first time Watts said he had heard the county might need to play a role in the prison project. “It was the first time I’d heard we were actually going to have to put up money,” Watts said. “Am I scared of that? No. But right now, we have no idea how much money we’d have to put up.”

Bartlett State Jail, Bartlett, Texas
April 30, 2011 Killeen Daily Herald
The largest private corporation operating prisons in the U.S. is suing the city of Bartlett after the city threatened last week to shut off the water supply to a state jail the company operates. Corrections Corporation of America Inc. (CCA) was granted a temporary injunction Thursday, preventing Bartlett from cutting off water and sewer to the 1,049-bed Bartlett State Jail. CCA alleges the city has severely over-billed the company because of a faulty water meter. Since December, CCA has disputed the amount the city has charged for use of its water supply. According to court filings, CCA believes Bartlett charged the company for 44 percent more water than was actually used at the jail. The disputed water bills amount to $213,237. CCA claims it requested hearings with city officials each time it disputed a bill, but was rebuffed. The company also submitted checks to the city for water usage CCA is not disputing; however, the city has not cashed those checks. In the summer of 2010, jail officials became suspicious that the jail's water and sewer bills were excessive, court documents state. CCA hired two experts to examine water usage at the Bartlett State Jail. One expert confirmed the suspicions of CCA officials by examining the jail's water tank. The expert, Sutton G. Page, found that over a 24-hour period, the city's water meter showed the jail used 68,595 gallons more than the amount he measured. A second expert, an engineer named William Johansen, examined the city's water meter. In an affidavit filed with the court, Johansen states that the water meter is not working properly. The jail's low-flow meter was inoperable, so Johansen measured it as 100 percent inaccurate. The high-flow meter made a measurement error between 14.4 percent and 95 percent, Johansen stated. "It is my opinion that the meters at the Bartlett, Texas, State Jail do not function properly and cannot reliably account for the amount of water flowing through the meters," he stated in court documents. According to Bartlett's city charter, city officials must accept CCA's account of the water bills. The charter places a time limit on water disputes. If city officials do not meet with a water customer or respond to their complaints about a disputed bill within a certain timeframe, the city is automatically determined at fault. CCA claims city officials never attempted to meet with jail officials regarding disputed bills. City officials could not be reached for comment.

January 7, 2010 AP
A boil water notice has been issued for Bartlett where a shortage has led to using an emergency well and portable toilets for a state jail. The 1,049-bed Bartlett State Jail ordered portable restrooms and 5,000 bottles of water after briefly losing city service. Steve Owen with Corrections Corp. of America says employees Wednesday occasionally shut off water so an onsite tower could refill. Water levels in the city's two elevated storage tanks have been declining. Officials suspect a pump malfunction. A backup well, which failed an assessment less than two years ago, was brought online this week after passing a bacterial test. Mayor Arthur White did not immediately return a message Thursday from The Associated Press.

February 25, 2009 FOX 7
A former corrections employee, armed with a gun, had a central Texas jail on full alert this morning. A swat team was called out to the Bartlett State Jail around 11:00 Tuesday for a hostage situation. The standoff ended early Wednesday morning, when a former employee of this jail was taken into custody. A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice tells us the woman confronted a current employee in the parking lot late last night. Another employee came out to see what was going on, and the former employee pulled out a gun and took the two men hostage, forcing them back into the jail. That brought out the swat team and DPS, and the jail was locked down. The hostages were in the jail's visitation area and were able to escape. At that point, this was a standoff between the woman with the gun and the law enforcement officers outside. By 1:25 this morning, the TDCJ spokesperson tells us the woman was taken into custody and taken to the Williamson county jail in Georgetown. This is a state jail under the authority of t-d-c-j, but it's run by a private company called corrections corporation of America. The woman accused of taking two employees hostages here is a former employee, who stopped working here about a year ago.

Kyndall Dwight James, 22, who escaped from the Bartlett State Jail in 2000, pleaded guilty Monday to charges of escape, a second-degree felony, and unlawful use of a motor vehicle, a state jail felony. James was sentenced to 20 years in prison. David Lee Sanders, a second Bartlett inmate accused of escaping with James, will stand trial today. (The Statesman, January 8, 2002)

Two convicted felons escape after breaking into the maintenance shop and stealing a cutting tool to cut through the 12-foot perimeter fence. They were caught the next day after a high speed car chase that ended with the escapees' stolen truck tires being shot out. (Austin American-Statesman, August 29, 2000)

Bay County Correctional Facility, Panama City, Florida
December 1, 2010 The Times
Joseph Mixon, the man responsible for igniting the Nov. 2008 fire that destroyed the Apalachicola State Bank building downtown, has died. According to a media statement issued Monday by the Corrections Corporation of America, Mixon, an inmate at the Bay Correctional Facility in Panama City, was pronounced dead by emergency medical technicians at 2:19 p.m. on Nov. 24. “At this time the death appears to be of unnatural causes and does not appear to involve foul play,” read the statement. Bay County Medical Examiner Dr. Michael Hunter has the task of determining the cause of death. “Corrections Corporation of America is working in full cooperation with local and state law enforcement officials as they investigate,” the statement read.

May 7, 2009 News Herald
Corrections Corporation of America is cutting 52 positions from the Bay Correctional Facility, officials said Thursday. "While some of these positions are currently vacant, there are 29 employees who will be affected by this staff restructuring," Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA management said in a news release. The layoffs primarily will affect instructors and counselors at the facility but also will impact some correctional officers and support staff, officials said. The cuts are expected to take place May 24. Prison officials added they are assessing which programs will be axed because of the layoffs. Officials said safety at the medium-security prison will not be affected by the cuts. "This reduction in force is a painful but necessary action in response to the state's ongoing fiscal challenges and the budgetary actions taken to date," Warden Bill Spivey said in a news release. "We will work closely with our affected employees who wish to continue their careers with CCA to identify transfer opportunities at one of the company's other 63 facilities operated nationwide. "It is our sincere hope that the economic health of the state will improve such that these employees and the important programs and services they provide can be restored," Spivey said.

April 2, 2009 News-Herald
A prison corrections officer was arrested Thursday after she allegedly smuggled contraband in to an inmate she had established a relationship with. Sonja Ann Powell, of Bonifay, was arrested on charges of smuggling contraband into a correctional facility, according to Bay County Sheriff's Office officials. Authorities said Powell, 35, a corrections officer at the privately run Bay Correctional Facility, reportedly smuggled a cell phone to Francis Marshall and Frank Gomez, two inmates at Bay Correctional Facility. Officials said investigators discovered information indicating Powell and Marshall had become involved. "Messages that we were able to get from them would indicate they had a very strong friendship with an emotional attachment," Bay County Spokeswoman Ruth Corley said. Officials said Marshall and Gomez are members of a gang called the Latin Mafia and used the cell phone to talk with a former guard at the institution and a woman with whom Gomez had established a relationship. The phone was allegedly used to send nude photos of the inmates and to receive nude photos of others. Officials said Marshall will face an additional charge of possession of contraband in a state correctional facility. Gomez will face two counts of the same charge.

November 25, 2008 WMBB TV13
Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen announces the arrest of a prison guard, Kennedy Eugene Patterson, B/M, 08/14/1970, of 734 Redwood Avenue, Panama City; FL. Patterson was employed by Corrections Corporation of America. Investigators arrested Patterson today for Trafficking in Hydrocodone and Attempted Introduction of Contraband in a Correctional Facility. Also arrested was Patterson’s girlfriend, Latisha Lanetta Ward, B/F, 06/04/1979, 607 East 7th Street, Panama City, FL. Investigators received information from a CCA staff member that Patterson was involved in smuggling contraband into the prison to inmates. Investigators out of the Special Investigations Division were working in an undercover capacity. Along with an informant, they were able to set up a meeting with Patterson where he agreed to smuggle several ounces of Marijuana into an inmate along with Hydrocodone for an exchange of $800.00. Patterson and Ward were booked into the Bay County Jail today and will make first appearance on the charges tomorrow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 17, 2005 In-Forum News
The suspected mastermind behind strip searches of employees at chain restaurants and stores nationwide - including one at a north Fargo Burger King - faces felony charges in Kentucky for a hoax there. Authorities arrested David Richard Stewart of Panama City, Fla., after tracking a call from a Wal-Mart to Kentucky, where an18-year-old McDonald's employee was sexually abused last year when an assistant manager followed directions from a caller. Court papers state Stewart, 38, posed as "Officer Scott" when calling the McDonald's in Mount Washington. He convinced the assistant manager to strip-search the woman, who Scott said was suspected of stealing. The call resembles one made to the Fargo Burger King on 19th Avenue North in January 1999. The caller, posing as "Lieutenant Scott," convinced then-night manager Jason Allan Krein to strip-search a 17-year-old female employee in his office. Krein later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and served 30 days in jail. In Kentucky, the assistant manager and her boyfriend also face charges for the McDonald's strip search. The assistant manager faces an unlawful imprisonment charge while her boyfriend faces sexual abuse and sodomy crimes. Authorities charged Stewart with impersonating a police officer and soliciting each of the other crimes. The suspects all pleaded not guilty and face trials next month. "It was a horrible, horrible ordeal that this young lady had to go through," said Walt Sholar, the Bullitt County, Ky., attorney handling one of the cases. Nationwide, Sholar said there are about 70 cases similar to the ones in Kentucky and Fargo. Dozens of police departments have contacted Mount Washington authorities convinced they arrested their suspect. "I have no doubt in my mind that he's been the one behind all of them," Mount Washington Police Detective Buddy Stump said. "For the sake of the rest of the country, I hope and pray that it is." Stump broke the case open after the city told him to find the caller. "We realized how many people have been affected across the United States," he said. "I thought it was my duty." With help from detectives in Massachusetts and Florida, Stump zeroed in on a surveillance video at one of Panama City's three Wal-Marts. Once they had the guy's image, they tracked Stewart to a private prison company where he worked. Stewart remains free on bond until his trial. Calls to a phone listing for David Stewart in Panama City went unanswered. In January 1999, a man called six Fargo businesses- two Burger Kings, three Taco Bells and Payless Shoe Store - in an attempt to convince managers to strip-search female employees. At the north Fargo Burger King, Krein went along with the caller's demands, undressing the employee and touching her legs to describe them to the caller. At Krein's court hearing, East Central District Judge Georgia Dawson said "it's just not conceivable" for Krein to think the search was proper. Fargo attorney Adam Hamm, a prosecutor then, told Dawson the girl was traumatized for months. "Of all the cases I prosecuted, this was one of the cases that burned itself into my memory," Hamm said. "I have always wondered if I made the right decision in charging Jason Krein with the charge." Hamm said he prepared a more serious charge against Krein but balked at filing it because of how state law defines sexual contact. "I knew I could prove the misdemeanor and at some level he had to be held responsible," Hamm said. After the Fargo strip search, the girl and her parents sued Burger King, owned by RED Inc. in Grand Forks, N.D. The case was settled in mediation, according to those familiar with the case. Details of the settlement are not public. Krein moved to Wisconsin and could not be reached for comment. Fargo Lt. Tod Dahle recalls the Burger King search because police tracked one call to a Florida pay phone and the caller posed as a Fargo officer. After the incident, Fargo police received reports of similar incidents in Grand Forks, Devils Lake, N.D., Watertown, S.D., and Virginia and Wisconsin. "Ever since that happened, I probably got a call about that case every three months," he said. "Of course, I'd learn it happened somewhere else." With Stewart's arrest, Dahle said Fargo police will ask prosecutors to review the case to determine if charges can be filed against Stewart. "I think to some degree, the people (managers) wanted to participate," Dahle said. "I don't think we'll ever know how many times this guy (Stewart) was told no."

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

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

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

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

November 11, 2004 Arizona Republic
A teenage girl who was strip-searched by the manager of a Taco Bell earlier this year has filed suit against the restaurant chain. The lawsuit alleges Taco Bell officials were aware of a string of prank calls to fast-food restaurants across the country where a caller persuaded employees to do strip searches, but did not adequately update franchises. In the March incident at 17230 E. Shea Blvd., a male caller claiming to be a Scottsdale police officer persuaded the Taco Bell manager to body search the girl, a patron, in a back room. According to the suit, Taco Bell knew of incidents at restaurants in Wyoming in 2004, Alaska in 2003 and Georgia in 2002 and issued warnings to franchises, though not enough was done to educate employees.

July 29, 2004 Nation's Restaurant News
One of the most bizarre and longest-running con games in foodservice may have ended with the arrest of a prison guard who was charged with duping scores of restaurant managers over the phone into strip-searching their employees.  The Panama City Police Department was holding David Stewart, a 38-year-old corrections officer, under a governor's warrant, a kind of fugitive warrant, until his bid to fight extradition to Mount Washington, Ky., was exhausted.  Stewart, a father of five and a former auxilary policeman, worked for the Bay County State Facility, a privately run prison operated by the Corrections Corp. of America. better know as the CCA.  Police in Mount Washington--a bedroom community of 13,000 residents seven miles from Louisville--were seeking to interrogate Stewart in connection with an April 9 incident in which a man posing as a cop called a local McDonald's and convinced a manager to strip-search a young female cashier. Stewart faces a $ 500,000 bond once he is in the custody of Mount Washington authorities.   Investigators used phone records, calling-card numbers and security surveillance cameras in a Wal-Mart outside Panama City where the calling cards had been purchased in order to link Stewart to the assault.  Mount Washington is only one of nearly 73 police departments in 30 or more states whose Burger Kings, McDonald's, Taco Bells, KFCs, Applebee's, Hooters, Wendy's, Perkins and dozens of other restaurants were victimized by similar ruses. In almost all cases the restaurants were located in small towns.  As the story first was reported in Nation's Restaurant News in March, police nationwide had been looking for a man who posed as a cop or a senior executive of a restaurant company. He had persuaded as many as 73 unit managers of major brands to strip-search young staffers in bogus hunts for stolen valuables.  The perpetrator listened in over the phone while the managers were coaxed into giving detailed descriptions of the hapless victims' underwear and body parts. The crime had gone largely unreported for years, possibly as far back as 1995, because the victims and their employers were too embarrassed to report it to authorities, once they realized they had been duped. Even when they did report it, most small-town police departments didn't know how to investigate the con, so police tended to file the reports away under "miscellaneous" and the cases died.  Particularly anxious to interrogate Stewart are detectives of the police departments of four Massachusetts towns--West Bridgewater, Abington, Whitman and Wareham--where single Wendy's restaurants were victimized on the same day this year, Feb 19. One civil lawsuit has come out of those cases against Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's International Inc.  The four towns pooled their resources and appointed detective sergeant Victor Flaherty of West Bridgewater to lead a task force to find the perpetrator. Wendy's financed the task force's expenses for travel, phone record recalls and overtime.  Flaherty waded through hours of security video footage of calling-card purchases from the Wal-Mart store until he and other investigators linked a customer to cards used in the Wendy's incidents in February and an incident at a Kentucky McDonald's in April.  In one tape a man wearing a Corrections Corp. of America uniform purchased a calling card used in the February assault in Massachusetts, but other security footage identified the same man in civilian clothing purchasing a card used in the April con in Kentucky.  Flaherty first showed prison administrators the tape of the man in civilian clothes, and they immediately recognized him. The clincher occurred when they were shown the other tape of the suspect wearing his uniform. Supervisors were certain that the man was one of theirs.

A 26-year-old corrections officer stabbed two sisters — including one who is pregnant — with a butcher knife early Saturday during an argument over a man, authorities reported. Investigators charged Cachetta Ann Barnes with two counts of aggravated assault after the altercation at 4 a.m. at 1013 Spring Ave. An arrest affidavit said Barnes stabbed 19-year-old Tikila Walker on the left arm. Tiffany Walker, Tikila’s 24-year-old sister, heard a commotion near the door and went to Tikila’s aid, the affidavit said. "She started calling my house around 3 in the morning threatening us," Tiffany Walker told The News Herald Saturday afternoon. Authorities said Barnes is a corrections officer at the Bay Correctional Facility on Bayline Drive, a private prison run by Corrections Corporation of America. CCA officials did not immediately return phone messages. (News Herald, January 11, 2004)

Bay County Jail and Annex, Panama City, Florida
October 28, 2011 News-Herald
The jail has long been finished and the initial contractor fired, but Bay County only recently received final judgment on a lawsuit that alleged favoritism and arbitrary behavior in awarding the jail contract in 2006. Circuit court Judge Hentz McClellan issued a final judgment Oct. 18 in favor of Bay County and against Emerald Correctional Management, a Louisiana corporation that lost a bid for jail construction and operations. Emerald Correctional filed the suit after the county entered negotiations with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) on a $117 million contract for the construction of the Star Avenue jail, which ultimately was awarded to CCA for the design, construction and six years of operation of the jail, sally port and court holding. The final judgment awards Bay County $167,761 in lawyer fees. William C. Henry, of Burke Blue, Hutchison, Walters and Smith, who represented Bay County in the suit, said county staff spent two months analyzing and comparing the proposals and matching them with their proposal request. “This RFP (request for proposal) was very complicated because it was very big,” Henry said. “There were upgrades [in CCA’s proposal] that weren’t asked for in the RFP, but later county staff said, ‘Yeah, that’s a really good idea.’ ” To give commissioners an “apples-to-apples” comparison, the proposals were manipulated in a “fair and rational manner,” Henry said, and CCA was a better deal. Commissioner Mike Thomas said the allegations of favoritism were preposterous from the beginning because the commission did not want to give the contract to CCA, who was managing the old jail at the time. “There had been a lot of complaints about the way inmates and their families were being treated,” he said. “Once we got everything done, they (CCA) were the better deal.” In the end, CCA couldn’t do the project for the price it said and left the project, and operations were turned over to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office in 2008. “The main thing is we have a good product out there now,” he said. The judge awarding lawyers’ fees “takes some of the sting out” of the litigation, Thomas said, but the time could have been better spent. The judge’s ruling was issued as a final order, but Henry said Emerald Management still has the right to appeal the decision, which attorney Obed Dorceus said he would be discussing with his client. “All these zombies, even though they are deader than dead, they still find a way to come out of the grave and eat people,” he said.

July 14, 2010 News-Herald
A federal jury determined Wednesday that there was no racial discrimination against a black corrections officer who was not allowed to interview when the Bay County Sheriff’s Office took over the jail in October 2008. Patrick Lane, a guard with Corrections Corporation of America, sued the sheriff’s office because he was not interviewed for a job when the agency took over. Lane had been working at the jail while CCA was in charge. He currently works for CCA at another facility. Sheriff Frank McKeithen testified that he did not know Lane’s race when he prevented him from interviewing, just his criminal background. “I am very humbled and appreciative with the verdict, but I’m not sure anybody won today. The outcome of the verdict cannot erase all the nasty accusations made against me and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office,” McKeithen wrote in a statement to The News Herald. “It cannot take away the humiliation suffered by the witnesses both for and against me. But this is how our system works and why we have courts and juries.” Lane’s attorney, Marie Mattox, has been trying to prove that there was a double standard during the hiring, in which black officers with criminal records had a more difficult time getting a job than white officers.

July 13, 2010 News-Herald
Bay County Jail Warden Rick Anglin testified at a racial discrimination trial Tuesday that he and Sheriff Frank McKeithen hired both black and white officers with criminal records as they rushed to staff the jail in October 2008. The Bay County Sheriff’s Office had only a few months to take over the jail after Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) decided to pull out, Anglin said, adding that he, McKeithen and other supervisors used the time to wade through hundreds of applications and install county-owned equipment into the facility. “It was quite a monumental task,” Anglin said. “It was seven days a week and a lot of sleepless nights.” Patrick Lane, a guard with CCA, is suing the sheriff’s office because he was not interviewed for a job when the agency took over the jail. Lane had been working at the jail and for CCA until the takeover. His attorney, Marie Mattox, has been trying to prove there was a double standard during the hiring, in which black officers with criminal records had a tougher time getting a job than white officers. However, Anglin testified Tuesday that he hired both black and white officers who had criminal charges such as passing worthless checks and battery. In most of those cases, the charges were decades old and had been dropped. On the day the sheriff’s office took over, there were 34 black officers and 92 white officers, Anglin said. The jail also has two black shift supervisors out of a total of four. When the command staff at the jail is not present, the shift supervisors are in charge of the entire facility, Anglin said. McKeithen testified Monday that he prevented Lane from interviewing because of his criminal history, not because of his race. In 2001, Lane was charged with conspiracy to commit attempted murder for his alleged involvement in a non-fatal shooting in Franklin County. According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The News Herald through a public records request, Lane was arrested by the Apalachicola Police Department the night of the shooting because he was driving two of the alleged shooters mere minutes after the incident took place. He eventually was charged in the case, but the charge ultimately was dropped. Although he was not hired at the jail, Lane currently works for CCA at another of the company’s facilities. On Tuesday, Mattox called several other black employees who were not hired by the Sheriff’s office and several white employees who were either hired or offered jobs at the jail. All of the employees involved had criminal histories. Two women were fired by CCA and charged criminally because they allegedly falsified their time records. However, CCA eventually dropped the matter and the women got their jobs back. McKeithen and Anglin still declined to hire them. Anglin testified the evidence in the case seemed clear that the women had somehow clocked in for 12- and 16-hour days without coming to work. The women also are suing the sheriff’s office for racial discrimination. Mattox also called Jeffery Langford, a former CCA employee who now works for Florida’s Department of Corrections. Langford, who is black, had been offered a job with the sheriff’s office. However, shortly before the takeover, Langford and two other black officers were involved in a physical altercation with inmates. On the day the sheriff’s office took over, Langford was escorted off the premises and told he would be called, he said. No one ever called him and he found a job with the Department of Corrections, he said. “I was looking forward to working for the sheriff’s office, but it just didn’t work out,” Langford said. Robert Wayne Evans, the attorney representing the sheriff’s office, pointed out the problem was not just that Langford and the other guards used force on inmates; they also failed to report the incident. Langford said his CCA supervisor told him not to worry about the altercation. That was not good enough, Anglin testified, adding that officers in similar situations who do not notify supervisors and fill out the proper paperwork are fired automatically. “You have to report that immediately,” Anglin said. “As bad as I hated it, I didn’t have any choice.”

July 12, 2010 The News-Herald
Sheriff Frank McKeithen testified Monday in a racial discrimination trial filed on behalf of a black corrections officer. The officer, Patrick Lane, has accused McKeithen of failing to hire him even though he was qualified for the job. In court documents, McKeithen argued that his reasons for not hiring Lane were simple: In 2001, Lane was charged with conspiracy to commit attempted murder for his alleged involvement in a non-fatal shooting in Franklin County. Lane countered in subsequent documents that the charge ultimately was dropped and that some white officers have been hired even though they pleaded guilty to other criminal charges, including battery, receiving stolen property and passing worthless checks. One applicant who was hired had been accused of lewd and lascivious battery on a child and pleaded guilty to battery, the documents stated. McKeithen also hired a former guard at the Bay County Boot Camp to work at CCA, which ran the Bay County Jail until the sheriff’s office took control in fall 2008. The guard, Charles Enfinger, had been charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child in the death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson. That case went to a jury, which found Enfinger, six other guards and a nurse not guilty. During his testimony Monday, McKeithen said that in October 2008, as the sheriff’s office was preparing to take over the jail, he personally waded through about 300 applications. Most of those applications came from current CCA employees. McKeithen said that when he hired for the sheriff’s office he rejected anyone with a criminal history and was shocked to find out CCA employed many people with “felony backgrounds.” “I had never seen that before,” McKeithen said.

May 14, 2010 AP
An appeal court says three nurses held hostage by inmates cannot sue a privately run jail because they are covered by workers compensation. The ruling Friday by the 1st District Court of Appeal upheld a judge's dismissal of a lawsuit against Corrections Corporation of America, Bay County and the Bay County Sheriff's Office. One nurse and two inmates were shot by police to end a 12-hour standoff in 2004 at the Bay County Jail in Panama City. All three survived. Workers compensation pays for job-related injuries and prohibits suits against employers. The appeal court ruled that exceptions for negligence by co-workers or an employer with knowledge of a hazard based on a prior accident or explicit warning did not apply.

March 11, 2010 WJHG
Hernando County commissioners are considering dropping Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and turning their jail over to the county sheriff. They've been consulting Bay County officials about a similar transition that took place here in the fall of 2008. According to published reports, CCA criticized Bay County for terminating their contract, telling Hernando County officials they could have saved Bay County $3 million this year if they had still been running the facility. But, Bay County commissioners are now reminding everyone that it was CCA that terminated the contract, claiming they couldn't abide by the financial terms of that agreement. They also say sheriff Frank McKeithen has done a better job of running the jail, and has done it cheaper than CCA. Bay County commissioner Mike Thomas said, "In 2009, the sheriff's budget, entire budget, with insurance, building payments, power, everything, was $1.3 million cheaper than it was in 2008 under CCA's operation." Thomas says the county commission hasn't received nearly as many jail complaints since McKeithen took over from CCA.

March 3, 2010 Hernando Today
About two years ago, Bay County commissioners realized they had reached a crossroads with the operator of their jail. They had been receiving negative publicity in the press over contraband being smuggled into the jail and there were problems with personnel, said County Commissioner Jerry Girvin. On top of that, the operator, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) asked for more money, he said. So the county commissioners of this Panhandle community rejected CCA's contract renewal bid and asked their sheriff whether he would be interested in taking over operations. Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen said he'd look into it. He did and about six months later, in October 2008, he offered to take over the reins of the jail. "(McKeithen) said, 'You want me to run it, I'll run it,'" Girvin remembers. "He's done an excellent job ever since." That scenario, with a few variations, is about to be played out in Hernando County. Sheriff Richard Nugent announced Tuesday his office can provide a better and more efficient service while reducing the county's cost of operating the jail. The sheriff will make a presentation to county commissioners at their meeting next Tuesday. As with Bay County, commissioners here had broached the topic twice last year, especially when the board went through somewhat contentious contract renegotiations with CCA. "We wanted to see if there were any other options out there that could save us money," Hernando County Commissioner John Druzbick said. "There are other counties that are doing it. Now how they are doing it and whether it is saving them money is what we are wanting to know." Girvin has some advice for his Hernando County counterparts: "Go for it." "Nobody likes to run a jail," Girvin said. "But if you have to run one, it's better to have a local elected sheriff do it." Stabins: Sounds good on paper -- Hernando County Commissioner Jeff Stabins, after asking for a day to think about the sheriff's proposal, said he is open to Nugent's idea, especially because the jail falls somewhat under his purview. "His agency would be more involved in the supervision and the ramifications of how many inmates are there and the costs," Stabins said. "So on paper, it makes sense." Stabins' concern is that the sheriff is asking for the full amount of what the county has budgeted for jail operations this year: $11.2 million. But Nugent said Friday he will need that much because of anticipated upfront costs of taking over CCA's operations. "There are so many unknowns and so many variables at play," Nugent said. When McKeithen took over jail operations there, county commissioners gave his department about $1 million more than what they had contracted with CCA — knowing that the first year the sheriff might have to deal with hiring new people and purchasing equipment. The same scenario applies in Hernando County, Nugent said. Because CCA is a private entity, it is not open with operations, he said. That company owns everything from the toilet paper to the video-monitoring equipment, he said. "(McKeithen) didn't know what he was walking into, nor do we," Nugent said. Ultimately, McKeithen ended up returning close to $2 million to the Bay County general fund after the first year of operations, and Nugent said it is his "gut feeling" he will be able to return money as well. Hernando County's current jail contract does not guarantee a fixed cost for the operation of the jail, as an increase in inmates would increase the cost to the county. With his department operating the jail, an increase in the number of inmates will not increase the cost to the county, Nugent said. 'Best move we ever made' -- The Bay County jail has about 900 inmates, compared to 520 in Hernando. Located in the Florida Panhandle, Bay County has a population of about 163,500 people, compared to about 172,000 in Hernando County. Bay County Commissioner Mike Nelson echoed his colleague Girvin's comments that CCA was not running as tight a ship as the board wanted. "They just didn't seem to be interested in listening to us," Nelson said. So after roughly 25 years, the board decided they wanted out of the contract. "We talked to the sheriff; he made a proposal," Nelson said. "It was the best move we ever made. It's been like night and day. I haven't had a phone call on the jail in the two years since he took over." McKeithen kept about 150 of CCA's employees and placed them on the sheriff's payroll, while others found jobs in other company sites. "The first year he was budgeting high because he didn't know what he would run into with his expenses," Nelson said. And even though the board started him off with a $17 million budget, about $1 million more than it would have given CCA, Nelson believes it was well worth it — especially considering he returned $2 million.

September 17, 2009 News-Herald
After more than three years, a correctional company’s lawsuit against Bay County finally may go to trial. The First District Court of Appeal upheld a circuit judge’s opinion this week, denying Shreveport, La.-based Emerald Corrections’ motion for summary judgment against Bay County, and clearing the path for trial. “We’d like some finality on this case,” county attorney W.C. Henry said Thursday. The lawsuit, originally filed in February 2006, alleges that the county commission, and thus the county, broke state law in how it awarded the construction and operations contract for the expansion of the county jail. Then-Circuit Court Judge Glenn Hess dismissed all the complaints in May 2006, but the appeals court ruled Hess improperly dismissed two of the complaints. Emerald attorney Obed Dorceus refiled suit against the county in circuit court. He made a motion for summary judgment, which Circuit Judge Hentz McClellan denied in June and the appeals court upheld Tuesday. Emerald’s complaints stem from it submitting the lowest bidder when the request for proposal went out for the county jail expansion and operations project in late 2005. Tennessee-based CCA, which operated the jail at the time, was the only other bidder. But after asking for clarification on parts of their proposals, the commission gave the job to CCA despite a slightly larger price tag ($36.4 million to $35.4 million), because they felt the overall package offered by CCA was superior. Henry drew an analogy comparing the choice to the decision to buy a sports utility vehicle, with Emerald’s offer being a “bottom-line SUV” and CCA’s being a “Cadillac that cost a little more.” Dorceus was looking for an injunction in his appeal, something McClellan ruled cannot happen, since the jail is built, and CCA no longer operates it; the Bay County Sheriff’s Office does. “That’s patently absurd,” Henry said of the appeal. “An injunction is to prevent damage. ... What is the court going to do, say to the county to tear down the jail and start over again?” Dorceus said Thursday he was not surprised by the decision and plans to appeal again if the bench trial, yet to be scheduled, doesn’t go his way. “My client spent a lot of money pursuing this contract. We would be OK if the county followed the law,” Dorceus said. The county has turned down two settlement requests by Emerald, one for $13.2 million offered in June 2007, and a more reserved $514,000 offer in September 2007. At this point the lawsuit boils down to legal fees, with the loser paying the fees of the winner. Henry has billed out more than $80,000 for the case. He is confident the county will not have to pay. “Were going to win. There’s no question about that, and we’ve felt that way from the beginning,” he said.

June 2, 2009 News-Herald
Three nurses who were held hostage at the Bay County jail in 2004 are asking Florida's First District Court of Appeals to overturn a local judge and find against Bay County and Corrections Corporation of America. The plaintiffs, Amie Hunt, Glenda Baker and Kathleen Baucum, are claiming that Nashville-based CCA should be held liable for the actions of Officer James Clayton Hall. Hall was breaking CCA rules by allowing more than one inmate out of his cell at a time, according to a final judgment written by Circuit Judge Hentz McClellan. McClellan ruled that Hall was concealing this activity from other employees and his supervisors. "There is no evidence here that CCA knew of the dangerous situation created by Hall based on prior similar incidents or on explicit warnings of Hall's actions," McClellan wrote in March. He added that the nurses are only eligible for monetary claims from CCA and the County under Florida's Workman's Comp statutes. The case is now being reviewed by Florida's First District Court of Appeals. Hall, Hunt, Baker and Baucum were held hostage for 11 hours by four inmates. During negotiations all of the hostages except for Hunt were released in exchange for pizza and a cell phone. The Sheriff's Office's tactical team stormed into the third floor of the old Bay County Jail and freed Hunt. However, Hunt was shot three times by deputies in the Sept. 6, 2004 incident. She filed suit for loss of earnings, pain and suffering and medical expenses incurred. The bullets entered her hip, back and left leg, damaging bones and vital organs. She survived but had to undergo physical rehabilitation. The other nurses were not physically injured in the incident. Three of the four men involved in the takeover, Kevin Nix, James Norton and Matthew Coffin were convicted of false imprisonment. Nix, Norton and Coffin were acquitted of more serious charges in the incident, but still sentenced to 15 years in prison for their roles. The fourth, alleged ringleader Kevin Winslett, plead guilty to grand theft auto, resisting an officer with violence, assault on a corrections officer, three counts of false imprisonment and six counts of battery on corrections officers. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2007. H. Lawrence Perry, the attorney for Baucum, Baker and Hunt, did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday. CCA and County officials declined to comment because the matter is facing an appeal.

January 29, 2009 News Herald
A prison employee believed to be romantically involved with an inmate was arrested Thursday on charges of introducing contraband into a correctional facility, officials said. Tina L. Ortiz, 35, of Chipley is accused of bringing a cellular phone into Bay Correctional Facility with the intention of giving it to an inmate, according to a Bay County Sheriff's Office release. Ortiz was working at Bay Correctional Facility, a prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America, as a mental health specialist assistant, Bay County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Ruth Corley said. "She was not one of our employees," Corley said. Ortiz became a suspect when prison authorities found a cellular phone when an inmate was moved. An investigation to discover the phone's ownership suggested she and an inmate may have been romantically involved, Corely said. "Investigators discovered messages between the two that revealed their relationship was romantic in nature," Corley said. Bay County Sheriff's Officials were brought into the investigation Wednesday, Corley said, and it was determined Ortiz had brought the phone into the facility. Ortiz was arrested and later admitted to the crime, Corley said. "She has given us a full confession," Corley said.

January 23, 2009 News-Herald
Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet found enough evidence in Anthony Davis' case to allow it to go forward, despite Davis exposing some weaknesses in the evidence. Davis, 40, is charged with two counts each of bribing public servants and introducing contraband into a penal facility. He's accused of paying two corrections workers at the Bay County Jail to smuggle cigarettes, marijuana, prescription pills, nude photos and a cell phone to him. All four charges against Davis are third-degree felonies carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison each. Davis appeared before Overstreet on Thursday for a preliminary adversarial hearing in which the evidence against him was laid out for the judge to decide if it established probable cause in the case. Prosecutor Pat Faucheux brought three sheriff's investigators to the stand and Davis called the two former corrections workers, Angela Childs and Shannon Copeland. Copeland refused to testify, however, evoking her right against self incrimination because she has pending charges. Childs, who has resolved her case, told Overstreet that she brought Davis a total of five packs of cigarettes during their arrangement and received money in return. Childs said the money came to her through Western Union in a check that was not made out to her and was not sent directly by Davis. Investigators said they only have testimonial evidence that Davis organized payments to Copeland and Childs through another party. When Childs was arrested, she was carrying a cell phone and prescription Xanax in a bottle. She testified that both items were hers. Investigators said Copeland began a sexual relationship with Davis the day Childs was arrested. The affair was discovered when jail officials tapped into an intercom system and overheard an "explicit" conversation between Copeland and Davis. When she was arrested, investigators said, she was carrying nude photos of herself, a sexual device and an MP-3 player. More nude photos of Copeland were allegedly found in Davis' cell. Davis, who acted as his own lawyer in this hearing, argued that Childs, at the time of the alleged transactions, was an employee of Corrections Corporation of America Inc., which was operating the jail at that time. Davis said Childs was a corporate employee, not a public servant as described in the charge. He also argued that the items seized from Copeland and Childs were their items and there was no direct connection between him and the money. Davis said when he was arrested he was not in possession of cigarettes, drugs or a phone. Overstreet, however, ruled that there was probable cause to go forward and scheduled Davis for another court date March 17.

December 15, 2008 News-Herald
A detention officer accused of sneaking drugs and nude photographs of herself into Bay County Jail was arrested Sunday, Bay Sheriff's Office officials said. Shannon Nicole Copeland, of 1613 Fairy Ave., was met at the jail by Sheriff Frank McKeithen and jail administrator Rick Anglin as she began her shift Sunday. A search of her person revealed a CD of nude photographs of herself and several printed nude images, according to a Bay County Sheriff's Office release. A search of an inmate's cell uncovered additional nude photos of Copeland, 23, who told investigators she engaged in sexual misconduct with the inmate and had brought him marijuana, the release said. Copeland, a control room operator who had been entrusted with the movements of inmates, was a former employee of Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, and had been retained by the jail as an uncertified detention specialist after the transition.

November 5, 2008 News Herald
A Bay County Jail correctional officer was arrested Wednesday morning and accused of smuggling contraband into the detention facility, authorities said. Angela Lavonne Chiles, 41, of 9304 Kelly Circle, Youngstown, was beginning her shift at 6 a.m. when she was found to be in possession of about 17 alprazolam pills, which are available only by prescription, according to a Bay County Sheriff's Office release. Investigators learned Chiles had been introducing other contraband into the jail, including tobacco products that were being sold among inmates for $30 to $50 per pack, the release said. Chiles, who was terminated immediately, was taken to the Bay County Jail and booked on charges of introduction of contraband into a detention facility and unlawful compensation for official behavior, the release said. Jail Warden Rick Anglin said Wednesday's arrest was a positive signal the Sheriff's Office intends to improve security and run the jail with professionalism. "It (the arrest) is a sign that the Sheriff's Office isn't gonna tolerate this kind of stuff," Anglin said. "You can't allow this kind of thing to occur; it jeopardizes the safety of inmates and the detention officers." Anglin said Correctional Corporation of America hired Chiles in April 2008, and she was rehired when the Bay Sheriff's Office assumed responsibility of the jail Oct. 9.

October 9, 2008 WJHB TV7
The Bay County Sheriff's Office now has a new duty on its list. After almost 25 years of a privately run jail, the sheriff's office is back in charge. The official takeover of jail operations from Corrections Corporation of America is happening right now at 6:00. It's been a been almost five months from the time CCA decided they wouldn't run the jail till the sheriff's office has taken over today, and Sheriff McKeithen says his men and women have been working day and night to be prepared.

September 18, 2008 News-Herald
Even if it means her job, Kathy Baucum won't be a hostage again. Baucum, 50, a local nurse, said she was fired Wednesday by Corrections Corporations of America from the Bay County Jail because she refused to put herself in a dangerous situation. Baucum knows dangerous situations all too well; in September 2004 she was held as a hostage during a 12-hour siege in the CCA-run jail in downtown Panama City. Last week, the jail's warden, Joe Ponte, issued a memo ordering all nurses to enter the jail's pods with the inmates and hand out medicine, Baucum said. Under the new rule, Baucum and other nurses would bring a cart full of controlled substances into the pods, a room filled with anywhere from 60 to more than 120 inmates, and the nurse and cart would be escorted by one guard, she said. A single guard standing between a nurse, a cart full of drugs, and dozens of inmates would almost certainly lead to another hostage situation or worse, Baucum said. "No one knows it until they lived it," Baucum said. During the 2004 incident, the inmates went for drugs first, she said. They snorted over-the-counter medication when they could not get to controlled substances, she added. For about a week, Baucum and several other nurses did not comply with the order, she said. On Wednesday night, the nurses were told they had to follow the memo and enter the pods. Baucum said she refused and was fired. Other nurses there do not agree with the rule either but cannot afford to lose their jobs, Baucum said. When she complained to a supervisor, Baucum said she was told the 2004 hostage crisis was a "one-time thing." "If it can happen once, it can happen again," Baucum said. Ponte said Baucum has not been fired. Instead, she was sent home for one night and he has tried to contact her Thursday. "I'd like Kathy to come in and talk to see if we can alleviate her concerns so she can come back to work," Ponte said. "She's a good nurse." However, the current plan for delivering medication is "not that unusual," Ponte said. He pointed out the guard and the nurses were watched at all times by another guard outside the pod. Ponte said it was a change for some of the nurses, but it was done this way successfully in several other jails. Ponte said Baucum did not try to talk to him or make an appointment with him before Wednesday's incident. "If they (employees) have an issue or problem, I'm always available to talk to them," he said. Baucum was sent home for the night because she was refusing to do her job and the inmates needed to get their medication, Ponte said. "I have a responsibility for the care and the custody of these inmates," he added. "After that, we could talk at any length about any concerns." Baucum said there is no doubt she was fired Wednesday night. Her badge was taken away from her, she was told to return all CCA property and she was escorted from the building, she said. She said she was told her termination paperwork would be filled out in the morning and she should not return to the jail. There are two other options that could be used instead of entering the pod, Baucum said. One is to administer the pills through a feed flap at the bottom of a door. "According to the warden, it is not humane to do it through a feed flap," Baucum said. The other would be to use a nurse's station attached to the pods and keeps the nurses separated from the inmates by a window. After the annex was built, the nurses were told the station was "just for show," Baucum said. Those options won't work, Ponte said. The nurse's station ties up a hallway too long, forcing jail operations to stop while the pills are distributed, Ponte said. And inmates cannot talk with the nurse through the feeding slot without shouting and being overheard by other inmates, he added. Legally, inmates must be able to talk to a caregiver without others hearing the conversation, Ponte said. Baucum now is looking for another job, but she said getting fired was worth it if it means the warden reverses his decision and the other nurses are safe. "I'm doing this for the other nurses that are there," Baucum said. "I don't want anybody else's safety jeopardized."

September 16, 2008 News-Herald
In preparation for taking control of the Bay County Jail once Corrections Corp. of America leaves the facility next month, the Bay County Commission received an update on the process from the Bay County Sheriff's Office Tuesday. "Are we encountering any glitches that were unforeseen?" asked Commission Chairman Jerry Girvin. Maj. J.B. Holloway of the sheriff's department reported there were "some minor things," but that the changing of the guard should go off without a hitch. "We made an informal step into this kind of anticipating problems," Holloway told the board, adding that questions regarding equipment inventory and other minor issues had arisen. Holloway said the sheriff's office had already spent $252,735 toward the transition effort. He requested an additional $172,000 to purchase existing equipment from CCA. The sheriff's office is still in the process of determining exactly what equipment will be bought from the company. "They're trying to sell us some stuff that we think is obsolete," Holloway said. He also reported that his office was "up to speed" on hiring employees for the jail. He said about 300 applicants had been interviewed thus far, and 25 positions remained unfilled.

September 3, 2008 News-Herald
Accused killer Ahmad Smith's jury selection started an hour late Tuesday because Bay County Jail officials transported him late and lost his court clothes. Circuit Judge Don T. Sirmons reacted by putting jail Warden Joe Ponte and his officers on notice that if it happens again, he will find them in contempt of court. A finding of contempt of court by a judge can result in a short jail term or fine. Smith, 29, is charged with first-degree felony murder, robbery with a firearm and burglary of a dwelling with a firearm. He is accused of participating with Jay Broxton and Eric Harden in a robbery of James Edwards Jr.'s Shadow Bay Drive home on Oct. 3, 2006. Edwards was shot to death when he fought back. Broxton and Harden were convicted, based largely on Smith's testimony in court against both men, and sentenced to life in prison. Smith had worked out a plea to a prison sentence of less than life in exchange for his trial testimony, but in March, when the state would go no lower than 20 years, Smith refused to plead guilty and insisted on going to trial. Smith's attorney indicated Tuesday that Smith might not take the stand. Apparel problem -- Prosecutor Shalla Phelps and defense attorney Jean Marie Downing spent most of Tuesday finding 12 deliberating jurors and two alternates to hear the evidence. The trial is expected to go all week. The day started with Downing scrambling to find suitable clothing for her client. The courts have ruled jail uniforms might be prejudicial and defendants have a right to dress in street clothes for trial. Downing told Sirmons that her assistant had dropped off clothing to the jail Friday, but jail officials could not immediately locate the clothes Tuesday morning. Eventually, the Public Defender's Office loaned Smith a button-up shirt and slacks until his suit arrived from the jail. The jail is going through two transitions, having recently moved all inmates from the downtown jail to what was the annex in Bayou George. Operation of the jail also is moving, from Corrections Corporation of America to the Bay County Sheriff's Office in October. Deputy Public Defender Walter Smith said he had to fight for clothing from the jail on a prior occasion for another defendant, asking at that time that jail officials be held in contempt of court. For these kinds of emergencies, the office has a small supply of slacks, shirts and ties to loan to defendants. "It happens 50 percent of the time, and I'm not exaggerating," Walter Smith said of the clothes issue. "I always bring clothes to the jail on the Friday afternoon before trial. That way they only have two days to lose them." He said other jails in the state are far more accommodating when it comes to inmate court clothing. "Every time the issue comes up, CCA acts like it's never been raised before," Smith said. Ponte did not return a phone message Tuesday seeking comment.

August 25, 2008 WMBB News 13
The new Bay County Jail is now housing around 900 prisoners, but a problem finding permanent staff is causing the Sheriff’s Office to expand the search. The Bay County Sheriff’s department has been searching for staff for the new jail. The current staff members are employed by the Corrections Corporation of America. So far, the sheriff’s office has only recommended around 190 for hire out of around 270 applicants. On October 9th, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office will take over the facility and many of the current CCA staff will become BCSO employees.

July 15, 2008 WJHG
The board voted to enact the Bay County Jail transition agreement between the Bay County Sheriff's Office, the County Commission, and Corrections Corporation of America. The agreement is the next step in the sheriff's takeover of the county jail. Back on June 17 the board voted unanimously for Sheriff Frank McKeithen and the sheriff's office to run the jail when CCA leaves in October, but before they take over they want to make sure they have a smooth transition. The sheriff’s office will work with CCA to go over operation procedures. They will also begin the process of interviewing and training staff to be correctional officers. Jerry Girvin of the County Commission said, "We'll start with the very senior folks and then work down to the deputy warden, the captains, and lieutenants and whatnot. They will shadow the current operations so that when we take over officially in October, or when the sheriff does it won't be walking in blind, they would have spent time with the current staff and they'll know where the keys are, where the doors are, and how things work." The agreement goes into effect immediately. The sheriff is set to officially take over on October 1.

June 19, 2008 News-Herald
A Corrections Corporation of America officer was arrested Thursday and charged with three counts of sexual battery, police said. Robert C. Heller, 27, of Parker, was a CCA employee assigned to the Bay County Jail, Detective Aaron Wilson with the Parker Police Department said. No further information was available Thursday night.

June 17, 2008 News-Herald
It is going to cost more, but Bay County commissioners expect to get their money's worth out of Sheriff Frank McKeithen when he takes over operations of the county's jail facility in October. Commissioners passed an ordinance Tuesday placing McKeithen at the helm when current operator Corrections Corporation of America leaves in the fall. He officially will take over Oct. 9. There was little discussion on the matter at the commission meeting. Most of the talking took place weeks ago. In May, when Tennessee-based CCA cited financial hardship and announced it would be leaving, Commission Chairman Jerry Girvin described more of an opportunity than crisis. The county had been critical of the company for several incidents through the years, including hostage standoffs, smuggled contraband and sex scandals. "While we're not totally delighted with the concept, it's now in our lap and we'll deal with it," Girvin said at the time. "Really, in most of the counties in Florida, the sheriff does run the jail." McKeithen told the board June 3 that the Bay County Sheriff's Office could operate the facility for $17,855,216 a year. That is about $7 more per inmate, per day than CCA's price, which McKeithen said is because county employees require more pay and benefits. Also, Bay County spokeswoman Valerie Lovett said peripheral details, such as who would provide food and health services at the facility, still are being worked out. Such costs would be above and beyond the sheriff's estimate. Commissioners stressed Tuesday that CCA should be held accountable to their agreement to construct the current expansion project at the U.S. 231 jail annex. "We need to hold the money until we're sure they have fulfilled all their responsibilities," said Commissioner George Gainer. County Attorney Terrell Arline said such things are being handled. The county, he said, also will be requesting CCA further explain its exit. "One of our intentions is to have them explain, in writing, how they were not able to fulfill their obligations," Arline said.

June 8, 2008 News-Herald
Originally, Sheriff Frank McKeithen was reluctant to run Bay County's jail system. But in an interview last week, McKeithen was armed with ideas and plans for changes at the local jail. McKeithen stressed, however, that he does not have the job yet. The Bay County Commission will meet June 17 and is expected to vote on McKeithen's proposal to run the jail, taking over the job from the private Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA. During their last meeting, commissioners supported the idea. "It's not going to be easy," McKeithen said. "Every day will be a work in progress. We can't get complacent." If commissioners approve him for the job, McKeithen would send every jail employee an information packet that will let them know where they stand, he said. Nearly 300 people work at two local jail facilities, one downtown and the other at the jail annex near Bayou George, which is being expanded and eventually will replace the downtown facility. "We're not going to leave them hanging," McKeithen said. "Everybody there will have an opportunity to retain their jobs." As long as current employees are properly qualified, they most likely would keep their jobs, McKeithen added. However, every employee also would have to fill out an application and go through the application process, he said. "I have confidence in the people that are there, and they are going to be there," McKeithen said. He said it was too early too say how employees at the jail would be structured and managed, but he did talk about the need to streamline the two organizations. Jail employees would be part of the "family" that makes up the Sheriff's Office, McKeithen said. In his budget, McKeithen has approved a raise for the starting salary of jail employees from about $26,000 a year to $30,000 a year. New ideas -- The sheriff has several new ideas about how things should be run. To start, he said, jail officials would implement an inmate management system that would give corrections officials a "better handle on these prisoners." McKeithen mentioned that in the past, some inmates were kept in jail past their release dates. In November, nine inmates were released from the jail before their release dates and had to return. McKeithen said the new inmate management system would work closely with courthouse officials to ensure these kinds of incidents don't happen. McKeithen also said he wants a Web site that would let the public know inmate status, visiting hours and other important information. The sheriff also expressed concern for the treatment of inmates' relatives. "We want to better train our staff in customer service," McKeithen said. Parents, siblings and others who visit an inmate must be treated with courtesy and respect, he added. "It's already a stressful visit," McKeithen said. "A county jail is accountable to the citizens of that county." Work-release programs and other possibilities also were on McKeithen's mind last week. These things, done right, could "save the taxpayer money," he said. The money -- Last month, Nashville-based CCA, which has run Bay County's jail operations for more than 20 years, told county officials they were leaving town. Although they had signed a contract, CCA officials said could not run the jail for the planned cost of $43.34 per inmate, per day and were leaving the county Oct. 1. According to information provided by Bay County officials, Charlotte County pays $76.29 per inmate per day. Indian River County pays $75 per inmate per day, while Santa Rosa pays $49 per inmate per day. McKeithen's proposal breaks down to $50.79 per inmate, per day, for a total of $17.9 million. McKeithen asked Rick Anglin, Bay County's liaison to CCA and contract monitor, to investigate the needs and come up with his budget proposal. Much of Anglin's job involved overseeing CCA and ensuring the company followed its contract. The sheriff said it was important to have someone outside the Sheriff's Office do the initial budget. Anglin investigated CCA's budget and the budgets of several jails across the state before writing the new budget, he said. Anglin and McKeithen estimate they would pay $13.5 million for salaries and benefits; $1.3 for medical supplies, pharmacy needs and hospital services; $115,000 for mental health services; $956,230 for food services; and $53,160 for uniforms, security equipment and ammo. McKeithen pointed out the food contract breaks down to 93 cents per meal. "There's no fat built into that budget," Anglin said. New jail -- If McKeithen takes over Oct. 1, he would inherit the jail facilities at the U.S. 231 annex site, which eventually will serve as the area's only jail. Good riddance, he said. "That is a monster," he said of the downtown jail, adding that many of the safety and security problems jail officials have dealt with over the years were caused by the dilapidated building. But when CCA leaves, it also might take with it computers, desks and other equipment the company purchased. The county would have to replace that, McKeithen said. The furnishings and equipment in the new buildings will stay, McKeithen said. "It does appear to be a state-of-the-art facility," he added. That facility is part of a residential neighborhood, something McKeithen is taking into account. Inmates will only be released from the U.S. 231 site if they have a ride or a cab. If they do not, they will be taken to the courthouse and released from an office there, McKeithen said. This will keep former inmates from walking through a residential neighborhood and place them closer to Bay County's bus station, rescue mission and other services they might need, he added. Though he might have been reluctant at first, McKeithen seemed to be looking forward to the new situation. "I'm to the point were I'm ready for the challenge," he said. "I want this to be the best jail in the state of Florida."

June 6, 2008 News-Herald
If it's true that you get what you pay for, then Bay County should receive moderately better operation of its jail with Sheriff Frank McKeithen in charge. County commissioners indicated Tuesday that they plan to hire the Sheriff's Office to run the jail and replace Corrections Corporation of America, a Tennessee-based company that has contracted to do the job for the last 23 years. CCA informed the county last month that it was seeking a divorce, citing irreconcilable financial differences: Officials said they couldn't provide adequate service for what the county was paying them. Enter McKeithen, who previously had expressed a willingness to assume responsibility for the jail but told commissioners up front that it would cost them more. Tuesday, he laid out the numbers: Whereas CCA had been charging the county $46.18 per inmate per day (which was scheduled to drop to $43.34 when the new jail annex opens this fall), the Sheriff's Office said it would charge $50.79 - or about $18 million a year, $3 million more than CCA. Saving money was costing the county numerous headaches. Under CCA's direction, the jail had experienced several embarrassing - and sometimes dangerous - incidents in recent years, often resulting from staff failures. How much of that was due to low salaries and how much to CCA's training and oversight? We should find out the answer soon enough. Either way, the jail needed a fresh start. The question is, should the county have spent more time looking elsewhere before settling on the sheriff? Why not re-bid the contract and see if it could get a better deal for taxpayers? The answer is that it probably would have been a waste of time. First of all, there aren't that many companies that run jails. Indeed, the last time the county bid the work, only one other company competed with CCA. Out of Florida's 67 counties, only three - Bay, Citrus and Hernando - contract out their jail operations, and Bay has by far the cheapest per diem rate. Eight county jails are run by county commissions, and the remaining 56 are operated by the sheriffs. According to Bay County staff research, most of the counties with inmate populations comparable to Bay's pay a higher per diem than McKeithen's estimate. One advantage to turning the jail over to the sheriff is that if issues arise, the county can deal directly with a local official it knows well, instead of some corporate bureaucracy. Furthermore, that official is elected, which means he has to answer to the public for the jail's performance. Commissioners still must keep a close eye on the bottom line, and that means watching out for unintended expenses that might crop up that would significantly boost McKeithen's per diem estimate. For instance, according to the terms of the CCA contract, any equipment purchased after 2006 belongs to CCA. If the company takes that stuff with it when it leaves, how much will it cost to replace it? McKeithen says it might take a year to determine exactly what it will cost to run the jail. He deserves an opportunity to demonstrate it will be money well spent.

June 3, 2008 News-Herald
Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen informed county officials Tuesday he could take over jail operations for just less than $18 million a year. "I haven't sugar-coated these numbers; these are real," McKeithen told county commissioners during their regular meeting. "With all due respect, this will be my only proposal. I'm not going to compete with anyone." The cost estimate, breaking down to $50.79 per inmate, per day, is higher than the current $46.18 charged by Corrections Corporation of America. The company is walking away from the jail in October, shy of a contract-stipulated drop to $43.34 upon the completion of the jail expansion project at the annex property off U.S. 231. McKeithen said the higher quote primarily was because county employees require a more competitive salary and benefits. "It's a little higher rate," conceded Bay County Commission Chairman Jerry Girvin, "but let's face it; a lot of the problems have been because of the salary." The board was unanimously receptive to the sheriff's projections. Legal counsel, however, advised that a formal ordinance declaring such would need to be written up for the June 17 county meeting and approved. "I think what we're saying, sheriff ... you'll have a new hat to wear," Girvin said. McKeithen stressed his numbers were only estimates. The per diem rate also assumes a minimum of 963 jail beds is filled. "It would take a year to realize exactly what it's going to cost out there," he said. Officials have budgeted $16.8 million in jail costs for the 2008 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, according to Bay County spokeswoman Valerie Lovett. Of that amount, $16.2 million would be paid to CCA to cover the per diem expenses; the other $600,000 would cover costs, such as building maintenance, that are not in CCA's contract, Lovett said. Had CCA continued its contract another year at the lower per diem rate, the county would have paid $15.2 million to CCA for Fiscal Year 2009, and the overall cost would have been $15.8 million. Commissioner Bill Dozier said the sheriff's numbers seemed right, as opposed to CCA's $43. When alerting the county to their planned departure, company officials cited inadequate finances. "This is realistic," Dozier said. "That was unrealistic." If the ordinance is approved at the commission's next meeting, McKeithen will not take over the facility until CCA's October exit.

June 3, 2008 WMBB
Running the Bay County jail is not the most glamorous of jobs, but Sheriff Frank McKeithen has offered to take on the task to the delight of the Bay County Commission. At Tuesday's regular Commission meeting McKeithen made clear that he could not garuntee there would be no problems under his watch. "I'm not going to tell you there will never be a hostage situation or jail break or issues in jail but I will tell you that there will be far less than what CCA has had to deal with in that facility downtown," said McKeithen. Last month Bay County expressed disappointment that Corrections Corporation of America would not run the new jail at a rate of $43 a day per prisoner, but Tuesday they said McKeithen's offer of $50 per prisoner a day was reasonable. "We have looked at jails all over the state of Florida and the typical per day jail rate is $54 to $64 throughout the state," said Chairman Jerry Girvin. The Sheriff estimates that the total budget for the year will be around $17.8 million- that's an increase of one million after CCA leaves- and McKeithen says that money is largely due to raises for personnel. "There is a possibility that if this amount of money is given that we may have money left over. There's a possibility that we may have to ask you for more money," McKeithen said. Commissioners say choosing the Sheriff over another private contractor is the most preferable of options. "This is not a knee jerk reaction. This is something that everyone of us has taken time with, everyone of us, the sheriff, and our staff," said Commissioner Mike Thomas. County Attorneys will draft an ordinance in the coming weeks to be considered in a public hearing at it's next meeting on June 17th.

May 27, 2008 News-Herald
Bay County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously rejected an offer by Emerald Correctional Management to drop its lawsuit against the county in exchange for the keys to its jails. The offer was passed on to the board by County Attorney Terrel Arline. "Can we laugh first?" asked Commissioner Mike Thomas. Emerald Correctional Management filed suit against the county in 2006, claiming the bidding process for the construction of the new jail off U.S. 231 was flawed. Arline said he recommended the offer be rejected, but was obligated to inform the commission about what was being put on the table. "Would ‘Hell no' be appropriate?" Commissioner George Gainer said. "I was gonna use those terms," Arline replied, "but I bit my tongue." Although Emerald Correctional was the original low bidder on the project, after some bid clarifications, the job was awarded to the only other responding party, Corrections Corporation of America. The Tennessee-based CCA currently is constructing the new county jail but recently notified the county it would be pulling out of its contract Oct. 1 because of financial concerns. Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen is researching how much it would cost his office to take over the facility. He has told commissioners it would be more than what CCA is charging: $46.18 per inmate, per day. Upon completion of the new jail expansion, the rate was expected to drop to about $43. Commissioners approved an agreement Tuesday with Tyndall Air Force Base to house Air Force pre-trial detainees at the current Bay County Jail. Thomas stipulated that any per-inmate costs agreement would need to jibe with future decisions regarding management of the jail once CCA departs.

May 21, 2008 News-Herald
A Bay County Jail captain has been placed on administrative leave after a weekend traffic crash. Capt. Stacy C. Blakeney, 36, was driving an estimated 80 mph in a 35 mph zone on Beach Drive when he rolled his vehicle late Sun-day, according to a Panama City Police Department crash report. Police said Blakeney was driving west near Buena Vista Boule-vard about 11:30 p.m., and his vehicle drifted off the road. His 2003 Chevrolet struck a power pole and began to spin. The vehicle crossed the front yard of a home, crashed through a row of shrubs, hit two trees and flipped, landing on its top in the next yard. Blakeney was not seriously injured, police reported. Police estimated damage to the vehicle at $15,000, to the power pole at $3,000 and to landscaping at $2,000. Criminal charges are pending the results of a blood-alcohol test, police reported. Joe Ponte, warden of the Bay County Jail, said Blakeney declined to speak to supervisors about the circumstances of the crash. With criminal charges pending, he cannot be com-pelled to make a statement, Ponte said. Blakeney works at the downtown jail, according to Ponte.

May 14, 2008 News-Herald
It takes millions of dollars a year to run the Bay County jail but now that Corrections Corporation of America is leaving town, the County Commission worries it could cost a tremendous amount more. Bay County went to a lot of effort to try to save money on the construction on a $40 million facility including a lawsuit from a company bidding on the project. In the end the County went with Corrections Corporation of America. "The fact that they designed it around their ability to run it, that was supposed to be a savings for everybody," said Commissioner George Gainer on Wednesday. At Tuesday's County Commission meeting, Commissioners announced that CCA planned to leave the new jail in October. CCA and the County signed a 6 year contract in 2006. The terms of the contract say the company would be responsible for building the new jail to be completed by August. After the jail was complete, the County's rate per prisoner per day was supposed to drop from $46 dollars to $43 a day in 2009. "My problem is they're not sticking around long enough for Bay County to realize if the design is one that is going to save us money. If it's what we paid for," said Gainer. While the County has a number of options for running the new facility, Gainer says he thinks each one would be more expensive than CCA. He hopes the commission will address his concerns at a workshop on Friday. "This whole process was entered into because of the savings on the per diem. I think we're paying $43 a day now and if we've got to pay $56 at this facility- I think that $13 a day is the basis of a tremendous lawsuit back against CCA," said Gainer. CCA's official reason for leaving the county was that wages and benefits for staff could not be covered with the rate worked out with Bay County. County Commissioners will weigh three options at a special workshop Friday including running the jail themselves as a County Department, asking Sheriff Frank McKeithen to step in, or hiring another private contractor to run the jail.

May 13, 2008 News-Herald
Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, let the county know late Monday that it would be abandoning its local operations in 150 days, or Oct. 1. “Where our path will take us, we don’t know,” Bay County Commission Chairman Jerry Girvin said of the question left in CCA’s wake. “It’s been a long-term relationship, but it’s probably one that’s run its course, and it’s time to go separate directions.” During the commission’s meeting Tuesday, the board briefly discussed the last-minute news before scheduling a workshop for 2 p.m. Friday at Panama City City Hall to further explore the county’s options. Girvin said the two most probable options would be to either run the jail as a county department or turn operations over to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. “Really, in most of the counties in Florida, the sheriff does run the jail,” Girvin said Tuesday afternoon. CCA, which has operated the area’s jails for more than 20 years, cited financial concerns as the reason for pulling out of Bay County. Spokeswoman Louise Grant said the Tennessee-based company could not continue to pay the competitive wages needed to “retain the brightest and the best staff.” Locally, CCA employs almost 290 people. Warden Joe Ponte said the average jail employee makes about $28,000. CCA entered into a new contract with Bay County in 2006 that stipulated a per-inmate rate of $46.18 per day. Last year, the company was paid $15.8 million. The six-year contract also called for the company to expand on the facilities at the U.S. 231 annex site, which will serve as the area’s only jail once the downtown location is closed. County officials said the work should be complete before CCA’s October departure. Ponte said his staff has been made aware of the situation. “As it starts to sink in, people are asking questions: ‘Who’s going to run it?’” Ponte said. “We don’t have any answers to that stuff.” The possibility of running local jails is not a new concept to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. Department officials have suspected this day might arrive and have assessed if such a venture would be a viable option. “We’ve heard these rumors here, lately,” Major J.B. Holloway said of CCA’s exit, sounding confident about Sheriff Frank McKeithen’s prospects of running such an operation. “The sheriff has run a jail on a small scale,” Holloway said, referring to his boss’s stint heading up a Gulf County facility when McKeithen was the sheriff there. “I feel certain he could do it here.” Regardless of what Bay County officials decide to do when CCA leaves, Ponte hopes the people currently staffing the facilities will be included in the plans. “This is a jail, it’s going to be run as a jail, and they’re going to need people to run it,” he said, adding that CCA also is offering to relocate some employees to other prison operations but that “a lot of people don’t want to move.” Holloway said it would be “premature” to discuss possible costs of running Bay County’s operations, but the Sheriff’s Office previously stated it might not be able to match CCA’s price. Girvin hinted the county might be open to paying more. That would depend on many things,” Girvin said. “How much more? What kind of bang are we getting for our buck?” CCA problems -- At times, officials have indicated CCA’s bang for the buck has not been sufficient. Since first beginning work in Bay County in October 1985, the private correctional company has weathered a number of storms that caused local officials concern. Last November, CCA released nine inmates early by accident. In June 2007, an inmate fashioned a plastic utensil into a lock-pick and briefly broke out of his cell. In 2005, a CCA nurse was fired after an inmate gave birth inside the jail annex four hours after complaining of labor pains. Another nurse, as well as a supervisor, was fired for having sex with an inmate. In 2004, a nurse was shot in a hostage standoff after inmates escaped from their cells. CCA said such instances were not a factor in the decision to leave town. “No, operations did not play a role in this at all,” said Grant, stressing CCA’s financial concerns. “Nothing else played into that.” Recently, county officials have made strong statements directed at CCA in regard to the company’s mishaps. “They’re going to run it right, or we’ll get somebody who will run it right,” said County Commissioner Mike Nelson, following the accidental inmate release last fall. Girvin said that although CCA’s notice was not expected, it is an issue county officials are ready to address. “While we’re not totally delighted with the concept,” Girvin said, “it’s now in our lap and we’ll deal with it.”

May 13, 2008 WJHG
Corrections Corporation of America, C-C-A, the private company which has operated the Bay County Jail since 1985, says it has had enough and is cancelling its contract effect October first. C-C-A made the disclosure in a letter to the Bay County Commission revealed this morning. Reason for the termination was not disclosed. The company said it was exercising its 150 day option spelled out in it 2006 contract with Bay County. The county commission has scheduled a special meeting for Friday7 afternoon to discuss several options, two of which include having the Sheriff take back operations of the jail, or the commission operating the jail itself. Would the Sheriff be interested? A spokesman for Sheriff Frank McKeithen said this morning he would not have any comment on the C-C-A issue until he meets with the county commission Friday. Meanwhile, work continues on the building of the new Bay County jail in Bayou George. CCA will finish building it before its contract expires.

November 21, 2007 News Herald
Bay County commissioners sent a clear message Tuesday to Corrections Corporation of America: Shape up or ship out, and pay $140,000. “We need to go aggressively at them,” Commissioner Mike Nelson said. “We’re gonna have to get it across to the folks up in Tennessee that we take this very seriously.” Nashville-based CCA runs the Bay County Jail and Jail Annex. On Nov. 1, the company mistakenly released nine inmates early from a substance abuse program. All the inmates voluntarily returned within a week. A county report released Nov. 13 listed a number of chinks in CCA’s armor. Primarily, the report cited poor judgment on the part of jail staff as the biggest reason for the oversight. “This is a jail, and it needs to be run like one,” Nelson said. “It shouldn’t have happened; I don’t want it to ever happen again.” In addition to corrective measures, such as notifying the county within 30 minutes of an incident and creating new booking and classification procedures, commissioners also are fining CCA $140,000 for the inmates’ release. The contract with the corporation stipulates financial penalties may be levied in such cases, and will be taken out of the county’s monthly payments to CCA. The agenda for Tuesday’s County Commission meeting did not list the jail issue. It came up during the commissioner comments section of the meeting. No one from CCA spoke during the meeting. The company is conducting its own investigation into the inmates’ release. County officials signed a six-year contract in May 2006 for CCA to run the facility and build a $39.7 million annex. As a condition of that contract, the county may break the relationship within 90 days without cause, or within 30 days with cause. “When we were redoing our contract we said, ‘new ballgame,’” Commission Chairman Jerry Girvin noted. Nelson said CCA’s frequent lapses might merit exploring other options. “What concerns me is what else is going on out there that we don’t know about,” Nelson said. “I don’t want to see the county get into the jail business … but the sheriff may have to.” Girvin directed county staff to begin considering other options. He advised that such a consideration would be in its infancy, and staffers should “not go 24/7 on it” in the hopes CCA will begin tightening up its operation.

November 20, 2007 WJHG
Bay County wants to fine the Corrections Corporation of America $140,000 for mistakenly releasing 10 inmates from the Bay County Jail earlier this month. The fine stems from an incident that happened on November 1. CCA worker released ten inmates enrolled in a drug rehab program, before they'd completed their sentences. All of the inmates surrendered after CCA discovered the mistake and notified them. A review by the county contract monitor cited poor staff judgment, broad booking procedures, inadequate staffing, and a seven-hour delay between the time the incident occurred and the time it the contract monitor was notified. County commissioners say the penalty is justified because the release violated the contract the county has with CCA to operate the county jail system. The contract provides for the fine, based on the $1.4 million monthly amount the county pays CCA to house inmates. The fine is one percent of the monthly invoice, for each inmate released. Commissioners say the incident is unacceptable. Mike Nelson, Bay County Commissioner, "What I'm really upset about is there was a seven hour delay before anyone at our place was ever notified, and what concerns me even more is what else is going on our there that we don't even know about?" Commissioner Nelson says the county will have to watch CCA closer in the future. The board discussed other options including the termination of CCA's contract, but did not take any action.

November 14, 2007 News-Herald
Someone with Corrections Corporation of America should have noticed nine inmates were being freed early from the Bay County Jail on Nov. 1, according to a county report released Tuesday. “That kind of carelessness is something we can’t have,” said Bay County Commissioner Mike Nelson. “I mean, they’re running a jail.” Employees of the Tennessee-based company that operates the jail and jail annex for the county mistakenly released the inmates who were part of the facility’s Lifeline Substance Abuse Program. All nine inmates voluntarily returned within a week. Warden Joseph Ponte said last week that CCA staff members mistakenly released the individuals because their graduation certificates were printed early by a staff member and misinterpreted by other staff members. The documents had the correct release date for the inmates, but staff members overlooked it, Ponte said. The county report found there were numerous times at which CCA employees should have caught the mistake. At the very least, suspicions should have been raised when the inmates themselves voiced concern, the report stated. “Apparently, the staff they were telling thought it was someone else’s responsibility,” said Rick Anglin, the county’s contract monitor who interviewed CCA staff and inmates while preparing the report. Anglin said if he had to pick one reason for the mishap, it would be staffing. Three key staffers in the classification department were absent the day of the incident. Another CCA shortfall mentioned in the report concerned a seven-hour delay between the realization something had gone wrong and notification of the county. Nelson said Ponte has yet to call the county manager to discuss the matter. The report lists several corrective actions to be taken. Primarily, the county liaison must be made aware of an “unusual incident” within 30 minutes. New, clearly defined booking and classification procedures also are called for. The county’s contract allows for financial penalties when such an incident occurs. Nelson said county attorneys are pursuing that course. CCA began its own investigation into the matter the day it happened, Ponte said. That investigation should wrap up within two weeks. Nelson said the incident has shown the county needs to keep a closer watch over the corrections company. “We’re gonna have to tighten up on them,” the commissioner said. “They’re gonna run it right, or we’ll get somebody that will run it right.”

November 5, 2007 WMBB TV13
An investigation is underway at the Bay County Jail Annex after an incident that Chairman Commissioner Mike Nelson calls inexcusable. Nine inmate's were released from the jail prior to the completion of their count-ordered drug program and then told to come back. Thursday evening, The Bay County Jail Annex released nine inmate's in the facilities lifeline substance abuse program, which is a 120 day program. All nine offenders, five males, and four females were being housed for misdemeanors charges and were expected to complete the program within the next few weeks. Eight of the offenders voluntarily returned to the program. The ninth offender, whose residence is out of the state, is in the process of being notified. "The county is going to put every effort to find out how this happened and make sure it never happens again," said Nelson. Warden Ponte said the mistake happened when inmate’s completion certificates were printed early. "I apologize, this shouldn't have happened. We are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening in the future," said Ponte. The Bay County Jail is managed by Corrections Corporation of America and hope to have the investigation completed in the next couple weeks.

September 27, 2007 News-Herald
Emerald Correctional Management LLC has taken a step back from the $13.2 million it sought from Bay County — a considerable step. The Louisiana company, which argues it was slighted during the bidding process in 2005 for the county’s jail expansion project, now is seeking $514,050 to settle a lawsuit. Obed Dorceus, attorney for Emerald Correctional, said the reduction doesn’t reflect a loss of resolve. “My client wanted to make sure the county knew he was willing to compromise,” Dorceus said. “But we still believe in the case.” The county has not accepted the settlement offer. Instead, it is requesting Emerald Correctional pay $35,000 in legal fees and drop the case. W.C. Henry, who represents the county, called the original $13.2 million “ridiculous, absurd; you’ve got to be kidding me.” The most recent offer is “still blatantly absurd.” Emerald first brought suit against the county in 2006. The company claimed the county’s bidding process was tainted. Only two companies responded to the call for bids on the project; Emerald’s came in a few million dollars below Tennessee-based CCA. CCA, however, was awarded the job after both companies were asked to clarify their bids. The company had a 20-year history working with the county. The contract Bay County awarded CCA was for six years and more than $36 million, and covers the demolition of the downtown jail, the expansion of the jail annex and management of the completed facility. Ground has been broken on the annex, with an expected completion date of May 2008. Emerald sued the county, alleging it didn’t adhere to bidding rules. Bay County Circuit Judge Glenn Hess dismissed the six-pronged complaint. In May, an appellate court overturned two of Hess’ dismissals. Henry said the entire case has stalled to some degree because Emerald has not filed a new complaint after withdrawing the initial suit and focusing on the two remaining issues. “We’ve kind of been working in limbo,” Henry said. “Right now, there is no complaint. It’s kind of weird; this is very strange.” Dorceus said he plans to file a new complaint soon. Depositions are planned for Oct. 10. Several county employees, as well as Commissioner Mike Thomas, will be deposed via video. Henry said the $35,000 legal fees offer is good until Monday. He said it would spare everyone the costs of a courtroom. “We’re gonna win, and we’re gonna win big in the end,” he said. “If they see the light and realize they’re going to lose, we could save the costs.”

August 21, 2007 News-Herald
Seven suspected illegal immigrants were arrested Tuesday at a county work site. Bay County sheriff’s deputies made the arrests Tuesday at the county courthouse. The men were employed by BCL Contractors to work on the new sally port project, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release. Deputies said they checked the employment records of the workers and found the men had used stolen Social Security numbers. Each of the workers was charged with criminal use of personal identification information. The arrests could be a problem for county officials. The Bay County Commission unanimously passed a resolution in March that would allow commissioners to break contracts with companies that hired illegal workers. The resolution provided the option of banning those companies from seeking county contracts for at least a year. County spokeswoman Valerie Lovett said Tuesday evening that the suspected illegals were working on a project overseen by CCA, the company that runs the county jail. “At this point, we don’t have the details,” Lovett said. “We will be having a conversation with CCA to find out what happened.”

June 21, 2007 News Herald
Bay County Jail officials still are trying to figure out how a murder suspect escaped from his cell Monday night. Hermon Harmon, who faces the death penalty if convicted of murder in the February shooting death of Jeff Gillman, picked the lock on the door of his maximum security cell at the Bay County Jail Annex on Nehi Road, using shaved plastic eating utensils, according to an arrest affidavit. Plastic utensils were found in Harmon’s cell, but Warden Joe Ponte said that is normal. “We give them (inmates) plastic utensils with every meal,” he said. Ponte said jail maintenance workers took the lock apart Tuesday and said it was working fine. Ponte asked the lock’s manufacture, Brinks Lock Company, to send someone to examine the lock. “We want to make sure we didn’t miss anything,” he said, “and to make sure the locks are working properly.” An internal investigation is ongoing, and Ponte said it should be completed early next week. After Harmon was captured Monday night, officials checked the other locks in the segregation pod at the annex. Only one lock was found to be defective, and it has been fixed, Ponte said. Ponte began his term as warden in January, and he said that prior to his arrival, the locks had a tendency to be broken easily. If the inmates slammed the door shut when the bolt was extended, it would damage the internal lock mechanism, Ponte said. Inmates also could stuff anything in their cell into the locks and that could short out the electronics, allowing the cell door to open.

June 19, 2007 WMBB TV
In a closed executive session Tuesday, Emerald Correctional Management asked for $13m. Emerald says the county violated its own bidding process by awarding the new county jail contract to Corrections Corporation of America. Shortly after the February bid award, Emerald filed suit but the case was dismissed. Emerald appealed the decision and won the right for the case to be reviewed again. Bay County Commission Chairman Mike Nelson said earlier the Commission would likely not approve the settlement. Emerald has threatened to sue if they aren't granted the $13m.

June 20, 2007 News Herald
A man charged with murder broke out of his maximum-security cell Monday night, using plastic eating utensils to pick the lock, according to an arrest affidavit. Herman Harmon, 45, escaped about 9 p.m. from cell number 8 in a maximum-security pod at the Bay County Jail Annex on Nehi Road, said Warden Joe Ponte. It’s not clear how Harmon, who is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting death of Jeff Gillman, picked the lock on his cell. He faces additional charges after officers eventually apprehended him. Ponte said the cell’s lock was working properly and an internal investigation is under way. Ponte said he isn’t sure how Harmon got out of his cell and didn’t want to speculate until the investigation is completed. Once out of his cell, Harmon entered the common area of the jail, then left the pod through a sliding metal door, which might have been open, Ponte said. The warden said he’s also heard a few versions from inmates and corrections officers on how Harmon got out of the pod. The pod doors have a defect that allows them to be opened if someone forcibly pushes it, but it makes a lot of noise. The warden said that all the pod doors are due to be replaced. Outside of the pod, Harmon accessed a small, open post, where he grabbed correctional officer Beverly Brennen by the neck and demanded her portable radio, the affidavit stated. Brennen and Harmon wrestled briefly and Brennen was able to call for help, Ponte said. Harmon eventually got the radio and tried to have the control section open the door leading to the exercise yard, but it was too late. A responding officer captured Harmon in the hallway just outside of his pod, Ponte said. Harmon has been charged with battery on a correctional officer, attempted escape, depriving an officer with means of communication and possession of contraband in a detention facility, according to court records. Judge Thomas F. Welch ordered Harmon held on an $85,000 bond. Officers found a garrote, which was made out of string, Ponte said. But Ponte doubted the garrote was intended to hurt someone. “It was found in his cell,” he said. “So if he wanted to do harm, he would have taken it with him.”

June 15, 2007 WMBB TV
Next Tuesday the Bay County Commission will hold an Executive Session to consider a lawsuit settlement. Emerald Correctional Management, Inc. filed suit against the County after they say the County unfairly awarded a contract for the new jail to Corrections Corporation of America. Emerald Correctional says CCA was allowed to adjust their bid after it had already been submitted. Now Emerald Correctional is making an offer to settle for more than $13 million in damages.

June 6, 2007 News Herald
Unsuccessful jail expansion bidder Emerald Correctional Management Inc. has offered to settle its lawsuit against Bay County for $13.2 million. The County Commission will meet in executive session June 19 to consider the offer. County officials hinted Tuesday they were not inclined to pay any money to the company, which alleges that the county violated state law and the terms of its own request for proposals when it awarded a jail expansion and operations contract to Corrections Corporation of America in February last year. “Why should we pay them anything when we followed the law?” Commissioner Bill Dozier said. Steve Afeman, executive vice president of the Shreveport, La.-based Emerald Correctional Management, said Tuesday $12.7 million is being sought in damages — money the company would have realized had it been awarded the six-year contract. The remaining amount pertains to time and money invested in preparing for the project, including legal fees. The County Commission opened bidding for a new jail contract in June 2005, which called for expanding the jail annex on Nehi Road, tearing down the downtown Bay County Jail and constructing new holding cells connected to the Bay County Courthouse. Only Emerald and Tennessee-based CCA responded, with Emerald bidding at $31.8 million and CCA at $38.8 million. Both companies were asked to clarify parts of their proposals, and the county determined that Emerald’s price would be $35.4 million and CCA’s would be $36.4 million. CCA had been operating Bay County’s jails for more than 20 years, and that longevity coupled with a satisfactory performance weighed on commissioners’ decision to go with CCA. Circuit Court Judge Glenn Hess in May last year threw out all six of Emerald’s complaints against the county. Last month, the First District Court of Appeal ruled that Hess improperly dismissed two of six complaints and directed him to reconsider them.

May 7, 2007 WMBB TV
An appeals court opinion could lead to a challenge for the Bay County Commission. Back in June 2005, Bay County Commissioners opened bidding for a contract to expand the Bay County Jail. Two companies entered bids. They were Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, and Emerald Correction Management, with Emerald entering the lower bid. Both companies were asked to clarify certain points of their proposals, resulting in a reduction of cost for CCA. The Commission then entered into contract negotiations with CCA in December 2005. Emerald filed a letter in January 2006, formally protesting the negotiations. The County Manager denied the protest, based on a recommendation from the county purchasing agent. In February 2006, Emerald filed a six count complaint. All six counts were dismissed. The opinion from the District Court of Appeals, First District, agrees with four of the dismissals, but raises objections to two. One count challenges the county's decision to all CCA to estimate construction cost that may later inflate. The other count relates to the county allowing CCA to make certain changes to portion of their proposal. The opinion now leaves an opening for Emerald to motion for a rehearing on those counts.

January 17, 2007 News Herald
The final defendant in a 2004 jail standoff was cleared Tuesday for trial. Kevin Winslett appeared before Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet for a hearing to determine if Winslett is mentally competent for trial. Winslett had been at a state mental hospital since December 2005, but doctors cleared him a month ago to return to Bay County. Tuesday’s hearing, which is required by law, was little more than a formality because Winslett’s lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Doug White, acknowledged he had no evidence to dispute the recent findings. Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigators said Winslett, Kevin Nix, James Norton and Matthew Coffin took over the fourth floor of the Bay County Jail on Sept. 5 and 6, 2004, and held jail nurses hostage. The standoff ended when deputies stormed the floor and shot one of the men and a nurse.

January 5, 2007 News-Herald
The state Supreme Court is weighing whether the property a prison sits on in Bay County is exempt from taxation. Bay County Property Appraiser Rick Barnett said the court heard the case Thursday. In 2006, the First District Court of Appeal ruled the land could not be taxed, upholding a decision by Circuit Court Judge DeDee Costello. She ruled the prison property is leased through a state department, making it ineligible for property tax. Because the issue is one being debated across the state, the appeals court moved the question to the state’s highest court. Corrections Corporation of America, the company that runs the county jail, owes about $2.2 million in back taxes, Barnett said.

November 21, 2006 News-Herald
A former jail nurse shot during a hostage situation in 2004 sued Corrections Corporation of America, Bay County and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office on Monday. Ann Marie “Amie” Hunt filed suit for loss of earnings, pain and suffering and medical expenses incurred after Sheriff’s Office deputies shot her three times Sept. 6, 2004, when firing at four inmates who had taken control of the Bay County Jail’s fourth floor. The bullets entered her hip, back and left leg, damaging bones and vital organs. According to the lawsuit, she has been in physical rehabilitation since the shooting. “On or about September 6, 2004, several inmates took advantage of known flaws in the security of the Bay County Jail and upon seizing the opportunity of those security flaws, the inmates took control over the jail and intentionally took control over the plaintiff Amie Hunt,” attorney H. Lawrence Perry wrote in the complaint. Perry said Corrections Corporation of America, the jail’s Tennessee-based corporate owner, Sheriff’s Office and county, failed to maintain the electrical door locking system. The takeover began when one of the inmates got out of a cell that did not lock properly and freed the others, according to witness testimony at a criminal trial in this case. Three of the four men involved in the takeover, Kevin Nix, James Norton and Matthew Coffin were convicted of false imprisonment. The fourth, alleged ringleader Kevin Winslett, has not been tried because of mental problems that have kept him in the state mental hospital. Nix, Norton and Coffin were acquitted of more serious charges in the incident, but still sentenced to 15 years in prison for their roles. Perry wrote in the lawsuit that the county, corporation and Sheriff’s Office were served with notices of intent to sue in January, but had not responded. He was unavailable for comment at his office Monday afternoon. Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Ruth Sasser said Sheriff Frank McKeithen had not received the lawsuit and could not comment. Hunt testified on Sept. 8, 2005, in the trial of Norton, Nix and Coffin. “At the very beginning,” she said, choosing her words carefully, “they were a little nutty. They just wanted to find a way out. They were as polite as they could be for the situation we were in.” Then, she said, the inmates broke into the drug storage lockers and began ingesting narcotics. “They started getting high and that lasted for several hours,” Hunt said. “Then they started coming down.” She said the situation was made worse by another dorm of inmates that, while secured, were still breaking windows and going crazy after getting into a medication cart. Hunt said Nix told her that those inmates wanted her and the two other female nurses, but he would protect them. As the night progressed, she said, Nix became agitated with nurse Glenda Baker’s praying. Another nurse, Kathy Baucum, said Baker was constantly praying and also “speaking in tongues.” When it came time to offer a hostage in return for pizza and cigarettes, Nix insisted Baker go because she was “freaking him out,” Hunt said. Then Baucum developed a migraine headache and she was soon exchanged for more pizza and cigarettes. Another hostage, James Hall, had been the first to be released. That left Hunt alone with the inmates. The standoff ended, she said, when she was brought before a barred gate at the end of a hall. Nix, she said, was standing behind her with a scalpel to her throat. “I don’t know who shot me,” she said. “He was just a figure, a person standing there, then boom. I looked down and I got shot. Then boom and I got shot again.” One bullet shattered her knee, an injury that incapacitated her for months. But Hunt was able to walk into court and take the witness stand with the help of a cane.

August 18, 2006 News Herald
An administrative law judge has recommended clearing a former county attorney, former county manager and current assistant county manager of alleged ethics violations. Judge Harry Hooper heard arguments in the case in June against Assistant County Manager Bob Majka, former County Attorney Nevin Zimmerman and former County Manager Jon Mantay. The central question was whether the men violated ethics laws regarding gifts after they took a February 2000 trip to view a Corrections Corporation of America jail in Tennessee and a publicly run facility in Arizona. Other county officials were present. CCA, based in Tennessee, paid for the airfare and lodging of the three men and two former county commissioners. Zimmerman said during the June 15 hearing that it was reasonable and beneficial to taxpayers for a third party, such as CCA, to pay for “fact-finding” trips that county officials take. CCA has operated Bay County’s jails for 20 years, and the county was negotiating a new contract with the company at the time of the trip. That parallel drew the ire of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, which initiated the ethics complaints in July 2003 and referred the case to the Florida Ethics Commission. The commission in September 2004 found probable cause that Mantay, Zimmerman and Majka may have violated gift laws. In his recommended order, though, Hooper ruled the gifts were not directed to the three men but to the county, so they were not required to report the gifts. The attorneys for either party can file “exceptions” to the recommendation within 15 days, and the Ethics Commission will review those submissions along with Hooper’s finding before entering a final order. Ethics Commission attorney Linzie Bogan said Thursday that he likely would file a response for the commission to consider. “How I’ll respond will depend on how the judge laid out his order,” he said, explaining that he just received the order and had not looked over all of it yet. “I would hope the commission would be open to persuasion on this issue,” he said. “I still feel there are violations.”

July 20, 2006 News Herald
At least two residents who live near the Bay County Jail Annex on Nehi Road object to a proposed zoning and land-use change for adjacent property to allow jail expansion. Shelley and David Hickman, of Nehi Road, stated in a letter to county officials that they believe approving a zoning change from agriculture-timberland to public institutional for 14.2 acres will create a wave of construction of other “institutional” facilities in the area. The Planning Commission will vote on the items today at its regular meeting, and the County Commission, which has final say, will consider that recommendation when it takes up the issue in a couple of weeks. “As I see it, it would mean that there would have to be lawyer offices to aid inmates, and also do not forget about the need for bail bond facilities and halfway houses and shelters and other types of businesses that ‘feed off’ the ‘institution,’” the Hickmans wrote. In an interview, Shelley Hickman also said she thinks it is a moot point to consider the zoning and land-use changes now when the county already has awarded a contract to Corrections Corporation of America for construction at the annex. CCA officials have said they hope to break ground by December. Martin Jacobson, planning and zoning division manager, said the CCA-led construction and zoning and land-use changes are “independent of each other.” County staff is rec- ommending the switch to public institutional for the 14.2 acres, he said, with the condition that use of the property is limited to jail operations. The Florida Department of Community Affairs has to review the proposed land-use change, as it does with any property greater than 10 acres.

June 20, 2006 News Herald
On an average day, the Bay County Jail in downtown Panama City is 100 to 150 inmates above capacity. The 30-year-old facility’s design provides additional daily headaches for jail staff, inmates and defense attorneys. “There’s a lot of wasted space and there’s not enough space,” explained Assistant Warden Richard Thore. There are not enough holding cells, so interview rooms have been converted for backup use. Interviews are conducted wherever there is room. There is one small room for booking and taking fingerprints, which slows the inmate admitting process. And from the jail’s central command post, guards cannot see all of the 12-cell pods. They must be viewed individually, which necessitates several jail guards instead of one. “Everything that should be easy becomes difficult and time-consuming,” including preparing meals in a kitchen not large enough or designed to accommodate 400 inmates, Thore said. The kitchen is situated on the second floor of the six-floor building, so employees have to take extra time to pick up food on a loading dock and transfer it to the second floor. New facility. Overcrowding has persisted at both jails for at least the past 10 years, according to county inmate counts. There are 410 beds at the jail annex on Nehi Road, but there are about 500 inmates there. Both jails — operated for the past 20 years by Corrections Corporation of America — now keep inmates of all security classifications, said Jennifer Taylor, CCA’s senior director of business development. In January, Panama City Beach attorney Jeremy Early documented problems he saw at the jail for his boss, Public Defender Herman Laramore. Assistant Public Defender Susan Rogers said she forwarded Early’s memo to county officials. One issue Early identified was lack of space for female inmates, who are held long-term only at the annex on Nehi Road. In a memo on Jan. 25, Early stated that he saw at least 20 women in a holding cell at the main jail who had either pleaded out at first appearance or had been released on their own recognizance a day or two prior. Early said Judge Elijah Smiley told him to record their names. “As I started taking their names, a CCA guard came in and removed some of the women before I could get all their names … I personally heard one of the CCA guards tell (am inmate) she was being held because CCA had lost her paperwork.”

June 19, 2006 News Herald
About half of the Bay County jail system’s correctional officers left in 2004 and 28 percent quit last year, making effective and safe operations tough to achieve, county officials say. High turnover has been a primary concern of Commissioner Jerry Girvin, a retired captain with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, which ran the jail until the county awarded the original Corrections Corporation of America contract in 1985. Girvin said the constant hiring of new guards unfamiliar with Bay County’s jails jeopardizes security. “An experienced correctional officer can sense the need and circumvent a situation from occurring or minimize the effect,” he said. Jason Bradley Sims, a 30-year-old who recently was detained at the main jail on Harmon Avenue for violating his probation for a battery charge, said fighting among inmates is frequent, partly because there aren’t enough guards. “I’ve been in at least a dozen fights in the last two years,” said Sims, who has spent the majority of his life locked up in Bay County jails and in correctional institutions elsewhere in the state. Assistant Warden Richard Thore said understaffing is not leading to more inmates beating one another. “They’re going to fight whether guards are there or not,” he said. For an attorney representing an inmate at first appearance, new correctional guards are sometimes a source of frustration for mistakes made or delays in bringing inmates to the hearings. Occasionally, Deputy Public Defender Walter Smith said, guards show up with the wrong inmate because of similarities in names. Frequent turnover of jail guards, he said, contributes to complications in the first appearance process. “They always have new people coming in,” he said of CCA. New jail guards and the company they work for are not solely responsible for difficulties during a first appearance, he added. “It’s not all CCA’s fault. It’s the warrants division; it’s correctional guards calling in sick. …” Turnover problems locally also rise to the top. The past two wardens of the Bay County Jail have stayed on the job only six and eight months, respectively. Kevin Watson took the post in December 2004, relieving Denny Durbin, who was warden for 19 years. Watson requested a transfer in August 2005, citing personal reasons. Mark Henry came in as the replacement, but he departed in March, also citing personal reasons. Durbin is back as the interim warden until a new warden is found. Former wardens could not be reached for comment, but Jennifer Taylor, senior director of business development for CCA, said Watson is still with the company in Indianapolis. Her explanation for Henry’s departure was that the job “was a lot more demanding than he thought going into it.” Some of the reasons for the difficulty in drawing people into corrections work also account for the frequent departures. Starting salary currently for guards at Bay County’s jails is $27,296, and some of them decide several months or a year into the job that they can’t continue to support themselves or their families with that pay, Thore said. Quitting after a few months or a year on the job, Durbin said, is not always a symptom of dissatisfaction with the employer; it may have more to do with the general evolution of their careers. “Corrections officers are very mobile and want to try new things,” he said, noting that many former Bay County guards have ventured to Washington Correctional Institute in Washington County and other state-operated prisons. Thore said he believes that the appeal of working for state prisons, which pay more and are continually being built as Florida’s inmate population grows, is the main culprit of local turnover. “The state has given (jail guards) at least two raises in the last year-and-a-half, and that makes it extra difficult for us to compete,” he said. There are young people looking for their first job who pick a jail guard position for lack of decisiveness, Thore said. “The reality of the job hits when we’re booking 16,000 inmates a year. Sometimes, that creates a little turnover.” Of the 48 correctional guards in 2005 whose employment at Bay County’s jails was severed, 21 were voluntary and involved no misconduct. But jail guards testing positive for drug use, having unprofessional relationships with inmates and smuggling contraband into the jail also were to blame for high turnover. The guards committing these and other offenses — which totaled nine — were fired in 2005 for violating state moral character standards or violating CCA and county policies, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records. Ken Kopczynski, a legislative affairs assistant for of the Florida Police Benevolent Association and vocal CCA opponent, called Bay County’s turnover outrageous. “How can you properly run a facility when half of the people don’t have any experience” at that facility? said Kopczynksi, who is also executive director of Private Corrections Institute Inc., an organization that opposes privately run correctional facilities. While the turnover rate at Bay County’s jails is high, it is tame compared to the departures at some other CCA facilities in Florida. Hernando County jails, for instance, had a turnover rate of 82 percent in 2003, 75 percent in 2004 and 69 percent in 2005. Other CCA-run facilities in Florida had the following turnover rates in 2005: Gadsden Correctional Institution, 48 percent; Lake City Correctional Facility in Columbia County, 57 percent; and Citrus County Detention Facility, 28 percent. Turnover at Bay Correctional Institute, the CCA-operated state prison on Bayline Drive off U.S. 231, was 19 percent. In 2004, turnover was 36.7 percent. Taylor said the company’s jail staff is “down some everywhere” at its 63 U.S. facilities, but it is not at a critical point. “If it was at a critical point, we’d pull people in from other facilities. “It’s hard to find people to work in a jail,” she added. “We have to do extra things to attract employees and keep them there.” The company recently started posting help wanted messages on billboards in various locations, including Bay County, Taylor said. One on Tyndall Parkway aimed at military men and women reads: “From Camouflage to Corrections.” “We’ve found that people coming out of the military make very good correctional officers,” she said. Targeting military personnel is not a new focus of CCA’s, but there has been a stronger emphasis on attaining that demographic in the past year, she added. CCA also has been filling some vacancies in Bay County with part-time correctional officers, said CCA spokesman Steve Owen. Until it gets closer to full staff, the company is operating with mandatory overtime for all correctional guards, Thore said. Thore said 10 to 15 more guards are needed to be at normal levels. Currently, about 30 non-certified officers and 147 certified officers man the two county jails. While jail guard pay is mid-range compared to what guards at other Florida CCA facilities make, it’s far from the six digit incomes corporate bigwigs bring home. The highest-paid executive for CCA, John Ferguson, has a 2006 salary of $700,000 plus a $677,727 bonus, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But Owen defended the salaries for jail guards as competitive, especially since about two months ago the company started paying people attending the three month certification school the salary of uncertified officers. Certified jail-guard pay at the Bay County jail and annex has risen almost $2,000 in the past two years, up from $25,475 in 2004. Jackson County Correctional Facility, which is county-operated, has not approved a higher pay grade for its new certified guards since 2004; the salary stands at $23,947. The $20,500 salary at Gadsden County Jail hasn’t changed since 2003. The sheriff’s office there runs the facility. Escambia County currently offers certified correctional guards $30,400 at its two detention facilities, and Franklin County Jail jumped its pay by $3,000 over last year and is now $27,500. The sheriff’s offices in all three counties run the jails. CCA-run Hernando County Jail upped its pay for certified guards this year from $28,000 to $32,000.

June 16, 2006 News Herald
Former Bay County Manager Jon Mantay joined a former county attorney and the current assistant county manager Thursday in defending themselves against an ethics complaint before an administrative law judge in Panama City. Two attorneys representing Mantay, former County Attorney Nevin Zimmerman and Assistant County Attorney Bob Majka sparred with an attorney for the Florida Commission on Ethics over the legality of a February 2000 trip the three men took to view a Corrections Corporation of America jail facility in Tennessee and a publicly run facility in Arizona. CCA, based in Tennessee, paid for the airfare and lodging of the three men and two former county commissioners. CCA has operated Bay County’s jails for 20 years, and the county was negotiating a new contract with the company during the time of the trip. The Florida Police Benevolent Association initiated the ethics complaints in July 2003, and the ethics commission in September 2004 found probable cause that Mantay, Zimmerman and Majka may have violated gift laws. Much of the attention during Thursday’s hearing before Judge Harry Hooper focused on Zimmerman and his declaration to county officials that the trip and payment arrangements were legal. Zimmerman said it was reasonable and beneficial to taxpayers for a third party, such as CCA, to pay for “fact-finding” trips that county officials take. “That (logic) is reflected in our ordinances and regulations — to have developers pay for permitting based on the time it takes county staff to process the permits,” he said. The Bay County officials that went to Tennessee and Arizona, he said, needed to see in person how other facilities were handling overcrowding and recidivism, which are problems here. There is local precedent for allowing a company to pay for such trips, Zimmerman said. In 1997, several county officials traveled to Vancouver, Canada, and Long Island, N.Y., to view facilities now run by Montenay Bay LLC. Westinghouse Corp., which wanted another company to run the Bay County waste-to energy incinerator, paid for that trip. Ethics commission attorney Linzie Bogan challenged Zimmerman’s interpretation of Florida statutes on gift laws, and he tried to discredit Zimmerman for not reviewing ethics cases between 1997 and 2000 related to acceptance of gifts. “It’s not a gift if it’s an expense related to your employment,” Zimmerman said. Bogan insisted the definition of gift was clear, but Hooper said the entire statute governing acceptance of gifts (112.312) is not clear to him. “First you have to determine if it was to their benefit. … Do people benefit from looking at a bunch of prisoners?” Hooper said. Majka said during his testimony that he was unaware CCA paid for his airfare for the trip until records were being collected at county offices three years later in connection to the ethics complaint. But he said he learned the company paid for his lodging while at the hotel. In 2000, Majka was the emergency services chief and shared responsibility with other officials in jail oversight. Hooper said not knowing CCA paid for the trip does not produce a “complete defense” for Majka. The ethics commission, however, dropped the allegations against former County Commissioners Carol Atkinson and Danny Sparks because they had no knowledge CCA covered the expenses. Sparks and former County Commissioner Richard Stewart have admitted and paid fines for violating gift laws by accepting a round of golf paid by county financial adviser Gary Askers. Majka faces the same allegation, but his attorney, Albert Gimbel, said Thursday that he didn’t know how Majka would plead to that issue. Majka declined to comment. After Hooper has had sufficient time to review the facts of the case, he will issue a recommended finding for the ethics commission to consider. Tallahassee attorney Gary Early, representing the Bay County officials, said it would be at least two months for Hooper has a recommendation.

May 23, 2006 News-Herald
Bay Medical Center is seeking payment for the treatment of four patients who were either furloughed from the Bay County Jail or booked after their stay. County and Bay Medical will meet at the hospital Wednesday to discuss the cases that date back as far as 2000. The meeting was scheduled after a circuit judge — at the county’s request — ordered that the hospital and the county attempt to resolve the conflict over payments out of court. Bay Medical filed several lawsuits seeking payment from the county in 2003. The lawsuits later were consolidated. Hospital CEO Steve Johnson requested Wednesday’s meeting in a letter May 2 to County Manager Edwin Smith. When prisoners have no means of paying for hospital treatment, Florida law places responsibility on the county where the patient was arrested. “We believe that the county cannot avoid its responsibility by obtaining temporary medical furloughs or by dropping arrestees off at the hospital before booking them into jail,” Johnson wrote in his letter to Smith. County correctional program manager Roger Hagen said the county pays about $350,000 in medical bills for inmates each year. Payment issues between hospitals and local governments are common, he said. “The judge is issuing an order. It’s legal. There’s no question about it,” Hagen said. “We’re trying to minimize the exposure to the county, but just to have them all the sudden not be under the jurisdiction of the county, now is that playing by the rules? It is playing by the legal rules, but it does create an exposure for Bay Medical.” When very sick individuals are jailed for minor crimes, Hagen said he has encouraged CCA employees to ask judges to consider their release. However, Hagen said he was unaware until Johnson raised the issue that prisoners were being released with a requirement that they return to the jail after treatment. The jail is run under contract by Corrections Corporation of America, but the county pays for patient treatment outside of the jail. However, a new contract starting in October puts the first $10,000 in medical bills per inmate on CCA’s tab. “When the new contract goes into effect, CCA is going to have the exposure up to $10,000,” Hagen said. “I’m sure they’re going to be highly motivated to encourage the judge to reduce those costs. Whether the judge goes along with it, I don’t know.”

May 2, 2006 WJHG
A lawsuit challenging the awarding of a contract to build and operate a new Bay County Jail has been dismissed. Circuit Judge Glen Hess tossed out the suit filed by Emerald Corrections against the Bay County Commission and Corrections Corporation of America. The dismissal Monday clears the way for the county and CCA to continue planning to build a new county jail adjacent to the jail annex in Bayou George. Emerald had challenged the awarding of the contract for the project to CCA saying it wasn't the lowest and best bidder. It’s the second time Judge Hess dismissed the Emerald Corrections lawsuit.

April 26, 2006 News Herald
Circuit Court Judge Glenn Hess heard arguments Monday in Bay County’s motion to dismiss a correctional company’s lawsuit accusing the county of wrongdoing in awarding a contract to Corrections Corporation of America for jail construction and operation. Hess did not immediately rule on the motion and offered no comments during the hourlong hearing. He said he might make a decision this week. County attorney William C. Henry and counsel for CCA used their time to try to discredit Emerald Correctional Management LLC’s six-count complaint. Their dominant argument was that the county acted within its “legislative, discretionary role” in reviewing and ranking both companies’ responses to the county’s request for proposals, or RFPs, to build a new jail. Emerald has alleged that Bay County violated Florida procurement laws, Sunshine Laws and the RFP terms. On Monday, Henry said Emerald failed to provide certain facts and meet specific criteria in order to make a request for injunctive relief to prevent CCA from receiving the contract. Addressing Emerald’s allegation that the county violated Sunshine laws, Henry said the plaintiff was not a citizen of Florida and therefore lacked standing to make that claim. Emerald’s attorney, Obed Dorceus of Tallahassee, told Hess that “courts must liberally construe” Florida law to determine whether Emerald has standing to claim there were Sunshine law violations as an individual rather than on behalf of the public’s interest. The county wants a 150,000-square-foot addition to the existing jail annex on Nehi Road, creating 680 new beds in addition to the existing 410. The RFP also called for the downtown Bay County Jail to be demolished and for construction of new holding cells connected to the Bay County Courthouse. Emerald, based in Shreveport, La., proposed a price of $31.8 million to complete the project, while CCA’s price was $38.8 million. After the bids were unsealed, the county clarified the figures to take into account differences in each firm’s proposals. In the end, the county determined that Emerald’s price is $35.4 million and CCA’s is $36.4 million. Dorceus has claimed that the county simply amended the figures to suit Tennessee-based CCA, which holds a contract to operate the county’s jails through October. But Henry defended the county’s handling of the jail RFP, saying that local ordinance “gives a great deal of discretion to deal with the procurement process.” CCA attorney Cliff Higby’s main point to Hess during the hearing was that as long as “reasonable people could disagree” on whether CCA or Emerald had the best proposal, the courts should not intervene. In February, Hess denied Emerald’s request for an emergency injunction to prevent the county from signing a contract with CCA. Neither the contract for construction nor operations and maintenance have been signed, however.

April 8, 2006 News Herald
Bay Medical Center’s CEO wants the county and local municipalities to take on greater responsibility for criminals and police suspects who are treated at the hospital. Steve Johnson has requested a meeting with Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen and Panama City Police Chief John Van Etten to discuss the matter. In a letter addressed to McKeithen and Van Etten on March 27, Johnson complains that the law enforcement agencies are waiting until injured or sick suspects are discharged from the hospital to arrest them, leaving the hospital responsible for charges when patients have no health coverage. Also, Johnson writes, prisoners are being released from the Bay County Jail for hospital treatment and picked up by authorities after discharge. “I really don’t see how Bay Medical can continue to fund this practice,” Johnson said in the letter, which also was sent to the Bay County and Panama City commissions, Panama City Mayor Lauren DeGeorge and the hospital’s board of trustees. Johnson said he plans to schedule the meeting next week. In the event of injury or illness at the time of or during an arrest, Florida laws puts responsibility for medical payment first with the patient, then with the county or municipality where the person was arrested in the event that the individual does not have medical coverage. Roger Hagen, the county’s correctional program manager, said Johnson’s concerns are not unique to Bay County. “It’s an ongoing dilemma — who’s going to pay for this kind of care,” Hagen said. The same issues Johnson is complaining of are among the reasons that Gulf Coast Medical Center, the county’s private hospital, raised rates for prisoners about a year ago, said Wes Fountain, Gulf Coast’s chief financial officer. “They, being the county or the Sheriff’s Office, don’t take ownership of these patients at certain points,” Fountain said. “Some patients, they would have financial responsibility for.” “And a lot of patients, they would not have responsibility for and it was unclear to us a lot of time which ones were it. That was the problem — just kind of understanding it.” An agreement was signed June 21 making non-profit Bay Medical Center, the larger or the county’s two hospitals, the primary provider for county prisoners. Gulf Coast served the same role before the hospital raised charges. Knowing what had happened with Gulf Coast, Hagen said of Bay Medical, “They knew the risk of what they were walking into.” Under the agreement with Bay Medical, hospitalized inmates are treated at a discounted daily rate of $1,248 with special rates for some services like cardiac care, Hagen said. Addressing the complaint that prisoners are being released from custody and dumped on the hospital, Hagen said he did not know of any instances in which prisoners were released for hospital care and taken back into custody for the same charges after their hospital discharge. However, in some cases, Hagen said prisoners who need hospital care are evaluated to determine whether they really need to be in jail. For example, Hagen said, if a prisoner were taken to the hospital with chest pains, the case might be reviewed and if that individual were in jail for a light offense, such as being intoxicated in a right of way, jailers might request that a judge release the individual from custody. “It’s got to be a minor situation before a judge would go ahead and do something like that,” Hagen said. Bay County is finalizing a new contract with jail operator Corrections Corporation of America, and Hagen suggested some of the issues between the county and the hospital might be resolved when that contract goes into effect in October. The county has been picking up all medical costs outside the jail, but the new contract requires that CCA pay the first $10,000 in charges per inmate. Johnson said there have been informal talks about the hospital’s concerns, but he decided those talks were getting nowhere after reading comments made by local law enforcement representatives in a March 21 News Herald article. The article was about a local man who was shot by police during a drug investigation. He faced charges from the Sheriff’s Office and the Panama City Police Department and was arrested upon release from the hospital. Explaining why the man was not arrested before his release, Panama City Police Sgt. Kevin Miller told The News Herald, “If we were to arrest him, he would be in our custody, therefore our responsibility.” Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Ruth Sasser said, “We don’t usually arrest people while they’re in the hospital and when the appropriate time came we arrested him.” Johnson described the comments as a blatant description of the practices he is concerned with. McKeithen declined comment on the issue Friday. “I’m sure all of these issues will be addressed at the meeting,” Sasser said. Van Etten was unavailable for comment.

March 22, 2006 News Herald
It's time again to put the "Help Wanted" sign out in front of the Bay County Jail after the facility experienced another sudden departure of its warden. Mark Henry resigned as jail warden Tuesday, said Steve Owen, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that operates the jail for Bay County. Owen said the resignation was effective immediately and that former Warden Denny Durbin will serve as the interim warden until a replacement is found. Owen said Henry did not provide a written resignation but told CCA officials he was leaving the company for "personal reasons." The former Jackson County Jail warden's departure comes six months after he took over the jail in wake of the transfer of then-Warden Kevin Watson. In August, Watson was granted a request for a transfer. He also cited "personal reasons" as the basis for his request. Watson's request came the same day CCA confirmed the termination of then-Assistant Warden John Rochefort for violating CCA policies. Watson had taken over as Bay County Jail's warden in December 2004, replacing Durbin - who had served as the jail's warden since 1987. Owen said county officials have been notified of Henry's abrupt resignation. Attempts to contact Henry and Roger Hagen, the county's contract monitor, were unsuccessful Tuesday. The Bay County Jail and CCA's contract with the county have been the subject of increased scrutiny since Durbin's final year at the helm. In September 2004, a CCA nurse was shot by police during a hostage standoff between officers and inmates who broke out of their cells thanks in part to mistakes by jail staff and faulty locks. Last year at the jail, an attempted escape by an accused cop killer was foiled after jail and police officials discovered the suspect had saw blades smuggled into his cell. Also, CCA fired a jail supervisor and a nurse after learning the nurse was reportedly having sex with an inmate. In November, a nurse was fired and another nurse reprimanded after a pregnant inmate delivered a premature baby inside the Bay County Jail Annex four hours after the woman complained of labor pains. CCA currently faces a civil suit from a fellow jail management company that claims it was cheated when the county renewed its contract with CCA in February.

March 8, 2006 News Herald
An accused cop killer and a man suspected of leading a 2004 jail floor takeover face additional charges after attacking a jail guard on Tuesday, according to a news release. Authorities charged Robert James Bailey, 23, and Kevin Bradley Winslett, 35, with battery on a corrections officer stemming from separate incidents at the Bay County Jail Annex. According to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office: On Tuesday morning, a jail maintenance worker was placing plastic shields around Winslett’s cell to prevent him from throwing liquids at guards. Winslett threatened to throw urine at the worker before tossing an unknown liquid and forcing guards to remove him from his cell. During a struggle, Winslett kicked a shield into the guard’s face — splitting the guard’s lip. A few hours later, Bailey threw an unknown liquid at maintenance workers who were putting shielding around his cell. The same jail guard who was reportedly injured by Winslett went into the cell and was confronted by Bailey, who was armed with a homemade shiv crafted out of a toothbrush and barbed wire. Bailey cut the guard’s head before being disarmed and restrained. Investigators are not sure how Bailey obtained the barbed wire.

February 25, 2006 News Herald
Circuit Judge Glenn Hess cleared the way Friday for the county to sign a contract with Corrections Corporation of America for the construction and maintenance of a new jail. Hess denied a request from Emerald Correctional Management for an emergency injunction to prevent the county from sealing the deal. Emerald’s lawyer, Obed Dorceus of Tallahassee, told Hess that the county violated state law and its own procedures in awarding CCA the jail contract over Emerald. Dorceus said Emerald’s proposal for the jail project was $5 million less than CCA’s. But, he said, after the proposals were unsealed, the county asked for clarification and allowed CCA to modify its proposal. Then, Dorceus said, the county approved the revised proposal and agreed to a contract. “They just waited to resolve it in a manner that benefited CCA,” he said. The County Commission voted Tuesday to sign the six-year contract with CCA. Its attorney advised that the board did not need to wait until a judge ruled on Emerald’s request. Emerald proposed a price of $31.8 million to complete the project while CCA’s price was $38.8 million. After the clarification process, the county determined that Emerald’s price actually will be $35.4 million and CCA’s $36.4 million. Emerald also is seeking damages and ultimately to have the county’s decision reversed. Dorceus said he feels confident that at the end of a trial in this matter the judge would “direct the board to award the contract to (Emerald).” The county’s attorney, William Henry, argued that this was a request for proposal, not a bid, and the county made it clear throughout the process that it had the right to reject any proposal. He said CCA’s proposal was closer to what the county wanted. The bid process has more legal restrictions than a request for proposals. Essentially, when the county asks for a bid on a project it knows what it wants done, how it wants it done and what materials are to be used, then puts out a request for companies to offer their cheapest price to do the work. By law, the county is required to accept the lowest bid. Requests for proposals are used when the county wants a project done but does not know how to do it. It then asks companies for a game plan as well as cost projections. When those come in, the county then negotiates with the companies to try to get the best price and contracts with the most favorable. The county is not required to accept the lowest price in a request for proposal. Hess said it was that flexibility in the request for proposal that saved the deal with CCA. “The language of this makes it very clear that the county didn’t have to accept or do anything but look at the paperwork and say, ‘This is all very nice,’” he said. Dorceus said both processes require the county to adhere to policies and give fair treatment to the companies involved. Roger Hagen, who oversees the jail contract for the county, testified that neither Emerald nor CCA provided an exact response to the request for proposal, so county staff requested both companies to clarify their plans. After seeing the proposals in better detail, Hagen said county staff members scored the plans and CCA was viewed as the better prospect. He said neither company was allowed to alter its proposal during the clarification process. Hagen said the county’s proposal was four-part: design and build an extension at the annex on Nehi Road; operate the new facility; demolish the old downtown jail; and finance the project. Emerald, he said, proposed a separate building next to the annex but not connected to it. That would mean separate kitchens, laundries, staff and check-in procedures. Hagen said that would make for a cheaper construction plan, but more expensive operational costs in the long run. He said the county specifically asked for an addition to the annex to keep operational costs down and CCA’s proposal was closer to what the county envisioned. Hagen said CCA also had more experience than Emerald in operating a jail. Hagen acknowledged that CCA had no experience in jail operations before it was awarded its first contract with Bay County 20 years ago. Dorceus pointed out that CCA’s proposal did not fix a price to the final project, but left in an option to renegotiate the price if material costs are higher due to post-Hurricane Katrina construction projects. The jail project goes into design phase as soon as the contract is signed. Construction is slated to begin in July. CCA’s current jail contract would have expired in October.

February 22, 2006 News Herald
Corrections Corporation of America will continue its tenure as Bay County jail operator, although a new contract which the County Commission approved Tuesday allows for a quick, cost-free termination. At its regular meeting in Panama City Hall, the board voted 4-1 to enter into a six-year contract with the Tennessee based CCA, plus a two-year contract for constructing an expansion to the jail annex on Nehi Road and other related projects. Bob Majka, assistant county manager, told commissioners that construction costs dropped from $41.5 million to $39.7 million through “value engineering,” such as using a chain-link fence versus concrete to serve as a yard barricade. Majka and the rest of county staff accepted mostly praise for their work, although two commissioners said staff should have produced an estimate for the Bay County Sheriff’s Office to run the jail. Commissioners George Gainer and Jerry Girvin said they wanted to see what it would cost the county to run the jail, and Gainer had the harshest words for Majka for not having that information. “I’m a little put out with staff because you didn’t do what you said you would do,” said Gainer, who voted against the motion to bestow CCA with the contract. But Majka said there was no instruction from commissioners to get that figure. According to Thomas, Sheriff Frank McKeithen has told him that his department could run the jail but probably not for less money than any private firm could. One resident, Tom Misskerg, told commissioners they “need to take a harder look at jail operations” before awarding a contract. Later, he addressed the board again to ask about potential consequences if another jail construction firm wins its lawsuit against the county over its RFP process. Emerald Correctional Management LLC — the only other firm to bid for the project — has alleged that the county violated state procurement laws and Sunshine Laws when considering proposals. County attorney Mike Burke would not divulge details about the situation, but assured the board: “We wouldn’t have let you go ahead with this contract if we thought there was a problem.”

February 17, 2006 News Herald
Youth, stupidity and blind love were not enough to keep accused cop killer Robert Bailey’s girlfriend from a prison sentence on Thursday. But admitting her guilt may have saved Andrea Guenette seven extra years behind bars. Circuit Judge Glenn Hess sentenced Guenette, 22, of Wisconsin, to three years in prison after she pleaded guilty to introducing contraband to the Bay County Jail and conspiring to commit escape. She could have received a 10-year sentence. Guenette gave hacksaw blades to a jail trusty who gave them to Bailey. Bailey, 23, is accused of shooting to death Panama City Beach Police Sgt. Kevin Kight during a traffic stop last year and faces the death penalty if he’s convicted as charged of first-degree murder.

February 10, 2006 News Herald
Bay County officials on Thursday rejected all of Emerald Correctional Management’s claims in a lawsuit that the bidding process for a jail expansion project was improper and illegal. Meanwhile, the company’s attorney, Obed Dorceus of Tallahassee, said he will ask Judge Glenn Hess to expedite a hearing for a temporary injunction against the county to halt its negotiations with Corrections Corporation of America. “We’re concerned that if the county proceeds with a flawed (selection) process, we may not be able to get some of the remedies we’re asking for,” Dorceus said. The most important objective for Emerald, Dorceus said, is to receive the contract to design and build a Bay County correctional facility. In the lawsuit, Emerald states that the county permitted CCA to modify its proposal after all proposals were opened, violating state law. The county said in a letter to Dorceus that it never asked for a fixed price in the RFP and that “both firms were asked to clarify their proposals to allow the board to conduct due diligence and select a firm with whom to begin negotiations.”

January 20, 2006 News Herald
In a strip cell at the Bay County Jail Annex, on suicide watch next to an inmate with a penchant for beating up cellmates, Sweatt wanted out in the worst way. He made a ruckus, yelled for guards, even broke a toilet seat to no avail. Shoeless and clad in a jail gown, the 49-year-old crawled onto a mat on the floor to sleep. He awoke to a severe stomping and, later, brain swelling — all thanks to a “questionable assignment” and drastic overcrowding, according to an incident review obtained by The News Herald. The incident underscores a consistent theme — too many prisoners and too few places to put them — hashed over by county officials and Corrections Corporation of America, the private company paid $16.3 million this year to run facilities downtown and near Nehi Road. A report compiled by Bay County’s contract monitor and released this week indicates that guards and supervisors violated no procedures during the late December incident that landed Sweatt in the hospital and his alleged attacker back in court. In fact, the incident report places blame on a single issue: overcrowding. “The questionable assignment of Sweatt to a cell occupied by (Orlando Marcus Holly) was necessitated by overcrowding in D Dorm,” wrote Roger Hagen, the county’s pointman with CCA. One cell, Hagen reported, was out of commission because of a broken toilet and guards felt it best to house Holly and Sweatt in a cell near an observation desk. Holly was accused of a similar assault two weeks later and forced officials to rethink his daily handling. Guards now move Holly in full restraint — including a belly chain and leg restraints — and the 25-year-old is housed alone in a cell. Authorities reported that Sweatt had asked to be moved from Holly’s cell but was rebuffed because the dorm and other high-security cells already were full. The men bickered throughout the day, officials said, and at 1:45 p.m., Holly laid into his cellmate with a flurry of punches and kicks. The beating was so bad that Sweatt remained in critical condition for more than two weeks and suffered brain swelling, inner cranial bleeding and a shattered orbital bone. Police waited 10 days to charge Holly because they feared Sweatt would die.

January 14, 2006 News Herald
Emerald Correctional Management LLC has accused the Bay County Commission of breaking state laws in its decision to pursue negotiations with another firm for jail construction projects. The process the County Commission went through in accepting and evaluating the request for proposals, or RFP, was “arbitrary, capricious and illegal,” states Emerald’s petition, filed last week with the county. The county wants a 150,000-square-foot jail addition to the existing jail annex on Nehi Road, creating 680 new beds in addition to the existing 410. The RFP also called for the downtown Bay County Jail to be demolished and for construction of new holding cells connected to the Bay County Courthouse. Shreveport, La.-based Emerald had said it could build the addition for $31.8 million and Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, priced it at $38.8 million. The county chose to enter negotiations with CCA. In a formal notice of protest filed Jan. 6, Emerald alleged that Bay County violated Florida procurement laws, Sunshine Laws and the RFP terms. The company requests the county “forward the protest to the Division of Administrative Hearings for a fair determination of the issue at hand.” Emerald further labeled CCA, the company currently operating Bay County’s jails, as “non-qualified, non-responsible and non-responsive.” After taking into account project features that were either missing from the RFP or added but not asked for, the county determined Emerald’s design-and-build cost would be $35.4 million rather than $31.8 million, and CCA’s would be $36.4 million instead of $38.8 million. County staff said that with construction and fixed operational cost for six years, it would cost $117.1 million to stick with Emerald and $114 million with CCA.

January 11, 2006 News Herald
Deputy Public Defender Walter Smith said Tuesday that he has a better chance of keeping accused cop killer Robert Bailey off death row by being a witness in the case instead of being Bailey’s lawyer. Smith withdrew from the case and told Circuit Judge Glenn Hess that he expects to be a witness when the court has a hearing to determine Bailey’s mental condition. Smith said he also will look outside the county for a lawyer and put together the paperwork necessary for Bailey’s new attorney to ask for a change of venue. Smith said he wants the case handled by a Tallahassee lawyer and decided by a Leon County jury. A change of venue could move Bailey out of the Bay County Jail Annex where he has been since August. Smith said Bailey’s treatment at the jail has aggravated Bailey’s existing mental problems. “His condition has deteriorated since he’s been in solitary confinement,” Smith said. “I think his mental state is a direct result of the condition he’s kept in.” Smith said Bailey is isolated in a small cell with a light burning 24 hours a day, making it difficult to sleep. The toilet in Bailey’s small cell would not flush for three months, and a jailer had to empty it manually during that time. “A Fortune 500 company like Corrections Corporation of America can’t fix a toilet?” Smith said, referring to the jail’s corporate owner. “I know what’s going on, and it’s unconscionable. They’re being punitive.” Bailey complained about the toilet the last time he was in court and Hess ordered it repaired. Bailey’s last words to the judge Tuesday were about that issue. “Thanks for fixing my toi …,” Bailey, who appeared at the hearing by closed-circuit television, said. The last word was cut off when the connection was cut. Bailey’s mail is intercepted and his phone calls are monitored. He is not allowed visitors or contact with other inmates, Smith said. Bailey rarely is allowed to shower and is almost always shackled and handcuffed, Smith said. “This is not because I like Robert Bailey and I think he’s a sweet guy,” Smith said of his outrage over Bailey’s treatment. “It’s because he’s not being afforded his basic constitutional rights.” The jail’s treatment of Bailey, Smith said, has made it more difficult to give Bailey a fair trial because it has impacted his mental state. Smith said Bailey understands the legal process, but he’s now more likely to act out in an inappropriate, even aggressive, manner in court.

January 3, 2006 News Herald
Orlando Marcus Holly waited until the lights were off and his 49-year-old cellmate was asleep before Holly began kicking him, a Bay County Sheriff's Office investigator said Monday. Investigator Mitch Pitts also said Holly, 25, probably would have killed Robert Sweatt if not for the swift reactions of guards at the Bay County Jail Annex. Sweatt's teeth were kicked out, his orbital bone was shattered and he had inner cranial bleeding. Sweatt was rushed to Bay Medical Center and is recovering in surgical intensive care, Pitts said. Court records show that Holly was charged with battery three times in 2005, including a count of battery on an inmate. The day before the alleged attack on Sweatt, a judge sentenced Holly to more than a year in prison after Holly admitted to probation violations.

January 2, 2006 News Herald
Police charged a 25-yearold inmate with severely beating a cellmate 10 days after two guards witnessed the attack in a dormitory at the Bay County Jail annex, according to arrest documents. Investigators accused Orlando Marcus Holly of aggravated battery on a detainee more than a week after the alleged beating. It was so severe that the 49-yearold cellmate remained in critical condition in surgical intensive care on Sunday. According to an arrest affidavit, Robert Sweatt was sleeping on a floor mat Dec. 20 when Holly began stomping on his face, kicking out Sweatt's teeth, shattering his orbital bone and causing inner cranial bleeding. Sweatt was rushed to Bay Medical Center. Two Bay County Jail guards witnessed the attacks, police reported. It is unclear when Bay County Sheriff's Office investigators were notified of the attack, and officials from the Bay County Jail and the Sheriff's Office could not be reached Sunday. Court records show that Holly was charged with battery three times in 2005, including a count of battery on an inmate. The day before the alleged attack on Sweatt, a judge sentenced him to more than a year in prison after Holly admitted to probation violations.

December 31, 2005 News Herald
Emerald Correctional Management LLC is formally protesting Bay County's decision to negotiate with another firm for new jail construction. Steve Afeman, Emerald's executive vice president, said Friday that his company would formally send to Bay County a Notice of Protest for choosing on Dec. 20 to negotiate with Corrections Corporation of America to build an addition to the jail annex on Nehi Road and related projects. Emerald has requested from the county every document and piece of information relevant to the RFP, or Request for Proposals. The move has confused Bay County officials and the Tennessee-based CCA because no bidder has been awarded a contract. Roger Hagen, contract monitor for the county, said Friday that he had not received the Notice of Protest from Emerald. Earlier this month, county staff produced an analysis that reflected the variations in both firms' proposals. Neither firm adhered precisely to what was asked for in the RFP, said county spokeswoman Catherine Zehner, so adjustments were made to "try to level the playing field." Afeman said it appears that "CCA has adjusted their bid after looking at our" proposal. Hagen and CCA deny that such action occurred.

December 30, 2005 News Herald
Emerald Correctional Management LLC still wants the contract for Bay County's jail projects and has requested extensive documents related to the county's decision to negotiate with another firm. Steve Afeman, Emerald's executive vice president, said Tuesday that his company wasn't yet formally protesting how the county handled the request for proposals, or RFPs. "We're still looking at the comparison for how they formulated their bid structure," he said. "We want to leave our options open until … we feel everything was reported accurately." Afeman is referring to the county staff's interpretation of Emerald's and Corrections Corporation of America's RFP responses. As early as today, the Shreveport, La.-based Emerald may decide whether to file a Notice of Protest of the RFP, Afeman said. But Emerald's Tallahassee attorney, Obed Dorceus, said in an e-mail message late last week to county officials that a "formal written protest will be filed within the time required by law." The attorney further asks the county to suspend activity regarding the RFP until the dispute is resolved.

December 21, 2005 News Herald
Bay County plans to stick with Corrections Corporation of America to run its jails and build the jail annex addition. At Tuesday's County Commission meeting at Panama City City Hall, the board voted unanimously to instruct county staff to negotiate a contract with CCA. The county still reserves the option to pull out if it does not like the final price CCA delivers for the project. If a compromise cannot be reached, Commissioner George Gainer said the board will consider building and operating jail facilities itself. Besides the jail annex addition on Nehi Road, the county wants the downtown Bay County Jail demolished and new holding cells connected to the Bay County Courthouse. Besides Tennessee-based CCA, the only firm that responded to the request for proposals, or RFP, was Emerald Correctional Management in Shreveport, La. For the entire scope of services, Emerald listed its price as $35.4 million. CCA estimated a cost of $41.5 million. Gainer said he was not comfortable with CCA's price estimate, and he is concerned because the expanded jail annex could be at or over capacity several years after its expected opening in spring 2008. "This does not meet our needs," he said. "A lot needs to take place with the negotiating team for this to move forward." "We need to think long and hard" about the contract, he added. "It's going to affect everyone in Bay County for 50 years." Budget Officer Mary Dayton said that if CCA funded the design and construction of the jail annex addition with its 8-percent interest rate over 25 years, the interest alone would total $56.7 million. She said the county could get an interest rate of 4.5 to 4.7 percent, and over 25 years, that would total $32.6 million in interest. Commissioner Mike Thomas asked county staff to analyze what debt payments would be if the county tried to pay for the project in 18 to 20 years.

December 16, 2005 News Herald
Emerald Correctional Management LLC says its method for financing jail expansion will help save the county at least $20 million compared to Corrections Corporation of America's payment option. But after meetings with Emerald's staff, at least two County commissioners believe it is better for the county to finance the project itself because the county has a lower bond rating than either company could obtain. "That's not going to be there," Commissioner Mike Thomas said of Emerald's financing plan. "We can save money doing a bond ourselves," he said, indicating that the county's bond rating is around 4.5 percent and if either company funds the project, their bond rating would be 7- to 8-percent. CCA proposes to fund the expansion itself at a projected cost of $334,476 per month for 25 years, totaling around $100 million. With private bond placement, as Emerald suggests, the total debt over 18 years would be around $80 million, or $350,000 per month, said Glenn Hedert, chief operations officer for the Shreveport, La.-based company. In a letter this week to Commission Chairman Mike Nelson, CCA stated that Emerald did not adhere to project specifications in the county's request for proposals, or RFP, and that is why its plan costs less. "If they were compliant with the RFP, their proposal would've cost as much as what we projected," said Jennifer Taylor, senior director of business development for Tennessee-based CCA. Nelson said Thursday he received the 18-page letter at his office, Mike Nelson & Associates, but that he threw it away without reading all of it. "They've already had their say," Nelson said, referring to Emerald's and CCA's presentations to the commission on Dec. 6. "If Emerald sends me anything, it's going to get tossed, too."

November 19, 2005 News Herald
Corrections Corporation of America fired a Bay County Jail Annex nurse for the way she handled an inmate's complaint of labor pains, according to her termination letter. Joan Elliot, 48, of Panama City, refused to acknowledge wrongdoing in the events that lead up to Jennifer Bozeman, 26, giving birth to a premature baby in the infirmary more than four hours after reporting labor pains to jail guards, according to CCA records. Bozeman was in jail at the time for failing to pay a $500 child support fine. CCA reprimanded nurse Melissa Blalock, 36, for her role in the incident on Nov. 7, according to CCA records. The names and positions of the employees receiving disciplinary action were released to The News Herald in accordance with the state Sunshine Law, but only after a written request to the Tennessee based company's corporate headquarters and Bay County Jail Warden Mark Henry denied access to the employees' personnel files. According to CCA records, Elliot was terminated on Tuesday after CCA officials determined the nurse failed to follow CCA sick call policy. Specifically, Elliot failed to "accommodate unscheduled inmates/residents with conditions that require immediate attention, including acute illness and injuries," according to her termination letter. During a follow-up discussion regarding the jail birth, Elliot told Henry she had done nothing wrong and would not do anything differently if the same situation arose again, according to CCA reports. Elliot told CCA officials she was dealing with several medical calls at the time, including a seizure, two guards bitten by an inmate and several inmates waiting in the infirmary while Bozeman complained of pains. Jail officials issued a written reprimand to Blalock, but did not terminate her. They said Blalock failed to keep Bozeman in a "stable position/location" until the inmate could be transferred to the hospital. Blalock should not have allowed the expectant mother to walk in the unit, climb up and down from the examination table or sit on a bench in the waiting area, according to CCA reports.

November 16, 2005 News Herald
One employee has been fired and another reprimanded after an investigation into a birth at the Bay County Jail annex revealed a series of missteps - from a nurse who ignored cries for help to a supervisor unaware of the labor - that preceded a delivery in the infirmary. Jail officials would not reveal the names or positions of the employees who received disciplinary action, and a Sunshine Law request made Tuesday afternoon was not immediately answered. Florida's public records statutes routinely cover discipline reports of public employees, including jail guards and nurses. "I can only talk in general terms," Warden Mark Henry said Tuesday afternoon. "We have to be cognizant of other people's rights. These two employees have been disciplined and it has become part of their official records. But that is proprietary information kept by the company." Jennifer Bozeman said she complained of labor pains for more than four hours before she was taken to the infirmary and seen by a nurse. Bozeman said fellow inmates helped her through the ordeal, nursing her while jail staff ignored her pleas for help. Bozeman's daughter, Crystal, was born just before 7 a.m. and was airlifted to Gainesville's Shands Hospital. The baby remained there on Tuesday, where she is being treated for birth defects. Bozeman was jailed Sept. 10 for failing to pay a $500 child support fine, although the fine was paid late Monday night by a friend. While the names and positions of the disciplined employees have not been released, CCA officials did divulge a 32-page report that documented mistakes and policy violations the night of Bozeman's labor. Among them: Nurse Joan Elliott was informed of the labor pains at about 2:30 a.m., and told guards to have Bozeman fill out a "sick call," a written documentation of an inmate's illness. The slip was not given to medical staff until 4:30 a.m. When a female guard handed the slip to Elliott, the nurse said "it could wait." Elliott, in a written statement, indicates that on Monday night she dealt with several medical calls, including: a seizure, two guards who had been bitten and scratched, an inmate with scratches, and a number of inmates waiting in the infirmary. Elliott later retrieved sick calls and treated at least two other sick patients before she received word from guards that Bozeman was having "stomach pains." It was not until 6 a.m., Elliott wrote, that a guard told the infirmary nurses that Bozeman was in labor. Capt. Richard Bouchard, who worked the overnight shift, responded at least eight times to the dorm where Bozeman was held and was never notified by a pair of guards that there was a pregnant inmate complaining of labor pains. Bouchard also said "nor was there any documentation in the post log book that the (labor pains were) addressed." By the time Bouchard was notified, Bozeman already had been escorted to the medical unit. Jail personnel waited more than 25 minutes to call an ambulance after a nurse determined Bozeman was indeed in labor. The child was born before officials contacted paramedics to take her to Bay Medical Center. At about 6:05 a.m., a guard told nurse Melissa Blalock, who was starting her shift, that Bozeman was in labor, and Blalock ordered the woman to be brought to the infirmary. Blalock and Elliott then checked Bozeman for delivery symptoms and determined at 6:30 a.m. that she was in labor. Bozeman was sitting in an infirmary restroom when Blalock assisted her to an exam table, although Bozeman was sent back to a waiting room and Elliott ended her shift. At about 6:55 a.m., Bozeman screamed for help and the child was delivered before Blalock could remove Bozeman's pants. Blalock removed the umbilical cord from around the child's neck, ordered a guard to call 9-1-1 and helped cover the child in blankets. Paramedics arrived at the jail at 7:15 a.m. and the child was taken to the hospital at 7:20 a.m. - nearly five hours after Bozeman first told guards she was in labor.

November 15, 2005 News Herald
She was in labor for more than four hours, crying in a crowded dorm room, bent and writhing on a bunk, crooked with pain and sweat and gritted teeth, pleading for help. When help finally came, so too did her child. The 26-year-old woman who gave birth in the Bay County Jail annex said Monday that guards and nurses repeatedly ignored her pleas for medical attention, allowing her to struggle for four hours - using inmates as nursemaids - before the baby was born in the infirmary. While jail officials have hedged against the release of information related to a personnel investigation, Jennifer Bozeman offered sharp criticism of the annex and its medical staff, saying Monday that officials failed both mother and child. "They just ignored me," Bozeman said in an interview with The News Herald. "They should have gotten me to the hospital. I kept telling them: 'It hurts, I'm in labor.' They didn't do anything. It was just handled wrong. I'm still hurt by it. I'm still having flashbacks." Bozeman's account was confirmed by two female inmates who stood by her throughout the labor, as both women said that it took more than four hours before the expectant mother was transferred to a medical pod at the Nehi Road annex. The inmates both issued stinging rebukes of the jail staff, calling the situation untenable but believable. In fact, Charla Meadows, 33, said medical attention is hard to come by at the facility - if it comes at all. "It's crazy in here," said Meadows, being held on a cocaine charge. "Jennifer told them at about 2 o'clock that she was hurting bad. I mean, you could see her all bent over. One of the guards asked me if could get her some ice, so I did. I just had to stay with her. She started hurting worse and worse, and nobody would do anything to help her." According to all three women, the incident unraveled like this: Bozeman first told an officer that she may be in labor shortly after 2 a.m. The officer asked Meadows to deliver some ice, and later allowed Bozeman to take a warm shower. As the pain progressed, Meadows continued to ask for medical help. An officer tried unsuccessfully to contact the overnight nurse, and at about 4 a.m. guards told Bozeman to fill out a "sick call." The "sick call" is a form used to notify personnel of medical problems, although Bozeman said the form went unheeded for an additional two hours. During that period, another inmate - Tris Souza, 43 - sat with Bozeman, massaging her back and rubbing her forehead. As the pain reached its zenith, Souza began pounding on a cell window, pleading for help. "We were just trying to get their attention," said Souza, also being held on drug charges. "She just kept getting worse and worse, and I was like: 'When are y'all going to help her?' They just kept ignoring us. That's not so uncommon in here, though. "I've seen things that are totally unbelievable. They think ibuprofen will cure anything." About 6 a.m. - with a shift change - the daytime nurse ordered guards to have Bozeman delivered to the infirmary. Once there, Bozeman said medical personnel diagnosed her condition as kidney stones and allowed her to wait in a chair. The baby, Crystal, was born within minutes. "I had to catch my own baby," Bozeman said. "It fell out into her pants," Meadows added. Officials from Corrections Corporation of America, the private, Tennessee-based company hired to run a pair of facilities in Bay County, have hesitated to release details of an internal evaluation. Warden Mark Henry cited medical privacy laws last week and declined to release information, although he did note that the annex was at full staff during the incident. Roger Hagen, the county's jail contract monitor, said he is awaiting information from CCA, and said the timeframe between Bozeman's first complaint and the birth appears to be a key factor in the evaluation. "That's my concern," Hagen said Monday. "There is, however, some question of whether the midnight nurse had competing priorities. The length of time it took the nurse to see her is a concern, but I'm waiting to see what this person was up against. Were there other things going on that prevented (the nurse) from seeing (Bozeman)?" Bozeman's delivery came about two months early, and the child remained in a neonatal care unit at Gainesville's Shands Hospital on Monday. The baby was born with birth defects, Bozeman said, and the family is concerned about her health. Bozeman has been jailed since Sept. 10 for failing to pay a $500 fine related to a previous adoption. Since then, county taxpayers have paid nearly $3,000 - or about $45 per day - to keep Bozeman behind bars. "I'm still so upset," she said. "I'm still so hurt by it. It was just handled wrong. They should have gotten me to the hospital."

November 11, 2005 News Herald
Jennifer Bozeman owes the state of Florida $500. She never paid, got sent to jail, birthed a baby in the infirmary, and now Bay County taxpayers are footing the bill - to the tune of about $2,730 so far. And she has not been charged with a crime. By holding Bozeman in jail, taxpayers have vastly outspent her debt to the state Department of Revenue regarding a child support fee for a previously adopted child. The county pays about $44 per day per prisoner. The new mom has been in jail for 62 days and has 28 to go. If she stays in jail the full 90 days, it will cost taxpayers about $3,960. That does not include her hospital costs, which the county could be billed for. Bozeman, 26, was back Thursday at the Bay County Jail annex, where she gave birth early Monday to a 5-pound, 8-ounce daughter in an infirmary. The birth is the subject of a personnel investigation into several questions, including, according to the county's jail manager and the Bozeman's mother: How long did officials wait to give Bozeman medical treatment? In a brief phone interview earlier this week, Bozeman said she told a jail guard that she was suffering the pangs of labor just after 2 a.m. Bozeman's mother, Doris Ayers, said the baby was born between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Officials from Corrections Corporation of America, the private, Tennessee-based company that was paid $14 million in 2005 to run two Bay County facilities, have repeatedly hedged against releasing documents related to the birth. Warden Mark Henry said Thursday he could not speak to specifics of the case, citing medical privacy issues that hinder the release of Bozeman's information. Bozeman could not be reached in jail Thursday for a waiver. The News Herald has requested documents related to staff levels and medical procedures the morning that Bozeman gave birth. "At this point," Henry said, "there isn't a whole lot I can tell you. I wish I could, but I can't do it without violating her rights. Even as an inmate, people still enjoy rights and privileges that I would not want to violate." One of those rights, Ayers said, would be a proper birth. "It's just absurd," she said, "that it happened like this. No one should have to catch their own baby."

November 9, 2005 News Herald
The last of four men accused of taking hostages last year in a jail standoff will not go to trial next week as planned. Instead, Kevin Winslett will be evaluated for his mental competency to stand trial. Bay County Sheriff's Office investigators said Winslett, 33, Kevin Nix, James Norton and Matthew Coffin took over the fourth floor of the Bay County Jail on Sept. 5 and 6, 2004, and held jail nurses hostage in a police standoff. The standoff ended when deputies shot one of the men and a nurse.

November 9, 2005 News Herald
Bay County Jail officials have launched a "full-fledged investigation" of personnel at the Nehi Road annex after a pregnant prisoner repeatedly called for medical attention hours before she gave birth in the infirmary early Monday morning, according to the county's jail liaison. Conflicting reports have emerged about the birth of a 5-pound, 8-ounce baby girl named "Crystal," who was born at least one month premature and was expected to be taken Tuesday to a neonatal facility at Shands Hospital in Gainesville. The baby's mother, Jennifer Bozeman, was recovering Tuesday afternoon at Bay Medical Center, where she was under watch by authorities and was expected to return soon to jail. "I don't know what happened really," Bozeman said. "I went into labor early Monday and I told one of the (corrections officers), but they didn't really do anything. They were supposed to get me down to the infirmary, but they didn't." According to Bozeman's mother, Doris Ayers, jail officials have been evasive, releasing scant information about Jennifer, the baby or the birth. Ayers said the birth announcement came from the lips of a fellow prisoner during a mysterious phone call early Monday morning. "(The warden) is not saying a whole lot," Ayers said Tuesday. "You know, they actually told (Bozeman) that she had a kidney stone. That's what they said was bothering her. … She told them she was having labor pains, and she told me that by the time somebody came to get her, she had to catch the baby. "That's exactly what she told me - that she actually had to catch her own baby." Officials offered a slightly different account, although Roger Hagen, who monitors the county's contract with the private company hired to run the downtown jail and Nehi Road annex, said Tuesday that early indications show a procedural breakdown among personnel. "That's my understanding," Hagen said. "There is an indication that there were some problems in the way it was handled. The warden is conducting a full-fledged investigation. Right now, he's doing a personnel evaluation to find out what happened." Henry is the third Bay County Jail warden in 22 months, and was hired in September by Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that holds a contract to run three county facilities. Henry, who last worked at the Jackson County Jail and spent nearly 30 years in the federal prison system, took over after the former warden quit and an assistant warden was fired.

October 1, 2005 News Herald
A man convicted of DUI manslaughter and an accused killer face additional criminal charges after attacking guards at the Bay County Jail on Friday, according to court records. William Deshonn Jones, 25, and Lashod Marquis Black, 21, each face a charge of battery on a corrections officer following separate incidents at the county's main jail. According to court records, at about noon, Jones became upset at a jail guard and threw two trays of food at the guard's chest. Jones' outburst came a little over an hour after a guard accused Black of grabbing her arm during a cell inspection, according to court records.

September 21, 2005 News Herald
Kevin Winslett should be ready for a new trial in November. Winslett, the accused ringleader of a takeover of the Bay County Jail last September, went to trial in August with his three co-defendants, but his case was declared a mistrial. Co-defendants Kevin Nix, Matthew Coffin and James Norton were convicted of false imprisonment and sentenced to 15 years in prison. They went to trial on the same charges that Winslett faces, but were acquitted of the most serious charges against them.

September 20, 2005 New-Herald
Lucrative contracts to operators of Bay County facilities and a $5 million increase in funds for blighted communities contribute to the county’s budget increase for fiscal year 2006. Operating costs for the two county-owned jails is projected to rise $2 million, to $16.3 million for FY 2006. That’s despite a decrease in the inmate population from about 1,100 last year to 900 currently, according to Roger Hagen, Bay County correctional program manager. Usually, there are 3 percent to 4 percent more inmates each year. There are fewer inmates now because those nabbed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials no longer are being housed in the Jail Annex. The operations cost per prisoner is expected to be $45.35 in FY 2006, about $1 more than it is now, said County Budget Officer Mary Dayton. Corrections Corporation of America runs the jails, but its contract expires next year. The county is looking to cut back on the amount it pays the contractor, whomever is selected. Emerald Correctional Management Corporation, based in Shreveport, La., also is bidding to operate the jail. “I feel like the CCA contract has been far too lucrative,” Gainer said. “If we don’t have a bid that’s much lower, then the county ought to consider running it by ourselves.”

September 13, 2005 News Herald
For the third time in 22 months, the Bay County Jail has a new warden. Corrections Corporation of America officials have hired Jackson County’s corrections chief to run the beleaguered Panama City Jail after the former warden quit and an assistant warden was fired less than a month ago. Mark A. Henry, who last worked at the Jackson County Jail and spent nearly 30 years in the federal prison system, is expected to start next week, according to Bay County’s jail contract monitor.
Roger Hagen, who acts as a liaison between Bay County commissioners and the private company hired to run three local facilities, said commissioners signed off on the hire after CCA officials tabbed Henry sometime last week. The hire came shortly after the dismissal of Assistant Warden John Rochefort for violating an undisclosed company policy and Warden Kevin Watson asked for a transfer for “personal reasons,” CCA officials said in mid-August. The company declined to give the exact reason Rochefort was fired, nor would they say in what capacity Watson would be retained. CCA officials did not return phone calls Tuesday.

September 12, 2005 News Herald
Strategy is a part of any trial. But when four men accused of taking hostages in a police standoff at the Bay County Jail were preparing to go to trial together, strategies were everywhere. The Bay County Sheriff’s Office had a plan to keep the four from attempting anything in the courthouse like what they were accused of doing at the jail. Prosecutors had their reasons for trying all four together, despite the security risks. And the four defense attorneys had the job of devising an attack that would work for their individual client, but not hurt the other three.
Coffin’s lawyer, Nancy Jones Gaglio, said there was an agreement going into trial that their clients would not try to blame each other for the takeover. Gaglio was able to address issues about jail conditions. “Judge allowed me to go there a little bit,” she said Wednesday. “But part of my defense was it was just a chaotic place and (jail operator Corrections Corporation of America) certainly wasn’t taking care of and running the place properly. I was trying to show that what happened was a direct result of CCA’s negligent maintenance.”

September 7, 2005 News Herald
Kevin Nix and Kathy Baucum share the same nightmare. Nix is one of three men convicted of falsely holding three jail nurses, including Baucum, against their will in a September 2004 takeover of the third floor of the Bay County Jail. The inmates were convicted last week of false imprisonment.
On Tuesday, Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet sentenced Nix, 29, and co-defendants Matthew Coffin, 20, and James Norton, 32, to 15 years in prison each, to begin after their current prison sentences expire. That basically means that Norton will spend the next 16 years in prison, Nix 28 years, and Coffin 24.

September 2, 2005 News Herald
Three Bay County Jail inmates who held nurses prisoner last September during a jail takeover were acquitted Thursday of the most serious charges against them. Jurors acquitted Kevin Nix, James Norton and Matthew Coffin of kidnapping, aggravated assault and escape. Instead, they each were convicted of three counts of false imprisonment. In addition, Nix was convicted of attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and Norton of simple assault. The three were facing up to life in prison on the kidnapping charges, but could now see greatly reduced time. False imprisonment is a third-degree felony punishable by five years in prison.  Specifically, Nix, 29, Norton, 32, and Coffin, 20, were convicted of illegally holding jail nurses Glenda Baker, Kathy Baucum and Amie Hunt against their wills during a 12-hour standoff with deputies Sept. 5 and 6. They were acquitted of any charges involving former jail guard James Hall, who was kept in a cell for two hours before being released in exchange for pizzas and cigarettes.

September 1, 2005 News Herald
A September standoff at the Bay County Jail ended in gunshots, but testimony in the case ended on Wednesday without the smoking gun. Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet ruled that testimony about gunshots from a hostage negotiator and SWAT team that wounded an inmate and a hostage were irrelevant to the charges against Matthew Coffin, Kevin Nix and James Norton. The three men began trial this week on charges of kidnapping, escape and aggravated assault. They are accused of participating in a takeover of the jail’s third floor on Sept. 5 and 6 and face life in prison if convicted as charged. Ann Marie “Amie” Hunt told jurors that the takeover went from a kind of “nutty” situation to a dangerous one as the night progressed.  “At the very beginning,” she said, choosing her words carefully, “they were a little nutty. They just wanted to find a way out. They were as polite as they could be for the situation we were in.” Then, Hunt said, the inmates broke into the drug storage lockers and began ingesting narcotics. As the night progressed, she said, Nix became agitated with nurse Glenda Baker’s praying. Another nurse, Kathy Baucum, said Baker was constantly praying and also “speaking in tongues.” When it came time to offer a hostage in return for pizza and cigarettes, Nix insisted Baker go because she was “freaking him out,” Hunt said. Hunt said an inmate told her she might end up as “collateral damage” when officers stormed the jail. The standoff ended, Hunt said, when she was brought before a barred gate at the end of a hall. Nix, she said, was standing behind her with a scalpel to her throat. “I don’t know who shot me,” she said. “He was just a figure, a person standing there, then, boom. I looked down, and I got shot. Then, boom, and I got shot again.”
One bullet shattered her knee, an injury that incapacitated her for months. Hunt was able to walk into court and take the witness stand with the help of a cane.

August 27, 2005 News Herald
Kevin Winslett got a mistrial. Kevin Nix stuck a pen up his nose. The first day of trial for four men accused of taking hostages in a jail standoff in September got off to an interesting start Tuesday. Testimony in the trial of the remaining three defendants will resume today. Winslett, Nix, James Norton and Matthew Coffin began trial on charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault and escape. They are accused of holding four people hostage during an attempted escape Sept. 5 and 6 at the Bay County Jail. The standoff ended with gunfire that wounded two of the men and a jail nurse. All four face up to life in prison if convicted as charged. The first prosecution witness Tuesday was James Hall, a former jail guard and one of the four allegedly held hostage. He said he was the only guard working the jail’s third floor the night of Sept. 5, with 80 inmates to watch. Hall said he opened a cell during “pill call,” when medications are dispensed, to check on an inmate who did not respond to him. Hall said while he was in the cell, he was hit twice from behind and knocked to the ground. Initially in his testimony, Hall said it was Norton who hit him. Hall changed that later and said he did not know who hit him, only that Norton was the closest to him when he looked up from the ground. Hall said he first told jail administrators that he had been knocked unconscious and during that time his keys and radio were taken. Months later, when being interviewed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, he changed that, saying he was not unconscious but told jail officials that to try to save his job. Hall also said inmates ripped his uniform shirt before releasing him to make it look like he had put up a struggle. Hall was fired from the jail for several policy violations stemming from the incident on the third floor. Former jail nurse Glenda Baker told jurors she was working her first full day at the jail on Sept. 5. Baker said she never actually was threatened during the incident but felt threatened. “You said you felt like you couldn’t leave,” Chris Patterson said to Baker during cross-examination. “Did you ever ask?” Baker thought about it for a minute and said, “I don’t remember.” Prosecutors decided to try the four together, a rare strategy, that made for extraordinary security as well as legal complications. Tuesday morning began with prosecutor Quentin Broxton’s opening statement. He described the takeover as an elaborate escape attempt that backfired. Winslett’s attorney, Doug White, then began to lay out his defense for jurors. He said this would be a case of perspective in which jurors may have a hard time understanding the thinking of those behind bars. “If we’ve never been jailed, can we still understand the context of a prisoner?” White asked. “Can a deaf person appreciate a classic symphony?” Fellow defense attorney Nancy Jones told jurors in her opening statement that conditions at the jail were “horrible” and “horrendous.” “Conditions in that jail were so bad they made one’s toes curl,” she said. White said the four men’s actions on Sept. 5 were to bring attention to jail conditions, but were not well thought out. “These four young men acted out in ways that were not brilliant,” he said. “They were not smart. And in some cases, they were downright dumb.” White then said that Winslett’s conception of reality also may be skewed by a diagnosed mental disorder. Prosecutor Bill Lewis objected. The defense lawyers, prosecutors and Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet left the room to discuss the objection. A part of White’s defense was that Winslett has a “mental defect” that would affect his ability to form the necessary intent to have committed the crimes. White denied that it was an insanity defense and refrained from calling it a “mental health” defense. Lewis argued that any mental health defense requires a notice to the prosecution that would give the state an opportunity to prepare witnesses and have the defendant evaluated. White argued that a notice was required only if he was pursuing an insanity defense. Overstreet found that a notice was required in this case and prevented White from pursuing that aspect of his defense. White asked for — and Overstreet granted him — a mistrial so White can file his notice and prepare for another trial. While the lawyers and judge were out of the room discussing Winslett’s case, Nix, who was one of the defendants sitting closest to the jury, started playing with a blue Sharpie felt-tip pen. He took off the cap, sniffed the tip, put the tip in his mouth and chewed on it, then spit a piece of it onto the table. He then put the tip up his nose. When Nix’s lawyer, Mike Hunter, returned to the courtroom, he found Nix with blue lines on his nose, lips and hands. Hunter asked for a continuance, saying he needed to have his client evaluated for his mental competency to continue. Hunter said Nix told him that in times of stress, fear or anger Nix “loses time” or blanks out. Hunter said Nix did not know what he had done in court. Overstreet asked two psychologists to interview Nix from noon to 2:30 p.m. to give their best assessment of his mental ability to continue with the trial. Nix then was found competent to proceed. “Putting a pen up your nose isn’t really consistent with a mental disorder,” Dr. David Smith told Overstreet.

August 18, 2005 News Herald
Less than eight months after taking over as warden, the head of the Bay County Jail has resigned, according to a Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Wednesday. Kevin Watson submitted a letter to CCA officials Tuesday requesting a demotion and transfer for “personal reasons,” said Steve Owens, spokesman for the Nashville-based company contracted by the county to manage the downtown jail and annex. Watson’s resignation came the same day CCA fired John Rochefort from his position as an assistant warden for violating CCA policies, Owens said. Owens and Jennifer Taylor, CCA’s senior director for business development, said Watson’s decision to step down and Rochefort’s termination are not related. Taylor said Watson flew to Nashville on Tuesday to deliver a letter to CCA officials requesting the change of position. CCA has not determined what position Watson will fill with the company and he has taken an indefinite leave of absence, she said. Roger Hagen, the contract monitor for Bay County, said Wednesday that Rochefort was terminated for “performancerelated issues.” Hagen said he was aware Watson had requested vacation time and may not return as warden. Both facilities have been subject to increased scrutiny in recent weeks because of a foiled escape attempt by a suspected cop killer from the downtown jail and a sex scandal at the annex involving a prison guard, a nurse and an inmate.

August 11, 2005 WNYT
A man awaiting trial on charges stemming from the September hostage-taking at the Bay County Jail faces new charges after guards said he tried to smuggle a razor blade into the jail. The Bay County Sheriff’s Office charged 32-year-old James Richard Norton with introduction of contraband into a detention facility Wednesday.

August 10, 2005 News Herald
Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigators and jail officials are trying to determine how an accused cop killer came within a few days of escaping from the sixth floor of the county’s downtown jail. Robert Bailey, 23, of Milwaukee, Wis., is accused of attempted escape and introduction of contraband to a detention facility after jail guards and Sheriff’s Office investigators searched his cell Monday evening and found hacksaw blades and evidence that Bailey was trying to cut his way out of the cell’s windows, according to a Sheriff’s Office report. The search of Bailey’s jail cell came after U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents contacted the Sheriff’s Office on Monday afternoon to report they had learned during an investigation that Bailey was planning a jailbreak, said Capt. Jimmy Stanford, head of the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division.  After pulling Bailey from his cell, located in a maximum security pod on the jail’s sixth floor, investigators said they discovered about seven hacksaw blades in the toilet, hidden under Bailey’s bed and stashed in a cutout and patched section of the ceiling. Investigators also reported finding bolts sliced in metal grates covering windows and cuts in a metal divider between the two windows. The grates placed over the 6-inch-wide Plexiglas windows are bolted into the window frame at the bottom and top. The top bolts had not been sawed through, investigators said. With Bailey remaining behind bars, investigators and jail officials are turning their attention to how the inmate was able to obtain the hacksaw blades and how his planned escape attempt went unnoticed, Stanford said.
Because Bailey’s status as a “high-risk” inmate prevented him from having direct contact with visitors, investigators have not ruled out that a guard or fellow inmate may have supplied Bailey with the hacksaw blades, Stanford said.

July 20, 2005 News Herald
Four men accused of taking hostages in a Bay County Jail standoff last year have been scheduled for trial the last week of August.  It is unlikely, however, that the four will be tried together.  James Norton, Kevin Winslett, Matthew Coffin and Kevin Nix are accused of holding nurses hostage during a jail standoff Sept. 5 and 6. All four are facing kidnapping charges that could land them in prison for life.

July 18, 2005 News Herald
A married jail nurse was arrested late Saturday and accused of having sex with a female inmate on an examining table in the Bay County Jail annex, leading to a felony count that was vehemently denied Sunday by the man's wife. Authorities charged Christopher Michael Byrd, 33, with sexual misconduct between a detention facility employee and an inmate, a third-degree felony that could land the licensed practicing nurse in jail for five years. According to a Bay County Sheriff's Office arrest affidavit: Byrd asked a guard to release a female inmate to the medical unit sometime Saturday night. Byrd told the guard that he had permission from a supervisor to allow the inmate to walk to the medical pod without a runner. In jail lingo, a "runner" is an escort generally used to accompany inmates between units in a facility. Once the woman arrived in the medical unit, Byrd told her to go to an examination room. Inside, they began canoodling before the woman dropped her pants and the pair had sex on a table. It is unclear how authorities discovered the alleged intercourse. The charge against Byrd is part of a state law passed four years ago. Legislators passed in 2001 the "Protection Against Sexual Violence in Florida Jails and Prisons Act" as a measure to prevent misconduct between jailers and inmates in detention facilities. The act contains a provision that says consent cannot be used as a defense during prosecution.

June 16, 2005 AP
A state investigation has confirmed that a Bay County Jail inmate committed suicide in a shower room and found no evidence officials or other prisoners knew he planned to kill himself. A summary of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the April 5 death of James T. Sly Jr., 35, of nearby Springfield, was released Wednesday. Sly was found hanging by a bedsheet from a shower head. The summary does not address whether guards followed proper procedures before the death. A May report from Bay County's jail contract monitor alleged that a jailer included Sly in midnight head count without actually seeing him, assuming the inmate was there because water could be heard running in the shower. Company officials said they are waiting to review the full state investigation report before commenting on county allegation or the guard's status.

May 20, 2005 News Herald
Corrections Corporation of America officials remain silent about a report issued by the county’s jail program manager stating a corrections officer did not properly account for an inmate later found dead from an apparent suicide. However, the family of James T. Sly Jr. has not stopped demanding answers from the company contracted to oversee the Bay County Jail. They want to know why the 35-year-old jail inmate was able to hang himself while under the control of CCA. According to a recently released report by Bay County’s contract monitor, Roger Hagen, a jail guard identified as J. Harris "counted" James Sly as part of a midnight shift head count without seeing the inmate. The report states the guard "assumed" James Sly was in the shower because the shower water was running. Harris failed to follow CCA’s policy that requires guards to only count an inmate after seeing the person’s "living, breathing flesh," according to Hagen. Hagen’s report conflicts with previous statements made by the jail’s warden, Kevin Watson, who in April told The News Herald that a preliminary investigation suggested that no CCA policies or procedures were violated concerning James Sly’s death. Watson also said no CCA employees had been reprimanded because of the incident.
In his report, Hagen called on CCA to "take appropriate disciplinary action" against the officer and "provide special training for all officers" on the counting procedures. On Thursday, Watson declined to comment further on James Sly’s death pending the outcome of the FDLE investigation. He also declined to comment on Harris’ status with CCA. A report from the FDLE is expected to be completed within the next two weeks.

May 17, 2005 News Herald
The correctional officer responsible for checking on inmate James T. Sly during the early morning shift on April 5 was supposed to see him "in the flesh." He did not, and that night Sly apparently hanged himself in the inmate showers. The death is still being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. However, an incident review by Roger Hagen, Bay County’s correctional program manager, found that the Corrections Corporation of America policies were not followed on the night Sly died. The fact Officer J. Harris did not physically see Sly when he was doing rounds is a violation of CCA’s policy "Count Principles and Procedures," Hagen says in the report, which was forwarded to the County Commission May 10. That finding counters Warden Kevin Watson’s preliminary investigation last month, which suggested that all CCA policies or procedures were followed on the night Sly died.

April 22, 2005 News-Herald
The Florida Ethics Commission found former Bay County commissioner Danny Sparks in violation of a gifts law Thursday. On terms he agreed to, he will pay a $1,000 civil penalty and admit fault. Kerrie Stillman, assistant to the executive director of the Ethics Commission, said that an attorney for Sparks met with an Ethics Commission advocate and they both approved a settlement agreement. This includes paying $1,000 "with public censure and reprimand." The ethics board will submit a final order of the case to the governor’s office on Tuesday. Gov. Jeb Bush will review it and issue an executive order stating the findings. He has the authority to impose the fine, Stillman said. Sparks, contacted at home Thursday, said he was unaware of any settlement or ruling regarding his case. He said he wouldn’t comment on it, anyway. Sparks is accused of breaching Florida ethics law during a trip he and other county officials took in February 2000 to Tennessee to visit a jail run by Corrections Corporation of America, which also operates Bay County’s jail and annex. He participated with others in a round of golf — valued at $240 per person — paid for by county financial adviser Gary Akers. Florida ethics laws prohibit public officials and employees from accepting any gift worth $100 or more from a lobbyist. In July 2003, the Florida Police Benevolent Association filed complaints with the Ethics Commission against Sparks and two other former county commissioners, Carol Atkinson and Richard Stewart, as well as former county manager Jon Mantay, former county attorney Nevin Zimmerman, and Bob Majka, county emergency services director. Public hearings on the charges would have been held if Sparks didn’t settle his case. His ethics violation admission frees the county from paying his attorney fees, said Commission Chairman George Gainer. In March, the County Commission agreed to pay for the fees of all parties being investigated for ethics complaints if they were eventually exonerated. Sparks’ case is the only to be resolved to date.

April 13, 2005 News Herald
A week after apparently hanging himself in a Bay County Jail shower, James T. Sly was laid to rest Tuesday in a Panama City cemetery. Special agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have not released the results of their investigation into the death of the 35-year-old Springfield man, said FDLE spokeswoman Lisa Lagergren. Sly, a father of six children, was found dead in a fifth-floor shower room early April 5 by corrections officers, according to jail officials. Jail officials said because of Sly’s suicidal tendencies at the time of his arrest, he was placed in an observation unit of the jail and interviewed at least five times by a mental health counselor. Jail officials said counselors in February approved Sly’s move into a general population pod where he continued to receive treatment. Jail officials said Sly did not display signs that he wanted to hurt himself and guards had no reason to believe something was wrong when Sly requested to take a shower at about 2 a.m. on April 5.

April 9, 2005 News-Herald
A Bay County Jail corrections officer faces battery charges following an investigation into a fight between the guard and an inmate earlier this week.  Corrections Corporation of America fired Grant Cox, 35, of Panama City on Friday following an internal investigation of a Wednesday evening melee involving Cox and 19-year-old Skylar Jones, said Warden Kevin Watson. The incident occurred moments after a jury announced it could not reach a verdict in Jones’ attempted first-degree murder trial. Watson said Cox violated Tennessee-based CCA’s policy by striking Jones during a "verbal altercation" in the jail’s elevator. Watson said Cox allowed the inmate to "push his buttons." "That was certainly not the right thing to do," Watson said. Jones said the two men exchanged profanities in the elevator and said the argument became so heated that Cox grabbed him by the throat and threw him to the ground. He would not provide details on the argument.
"He put his knee into my chest and said he was going to" hurt me, Jones said. Jones said he was not handcuffed at the time. Jones said Cox got off of him when the elevator doors opened but rushed at him as Jones started walking out of the elevator. Jones said the guard knocked him into the trash can. Three other CCA guards noticed the fight and rushed to assist Cox, Jones said. After his termination, Cox was cited on the misdemeanor charge and released without posting bond.

April 5, 2005 News-Herald
About three months after police thwarted a Springfield man’s attempt to kill himself on the DuPont Bridge, the 35-year-old was found dead inside the Bay County Jail on Tuesday morning. Jail officials said James T. Sly hanged himself at about 2:40 a.m. in the shower room of his fifth floor housing unit. Because of the attempt to kill himself in January, Sly originally was placed in an observation unit of the jail and interviewed at least five times by a mental heath counselor, Thore said. About a month later, Sly was allowed to move into a general population pod on the fifth floor of the downtown jail and continued to receive treatment, Thore said. At about 2 a.m. on Tuesday, guards conducting a head count listed Sly as being in the housing unit’s shower area, Thore said. When guards returned about 30 minutes later to conduct another count, Sly’s cellmate said Sly still was in the shower, Thore said.

March 14, 2005 News-Herald
You can turn a Styrofoam cup inside out and still drink from it. Several years ago, an inmate at the Bay County Jail asked then-corrections officer Kevin Watson if he was aware of this interesting fact.  "I said something like I didn’t think he could do it, but he took that cup he had and carefully worked it with his hands until it was turned inside out," Watson said. Having successfully completed the task, the inmate asked Watson: "Do you know what the moral of this story is?" "What’s that?" Watson responded. I have nothing but time," the inmate said. That is just one of many lessons Watson said he has used to guide him through 18 years in corrections and his first three months as the Bay County Jail’s warden. "He was right," Watson said of the inmate’s message. "These guys have nothing but time." During a recent interview with The News Herald, Watson explained how he has wasted little time making his mark on the aging facility and a staff trying to recover from repeated criticism by the press and the community. The newest warden for Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America’s Bay County facility has literally "cleaned house" since taking over the reigns from former Warden Denny Durbin.

March 2, 2005 News Herald
Bay County will reimburse former county officials for attorney’s fees paid to defend themselves against investigations of ethics violations.  On Tuesday, the Bay County Commission voted 5-0 in favor of reimbursing five people: former Commissioners Carol Atkinson, Richard Stewart and Danny Sparks; former County Manager Jon Mantay; and former County Attorney Nevin Zimmerman.  Commission Chairman George Gainer emphasized that the board will reimburse only the fees that pertain to the officials’ defense of taking a trip to Nashville, Tenn., in February 2000 to tour a jail operated by Corrections Corporation of America. The reimbursements also are contingent on the former county officials’ exoneration.  During the trip, at least one of the county officials, former Commissioner Danny Sparks, played a $240 round of golf paid for by county financial adviser Gary Akers.  CCA paid for county officials’ flights to Nashville, which The Florida Commission on Ethics found problem- atic because the county should have footed the initial expense for the trip, said county attorney Mike Burke. It would have been permissible, he said, for the county to collect reimbursement from CCA afterward.  Bay County was negotiating a contract renewal with CCA at the time. The Florida Police Benevolent Association, a union representing police and correctional officers, filed the ethics complaints.  The golf game was not part of PBA’s original complaint. Instead, the complaint was limited to allegations that CCA paid the officials’ travel, lodging and meal expenses for the trip.  Florida law prohibits public officials from accepting any gift with a value of more than $100 from a "lobbyist." In August 2004, Atkinson was cleared of the charges, so her $1,085 in legal expenses is guaranteed reimbursement. Burke said she proved that she was unaware CCA, not the county, was paying for the Nashville trip.

February 24, 2005 News Herald
Bay County Jail officials ordered last weekend the installation of exterior, sliding-bolt locks on transport van doors to prevent escape attempts by inmates, said the jail’s warden.
The new locks come after an inmate broke out of a Corrections Corporation of America transport van Friday afternoon, resulting in an 18-hour manhunt. On Friday, 18-year-old Jeremy D. Aultman of Panama City Beach manipulated the CCA van’s door-locking mechanism through the interior paneling, CCA officials said. Aultman then escaped from the van that was transporting 13 inmates to the Bay County Jail Annex, CCA officials said.   Along with new locks, maintenance crews placed a steel plate over the interior passenger-door panels of the transport van that Aultman escaped from, Watson said. Watson said steel plates already were in place on other CCA vans. Watson on Tuesday defended the actions of his transport driver, who prisoners said failed to notice Aultman trying to escape and then ran from the vehicle to catch Aultman, according to police reports. Watson said Tyndal followed CCA policies and has not been disciplined. Tyndal climbed out of the van to chase Aultman but gave up and returned to the van, according to the reports. Though none of the 12 remaining inmates joined Aultman in trying to flee, some reported to police that they had ample opportunity. Inmate Ryan Meadows and Stanford W. Ferguson sat behind Aultman during the transport from the main jail to Bayou George, according to CCA incident reports. "Tyndal jumped out of the van, leaving his door and our door wide open — keys still in the van," Meadows stated in the incident report. Ferguson concurred Meadows’ report that Tyndal chased Aultman without securing the van’s doors. Meadows added that when Tyndal came back to the van, the guard took the inmates on a "high-speed" chase through the nearby residential area called The Cove. Friday’s escape attempt occurred about five months after four inmates at the main jail escaped from their cells and held CCA employees hostage. A faulty cell door lock received part of the blame for allowing the uprising, according to a state investigation.

February 24, 2005 News Herald
Former Bay County Commissioner Danny Sparks has entered into a "joint stipulation" with an advocate for the Florida Commission on Ethics in which Sparks admits he violated state law when he accepted a $240 round of golf paid for by the county’s financial adviser.  The Ethics Commission must approve the stipulation, which it will consider at its April 21 meeting.  The Florida Police Benevolent Association, a union representing police and correctional officers, filed ethics complaints against Sparks and five other former and current county officials in July 2003. The complaints targeted a February 2000 trip the officials took to Tennessee to visit a jail operated by Corrections Corporation of America, which also operates Bay County’s jail and jail annex. As a second leg of the trip, the officials traveled to Arizona to view a publicly run jail. Bay County was negotiating a contract renewal with CCA at the time.  The PBA also filed complaints, each with multiple allegations, against former Commissioners Carol Atkinson and Richard Stewart, former County Manager Jon Mantay, former county attorney Nevin Zimmerman, and county Emergency Services Chief Bob Majka.  The Ethics Commission issued probable-cause findings against all but Atkinson. All allegations against her were dismissed. Spark’s stipulation with the commission advocate includes a recommendation that he be fined $1,000 and that he be publicly censured and reprimanded. The public censure and reprimand would occur as part of an executive order by the governor. The $240 golf game, which was played during the trip, was paid for by Gary Akers, a financial consultant that assists the county with bond issues. Florida law prohibits public officials from accepting any gift with a value of more than $100 from a "lobbyist." Ken Kopczynski, PBA’s legislative assistant, said Ethics Commission investigators found out about the golf game as part of their review of the PBA’s complaint. The Ethics Commission dismissed allegations against Sparks related to CCA’s paying his travel expenses. The commission based the dismissal on its determination that Sparks was not aware that CCA was paying for the trip. The dismissal of the allegations against former Commissioner Atkinson was based on the same determination. In its probable cause findings issued in September, the Ethics Commission found: That Majka, Mantay and Zimmerman may have violated state gift laws by allowing CCA to pay their travel expenses. That Majka and Stewart, in addition to Sparks, may have violated gift laws by accepting rounds of golf from Akers. The commission dismissed the most serious allegations — that the officials accepted the gifts with knowledge that they were intended to influence future votes or decisions. Kopczynski said Wednesday that he believes the stipulation with Sparks is "reasonable." But he noted that allegations related to CCA would not be addressed until the other officials enter into stipulations or settlements or take their cases to hearing. Kopczynski’s organization, the Police Benevolent Association, opposes privately operated prisons and jails.

February 22, 2005 News Herald
Will Rogers famously said that if you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. Corrections Corporation of America would do well to heed his advice. Last summer’s takeover and hostage situation brought scrutiny to CCA, the following investigations and News Herald reports exposed gaps in security. CCA went into damage control mode. Now that Bay County is talking about building an expansion to the existing jail annex for maximum-security inmates, nearby residents are worried — and rightly so ("Jail plans hit home," Feb. 21). Even as Ryan Burr was writing the story about residents’ fears, an inmate escaped from a van transporting prisoners to the facility from downtown. Residents raise these kinds of fears any time a new prison or jail is planned. "Not in my back yard" is a common refrain no matter how safe a facility is. Most of them are, in fact, safe as can be and the fears turn out to be all hype. This time, though, residents do have something to be worried about: a corporation which has, time and time again, proven itself to be incompetent and possibly dangerous to its prisoners and workers. According to the state of Florida, 109 prisoners escaped from the Florida Department of Corrections in the fiscal year beginning July 2003. But almost every single one came from a work release program — in other words, they only had to walk away. Inmates who escape these programs are non-violent and pose little threat to the communities around them. Only three actually escaped from the custody of correctional facilities. Since September, five prisoners have escaped their cells at CCA facilities in Bay County — more than other correctional facilities in the entire previous year in the entire state of Florida. That’s not the kind of record that inspires confidence. It’s more important for the county to ensure that CCA establishes a normal level of security than it is to build new facilities or shuffle prisoners from one jail to another. CCA is steadily losing the trust of Bay County citizens by failing again and again to meet security requirements. If CCA didn’t learn its lesson from the events of September, it’s unlikely that one more escape will drive the point home. First things first: Bay County needs to follow through on its plan to accept bids for the jail contract and decide who could do the job best — even if that means giving CCA the boot. A maximum-security jail doesn’t need to be a dangerous place for nearby residents. Normal jails don’t have escapes every year, or even every few years. It’s only because of CCA’s lax security that residents have to worry. Once the jails have a real measure of security, a maximum-security jail near residences might make sense. Until then, the NIMBY folks have a point — with CCA in charge, no one would want a jail in their back yard.

February 21, 2005 News Herald
When Dana Knight awoke one morning in 1997 to find bloody handprints on a rented U-Haul truck and the driver’s window busted out, she didn’t have to think long about possible culprits. Living near the Bay County Jail Annex on Nehi Road, she understands there is a risk of escapees coming onto her property. That is what happened in July 1997. Four inmates — three with previous charges of murder or attempted murder — broke out of the jail annex. When one of them could not jumpstart Knight’s U-Haul, the group went to another residence and stole a vehicle, Knight said. Within about two days, all of the inmates were apprehended. Knight and her husband, Dan, have two children, ages 6 and 11. The couple used to live near the main Bay County Jail in downtown Panama City, which keeps the most serious criminals in maximum security. "I don’t think the CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) has done their job," she said, referencing an inmate takeover on Sept. 5 and 6 at the downtown jail. Four men were arrested in that incident and face kidnapping charges. CCA operates both facilities.

February 20, 2005 News Herald
A 23-year-old Bay County Jail inmate faces a charge of introducing contraband into a corrections facility after he told a guard he was hiding money in his rectum, according to a jail investigation report.
Chris Eckman of Panama City informed a jail guard Friday evening of a $100 bill hidden in his body, according to the report. The report does not explain the reason Eckman possessed the cash. Eckman is awaiting trial on charges of smuggling drugs into the jail , according to court records. Eckman was convicted of burglary and grand theft in 2001 and placed on probation, according to court records. In 2002, he was arrested for violating probation and in 2004 was found possessing methamphetamine and Ecstasy inside the jail , according to court records.

February 20, 2005 News Herald
Police captured and returned to jail a Panama City Beach man on Saturday, a day after he escaped from a transport van.   Panama City police found Jeremy D. Aultman, 18, at about 7 a.m., walking through a residential area about a block from where he escaped, according to police reports.
Aultman became the subject of a manhunt Friday afternoon when he unlocked the transport van’s door from the inside and ran from the vehicle as it waited on a traffic signal. Thore said Aultman was en route to the Bay County Jail Annex in Bayou George with 12 other inmates when he escaped. Thore said Correction Corporation of America , the Tennessee company that manages the jail for Bay County , continues to investigate the incident.

February 19, 2005 News Herald
A Panama City Beach teen remained on the run Friday night after escaping from a Bay County Jail transport van Friday afternoon, a jail official said. Assistant Warden Richard Thore said police continued to search for accused felon Jeremy Daniel Aultman, 18, of 229 E. Lakeshore Drive. Thore said the search began at about 1:30 p.m. after a Corrections Corporation of America transport van driver reported that an inmate escaped from the van. The CCA driver was transporting 13 inmates from the downtown jail to the CCA jail annex in Bayou George, he said. CCA manages the jail , the jail annex and the Bay Correctional Facility. The CCA van was stopped at the intersection of U.S. Business 98 and Cove Boulevard, when Aultman tripped a locking mechanism, pulled the van door open and fled south, Thore said. The 12 other inmates remained in the van, he said.

February 5, 2005 News Herald
Police arrested a Bay County Jail corrections officer on multiple drug charges while on his way to work Friday afternoon, according to a Bay County Sheriff’s Office news release.  Jamie Bishop, 29, of the 5200 block of State 22A, faces charges of selling cocaine, possession of cocaine, possession of steroids, possession of Xanax, possession of drug paraphernalia and sale of a controlled substance, according to the news release. Bishop was taken to the Bay County Jail and held pending bond.

January 24, 2005 News Herald
Former jail nurse Ann Marie "Amie" Hunt was a bundle of emotions Friday as she talked about the night she almost died during an inmate standoff at the Bay County Jail. Hunt was shot three times the morning of Sept. 6 after a 12-hour standoff between four inmates and Bay County deputies. Bullets entered her hip, back and left leg, damaging bones and vital organs. Hunt, who was unable to stop herself from crying through much of the interview and showed flashes of deep anger, said she has hired a lawyer to explore the incident, the way it was handled and how it has been investigated by the different agencies involved.  She declined to go into too much detail about the night of Sept. 5 and morning of Sept. 6, but did say she never felt like her life was in danger during the standoff.  Investigators said four hostages gained control of a third-floor holding cell, including the nurses’ station and prescription drug cabinet. Through the standoff, the inmates released all the hostages but Hunt.
Her husband, James Hunt, is still employed by Corrections Corporation of America, the jail’s owner. He said he’s on the payroll but is allowed to stay home and care for his wife.

January 1, 2005 News Herald
On the evening of Sept. 5, four inmates at the Bay County Jail broke free from their third-floor cells, subdued a guard and took four people hostage. The standoff ended 12 hours later in a hail of gunfire that injured a hostage and two inmates.  Three months later, the incident continues to brew. A guard has been fired and the warden replaced while three deputies who opened fire have been cleared by prosecutors and investigators. But many questions remain: Did jail supervisors fail to fix broken door locks? Did a guard fail to secure the inmates’ cells? Does the county need to rethink its relationship with Corrections Corporation of America, the Tennessee company hired to run the jail and annex?  The Bay County Commission could answer the last question in the coming year, as it decides whether to put the jail operations contract — which CCA has held for nearly 20 years — out for bid.

December 30, 2004 News Herald
Like anything else, a jail is as secure as its weakest link. And as Anthony Cormier’s Wednesday article "County report addresses issues in jail incident" described the findings of Bay County’s contract monitor, any weak link can become the weakest under the right circumstance. Therefore, contract monitor Roger Hagen’s report on the September hostage incident should not be reviewed as just another attempt to get to the bottom of the inmate takeover. Investigative authorities have done that, tracing the immediate spark to an apparently manipulable guard whom Corrections Corporation of America has since dismissed. To some extent, CCA preempted Hagen’s report by also reassigning the jail warden. Clearly, too much was amiss to blame just a wayward guard. Supervisors rarely checked duty logs, Hagen found. And when they did, it apparently wasn’t to look for weak links — a broken key and a missing flashlight repeatedly were documented, for example, to no avail. CCA should correct notated security related maintenance issues within 24 hours, Hagen said, reasonably. The new warden’s biggest challenge will be to persuade jail staff that CCA really wants to start doing things right. Alas, from Hagen’s report, that’s a tall order. Hagen depicted a culture in which employees feared retaliation by management if they made supervisors "aware of any problems, staff errors or performance deficiencies." In other words, the culture outside the cells seemed little different from the culture that prevailed behind bars. We agree with Hagen that CCA needs to refute what he calls a "correctional code of silence." Do it by calling employees together, or in writing, but do it. If employees don’t believe that CCA means business, their business becomes to create even more weak links, not fix them.

December 30, 2004 News Herald
A man who says he was in the Bay County Jail in September when four other inmates took hostages on the third floor has sued the jail’s corporate owner in federal court. Richard Lewis Bell Sr. of Ellenwood, Ga., filed suit Nov. 8 against Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America seeking $100,000 for reckless endangerment, "cruel and harsh treatment," "mental stress," failing to maintain a maximum security area, and failing to comply with the state "no smoking" law. Bell stated in a handwritten complaint that he went through "living hell" during and after a Sept. 5 takeover of the third floor. He stated that after deputies stormed the cellblock and shot two alleged hostage-takers and a nurse, the jail’s guards "went total nuts." Bell wrote that he and other inmates who were not involved in the takeover were thrown to the floor and grabbed by the hair. He stated that in the days that followed, two-man cells were filled with four inmates each, and the inmates were fed once every 24 hours.

December 29, 2004 News Herald
Bay County Jail managers were not regularly reviewing duty and maintenance logs in the weeks before September’s inmate takeover and failed to address issues — including a faulty cell door — that precipitated the standoff, according to a county review obtained by The News Herald. An Unusual Incident Review, completed last week by Bay County’s jail contract monitor, Roger Hagen, offers a chronology of the takeover and 10 corrective actions for Corrections Corporation of America supervisors. Among the recommendations are disciplinary action for a third-floor guard — who two weeks ago was fired — and a more thorough review by managers of daily logs compiled by jail staff.
In the county’s review, Hagen found that Officer James Hall was "less than truthful with law enforcement" when he recanted portions of his story during interviews with police. Hall repeatedly told Sheriff’s Office investigators that he was scared to work on the third floor of the downtown facility and acknowledged violating numerous CCA policies because he knew supervisors rarely checked duty logs. Hagen’s review seems to second that notion. "When reviewing this documentation, for a 2-4 week time period prior to the incident," Hagen wrote, "it was apparent that managers or supervisors are either not regularly reviewing the logs or if they are, they are not addressing the issues they document. As an example, a broken key and a missing flashlight were repetitively documented by different shift floor officers in the third floor post duty log for the entire time frame I reviewed." The logs show a history of maintenance problems on the third floor, including reports of broken locks that went unfixed at least two weeks before the takeover, according to a November examination by The News Herald. State agents confirmed the newspaper’s examination in an Florida Department of Law Enforcement report, in which guards, nurses and inmates all claimed that the door to cell C-1 easily could be defeated. Perhaps a more pressing issue cited in the review is a "correctional code of silence," which keeps staff from reporting problems for fear of retribution. "Most of the staff I had discussions with," he wrote, "were concerned about being identified if they shared issues or concerns with me."

December 19, 2004 News Herald
The Tennessee company that operates the Bay County Jail fired a corrections officer Friday, three months after inmates held him hostage during a 12-hour standoff with police. Corrections Corporation of America terminated James C. Hall of Lynn Haven for violations of CCA policy, according to Kevin Watson, Bay County Jail warden.
Watson declined to comment on specific violations Hall committed. He confirmed that Hall’s violations were related to the escape of inmates from their cells in September. Hall, 26, had been on administrative leave since Sept. 6 pending police and CCA investigations into the jail break that resulted in four inmates escaping from their cells and taking Hall and three nurses hostage. According to an Florida Department of Law Enforcement report on the hostage-taking incident, Hall admitted during an interview with law enforcement agents that he allowed inmates to shut themselves into their cells and falsified shift logs relating to inmates’ time in the jail’s third-floor day room. The inmates, nurses and Hall told investigators that inmates were able to escape from their cells because of faulty locks on cell doors, something they said was common knowledge in the jail, according to the FDLE report. Inmates also told investigators they decided to start the incident because of inhumane living conditions at the jail, including insufficient medical care, physical and mental abuse by guards and low-quality food, according to the FDLE report.

December 16, 2004 News-Herald
The Tennessee company that runs the Bay County Jail is "switching out wardens" less than a week after the release of a state report detailing personnel failures and maintenance problems that spurred September’s inmate takeover. Despite the timing, Corrections Corporation of America officials insist that the move — current Warden Denny Durbin is out; longtime CCA administrator Kevin Watson is in — has nothing to do with the 12-hour siege and torrent of scrutiny that followed.
The Sept. 5 standoff, which ended in gunfire on the third floor of the downtown facility, left one hostage and two inmates with bullet wounds. But the FDLE also confirmed a News Herald investigation of equipment failures on the jail’s third floor, where shift logs and maintenance records show a history of broken locks in the segregation unit. One of the accused inmates slipped from one of the cells at the start of the takeover, and FDLE interviews indicate that the maintenance problems were repeatedly reported to jail supervisors. One of the hostages told agents, according to an interview transcript, that Durbin and security chief Chuck Bellows were aware of the broken locks before the takeover. Also, the lone guard working on the third floor told investigators that he routinely falsified shift logs, broke company policy regarding the number of inmates allowed out of their cells and allowed prisoners to lock their own cells the night of the siege.

December 9, 2004 News-Herald
So, it all started months before, with a jail cell lock that didn’t work. It ended, of course, when a Sheriff’s Office SWAT team terminated with bullets a tense 12-hour hostage standoff. In between, from May to September, the broken lock repeatedly was brought to Corrections Corporation of America’s attention by guards and other jail personnel. It repeatedly got fixed but never for very long. It apparently didn’t work for almost two weeks before the Sept. 5 blowup. The last guard who brought it to CCA’s attention did so indirectly, by being knocked to the floor by inmates leaving the cellblock to raise havoc. The ensuing bloody confrontation involving inmates, hostages and SWAT team sharpshooters was unusual by any corrections measure. The broken lock wasn’t, at least not at the Bay County Jail.  The News Herald’s Anthony Cormier has written, and on Tuesday the release of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report confirmed, that jail staff reported the broken lock at least five times. The easily opened cell was common knowledge around the jail.
It does indicate that CCA was not concerned about oversight. Bay County has a stunningly ineffective full-time corrections program manager on county staff (he complains he gets no respect from CCA). The Sheriff’s Office, the jail’s best customer, has no say in managing what goes on inside.  County commissioners think only about cost.

December 9, 2004 News-Herald
A guard failed to secure cell doors that he allowed inmates to shut themselves the night of a 12-hour siege at the Bay County Jail, according to interview transcripts obtained by The News Herald. Officer James Hall acknowledged to detectives that he falsified shift logs related to inmates’ time in a third-floor day room and said he made a "mistake" in allowing three of the four accused hostagetakers out of their cells in the hours before the Sept. 5 standoff, the transcripts show. Hall, 26, also admitted lying to Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents about the severity of a blow to his head during the takeover, according to an interview conducted more than a month after the incident. In a Nov. 22 interview with a Bay County Sheriff’s Office investigator, Hall said he did not secure a lock box —which ensures all the cell doors are locked — and told inmates to close cell doors themselves. According to the transcript: Hall had allowed four inmates — including suspected hostage-takers James Norton, Kevin Winslett and Kevin Nix — to mingle in a day room earlier in the day. Corrections Corporation of America policy maintains that only one inmate at a time be allowed to enter the segregation unit’s day room. Hall said he normally allowed more than one inmate into the day room, and often falsified shift logs to show that only one prisoner was in the room recreation area. The guard knew that this was a policy violation, but said that he knew he wouldn’t be disciplined because supervisors "hardly ever check the logs." Despite indications that the doors may not have been closed, Hall and others — including inmates and nurses — maintain that Norton escaped from his cell because a door lock was broken. Maintenance records show that the lock to Norton’s cell, 3C-1, repeatedly malfunctioned and had not been fixed in two weeks before the takeover. Nix, Nurse Kathleen Baucum and Norton’s cellmate each told FDLE agents that Norton’s door did not lock, and jail staff repeatedly told supervisors of the problem. A 750-page FDLE report, released this week, indicates that the equipment malfunction triggered the breakout. "It’s a well-known fact," Baucum told investigators. "It’s been put in writing by me … it’s been put in writing by my supervisor … and by another nurse and by (Chief of Security Chuck) Bellows himself."
In an interview with FDLE agents, Norton accused Hall of being "in on" the escape plan and said Hall had only one request for the inmates: "Just don’t hurt me." Hall strongly denied the allegation that he knew of the inmates’ plan, saying he lied during his initial interview because he wanted to keep his job. Hall said he was "scared" to work on the third floor and believed that a second officer should be assigned to the pod during each shift. "The way the jail is run," Hall told investigators, "the way it was run when I was there scares me, it doesn’t feel safe ever."

December 8, 2004 News-Herald
The use of deadly force by police during a jail uprising and hostage situation in September that left two prisoners and a hostage injured was necessary, State Attorney Jim Appleman has determined. In a letter sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Monday, Appleman stated his office had reviewed the FDLE’s investigative report of the incident and determined that officers’ gunfire was justified, including a SWAT team member’s shot that injured a hostage. The standoff began at about 8 p.m. on Sept. 5, when officers from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office’s hostage negotiation and SWAT teams responded to a report of a hostage situation at the Bay County Jail, managed by Corrections Corporation of America. According to the FDLE report, during an attempt to escape, inmates Kevin Winslett, Kevin Nix, Matthew Coffin and James Norton had jumped a CCA corrections officer and three nurses working on the third floor of the jail and were holding them hostage. During the 12-hour standoff, the hostage negotiation team was able to free the corrections officer and two nurses before one of the inmates, Kevin Nix, threatened to kill the remaining nurse, Ann Marie "Amy" Hunt, according to the report. Lead negotiator Jimmy Stanford, who was conducting face-to-face negotiations with the inmates, saw Nix with his arms around Hunt with a scalpel to her neck and a syringe to her stomach, according to the report. At that time, convinced the "situation was getting worse," Stanford said Tuesday, he pulled a pistol and fired at Nix’s legs. SWAT team members Lt. Rad Nelson and Sgt. Tony Bruening were hiding in a room near the hostages and the inmates when they heard the shots, according to the report. They came out of the room and fired toward the inmates. One of the rounds from Bruening’s gun hit Hunt in her left hip and came to rest in her kidney, according to the report. Hunt was struck three times, including in her lower leg and the small of her back, according to the FDLE report. Nix suffered a gunshot wound to the front of his left calf, and Norton was shot once in the in the front lower left leg, according to the report.

December 8, 2004 News-Herald
It was common knowledge, an open secret that everybody — guards, nurses, inmates and supervisors — was in on. Florida Department of Law Enforcement documents confirmed Tuesday that a broken lock triggered September’s inmate takeover at the Bay County Jail, allowing one prisoner to escape from his cell and ambush the lone guard on the third floor of the downtown facility. The FDLE file supports a recent News Herald investigation, which revealed two weeks ago that jail staff reported five times in the 60 days prior to the takeover that third-floor locks were broken or had malfunctioned. According to maintenance records, work orders and shift logs, jail personnel requested maintenance work for a door lock to Cell 3C-1. The first request was made on May 23; the final request came on Aug. 23, when a guard wrote that the door again needed to be fixed. But the work order was returned without a signature and remarks include: "need to fix door … officer did not have time." It was this broken lock, the FDLE case file shows, that allowed inmate James Norton to escape at the beginning of the 12-hour siege. Norton slipped out of his cell, then struck officer James Hall in the back of the head, stole his keys and freed four other inmates.
FDLE interviews with guards, nurses and inmates indicate that jail supervisors were aware of the equipment problems, although officials from the private company hired to run the jail have declined comment on the matter. Hall, the officer who was slugged in the head with a padlock wrapped inside a sock, told investigators that the third-floor locks long had been a problem, according to an FDLE transcript. In a meeting with The News Herald last week, CCA President John Ferguson said Hall had been placed on administrative leave since the incident. "Cell 1 does not lock," Hall told the agents. "Everybody knows it. We have put in a request to get it fixed. Maintenance says that they have fixed it, but they can still roll right out of it."

December 1, 2004 News-Herald
 It was an ambush. A corrections officer on the third floor of the Bay County Jail was tricked by an inmate "playing possum" and struck in the back of the head with a padlock or bar of soap wrapped in a sock, according to CCA officials who laid bare Tuesday the chronology of events that precipitated September’s standoff at the downtown facility.
CCA President John Ferguson acknowledged that the incident on Sept. 5 was a watershed moment for the Bay County Jail and may have sullied CCA’s public reputation. A controversial afteraction report, compiled by an outside law firm to gauge CCA’s liability, sparked the disconnect and left both sides wondering how to mend a relationship fractured by the takeover. Last month, CCA officials delivered to the county’s contract monitor a ream of documents requested four days after the incident. The News Herald also requested and obtained those records, which showed a history of broken locks and equipment problems on the third floor of the jail, where the takeover occurred. According to Turner: At about 9 p.m. on Sept. 5, a third-floor corrections officer approached an inmate in a segregation unit about a dose of medicine. When the inmate didn’t respond, the officer entered the cell and tried to awaken him. The inmate, Turner said, was "playing possum" and setting the stage for a pre-planned escape attempt. With the officer in the cell, another inmate sneaked behind and swung at the officer’s head with an improvised weapon — likely a bar of soap or padlock wrapped in a sock and wielded like a mace. The officer radioed for help and the shift captain raced to the third floor, slamming shut a riot gate and shutting down elevators to keep the inmates from getting off that floor. With their escape foiled, the inmates rushed across the hall to a nurse’s station — where an examination of maintenance records shows at least one instance of broken locks in the 60 days preceding the takeover.  At least one CCA staffer has been placed on administrative leave since Sept. 6, although officials refused to identify the employee or the employee’s position. In a letter to Bay County’s jail contract monitor, a CCA attorney wrote that any employee who failed to follow company policy has been "counseled, retrained, reassigned or disciplined, as appropriate." It is unclear how many employees this applies to, and CCA officials said they could not immediately release that information.

November 22, 2004 News Herald
The medical pod and segregation wing of the Bay County Jail were plagued by broken and jammed door locks in the weeks leading up to September’s inmate takeover, according to maintenance requests and work orders obtained by The News Herald. There is plenty of smoke but no smoking gun in a ream of documents released by Corrections Corporation of America, the Tennessee company tasked with an internal investigation of policies, procedures and possible failures that contributed to the 12-hour standoff on Sept. 5. Records indicate that a series of equipment problems on the third floor of the Bay County Jail precipitated the uprising, which ended when negotiators stormed the medical pod and shot one hostage and two inmates. A CCA liaison met Friday morning with Roger Hagen, the county’s jail point man, to hand over records requested four days after the incident. The News Herald also filed public record requests for the documents. Hagen and CCA engaged for more than two months in a muted battle over the records, publicly squabbling over an "after-action report" and a dearth of communication during the internal probe. Hagen said Friday he expected to review the materials over the weekend before reporting back to the Bay County Commission, which soon is expected to seek bidders on the contract to run the downtown jail and Nehi Road annex.
A News Herald examination of the paperwork reveals no definitive evidence suggesting how the inmates escaped their cells, although shift logs and maintenance requests show a history of equipment problems on the floor where the four accused inmates were being held. According to jail records: At least five times in the 60 days prior to the takeover, CCA personnel requested maintenance work for a door lock to Cell 3C-1.In interviews following the standoff, authorities suggested Norton set off the takeover by escaping from his cell, 3C-1, and beating a guard in the medical pod. One of the hostages, Glenda Baker, told The News Herald that she was distributing medicine on the third floor when the lights suddenly went off and one of the locks failed. Baker said one of the inmates released the others and overtook the floor’s lone guard, and negotiators contend that the inmates used a padlock to seal the faulty door from police. Perhaps the most controversial element of CCA’s investigation is the "after-action report," a compilation of liabilities put together for the company by an outside law firm. Jennifer Taylor, CCA’s senior director of business development, said Friday that there was some confusion about the legal probe, which resulted not in a tangible report but informal guidelines for the company to follow. CCA employees who failed to follow company policy in connection with the incident have been "counseled, retrained, reassigned or disciplined, as appropriate." It is unclear how many employees this applies to, and CCA officials said they could not immediately release that information.

November 20, 2004 News Herald
Bay County and the company hired to run its jail met Friday to make amends for two months of quiet bickering, with each side making concessions to the other in the fight for information about September’s hostage taking and standoff at the Bay County Jail.
A Corrections Corporation of America liaison was in Panama City on Friday for a discussion with Roger Hagen, the county’s jail point man. Hagen previously said he was frustrated by CCA’s slow response to the request, which was made four days after the takeover.

November 14, 2004 News Herald
Everybody wants to know what happened — and CCA refuses to say.  Bay County officials trying to determine the root of September’s inmate takeover at the Bay County Jail have run into a corporate-size roadblock and are now trying to pry vital information from the tight-lipped, $141-million company that operates the county’s downtown facility.  Corrections Corporation of America was blamed last week for a lack of cooperation during the aftermath of the hostage-taking and standoff that landed a nurse and two prisoners in the hospital. County leaders criticized the company for operating in secret and failing to consult with local administrators on the outcome of a controversial after-action report.  The report is supposed to detail how four inmates got free from their cells, obtained weapons, took hostages and kept the Bay County Sheriff’s Office at bay for 12 hours.  Roger Hagen, the county’s correctional program manager, said CCA has kept him in the dark during its investigation and has not consulted with him. Commissioners Jerry Girvin and Cornel Brock said they were not aware of any communication between the county and the company — despite contrary claims by CCA. "We’ve been in contact with Bay County throughout this process," said Louise Chickering, a marketing executive at the company’s Nashville, Tenn., headquarters. "We are keeping them up to date." "They are? Well, who are they talking to?" Hagen asked last week. "It’s not me. You’d think by now they would have been in contact with someone." Said Girvin: "It sounds very confusing to me, on their part. On CCA’s part." The disconnect was triggered by an incident summary and review that Chickering said was completed more than two weeks ago. But last week, Chickering hedged against that claim, saying that only "the investigation is complete but the report is not." Several groups, including The News Herald, have filed formal requests to review the report, but a CCA attorney said the after-action report never will become a public record.
That’s because the investigation was performed by a private law firm hired by CCA, legal counsel Gus Puryear said Thursday. The law firm, Puryear said, was brought in to protect the company from liability. For Brock and Hagen, CCA’s reluctance to share information is troubling. The county recently recouped $1.25 million from the company in return for a contract extension through September 2005. To dissuade the county from bidding out the contract to operate the jail — which commissioners ultimately decided to do — CCA offered to reduce Bay’s bill by $83,333 a month from June 1 through May 31, 2005. CCA also paid the county a lump sum of $250,000 on Oct. 1. The company also has been besieged by bad public relations, as CCA struggled with riots, takeovers and a homicide in the last four months. In a two-week period in July, inmates nearly overtook facilities in Colorado and Mississippi. That followed a July 7 homicide in Nashville and a smaller uprising in Oklahoma. A Colorado Department of Corrections report indicated that understaffing led to a slow response to a disturbance at the Crowley County Correctional Institution — where inmates beat cellmates and set fires across the facility. That the company has not been forthcoming during its investigation of the Bay County Jail is disconcerting, Hagen said. While he has remained in touch with local CCA administrators, Hagen said his dealings with the corporate office have been uneasy at best. Like others, Hagen has tried for weeks to keep abreast of the company’s critical incident review. But getting his hands on the after-action report has proved impossible. "I don’t know if I can get a copy," Hagen said, "and its contents have never been discussed." Brock, who leaves office Tuesday, said the problem may lie with the County Commission and its staff, which has never shown the "enthusiasm" necessary to keep tabs on the jail.

November 9, 2004 News Herald
A state investigation into September’s inmate takeover and police shootings at the Bay County Jail is complete and likely will be turned in to the State Attorney’s Office today.
In its review of the incident, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement focused solely on the shootings of a jail nurse and two inmates accused of barricading themselves inside a third-floor medical wing. In addition to FDLE and Sheriff’s Office documents, CCA spokeswoman Louise Chickering said jail administrators completed an after-action report about two weeks ago. Chickering also said the company had been in contact with Bay County officials about its findings. A CCA attorney later denied a News Herald public record request to review that report.   Panama City lawyer Cliff Higby said the report had not yet been finished. And Roger Hagen, Bay County’s correctional program manager, said the Nashville-based company had not spoken with local officials regarding the after-action report. "I don’t know who in the world they’ve been talking to," Hagen said two weeks ago. "But they haven’t been talking to me."

November 3, 2004 News Herald
One of four men charged in a September jailhouse kidnapping pleaded Tuesday to the charges that had him in the Bay County Jail initially.
Matthew Coffin, 18, pleaded no contest to escape, robbery with a weapon and attempted robbery with a weapon. Coffin is one of four men accused of taking hostages in a jailhouse standoff Sept. 5. The standoff ended when sheriff’s deputies stormed a third-floor holding cell and shot a suspect and the hostage.

October 9, 2004 News Herald
The company that manages the Bay County Jail has completed an internal investigation into a September hostage taking at the facility.
Louise Chickering, a spokeswoman for the Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, said company investigators have finished an "after action report" assessing the incident. "We have completed the report and are keeping the county up to date on all our processes and getting as much feedback as possible," Chickering said. The report is not available for public inspection, Chickering said. On Sept. 5, police said four jail prisoners barricaded themselves with four CCA nurses on the third floor of the jail. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is expected to complete a "fact-finding" report by the end of October, said Lisa Lagergren, spokeswoman for the FDLE.

October 6, 2004 News Herald
Police are awaiting the autopsy report for a 22-year-old Springfield man before closing the investigation into his suspected self-inflicted death at the Bay County Jail during Hurricane Ivan. Bay County Sheriff’s Office Investigator John Sumerall said it appears that William Henry Cantor hanged himself from his jail cell bunk with a bedsheet Sept. 15. He said Cantor died alone in a jail cell located in a section of the jail used specifically for inmates who request to be isolated from other inmates.

September 26, 2004 News Herald
An inmate disappeared from the Bay County Jail in downtown Panama City at about 8 p.m. Friday and remained on the lam Saturday night. "We’re working some leads. As of yet they have proven to be fruitless," said Lt. Dave Delaney with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. "We are actively looking for him."

September 12, 2004 News Herald
I will not second-guess the command decision to utilize deadly force when SWAT members stormed the Bay County jail. I will let an objective and comprehensive afteraction investigation review those facts. There are, however, several initial items which warrant complete review. As a retired associate warden with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (22½ years), I’ve had some experience in these matters. First, was there a clear chain of command? Who was "calling the shots" regarding the negotiations — Bay County Officials or Corrections Corporation of America’s warden of the site? Second, was there a public information officer designated to speak on all matters to the media? Negotiators usually never speak to the media during negotiations as Sheriff Frank McKeithen did. Third, I read where a door would not lock and the staff panic-button alarm system malfunctioned. These issues are inexcusable. Security conditions (cell locking mechanisms, staff emergency equipment, etc.) must be checked each shift — daily — and when found inoperative fixed immediately, or replaced with functioning equipment. Fourthly, how could inmates access controlled medications? Facilities are required to have these items safely secured (behind a grille in a safe) and available for immediate disposal through a chute in event of an emergency. Finally, who’s overseeing CCA’s compliance with contractual requirements, correctional personnel and jail standards, and regulations? Many important issues must be addressed through an objective post-incident investigation team. Accountability for incompetence must be made. By Fred Apple. The writer, who helped run federal prisons in Minnesota, now is retired and lives in Panama City.

September 9, 2004 News Herald
He missed. He just missed. Bay County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jimmy Stanford was aiming for the inmate’s leg, aiming to end a 12-hour standoff that had quickly dissolved, that had been calm and controlled but soon spiraled into a violent, drug-laced nightmare. There he was Monday morning, on the third floor of the Bay County Jail, trying to quash a rebellion and earn freedom for the final hostage. He saw the nurse, a scalpel to her throat and a hypodermic needle at her chest, the inmate standing behind her.

September 9, 2004 News Herald
The Florida Ethics Commission on Wednesday issued probable-cause findings on two former Bay County commissioners, a former county attorney, a former county manager and a current county employee on charges related to a 2000 trip to Nashville, Tenn. The Ethics Commission’s findings are related to a February 2000 trip the county officials took to Tennessee to visit a jail operated by Corrections Corporation of America, which also operates Bay County’s jail and annex. Bay County was negotiating a contract renewal with CCA at the time of the trip.  In July 2003, the Florida Police Benevolent Association filed complaints with the Ethics Commission against former County Commissioners Carol Atkinson, Danny Sparks and Richard Stewart, former County Manager Jon Mantay, former county attorney Nevin Zimmerman, and Bob Majka, then and still the county’s emergency services director. The Ethics Commission dismissed all complaints against Atkinson because she believed the county was paying for the trip, according to the Ethics Commission’s report.

September 8, 2004 News Herald

The wisdom of the bloody end Sheriff Frank McKeithen ordered to a weekend hostage standoff at Bay County Jail will be thoroughly weighed under more tranquil circumstances, as it should. Given the criminal history of four inmates who took hostages and threatened to take lives, though, the sheriff for 11 hours lived with the knowledge that these were not just boys acting up. It appears that all four should have been in a betterguarded state penitentiary or institution; one may be a mental case.
The hostage-takers’ grievances deserve attention, not from sympathy for their diet or sloppy medication management, but as a more sober-minded look at the county’s repeated inability to properly monitor or control what goes on inside the jail or to properly address complaints raised by inmates over and over, year after year.  CCA also is constantly pressured to do everything more cheaply.

September 8, 2004 Tallahassee Democrat
A sheriff's negotiator won the release of three employees before a SWAT team stormed the Bay County Jail when inmates threatened to torture and kill their remaining hostage, a nurse who then was accidentally shot, authorities said Tuesday. The nurse suffered gunshot wounds in the back and leg Monday and remained hospitalized in stable condition, said sheriff's spokeswoman Ruth Sasser. Inmates had taken over the six-story jail's third-floor infirmary, and one of them was holding a scalpel to the nurse's neck when the SWAT team and armed jailers ended an 11-hour standoff that began about 9 p.m. Sunday, Sasser said. The hostages - three female nurses and a male guard - worked for Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, which operates the jail under contract with the county. Licensed practical nurse Glenda Baker, however, told The News Herald of Panama City that she was one of the hostages released during the night. The lights had gone off and a door to the floor's cells failed to lock before the incident occurred, Baker said. One inmate then released others and four hostage-takers overpowered the only guard on the floor. Then a panic button failed, she said. A television anchor said she had received a telephone call Sunday night from someone claiming to be holding hostages at the jail. The caller said he was upset about health hazards there.

September 8, 2004 News Herald
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement continued its investigation on Tuesday into the Bay County Sheriff’s Office’s response to a Bay County Jail hostage situation that ended in gunfire early Monday morning. Four jail inmates were charged in the hostagetaking, which ended when Bay County SWAT team members stormed the third-floor area where the men had barricaded themselves with four hostages.
A CCA nurse and two inmates were injured by gunfire when the SWAT team moved in.

September 6, 2004  AP
A SWAT team stormed the Bay County Jail on Monday to end an 11-hour hostage standoff, injuring one hostage and three inmates, authorities said. An undetermined number of other employees were freed. The injured hostage, a nurse, suffered a leg wound and was undergoing surgery at a hospital, and her injury did not appear to be life-threatening.

 July 22, 2004 Times News
A jail melee that left three prisoners injured this week was motivated by "racial prejudice," according to arrest affidavits filed Wednesday at the Bay County Courthouse.  Six men attacked two men "en masse," using their fists and a makeshift weapon — a padlock stuffed in a sock — during a quarrel Monday at the Bay County Jail, authorities reported. One of the alleged attackers also turned on a third man who tried to quell the fisticuffs, police said.   Five of the prisoners were charged with two counts of felony battery on a detainee. They are: Tyree C. Cleveland, 22; Danny D. Dorsey, 19; Shawn C. Ponds, 28; Demar J. Davis, 19; and Derrick M. Bell, 19. Johnny L. Brown, 23, was charged with three counts of felony battery, accused of shoving the man who tried to break up the fight into a metal bunk. An official from Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the Bay County Jail and its annex on Nehi Road, said the fight occurred on the fifth floor of the downtown Panama City facility. Spokeswoman Mary Hughes said two guards were on duty at the time and called for backup when the melee began. The injuries were minor, Hughes said, and the alleged victims were treated at the jail. Arrest affidavits said the suspected attackers had been calling two of the victims a racial epithet the week before the incident and made the men complete their daily work assignments. The alleged attackers also used the epithet during the beating, the affidavits said.  "We were not aware of that," Hughes said. "The chief was told that by the (Bay County) Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating it."

May 18, 2004, News Herald
A suspected thief died after a two-day stay at the Bay County Jail and annex, and investigators probing the incident have not determined why the 42-year-old suffered seizure-like conditions shortly before his death.  Stacy Allan Tolbert was frothing at the nose and mouth Monday afternoon in an observation cell at the Nehi Road annex when a fellow prisoner cried for help, and jail staff called an ambulance to the facility.
Documents show two different court dates -- Sunday and Monday -- and both indicate he should have been released on his own recognizance.  

March 23, 2004, The Ledger
The last two of six Bay County Jail inmates charged in the beating death of a fellow inmate pleaded guilty and were sentenced Monday.  Investigators said Chad Littles, 18, was beaten to death in October 2002 because others thought he was an informant for the guards, The News Herald reported.  Littles' mother has sued Corrections Corporation of America Inc., which operates the jail, claiming it did not protect her son. That lawsuit hasn't been resolved.  

February 26, 2004, News Herald
One Bay County Jail inmate received 10 years in prison and another received five years after pleading no contest to charges stemming from the beating and stomping death of another inmate. Jeremiah Samuel Hinsey, 22, received 10 years for manslaughter and Carlos King, 32, five years for aggravated assault in the 2002 death of Chad Littles, 18, at the jail's annex outside Panama City. 

October 14, 2003, News Herald
Circuit Judge Don T. Sirmons followed the agreed upon sentence in Ronald Lawson’s plea deal Monday and gave him five years in prison for his role in the beating death of a Bay County Jail inmate last year. Lawson, who was originally charged with second degree murder in the death of Chad Littles, 18, pleaded no contest to felony battery several months ago. 

 July 15, 2003, News Herald
A union that represents law enforcement and correctional officers said Monday that it had filed ethics complaints against three former Bay County commissioners, a former county manager, a former county attorney and the county’s chief of emergency services. The Florida Police Benevolent Association said its complaints stemmed from a February 2000 trip the officials took to Tennessee to visit a jail operated by Corrections Corporation of America, which also operates Bay County’s jail and annex. Ken Kopczynski, PBA’s legislative assistant, said the union has documentation that CCA paid for the trip, including airfare, hotel rooms and meals. At the time, CCA and the county were negotiating the renewal of the contract for Bay County jail operations. "It is very questionable since they were in the middle of contract negotiations (with CCA,)" Kopczynski said. Kopczynski said PBA began looking into Atkinson after she began chairing the privatization commission last year. As part of that research, he said, "we came across this trip."

April 3, 2003, News Herald 
Corrections Corporation of America has pledged to work with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to address discrepancies in computerized arrest information for inmates at the Bay County Jail. In January, the FDLE reviewed CCA’s computerized arrest records against 288 booking reports. FDLE found a "high percentage" of discrepancies, ranging from incorrect or misspelled names to incorrect charges. A number of the discrepancies occurred because arresting officers failed to enter proper Florida Statute numbers to identify criminal charges.

A man who used his little brother's name to avoid being booked into the Bay County Jail Sunday remained at large Monday after escaping out an unguarded back door at the Bay County Jail. (The News Herald, December 17, 2002)

Correctional officers at the Bay County Jail released the wrong woman Tuesday when a female inmate assumed the identity of a sleeping woman who was in the same holding cell for detoxification. While the intoxicated woman was sleeping in the cell, Robbie Levingston, 29, answered for her, signed for her belongings and walked out of the jail, said Bay County Sheriff's Lt. J. D. Nolin. (The News Herald, December 6, 2002)

Six inmates at the Bay County Correctional Facility Annex on Nehi Road were charged Sunday with the beating death overnight of Chad Littles, 18, of Panama City. Littles was serving time for failure to pay a fine –possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, resisting an officer without violence/violation of probation on an original charge of burglary of a structure. Littles was killed after an altercation in the B dorm of the minimum security annex, where about 80 inmates are housed. The fight began after a routine shakedown yielded an instrument for applying tattoos. After guards let the inmates back into their cell pod, at least four of the defendants allegedly confronted Littles at the rear of the dorm and began to beat him. Littles was able to get away temporarily and was trying to summon guards when King blocked his way and, according to witnesses, enticed the same inmates to "finish him."  At that time, DeRossutt came up behind Littles and pulled his feet out from under him, causing his head to strike the concrete floor with full force, knocking him unconscious. Witnesses said Najair, Burks, Hinsey and Lawson then began to kick or hit Littles while he was lying on the floor. Guards arrived and summoned the on-duty nurse for CCA. The nurse then called EMS to transport Littles to Bay Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. (News Herald, October 7, 2002)

While grand jurors found no criminal liability in the death of a Bay County Jail inmate, their presentment found there were "serious deficiencies" on the part of jail personnel "which led, or contributed to the death of Justin Sturgis." CCA representatives said Sturgis caused his own death. However, the medical protocols the jail had in place were inadequate and weren't followed anyway, according to the presentment. "Correctional personnel failed to demonstrate adequate health training in responding to the level of distress evidenced by Justin Sturgis," the jury's presentment stated. In addition, policies that require a "system of structured inquiry and observation" to an inmate's medical condition were not adhered to. Grand jurors also recommended that the Bay County Commission look into the matter to see if it merits termination of the county's contract with CCA. (Panama City News Herald, August 19, 2002)

The parents of Justin Sturgis have filed a notice that they intend to sue the Bay County Jail and perhaps Bay Medical Center for failing to properly care for Sturgis when he became fatally ill in a jail holding cell on Feb. 15. Doctors believe that Sturgis, 21, died of malignant hyperthermia, a rare reaction to the street drug Ecstasy. Attorney Wes Pittman said he will file suit against Corrections Corporation of America on behalf of the Sturgis family. CCA is the private company contracted by Bay County to manage the jail. "These parents do not want anyone else to suffer the grief they are experiencing right now," Pittman said. "Their motivation is to try and prevent this from happening to someone else. "If the allegations made by other prisoners are correct, we are certainly looking at CCA for violations of certain civil rights afforded to inmates as well as being extraordinarily negligent." (The News Herald, February 27, 2002)

A man who worked at the Bay County Jail as a nurse said Wednesday that he quit last year because he felt pressure from correctional officers not to do his job and feared that an inmate eventually would die. "And it happened," Jerry Militich told The News Herald. "I knew it was going to happen, and I couldn't handle it. So I left. When I saw the paper, I had to call." Militich was referring to a story about the death of 20-year-old Justin Sturgis early Friday. The specific pressure he said he felt was to avoid sending sick inmates to the hospital. Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the jail under contract with Bay County, must pay to transport prisoners to the hospital and pay for the medication that inmates receive. Militich said he worked for CCA for about a year during 2000 and 2001. He said Wednesday that some of the medical practices at the jail while he was there upset him. (The News Herald, February 21, 2002)

Allegations that Bay County Jail guards mocked an ill DUI suspect - who later went into convulsions and died Friday morning - come as no surprise to local defense attorneys and a former correctional officer who worked at the jail for three years. Inmates have said that guards did little to help 20-year-old Justin Sturgis, who reportedly told one correctional officer he had taken 10 Ecstasy pills. No one called for an ambulance until he went into cardiac arrest. Criminal defense attorneys, meanwhile, said some of their clients have complained for years about the way some Corrections Corporation of America employees have treated them. (News Herald, February 19, 2002)

A man accused of escaping from jail officials last month to avoid prison could have received a harsher sentence Monday, but will still be behind bars until he's almost 50. According to police, Collier walked out of the Bay County Courthouse law library and escaped from two jail guards. Investigators said he asked the guards if he could use the restroom and they allowed him to go unescorted. The guards, both Corrections Corporation of America employees, have been released by the company. (News Herald, July 10, 2001)

A man with an extensive criminal history, and facing another 30 years in prison, walked out of the Bay County Courthouse on Thursday with a little help from some friends. Tracy Lashawn Collier, 35, was recaptured near a relative's house in Callaway Thursday evening. While at the law library, he asked the guards if he could use the restroom and was allowed to go in alone, the Bay County Sheriff's Office said. When he didn't return after a period of time, the guards checked on him and discovered he was gone. (The News Herald, June 09, 2001)

An inmate awaiting trial on domestic violence, document forgery and attempted escape charges hanged himself in his cell at the privately operated Bay County Jail. Sheriff's deputies said John Alvin Leggett, 38, used a bed sheet for a noose. His body was discovered Wednesday during a bed check. (Naples Daily News, April 21, 2001)

Bent County Correctional Facility, Bent County, Colorado
Terrell Griswold: Mother questions inmate's "natural" death in private prison: Westword By Alan Prendergast, January 6, 2012. On October 28, 2010, a 26-year-old inmate named Terrell Griswold was found slumped over and unresponsive in his cell in the Bent County Correctional Facility, a private prison in southeastern Colorado.

Aug 21, 2013 The Pueblo Chieftan

DENVER — The mother of an inmate who died at the Bent County prison claims a Pueblo West physician and the company that runs the prison bear responsibility for the death. oTNCMS_Ad.show('ros'); The physician, David Oba, received a letter of admonition in December from the Colorado Medical Board telling him that his treatment of the inmate “fell below the generally accepted standards of practice.” Oba and the company, Corrections Corporation of America, deny the allegations made in a lawsuit against them by Terrell Griswold’s mother. He died in 2010 at the Bent County Correctional Facility where Oba was a physician for the privately operated prison. Prison staff and Colorado Department of Corrections employees are additional defendants who also deny the allegations. The lawsuit is in its early stage in U.S. District Court. The lawsuit alleges that Griswold, 25, died because he was denied adequate medical care at the prison. It also alleges DOC employees destroyed and falsified evidence, and conspired with prison staff to cover up the true cause of his death. His mother, Lagalia Afola, contends he died from complications of a complete urinary obstruction. Oba began treating Griswold for urinary issues months before he died. Afola alleges, among other things, that prison staff refused for many months to provide medicine Oba prescribed for her son and the doctor did nothing about it. Corrections Corporation, prison employees and Oba contend Griswold died of cardiovascular disease. The medical board’s admonition of Oba stated he “failed to recognize and take appropriate action in connection with signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease.” - See more at: http://www.chieftain.com/home/1758744-120/prison-oba-died-death#sthash.RSGC1KcB.dpuf

September 12, 2012 AP
The mother of a man who died in a private prison claims that officials failed to provide adequate medical care. Twenty-six-year-old Terrell Griswold died in October 2010 after being found not breathing in his cell. He was incarcerated at the Bent County Correctional Facility near Las Animas, Colo., which is operated by Corrections Corporation of America. A lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court by Lagalia Afola of Kansas City, Mo., alleges that officials failed to treat her son for an obstructed urinary tract. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages. Griswold was serving five years for a felony burglary conviction. In a statement, CCA says the company is committed to providing inmates appropriate access to medical care and couldn't comment on individual inmates because of medical privacy laws.

July 9, 2012 Bent County Democrat
Bent County Commissioners met on June 27 and heard an encouraging report from Bent County Correctional Facility, a private prison prison run by Corrections Corporation of America. Even though 18 staff have been recently laid off, population of the prison has increased to 1,388 which is almost 300 more prisoners in prison population. Commissioner Bill Long said he felt that Gov. Hickenlooper and the state recognize the falling economy and past damage to Bent County by the closing of Fort Lyon and are striving to push for CCA to be operating at a higher population level. CCA administration also feels the prison can be operated safely with this reduction in staff. Long said that after the Crowley County prison riot six years ago, the private prisons were required to increase staffing within their prisons. But over this same time frame, the per diem per prisoner had not increased a significant amount, but costs to operate the prison have risen and this reduction in staff will help run the prison more economically but still within a safe range. Long said he has been to the state capitol many times and Bent has also hired a lobbyist to work for Bent County and he feels the state leaders have heard this message.

June 15, 2012 Pueblo Chieftain
Still reeling from the Colorado Department of Corrections’ closing of Fort Lyon prison, residents here got word of more prison layoffs, this time at the private Bent County Correctional Facility. According to Steve Owen, public affairs officer with the Corrections Corporation of America, the company laid off 18 employees at its Bent County Correctional Facility and another 36 employees at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. "Our top priority is assisting our affected employees through this transition. All of them are being offered the opportunity to transfer to other CCA facilities and we hope that they choose that option," Owen said. Bent County Commissioner Lynden Gill said he had heard “rumblings” about layoffs at the CCA-operated Bent County Correctional Facility.

April 4, 2012 The Chieftain
A report last week that Corrections Corporation of America needs a subsidy from the state or it will start shedding jobs has caught the attention of officials in Bent and Crowley counties. Las Animas is home to the Bent County Correctional Facility, the city's largest employer at 280 employees. Las Animas County Commissioner Bill Long said Tuesday that if CCA decided to cut jobs or shut down the prison it would cripple the county. "It would be an absolute disaster for Bent County," Long said. "To first lose the Fort Lyon Correctional Facility, which used to be our largest employer, and then possibly this, it just can't be described as anything other than awful." Long said that in addition to the correctional facility being the county's largest employer, it also is its largest taxpayer at around $400,000 annually. He added that the prison purchases its utilities from the city of Las Animas and has a monthly bill around $80,000. Long said he and his fellow commissioners are getting word from the state that no facilities are going to be shut down but that staff reductions are certainly possible."We're unhappy that this is even being proposed," he said. Olney Springs, which is home to the Crowley County Correctional Facility that also is operated by the CCA, is another correctional facility at risk of losing jobs.

March 29, 2012 Pueblo Chieftain
Colorado’s declining prison population has imperiled two private prisons in Southeastern Colorado, where the economy already is reeling from the recent closure of a state-run prison. Savings from the pending closure of another state-run prison in Southern Colorado could be used to prop up the for-profit ventures. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, has notified the state that it needs a subsidy or it will start shedding jobs, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Chief of Staff Roxane White said Wednesday. “CCA has said that if we don’t figure something out they will be in a situation where they have to close a prison,” she said. Similar threats loom at Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington, which also is operated by CCA, and Cheyenne Mountain Re-Entry Center in Colorado Springs, operated by Community Education Centers Inc., according to White. “At both the CCA facilities and Cheyenne Mountain, up to 20 percent of their beds are empty,” she said. “They are looking at the need to make staffing reductions.” White confirmed that diverting the estimated $4.5 million in savings the state expects to realize next year from the pending closure of Colorado State Penitentiary II in Canon City is one option, but she doubts that would be enough to satisfy the private prison companies. “It’s not enough to cover it,” she said. “In this case, we need in the neighborhood of $10 (million) to $15 million to keep the (private) prisons all operational.” Ideally, White said, any action by the private prison companies could be postponed while the state conducts a thorough study of the factors driving the declining prison population, whether the trend is likely to continue and how the state can best manage its resources in light of the findings.

February 3, 2012 Denver Post
Inmate Terrell Griswold's inability to urinate was never treated and ultimately led to his death, a medical investigator says. "I feel very strongly that if they treated this, he'd still be alive today," said Shawn Parcells, a medical investigator and forensic pathologist assistant from Kansas City, Mo., who was hired by Griswold's mother to review circumstances leading to his death. Griswold, 26, was serving a three-year sentence for theft at Bent County Correctional Facility. He was found slumped over a toilet 12 hours after a nurse said he looked fine on Oct. 28, 2010, said Griswold's mother, Lagalia Afola of Kansas City. "This is so rare," Afola said. "For a young man to die of a urinary blockage is unheard of. My son should not be dead." The prison is run by Corrections Corporation of America, a private company. "We take the medical care of inmates in our custody seriously," CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in a written response. He could not comment about Griswold's case because of confidentiality issues, he said. "But we do refer you to the cause of death in the public record." The El Paso County coroner's office determined that the cause of death was cardiac hypertrophy, hypertension, obstructive uropathy and hereditary cardiac hypertrophy. The coroner, Dr. Robert C. Bux, characterized Griswold's urinary condition as a cause of death secondary to hypertension and an enlarged heart. However, he added that the blockage could have caused hypertension and contributed to an enlarged heart. Parcells said he believes Griswold's cause of death should have been listed as "complications of obstructive uropathy." A nodule on Griswold's prostatic urethra accounted for his urine retention and severe kidney problems, Parcells wrote. It also caused high blood pressure. He had been seen repeatedly by medical staff at the prison for recurring bladder-related symptoms, including abdominal pain and an inability to urinate. Griswold received medicines that didn't address his condition and never got a thorough examination by a urologist, Parcells said. "In the end, his body was not able to adjust to the increasing amounts of waste products in his system and the heart had increasing loads of 'fluid retention' it had to deal with," he wrote. "Terrell was in metabolic disarray and an imbalance of electrolytes. This would explain the sudden death." Afola said her son played basketball nearly every day. She said in the last week of his life, he was sleeping a lot and complaining of intense abdominal pain. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said Griswold came to the prison with a long history of neurological and urological issues. She said the state will conduct a mortality review of the case. "CCA is committed to providing inmates appropriate access to medical care and is held to high standards," Owen said. Afola said her son died about three months before he was to be released from prison. "He was just ignored," she said.

November 14, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
A state inmate being held at Bent Correctional Facility reportedly committed suicide Nov. 1. According to Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti, the inmate was identified as Geoffrey A. Scheid, 58. Cause of death was listed as asphyxiation by suffocation, according to Warden Brigham Sloan. Scheid was serving a 19-year sentence on second-degree assault and sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust convictions out of Adams County, Sanguinetti said. The Bent prison is a private medium-security prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

September 17, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
Officials in three Southern Colorado counties said Wednesday that Gov. Bill Ritter's decision to release more than 6,000 inmates from state Department of Corrections custody will be devastating to small communities that house private prisons. Commissioners in Bent, Crowley and Huerfano counties all have private prisons owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Ritter announced the Accelerated Transition Pilot program in August. By June 30, an estimated 2,720 inmates out of 3,400 eligible for parole will be on the streets, saving the state $19 million in prison housing costs. The next year, another 3,000-plus inmates could be released. But Bent County Commissioner Bill Long said that the lion's share of the proposed reduction would come from the private prisons in Crowley, Bent and Huerfano counties. Long said the proposed releases will impact the private facilities which were built at the request of the state. "If they do what they have been talking about in the last few days, which is 5,000 to 6,000 inmates possibly being up for parole, that will empty virtually every private prison in Colorado that has Colorado inmates," Long said. "I guarantee that this will be an absolute disaster for Bent County and Crowley County. No question about it." The Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas are key parts of their local economies with more than 200 employees at each facility, Long said. "We receive property tax, telephone revenue and other benefits from the facilities," Long said. Long explained that the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in Walsenburg and the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington also will be hurt if the reduction occurs. Currently the Huerfano facility is full of inmates from Arizona, but Long said that when Arizona gets its inmate situation straightened out, the inmates will be taken back to that state. "That would be another facility that was built primarily for Colorado inmates that would also be emptied," Long said.

May 15, 2009 Lamar Ledger
An escaped male convict, from Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, led authorities on a high speed chase through Bent County early Wednesday afternoon. The convict, who is being identified as a 52 year-old white male, appears to have escaped while working at a recycling center said Las Animas Police Chief Don Trujillo. The convict appears to have secured regular street clothing after escaping from supervision. At approximately 12:55 p.m. he is believed to have attempted to car jack a vehicle from in front of the Family Dollar store. The escapee is believed to have fled southbound down Bent Avenue. The Police chief said the victim was able to thwart the attack. “Within five to ten minutes of that incident, we had a report of a stolen vehicle from the car wash,” said Trujillo. The car wash is located in the 300 block of Second Street. A 1996 Chysler Concorde appears to have been stolen while the vehicle’s owner was washing the floor mats said Trujillo. The suspect is believed to have then fled eastbound on Highway 50 out of town. The police chief said when officers were unable to locate the suspect in the area around the vehicle theft, they moved the search east until the vehicle was spotted. The ensuing chase along Highway 50 reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour said Trujillo. The chase drew to an end near County Road 34 when two of the tires on the stolen vehicle went flat. The suspect was then apprehended by a Las Animas police officer said Trujillo. Assisting in the pursuit and apprehension of the suspect were the Colorado State Patrol, the Bent County Sheriff’s Office and the State Parks Department. Following the arrest, the suspect was treated by EMTs on scene. Police Chief Trujillo said charges are currently pending for the suspect. Trujillo said the notice of an escaped convict was not given to the department until after the suspect was in custody and the officers were attempting to ascertain the suspect’s identity. The Bent County Correctional Facility is a privately owned, all male, medium security, 1,466 bed facility located on the eastern edge of the town of Las Animas. The facility is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, a Tennessee based company. Phone calls to the warden of the facility were not returned Wednesday. Officials at both the Las Animas School District administration and the Las Animas High School said they were not notified of the escaped inmate by the facility until after the suspect’s apprehension. None of the schools in the district were placed on lock down.

August 18, 2004
A former prison inmate in Las Animas alleged in a lawsuit Tuesday the prison staff transported him on the floor of a van and did not give him prescribed pain medication and proper care after surgery for a hernia. Cornelius Jackson sued Corrections Corporation of America, the operator of the state prison, in U.S. District Court for allegedly causing him severe pain and bleeding. Five staff members of the private prison, the Bent County Correctional Facility, also are defendants. Jackson said he was operated on at a Denver hospital on Oct. 8. He claims the staff, contrary to his doctor's instructions, did not give him prescribed pain medication for 13 hours after he was released from the hospital. The lawsuit alleges that the staff disobeyed the doctor's instructions to take Jackson to a Colorado Department of Corrections institution that had appropriate medical facilities for post-operative care. The lawsuit claims "cost-cutting in the medical department has recently been a central focus and a major concern for CCA." (Pueblo Chieftain)

August 1, 1999
A 24-year-old inmate escaped from the private prison. Officials believe he may have stowed away on a trash truck. He is still at large. Earlier in the month, another inmate who was working at the regional recycling center escaped after hot-wiring a prison van. (Denver Post)

B.M. Moore Correctional Center, Overton, Texas
November 24, 2005 Disability Compliance Bulletin
A corrections officer sued her former employer, Corrections Corp. of America, claiming it failed to accommodate her disability after a work-related vehicular accident. (Cole v. Corrections Corp. of America, No. 05-cv-00411 (E.D. Texas complaint filed 10/31/05).) The case was originally filed in the District Court of Rusk County, Texas, where it was case number 2005-450. The lawsuit, which alleges violations of Title I of the ADA and Texas state law, seeks back pay, compensation for emotional pain, inconvenience and mental anguish, court costs and attorney's fees. Cole, a corrections office at the B.M. Moore Correctional Center in Overton, Texas, was injured in a vehicular accident during the scope of her employment. The accident, which occurred in July 2004, left her with wrist, back, hip and leg injuries. The complaint charges that over the next year, Cole was repeatedly discriminated against on the basis of her disability, and classified in a manner that would deprive her of opportunities for advancement.

Bradshaw State Jail, Henderson, Texas
June 16, 2009 Tyler Morning Telegraph
A prison guard at the Bradshaw State Jail has been arrested after it was alleged she performed sexual acts on a male prisoner and gave him money. Rusk County Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace Bob Richardson arraigned Hether Nicole Bargsley, 32, last Friday on the charges of violations of civil rights of a person in custody by sexual contact and prohibitive substance in a correctional facility. According to court documents, Bargsley allegedly performed a sexual act with a male Bradshaw State Jail inmate on April 25 in a doorway to one of the prison's dormitories. As the investigation continued, Bargsley told officials she did in fact perform the sex act and added she also had given the inmate $200 in currency at different times. The court documents state the offender involved has corroborated Bargsley's story. The violation of civil rights is a state jail felony and the prohibitive substance charge is a third-degree felony. Richardson set the woman's bonds at $7,500 and $10,000 respectively. Steve Owen, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, which runs the private facility, said Bargsley was hired as a guard on Sept. 22, 2008, and was terminated June 11. Owen said he could not discuss the specifics of the case citing an ongoing investigation.

January 23, 2008 Longview News-Journal
An inmate at Bradshaw State Jail in Henderson was found dead in his cell this past week, a Texas Department of Corrections spokesman said. Gregory Cole, 30, was discovered hanging by a bed sheet from the light fixture in his cell at about 11 a.m. Jan. 15, said Jason Clark. Jail personnel performed emergency care on Cole, and he was taken to a hospital. He was pronounced dead at 11:30 a.m. In June 2006, Cole was sentenced to 10 years in state jail for possession and intent to deliver a controlled substance in McLennan County, Clark said. The spokesman did not know where Cole lived. Clark said investigators with the attorney general's office were notified of the death. He said the attorney general's office always is notified when an inmate dies. A call to the AG's office was not returned Tuesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

California City Corrections Center, California City, California
Aug 21, 2014 tennessean.com

The nation's largest private prison company, Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America, has paid more than $8 million in back wages and benefits to current and former employees guarding federal inmates at a prison in California City, officials with the U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday. The payments came after an investigation found that the federal prison subcontractor underpaid 362 employees at the California City Correctional Center under the terms of its contract, where pay rates are established by law, according to federal officials. The company disputed the findings and said it had not violated any laws but was paying its employees under the terms of a pre-existing contract. "This is about the U.S. Department of Labor wanting to retroactively apply a wage standard that wasn't part of the original contractual agreement," company spokesman Jonathan Burns said in a statement. Officials with the Labor Department, however, said that over a period of years employees were paid 30 to 40 percent less than they were supposed to be paid, said Eduardo Huerta, assistant director of the department's wage and hour division. Many employees recouped more than $30,000 in back pay, benefits, overtime and holiday pay, officials said, and had worked at the lesser pay rate for up to five years. The facility houses federal inmates being detained by the U.S. Marshal and federal immigration authorities, as well as state inmates. The back wages applied only to CCA employees working with federal inmates. Corrections Corp. of America will seek a retroactive cost increase for the contract to absorb the additional wages and benefits, Burns said. "We greatly value our employees and the important work that they do to keep our communities safe and secure," he said. The company also wasn't making the required contributions to health and life insurance and retirement accounts, Huerta said. The investigation found record-keeping violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act, include inaccurate recording of breaks, lunches and overall hours worked. "If somebody was supposed to be making $30 an hour, they were making $20 an hour instead," said Huerta. "The people that get these federal monies from a federal agency to get one of these contracts have to abide by the wage rates." Corrections Corp. of America — the fifth-largest prison system in the nation — has come under scrutiny before. In Kentucky, it paid $260,000 last week to settle claims that it denied overtime to shift supervisors and forced them to work extra hours. In Kansas, CCA and a group of collections officers, case managers and clerks settled in 2009 in federal court over allegations of unpaid overtime. CCA agreed to pay a maximum of $7 million but did not acknowledge fault in the case. Idaho, which had contracted with the company for its Boise prison, began the process of returning operations of the facility to state control. The facility was sued and plagued by accusations of violence, gang activity and understaffing after the private prison contractor took it over. Corrections Corp. of America operates detention centers for federal, state and local governments in 20 states in the U.S. and houses nearly 80,000 inmates at 60 facilities. California City is about 110 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

 

Aug 19, 2014 nanaimodailynews.com

CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. - The nation's largest private prison company has paid more than $8 million in back wages and benefits to current and former employees at its federal prison facility in California City. The U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday that Corrections Corp. of America paid the money to staff at the California City Correctional Center after an investigation found it wasn't paying the rates required of federal contractors. A department official says in some cases employees were paid 40 per cent less than required by pay rate regulations established for contractors. The company also wasn't making required contributions to retirement accounts and health and life insurance. Many workers will receive more than $30,000. Messages left with the Nashville, Tennessee-based company spokesmen weren't immediately returned.

June 21, 2010 Bakersfield Californian
Center has notified the state of California that it may lay off as many as 67 employees. Corrections Corp. of America, the private prison operator that runs the 2,304-bed facility, could not be reached for comment Monday. But in a report to financial regulators in February, the Nashville-based company said a contract to house federal offenders will not be renewed after it expires at the end of September. The company said it is "pursuing other opportunities" at the medium-security California City facility. Total revenues at the facility were $68.7 million and $67.7 million during the years ended Dec. 31, 2009 and 2008, respectively, according to the filing.

January 13, 2010 AP
Corrections Corp. of America said Wednesday that its contract to manage federal inmates at a 2,300-bed California prison wasn't renewed and will expire in September. Meanwhile, the nation's largest prison operator said a contract to manage a smaller New Mexico facility was renewed. CCA said it would continue management of California City Correctional Center through September. The renewed contract with the Cibola County Corrections Center in Milan, N.M., will go into effect Oct. 1. That deal at the 1,200-bed facility, has a four-year term with three, two-year renewal options.

July 2, 2009 Ottawa Citizen
The Harper government has denied an Alberta man’s bid for a transfer from a U.S. jail to a Canadian prison on the grounds that he may one day commit a crime. Brent James Curtis, 28, is in a privately-run, for-profit prison in California serving 57 months after pleading guilty to a $1-million U.S. drug trafficking conspiracy in 2007. It was his first offence and he pleaded guilty to it right away, saying he was drawn to so-called easy money. He told his family that he didn’t feel right mounting a defence because he was guilty. The one-time elite hockey player — benched from any chance in the NHL after getting hit by a truck — makes an interesting argument to win a prison transfer, saying not only that he wants to serve the remainder of his sentence — two years — closer to his family and support network, but that if he isn’t transferred, he will return home after completing his U.S. sentence without a criminal record in Canada. The Correctional Service of Canada has confirmed that if Curtis doesn’t get a transfer and serves out his term in the U.S., he will return home “a free man” without a criminal record in the system. But if the Harper government approves the transfer, which the U.S. administration has already done, Curtis would, in fact, have a criminal record in the Canadian criminal system. Curtis has also used the very root of the international prisoner transfer treaty in his request, notably that it was founded on rehabilitation and reintegration into the community — something the Harper government has now dismissed. “This is a tough place. I’m losing everything, every day,” said Curtis, one of a dozen Canadians in the California private prison, known for its warring Mexican drug gangs. He has not been afforded any rehabilitation programs or schooling. “The weird thing about this all is that I am coming home regardless of getting the transfer. My release date is 2011. If I do not get the transfer I will have zero rehabilitation and never get fingerprinted by Canada,” said Curtis, who intends to go back to school upon his return. “Wouldn’t Peter van Loan (Canada’s public safety minister) want me to receive supervision on parole and programs to help me re-integrate into Canada?” If he did get into trouble with the law in Canada, Curtis would be treated as a first-time offender. “The public safety minister’s tough-on-crime stance really seems short sighted to me.” Van Loan has signed a rejection letter saying that because Curtis’s role was a “money man” and “transporter” in the drug conspiracy, he has “already taken several steps down the road towards involvement in a criminal organization offence. Given the nature of the applicant’s acts, I believe that he may, after the transfer, commit a criminal organization offence.” But according to U.S. authorities, Curtis was not, in fact, the “money man” — rather a courier for the money man in the Miami cocaine conspiracy. In a sentencing hearing, U.S. authorities described Curtis as a “minor participant.” His U.S. lawyer, Marc Seitles, has worked on several international transfer cases, and says “Of all the countries, I cannot believe that Canada, a country seemingly known to be more humane than the United States, won’t let one of its Canadian citizens come home, especially a bright kid like Brent.” In Calgary hockey circles, Curtis is known as a former elite player who, despite his career setback, went on to volunteer as a triple-A coaching assistant to help young athletes get good enough to make the NHL. In a letter of support filed with a U.S. court for a sentencing hearing, Jim Finney, a coach for Minor Midget AAA Blackhawks, wrote about the impact Curtis had as a volunteer coach on the team: “The passion that Brent showed for each of the kids will stay with them for the rest of their lives. In a volunteer position such as this one, the rewards were not financial, but rather emotional. Brent was emotionally invested in the team, and that was abundantly clear to anyone that saw him.” Donna Cornaccia, the team’s director, said that Curtis has a “genuineness about him which is imperative when dealing with youth, they have the ability to see through a false presentation and can quickly identify when an adult is not being sincere. Brent has had a huge positive impact on many of these young adults. He has been a confidant and a trustworthy person for whom these youth can go to if needed … Brent is a compassionate, kind and considerate individual whom I am proud to know.” Curtis not only had a reputation as a tough hockey player in Calgary, but made a point of publicly speaking out against drugs — especially when it came to his sister’s “druggie” friends. As an athlete, he repeatedly told his sister to stay clear of drugs. The son of a high school teacher, Curtis became a day trader at the age of 25, only to find out he wasn’t that good at it. “Unfortunately, I had trouble earning a living and made the horrible error of trying to make fast, illegal money,” he said. Through an old friend, Curtis, at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, was recruited in 2007 to be the wheelman for the purchaser. He drove the car to a Miami parking lot, where they met the cocaine dealer who was actually a police informant. Then, after the purchaser tested a sample of the buy, the police swooped in and arrested him, along with Curtis. The Alberta man is one of about 12 Canadians doing time in California City prison, which houses predominantly Mexican criminals, and since the crackdown on drug cartels, warring gangs have rioted, according to Curtis and another Canadian inmate who spoke to the Citizen. The inmates say that in the past three months, the prison has been locked down a total of 47 days, meaning they spend about 23 hours a day inside their cells, where they are also fed. The inmates say all 12 Canadians have written the Canadian government for relief without success. “We have been in the middle of a Mexican drug cartel war which has spilled into the prison. We all fear for our safety and if or when one of us does get hurt, no one can say that we did not warn them,” Curtis said. Van Loan said he is not at liberty to comment on specific cases.

July 19, 2006 LA Daily News
A Tennessee-based company that operates a prison in California City is starting environmental studies for an adjoining 550-bed prison in anticipation of vying for a contract to house state inmates. Corrections Corporation of America is starting environmental studies examining the impacts of a 200,000-square-foot prison. Citing sensitivity for a potential customer and the competitive process, a CCA spokesman said it was too early to talk about costs of such a facility or staffing. "The state issued a request for proposals to build and operate a community correctional facility," said CCA spokesman Steve Owen. "As part of our preliminary work, we are preparing the environmental studies. It is still very preliminary to say what the state will ultimately pursue."

January 13, 2003
With 29 years experience in corrections work for both the government and private sector, Warden Percy Pitzer is looking forward to hanging his hat Monday in the office of his own consulting company. Pitzer's resignation as warden of the California City Correctional Center became effective Friday, his last day at the prison he has stood watch over since June 2000. "I'm leaving on very good terms with (Corrections Corporation of America)," Pitzer said. "I want to do something on my own." On Monday, Warden Charles Gilkey, recently retired from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, begins his stint at the California City Correctional Center. Also on Monday, Pitzer, who spent 25 years with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and four years with CCA, officially opens Creative Corrections in Las Vegas (email: createcorrection@aol.com). He plans to provide consulting services with corrections departments throughout the West, and establish programs to educate inmates and reduce the cost of incarceration. (The Bakersfield Californian)

October 10, 2002
In a move hailed as historic by private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America and representatives of the Mexican government, an agreement was signed Monday to establish a Mexican high school program at the California City Correctional Center. (Bakersfield California)

February 7, 2002
A 42-year-old inmate at the California City Corrections Center was in serious condition Thursday evening at Kern Medical Center after suffering a stab wound to his neck on Wednesday, officials said. The private facility since September 2000 has operated on a federal contract for inmates, he said. About 95 percent of its inmates are serving sentences for drug and deportation crimes. The prison is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America, which is based in Nashville, Tenn. (The Bakersfield Californian)

Camino Nuevo Women's Prison, Albuquerque, New Mexico


February 17, 2012 Albuquerque Journal
A federal jury Thursday ordered over $3 million in damages to three former inmates raped by a prison guard at Camino Nuevo Women’s Correctional Facility in 2007. The intertwined state and federal claims, coupled with questions about who must pay the compensatory and punitive damages, however, are certain to engender more litigation – probably from both sides. Jurors heard over a week of testimony before U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson before they were charged with rendering a verdict late Wednesday. It took the jury a day to work through the 10-page verdict form with over 30 questions relating to victims Heather Spurlock, Nina Carrera and Sophia Carrasco, and two sets of defendants. They included former guard Anthony Townes, who is serving a 16-year state prison sentence for criminal sexual penetration and false imprisonment, his then-employer Corrections Corporation of America and Barbara Wagner, the warden of Camino Nuevo at the time. The court had ruled before trial that Townes was liable for violating the constitutional rights of the inmates to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. But he left it to the jury to decide if CCA and Wagner were liable for negligent supervision – the jury said yes – and whether they also had violated the inmates’ rights by discouraging inmate complaints – the jury said no. Jurors awarded $100,000 in compensatory damages each to Spurlock and Carrera, and $125,000 to Carrasco. They ordered CCA to pay $5,000 in punitive damages to Spurlock and $50,000 in punitive damages to Carrasco.

February 16, 2012 Albuquerque Journal
A federal jury on Thursday returned a verdict awarding compensatory damages of $100,000 to two victims and $125,000 to a third raped by former Corrections Corporation of America officer Anthony Townes, now serving a 16-year prison sentence for the criminal sexual penetration of four women. The jury also awarded each plaintiff in the lawsuit $1 million in punitive damages against Townes — awards are certain to face additional litigation. The jury found CCA and Barbara Wagner, the then-warden at the Camino Nuevo Women’s Correctional Facility, had not violated the constitutional rights of the women but ordered some punitive damages against them based on other conduct. The rapes occurred while the women were inmates at the facility in 2007.

February 9, 2012 Albuquerque Journal
Victims of sexual assault by a corrections officer at an Albuquerque contract prison facility for women told a jury Wednesday that they didn’t report the incidents because they didn’t think they would be believed. They also said they thought making waves would inevitably bring retaliation in the form of lost good time, recreational time or tossed prison cells. Heather Spurlock, 39, now working as a medical receptionist, and Sophia Carrasco, 47, who cleans rooms at a resort hotel, were inmates at the Corrections Corporation of America-run Camino Nuevo facility in 2007. In a situation where it was an inmate’s word against a corrections officer, they said they were confident they would come out on the losing end. Camino Nuevo, they said, was run with intense discipline, little tolerance and few rehabilitative programs, even though it was presumably a minimum-security lockup and a halfway step on their way to release from incarceration. Both said the women’s prison at Grants had been congenial and supportive, in contrast to Camino Nuevo, where they spent hours picking up rocks and demolishing “anything green” during outdoor work details and frequent periods of lockdown in their cells. The sexual assaults by Anthony Townes occurred over a six-month period to Spurlock and once in the early morning hours to Carrasco. Townes is serving an 18-year criminal sentence for his state conviction in Bernalillo County for the rapes of four female inmates, three of whom are involved in the civil lawsuit against him, CCA and its then-warden. The trial began Monday in Albuquerque before U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson.

February 8, 2012 Albuquerque Journal
A female inmate raped by a prison guard in 2007 testified Tuesday about conditions at the newly opened Camino Nuevo facility in Albuquerque where she had been moved from the women’s prison in Grants. Heather Spurlock Jackson, 39, was the first witness at the civil trial in U.S. District Court brought against the guard, Anthony Townes, now serving an 18-year prison sentence for raping her and three other women. Other defendants are the prison operator, Corrections Corporation of America, and then-warden Barbara Wagner. Spurlock, Sophia Carrasco and Nina Carrera allege federal civil rights violations because they say inmate complaints were discouraged. They also contend that CCA and Wagner were negligent in hiring and in supervision of the contract facility. Spurlock described a setting that was harsher and less organized than the women’s facility in Grants where she had spent the previous five years without write-ups. She said Grants was strict but that it had programs — she had earned two associate’s degrees through a distance learning program while there — and staff who recognized the humanity of the residents. Spurlock and the other 200 or so inmates moved to Camino Nuevo hadn’t volunteered for the transfer but seemed to have been picked at random, she said. They were loaded onto buses and taken to the old Bernalillo County jail in Downtown Albuquerque because Camino Nuevo wasn’t ready. They stayed there for three months before being taken to the new facility, which still seemed unready to receive them. There were no programs, no handbook and only a minimal briefing before the women were locked down in their cells. Spurlock will testify starting today about the rape, but her attorney, Nicole Moss, said Townes “raped, stalked, threatened and terrorized” inmates at the facility and that his behavior went unchecked without anyone intervening. U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson already has determined liability for Townes. The question for the jury of eight will be the amount of damages attributable to him and whether and how much damages the company and the warden should be responsible for. Daniel P. Struck, a Phoenix lawyer defending CCA and Wagner, told the jury in his opening statement that the women had numerous opportunities to report the sexual assaults but did not, including through a tip line that went to the state Corrections Department. “It wasn’t fear (of retribution) that kept them from reporting,” he said. Spurlock, serving a 16-year term for embezzling $16,000 from a nonprofit, was involved in a voluntary relationship with Townes, he said, and there was an effort to conceal it.

October 11, 2011 Albuquerque Journal
Onetime prison guard Anthony Townes is now about two years into an 18-year state prison sentence after he admitted raping four women at Camino Nuevo Women’s Correctional Facility in 2007. The civil lawsuit filed by some of the women, however, still is months away from being resolved. Trial in the 2009 case filed by Heather Spurlock and two other former inmates at the detention facility was to have begun this month. Several postponements were requested by the defendants including Townes, former warden Barbara Wagner and the Corrections Corporation of America, the private contractor that operated the prison at the time. Camino Nuevo in 2007 was run as an adult prison and was taking overflow from the women’s prison in Grants. It is now a juvenile detention center operated by the state Children, Youth and Families Department. A primary reason for the latest trial delay was the late disclosure of two additional women who claimed sexual abuse by Townes but who are not involved in the civil lawsuit. The defense said it needed more time to interview those witnesses before trial. Attorneys for the victims said their anticipated testimony about “the traumatic, invasive and highly personal experience of sexual assault” is only made worse by having to repeatedly prepare for trial. CCA was well aware of the additional sexual assault victims, anyway, they said. U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson, who has now set a firm trial date of Feb. 6, previously ruled Townes civilly liable for the rapes. He has dismissed some claims against CCA. Among questions for the jury will be whether Townes’ assaults can be legally charged to CCA negligence or deliberate indifference in operating the facility, principally over what the victims contend was a custom of discouraging inmate complaints against staff. The women’s lawyers will try to give the jury a picture of what happened during the incidents, as well as the context in which each assault took place and how CCA responded. Plaintiffs’ expert Manuel D. Romero said in a report he believes CCA “did not provide a safe and secure living environment for (women) in the Camino Nuevo facility.” He said the fact that “such horrific crimes” could be undetected for several months shows there are “systemic failures within the facility.” He said in a report there was a “clear lack of accountability over Mr. Townes and his movement within the prison.” Plaintiffs’ attorneys may also seek to place Townes’ assaults in the broader context of underreporting of prison problems. Documents in the court file include excerpts from testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in 2008 about a former CCA manager-turned-whistleblower who said the company maintained dual sets of quality assurance reports. The versions sent to government contracting agencies reportedly failed to include “zero tolerance” events including riots, escapes, unnatural deaths and sexual assaults at company-run facilities. CCA has said in court documents that it put Townes on leave and required him to surrender his badge.

November 20, 2009 KRQE
A judge sentenced a former correction officer who raped four female inmates to 18 years in prison after emotional pleas from his victims. "I knew him as a monster, a liar a man who thought because of his position he was wanted by all but could do as he pleased," one of the victims said. Anthony Townes pleaded guilty to four counts of rape and false imprisonment. The rapes occurred between January and August of 2007 at Camino Nuevo, which is a privately run lockup for female state prison inmates. Despite the guilty plea, Townes denies hit committed the crimes. He told the judge Friday that the only reason he pleaded guilty was to avoid a longer prison term. He said the women are lying. "There is no fear factor. I would never threaten anyone else's kids. I have a grandmother, mother a girlfriend, a sister and 4-year-old daughter, so therefore I would not do that to any woman because no woman deserves that," Townes said. Townes faced 36 years in prison if he was convicted by a jury.

October 12, 2007 The Review
A former Alliance man who is accused of sexually assaulting inmates at the women's prison that employed him may be facing life in prison. Bond was set at $500,000, cash only, by Bernalillo County Judge Sandra Engle for Anthony Shay Townes, 33, of Albuquerque, N.M. Townes, a member of Alliance High School's 1993 graduating class and a football standout for the Aviators during his senior year, is charged with four counts of criminal sexual penetration, a second degree felony; four counts of sexual contact, a fourth-degree felony; and four counts of kidnapping. According to Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department Detective Lorraine Montoya, Townes faces up to 33 years in prison (or life) on each second-degree felony charge. According to the affidavit submitted by investigators, Townes is accused of raping and sexually assaulting four female inmates at the Camino Nuevo Correctional Center, a private minimum security prison where he was employed between February and August. Montoya said investigators are still awaiting tests on DNA evidence that would link Townes to the attacks in this ongoing investigation. Victims testified that Townes snuck inmates out of their pods at night and out of view of security cameras to avoid detection by his supervisors.

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."

October 10, 2007 Albuquerque Tribune
A male prison guard is in jail on charges he raped four female inmates in the privately run Camino Nuevo women's prison in Albuquerque. Corrections Officer Anthony Shay Townes, 33, was arrested Tuesday by Bernalillo County sheriff's investigators. According to a criminal complaint: A teacher working in the women's prison in early August overheard a conversation between inmates about one of them having DNA evidence to prove some sort of relationship. With more digging, the teacher and her supervisors learned the inmate was discussing having had a sexual encounter with a corrections officer. One of the inmates told the supervisor that the corrections officer was Townes. Townes was immediately placed in a position without inmate contact, then placed on leave a day later. He is currently on unpaid leave, prison officials said. Townes is at the Metropolitan Detention Center with bail set at $500,000 cash-only. Sheriff's deputies were called to the prison on 4050 Edith Blvd. N.E., the former maximum security juvenile facility, on Aug. 14 to start an investigation into the allegations. On Aug. 18, they were called back again, this time because another inmate told supervisors that Townes had raped her earlier that week. Two more inmates also told investigators Townes had attacked them. Their similar reports to detectives include being taken to an area in the facility out of view of cameras and being assaulted by Townes. One inmate said she was attacked several times beginning in February. Another inmate reported being taken out of her cell at 2:30 a.m., an unusual time to leave her cell but ". . . when a C.O. tells you to do something, you just do it," she told detectives, according to the complaint. That woman told detectives she saw Townes sneaking other women out of their cells at night. Prison spokesman Steve Owen said Townes was hired in October 2006, shortly after the prison opened. Owen said that as the first of the allegations surfaced against Townes, he was immediately placed on leave and authorities were immediately notified.

Central Arizona Detention Center, Florence, Arizona
January 28, 2011 Star-Advertiser
The Abercrombie administration is starting to make good on the governor's promise to bring all state prison inmates incarcerated on the mainland back to Hawaii.The state returned 243 inmates from Arizona last week and sent back just 96 to take their place. Of the 243 returning inmates, 54 are getting paroled, 28 are about to complete their prison terms and three are back for court hearings. When Gov. Neil Abercrombie promised swift action last month to bring back all Hawaii inmates serving time in mainland prisons, state Senate Public Safety Chairman Will Espero was not expecting action so soon. "I was pleasantly surprised," he said. Espero said he learned of the returning inmates yesterday from state Public Safety Director Jodie Maesaka-Hirata. He said the state conducts prison transfers quarterly, but it usually sends at least the same number of prisoners to the mainland as it returns. He applauded Abercrombie's plan to bring back all Hawaii inmates. "If we're going to spend $60 million a year to house inmates, I'd rather spend it here in Hawaii than on the mainland," Espero said. The state returned 152 inmates to Hawaii on Jan. 19, sent 96 to Arizona on Jan. 20 and returned an additional 91 last Friday. The transfers leave 1,759 Hawaii inmates in Arizona: 1,705 in Saguaro Correctional Center, 51 in Red Rock Correctional Center, two in Florence State Prison and one in Central Arizona Detention Center. Central Arizona, in Florence, and Saguaro and Red Rock, both in Eloy, are private prisons operated by Corrections Corp. of America, which houses Hawaii inmates under contract with the state. Abercrombie made his promise after 18 Hawaii inmates at Saguaro sued CCA, the state and the state's contract monitor. The inmates claim they were beaten and assaulted and their families threatened by prison guards. The Public Safety Department sent a team to examine practices at Saguaro last year after two Hawaii inmates died in February and June. The state returned all but one of the 169 women serving time in a CCA prison in Kentucky in 2009 after the inmates reported widespread sexual abuse by guards and prison employees.  The Abercrombie administration is starting to make good on the governor's promise to bring all state prison inmates incarcerated on the mainland back to Hawaii.

November 25, 2010 Florence Reminder
Contract talks between Corrections Corporation of America and the union continued Monday in Chandler, but the business agent for the local said he wasn’t very optimistic for a breakthrough in negotiations that started in May. “I think [CCA is] going through the motions. The bottom line is they don’t want the union here,” Robert Inman said. A company spokesman in Nashville disagreed, saying the company is working in good faith toward an amicable solution. At issue is a new three-year contract for employees at CCA’s Central Arizona Detention Center in Florence. The majority of CADC detention officers, approximately 350 in all, don’t belong to the Security, Police & Fire Professionals of America Local 825. Just over 100 do belong. The union is seeking a 4 percent raise in each of the next three years, which Inman said is what local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees received in their new contract. Union members have said CCA is offering 10 cents an hour. CCA spokesman Steve Owen declined to discuss specific dollar amounts “out of respect for the negotiating process.” But he said CCA does have a proposal in front of the union that offers a raise and “preserves outstanding benefits.” But Inman said even with the raise the union is seeking, CADC employees would still earn considerably less than they would at ICE. “Twenty-two bucks [an hour at CADC] is not bad, but up the street [at ICE] it’s 26, 27 and 28.” He said a regular ICE detention officer earns about $26.87 per hour, while transportation officers and armed guards earn about a dollar more. Inman said the union would also like to secure CADC employees some bereavement leave, which they have at ICE. Owen said CADC and ICE don’t house exactly the same inmates. He said CADC does have ICE detainees, but there are other partners too. “I wouldn’t call it identical” to the local ICE facility, he said. He said CADC also holds inmates for the U.S. Marshal Service and the Pascua Yaqui tribe. Inman said CCA can simply pass on the costs of the new contract to the federal government. It submits the contract to the U.S. Department of Labor for approval. If the wages are too high, the government takes the union to a “variance hearing.” But Owen said it’s “not as simple as passing along an increase to the government. “... Our governmental partners are working under increasingly-tight budgets,” Owen said. “... We’ve seen contracts pulled and jobs lost because it was advantageous for the government to relocate where wages are lower.” He said CCA had a U.S. Bureau of Prisons contract in California, but when it was up for renewal, the government opted for a less-expensive contract in Georgia, even though “they were highly complimentary of our facility.” Inman said he isn’t worried the union is seeking a wage that will put the facility in jeopardy. “I’ve been doing this 15-16 years. If we’re too high, the government will take us to a variance hearing. That’s why we try to stay on the parameter of not pricing ourselves out of business. “... We don’t want to price ourselves out of a job. Our goals are good working conditions, a good living for your family, getting your kids an education, taking your kids on a vacation every year and making a halfway-decent dollar.” Owen said CADC already pays a wage above what the federal government sets, yet is still offering a raise. “We’re making decisions that won’t hurt our ability to do business, and hurt our employees by the loss of jobs. ... The company is not going to agree to demands that don’t make good sense.” Owen said the union has barred two-thirds of represented employees from voting on the contract; Inman agreed that nonmembers don’t have a vote. CCA had proposed a federal mediator to help negotiations progress, but the union backed out of that meeting, Owen said. Inman replied that the mediator was scheduled to be present Monday.

April 21, 2010 ABC 15
A former Arizona correctional officer pleaded guilty this week to attempting to give a prison inmate drugs, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Juan Nunez, 41, of Coolidge, admitted he attempted to provide the inmate with cocaine while he worked at the Corrections Corporation of America Central Arizona Detention Center in Florence. On November 6, 2008, Nunez met with an undercover FBI Special Agent in a parking lot in Tucson, according to a news release. During the meeting in the agent's car, Nunez reportedly took half an ounce of cocaine and $1,600 in cash as payment for delivering the drugs to the inmate. Nunez was arrested without incident after he got out of the car, according to authorities.

January 13, 2009 Press Release
A report released today by the Southwest Institute for Research on Women and the Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program describes harsh conditions of confinement for the roughly three hundred women housed in immigration detention facilities in Arizona. The report, Unseen Prisoners: A Report on Women in Immigration Detention Facilities in Arizona, is based on over a year of research, including over 40 interviews with detainees, their family members, attorneys, and service providers. “Few people realize that we are locking up huge numbers of immigrants every day and holding them for months and in some cases years at a time. They are not being punished for a crime, and yet they are held in facilities that are identical to, and often double as, prisons or jails,” said Nina Rabin, the lead researcher and author of the report. “Women immigration detainees in particular are an invisible population. We hope this report will raise awareness about women locked up just an hour away from here in conditions that would shock most Americans. We also hope to raise awareness about the U.S. citizen children separated from their mothers right now because of immigration detention.” The report provides detailed information about day-to-day life in the three facilities that house women immigration detainees in Arizona: Central Arizona Detention Center, Pinal County Jail, and Eloy Detention Center. Rabin and several University of Arizona law students conducted interviews and extensive background research for the report over a twelve month period between August 2007 and August 2008. Rabin described the study’s participants: “In our small sample size of detainees who agreed to participate in this research study, we encountered pregnant and nursing mothers, domestic violence victims, low-wage workers swept up in worksite raids, and asylum-seekers fleeing persecution and sexual violence.” The federal agency in charge of the detention and removal of immigrants, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), contracts for two of the facilities to be run by the private prison company the Corrections Corporation of America. In the case of Pinal County Jail, ICE contracts with the county. ICE permitted the researchers access to two of the three facilities, but declined requests to interview ICE representatives or facility personnel for the report. Rabin met with ICE representatives in December to discuss the report’s findings and recommendations. Key findings of the report include: • Family separation: The majority of women interviewed were separated from at least one U.S. citizen child under the age of 10 and were transferred to Arizona from out of state. As a result, they were hundreds or at times thousands of miles away from their families and communities during their time in detention. • Severe penal conditions for women who are not serving criminal sentences: Women described conditions of confinement that are in many cases more restrictive than in county jails or prisons, including limited access to recreation, a complete absence of programming or activities, frugal provision of food and other supplies, and the routine use of strip searches and shackling during transport. • Aggressive government prosecution and detention of women who pose no security threat or flight risk: Attorneys reported that ICE routinely appeals decisions to release pregnant women on bond; rejects or does not respond to applications for humanitarian parole of victims of domestic violence, refugees, or women with serious health conditions; and refuses to reduce bonds for families unable to pay. • Inadequate medical care: Women reported inadequate gynecological and obstetrical care, long waits for medical attention, and dismissive responses to medical requests. The report contains detailed recommendations for Congress, the Department of Homeland Security, ICE, and the individual facilities researched. Recommendations range from broad policy changes, including the need for increased consideration of the impact of immigration detention on families, to specific facility-level concerns, such as the lack of outdoor recreation in Pinal County Jail. The report will be available beginning on January 13, 2009, at http://www.law.arizona.edu/depts/clinics/ilc//UnseenPrisoners.pdf. For more information, please contact Nina Rabin at (520) 621-9206 or rabin@email.arizona.edu.

December 19, 2008 West Central Tribune
Andrew Gordon Lemcke, 34, formerly of Appleton, appeared Friday afternoon before District Judge David Mennis in Benson to face a Swift County grand jury’s indictments on first-degree, premeditated murder and second-degree, intentional murder in the Sept. 12, 2004, shooting death of his wife, Nichole Riley-Lemcke, 26. Lemcke’s family was able to post $10,000 bail for him by late afternoon and allow for his conditional release, according to his attorney, Brian Wojtalewicz of Appleton. Minnesota Assistant Attorney General William Klump asked the court to set bail at $1 million, but Judge Mennis offered Lemcke two options. He could post a $100,000 bond or $10,000 cash and be released on conditions that require he not leave the state without the court’s approval. Or, he could post $1 million bond or $100,000 cash bail and be released without conditions. In asking for $1 million bail, Klump argued that Lemcke represented a flight risk due to his connections in Arizona and the possibility of fleeing into Mexico, as well as the seriousness of the charges against him. A first-degree murder conviction carries the possibility of life in prison, while a second-degree murder conviction could result in a 40-year sentence. Wojtalewicz called the $1 million bail request “absurd.’’ He said Lemcke desperately wanted to be reunited with his 5-year-old daughter and poses no risk. He told the court that Lemcke was returning from Scout camp with his daughter and was only one hour from the Mexican border when Wojtalewicz called him on Nov. 16 to tell him that a grand jury had indicted him on murder. Within two hours of the phone call, Lemcke had arranged for his daughter’s care and turned himself in to the sheriff in Pinal County, Ariz., according to Wojtalewicz. He also pointed out for the court that a Swift County grand jury had heard testimony in the case in April 2005 and had returned no bill of indictment. Lemcke has been working for the past two years as a corrections officer with Corrections Corporation of America in Florence, Ariz., owns a home there, and has not represented a threat to others or a flight risk, Wojtalewicz said.

November 19, 2008 West Central Tribune
A Swift County grand jury has issued indictments for first- and second-degree murder against Andrew Gordon Lemcke, 34, in the shooting of his wife Nichole Riley-Lemcke in their Appleton home on Sept. 12, 2004. The indictments against Lemcke were issued Monday and are now filed with the Minnesota courts, according to the trial court public access system. The court file lists charges of first-degree murder – premeditated and second-degree murder – with intent not premeditated for an offense alleged to have been committed. The grand jury had been convened last week and is believed to have heard testimony Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before issuing the indictment on Monday. The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office declined comment on Tuesday. Spokesman Ben Wogsland said there was “nothing of a public nature’’ that he could address. Swift County Attorney Robin Finke was in court and could not be reached Tuesday afternoon. Previously, the county attorney said that grand jury proceedings are secret and that his office could not comment in any respect unless or until a defendant is presented with charges in district court. The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office in Florence, Ariz., took Lemcke into custody under a governor’s warrant on Nov. 16, according to its Web site. Lemcke has been living in Florence, Ariz., where he has been employed as a correctional officer with the Corrections Corporation of America facility, according to information obtained during an earlier civil lawsuit filed against him by his late wife’s family. Nichole Riley-Lemcke, 26, a mother of three, was shot in the Appleton home she shared with Andrew Lemcke during the early morning hours of Sept. 12, 2004. Lemcke described the shooting as accidental in a letter to the editor published after the incident.

November 7, 2008 Lawfuel
Juan Nunez, 39, of Coolidge, Ariz., was arrested by the FBI yesterday and charged today with Attempted Provision of a Prohibited Object to an Inmate and Possession of Cocaine With Intent to Distribute. Nunez is employed as a corrections officer by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and currently works at CCA’s Central Arizona Detention Center located in Florence, Ariz. The CCA facility houses federal inmates per a contract with the federal government. The criminal complaint alleges that since October 30, 2008, Nunez has been negotiating with an inmate to bring cocaine into the facility from an outside source on the inmate’s behalf. On November 6, 2008, Nunez met with an undercover FBI agent acting as the outside source. During the meeting, Nunez accepted a ½ ounce of cocaine for the inmate and a $1,600 payment for agreeing to smuggle the cocaine into the facility. Nunez was arrested immediately after he took possession of the cocaine and money. At his initial appearance today in federal court in Phoenix, Nunez was held over for a detention hearing set for Monday, November 10th at 3:45 p.m. A conviction for Attempted Provision of a Prohibited Object to an Inmate in this case carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine or both; and a conviction for Possession of Cocaine With Intent to Distribute in this case carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $1,000,000 fine or both. In determining an actual sentence, the judge ultimately assigned to this case will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence. A criminal complaint is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

February 23, 2007 The Arizona Republic
The parent company of the Central Arizona Detention Center in Florence has agreed to pay more than $400,000 to settle findings of hiring discrimination. U.S. Department of Labor investigators said the privately run prison's selection process disproportionately rejected non-Hispanic job applicants who applied to be correctional officers during a two-year period that ended in March 2005. The prison has agreed to pay 464 former applicants an equal share of $438,626, or $945.32 each, which includes back pay and interest. The prison will also hire 16 previously rejected applicants. The Corrections Corporation of America, which manages the prison, said the settlement doesn't mean it violated federal affirmative action law. "Although we continue to disagree with the position taken by (the Labor Department), we have agreed to take certain steps to resolve this matter," a company statement said. The investigation was the result of routine audits that the Labor Department conducts with companies contracting with the federal government. "We'll go in and we'll look at the job applicant pool for more than one position, and we look at who applied for the jobs and who was hired," spokeswoman Deanne Amaden said. "In this case, what we found was a high disproportionate number of Hispanics were being hired. The result was that the non-Hispanics were not getting that job opportunity." Corrections Corporation of America has also agreed to immediately stop discriminatory practices and undergo self-monitoring measures to ensure legal hiring practices, according to the Labor Department.

November 11, 2006 Arizona Daily Star
A lockdown at the Central Arizona Detention Center in Florence has suspended visitation as authorities conduct a routine search for contraband, said Gilbert Carmona, assistant warden. "This is a yearly shakedown," he said Friday, but declined to say if anything has been found. The detention center has about 3,000 inmates, Carmona said. The lockdown is expected to last about a week, he said. Visitation will be resumed when the lockdown is lifted, he added. The privately-run facility is owned by Corrections Corporation of America.

September 29, 2005 Casa Grande Valley News
Several employees at Central Arizona Detention Center used their mid- day break last Thursday to have a piece of cake and congratulate a colleague on his birthday. Harry J. Larson celebrated his 80th birthday while on the job as a correctional officer. CADC Warden Bruno Stolc presented a plaque to Larson, who has been with the private prison in Florence since June 2001. The warden recalled in front of about 25 people assembled, how Larson recently helped pull an aggressive inmate off another officer. "So Mr. Larson is not just filling a spot. Mr. Larson is a correctional officer, and we're dang proud to have him," Stolc said. Warden Stolc said while Larson is the oldest CADC employee, he is not the oldest employee in CCA. Frank Deloria, an officer at the company's Eden, Texas, prison is 83. The company also has a part- time registered nurse who is 87, Stolc said.

December 7, 2004 Metropolitan News-Enterprise
A federal magistrate judge in Arizona should have appointed a lawyer to represent an incarcerated immigrant suing a private jailer over his treatment, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday.
It was an abuse of discretion not to name counsel under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1915(e)(1) for Emmanuel Senyo Agyeman in his civil rights suit, Senior Judge John T. Noonan said. He was held at a variety of correctional facilities, included one operated by a private contractor, Corrections Corporation of America. In his lawsuit, he contended he was shackled, bound and beaten by CCA employees while being transported for medical treatment in 1998. After a trial at which he represented himself, a jury rejected his claims. The Ninth Circuit appointed a lawyer to represented him in his appeal and yesterday vacated the judgment resulting from the trial. Agyeman, Noonan explained, was under the misconception that he could proceed against the individual CCA corrections officers under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 as if they were state employees, while in fact their liability could only be predicated on Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The corporation itself, however, could not be subjected to liability under Bivens, as Agyeman sought to do, Noonan said; instead, Agyeman should have sued the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act and sought to join CCA as a defendant. The plaintiff never succeeded in gaining access to the federal regulations which, on appeal, CCA argued governed his treatment at the time of the alleged incident, Noonan added. Without gaining access to the federal prison regulations, Agyeman could not establish that the treatment he alleged that he received was or was not contrary to what was required by the United States as to noncriminal detainees. Without a lawyer, Agyeman not only did not think of obtaining this information but did not advance any coherent theory for subjecting Corrections Corporation to liability.” In addition to ascertaining a viable basis for liability, a lawyer might have been able to exploit the “anomaly of incarcerating a person on noncriminal charges and confining him for seven years,” Noonan suggested. He elaborated: “Such incarceration may be a cruel necessity of our immigration policy; but if it must be done, the greatest care must be observed in not treating the innocent like a dangerous criminal. Is there any warrant for shackling the feet and binding the chest of an innocent detainee? It requires legal skill to frame this issue and distinguish Agyeman’s case from that of the ordinary transferee—.”

Cibola County Correctional Center, Cibola, New Mexico
03/27/2013 kob.com

About 250 inmates at the private Cibola County Correctional Center were reportedly being "non-compliant" to guard’s orders and gathered in the prison’s recreation yard for several hours Wednesday. The Cibola County undersheriff tells KOB the inmates are "being peaceful." The unrest began at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and was continuing at least through 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Law enforcement called to set up outside the scene include New Mexico State Police, Grants Police, Milan Police and the Cibola County Sheriff’s Department, as well as guards from other prisons. The Cibola County Correctional Center is all-male, minimum-security facility with 1129 beds run by the Corrections Corporation of America. KOB has a crew on the way – stay with us for details.


03/27/2013 kob.com

About 250 inmates at the private Cibola County Correctional Center were reportedly being "non-compliant" to guard’s orders and gathered in the prison’s recreation yard for several hours Wednesday. The Cibola County undersheriff tells KOB the inmates are "being peaceful." The unrest began at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and was continuing at least through 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Law enforcement called to set up outside the scene include New Mexico State Police, Grants Police, Milan Police and the Cibola County Sheriff’s Department, as well as guards from other prisons. The Cibola County Correctional Center is all-male, minimum-security facility with 1129 beds run by the Corrections Corporation of America. KOB has a crew on the way – stay with us for details.

Dec 30, 2012 cibolabeacon.com
CIBOLA COUNTY – A three-year tax dispute was settled in less than 10 hours, according to Cibola County Commission Chairman Eddie Michael. Recently, Chairman Michael, along with an attorney for Risk Management, met with representatives from the Correction Corporations of America (CCA) in Albuquerque to settle a three-year-old property tax dispute. CCA is contracted to manage the Cibola County Corrections Center in Milan and the New Mexico Women’s Correctional Facility in Grants. The Milan men’s prison has nearly 1,500 inmates while the Grants women’s prison has slightly more than 500. Apparently, CCA was disputing the amount they have been charged in property taxes since 2010. Their property tax had gone from a taxable value of $52 million in 2009 to $78 million in 2011, Michael said to the Beacon last week. CCA was disputing their taxable value for 2010, 2011 and 2012. “In today’s economy, I don’t know how property tax can be raised so high,” Michael said in regard to the hike. He did note that in 2010, the state had mandated the county to raise property taxes 15 percent because they hadn’t raised taxes in several years. “Besides that, I don’t understand why there would be such a big increase,” Michael said. After eight hours of negotiations, Michael and CCA, in a handwritten agreement, settled on a taxable value increase of $2.4 million, from $52 million to $54.4 million, for the Milan prison, and, from just more than $26 million to $28 million for the Grants prison. “Ultimately, CCA and the county felt $54 and $28 million were fair,” Michael explained. “I asked the rest of the commissioners, in closed session on Dec. 12, for approval on the deal. On Monday, Dec. 17, they voted unanimously to support it. Following the settlement, the county will receive $2.7 million in tax revenue from CCA for years 2010, 2011 and 2012. “This will hike our cash reserves to approximately $8 million,” said Michael. “We had been working on this for two years. We finally got the chance to sit down and get the deal done, and now we move on. “It was my job to work the deal, ultimately, it is the commissioners’ decision to support it or not. Thankfully they did.” According to Michael, as of late last week, the deal was still based on the handwritten agreement. However, Michael said he expected everything to become official by the end of this week. The Beacon was unable to reach CCA officials for comment yesterday because their corporate offices are closed on weekends.

September 19, 2007 AP
The state Court of Appeals has ruled that a private prison company is not entitled to a refund of taxes for operating prisons that house inmates for the state and federal governments. Corrections Corporation of America had sought a refund of state gross receipts taxes, claiming it was allowed a deduction for the leasing of its prisons under agreements with the Department of Corrections and the federal Bureau of Prisons. The Court of Appeals concluded Tuesday there was no lease of real property. "The fact that CCA had the right to fill up any extra space with inmates from other jurisdictions coupled with the governmental entities' paying based on the number of inmates housed, makes these agreements look more like those between 'hotels, motels, rooming houses, and other facilities' and 'lodgers or occupants' than leases for real property," the court said in an opinion written by Judge Michael Bustamante. The company built and owns prisons used by the state and other governments: the New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility in Grants, the Cibola County Correctional Center near Milan and the Torrance County Detention Facility at Estancia. In 2002, the company filed for a refund of nearly $2.5 million for taxes from January 1999 to October 2002. A state district court in Santa Fe ruled against the company in 2005.

September 18, 2007 AP
The state Court of Appeals has ruled that a private prison company isn't entitled to a refund of taxes for operating prisons that house inmates for the state and federal governments. Corrections Corporation of America had sought a refund of state gross receipts taxes. The company claimed a deduction for the leasing of its prisons under agreements with the Department of Corrections and the federal Bureau of Prisons. The court ruled today that there was no lease of real property. In 2002, the company filed for a refund of nearly $2.5 million for taxes from January 1999 to October 2002. In its appeal, the company dropped some claims but didn't specify the amount of refund it was seeking. CCA operates a prison at Grants that houses state female inmates. It also has a prison in Torrance County and contracts with the Bureau of Prisons to hold federal inmates near Milan in Cibola County.

August 30, 2007 Cibola Beacon
The Beacon recently received several calls from residents concerned about the safety of the community because of the staff shortage in the areas prisons. All three prisons, Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Grants, Cibola County Corrections Center (AKA Four C's) in Milan and the New Mexico Women's Correctional Facility, also in Grants, are currently in need of correctional officers. Four C's in Milan is the most needful of officers. Currently, it is 38 officers short. The facility has a total of 159 CO positions, therefore it is now understaffed by 24 percent. “First, there is absolutely no risk to be concerned about,” Warden Walt Wells said on Wednesday. “We continually analyze the staff to be sure we have the adequate staff to protect our inmates, employees and the community. We'll never let it fall to the level to where there is a risk.” According to Warden Allan Cooper at the Grants women's facility, Americans Corrections Association says the ratio of inmate to corrections officer should be about 580 inmates to 76 staff, about 65 of the latter being correctional officers. “The public will never be at risk,” said Cooper. Cooper's Administrative Assistant, Lisa Riley, said they have to fill all the posts no matter what. “If it costs us lots of overtime, that doesn't matter,” Riley said. “We have our requirements that have to met by the state.”

July 4, 2006 Cibola Beacon
Cibola County Undersheriff Johnny Valdez announced Friday that marijuana was recently found at two local prisons. CCSO Deputy Mike Oelcher and Deputy Dog Ashe found a small amount of marijuana in an inmate’s bunk at the Cibola County Detention Center and behind a pay phone typically used by inmates in the common area of a pod last Tuesday. Burnt residue weighing .2 grams found in an inmate’s bunk will not result in charges, he explained. Even the district attorney did not want to press charges even though bringing drugs into a prison, regardless of amount is a third-degree felony, according to CCSO officials. No one will be charged for the marijuana found behind the pay phone either. “It’s a common area and they can’t charge any one with it,” said Undersheriff Valdez. CCSO arrested Corrections Corporation of American Women’s Correctional Facility inmate Stephanie de Santiago, 22, of Roswell, for possession of marijuana at the facility a week ago Monday. The drug was found during a routine search of the inmate after she spent time with a visitor. The marijuana tested positive with a test kit at the prison, which allows probable cause for the arrest, said CCSO spokesman Lt. Harry Hall. Lt. Hall said the street value for the marijuana is not known at this time, but the district attorney’s office will prosecute Santiago and possible charges are pending against the visitor who brought the drug into the facility.

A teacher at Cibola County Corrections Center has been charged with criminal sexual penetration for allegedly having sex with an inmate in a prison office. Ortega, who taught federal inmates at the privately run center was having sex with an inmate May 20 when the prison's chief of security walked in on the couple, court documents said. (The Associated Press, July 5, 2002)

An inmate protest at a privately-operated prison was a result of concern about food and, for some prisoners, taxes, authorities said. The protest, in which more than 600 inmates refused to leave the exercise yard and go inside the Cibola County Correctional Facility, lasted about 12 hours Monday. Inmates were unhappy with food served, and with having to pay gross-receipts taxes on items purchased in the prison's commissary, state police Capt. Glenn Thomas said. (KOAT/Daily News, April 24, 2001)

Cimarron Correctional Facility, Cushing, Oklahoma
Jul 14, 2014 1600kush.com

(Stillwater, Okla.) -- A former prison guard at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, who was originally charged with sexual battery of an inmate, was placed on one year's probation Friday on a reduced charge of committing an act resulting in gross injury offensive to public morals. Malinda Gayle Canaday, 34, of Stillwater -- whose surname was originally listed as Dunn on the now-dismissed felony sexual battery charge -- was later listed as having the last name of Frisbie, which was changed to Canaday on her written guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge, court records show. The defendant -- then listed as Dunn -- was questioned in March 2013 after an inmate "admitted to having a relationship with Dunn to CCF Investigator Joe Sebenick," Oklahoma Department of Corrections Internal Affairs Agent Casey Hamilton alleged in an affidavit. The inmate, who has been transferred from the private prison in Cushing to another facility, "stated the relationship began with them writing letters to one another approximately two months prior to the interview," the affidavit alleged. The inmate "stated they would write letters and Dunn would talk to him about her personal life," the affidavit alleged. The inmate "stated Dunn would allow him to leave his cell during counts to clean," the affidavit alleged. The inmate "stated they started with kissing and holding one another in the office restroom and later progressed to having sexual intercourse," once in February and once in March of last year, the affidavit alleged. The inmate "stated Dunn brought him food and snacks, but nothing else. He stated they had discussed bringing contraband into the facility; however, she had not done so," the affidavit alleged. "On March 21, 2013, Agents Hamilton and Randy Knight interviewed CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) Correctional Officer Malinda Dunn at the Cushing Police Department," during which she admitted to having had sexual intercourse with the inmate twice, the affidavit alleged. "She stated their relationship began with writing letters to one another, and eventually progressed to having sexual intercourse," the affidavit alleged. She said that the inmate "asked her to bring Skoal chewing tobacco into the facility but she declined," the affidavit alleged. According to state DOC records, the inmate has been in prison since 2010 on a seven-year sentence for a Tulsa County second-degree burglary -- after which he will begin serving a five-year sentence for possession of contraband by an inmate in 2011 in Atoka County.

The inmate also has Tulsa County convictions for:

* attempted car burglary in 2006;

* second-degree burglary in 2006;

* concealing stolen property in 2006;

* car burglary in 2006;

* eluding an officer in 2007;

* possession of a stolen vehicle in 2007;

* false pawn declaration in 2007.

Prior to being incarcerated on his 2010 second-degree burglary conviction, the inmate served less than two years in prison on his earlier charges, DOC records show. Since the felony sexual battery charge was dropped by the prosecution against the former Cushing prison guard on June 27, the maximum penalty she could have received for committing "an act which grossly injured the person or property of another and which was offensive to public morals," was one year in jail and a $500 fine, court records show.


Jul 2, 2014 1600kush.com

(Stillwater, Okla.) -- A Cushing woman was charged today with sexual battery of an inmate in the Cimarron Correctional Facility while she was employed as a nurse at the private prison in January. Kristi Anne Tate, 44, was mailed a letter today notifying her of the felony charge on which she was advised to appear in court on Aug. 5 or a warrant would be issued for her arrest. If convicted of the felony charge investigated by the state Department of Corrections, Tate could be sentenced to 10 years in prison, court records show.


Mar 31, 2014 1600kush.com

(Stillwater, Okla.) -- A former employee of the Cimarron Correctional Facility has been charged with sexually battering an inmate at the private prison in Cushing and bringing him contraband, described as a cell phone and tobacco. Linda Juanita Bogaski, 49, of Bethany, has been advised by a letter from the Payne County District Attorney's Office that she must appear for arraignment on the two-count charge April 24 or a warrant will be issued for her arrest.    In the two-count felony charge filed last week, Bogaski was accused of touching the body of an inmate between Christmas and New Year's Day while she was an employee of the prison in Cushing. Bogaski was also accused of bringing tobacco and a cell phone, which are contraband within the prison, and giving them to the inmate between Dec. 1 and Jan. 7. If convicted of both counts, the former Cushing prison employee could be incarcerated for seven years and fined $2,500, court records show.


11/04/2013 1600kush.com

(Stillwater, Okla.) -- A former female guard at the Cimarron Correctional Facility -- who is accused of being paid by a convicted rapist for bringing contraband to him in the private prison in Cushing  -- has been scheduled to appear in court Thursday on a two-count charge. Alyson Frances Posey, 23, of Pawnee, could be incarcerated for three years and fined $6,000 if convicted of receiving money from an inmate for providing goods to him and bringing contraband, described as tobacco, into the Cushing prison.  The inmate was listed in the allegation as Reeco Cole, 35, who is serving an 80-year sentence at the Cushing prison for first-degree rape, attempted rape, forcible oral sodomy, kidnapping, robbery by force, and pointing a weapon, all in Tulsa County in 1999, state Department of Corrections records show. klahoma DOC Internal Affairs Agents Casey Hamilton and Randy Knight interviewed Corrections Corporation of America Correctional Officer Posey at the Cushing Police Department on March 29, an affidavit said. "Posey admitted to introducing contraband into the facility for offender Recco Cole; however she denied having a sexual relationship with him," Hamilton alleged in an affidavit filed in court records last week. "Posey stated she was approached by Cole during job training on Dec. 24, 2012. Posey stated Cole provided her with his cellular telephone number and instructed her to call him," the affidavit alleged. "Posey stated Cole told her he was owed money by the father of one of her children," who is incarcerated at another prison in Oklahoma, the affidavit alleged.     Posey said that Cole told her she would have to pay off his debt "or he would have him touched, meaning assaulted," the affidavit alleged. "Posey stated she would bring tobacco into the facility twice a week and did so approximately seven to eight times from January to February 2013," the affidavit alleged. "Posey stated she also met with an unidentified female in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on two separate occasions to pick up packages of which she did not know the contents," the affidavit alleged. "Posey provided her GE Money Bank Green Dot card and stated Cole would put money on the card for bringing him packages," the affidavit alleged. "Posey admitted to sending nude photographs of herself to Cole and allowed the photographs to be observed by Agents Hamilton and Knight," the affidavit alleged. "Following Posey's interview, she provided the transaction from her Green Dot account. Agent Hamilton found 13 cash credits posted to her account on six separate dates totaling $735," the affidavit alleged. "Agent Hamilton was not able to determine who posted the money to Posey's account," the affidavit said. "On April 3, 2013, Hamilton conducted an interview with Reeco Cole, "who denied having any relationship with Posey, the affidavit said. "Cole stated he never received contraband from Posey and denied having conversations with her on a cellular telephone," the affidavit said. "Cole stated he is currently 'level 4' and would not do anything to jeopardize his levels. Cole stated he would deal with the consequences; however, he maintained his innocence," the affidavit said. In addition to his Tulsa County cases, Cole is serving a concurrent prison term totaling 33 years for armed robbery, kidnapping by extortion, car theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, knowingly concealing stolen property and carrying a concealed weapon, all in 1999 in Okmulgee County, DOC records show.


10/22/2013 1600kush.com

(Stillwater, Okla.) -- A  convicted murderer is due to appear in court on Nov. 5 on charges of choking and forcibly anally raping a man at Cimarron Correctional Facility while they were incarcerated in the private prison in Cushing last summer. The defendant, Terry Joe Hammons, 29, who is now being held at Lexington Correctional Center, is serving a life prison term for first-degree murder in Pottawatomie County in 2007, state Department of Corrections records show. If convicted of first-degree rape after a former felony conviction and assault and battery by strangulation after a former felony conviction, Hammons could be sentenced to life in prison without parole -- plus 10 years. The alleged June 29 attack was investigated by the Cimarron Correctional Facility, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, according to court documents. Twenty witnesses were listed on the two-count felony charge that was filed last week in Payne County District Court.


May 11, 2013  www.newson6.com

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Puerto Rico's corrections secretary says he is canceling a $9.1 million program under which the U.S. territory had sent hundreds of inmates to a prison in Oklahoma. Jose Negron Fernandez says the island has enough space and money to absorb the inmates and the last of them are returning Saturday. Puerto Rico's previous administration had signed the agreement with Corrections Corporation of America to send as many as 480 male inmates to the Cimarron prison in Cushing, Oklahoma. The island of 3.7 million people currently has more than 12,000 inmates, with an overall capacity for nearly 14,000 prisoners.


Mar 6, 2013  tulsaworld.com

A private prison operator declined to call a four-hour Sunday disturbance at Cushing prison a riot, even though inmates smashed windows, breached security doors and were pepper sprayed after fashioning weapons from destroyed property, records show. In a written statement, Corrections Corporation of America characterized Sunday's incident at the  Cimarron Correctional Facility as "inmates being disruptive in one of the housing units." The company emphasized in its statement that there were no reported inmate or staff injuries and "minimal property damage." "Facility management and staff isolated the inmates involved and the situation was resolved," CCA spokesman Mike Machak said in an email to the Tulsa World. He called it a "disruptive event" that involved a single housing unit, which holds prisoners on behalf of the Puerto Rican government that CCA supervises under a contract. No Oklahoma inmates under the authority of the Department of Corrections were involved, officials said. The Cushing prison has 1,720 beds, with about one-third reserved for the Puerto Rican prisoners. DOC holds about 18,000 inmates at all security levels and about 5,000 inmates are held in private prisons in the state, records show. Through an Open Records Act request, the Tulsa World obtained emails and incident reports showing the incident began sometime around 1 p.m. Sunday. It took guards nearly five hours before all offenders were secured and returned to their cells, records show. An email from the facility's DOC contract monitor described the aftermath and damage and said the incident had all the elements "of a major disturbance." According to a prison incident report, the disturbance started as a dispute between the Puerto Rican inmates and staff after several inmates refused to go on lockdown for the 2 p.m. inmate count unless they spoke to the unit manager or an assistant warden. A captain entered the unit and noticed that offenders from all three pods were "congested against the glass windows and pod doors," the report states. Around 2 p.m., the inmates breached a door on the unit, and all staff members were removed from the unit. "The offenders breached in the rotunda area and began breaking property and equipment located in the rotunda and on the pods," the report states. The inmates smashed windows, broke locks and electrical equipment, destroyed computers and telephones and knocked holes in walls, records show. "Inmates had fashioned weapons out of destroyed property and were throwing items at staff as they entered the pod," the report states. "Bean bag rounds and pepper balls were used to gain compliance and protect staff." The inmates were secured in their cells by 5:41 p.m., according to the report. During the disturbance, the Cushing Police Department and Payne County Sheriff's Office were notified and provided "outside perimeter support," Machak said. "The incident is under review at this time, and that review will determine appropriate disciplinary actions, including referral for criminal charges regarding the destruction of property," he said. Inmates destroyed desks, computers, printers, telephones, televisions and microwaves, a Playstation unit and video games, according to an email obtained by the World. The records did not contain a cost estimate of the damage. The contract monitor, a DOC employee, wrote in an email that the entire unit had the odor "of OC (pepper) spray and chemical gas lingering in the air, causing staff and this monitor to use tear gas mask to enter unit." Staff were using fans to settle the chemical gas dust and pull in fresh air, he said. The Puerto Rican offenders will remain on lockdown status until further notice, officials said. Last year, DOC officials proposed an amendment to state law governing operations of private prisons housing out-of-state inmates. The amendment would have forced companies housing such inmates in Oklahoma to provide information if requested by DOC on riots, escapes or serious incidents. DOC would have been able to fine companies that did not comply, under the proposal. Currently, CCA and other private prison operators are required to provide information to DOC on incidents involving Oklahoma inmates but not those from other jurisdictions. A Senate bill proposing the change authored by Sen. Don Barrington, R-Lawton, passed a vote of the public safety committee, but the measure has since been pulled, his staff said. The change was proposed in response to a December 2011 prison riot at CCA's North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, where 46 inmates were injured and scant information about the riot was released by the company. Cimarron Correctional Facility, Capacity: 1,720 General  population, Oklahoma beds: 900, Oklahoma restrictive housing: 40, Puerto Rico beds: 480, Puerto Rico restrictive housing: 120, Medical unit: 7, Beds Not In Use: 120, Contractor per diem: $44.03

January 10, 2013 Associated Press
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Two Puerto Rican prison officials on their way to a private prison in Oklahoma to pick up at least one inmate were killed Thursday in a head-on collision in northern Oklahoma, authorities said. Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said the crash occurred about 5 a.m. on Oklahoma 177 between Stillwater and Perkins when a vehicle driven by Michell Maria Anastasia, 49, of Perkins, crossed the center line of the highway and collided with the van carrying four Puerto Rican officials. Anastasia and Mayra Ramirez, 54, and Eliezer Colon Claussells, both of Puerto Rico, all died as a result of the collision, the patrol said. Two passengers in the van were taken to a Stillwater hospital in serious condition with head and other injuries, according to the patrol. Randolph said witnesses told troopers that Anastasia's vehicle appeared to be speeding when it crossed the center line into the southbound lane and crashed into the van. The van was headed to the Cimarron Prison Facility in Cushing, which is owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America. The prison houses medium- and minimum-security inmates, including about 400 Puerto Rican inmates, through a contract with the Puerto Rico Department of Corrections, company spokesman Steve Owen said. "This was an extradition team from Puerto Rico," Owen said. "Whenever an inmate is ready to be released, discharged, paroled or whatever, Puerto Rico sends a team to pick them up." "This team was en route to the facility when the accident occurred," he said. The prison also houses inmates from Oklahoma under a contract with the state. Cushing is about 70 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.

August 22, 2012 KUSH
Two inmates at the Cimarron Correctional Facility have been ordered to appear in court Aug. 30 on charges of attacking a guard at the private prison in Cushing. Prosecutor Mike Kulling told KUSH that the inmates are being held in the Cimarron Correctional Facility for Puerto Rico and that he does not yet have information on their crimes or sentences. The prisoners, Miguel Cabrera Quiara, 33, and Rafmar De Leon Santana, 25, have been charged together with pushing and hitting a guard on July 23. The guard reported the alleged assault the following day to the Cushing Police Department, according to an affidavit by Cushing Police Detective Adam Harp. The guard said that he was "walking around giving laundry bags to each inmate," and that when he opened a cell door, "inmate Rafmar pushed the cell door into his chest," the affidavit alleged. The guard said that "both Miguel and Rafmar came out of their cell and started to push him," the affidavit alleged. The guard said "that he tried to run away towards the first floor and that both inmates chased him and began assaulting him," the affidavit alleged.

July 7, 2011 KUSH
A convicted double murderer who has been serving two life prison terms without the possibility of parole since 1991 has been ordered to appear in court July 11 on a charge of punching a guard in the face at Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing. If convicted of assault and battery on a private prison employee, Bennie Dwight Jones, 39, could receive a maximum penalty of an additional two-year prison term and a $1,000 fine, court records show.

May 3, 2011 KUSH
A former guard at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing was ordered Monday to stand trial on a charge of bringing two cell phones and several pouches of tobacco into secure areas of the private prison in Cushing. Danny James Galbreath, 24, of Broken Arrow, waived his right Monday to a preliminary hearing on the felony count of bringing cell phones into the prison -- which are considered contraband in a penal facility. Galbreath remains free on $15,000 bail pending his arraignment in district court on May 27 on the two-count charge including the misdemeanor count of bringing tobacco into the prison -- which is also considered contraband. Galbreath was arrested at the prison shortly after noon on Jan. 5, by Cushing Police Officer Carson Watts, who was sent there on a report of an employee bringing contraband into the prison, court records show. Prison Chief of Security Donald Steer told the Cushing officer that an inmate had provided information that Galbreath "has been bringing cellular phones and tobacco into the facility," Watts wrote in an affidavit. "Chief Steer then showed me a written statement completed by Corrections Officer Galbreath admitting to bringing in the contraband," Watts alleged in his affidavit. "I asked Corrections Officer Galbreath what he has brought into the prison. He told me two cellular phones and several pouches of tobacco," Watts alleged in his affidavit. "Corrections Officer Galbreath told me that he received $100 per phone and $50 per pouch of tobacco," Watts alleged in his affidavit. "I asked Corrections Officer Galbreath how he got paid to bring in the contraband, and he told me that he had to meet an inmate's mother at her residence and she gave him the money," Watts alleged in his affidavit. "Corrections Officer Galbreath continued to say that he would then take the money, and use a portion of the money to purchase a $20 cell phone or the tobacco," the affidavit alleged. Galbreath said he got the phones inside the prison by taping them to the inside of his forearm, the affidavit alleged. "Corrections Officer Galbreath said that when the metal detectors would go off, the officer would pat-search him, but would not search the underside of his forearm," the affidavit alleged. "I asked how he got the tobacco into the prison and he said that he would put the tobacco into bags of chips when he walked into the prison," the officer alleged in his affidavit.

February 7, 2011 KUSH
A teenage visitor to the private prison in Cushing who admitted smuggling marijuana into the Cimarron Correctional Facility on Valentine's Day of last year has been placed on two years' probation. Yesenia Ochoa, 19, must pay a $500 fine, $100 to the victims' compensation fund, $50 to the District Attorney's Drug Fund and $150 for a state crime bureau laboratory fee. She must perform 50 hours of community service by July 21. If the Oklahoma City teen successfully completes her probation, she will not have a criminal record for bringing marijuana into the Cushing prison, since she was given a deferred sentence on Jan. 21. She was arrested by Cushing Police Officer Carson Watts on Feb. 14, 2010, at about 11 a.m., an hour after he and Cushing Police Officer Bill McCarty were sent to the Cimarron Correctional Facility, court records show. "Captain Christian (of the prison staff) told me that a visitor, Yesenia Ochoa, was seen passing something to an inmate, Roy Smith, while in the visitation room and when the inmate was asked what the object was, he replied 'marijuana,' Watts wrote in an affidavit. "Yesenia told me, 'I brought some stuff in.' I asked Yesenia if she knew what the 'stuff' was, and she said 'no,' Watts wrote in his affidavit. "Yesenia told me that she is always getting calls from different people wanting her to do things for them and for Roy. "Yesenia told me that about a month ago, she had received a call from a man that wanted her to take an item to Roy. I asked Yesenia if she knew who the man was and she said, 'no.' "I asked Yesenia how she got the item into the prison and she told me that she had it inside the front of her pants. "Yesenia said that once she got to the visitation room, she unzipped the front of her pants, took the object out, and passed it to Roy," the Cushing officer wrote in his affidavit.

January 11, 2011 KUSH
A Broken Arrow man was charged today with bringing two cell phones and several pouches of tobacco into secure areas of the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing on Jan. 5. Danny James Galbreath, 24, was released on $15,000 bond Friday following his arrest in the case investigated by Cushing police, a jail spokesman said. He was ordered to return to court on Jan. 13 with an attorney for arraignment on the two-count charge.

December 11, 2010 KUSH
A former case manager at the Cimarron Correctional Facility was placed on two years' probation Friday for bringing cell phones, which are considered contraband, into the private prison in Cushing. Tamara D. Davidson, 52, had pleaded guilty to the felony charge, which carries a maximum penalty of a five-year prison term and $1,000 fine. Since she was given a deferred sentence, Davidson will not have a criminal record if she completes probation. As part of a plea bargain approved in court Friday by Associate District Judge Stephen Kistler, Davidson was ordered to obtain full-time employment, take a life skills course, pay a $250 fine, and perform 50 hours of community service within six months. Cushing prison investigator Joe Sebenick told Cushing police on April 23 that on April 21, "case manager Tamara Davidson attempted to come through the lobby into the facility with three cell phones," Cushing Police Detective Adam Harp wrote in an affidavit. "During the screen process (at the prison), the front desk employee suspected an unusual object being viewed in the x-ray machine. "It was later discovered that Davidson was attempting to introduce contraband, three cell phones into the facility for three inmates," the affidavit said. "Investigator Sebenick interviewed Davidson who admitted to attempting to introduce the contraband, three cell phones to three different inmates. "The cell phones were inside the Subway sandwich at the time she was attempting to get it through security. "Davidson told Investigator Sebenick that she is having financial difficulties, and this was the first attempt on her part to have tried to introduce contraband into the facility," the affidavit said. When the Cushing police detective interviewed Davidson by phone on April 23, "Davidson admitted that she attempted to get three cell phones into the prison by placing the phones in a Subway sandwich. "Davidson said that she was going to give the phones to three inmates for a total of $300. Davidson said that she was given $100 for one of the cell phones by an inmate and used the rest to buy diapers, etc. "Davidson said that she wanted to make more money because her house payment and insurance went up and needed to pay bills," the affidavit said.

October 11, 2010 KUSH
A Cimarron Correctional Facility visitor pleaded guilty Friday to bringing marijuana and tobacco into the Cushing private prison to an inmate on his birthday. Lisa Victoria Frazier, 31, of Ada, had been jailed for three weeks after being arrested on a bench warrant for failing to appear in court in June. She was freed on a personal recognizance bond Friday by Associate District Judge Stephen Kistler, who ordered her to return to court on Dec. 10 for sentencing. She was originally arrested by Cushing Police Officer Carson Watts in March for delivering marijuana and contraband to inmate Notice Burns, Cushing Police Detective Adam Harp wrote in an affidavit. Burns, who has a long criminal history, is serving 15 years in prison for drug distribution, drug possession, endeavoring to distribute drugs and bringing contraband in jail, all in 2007 in Pontotoc County, records show. In Payne County, Burns admitted that he possessed marijuana in the Cushing prison on March 28, for which he received a five-year prison term concurrent to his Pontotoc County sentences on June 18. When Frazier was interviewed by prison Investigator Joe Sebenick and the Cushing police detective the day after her arrest, she admitted "she has been delivering narcotics and contraband into the prison every weekend for the past six months," the affidavit said. Regarding the March 28 incident, "Frazier admitted to Officer Watts that she brought the marijuana and tobacco wrapped in black electrical tape and gave it to inmate Burns during visitation," the affidavit said. "Frazier admitted to Officer Watts that inmate Burns asked her to get the items from Oklahoma City and deliver them to him at the prison," the affidavit said.

August 22, 2010 The Oklahoman
More than 2,000 state inmates could be displaced from private prisons if a federal contract to house criminal illegal immigrants is awarded here. The move could cost the state Corrections Department and Oklahoma taxpayers millions of dollars. Corrections Corporation of America officials told state corrections authorities in July they intended to offer three Oklahoma-based prisons to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They are: Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville and the empty Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga. "There shouldn't be any surprise when something like this happens," said Justin Jones, state Corrections Department director. "Their product is the incarceration of criminals and it's a for-profit business." If the contract is awarded, it could affect the placement of 1,800 medium security prisoners at Cimarron and Davis, and 360 maximum-security inmates at Davis, corrections officials said. The department is operating with a more than $40 million budget deficit. Federal officials would use the private prisons to house low-security male inmates, primarily criminal illegal immigrants who are Mexican citizens with one year or less to serve. The business of incarceration -- Federal contracts typically pay between $60 and $65 daily per prisoner, Jones said. Oklahoma has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. They range from about $42 for minimum security inmates to about $57 for maximum security. If the prisoners are moved, that could mean an increase of as much as $15 per prisoner, Jones said. Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen wouldn't comment on rates discussed with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the contract. Offers are being accepted from companies in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas, and would require 3,000 beds, according to a bid request from the bureau. Bids are competitive, often based on geographic needs, Owen said. Earnings increase -- Corrections Corporation of America earlier this month reported their second-quarter earnings had increased nearly two percent in 2010 to $419.4 million from $412 million in 2009. The increase was fueled by a jump in inmate populations and a boost from new contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It notes the opening of a center in Mississippi to house about 2,500 illegal immigrants convicted of crimes and awaiting deportation. "We've openly been marketing our empty prisons," Owen said. "There is a demand and a need for prison services." Corrections Corporation of America is the largest for-profit prison company in the U.S. It currently houses about 75,000 individuals in more than 60 prisons and detention centers in the country, according to information on the company website. It partners with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, states and municipalities. In 2009 financial statements, competitor GEO Group officials reported, "We believe that this federal initiative to target, detain, and deport criminal aliens throughout the country will continue to drive the need for immigration detention beds over the next several years." GEO Group recently bought Cornell Cos., operator of Great Plains Correctional Facility in Hinton. The company has offered use of the prison for federal inmates as well. This month, officials at the prison announced they would be laying off nearly 300 employees and sending more than 1,700 inmates back to Arizona. No Oklahoma prisoners are housed there. Even county jails are responding to the need for federal bed space. Tulsa County officials entered into an agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in 2007. Garvin County also has an agreement with the agency to house and transport federal detainees. Displaced inmates and jobs -- Jones said if the bid by Corrections Corporation of America is accepted, the most challenging task would be finding room for the nearly 360 maximum-security prisoners being held at Davis. There are not enough open maximum-security beds in the state to keep them there, he said. This might result in prisoners being shipped out of state -- the first time it's happened since the mid-1990s. "Obviously this would be a huge burden to families of those prisoners," he said. "It would also probably cost us more." At the same time state officials worry about prison beds, the question looms about how Oklahoma jobs will be affected. The possibility of jobs returning to the Watonga area is a bright spot. More than 300 Corrections Corporation of America employees lost their jobs when the Diamondback prison closed there in May. More than 2,000 inmates were returned to Arizona. It was the largest employer in the area. Owen said company officials are anxious to get the prison running again. He said he's not sure how employment would be affected at Davis and Cimarron if the bid is accepted. In 2007, nearly 200 Cornell employees at the Great Plains Correctional Center in Hinton lost work after the state Corrections Department and the company failed to come to an agreement about reimbursement rates. The company then negotiated a contract for Arizona inmates.

August 13, 2010 Oklahoman
A Muskogee federal court jury Thursday found that a private prisons operator violated the employment rights of a shift supervisor by terminating his job when he was deployed to Iraq as a combat adviser. Jurors recommended that Corrections Corporation of America be ordered to pay veteran Dennis Weems, of Terlton, about $53,000 for violating his employment rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act, an attorney in the case said. The federal act prohibits employers from denying initial employment, re-employment, retention in employment, promotion or any benefit of employment to a member of the military on the basis of his or her military service. Weems contended in the lawsuit that Corrections Corporation of America discriminated not only against him, but also against other members of the uniformed services who were called to active duty. About the case -- Tulsa attorney Daniel Sullivan, who represented Corrections Corporation of America, strongly denied his client makes it a practice to discriminate against military employees, saying the corporation has been recognized by G.I. Jobs as one of the "Top 100 Military Friendly Employers" in the country. In Weems' case, however, Sullivan acknowledges mistakes were made. Sullivan said the human resources person at CCA's Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing had left and the person performing those duties sent letters containing improper statements to Weems on two occasions. The first letter, dated Sept. 8, 2008, stated the employer had processed paperwork indicating that Weems had "voluntarily resigned ... based on the fact that you have been deployed on military leave for a period that extends beyond 30 days." Sullivan said Weems was terminated from the payroll system to accommodate his military service but should not have been told that he was considered to have voluntarily resigned. "It was an error," Sullivan said. "Unfortunately, as in a lot of cases, when one error is made it seems to get compounded." In this case, the compounding occurred when Weems returned from his military service and sought his job back, the attorney indicated. Sullivan said Corrections Corporation offered to reinstate Weems in his previous position with full pay, but attached an acceptance letter sent to all new hires stating that he would be an "at will employee" who could be "terminated, with or without cause, at any time at the discretion of either the company or myself." Other allegations -- Sullivan said Weems should not have been sent that attachment because of his military service. Weems had been deployed more than 180 days, and the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act has a provision that states because of that service, he could only be fired for cause the first year after his return, Sullivan said. In his lawsuit, Weems contended he wasn't the only military employee of Corrections Corporation of America who was discriminated against. He said one employee who had been earning $14 an hour before being deployed to Iraq was required to begin his employment anew at a rate of $8.50 an hour after his return. In another case, Weems said his CCA supervisor ordered him to convince another employee who received deployment orders to accept a part-time position before leaving so he could be put in a part-time job upon his return. Weems said he "refused to become a part of the scheme."

January 20, 2010 KUSH
A former inmate in Cushing's private prison was charged Friday with repeatedly stabbing another inmate in the Cimarron Correctional Facility with a home-made knife on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Defendant Andy Quintana, 26, has been transferred to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester where he is serving an 8-year prison term he was given four years ago for drug trafficking in Oklahoma County in 2002, state Department of Corrections records show. If convicted of his Payne County charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon after a former felony conviction, Quintana could be given an additional 10-year prison term, according to the charge filed Friday. His alleged victim, Jose Gomez Jr., 29, who remains in the Cushing prison, is currently serving two concurrent five-year prison terms for escape from a penal institution and drug possession, both in 2006 in Tulsa County, DOC records show.

October 10, 2009 KUSH
An inmate in Cushing's private prison -- who was sent to the lockup in Payne County after being convicted of escaping from another prison -- was charged Wednesday with possessing marijuana while incarcerated in the Cimarron Correctional Facility on Sept. 26. Robert Lee Brown, 24, could receive as much as a 20-year prison term and a $10,000 fine if convicted of possessing the illegal drug in the Cushing prison, court records show. Brown arrived at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in February 2008 to serve a two-year sentence for escaping from the Department of Corrections in Osage County, DOC records show.

October 6, 2009 KUSH
An inmate in Cushing's private prison has been ordered to stand trial on a charge of assault and battery on a guard at the Cimarron Correctional Facility. Christopher A. Cardwell, 23, Monday waived his right to a preliminary hearing on an accusation that he punched Correctional Officer Craig Sharp in the face numerous times on May 22. Cardwell, who is 6'5" and weighs 200 pounds, could be given as much as five more years in prison if convicted of the felony charge on which he is due to be arraigned in trial court on Oct. 16. Cushing Police Officer Adam Harp wrote in an affidavit, "I asked inmate Cardwell if Sharp had disrespected him or provoked him and he said no that he was just doing his job. "Inmate Cardwell said that he was sorry for assaulting Sharp and that Sharp had never been disrespectful towards him in the past." The inmate said that on May 22 at about 6:45 p.m. "Sharp approached them in the Alpha South Unit dayroom and told them to lock up -- meaning to return to their cells. "Inmate Cardwell said that lately it has been rough on him due to him not being able to receive letters from his girl and other situations. "Inmate Cardwell said that he felt that the recreational time was not enough and did not want to lock up. Inmate Cardwell said that he told Sharp that he was not going to lock up. "Inmate Cardwell said that Sharp looked down towards his duty belt as to grab hardcuffs and that he hit him in the face no less than four times nor more than ten. "Inmate Cardwell said that he knew that the first three punches hit Sharp in the face area," the affidavit alleged. The incident was reported at the Cushing Police Department by Sharp on May 29, a week after it occurred, court records show. "Sharp said that he asked inmate Cardwell to lock down, meaning to go back to his cell. Sharp said that inmate Cardwell told him that he did not want to lock down -- that he needs to ship, meaning that he was afraid to go back to general population. "Sharp said that after inmate Cardwell made the comment that he hit him two to three times with a closed fist in the face area. "Sharp said that inmate Cardwell continued to hit him, but that he had blocked his punches. "Sharp said that he was able to get help and eventually control inmate Cardwell. "Sharp said that his glasses broke due to inmate Cardwell assaulting him. "I asked Sharp if he sufferred any injuries from the assault and he said no," Harp wrote in his affidavit.

April 30, 2009 KUSH
A Stillwater Man has been with smuggling marijuana into the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing. Jerome Wendell Williams, 25, was formally charged April 29th by the Payne County District Attorney's office with bringing contraband into a penal institution. If convicted, Williams faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 1000 dollars. According to court documents, Williams was employed by the prison.

December 16, 2008 Tulsa World
Taking a tougher approach, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has withheld more than $589,000 in payments to private prison operators in the past year because of staffing shortages. Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing has had five payments of $40,000 or more withheld since December for failing to fill vacancies within 45 days, including several positions in the medical field. In April, the state withheld $59,191 in payments because 19 positions remained unfilled within 45 days. Among them was a clinical supervisor slot that DOC officials said had been open for 457 days. The Davis Correctional Facility in Holdenville also has had about $76,000 in payments withheld since August because of staffing incidents. Both facilities are owned by Corrections Corporation of America, based in Nashville. A company official says it has had difficulty filling medical positions because of a nationwide shortage. In addition to the money it has already withheld, the DOC has another $50,000 in fines pending for November. The DOC has withheld payments to private prisons in 28 instances since last December for failing to fill positions in a timely manner. The department's decision to penalize private prisons financially for contract violations stems from a recommendation made in a performance audit of the Department of Corrections requested last year by the Oklahoma Legislature. "The audit felt like we were giving too many warnings to private prisons and that we needed to start doing more liquidated damages," DOC Director Justin Jones said last week. An official with the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, which sought information on the fines, said the organization is concerned whether private prison contractors are actually fixing the problems, or simply paying the fines. Mark Beutler, director of communications, said Monday that OPEA is sponsoring legislation in the upcoming legislative session that will make contractors more transparent. "We believe contractors should be held more accountable in reporting violations and also in the ways they are spending taxpayers' money," Beutler said. Calling the shortage of medical personnel a problem for prisons, Corrections Corporation of America spokesman Steve Owen said the company is making a good faith effort to fill its medical services vacancies as quickly as possible. Until the positions are filled, Owen said the facilities will hire part-time employees or pay overtime to prevent a drop-off in services. "This is hitting us in the wallet, but it's not costing the taxpayer," Owen said. The state has about 4,540 inmates housed in three private prisons in the state. In addition to the CCA facilities in Cushing and Holdenville, the third private prison that contracts with DOC is the Lawton Correctional Facility. The Lawton facility has had about $23,000 in fines since last December, including about $10,000 that is pending for November. The facility is owned by the GEO Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla. The performance audit, which was released Dec. 31, 2007, said the enforcement of liquidated damages provisions in the state's contract with private prisons was extremely rare and time-consuming. "DOC's process is somewhat cumbersome in that it requires multiple levels of consideration by executive staffs," the audit report said. It called DOC's failure to use liquidated damages effectively "a serious problem with DOC's management process" that has eroded the credibility of the contract monitoring system. In the past, DOC has used more informal sanctions in response to contract breaches, which sometimes resulted in adjustments in a facility's population level. "As system crowding worsens, however, the flexibility to reduce population in response to problems diminishes significantly," the audit reported.

March 4, 2008 KUSH
A visitor at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing has been placed on five years' probation for possessing marijuana and money at the private prison -- both of which are considered illegal contraband in a penal institution. Melissa Shalone Simien, 39, of Tulsa, had pleaded guilty to the felony charge, which was filed after a drug detection dog at the prison alerted on her, court records show. In accordance with a plea bargain Friday, she was given a five-year deferred sentence and ordered to pay a $500 fine, a $50 contribution to the District Attorney's Drug Fund and $150 for a state crime bureau laboratory fee, court records show. She was also ordered by Associate District Judge Robert Murphy Jr. to perform 150 hours of community service within a year and complete a drug and alcohol evaluation, as well as any required follow-up, court records show. Simien was arrested on July 9, 2005, at the Cushing prison where she had gone to visit inmate Darrius Payne, then serving an eight-year sentence from Tulsa County for drug possession with intent to distribute, state DOC records show. He also had served time for robbery, burglary and escape, DOC records show.

December 29, 2007 KUSH
A visitor at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, who admitted in court documents that she had marijuana and money at the private prison in Cushing, has a plea bargain to receive probation at her Jan. 25 sentencing for possessing contraband in a penal institution. Melissa Shalone Simien, 39, of Tulsa, told authorities, "I drove someone's car to Cushing Correctional Center to visit a friend," whom she had dated before he went to prison, according to court documents. Although she pleaded guilty in September to Associate District Judge Robert Murphy Jr., Simien complained in a background report compiled by the state Department of Corrections in November, "For two years and four months, I have been going back and forth to court, for something that I didn't do." Simien's plea bargain calls for her to receive a five-year deferred sentence, pay a $500 fine, contribute $50 to the District Attorney's Drug Fund, pay $150 to the state crime bureau laboratory for a drug analysis, and perform 150 hours of community service, court records show. Simien admitted in the background report that she was convicted in Louisiana of food stamp frand and receiving welfare assistance by fraud in 1996, for which she said she paid restitution. She was arrested on July 9, 2005, at the Cushing prison where she had gone to visit inmate Darrius Payne, then serving an eight-year sentence from Tulsa County for drug possession with intent to distribute, state DOC records show. He also had served time for robbery, burglary, escape and failure to comply with a personal recognizance bond, DOC records show.

May 9, 2007 Cushing Daily Citizen
The mother of an inmate in Cushing's private prison has been placed on probation for three years for smuggling the drug Valium into the Cimarron Correctional Facility during a visit on Labor Day. While she was visiting her son, Donna Maxine Kirby, 47, was watched on a video monitor by correctional officers in the prison, an affidavit by Correctional Officer Berl Stinson said. At her sentencing, Donna Kirby was also fined $500, ordered to contribute $50 to the District Attorney's Drug Fund, assessed a $150 fee for a state crime bureau laboratory test and told to complete cognitive behavior training, court records show. Her husband, Charles Oliver Kirby Jr., 60, who had the drug in his right sock, was charged with his wife as a co-defendant with smuggling contraband into a penal institution. Charles Kirby was placed on probation for three years, fined $500, ordered to contribute $50 to the DA's Drug Fund, assessed a $150 fee for a state crime bureau laboratory test, told to complete a drug and alcohol evaluation, as well as any follow-up, and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, and continue mental health treatment. The Kirbys were sentenced by Payne County Associate District Judge Robert Murphy Jr. on April 27 in accordance with their plea bargains. They had pleaded guilty in February. The Kirbys were arrested last September on warrants and released from jail after posting $5,000 bond each on the felony charge, which carries a maximum five-year prison term and $1,000 fine on conviction. "Donna Kirby apologized for bringing the item of contraband into the prison and stated that her reason for doing so was the fact that her inmate son had been threatened by other inmates if he did not provide them with contraband," the affidavit said.

August 11, 2006 KTEN
An Oklahoma judge is refusing to dismiss charges against eight black inmates in connection with a fatal Cushing prison riot. The inmates claim they were selectively prosecuted based on race because no white inmates were charged. But a Payne County judge says no evidence was presented to support their claim. About 40 black inmates allegedly beat about 20 white inmates with baseball bats and horseshoes in a recreation area at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in March 2005. Adam Gene Lippert of Davenport, a member of a white prison gang, was slain and 20 inmates were injured. Inmate Eric M. Johnson, a convicted killer from Tulsa County, is charged with first-degree murder. Others were charged with participating in the riot.

June 6, 2006 Cushing Daily Citizen
A convicted murderer pleaded guilty Tuesday to stabbing an inmate at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, about three weeks after a racially-motivated riot at the Cushing private prison that left one inmate dead and 15 injured. David Jovann Davis, 25, was given a 20-year prison term concurrent with a life sentence he is serving on a 1998 conviction for first-degree murder in Muskogee County. Payne County District Attorney Rob Hudson said that Davis accepted a plea bargain Tuesday rather than go to trial this month on the assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charge in the Cushing prison stabbing. "We believe this conviction will keep him from ever being eligible for parole. We expect that he will die in prison," Hudson said. Davis was charged with stabbing inmate Jeremy Deeter, 29, three times in the neck with a homemade knife in a dayroom "right in front of guard witnesses," on April 15, 2005, prosecutor Tom Lee said.

April 25, 2006 Cushing Daily Citizen
A Cushing woman has been charged with possession of marijuana at the Cimarron Correctional Facility while she was working at the private prison in Cushing as a guard. Niki L. Ventris, 27, was arrested by Cushing Police Officer Adam Harp after a drug dog hit on her vehicle in the prison parking lot on April 8, an affidavit said. Ventris, who was released from jail after posting $5,000 bond, pleaded not guilty at her arraignment April 10. She is due to return to court May 8 when she can ask for a preliminary hearing on the felony charge.

December 28, 2005 Cushing Daily Citizen
A visitor to Cushing's private prison who was arrested after a drug dog hit on her hands during a narcotics checkpoint inside the facility has been placed on probation for five years. Suzanne Putnam, 41, will not have a criminal record if she successfully completes probation, since she was given a deferred sentence as part of a plea bargain Dec. 23. Putnam admitted carrying the prescription drugs, Xanax and Diazepam, into the Cimarron Correctional Facility on Nov. 22, 2004, when she also had marijuana and drug paraphernalia in her car, according to her guilty plea.

December 2, 2005 KOTV
An update on a riot at a private prison in Cushing earlier this year, where one inmate was killed. The riot was caught on tape and one inmate has been charged with murder. The judge has now set a trial date. Eric Johnson is accused of killing Adam Lippert in the Cimarron Correction facility in Cushing. The riot in question happened back in March and was caught on a prison surveillance camera. The riot occurred in the recreation area of the prison. Adam Lippert was fatally stabbed during this riot and the defense attorney says this video will show that his client was several yards away from Lippert during the brawl.

August 18, 2005 Oklahoman
The Cushing prison is in lockdown and an inmate who was stabbed Tuesday morning still is in a hospital, a prison spokeswoman said Wednesday. The two inmates accused of attacking him have been moved to segregated housing, said Linda Hurst, warden’s assistant at the Cimarron Correctional Facility. Although two inmates are accused in the stabbing, Hurst wouldn’t say whether the victim suffered multiple stab wounds.

August 17, 2005 KOTV
For the third time this year, an inmate has been stabbed at the same Oklahoma prison. It happened at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing. It's a private prison, which remains on lockdown following the stabbing on Tuesday. Officials say the inmate was stabbed in the chest and abdomen, but his injuries are not life-threatening. Two people are in isolation and a weapon was confiscated after the stabbing.

August 10, 2005 Oklahoman
Four inmates accused of participating in a prison riot in which an inmate was killed were ordered Tuesday to stand trial in Payne County District Court. Payne County Special Judge Phillip Corley found probable cause that Cedric D. Poore, 31; Eugene Gutierrez, 33; Shawn P. Byrd, 32; and Jason J. Williamson, 22, participated in the March 22 riot at Cimarron Correctional Facility that left inmate Adam Lippert dead from stab wounds. The four men have been charged with participating in a riot that resulted in a death.

July 13, 2005 Oklahoman
Two of seven inmates charged in connection with a riot at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing will stand trial, a judge ruled Tuesday. Eric M. Johnson will go to trial for first-degree murder, according to the Payne County District Attorney's office. Cedars More will be tried for participating in a riot that resulted in death. He originally was charged with first-degree murder, but prosecutors amended it. Adam Lippert, 32, was stabbed to death March 22 during the Cimarron riot.

June 20, 2005 The Association Press State & Local Wire
A drug-smuggling ring that provided inmates at a private prison with marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroine will be the focus of a multi-county grand jury investigation that begins Tuesday.  Officials have tracked more than $200,000 coming from 14 states used to buy the drugs for inmates at the Lawton Correctional Facility, said Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control. At least 100 inmates are suspected customers.  Inmates and their families organized the shipments and a guard suspected of helping run the operation brought the drugs from Oklahoma City, according to court records.  Former correctional officer Michael McClain is accused of being the main supplier.  "He could get whatever they wanted as long as they paid," Woodward said.  McClain resigned in February, said Pablo Paez, a spokesman for Geo Group Inc., which owns the private prison. The prison houses about 1,900 medium- and minimum-security inmates. About one in five were convicted of drug crimes.  Inmate Darrin Brewer, 38, told investigators he was facilitating drug deals while incarcerated in Lawton, Tim Coppick, an investigator with the Department of Corrections, wrote in a warrant filed in Oklahoma County. Brewer is on parole after serving time for trafficking and delivering narcotics.  Brewer said he orchestrated the operation by using a cell phone McClain smuggled into the prison. Inmates are not allowed to have cell phones.  Investigators uncovered a similar scheme last year at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, a private prison in Cushing. That prison is owned by Corrections Corporation of America. Five people, including a guard, were charged.June 4, 2005 Stillwater News Press
A seventh man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a prison inmate during a riot at the Cimarron Correctional Facility. Prosecutors this week charged Mark Anthony Ford, 30, in the March 22 murder of Adam Lippert after law enforcement officers identified him while reviewing videotapes of the riot, according to an affidavit written by Cushing Police Officer Curtis Booher. Lippert, 32, died as a result of stab wounds sustained during the riot, according to Booher's affidavit. Lippert was stabbed in the face, scalp, chest, abdomen, shoulder, elbow, arm and trunk, according to the affidavit.

April 23, 2005 Tulsa World
A convicted Tulsa County murderer who was serving a life sentence at Cushing's Cimarron Correctional Facility made repeated stabbing motions toward an inmate who was slain in a March 22 melee at the private prison, court documents allege. Eric M. Johnson, 31, one of six inmates who are charged with first-degree murder, was identified from a videotape of the incident as fighting with the inmate who was killed, according to an affidavit by state Department of Corrections investigator Tim Coppick. "The riot only lasted a few minutes, but when the mayhem was over, Lippert had been beaten and fatally stabbed, and more than a dozen other inmates were seriously injured," Payne County District Attorney Rob Hudson said in a news release. "This became an issue between whites and blacks. It is gang-related," Hudson said in a telephone interview about the melee in a recreational area at the prison, which is owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said Friday that a number of knives, bats and horseshoes were confiscated.

April 22, 2005 Oklahoman
First-degree murder charges were filed Thursday against six inmates involved in a race-related prison riot last month that left one inmate dead and 13 others injured. Payne County District Attorney Rob Hudson said he anticipates the death penalty will be sought against some of the men. He said as many as 20 more men could be charged with lesser crimes, including assault and battery with a deadly weapon. As many as 65 prisoners in two gangs fought March 22 in a recreational area of the privately operated Cimarron Correctional Facility. One inmate, Adam Lippert, 32, was fatally stabbed during the riot in which inmates used aluminum bats, horseshoes and homemade weapons. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said about 40 black inmates attacked about 15 white inmates. Eric Marquel Johnson, 31, who already is serving a life sentence for murder, was identified as the man who stabbed Lippert, Brown said.

March 30, 2005 Tulsa World
The longest lockdown in the history of Cimarron Correctional Facility moved into its second week Tuesday as an investigation continued into last week's gang-related brawl that left one inmate dead and 15 injured. More than 100 prisoners have been interviewed by Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents, who for the past week have spent every day, including Easter, at the private prison, said OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown. The investigation is expected to take several weeks, she said. The fight is believed to have involved about 60 inmates, some using aluminum bats, horseshoes and homemade weapons, as they fought in an outdoor part of the gymnasium on March 22. "The problematic thing is the sheer magnitude of it, the number of people involved, who was culpable; identification will be an issue," Payne County District Attorney Rob Hudson said.

March 24, 2005 Tulsa World
An inmate who was killed in what might have been a gang-related brawl Tuesday at the Cimarron Correctional Facility was tattooed with symbols of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white-supremacist prison gang. Prison spokeswoman Linda Hurst said Wednesday that she would not comment on what sparked the fight or whether it was racially motivated while the investigation into the incident is ongoing. The slain inmate was identified as Adam Gene Lippert, 32, of Davenport, who had been in the private prison since Dec. 2 on a 10-year sentence for conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine in Lincoln County. About 100 prisoners were in the gymnasium when the brawl began about 1:20 p.m. Tuesday, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said. Hurst said she did not know how many prisoners were involved in the fights, but she estimated the number at "between 40 and 60." It took about 10 minutes for the staff to bring the situation under control, she said. Brown said she did not have any information on the cause of Lippert's death or the injuries he suffered. "All I know is baseball bats were used" in the brawl, she said. No arrests had been made, Brown said. Hurst said eight inmates including Lippert, and not six as reported earlier, were taken to hospitals in Cushing, Stillwater and Tulsa, and that eight other inmates whose injuries were "not as significant" were treated in the prison's medical unit.

March 24, 2005 Oklahoman
Investigators said Wednesday at least 100 inmates may have been involved in the Cimarron Correctional Facility prison riot that left one dead and 13 others injured. One inmate is in critical condition and another is in serious condition after gang members attacked each other Tuesday with metal softball bats. An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma said the organization is investigating the role of the guards in the prison. No guards were injured. "It's made me really concerned what's going on there," ACLU staff attorney Tina Izadi said. The fight at the private prison broke out between gangs at an outdoor recreation area about 1:20 p.m. Tuesday, and was under control within 10 minutes, prison spokeswoman Linda Hurst said. Hurst said the prisoners broke into the recreation room where softball bats are stored. She said she didn't know how the bats were taken because the area is supposed to be secure. Authorities are using surveillance videotape to investigate.

March 23, 2005 Oklahoman
One inmate was killed and five others were injured, one critically, when gang members, some armed with bats, rioted Tuesday afternoon at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, officials said. The fight at the private prison in Cushing broke out between two gangs using an outdoor recreation area about 1:20 p.m., and was under control quickly, prison spokeswoman Linda Hurst said. "Initial indications are that it was gang-related, with an undetermined number of inmates using recreation equipment located in the gym as weapons to assault another group of inmates," Hurst said. Softball bats were used as weapons, she said, although she did not know what was used to kill the inmate. Jessica Brown, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said, "As far as we know, it was a bat that was used." Inmates normally get bats by checking them out at the gym, Hurst said, but she did not know whether they were checked out in this instance. The Cushing facility is accredited by the American Correctional Association.

February 4, 2005 Cushing Daily News
A visitor who is accused of carrying controlled drugs into Cushing's private prison is due in court Monday when she can ask for a preliminary hearing on the felony charge. Suzanne Putnam, 40, could receive as much as a five-year prison term and $1,000 fine if convicted of carrying contraband into the Cimarron Correctional Facility. Putnam, of Oklahoma City, is accused of bringing the drugs, Xanax and Diazepam, into the Cushing prison during a visit on Nov. 22, 2004, court records show. The drugs are used as muscle relaxers, Cushing Police Sgt. Jack Ford said Tuesday. Putnam also is also alleged to have had marijuana and drug paraphernalia in her possession on the same day. If convicted of those misdemeanors, she could receive as much as two years' incarceration and a $2,000 fine.

January 24, 2005 Cushing Daily News
A convicted murderer who is serving a life sentence in Cushing's private prison was given five more years Friday after pleading guilty to having a $100 bill in the Cimarron Correctional Facility. Possession of money by an inmate is considered contraband and carries a sentence of five to 20 years on conviction, according to the felony charge. Melvin T. Perry, 53, had a folded $100 bill between the sole and upper part of his left shoe on Aug. 30 when he was searched as he left the visiting area at Cimarron Correctional Facility, an affidavit by Cushing prison investigator Curt Booher said. His wife, Gracie Lee Perry, 58, of Spencer, allegedly admitted to authorities that she brought the money into the prison in her left front pocket and then slid it across the table to him during her visit, the affidavit said.

February 20, 2004
State agents are looking for a man they suspect of funneling drugs into a private prison in Cushing, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics said Thursday.  Agents executed a search warrant at the Forest Park home of Loy Eugene Driver, 33. Driver was not there, but agents found 2 pounds of marijuana, a pound of rock cocaine, $10,000 cash and several weapons. The drugs have a street value of about $8,300.  Mark Woodward, bureau spokesman, said Driver has been supplying drugs to Cimarron Correctional Facility.   Driver's record includes convictions for second-degree murder, eluding a police officer and possession of a controlled substance, state corrections records show.  The bureau said Driver was released from prison in 2001. Records show he is under state supervision.  Woodward said Driver was involved in a drive-by shooting that resulted in a death.  The bureau states that since Driver's release, he's been charged with two counts of drug possession, possession of a firearm after a felony conviction and eluding police.  The investigation began last fall. Cimarron Correctional Facility officials' inquiry led to the arrest of Steven Zoope Williams, 27.   Williams was a correctional officer and is accused of making a deal to bring methamphetamine to an inmate. He was charged in January with one count of trafficking illegal drugs and two counts of using a telephone to facilitate the commission of a felony.  Drug activity isn't uncommon in prisons, corrections department spokesman Jerry Massie said. Many inmates were drug users before their incarceration.  "That's why we emphasize interdiction," Massie said. "People are always trying to get drugs into the system."  (Oklahoman)

January 31, 2004
A correctional officer has been accused of making a deal to deliver methamphetamines to an inmate at the private Cushing prison where he worked.  Steven Zoope Williams, 27, of Cushing was charged Thursday in Oklahoma County District Court with one count of trafficking in illegal drugs and two counts of using a telephone to facilitate the commission of a felony.  Williams was arrested Oct. 1 after an Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control agent delivered about five ounces of methamphetamines to him, a court affidavit states.  (Oklahoman)

January 6, 2004
Prisoners at a northern Oklahoma prison were locked in their cells after they beefed about a new, low fat "heart-healthy" menu by boycotting the cafeteria, officials say.  The prisoners remained locked up over the weekend at the Cimarron Correctional Facility, a privately run prison, because they objected to meals that take ground beef out of some dishes and replace it with lower fat ground turkey, said Linda Hurst, the prison's programs manager, on Tuesday.  "As a precautionary measure, we locked them down to investigate if there was anything more serious than a boycott," Hurst said.  Hurst said the situation at the prison was not volatile and prisoners returned to the cafeteria on Monday  The typical dinner menu may include turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy and peas. "The meatloaf is where the heart-healthy diet comes in," she said.  Hurst said the new menus have been used for a few months in order to reduce the fat in prisoners' diets. Some of the inmates said they would rather not eat than take another bite of turkey loaf.   The Cimarron Correctional Facility, with about 900 inmates, is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.  A spokesman for the Oklahoma prison system said it has no plans to introduce heart-healthy meals for its prisons state-wide.  (Yahoo.com)

May 6, 2003 
An inmate who was being held in a private prison in Cushing was ordered Monday to stand trial on a charge of attacking a guard at the Cimarron Corrections Facility last year.  Because of his criminal record, Jerome Shaun McCoy, 35, could receive as much as a life prison sentence if he is convicted of assault and battery on an employee of a private prison contractor, according to prosecutor Jack Bowyer.  (Tulsa World)

August 29, 2002
Two former inmates at Cushing's private prison were arraigned Wednesday on charges of assaulting two female Cimarron Correctional Facility guards in separate attacks.   Both alleged assaults occurred last winter, but charges were not filed until last week, court records show.  In an incident two months earlier at the Cushing prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America, inmate Joe Lopez Jr., 29, who is serving 10 years for second-degree burglary, was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for an alleged Dec. 27 razor-blade attack on corrections Officer Brenda Hadix.  (Tulsa World)

August 23, 2002
STILLWATER -- A convicted sex offender who was severely beaten in Cushing's private prison does not want to testify against his alleged assailant, a convicted killer, prosecutor Tom Lee said Thursday.   The assault and battery with a dangerous weapon case was dismissed since the victim "had no desire to prosecute nor to testify" at a preliminary hearing Wednesday against the inmate accused in the attack, Lee said.   After the Aug. 17, 2001, attack in the Cushing prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America, Perosi was moved to the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, another private prison operated by CCA, corrections officials said.  (Tulsa World)

August 1, 2002
A Payne County jury deliberated for nine hours before convicting an inmate of possessing marijuana at Cushing's private Cimarron Correctional Facility in November.   The jury Wednesday recommended a five-year prison term, the minimum possible, for Thomas Kye Thompson, 25, who served as his own lawyer at the three-day trial.   The jury also recommended a $2 fine for Thompson for possession of drug paraphernalia, a piece of paper that allegedly contained a small amount of marijuana.  (Oklahoman)

May 11, 2002
A former youth leader at the River of Life Church north of Perkins was given 10 concurrent 20-year prison terms Friday for repeatedly sexually abusing two girls who attended the church.   Rex Jason Sumner, 31, of Perkins, who was the church's youth leader for about a year until his arrest in December, had pleaded guilty to all 10 sexual abuse counts before District Judge Donald Worthington.  River of Life Church members had strongly supported Sumner a year ago when he received seven years' probation from Associate District Judge Robert Murphy Jr. for marijuana delivery in Payne County.   In court Friday, Worthington revoked that probation and handed Sumner a concurrent seven-year prison term for smuggling a pound of marijuana into Cushing's private prison while he worked there as a corrections officer two years ago.  (Tulsa World)  

Citrus County Detention Center, Lecanto, Florida
June 16, 2008 ABC Action News
An Inverness attorney plans to sue the company the runs Citrus county's jail, claiming employees are treating inmates like human toilets. Attorney Greg Jones has called a news conference today to announce his suit against "Corrections Corporation of America and their employees regarding the urination and defecation in the food of a former inmate at the Citrus County Detention Facility located in Lecanto, Florida." The jail is not run by the Citrus County sheriff, but by a private company. The attorney did not return phone calls to ABCActionNews.com requesting information on whether this is an isolated incident or whether other inmates may be involved.

March 6, 2008 Bay News 9
A former guard is to blame after inmate James Coursey was allowed to walk out of the Citrus County Detention Facility, according to corrections officials. "Violation of policy and procedure," said Corrections Corporation of America spokesperson Julia Swart. "She knew the policy; she knew the procedure." Corrections Corporation of America is the private company that runs the Citrus County Detention Facility. They fired the guard because of mistakes the company said she made. According to CCA the guard allowed Coursey outside into a garbage port, and then allowed Coursey past the sally port gate to remove pallets. That's when Coursey made his move down the road. Swart said policy only allows sentenced misdemeanor inmates outside the fence. "Less risk with someone who is sentenced doing a minimal amount of jail time," Swart said. But the mistake by one guard cost the corrections company thousands. CCA has cut a check for $58,144.92 to cover the costs of the escape. Among the highlights, nearly $48,000 to the Citrus County Sheriff's Office for personnel and equipment costs and a little over $100 for food from the Homosassa Auxillary. CCA is also going to pay for the medical bills of Michael Mokszycki's, who was attacked by Coursey. "He was like a wild man," Mokszycki said. "Those eyes were a nightmare." As for Coursey, he's still awaiting trial in the Citrus County Detention Facility. A new camera has been installed near the sally port and the gates are in the middle of being retro-fitted so they can only be opened from a control room. Coursey had been in jail on grand theft and burglary charges.

January 14, 2008 St Petersburg Times
An escaped Citrus County prisoner attacked a homeowner with a hammer Sunday morning and continued to elude a 100-member search team after nightfall. James Coursey, 49, was being held on burglary and theft charges when he escaped from the Citrus County Detention Facility about 3:30 p.m. Friday. Throughout the weekend, Citrus County sheriff's deputies searched a 2-mile wide area near Leisure Acres, a subdivision near the jail complex off of County Road 491. They found no trace of Coursey. A homeowner identified only as a Leisure Acres resident found Coursey in his shed at 10:40 a.m. Sunday. Startled, Coursey grabbed a hammer and hit the man on the head before fleeing. The man suffered minor wounds and was not hospitalized. Citrus County sheriff's spokeswoman Heather Yates said Coursey fled southward on foot, still armed with the hammer. More than 100 officers were called in to help with the search. They included members of Citrus County sheriff's aviation unit aboard helicopters, K-9 deputies, bloodhounds from the Florida Department of Corrections and personnel from the Florida Highway Patrol and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Citrus County Detention Facility spokeswoman Julia Swart said Coursey, jailed on charges of grand theft and burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, was in the Trusty Program and was assigned to work indoors and outdoors at the 760-bed facility. Yates said that the search was pared back as darkness approached, but authorities would continue looking throughout the night. "We want to find this guy and put the community at ease," Yates said.

January 12, 2008 AP
Authorities searched Saturday for an inmate who escaped from a detention facility in Citrus County. James Coursey, 49, fled the Citrus County Detention Facility on foot Friday afternoon, sheriff's officials said. After the escape, schools in the Lecanto area were locked down and deputies stopped cars on roads to search for Coursey, with no success, officials said. Deputies continued their search Saturday for Coursey, who was arrested in February on a warrant for grand theft. While jailed, Coursey was charged with unarmed burglary of unoccupied structures. By Saturday evening, the intensive ground search had been scaled down. "We searched grid by grid and he was not there," Citrus County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Heather Yates said of the 2-mile radius around the prison. Some officers will continue searching, but the focus will now be on talking to Coursey's family members and following leads that come in to the sheriff's office, Yates said.

July 21, 2007 Citrus Chronicle
Maria Puzino didn’t expect country club conditions during a recent two-week stay in the Citrus County Detention Facility. But the 46-year-old Inverness woman didn’t expect the treatment she said she received. Puzino, jailed on charges of violating probation, said corrections workers withheld her anti-depressant medication, openly discussed her medical condition with others and repeatedly harassed her. She said she spent four days on suicide watch because she wasn’t given her medication. During one of those nights, she said, a corrections officer gave her specific instructions as to the best way to kill herself. Puzino detailed the allegations in a letter to the Nashville, Tenn.-based headquarters of Corrections Corp. of America, the company that operates the detention facility for Citrus County. CCA is investigating the complaints, company spokeswoman Julia Swart said. “We take these allegations seriously they are being thoroughly investigated,” Swart said in a statement. “After the investigation is complete the findings will be immediately communicated with our customer.” The “customer,” she said, is the Citrus County government. Swart declined further comment. Charles Poliseno, Citrus County’s director of public safety, said he met with CCA officials Wednesday and concluded that nothing wrong occurred.

June 16, 2007 Ocala Star-Banner
Marion County Sheriff's Office brass say they can continue to staff and operate the county jail more cheaply than a contracted private firm. At the request of the County Commission, department officials recently checked with nearby Hernando and Citrus counties. They both contract with a national firm, Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA, to run their jails. In a letter to County Commission Chairman Stan McClain, sheriff's Maj. Paul Laxton said that, at the rate CCA charges Citrus County, the cost to run the Marion jail would go from about $25.2 million to $38.3 million. Laxton wrote that the figure did not reflect the cost for off-site medical expenses for inmates. The county commissions in Hernando and Citrus counties pay for that as an additional cost, while the Marion Sheriff's Office includes it in the budget. That cost was $1.356 million in 2005-06, Laxton wrote. "We are the lowest cost-per-day jail in any of the counties I know of in Central Florida," Sheriff Ed Dean said. McClain said there is not a push on the County Commission to privatize the jail. He said commissioners asked for the cost comparison during a recent planning discussion as they looked for ways to trim the county budget as property tax reform loomed. "We had heard other counties were privatizing, but we didn't know what their cost was," he said. McClain said that, as far as he is concerned, the cost comparison ended that discussion.

January 11, 2007 Citrus County Chronicle
A civil rights law firm will take over a federal lawsuit accusing guards at the Citrus County Detention Facility of contaminating former inmates’ food with human waste. Inverness attorneys Bill Grant and Bo Samargya had been representing five former inmates in the lawsuit, filed March 10, 2006, in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. However, Grant said Wednesday he will hand the case over to a law firm that specializes in civil rights lawsuits. He said the “depth” of the case has forced him to get another firm involved. Grant did not name the law firm, which he said has offices in Tampa and Orlando, and that he planned to hand the case over soon. “It’s a document-intensive and time-intensive situation,” he said, adding his law firm is handling a murder trial in Pennsylvania in March, another one in February, a “major” civil trial in the summer and other cases. “It’s often so busy here that to do that one right, we’d have to shut down and do nothing but that case for a month.” The nine-count lawsuit accuses corrections officers at the county jail in Lecanto of urinating and defecating into the food and drink of inmates. Former inmates Javon Walker, Jeffrey Young, Gregory Platt, Larry Robbins and Matthew Pavlisin were named as plaintiffs in the initial lawsuit. The inmates accuse former guards of violating their civil rights, including accusations of torture and cruel punishment. In 2004, all were housed at one point in the jail’s segregation unit, a wing that houses inmates considered to be a safety risk. Corrections Corporation of America, the private Tennessee-based company that operates the jail, is also named in the lawsuit. It’s accused of negligent hiring and supervision, with Grant previously saying the corporation didn’t properly investigate the accusations. Two guards and a supervisor were fired before the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Citrus County Sheriff’s Office started an investigation March 21. Before the investigation began, former guard Kevin Hessler admitted to urinating in an inmate’s juice jug, according to documents. The FDLE investigation is still ongoing with interviews of witnesses taking place, spokeswoman Trena Reddick said earlier this week.

December 30, 2006 St Petersburg Times
How did a jail trusty manage to slip away from a work detail this week, elude a manhunt and get all the way to the east coast? He called his girlfriend. She drove over and picked him up. They headed out of town. That’s what Santana Schiedenhelm told investigators after they got caught Thursday. Her boyfriend wasn’t talking. The escape method, which authorities reported Friday, was one of the last mysteries left about this case. Jose Felix Malagon-Cervantes, 25, faces a charge of escaping while in transport or working on roads, a second-degree felony. An inmate at the Citrus County jail, Malagon-Cervantes worked as a trusty at the Kensington Fire Station just off State Road 44 and west of Inverness. Trusties are nonviolent, misdemeanor offenders who are permitted to work outside the jail, earning as many as 10 days off a sentence each month. Corrections Corporation of America, a private company that runs the jail, decides which inmates are considered trustworthy enough to work outside its gates.

December 29, 2006 St Petersburg Times
Authorities captured the escaped Citrus County inmate at 5 p.m. Thursday, more than 100 miles from the Kensington Fire Station where he walked off a work detail the day before. Jose Felix Malagon-Cervantes, 25, faces a charge of escaping while in transport or working on roads, a second-degree felony. He was found in Holly Hill, north of Daytona Beach. Also arrested was his 20-year-old girlfriend, Santana Schiedenhelm, who was charged on an unrelated count of filing false information to law enforcement.

December 28, 2006 St Petersburg Times
A Citrus County inmate trusted to work outside the barbed wire walls of the jail remained on the lam Wednesday night after he walked off a job at a fire station earlier in the day. Authorities launched an aggressive manhunt for Jose Felix Malagon-Cervantes, 25, in the nearby Withlacoochee State Forest using helicopters, all-terrain vehicles and canine units but called it off at 6 p.m. as darkness fell. The search will not resume today because the inmate is not considered dangerous, said sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney. He will likely face an escape charge if he turns up. Malagon-Cervantes was labeled a trusty, a designation awarded to nonviolent offenders who are permitted to work outside the jail. Trusties can earn up to 10 days off a sentence each month. Malagon-Cervantes was arrested in August for violating his drug offender probation. His arrest record includes charges of drug possession and larceny, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He was last seen working at the Kensington Fire Station in central Citrus County when he told his supervisor, a fire-rescue maintenance official, that he wasn't feeling well. The official, who is trained in inmate supervision, allowed him to lay down in one of the service vehicles, said Patty Jefferson, assistant fire chief. When the unnamed official went to check on him "a short time later," Malagon-Cervantes was gone, Jefferson said.

July 23, 2006 St Petersburg Times
He's been the warden of the Citrus County Detention Facility for five years, and now Carlos Melendez is getting a promotion. Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that runs the jail, is promoting Melendez to a managing director position on the business management team. It's not clear where he'll work once the promotion goes through, but it won't be in Citrus County. Officials say it's unknown when a replacement will be found. Until then, Melendez remains in charge of the jail. The process for finding Melendez's replacement will begin with CCA, officials said. According to Charles Poliseno, the director of the county's public safety department, after the company picks a candidate, local officials - possibly Poliseno or Assistant County Administrator Tom Dick - will interview that person and present a recommendation to the County Commission. Commissioners will make the final call, Poliseno said. CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the company is gathering and evaluating candidates. "We generally don't want to put a strict time line on this because we want to ensure we're making the best decisions possible," Owen said. Melendez has presided over the jail since March 2001. Earlier this year, inmates said guards had been putting human waste in their food, and several CCA employees were fired. Melendez previously has said that the inmates never complained of health problems and that the only evidence came from one of the terminated guard's statements.

April 16, 2006 St Petersburg Times
In 2003, county commissioners voted unanimously for an $11-million expansion of the Hernando County Jail. But before they cast their votes, Commissioner Robert Schenck had one question about the cost: "I was wondering if before we moved ahead you could do a cost analysis of what it would cost for (Corrections Corporation of America) to build that and then subsequently lease it back to the county and what it would cost us on our bond payments with interest and see how close we are with the numbers," Schenck inquired. The county's purchasing director, Jim Gantt, said that wasn't an option. CCA doesn't pay for expansions; it only pays to build new facilities, he explained. And besides, having CCA finance the expansion would be more expensive because private companies cannot borrow as cheaply as government, Gantt said. Citrus County had different ideas. Last fall, the Citrus County Commission voted to let CCA pay for the entire expansion of its jail. The county will not pay a cent as long as it continues its day-to-day operational contract with CCA for the next 20 years. "We found that it actually saves us from having to go out and borrow the money and have to construct the facility ourselves," Citrus Commissioner Vicki Phillips said. Fellow Commissioner Joyce Valentino said the benefit was obvious: "We don't have to use the taxpayers' tax dollars." How could neighboring counties get such different deals? According to Gantt, CCA never offered to pay for Hernando's expansion. CCA spokesman Steven Owen could not explain why, except to say that CCA doesn't take a "cookie cutter approach" to writing contracts. "Why we didn't offer that instead of this really isn't relevant," he said. The last time Hernando's contract came up for renewal, at an April 11, 2000, commission meeting, Commissioner Bobbi Mills said she preferred to renegotiate rather than rebid, as did Commissioner Pat Novy. They both said that significant research had been done to convince them that there was no reason to put the contract out to bid - that they could tell how CCA stacked up to its competitors without bidding. Commissioner Chris Kingsley also voted in favor of renegotiation rather than rebidding. "I can't remember the exact reason why," Kingsley said recently. "I would agree that on most circumstances, you would go out for bid just like we did for waste hauling. I guess maybe we assumed at the time that the competitors couldn't have beaten the services we had." Only three commissioners voted on the contract extension. Commissioners Nancy Robinson and Paul Sullivan were asked by the county attorney to recuse themselves because Robinson's daughter and Sullivan's wife were working at the Hernando jail. More than half of the officers at the Hernando jail are uncertified, working on "temporary employment authorization" status, which allows them to serve as guards while they go to school for the state certification. Hernando warden Don Stewart, who took over in February, said he planned to increase the number of certified officers at the jail. He said the high percentage of uncertified officers was a result of the hiring binge needed to keep up with the jail's recent expansion. However, records show that as far back as March 2000, 41 percent of the jail's guards were uncertified. Stewart said that he was proud of his staff and that the distinction between certified and uncertified officers wasn't important. "Are we in violation of any state statutes?" he asked. But a recent inquiry by the State Attorney's Office found that the large number of uncertified officers was "without question a contributing factor to the problems experienced by the (Hernando) jail." Retired Hernando Sheriff Thomas Mylander, who ran the jail before CCA took it over in the late 1980s, also criticized the heavy reliance on uncertified officers. "That's totally unacceptable," he said. "The county is paying for a service the individuals said they could run correctly for that amount. . . . I've never heard of any place that had half their employees uncertified."

April 4, 2006 Citrus County Chronicle
A recent lawsuit filed by four former Citrus County Correctional Facility inmates alleging prisoner abuse has placed Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which operates the facility, in the public spotlight. The lawsuit contends that at least two corrections officers urinated and defecated in inmates food and drink several times in late 2004. While CCA has acknowledged that one corrections officer admitted to spiking inmate juice with human urine on two occasions, it rebukes the claim of systemic torture and abuse by the plaintiffs lawyers as pure fabrication and without merit. Whether the claim of systemic torture and abuse being investigated by the FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement proves to have merit or not, the mere admission that bodily waste was placed in the juice of inmates resurrects nagging questions about contracting out jail oversight to a for-profit company. The privatization of corrections wrongly entrusts that responsibility to the financial expectations of investors. With government ultimately responsible for both the inmates and the publics welfare, corrections operations must be publicly open and accountable. While privatized government services are subject to Florida's open-records laws, there's a greater tendency for private companies to distance themselves from public accountability. In the short term, county government needs to provide more aggressive oversight of CCA. Accordingly, it may want to consider the example of Hernando County, which last week appointed a former law enforcement officer to monitor CCA's operation of its correctional facility full time. In the long term, county government should seriously weigh its core responsibility for corrections against any promised privatization savings. For when it comes to the corrections bottom line, privatization is socially and ethically unacceptable.

March 24, 2006 St Petersburg Times
County Commissioner Vicki Phillips said she has "lost trust" in County Administrator Richard Wesch over his handling of the allegations of abuse at the Citrus County jail. "When you lose trust in your administrator and you lose the confidence in the administrator that he's providing you with all the complete information that you need on issues, I can't do my job and serve the people of Citrus County," she said in an interview Thursday afternoon. "So something has to change." Phillips' remarks came after she sent a memo to Wesch asking who in county government had been notified of the firing of two corrections officers and a supervisor at the facility after allegations surfaced that guards had urinated in inmates' drinks. Phillips said county commissioners were not notified of the allegations until a federal lawsuit was filed by two local lawyers on behalf of four men who say they suffered medical problems because of the contamination. Two other commissioners, Joyce Valentino and Chairman Gary Bartell, have also expressed concern at Wesch's handling of the matter. Wesch did not return a message left on his cell phone Thursday afternoon. In the March 10 lawsuit, Javon Walker, Jeffrey Young, Larry Robbins and Greg Platt alleged that at least two corrections officers urinated and defecated in their food and drink several times in late 2004. Three former employees at the Citrus jail - corrections officers Kevin Hessler and Alexander Diaz, as well as a supervisor, Charles Mulligan - were fired in connection with the drink accusations. On March 20, Wesch responded to Phillips' questions in a memo. He told her that the private corrections company that runs the jail, the Corrections Corporation of America, had notified the county's contract monitor of the allegations. No further action was taken by the county, Wesch wrote, because "there was no reason for us to suspect that this was more than an alleged, unsubstantiated isolated report." That's not a good enough answer, Phillips said. In the memo, Wesch did not say whether he knew about the allegations. Phillips wants to know if he knew. She wants to know if he told any of the other commissioners and, if not, why.

March 23, 2006 St Petersburg Times
The president and chief executive of the private company that runs the Citrus County jail has accused a local law firm of using media coverage to push for a larger lawsuit settlement. In a March 16 letter to County Administrator Richard Wesch, Corrections Corporation of America CEO John D. Ferguson said it was "not appropriate" to defend itself through news conferences and media statements. He accused Inverness lawyers Bill Grant and Bo Samargya of using the news media to pressure the company, calling the lawyers' actions "overt efforts to influence a larger settlement outcome or award through media coverage." Grant called the statement "asinine." "(CCA's) all over the place," he said. "I just like sitting around watching them squirm. I can't believe it." The news of the latest barb between CCA and the lawyers came on the day Grant announced a fifth plaintiff in a federal suit against the company. Matthew Pavlisin, who was a teen when he was held at the facility on charges of armed burglary and theft, was abused at the jail, Grant said. March 10, Grant and Samargya filed a federal suit against CCA, claiming that four inmates had been forced to drink liquid contaminated with human urine and eat food that contained fecal matter. Javon Walker, Jeffrey Young, Larry Robbins and Greg Platt claim that at least two corrections officers urinated and defecated in their food and drink several times at the jail in 2004. Grant plans to file an amended complaint, naming Pavlisin and others, in coming weeks. "(CCA) can cast whatever aspersions they want," Grant said. "The outcome of this is going to be decided in a federal courthouse." Grant will also file a wrongful termination suit on behalf of Charles Mulligan, a supervisor at the facility fired in connection with the drink accusations, he said. Two former employees at the Citrus jail, correctional officers Kevin Hessler and Alexander Diaz, were also fired because of the accusations. Since the lawsuit was filed, both sides have talked with news reporters about the allegations. Grant says the company knew about the contamination and failed to do anything, including providing medical testing, for the inmates. CCA representatives have questioned Grant's motives, suggesting he's demanding large amounts of money from the company. In the letter to Wesch, CCA also called the claims of torture and abuse "pure fabrication." Grant said he doesn't buy it. "I guess p---ing and p---ing in someone's food is not abuse or torture. ... We've been saying the same thing over time. We're not the ones scrambling about like a cockroach when the light comes on," he said.

March 22, 2006 St Petersburg Times
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will lead an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing at the Citrus County jail. Sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney said the Citrus County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will also assist as needed. The decision to start an investigation came after officials from the Sheriff's Office, the FDLE, the FBI and the State Attorney's Office discussed allegations of inmate abuse Tuesday afternoon. Sheriff Jeff Dawsy asked for the FDLE's assistance "to avoid any conflict of interest," Tierney said, because the Sheriff's Office has such close ties with the jail. Once the investigation is completed, Tierney said, authorities will submit findings to the State Attorney's Office for review. "We will absolutely be cooperating fully with that investigation," said Steve Owen, a spokesman for Corrections Corporation of America, the private contractor that runs the jail. He declined to comment further on the allegations or the investigation. Earlier this month four inmates filed a federal lawsuit against CCA. Javon Walker, Jeffrey Young, Larry Robbins and Greg Platt alleged that at least two corrections officers urinated and defecated in their food and drink several times in late 2004. Three former jail employees - corrections officers Kevin Hessler and Alexander Diaz as well as a supervisor, Charles Mulligan - were fired in connection with the drink accusations. In a meeting with reporters last week, a company spokesman said that if any incident occurred, it was not indicative of a larger problem at the facility. Attorney Bill Grant, who is representing the inmates, said Tuesday that he was excited to learn of the FDLE investigation. "The taxpayers of Citrus County are finally going to find out what happened at their local county jail," he said. "CCA's been doing nothing but doublespeak. Well, the doublespeak is over."

March 21, 2006 St Petersburg Times
County commissioners said they weren't notified when allegations of inmate abuse at the Citrus County jail surfaced in 2004. Now they want to know why. "I definitely would have liked to have known about it, only because I'm responsible back to the citizens," County Commission Chairman Gary Bartell said. "When the issue did come up, I would have liked to have known there was an ongoing investigation." Bartell was not the only commissioner concerned about why the board wasn't notified of the allegations. In a memo Wednesday to County Administrator Richard Wesch, Commissioner Vicki Phillips requested answers to the who, how and when of the situation. "If the county was notified in December 2004, why was this information not relayed to me and the other commissioners?" Phillips said. "Or was it relayed to other commissioners?" The commissioners' concerns came more than a week after four inmates filed a federal lawsuit against Corrections Corporation of America, a private contractor that runs the county jail. Javon Walker, Jeffrey Young, Larry Robbins and Greg Platt alleged that at least two corrections officers urinated and defecated in their food and drink several times in late 2004. Three former employees at the Citrus jail - corrections officers Kevin Hessler and Alexander Diaz as well as a supervisor, Charles Mulligan - were fired in connection with the drink accusations. A company spokesman met with reporters and county officials last week, saying that if any incident occurred, it was not indicative of a larger problem at the facility. Representatives from the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the State Attorney's Office and the Citrus County Sheriff's Office were set to meet this afternoon at the sheriff's headquarters in Inverness, said sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney. Tierney said the officials will meet to determine whether to investigate and which agency would handle it. Corrections Corporation of America has said that it told the county about the allegations. On Monday, spokesman Steve Owen said the company told public safety director Charles Poliseno about the accusations. Poliseno didn't return a message left at his office, but county spokeswoman Jessica Lambert confirmed that Poliseno was notified of the alleged incident in December 2004. "He was notified an incident had occurred, an investigation was taking place and personnel action would be taken," she said. The county is searching for documents from that time to see how and when that notification took place. Poliseno remembered speaking with someone from the jail about the allegations, Lambert said, but he wasn't sure if he ever had anything in writing. Typically, if a public safety director has information for the commissioners, it first goes through the county administrator, Lambert said. The county administrator did not return a message left at his office, but an office representative said Wesch planned to release a memo on the subject today. Whatever happened in 2004, Bartell said he wished that he would have known about the accusations before the lawsuit was filed. When accusations of problems at the Hernando County Jail - which is also run by Corrections Corporation of America - came to light recently, Bartell sent a memo to Wesch, trying to ensure that the Citrus jail didn't have any problems. The memo was passed on to the company, Bartell said. "CCA wrote a letter back assuring there were no problems out here at the Citrus County facility," he said. Bartell said he was later told that the commissioners weren't notified because county staffers thought the problem was resolved. "I really don't know all the circumstances yet, but it's very obvious that it wasn't over," Bartell said. "I know they're strictly allegations, but it's obvious that there's a problem that spread wider than just those guards and the inmates ... the proper way to have handled it was to have notified us."

March 14, 2006 Bay News 9
The controversy surrounds if the commission was aware of the abuse at the facility. The operators of the CCA detention facility accused of abuse and torture are promising to fight the charges, even as the list of victims grows and the county demands answers. For the first time, the Citrus County Commission has learned about a federal civil lawsuit as attorney Bill Grant shared information with Bay News 9 and our partner, the Citrus County Chronicle. "Over a year ago we came to learn that several inmates were being abused and tortured by being forced to consume bodily waste of another," Grant told the commission Tuesday. "They couldn't go and say 'No, I want something else to eat' or 'No, I want something else to drink.' They were housed in a segregation unit, isolated by the very men and women that tortured them." The question being posed is: were Citrus County commissioners aware? Grant said he has evidence pointing to a possible coverup, that when three guards linked to the alleged abuse were fired in December of 2004, the county wasn't told why they were being fired. "We are making a formal request of the commission to investigate CCA (Corrections Corporation of America), either by staff or by independent investigation, and to conduct a hearing into this matter," Grant said. A spokesperson for the county commission said they were notified by CCA that guards were being fired. But they are unsure if a reason was given. Grant talked about the expanding suit. During a press conference that followed the commission meeting, Grant said the suit is growing. "We will be adding multiple plaintiffs or multiple victims to our lawsuit, who are boys under the age of 18," he said. Grant said the problems at the Citrus County Detention Facility are ongoing. The county commission agreed during its meeting to investigate the matter further.

March 11, 2006 Citrus Chronicle
Four former inmates of the Citrus County Detention facility in Lecanto are suing the private company that runs the facility and two former corrections officers, saying their food was tampered with. In a nine-count federal lawsuit filed Friday afternoon, the inmates say they were forced to eat food that contained bodily waste from at least two guards at the jail. The lawsuit claims the inmates' civil rights were violated, including accusations of torture, by being forced to eat the tainted food. "They couldn't go and say, 'I want something else to eat, I want something else to drink.' They couldn't go use the telephone, they can't scream for help," said Bill Grant, the attorney who filed the lawsuit. "Because their assailants were the same ones charged for their protection, and they violated that in the most obscene and disgusting way." The complaint was electronically filed with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa. At their Inverness office, Grant and his partner, Bo Samargya, said there will likely be more victims named in the case, and they are seeking punitive damages. "They had been getting very sick," Grant said of inmates eating the food. The lawsuit accuses former corrections officers Kevin Hessler and Alexander Diaz of urinating and defecating in food and drink given to Javon Walker, Jeffrey Young, Larry Robbins and Greg Platt, all former inmates housed in the jail's segregation unit. The unit — separate from other inmates — is for those considered a safety risk to themselves or staff. The lawsuit says the incidents occurred on several occasions between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2004. The complaint accuses the former guards of cruel punishment, torture and battery. Corrections Corporation of America, the jail's operator, is also named in the lawsuit and is charged with negligent hiring. The lawsuit says CCA was aware of the accusations but allowed the guards to continue working in the segregation unit. The lawsuit centers on a Feb. 16, 2005, telephone hearing between a former jail employee and the Office of Employment Appeals in Tallahassee. Charles Mulligan, a former supervisor at the facility, was fired Dec 3, 2004, for a "violation of company policies and procedures," according to a termination notice. At the hearing, Carlos Melendez, the jail's warden, said Mulligan was fired after a subordinate told him he put human waste in an inmate's juice jug, and that Mulligan didn't report it. Melendez testified Mulligan and the subordinate, who he identified as Hessler, were fired. He also said he learned Diaz acknowledged doing the same thing, though he denied it when confronted by Melendez. Grant, who was at the hearing representing Mulligan, asked if Melendez notified law enforcement or asked to have the incidents investigated. "No we have not," Melendez replied, according to a hearing transcript. Meanwhile, Grant is asking for an investigation into the jail, and points at other incidents in surrounding counties at CCA-operated jails, including suicides. Samargya said charges should be filed in this case. "These are crimes," he said. "If the inmate would have done something like this to the (Corrections Officer), he would have been arrested. A report would have been made." Several agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Attorney and State Attorney's office, were notified, Grant said. He believes the inmates deserve "a battery of tests," because they could have been exposed to disease. Grant said many had complained their food had a bad taste and odor, and they suffered vomiting, stomach cramps and nausea. The lawsuit says the inmates suffered "injury, pain and emotional distress." Grant also said at least one inmate has been "fairly sick" since. He said he and Samargya will not agree to any settlement in the case, and want the lawsuit to be heard by a jury. Along with using Mulligan as a witness in the case, Grant also expects other guards to be named later in the lawsuit, some who, he says, still work at the jail. "Let's start an investigation, and let's get these people out, that are doing this, out of jail," he said. "Or put them back in it, only this time, in orange."

September 20, 2005 Citrus Times
Citrus County commissioners this week were too quick to jump on the "build it and we'll fill it" bandwagon at the county jail. The board agreed to double the size of the jail in Lecanto and passed on the chance to explore several relevant issues. Their focus on Tuesday seemed to be only on the bottom-line question of who will pay for the construction. With the company that operates the jail under county contract, Corrections Corporation of America, agreeing to pay for the renovations and expansion, the commissioners quickly moved on. The agency reported in June that Citrus County experienced a 5.6 percent drop in its overall crime rate and 7.5 percent reduction in the violent crime rate in 2004. This mirrored a statewide trend that has seen serious crime in Florida fall for 13 consecutive years. The crime rate in Florida, in fact, is at its lowest in 34 years. However, the commissioners should have asked for some explanation for why Citrus needs to double the size of its jail if crime is falling. Part of that answer may be in the arrangement that the county has with CCA. Citrus taxpayers give CCA $52.64 to house an inmate for one day, a figure that will rise under the newly approved 10-year contract to $54.74. The extra space in the jail is used to house federal prisoners for the U.S. Marshals Service at a higher rate. Having extra room for these expensive inmates translates into more money for the for-profit company. While it is true that CCA will pick up the costs of the $18.5-million jail expansion and renovation, there will be indirect costs to the local taxpayers beyond the additional $2 a day they will pay to house each inmate. Traffic to the facility will increase, for example, leading to more strain on already congested roadways. Judicial and law enforcement costs will rise as well. The most troubling oversight, however, was the lack of any discussion about alternatives to incarceration.

October 29, 2004 St Petersburg Times
A former Citrus County jail inmate has filed suit against the Corrections Corporation of America - the private company that runs the jail - and a jail-contracted doctor, claiming the doctor and company were negligent in caring for him. Martin T. Cahill, 42, names Dr. C. Billiston Clarke and the Corrections Corporation of America, known as CCA, as defendants in a medical malpractice suit, according to court documents. Cahill alleges that Clarke, a doctor who works under contract with CCA, didn't give Cahill proper care when Cahill suffered severe heart problems. While in jail from Oct. 10, 2002, to March 4, 2003, Cahill suffered several medical problems, including cardiac failure that required emergency medical treatment, according to the suit. Cahill was admitted to the emergency room at Citrus Memorial Hospital on March 4, 2003. He was hooked to a ventilator. The next day he was formally released from jail. Cahill then was transported to an Ocala hospital, where he rang up a medical bill of $152,973. This is not the first suit filed in regard to Cahill's health problems while in jail. On June 27, 2003, Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala filed suit against Citrus County and CCA regarding Cahill's medical bills. The suit alleged the county deliberately released Cahill from jail so it could avoid paying for Cahill's medical expenses. Under state law, the county government is required to pay medical expenses for inmates if the inmate, the inmate's family or an insurance provider cannot afford to pay. The Tampa law firm handling the suit for the county said the hospital failed to show Cahill was an inmate when he was admitted to the hospital. CCA said no agreement existed between CCA and the hospital to pay Cahill's bills. That suit has not been resolved.

Claudette Mills understands. There are laws and regulations, all well-intentioned, that are designed to keep a person's health information private. But that understanding didn't provide much comfort this past weekend, when she and her family were worried about her mother. Miss Mills, 30, of Hernando, received a telephone call Saturday afternoon from an inmate at the Citrus County jail. The caller, who was the cellmate of Miss Mills' mother, had disturbing news: Your mother has fallen ill. Linda Butts, 53, apparently was having health problems related to her kidneys and liver; she had experienced such troubles in the past. Butts is serving an 11-month sentence for violating the requirements of a probation term she was serving for a drunken driving case. Miss Mills said she called the jail and didn't get much information, only that her mother was receiving medical attention on the premises. Then she received another call Sunday evening from her mother's cellmate. This time the news was even worse: Your mother is being taken to Citrus Memorial Hospital. Miss Mills said she called the jail, which confirmed that her mother was being taken to the hospital. It didn't provide any other information. Miss Mills went to the hospital, but the guard assigned to her mother's room wouldn't allow a visit. On Monday, jail officials allowed a one-hour visit. And on Wednesday, after her condition improved, Butts was taken back to the jail. "All weekend we went through hell ... wondering what was wrong with her," Miss Mills said during a telephone interview Thursday. Worrying along with her was her fiancé, Richie Smith, and her two sons, ages 7 and 9. Julia Swart is a spokeswoman for Corrections Corporation of America, the private company that operates the jail on the county's behalf. She said jail policy is to contact an inmate's relative in such cases only if the medical problem is life-threatening, or if such contact is requested by medical professionals or the hospital. (St. Petersburg Times, December 15, 2003)

The story was supposed to go like this: James Utsey, charged in the December 2000 fatal shooting of his mother, was to be tried in a Hernando County courtroom beginning Aug. 18. The trial was expected to last a week. If a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, prosecutors were seeking the death penalty. If not, he could have been a free man. Things didn't go quite that smoothly. Plans snagged somewhere along Utsey's transfer from the Citrus County jail to the jail in Hernando County. His prescribed psychotropic medication didn't make the journey, meaning he didn't take the pills for about four days. The trial was postponed. Circuit Judge Ric A. Howard was mad. Now, presumably to make amends for the delay, the private company that runs the county's jail has agreed to cover the county's tab for the remainder of Utsey's stay at the facility. In a brief memo dated Aug. 20, jail warden Carlos Melendez informed Public Safety director Charles Poliseno that Corrections Corporation of America will cover the county's bill for Utsey from Aug. 19 until whenever the trial begins. (St. Petersburg Times, August 29, 2003)

Citrus County has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by an Ocala hospital regarding the medical bill of a former jail inmate. The suit alleges that the county deliberately released the inmate, Martin Cahill, from jail to avoid paying for the services he would receive at Munroe Regional Medical Center. In March, Cahill was in the Citrus County jail awaiting disposition of a criminal case. He faced charges of making false 911 calls, resisting arrest and threatening police officers and firefighters. Court records show a judge released Cahill from custody on March 5 at the request of the State Attorney's Office and his attorney, Roy Stevenson, an assistant public defender. That was one day after he was taken from the jail to Citrus Memorial Hospital, but one day before he would be taken from Citrus Memorial to Munroe for more extensive care. Cahill's bill at Munroe: $152,973. State law says county government must pay for inmates' medical care if, as is usually the case, the inmate cannot afford to do so. But Patrick Burson, a Tampa attorney representing the county in this case, argued in an Aug. 4 motion that Munroe Regional has failed to show that Cahill was an inmate when he was admitted March 6. Munroe "does not have standing to pursue unpaid medical bills incurred by Martin Cahill," wrote Burson, an attorney with the law firm Fowler, White, Boggs and Banker. (St. Petersburg Times, August 18, 2003)

An inmate close to death is released just before he racks up an expensive hospital bill. The hospital sues for payment. Hundreds of inmates come in and out of the Citrus County jail each year. Some are awaiting trial. Others are serving sentences. Every now and then an inmate will become so seriously ill that he requires medical care beyond what the jail staff can provide. The law says county government must pay for the care if, as is usually the case, the inmate cannot afford to do so. This practice is at the heart of a lawsuit that an Ocala hospital filed against Citrus County this summer. The county says it isn't liable for a $150,000 plus medical bill that Martin Cahill accrued because Cahill was released from custody one day before entering the Ocala hospital. That hospital, Munroe Regional Medical Center, says Citrus swiftly arranged for Cahill's release to avoid being stuck with the big bill.  (St. Petersburg Times, August 4, 2003 )

The Sheriff's Office and jail authorities are interviewing people to find out what happened to Antonio Lewis Franklin. Theman who dies suddenly at the Citrus County jail Tuesday had his first recorded run-in with the law at age 17, around the time he dropped out of Citrus High School. An autopsy was being performed Wednesday to determine a cause of death for Franklin, who was rushed to Citrus Memorial Hospital Tuesday after an inmate reported him unconscious. The 31-year-old Inverness resident was pronounced dead at 4:10 p.m. Jail warden Carlos Melendez said he is also conducting an internal investigation action to determine whether his staff followed proper procedures. Melendez said Franklin, like all inmates, was examined by the jail's nurse after he was admitted. The nurse checked his heart rate and blood pressure and found nothing abnormal, he said. (St. Petersburg Times, August 22, 2002)

Inmates will continue to labor outside the jail despite two escapes from work details in a week, a county official said Tuesday. But the jail will take steps to prevent more escapes by ordering new, highly visible striped uniforms for inmate work crews and beefing up training for county employees who supervise inmates, said Charles Poliseno, the county's director of public safety. Poliseno, however, convened an emergency meeting with county and jail officials Monday afternoon after the escape of Joseph John Messina, 36, who ran away from a group of inmates picking up litter in Central Ridge Park in Holder. Messina had been captured by Marion County sheriff's officials about 11 a.m. Monday. Messina's attempt at freedom came only a week after Robert Charles Gordon had walked off a work detail at the Fire Services Center. (St. Petersburg Times, November 28, 2001)

The private company that runs the Citrus County Detention Facility fired Warden David Eads on Wednesday, sending away the jail's fourth warden in less than six years. CCA gave no specific reasons to the county or the Citrus Times for firing Eads, citing only a desire to change the management. Sheriff Jeff Dawsy was not available for comment Friday, but he has expressed concern in the past about the turnover at the jail. In a letter written last May when Eads became warden, Dawsy called the turnover rate "excessive" and "unacceptable." "Not only does it create an unstable environment for staff and inmates alike, it also results in undue changes in management styles. Standard operating procedures are subject to change, not to mention security methodologies. In short, there is at least the potential for endangering the public's safety unnecessarily." (St. Petersburg Times, March 24, 2001)

Cleveland Pre-Release Center, Cleveland, Texas
Corrections Corporation of America is pulling out of the pre-release prison here, citing a disagreement with the local school board over money owed in lieu of taxes. CCA served officials notice this week to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice that it will no longer manage the Cleveland Pre-Release Center in Liberty County after Dec. 31, said company spokesperson Laurie Shanblum. "It is the result of a difference of opinion between CCA and the Cleveland Independent School District regarding the annual amount of money to be paid in lieu of taxes to the school district." (Houston Chronicle, Sept. 3, 1998)

Coffee County Correctional Facility, Nicholls, Georgia
May 10, 2012 AP
Corrections officials have placed parts of a south Georgia prison under lockdown after a fight involving several inmates. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan says authorities locked down parts of Coffee County Correctional Facility after a fight on Saturday left several inmates hospitalized. She says the inmates received non-life threatening injuries and were returned to the facility the same day after being treated at local hospitals. Hogan would not immediately say how many inmates were involved. A spokeswoman for the Corrections Corporation of America, the private firm that runs the prison, did not return calls and emails seeking comment. The prison is a medium-security facility with 2,628 beds.

Colorado Department of Corrections
February 14, 2013 chieftain.com

A Pueblo West physician has received a letter of admonition from the Colorado Medical Board following the Oct. 28, 2010, death of an inmate at Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas. In a letter obtained by The Pueblo Chieftain from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, a medical board panel issued the admonition to Dr. David Oba on Dec. 6 in connection with his treatment of Terrell Griswold, 25, an inmate at the private Corrections Corporation of America-run prison. The letter said Griswold had a history of urinary problems and poorly controlled hypertension. Griswold had complained of difficulty passing urine for the previous two months when he first was treated by Oba in December 2009. After examining Griswold, Oba prescribed a 30-day course of antibiotics. Eight months later, Griswold went to see nursing staff at the prison on the evening of Oct. 22, 2010, complaining of abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, tingling in his extremities and a feeling that his throat was closing. He also reported an odd smell in his nose similar to ammonia, according to the letter.

September 17, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
Officials in three Southern Colorado counties said Wednesday that Gov. Bill Ritter's decision to release more than 6,000 inmates from state Department of Corrections custody will be devastating to small communities that house private prisons. Commissioners in Bent, Crowley and Huerfano counties all have private prisons owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Ritter announced the Accelerated Transition Pilot program in August. By June 30, an estimated 2,720 inmates out of 3,400 eligible for parole will be on the streets, saving the state $19 million in prison housing costs. The next year, another 3,000-plus inmates could be released. But Bent County Commissioner Bill Long said that the lion's share of the proposed reduction would come from the private prisons in Crowley, Bent and Huerfano counties. Long said the proposed releases will impact the private facilities which were built at the request of the state. "If they do what they have been talking about in the last few days, which is 5,000 to 6,000 inmates possibly being up for parole, that will empty virtually every private prison in Colorado that has Colorado inmates," Long said. "I guarantee that this will be an absolute disaster for Bent County and Crowley County. No question about it." The Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas are key parts of their local economies with more than 200 employees at each facility, Long said. "We receive property tax, telephone revenue and other benefits from the facilities," Long said. Long explained that the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in Walsenburg and the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington also will be hurt if the reduction occurs. Currently the Huerfano facility is full of inmates from Arizona, but Long said that when Arizona gets its inmate situation straightened out, the inmates will be taken back to that state. "That would be another facility that was built primarily for Colorado inmates that would also be emptied," Long said.

October 13, 2006 Summit Daily News
Six private prisons in the state were fined about $131,000 for failing to staff mandatory positions, the Colorado Department of Corrections said. It was the second time such penalties were levied since a riot broke out in 2004 at the Crowley County Correctional Facility and an audit exposed staffing problems at the prisons. The department released documents this week showing the six prisons had 1,071 vacant positions from February to May. The Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington received the largest fine of $83,103 for having 567 positions open. It was docked in $103,743 previously after it left 701 jobs vacant from November to January. The center is operated by Corrections Corporation of America, which also runs the Crowley County Correctional Facility. Alison Morgan, the department's head of private prison monitoring, said some places have difficulty finding and retaining workers, especially in remote areas.

August 23, 2006 Pueblo Chieftain
Two political groups are fighting over Rep. Buffie McFadyen, but it isn't for love nor money. In one corner is a political organization created by GOP Gov. Bill Owens and financed by several well-heeled Republicans called The Trailhead Group. In the other is a similarly well-financed Democratic group called Clear Peak Colorado, which was created for the sole purpose of countering anything the GOP group says. While Trailhead is accusing the two-term Democrat from Pueblo West of using her office to enrich herself, something it has been saying in a slew of recent radio ads in Canon City and Pueblo, the Democratic group says it is the other way around. That Trailhead wants to unseat McFadyen so its contributors can continue to receive lucrative private prison contracts. McFadyen, who has been highly outspoken in her opposition of private prisons, is running for her third term in office this fall against GOP challenger Jeff Shaw, a Pueblo attorney. "It's very clear that these prison building and management companies are using the Trailhead Group as a vehicle to attack Representative McFadyen for her opposition to private prison building initiatives," said Clear Peak director Tim Knaus. "These prison industry corporate donors to the Trailhead Group have millions of dollars riding on a GOP victory and they'll stop at nothing to protect their bottom line." Both groups are known as 527 organizations, so called because of the IRS tax code governing similar political advocacy groups.

July 31, 2006 The Gazette
Colorado prison officials, faced with unparalleled crowding, are poised to embark on the state’s largest private-prison expansion in years. By the time three companies build medium-security prisons for 3,776 inmates by the middle of 2008, one in three Colorado inmates will be housed in forprofit facilities. Despite the state’s growing reliance on private prisons, Department of Corrections officials still have deep concerns about the projects, and numerous issues remain that could derail them — including two companies’ insistence their cells be filled before those in state-run prisons. “I don’t believe they’re cheaper in general,” said state Rep. Buffie McFadyen, a Pueblo Democrat and opponent of private prisons. “As long as you have stockholders wanting more bodies and cells, there’s no incentive for that company to reduce the number of people in prison.” “They (private-prison firms) kind of know they’ve got us over the barrel,” said Dave Schouweiler, purchasing manager for the DOC. “If we don’t use them, we’ve got to ship people out of state.” Corrections Corporation of America was awarded contracts for 720-bed expansions at its prisons in Las Animas and Burlington. At the Kit Carson Correctional Facility, the company’s original proposal called for employing just 59 guards, later revised to 64, for an expanded inmate population of 1,562, a ratio of 1 to 24. Similarly, at the Bent County Correctional Facility, the company proposed to have 61 guards — later increased to 66 — for an expanded population of 1,457, a ratio of 1 to 22. The officer-to-inmate ratio in the state prison system is 1 to 4.6, according to the DOC. It isn’t the first time staffing at a CCA prison in Colorado has been a concern. In 2004, a riot broke out at the company’s Crowley County Correctional Facility, and an audit put much of the blame on low staffing levels. CCA signed new contracts with the DOC, allowing officials to issue fines for staffing deficiencies. CCA was recently fined $103,743 for leaving 701 mandatory shifts vacant from Nov. 1 to Jan. 10 at the Kit Carson prison, Morgan said. The company was fined $23,000 for 157 unfilled shifts at the Crowley County prison and $2,651 for 18 vacancies at the Bent County prison. Private prisons pay less than state prisons, and critics say most have high turnover. Another point of contention: CCA and GEO demand to have first claim to every person sentenced to state prison. It’s a condition Schouweiler said DOC officials are not comfortable granting. But the fact the companies made it a condition of their proposals — at least so far — shows how the climate has changed since the 1990s. “To a large extent, we can’t dictate to them like we did in the ’90s,” he said. “They would like to see us in crisis when they open their doors.”

June 28, 2006 Denver Post
A Democratic state lawmaker raised safety and competitive concerns about two companies selected by the state Tuesday to build additional prison space to house more than 2,200 male prisoners. Rep. Buffie McFadyen of Pueblo West said The GEO Group Inc. has not built the 500-bed Pueblo facility it promised three years ago. She also questioned whether GEO had an unfair bidding advantage on the new 1,504-bed facility it was selected to build in Ault. The company hired Nolin Renfrow, the former state director of prisons, to help it bid on the project after Renfrow left the department, she said. Renfrow worked for corrections when the request for bids was made public. Neither Renfrow nor a representative of GEO could be reached Tuesday evening for comment. Katherine Sanguinetti, a spokeswoman for the department, said she didn't know the factors that went into selecting GEO. And, she said, "I personally know that the DOC staff that were rating those bids have had no contact with (Renfrow) to keep it objective." Earlier this month, McFadyen asked lawmakers to audit the bidding process. She also questioned why the Corrections Corporation of America was selected to expand the Bent County Correctional Facility near Las Animas by 720 beds. CCA owns and operates the Crowley County Correctional Facility where a riot broke out in 2004. McFadyen said she was concerned that the company has still not replaced the porcelain fixtures in its facilities after broken porcelain was used as a weapon during the riot.

June 28, 2006 Journal-Advocate
All bets are off for a private prison in Sterling that would have brought 400 to 500 jobs and a $23 million payroll. Late Tuesday the Colorado Department of Corrections purchasing office awarded a bid for proposals to provide private prison correctional services and accommodations for up to 2,250 additional male inmates to both the GEO Group, Inc. and the Corrections Corporation of America. Both awards are conditional and subject to contract negotiations. The GEO Group, Inc., which included a 2,250-bed facility-security adult male private prison in Sterling in its proposal to the state, will build a new 1,504 bed facility in Ault, a town about 12 miles from Greeley, according to the Colorado Department of Corrections purchasing office's Web site. CCA will expand the existing facilities of the Kit Carson Correctional Center near Burlington and the Bent County Correctional Facility near Las Animas by 720 beds each. The GEO Group, Inc. - the second-largest private prison facility company in the world, with prisons across the globe - was considering the Sterling area as the possible site for a medium-security adult male private prison with 2,250 beds, according to Logan County Economic Development Executive Director Brett Challenger. The company would have offered 400 to 500 jobs and a $23 million payroll. There would be no out-of-pocket expense to the city where the prison is constructed. The city would provide water and sewer, Challenger said. But Frank Smith, a member of the nonprofit anti-private-prison group Private Corrections Institute, said while many towns have looked to private prisons as economic development strategies, they do not have the same effect as state-run prisons. "There is an order of magnitude difference between public and dangerous and economically draining private prisons. I've found the latter paying as little as $6.45 an hour," Smith said. The Journal-Advocate attempted to contact the GEO Group for information by phone on June 2, June 15, June 22, twice on June 23 and June 27 but was unsuccessful. Attempts to contact GEO by e-mail June 21, June 22 and June 24 were also unsuccessful. Smith, a retired volunteer, worked in criminal justice for decades, including with ex-offender populations and program management within public prisons. He's visited a number of for-profit prison in various states and is considered to be the Midwest's leading authority on private prisons and perhaps one of the dozen top experts in the world. He said he's suspicious of the GEO Group's claim to offer $14.42 an hour or $30,000 annually. "The proposed prison payroll, I'd guess, is wildly inflated. That's one way the operators sell these boondoggles. The for-profits hire bottom-of-the-barrel staff, usually pay terrible wages. A New Mexico guard working for GEO was making $7.95 an hour," Smith said. "They pay as little as they can. These guys will do whatever they can to get in business. But what they say and what they do are very different. It's not a contract. Once they open the doors they can do anything they want," Smith said. Tom Nipp, mayor of New Castle, Ind., said the GEO-owned prison outside the New Castle area has been beneficial to his town. "The truth of the matter is at this point there are more jobs, I believe, than we had before. There are more inmates, which means there is more work for local people. We have not had any negative results," Nipp said. Nipp said city leaders were initially told the company pay scale and benefits would not be as high so the guards would not be as motivated and the city would not be as secure. But he said that's not been the case. "At this point we have seen nothing like this," Nipp said. Nipp said he's noticed only two differences between now and before GEO moved in: There are more employees in New Castle, more local jobs and the GEO has provided a partnership with the community. "To the city of New Castle at this point and time it has been a positive experience," Nipp said. According to the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, the number of state prisoners in Colorado has increased more than 500 percent since 1980. The group claims the state of Colorado has turned to private, for-profit prisons in an attempt to save money, hoping that privatization will provide money-saving efficiencies in prison construction and operation. The group claims data from Colorado and nationwide show the performance of private prisons has been troubled with poor inmate programs, security problems and fiscal woes. According to Cheryl Ahumada of the DOC's Office of Public Affairs, the bidder awarded the project may conduct public meetings in conjunction with municipal and county officials. "It is up to the company and jurisdiction. It is not a DOC function," Ahumada said in an e-mail. Jennifer Klein can be reached at 522-1990, Ext. 237 or by e-mail at jklein@journal-advocate.com John Mangalonzo can be reached at 522-1990, Ext. 235 or by e-mail at: jmangalonzo@journal-advocate.com

June 25, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
The state has levied fines of $126,000 for short-staffing at two private prisons run by Corrections Corp. of America, which just won a contract to incarcerate 720 more Colorado prisoners. The new inmates will go to a different CCA prison in Las Animas, which had only minor staffing violations during inspections last winter. The fines are the first in Colorado. The penalties were recommended by a searing state auditor's report on the private prisons last year. The audit was prompted by a riot at the CCA prison in Crowley County in 2004. An inquiry found that CCA's staff-to-inmate ratio was one-seventh of a state prison's at the time. Only 33 uniformed officers were guarding 1,122 inmates. Staffing has improved since the fines were levied, said Alison Morgan, the state's supervisor of private prisons. CCA's Kit Carson County prison in Burlington, near the Colorado- Kansas state line, was fined $103,743 for leaving 701 required shifts empty in a 10-week period from Nov. 1 to Jan. 10, records show. That's about 10 people short per day over three shifts. The missing staff members were largely guards in various locations. On five shifts, the supervisor was missing, and on 44 shifts, there was no assistant supervisor. The fines could have been much higher. The state waived nearly $46,000 of penalties for October 2005 at the Kit Carson prison, saying it was unfair to enforce the contract only a few days after it was signed in September. Documents say state officials complained that in November, there were 435 cases in which employees did not sign out, making it impossible for state inspectors to know if the short-staffing had been even worse. CCA's Crowley County prison in Olney Springs was fined nearly $23,000 for leaving 157 shifts open in the same period. It, too, was given a reprieve for October's fines, which would have been $18,000.

March 6, 2006 Rocky Mountain News
Eighteen months ago, inmates rioted at a private prison in Crowley County, setting fires, smashing everything in two cell houses and seriously damaging another three. More than 100 officers were needed to stop the violence, which injured 13. A state investigation blamed the riot on mismanagement by Corrections Corp. of America, the prison's owner. The company had 33 guards overseeing 1,122 inmates when the riot began. The state Department of Corrections tightened its contract with CCA to require more and better trained staff. Now, the company has a major advantage in bidding for 2,250 new private prison beds that Colorado urgently needs for its soaring number of convicts. Although several companies have expressed interest in the work, CCA already has the land and the necessary zoning. That could make it the only bidder capable of meeting the state's demand that the first 750 beds open in less than two years. Meanwhile, the Department of Corrections is unclear on whether it can consider the riot in evaluating bids. At first, department spokesman Walt Ahrens said it cannot. "Procurement rules do not allow the department to negatively evaluate a new proposal from CCA because of a past riot at a CCA facility," he said in an e-mail. Later, the department pointed to the bid document, which says that evaluators will consider information about the bidder's past performance, but only if the bidder brings it up in its proposal. Still later, the department said it can request further information on such incidents "as long as the bidders are treated essentially the same." Finally, it said, "We are not going to speculate on what may happen. The process has just begun." But awarding the contract to CCA would make Colorado even more reliant on the company, a critic says. CCA "has a track record at Crowley that would make anybody question whether they are competent to run a prison," said Christie Donner, of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, which opposes all private prisons. In Colorado, a state investigation issued a blistering report after the riot at CCA's 1,800-bed Crowley County Correctional Center in Olney Springs in 2004. The report said that CCA's staff-to-inmate ratio was one-seventh of a state prison's and that management ignored signs of trouble. A new contract between Colorado and CCA requires more staff, better training, increased medical care and better food. A state audit also found fault with the state Department of Corrections, citing insufficient inspections and a practice of keeping dangerous inmates at a medium-security private prison, in violation of state law. Dave Schouweiler of the Corrections Department said it would be convenient to have a private lockup adjacent to a state prison. But state prisons pay about 50 percent better and it would be difficult for a private prison to compete for staff, he said. Though CCA has an advantage of speed and cost efficiencies of existing facilities, it's not the only potential bidder. George Killinger of Cornell Cos., which houses 18,000 inmates nationwide, noted that the state's proposal calls for 750 beds each opening in February 2008, August 2008 and August 2009. He said that allows the possibility of building one large prison with a cost-effective central administration, instead of several smaller ones. Other prospective bidders include Emerald Correctional Management, of Shreveport, La.; the Geo Group Inc., based in Boca Raton, Fla., which is ready to start construction on a 500-bed, specialized preparole prison in Pueblo; GRW Corp., which runs a private women's prison in Brush; Larry Small and Associates, of Hattiesburg, Miss., which is pushing a patented design that allows guards to see all prisoners at all times; and Management and Training Corp.

November 12, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
The nation's largest private prison operator has agreed to state-mandated reforms at its four Colorado prisons 14 months after a riot tore through its Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. Corrections Corp. of America, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., signed new contracts with the Colorado Department of Corrections in September that address a host of problems uncovered in the wake of a riot by some 300 inmates on July 20, 2004. Similar contract requirements and state oversight also will apply to two other non-CCA private prisons in Brush and Colorado Springs to ensure consistency. Those prisons house more than 500 inmates. The new contract requires increased staffing levels at CCA facilities, better staff training and emergency preparedness, increased medical and mental health services for inmates, improved food standards, and state takeover of inmate financial accounts. While some of those issues were not considered direct causes of the 2004 riot, all have been cited as trouble spots that may have fed the discontent that finally erupted into violence and destruction at the Crowley County facility. During the riot, inmates ransacked two cellhouses and prison offices, destroyed furniture, smashed doors and windows, and set dozens of fires, one of which burned down the prison greenhouse. Two inmates were seriously injured and several received minor injuries. The Department of Corrections found afterward that the Crowley prison had only 33 uniformed officers supervising 1,122 inmates and that some officers had been on the job two days or less. When inmates began damaging property, the small force of officers withdrew from the yard and cellhouses, and the riot quickly grew. Staff size and training were central concerns in the DOC report issued two months after the riot. But a Legislative Audit Committee report last April found other unequal conditions between state and private prisons that could breed future riots. But the staffing shortage seen as a major problem in the Crowley riot remains a difficult problem for CCA. The company has agreed to maintain staff sizes closer to those at comparable state-run medium-security prisons and to train officers to state standards. But a gap remains between the salaries of state and private prison staff members that has led to high employee turnover. The state's post-riot report found the average monthly salary for private prison officers was about two-thirds that of state officers. CCA has raised salaries every year despite decreases in Colorado's compensation rate since 2003 because of state budget cuts, Owen said. He did not disclose current CCA salaries. "It is a challenge in trying to make salaries competitive with what is paid by the state," Owen said.

October 13, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
The Colorado Department of Corrections has dramatically improved its oversight of private prisons in the state, prisons officials told lawmakers last week. In giving the Legislative Audit Committee an update on changes it has made in how it manages the state's five private prisons, DOC director of prison operations Nolin Renfrow told lawmakers that all is well. That audit he was referring to was a scathing report released in June that criticized the department for being lax in its oversight of private prisons and ignoring problems with them for years. Prompted by a riot at the Crowley County Correction Facility in Olney Springs last year, the audit said DOC knew or should have known about numerous problems concerning the operations of the prisons but did little to nothing to correct them. The state audit said the department diverted DOC workers whose job was to monitor private prisons to other duties, and failed to enforce operations rules and regulations. And in those instances when the department's private prison monitoring units did discover problems, the department failed to follow up to ensure that corrections were made, the audit said. Four of those facilities are operated by the same Nashville-based company, Corrections Corporation of American. In additional to the Crowley County facility, CCA also operates private prisons in Bent, Huerfano and Kit Carson counties. A fifth private facility that houses female inmates is located in Brush. It is owned by the Brentwood, Tenn.-based GRW Corporation.

October 7, 2005 The Gazette
Private prisons in Colorado could face cash penalties for failing to meet minimum safety standards under new contracts negotiated by the Department of Corrections in the wake of a stinging audit. In June, an audit of Colorado's private prisons, which house about 2,800 of Colorado's 18,000 prisoners, found numerous problems, including inadequate staffing levels, unlicensed medical clinics, employees with criminal backgrounds and poor food services. Thursday, corrections officials gave state lawmakers an update on their response to the audit. For instance, private prisons will be fined if staffing levels do not meet minimum standards or if the meals they feed prisoners are not up to par. "I'm not sure the liquidated damages have enough hammer to them," said Rep. Fran Coleman, D-Denver. Corrections officials said they need time to see if the new penalty system works.

June 26, 2005
This we know: • More prisoners exist in Colorado than there are cells in the state’s prisons. • No new prisons are under construction. • No money is available to build new prisons even if the state wanted to. Thus, Colorado is stuck with using private prisons whose operators contract with the state to incarcerate prisoners who won’t fit in the state-run system. It stands to reason that because incarceration is part of the judicial system and an essential function of government, the state should do all that it can to make sure all parts of the system — including private prisons — work according to the law. Colorado’s Department of Corrections has done a horrible job of monitoring the five-unit private prison system and has violated state law in the process. So says an audit of the private prison system conducted after a riot at the Crowley facility. The scathing audit left little cover for the DOC. The agency simply blew it. While required by law to monitor the private prison system, the DOC failed to reasonably do its job. In fact, the Legislature provided additional funding for staff so that monitoring could occur, but the DOC diverted those employees to other functions. The DOC knew about problems but ignored them, said the audit report. Inmates judged to be high security risks were sent to private prisons in violation of the law. Mental health treatment was not offered as required to those needing it. Medical centers at private prisons are not certified. Inadequate background checks were conducted on private prison employees. Sex offenders were given earned time off for treatment that they didn’t attend. It would be far better for Colorado to own and operate all of its prisons itself to assure better accountability. But the decision made several years ago for financial reasons to contract with private prison operators can’t be easily undone. The DOC must do a better job of overseeing the contracts, and the Legislature should consider a gradual process of bringing private prisons back into the public fold. In the future, if the state continues to struggle with having the capital funds to build new prisons, it should give more consideration to the idea of letting private entities build prisons and lease them back to the state to operate.

June 14, 2005 Pueblo Chieftain
The Colorado Department of Corrections has been lax in its oversight of private prisons, and has ignored known problems for years, according to a scathing state audit released Monday. Prompted by a riot at a private prison in Crowley County last year, the audit said DOC's inability to properly manage the five private facilities operating in the state led to numerous inmate problems, and could spark more. The audit said that the department knew about specific problems with how private prisons were being operated, but did little to nothing to correct them. And when the DOC did point out violations to private facilities, it failed to ensure that they were corrected, the audit said. "Noted violations by the private prisons are not being addressed by the department, and have been allowed to continue unresolved," the audit stated. "Furthermore, the department has not instituted a systemic follow-up process to ensure that its recommendations are follow by the private prisons or that documented violations are corrected." The audit found that the DOC used employees whose jobs were to monitor private prisons do other work, failed to enforce rules and regulations on how they are to operate, and was shoddy in how it monitored private facilities. Nolin Renfrow, director of prison operations for DOC, admitted that the department has made mistakes in its oversight of private prisons, but chalked it up to inexperience. "We have over 150 years experience running our own prisons, but only five dealing with private facilities," Renfrow said following the audit report. "We're learning as we go." Currently, there are five private prisons operating in the state, four of which are owned by the same national private prison firm: Corrections Corp. of America based in Nashville, Tenn. CCA operates facilities in Bent, Huerfano, Crowley and Kit Carson counties. A fifth private facility, which houses females, is located in Brush. It is operated by GRW Corporation based in Brentwood, Tenn. Steve Owen, CCA spokesman, said that while the audit was not about his company per se, CCA takes its role in working with DOC seriously and will help the department address concerns raised in the report. Still, Owen said the audit was a little too general to help the company address specific concerns. "We're a partner to the Department of Corrections and we view ourselves as apart of the system," Owen said. "The conclusions and the observations were so general for the most part, it's hard to specifically identify what specific things apply to our direct operations. The report doesn't lend itself to identifying specific things to specific facilities." One part of the report, for example, says that a mental health providers were not meeting with seriously mental ill inmates, but didn't say at which facility. Another section of the report, however, says that the medical staff at the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas administered two medications to an inmate that led to his death. Another death occurred at a different private facility in Kit Carson County when an inmate's medication was changed. Both are operated by CCA. "We identified two cases where physicians changed the inmates' medications without examining them," the audit said. "Department clinical and administrative records indicate that medication changes made by private prison staff potentially contributed to the death of these inmates." Owen said he knew nothing about those deaths, and questioned whether they occurred at CCA facilities. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West and an outspoken critic of private prisons, said the audit supports what she's been saying all along, that they have no place in Colorado. "These for-profit prisons would have a hard time passing even the beginning of the Boy Scouts of America oath: 'On my honor I will do my best,' " McFadyen said. "It's clear that the for-profit prison industry has no desire to follow their contracts, and it is costing taxpayers money every day. This year, the state could've spent $ 1.1 million on heath care, job creation or tourism. Instead, we had to spend that money to watch over private prison facilities that aren't doing their jobs and putting the public safety at risk." McFadyen was referring to additional money the Legislature gave to the DOC to add positions to its private prison monitoring unit. The audit said that the department has 15 monitoring unit positions, but that only four were actually going to the prisons. Additionally, one of those positions, for a unit operations manager, has been vacant for three years. Yet, the DOC asked the Legislature for five new private prison investigators and two additional monitoring unit workers. Renfrow said that cuts to the department's overall budget in recent years forced it to use some of those workers for other duties. The audit said that the monitoring units that did visit facilities missed numerous required inspections and filed incomplete reports. Auditors were particularly alarmed that the units failed to conduct the security and emergency activation drills it was suppose to, particularly one at the Crowley County facility at which a riot occurred last summer. "Of particular concern, we noted that the monitoring unit had never conducted an emergency activation drill at the one private prison that experienced a riot in July 2004, and only produced monitoring reports for one-third of the targeted weekly inspections at this facility during fiscal year 2004," the audit said. "Additionally, we identified several weekly inspection reports and security audits that appeared to copy the findings from prior inspection reports, changing only the date and time of the audit work performed," the audit said. "Department management does not review these reports, so management was not aware that the reports contained errors."

June 14, 2005 Colorado Springs Gazette
Two Colorado inmates died last year because their prescription medications were changed by unlicensed medical clinics in private prisons, according to a stinging audit that charged the state with lax oversight of an out-of-control private prison system. The Colorado Department of Corrections houses about 2,800 of its 18,000 inmates in six private prisons. Five are in Colorado, and one is in Missouri. It cost taxpayers $53 million in 2004. An audit of those prisons released Monday found numerous problems: inadequate staffing levels, unlicensed medical clinics, employees with criminal backgrounds, poor food services and more. The audit laid much of the fault with the state corrections officials, saying the state did a shabby job of monitoring and enforcing standards in private prisons. The state’s private prison monitoring unit has been plagued by job vacancies and only spends a fraction of the time it should at the prisons evaluating conditions and addressing problems, the audit found. “I think, from our audit perspective, we identified substantial compliance issues,” said Cindi Stetson, the deputy state auditor who managed the project. For instance, the audit found that private prison monitors filed reports that were copies of old documents that merely had a new date. Top level managers reportedly didn’t review private prison reports anyway. Additionally, not all the people assigned to monitor private prisons were doing that. Fifteen employees were allocated to that unit, but four were assigned to other duties and the key unit manager job was left vacant for three years. Corrections officials said they have not done a good job regulating private prisons but insisted they are taking steps to fix the problem. “We’ve taken the recommendations very seriously,” said Nolin Renfrow, director of prisons. “We feel confident we are headed in the right direction.” Renfrow said staffing has been beefed up in the office and that computers will track compliance reports. Additionally, he said top executives will pay closer attention to private prisons. As to the specific problems, DOC officials say they are tightening the contracts with private prison providers to force them to take care of the issues. Many of those new contracts take effect July 1. New stipulations will require private prisons have a licensed medical clinic. That’s a response to one of the main findings in the audit. “None of the clinics in Colorado’s five private prisons are licensed,” said auditor John Conley. “Since the clinics are not licensed, they are not monitoring them and are not aware of any deaths or problems at private prisons.” Nine deaths at private prisons last year were not reported to the Colorado Department of Health, as they should have been, the auditors said. So there was no investigation. The auditors said seven of the deaths were from natural causes, but two were linked to medical complications after prison operators changed prescription drugs. No other details were provided. The findings outraged lawmakers. “Obviously, they have been having a free-for-all in practicing medicine the way they wish for a long time,” said Sen. Deanna Hanna, D-Lakewood. “We are paying a lot of money to these private prisons for health care, and we need to get a better product than we are getting.” The audit found problems in many private prison practices, including their hiring standards, the nutritional value of their food and their staffing levels. The audit didn’t specify which private prisons were having the most problems. But four of the five prisons in Colorado are owned and run by the Tennessee-based Correction Corporation of America. Company officials said they are reviewing the audit and promised more efficiency and accountability. “We certainly would embrace that goal and have been working and will continue to work with our customer, the Department of Corrections, to enhance both of those,” said Steven Owen, a spokesman for the firm. A 500-bed, privately run prison under construction on East Las Vegas Street near the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center is scheduled to open in August. The medium security facility will be operated by New Jersey-based Community Education Centers. The prison, called the Cheyenne Mountain Pre-release Center, will house parole violators and inmates making the transition into society or to community corrections after serving state prison sentences. Its purpose is to reduce recidivism by giving inmates about 180 days of vocational training, drug and alcohol counseling, adult education classes and other last-minute lessons they can apply outside prison. Joe Ortiz, executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, said part of his agency’s problem is funding. “When we talk about medical, we talk about food, we talk about programs . . . that always comes with a price tag,” he said. “That’s not to say the department hasn’t been remiss in some areas, but it is a difficult mission, and it is difficult to provide all of these services given the current budget conditions.” The department’s budget was cut during the recession but has seen much of that funding restored in the past two years. The approved budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year, which starts July 1, is $589.2 million, a 6 percent increase. Lawmakers say they will take a hard look at the issues surrounding private prisons. “It’s clear that the for-profit prison industry has no desire to follow their contracts, and it is costing taxpayers money every day,” said Rep. Liane “Buffie” McFadyen, D-Pueblo West. KEY FINDINGS - None of the clinics at private prisons are licensed with the state. At least two inmates who were treated in those clinics died last year when their prescriptions were changed. Those deaths were not reported to state officials. - Inmates with serious mental illnesses were not seen by mental health staff in a timely manner. - Private prisons are serving meals that do not meet the state’s dietary standards. - The DOC doesn’t review staffing patterns at private prisons as part of their contracts. - Some private prison employees have questionable backgrounds, including some who have been convicted of violent crimes. In some instances, private prison employees begin working before a background check is completed. - Private prisons are not properly deducting court-ordered inmate restitution and child support. - The Department of Corrections office charged with monitoring private prisons was understaffed and didn’t get the job done. - Dangerous inmates were sent to some private prisons even though state law stipulates private prisons should only house medium security prisoners and lower.

June 14, 2005 Denver Post
Privately owned prisons in Colorado fall far short of minimum safety and medical standards, possibly resulting in the deaths of two inmates and the early release of a sex offender, according to an audit released Monday. Part of the problem, the report from the state auditor's office said, is lax state oversight of the private prisons, which collected $53 million to house 2,800 inmates in 2004. The audit's key findings: Nine inmates died between January 2001 and September 2004. Two of those deaths may have been caused by physicians who changed medications without physically examining the inmates. A sexual offender was released from prison three months early because officials awarded him credits for treatment sessions he didn't attend.  None of the five private prisons in Colorado have licensed medical clinics. Four private-prison employees had previous convictions for motor-vehicle theft, assault, criminal mischief and harassment. Staffing levels are lower at private prisons than at state institutions, with the worst ratio at the Crowley County prison, where inmates rioted last year. Steve Owen, spokesman for Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America, which operates four of the five private prisons in Colorado, declined to comment on the audit, saying he had not yet read it. But he said his company meets the standards set by a national trade association for private prisons. "We are doing our part to help the state be good stewards of the taxpayers' dollar," said Owen.  Last year, the prison company settled a lawsuit brought by Tamara Schlitters, the mother of Jeffrey Buller, a 26-year-old inmate who died 27 hours before he was to be released from the company's prison in Kit Carson County in 2001. Buller suffered from a hereditary condition that caused his breathing passages to swell. Despite his pleas, the company wouldn't spend $35 on the medicine he needed during his final 10 days in the prison, according to the lawsuit. Instead, he was switched to another drug. James Gillies, the lawyer for Schlitters, said the case was "heartbreaking" because Schlitters was planning a welcome-home party for her only son. Instead, the guests attended a funeral. Buller was in prison for a sexual encounter with an underage teenage girl. The Department of Corrections acknowledged the shortcomings and promised to fix them. Joe Ortiz, executive director of the department, said tight state budgets have contributed to some of the problems. "It is difficult to provide all of these services, given the current budget condition the state is in," Ortiz said. "Sometimes you want platinum treatment when you're paying for copper fare." The audit tied many of the problems to lax oversight by the Department of Corrections.   Since 2002, department officials knew they were failing to enforce a contract requirement that private prisons operate licensed medical clinics. None of the five private prisons in Colorado are licensed by the state Department of Public Health and Environment, the audit said. Lawmakers on the Legislative Audit Committee chided state corrections officials for failing to enforce the rules in the contracts. "Two departments have dropped the ball," said Rep. Fran Coleman, D-Denver. "I don't understand why this has been let go so long." Ortiz said that hiring medical professionals in rural communities is difficult - and even more complicated for prison operators. Still, he acknowledged the problem. "We were lax in our supervision of medical staff," he said. Staff writer Mark P. Couch can be reached at 303-820-1794 or mcouch@denverpost.com.

June 14, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
Colorado's private prisons are riddled with problems that allowed some sex offenders out early, contributed to a riot, and may have led to two inmate deaths, a state audit declared Monday. And state officials failed to monitor the prisons effectively, auditors said in a report to a legislative committee. The report alleges that operators of five private prisons broke provisions of their contracts with the state through deficient security, hiring, health care and even food. Prison doctors twice changed prescriptions for inmates without examining the patients first, auditors said. Both men died, possibly as a result. And doctors often delayed required services for mentally ill prisoners, the report said. Auditors also criticized the state Department of Corrections, which runs its own prisons and regulates private companies that manage lockups in Colorado. They said state prison officials placed violent inmates in the private facilities, violating the law. State monitors didn't find, ignored or didn't follow up on prison problems. Inspectors didn't work as much or as long as they were supposed to; some simply copied old oversight reports and slapped new dates on them. About 2,800 of the state's 18,000 prisoners are in private facilities. The state paid more than $53 million in the 2004-05 fiscal year to house them. Prison officials estimate it would cost more than $200 million - $75,000 a bed - to build enough public prisons. The state auditor's office studied private prison conditions and the state's oversight of them from September 2004 to March. Its report frustrated several legislators. "I don't understand . . . why this has been let go so long," said Rep. Fran Colemen, D-Denver. Added Sen. Deanna Hanna, D-Lakewood, "We need to get a better product than we're getting." Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, a leading critic of private prisons, said legislators need to crack down on prison operators and perhaps shake up the corrections department. State officials pledged stricter oversight, starting with new financial penalties for prison contractors if they fail to meet future contracts. Corrections department officials also said they didn't have enough staff to enforce contracts and the law - a claim the audit disputed - and suggested that decreased state support and corporate pressures led to problems in private prisons. The state's per-inmate payments to private prisons dropped 4 percent from 2000 to 2004. Joe Ortiz, executive director of the corrections department, asked reporters Monday to think like private-prison wardens, operating under budgets and under fire from Wall Street, as they try to provide inmate services such as health care. "Do you think they're going to go overboard?" he asked. Alison Morgan, DOC spokeswoman, later said the audit "clearly brought to light some significant failures on our part" but didn't reflect private prison monitors' hard work. Corrections Corp. of America, which runs four of Colorado's private prisons, "will do all we can to answer and address the concerns raised in the report," spokesman Steve Owen said. Some lawmakers defended private prisons. Rep. Dave Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, asked whether problems in private facilities are any worse than in public prisons. Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, said private prisons play "a significant role" in Colorado corrections. "By and large, they're doing a good job," White said, "and we can't live without them." The audit caps a bad year for private prisons in Colorado. Several employees of a women's prison in Brush were charged this winter with having sex with inmates; investigations revealed the prison hired some workers with criminal records. Inmates rioted at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in July 2004. An October audit spanked the prison operator, Corrections Corp. of America, for employing an inexperienced and undermanned staff at the time of the riot. Monday's audit also criticized staffing levels in private prisons as inferior to those in public prisons. Among its other findings: • The corrections department didn't force prison operators to act after doctors changed two inmates' prescriptions without examining them first. Both patients died, and investigators concluded staff errors contributed to at least one death. Corrections department officials also didn't require prison clinics to obtain state licenses, as mandated by law. And they didn't inspect any clinics from May 2003 to December 2004. • Corrections officials illegally sent 79 inmates classified as posing more than "medium" risks in danger and violence to private facilities in 2004. State law says the most violent prisoners must be housed in state-run facilities. • Private prisons routinely deviate from the state's "master menu" for inmates, often because they run out of food on the list. That can jeopardize prison security. It's a contract violation that state officials recognized in 2003 but did nothing about. • Three-quarters of mentally ill inmates who arrive in private prisons don't get an initial appointment with a mental-health practitioner within a state-mandated time frame. • Private prisons sometimes shaved time from the sentences of sex offenders who did not complete treatment programs. Such programs are supposed to be mandatory for sentence reduction. • Four of about 300 prison workers had "questionable backgrounds." A fifth never was subjected to a background check. A check of prison visitors also found some with criminal convictions that should have disqualified them from visiting prisoners. • State monitors were "inadequate and ineffective" in their oversight of private prisons. Inspectors missed assigned visits to facilities, stayed about half as long as required and, auditors said, sometimes filed reports identical to those of previous weeks. Auditors noted that legislators increased the monitoring unit's budget by 40 percent from 2003 to 2005 and questioned its staffing allocation. They said monitors showed no written evidence of following up on contract concerns with prison operators. Corrections officials defended their staffing and pledged to assign more monitors in the future. They also agreed to each of the auditors' 16 recommendations for improvement. They promised to insert stricter enforcement clauses into new contracts, including the right to dock money from private operators if performance isn't met. Officials said they'd changed management in the monitoring division but wouldn't say if any employees were disciplined over the report's allegations. A second audit released Monday also criticized corrections officials for poor contract oversight. The audit looked at inmate health care services provided by private doctors. It said the state could have saved $2.5 million over the course of a year by regulating provider rates differently, and said the corrections department provides "minimal oversight" of contractor performance. CCA's prison record • November 1998: CCA opens the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington. Nine months later, the prison is investigated over allegations of drug smuggling and charges that up to 15 female employees were having sex with prisoners. In 2003 the prison is sued in federal court after an inmate dies the night before his scheduled release after allegedly being denied prescription medicine. • July 1998: Six inmates escape from CCA's Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown. According to the University of Wisconsin, at least 79 inmates escaped from CCA prisons from 1995 to 1998. • November 2000: Seven guards from the federal penitentiary in Florence are indicted on 55 counts of using beatings, bribes and torture to control inmates. • July 2003: The state renews CCA's Kit Carson contract and pays the company more money to run the Florence prison. • July 2004: Two weeks after the beating death of a female inmate in a CCA facility in Nashville, two riots break out in CCA prisons in Colorado and Mississippi. A Department of Corrections report finds that the Colorado prison was not fully staffed at the time of the riot and that some employees had been on the job only a couple of days. • January 2004: The Tulsa World reports a 400 percent increase in prisoner deaths in an Oklahoma prison since CCA took over operations. tankersleyj@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-5219

The state Department of Corrections will accept no more out-of-state prisoners at Colorado's four private prisons while an investigation unravels the cause of a riot at one of them, an agency spokeswoman said Tuesday.  (Rocky Mountain News, July 28, 2004)

A riot that injured more than a dozen inmates and caused millions of dollars in damage to a prison run by a Tennessee company last week prompted the state to temporarily stop accepting out-of-state inmates, an official says.  (AP, July 27, 2004)

Legislative budget writers happily gave their blessings Monday to a $2.3 million supplemental appropriation to lock up 121 problem inmates at a private prison in Mississippi.  Lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee said shipping the gang-related inmates out of Colorado may save the state money in the long run.  State corrections officials already have transferred the inmates, who they suspect were behind a recent surge in prison disturbances. Some originally went to a private prison near San Antonio, Texas, until that facility said it didn't want them.  The cost, at $51 per inmate per day, is $1.44 per inmate per day higher than the rate for private prisons in Colorado. But budget analyst Karl Spiecker told lawmakers there were no other alternatives. Spiecker said, however, there could be problems outside of difficulties in family visits. Because of the distance involved, it will be more difficult for the state to monitor the private prison. Corrections indicated it will send one or two staff to the facilities a couple of times each month.  (Rocky Mountain News, June 22, 2004)

Colorado Legislature
July 24, 2013 coloradopols.com

POLS UPDATE: Joint Budget Committee leadership slams Senate Republicans on this issue in a letter today: This letter responds to a letter dated July 19, 2013, from the Senate Republican Caucus addressed to you.  In that letter, the senators indicate concerns regarding the Colorado salary survey, specifically that it “has not been conducted according to best practices, or according to statutory requirements for determination and comparisons of total compensation.”  As evidence, they cite the salaries of private corrections employees as compared to public corrections employees, and indicate a belief that the Department does not use private prisons as data points when conducting salary surveys… Public safety is a core mission of state government.  Prisons perform a complex and vital function and must have competent, professional and committed staff to operate safely and well.  A “race to the bottom” on corrections employee salaries would certainly diminish the safety of our prisons, increase recidivism, and potentially put workers and Coloradans at risk.  We are troubled by the discrepancy between salaries at state run and private facilities that the Senate Republicans helpfully point to, as well as the significant differences in staffing levels between the two types of institutions.  We think that reflects a problem in the private, for profit prison industry. We are interested in ensuring that the private prisons corporations with which the state contracts are meeting the same stated goal we have set for the state’s personnel system of providing total compensation that ensures the “recruitment, motivation and retention of a qualified and competent workforce.” Imagine your day as a correctional officer. You get up, put on your uniform and protective gear, and go to work in a stressful, tense environment. Your clients are incarcerated people, some of whom will be verbally abusive, many of whom are despairing, potentially violent, or dangerous. Your job is to protect the inmates from each other, help them to rehabilitate themselves, and to keep the public safe from your clients. Sound challenging? How about a 33% pay cut to sweeten the deal? On Friday, July 19, 2013, fifteen Republican senators wrote a letter to Director of Personnel Kathy Nesbitt, proposing to change the method which determines correctional personnel salaries in Colorado. The Senators opined that the existing salary survey was flawed, because it didn’t compare public correctional officer salaries to those of workers in private for-profit prisons. If Nesbitt adopts the recommendations of the senators, it could result in a 33% pay cut for state employee prison personnel, an average pay cut of $17,000 per employee per year. In Colorado, most of the 4000 correctional officers are unionized, on the union pay scale, and working in publicly funded prison facilities. 16% of correctional officers are working in privately owned for-profit facilities, and most of these are paid 33% less than their public-sector counterparts. Why are these 15 senators suddenly targeting the wallets of Colorado prison guards? Although the senators stated goal in seeking to change the salary study parameters is to avoid a “continuing detrimental effect on the state budget”, by targeting “The Department of Corrections, as the department with the most personnel in the state and most representative of the average state employee”, this claim does not stand up to investigation. Instead, the letter from the Republican Senators appears to be a pushback against a recent legislative victory by the Colorado WINS union. Senate Bill 210, signed into law on May 24, 2013, and sponsored by Senator Angela Giron and Rep. Crisanta Duran, facilitated overtime pay for officers working double shifts, and otherwise improved inconsistent or unfair correctional officer pay and working conditions. This was a much-needed reform. The same bill repurposed Fort Lyons as a rehabilitation center for homeless veterans. Passage of SB210 is rightfully seen as a victory for the Colorado WINS union, and a legislative win for Giron and Duran. Private prisons in Colorado are standing empty, or are partially filled.  Corrections  Corporation of America (CCA) , is Colorado’s largest private prison company. However, CCA only has a 23% “market share” of Colorado inmates, and only 16% of prison staff work in private prisons.  Incarceration in Colorado is down by a third, over the last decade, according to Imse, who credits new sentencing structures and prison policies, which allow time off for good behavior. Less incarceration for marijuana offenses may also be a factor, since the passage of amendment 64. This is not a friendly environment for expanding CCA's for-profit prison system in Colorado. There is simply not a need for private prison beds. Currently, CCA operates five facilities in Colorado, including facilities for juveniles and immigrants. Their continuing maintenance is seen as a support for jobs in struggling Colorado towns, where often the prison is a major employer. CCA, although limited in scope in Colorado, is extremely profitable nationwide; The company had almost 3 billion in assets at the end of the third quarter of 2013. Therefore, since there is no need for expansion of private prisons in Colorado, and in fact some public and private prisons may be closed or repurposed, how is CCA to maintain its profitability in our state? Obviously, by cutting wages and expenses of operation. Hence, the suggested pay cut of the unionized prison staff, by the fourteen Republican Senators. What would the Senators get out of this? Although they say that this would save the state money, in fact it will not; If 3500 prison staff people each lose $17,000 a year,  Colorado's economy would take a $60 million hit. Although CCA profits would improve, the welfare of Coloradans as a whole would decline, along with, probably, conditions and safety within Colorado prisons. The WINS letter responding to the Senators reminds them of a riot at Crowley CF, in which the low-paid private staff walked out, leaving the public workers to deal with the problem. So if the proposed salary decrease won't save the state budget, nor improve conditions in Colorado prisons, why are the Senators recommending it? In my opinion,  intensive lobbying by CCA and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)  is the motive behind the Senator's proposal. CCA and ALEC are both extremely conservative organizations. They share a goal of expanding the for-profit prison system, and ALEC, additionally, has a goal of weakening public sector unions. Both goals are achieved by the Senator's proposal. CCA is a corporation;  ALEC works with state legislatures all over the United States to further a conservative social agenda. ALEC creates “sample” bills which are then adapted for use in different states. Approximately 80% of CCA political contributions go to Republican and conservative legislators; 20% go to Democratic and liberal legislators. According to Colorado Common Cause's report, "Prisons and Profits: Political Expenditures of the Private Prison Industry", within Colorado, CCA has given over $200,000 to lobby for legislation to expand private prisons and weaken employee unions. The money trail is exceedingly clear.** Special recipients of CCA largess and ALEC direction are legislators Jerou, Lambert, Baumgardner, and Brophy. Every other legislator signing the letter requesting the prison staff salary decrease has  either been working with ALEC lobbyists, or has received funds from CCA-funded PACS, or both. Three of the signatories for the Nesbitt letter are ALEC members. (this link opens the "Prisons and Profits" pdf report. All of the signing senators have received contributions from conservative and republican PACS funded by  CCA. The Senators attacking the paychecks of prison guards and staff are, themselves, being paid off by campaign funding from conservative political PACS, in order to weaken public employee unions, and to expand private for-profit prisons., which are ALEC  and CCA priorites . The GOP senators are presenting this as a cost cutting measure, but it will not cut costs. There is a reason one wants well-paid, dedicated professionals to be in charge of inmates in our crowded, problematic prison system. Taking $17,000 from the salaries of those  4000 prison guards will harm the guards and their families. It will harm Colorado’s economy. It will degrade the safety and efficiency of Colorado prisons. It will not make the public safer. It will put money into the campaign coffers of those fifteen senators, but that is hardly a public good. Let’s keep our prisons under the care of unionized professionals. ** I'm not going to copy all of the details here, but I have used the TRACER program on the Secretary of State site to look up the committees and PACS listed in the Prisons and Profits publication, then searched for that committee, then looked for that PAC's contributions to individual legislators.) Common Cause has also detailed much of its findings on contributions in that publication.  *Corrections: My first draft of this post said that only fourteen senators signed the letter to Director Nesbitt;  Fifteen, including Senator Grantham, signed the letter.  


March 11, 2013 kunc.org

The private prison company Corrections Corp. of America shuttered the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in 2010. The prison, in Walsenburg in southeastern Colorado, was the town's second largest employer

Colorado’s governor and legislature quietly agreed last year to pay millions to a private prison company for cells the state would not need. Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, who headed the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee at the time, said the deal was negotiated in the governor’s office. She and other legislators agreed with the plan because it delayed the threatened closure of private prisons by Corrections Corp. of America. That would have resulted in devastating job losses in several rural Colorado communities where the jails are located. Officials knew the number of inmates had been declining in Colorado since 2009, and five state and private prisons already have closed. Projections now show that in the near future, two to 10 more state and private prisons could close, depending on the size of the facilities chosen. In the end, officials decided to wait until after a study is completed this June, with recommendations on which ones would be most efficient to shut down. The deal to keep sending inmates to private prisons wasted at least $2 million in state tax money, says Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. "The whole idea around private prisons was that they were overflow, that we would only use them to the extent that we needed them," The total could be far more. The state already has 1,000 empty beds in various state prisons and that number is rising by nearly 100 a month. That includes 300 beds in cellblocks shut temporarily until the study is completed. Officials need some beds open for flexibility, but won’t say how many. The deal gave CCA a written promise of 3,300 prisoners, at $20,000 each, for the fiscal year that ends this June. Details were hashed out a year ago during meetings between the governor’s office, CCA and its Colorado lobbyist, Mike Feeley. Eric Brown, spokesman for Gov. John Hickenlooper, said, “The General Assembly and the governor agreed to have a year where no other communities were affected by a prison closure” due to uncertainty about the number of prisoners and the impact of closing other prisons last year. CCA said in an email that the agreement with state officials was part of its “flexibility to manage their changing needs.” CCA also pointed out that it provides 600 jobs in the Eastern Plains towns of Olney Springs, Burlington and Las Animas. Department of Corrections director Tom Clements added, “I think it’s worth the time and investment to do the analysis.” With the recent closure of Colorado State Penitentiary II, Colorado has now has 21 state prisons and four private prisons. Colorado currently has 20 state-owned prisons. Another four are privately owned, including the three CCA facilities for minimum-to-medium-security inmates from Colorado and other states. “The whole idea around private prisons was that they were overflow, that we would only use them to the extent that we needed them,” Donner said. Donner was critical of the deal, which she noted was “negotiated behind closed doors.” “There was no [public] hearing on this whatsoever,” said the longtime activist. “I didn’t even find out about it until way after the fact, when all of a sudden I started to see the number of people in the private prisons start to increase. And I thought, ‘That’s odd…’ “Somebody just made a comment that they had given a 3,300 bed guarantee to Corrections Corporation of America, and I was stunned.” The state’s Joint Budget Committee staff confirmed there was no announced hearing on the decision. The secrecy is also backed by a lack of documentation of any of the discussions that occurred between Hickenlooper’s staff, CCA and legislators. The governor’s office responded to two Colorado Open Records Act requests seeking details about the deal without providing a single record of the negotiations, or how the 3,300-prisoner figure was reached. Asked how the governor justified making such an important and expensive decision in secret, Hickenlooper’s spokesman responded, “There is no way for the governor to send funds to a private company as a result of a backroom meeting,” because the legislature makes all funding decisions. Office calendars for the governor, his chief of staff Roxane White and his budget director Henry Sobanet show a meeting with CCA executives and lobbyist Feeley in the governor’s offices in the morning of March 28, 2012. That afternoon, the budget committee began an unannounced discussion of the possible shutdown of CCA’s prison in Burlington, if Colorado continued to reduce inmates there. State Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, said he worked with the governor’s office to contract for the prison closure study, modeled on a military base closure report. It is being conducted by a contractor, without a personal stake. “We don’t want to close a prison while the study is being done,” he said at the meeting that day. The next morning, the Pueblo Chieftain quoted chief of staff White saying CCA had threatened to cut jobs and shut a prison if it didn’t receive help. The prison in Burlington was only half-full. “CCA has said that if we don’t figure something out, they will be in a situation where they have to close a prison,” she was quoted as saying. “We need in the neighborhood of $10 million to $15 million to keep the private prisons all operational.” Feeley, a former legislator and a Democratic powerbroker in Colorado, denied any threat to shut a prison. But he did note that everyone knew CCA had mothballed its prison in Walsenburg in 2010 for lack of inmates. “CCA really feels we’re in a partnership with the state,” which compromised on a figure that shared the pain of reduced inmates, he said. The budget committee effectively signed off on the deal when it later budgeted the extra CCA funds. The legislature then approved the budget containing the payment. Because the number of inmates in Colorado is dropping even faster than projected, the deal is costing more than expected. Legislators thought the inmate population would drop anywhere from 160 to 1,256 by this June. Instead, the total fell by far more – 1,700 by February. The current population of 20,140 is close to where legislators thought the state would be two and a half years from now. Colorado has fewer prisoners largely because the crime rate has dropped by a third in a decade. The state also changed its sentencing structure, and has allowed prisoners to earn more time off for good behavior.

September 17, 2009 Pueblo Chieftain
Officials in three Southern Colorado counties said Wednesday that Gov. Bill Ritter's decision to release more than 6,000 inmates from state Department of Corrections custody will be devastating to small communities that house private prisons. Commissioners in Bent, Crowley and Huerfano counties all have private prisons owned and operated by Corrections Corporation of America. Ritter announced the Accelerated Transition Pilot program in August. By June 30, an estimated 2,720 inmates out of 3,400 eligible for parole will be on the streets, saving the state $19 million in prison housing costs. The next year, another 3,000-plus inmates could be released. But Bent County Commissioner Bill Long said that the lion's share of the proposed reduction would come from the private prisons in Crowley, Bent and Huerfano counties. Long said the proposed releases will impact the private facilities which were built at the request of the state. "If they do what they have been talking about in the last few days, which is 5,000 to 6,000 inmates possibly being up for parole, that will empty virtually every private prison in Colorado that has Colorado inmates," Long said. "I guarantee that this will be an absolute disaster for Bent County and Crowley County. No question about it." The Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs and the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas are key parts of their local economies with more than 200 employees at each facility, Long said. "We receive property tax, telephone revenue and other benefits from the facilities," Long said. Long explained that the Huerfano County Correctional Facility in Walsenburg and the Kit Carson Correctional Facility in Burlington also will be hurt if the reduction occurs. Currently the Huerfano facility is full of inmates from Arizona, but Long said that when Arizona gets its inmate situation straightened out, the inmates will be taken back to that state. "That would be another facility that was built primarily for Colorado inmates that would also be emptied," Long said.

August 21, 2009 Denver Post
Gov. Bill Ritter's plan to cut the state budget through inmate releases could reduce Colorado's prison population by 1,000 in a year and immediately save $19 million. It will also almost certainly accelerate the commission of new crimes, and could force layoffs from a privately run prison, experts said. Ritter's plan calls for trimming parole supervision for some inmates already out of prison, and releasing some non-sex-offender inmates early and placing them on parole. A total of 5,700 inmates or parolees could see their status change as a result of Ritter's cut. A Metropolitan State College of Denver professor says it's unavoidable that a large number of those prisoners or parolees will commit new crimes. "The recidivism rate in Colorado is between 40 and 60 percent within five years, depending on types of crimes," Metro State criminal justice professor Joseph Sandoval said. "I do think that the risk of release is that some will go on a crime spree and there may be a smaller amount that commit crimes that are heinous." Each of the inmates who will be released early is someone who was within six months of getting out anyway. So, if the inmates follow historical patterns, the early release is more likely to accelerate the commission of new crimes rather than actually increase the crime rate over time, Sandoval said. Still, Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman said the mass release of prisoners across the state is of "great concern." Private prisons wary -- There is also concern about the plan's impact on privately run prisons. Colorado's prison system is a mixture of state-run and privately run facilities. The private prisons make a profit largely based on efficiency, and they need full beds to get fully paid. The largest of those companies working in Colorado, Corrections Corporation of America, is already fretting that reducing the prison population too far would be bad for the company's bottom line. "We're hoping it doesn't put us in a position where our operations are not viable," said Steve Owen, spokesman for Tennessee-based CCA, which runs Crowley County Correctional Facility, Bent County Correctional Facility and Kit Carson Correctional Facility. Katherine Sanguinetti, spokes woman for the Colorado Department of Corrections, said the early prison releases will save $61 million over three years. Although there will be population decreases at all Colorado's prisons, the private prisons will be hit hardest because empty beds at state-run prisons will be filled by prisoners transferred from the private prisons. She said safety is DOC's top priority.

February 20, 2009 Grand Junction Sentinel
Gov. Bill Ritter has commuted the death sentence of the Rifle Correctional Center. Ritter and the Colorado Department of Corrections reversed a decision to close the minimum-security facility after state Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, pushed to keep it open. “That’s awesome. That’s great. That is great,” said Mike Morgan, who is chief of the Rifle Fire Protection District and one of many Garfield County residents who had spoken out against the proposed closure. Morgan had been particularly concerned over the prospective loss of an inmate wildland firefighting team. The state Department of Corrections had proposed closing the 192-bed facility as one way of helping deal with Colorado’s fiscal shortfall. White said the decision to keep the prison open followed negotiations with the governor’s office and state Department of Corrections. Before that, he said, he had to persuade fellow members of the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee to support keeping the prison open. “I’m just glad that we’re able to accomplish what I think is a laudable goal,” he said. He said it made no sense to close the prison when the state is sure to need more prison beds. He worries that Colorado could end up at the mercy of whatever rates private prisons might charge.

March 11, 2008 The Daily Sentinel
State lawmakers have approved of a compromise to increase the per diem rate Colorado pays its largest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, after a battle between the state and the company this year. Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, said the Joint Budget Committee agreed to boost the amount of money the state pays the firm per prisoner per day from $52.69 to $54.27 — a 3 percent increase — as a gesture of “good faith” between the state and the private company. “If we don’t have all the money they want, let’s give them a good-faith offer, and have some negotiation (over the Huerfano County) facility,” White said. During negotiations this year between Corrections Corporation of America and the state, the company threatened to stop holding Colorado prisoners in the 752-bed prison to stay profitable. According to committee reports, the company requested a 4.25 percent funding increase, but staff had recommended a 1.5 percent increase — the same rate increase lawmakers planned to give to all other private companies the state has contracts with. Mike Feeley, a lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The Joint Budget Committee’s vote came despite a warning from legislative staff that a rate increase for the prison company alone could set a bad precedent. “It’s a slippery slope when every provider gets a different rate,” said Patrick Brodhead, an analyst for the budget panel. He said granting Corrections Corporation of America’s request could encourage other private companies paid by the state to demand higher reimbursement rates. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said she plans, at the very least, to fight the private prison company’s rate hike when the state budget goes before the full House. “Why are they getting 3 percent when most providers to the state are getting a 1.5 percent increase?” McFadyen said.

February 6, 2008 Pueblo Chieftain
A private prison company is threatening to move all Colorado inmates out of one of its facilities if it doesn't get an increase in what the state pays to house them. Corrections Corporation of America, which operates four of the state's five private prisons, including three in Southern Colorado, is demanding that the Colorado Legislature give it a 5 percent hike in the per diem it receives to house about 4,000 state inmates, Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, said Tuesday. Buescher, chairman of the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee, said the Tennessee-based company is using its weight to try to force more money out of the state. "We've got a negotiating disadvantage," he said. "The choice we've got to make is to give them a provider rate increase that is three times what we're giving to all other providers, or to build hundreds of millions of dollars in additional prisons. We don't have that hundreds of millions of dollars, and they know it. The decisions that have been made over the last 12 years (in using private prisons) have put us in a very difficult negotiating position." Steve Owen, spokesman for the Nashville company, said CCA is simply trying to do what's best for its business. He said the company agreed to a lower per diem rate in 2001 when the state was suffering from a major budget shortfall. Since then, however, the state hasn't made up the difference. "We were basically asked to help with the burden of trying to ease some of those (budget) constraints, which we did," Owen said. "So, there's nothing Draconian at work here in terms at what has been presented to the state. We're just honestly trying to put options out there to help preserve this partnership with Colorado so we can continue to provide the services to the state and keep our folks employed out there." In 2001, the state had been paying CCA a $53.33 per diem. That amount was lowered to less than $50 and has since risen to $52.69, still far less than what it would be receiving after seven years of inflation and cost increases. Now the company is asking for $55.32 per inmate a day. "We've actually had a real dollar decrease," Owen said. "That's compounded with another issue that the state has underutilized beds that we've made available. Between those two things, it makes for a difficult situation on a financially viable business operation." Currently, the company - which operates private prisons in Bent, Huerfano, Crowley and Kit Carson counties - has about 460 open beds, and that doesn't count the 1,440 more that are expected to become available later this year because of expansions of the Bent and Kit Carson facilities, Owen said. Owen said that if the state can't pony up more money, his company would consider consolidating all Colorado prisoners in three of its facilities. The fourth facility, which has not been determined, would be used for inmates from the federal prison system or other states, some of which pay anywhere from $10 to $15 a day more than Colorado. Still, some lawmakers said they didn't like the idea of the company demanding a 5 percent hike at a time when the state can only afford to give other private providers, from health care to human services, less than 1 percent. Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West and a longtime critic of private prisons, said the state should call CCA's bluff and give them no increase. "I don't like doing business when we're being held hostage, and that's exactly what this is," McFadyen said. "We saw it coming. We had a past governor (Bill Owens) who brought us private prisons without a bid process, now we're dealing with it. If they don't want to work with us, we don't have to play ball with them."

January 28, 2008 Colorado Confidential
In just two months, two executives of the nation's largest prison business gave $2,400 to various campaigns in Colorado, nearly triple the total amount contributed a year before. According to records from the Secretary of State's office, high- ranking officials with Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America went on a spending spree during the last two months of 2007, contributing money to the candidate committees of seven state legislators, usually in $400 increments, the highest legal amount. State campaign finance records show that Marsha Wedell, wife of CCA board member Henri Wedell and a listed vice president at the company, gave $1,400 to the campaigns of Reps. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood; Mary Hodge, D-Brighton; Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield; and House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker. May's committee received $200, while the rest were given $400 contributions -- the maximum allowed by law. Josh Brown, a senior director at CCA who handles business relations in Colorado, gave a total of $1000 to the committees of Reps. David Balmer, R-Centennial; Michael Garcia, D-Aurora; and Nancy Spence, R- Centennial, according to SOS documents. What makes the spending surge unique is not the monetary amounts given to state lawmakers, but the sheer increase in spending from last year by CCA. State records show that CCA board member Henri Wedell gave $400 in November 2006 to the campaign of House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D- Denver, while CCA gave a business contribution of $500 to the Colorado Leadership Fund, a Republican political committee, during the same month. The company didn't contribute again until the end of 2007, when executives gave nearly triple the $900 amount contributed at the same time in 2006. CCA operates four detention facilities in Colorado. Earlier in the month, the company demanded a 5 percent increase in the daily rate the state pays to hold inmates and threatened to stop housing prisoners.

January 15, 2008 The Daily Sentinel
A private prison company is threatening to stop housing additional Colorado inmates unless it receives more state funds, an act one state lawmaker called “extortion.” Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, said Corrections Corporation of America has demanded a substantial increase in the daily rate the state pays private prisons to hold inmates. “They said that if we don’t essentially do a 5 percent increase over each of the next five years, they will work at closing at least one of their prisons to Colorado prisoners and start bringing in out-of- state prisoners,” Buescher said. Corrections Corporation of America prisons in Burlington, Las Animas, Olney Springs, Walsenburg and Sayre, Okla., house 4,048 Colorado inmates, according to Katherine Sanguinetti, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections. Those prisoners account for more than 20 percent of the state’s more than 19,000 prison inmates, according to agency statistics. Steve Owen, spokesman for the Tennessee-based company, said Corrections Corporation of America requested the rate increase to keep its Colorado prisons operating at cost. “We’re trying to keep our operations in Colorado financially viable looking to the long term,” Owen said. “It’s been a very good partnership.” Owen declined to comment on the company’s dealings with state lawmakers. He said Corrections Corporation of America is merely trying to negotiate a reimbursement rate in line with prison companies’ pre-recession funding levels. Following Colorado’s 2002 and 2003 recession, the state dropped its per-inmate, per-day private prison reimbursement rate from a high of $54.66 in fiscal year 2001-2002 to $49.56 in fiscal year 2004-2005. Since then, the reimbursement rate has grown incrementally to $52.69. Ari Zavaras, director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, was unavailable for comment Tuesday. Rep. Al White, R-Hayden, said he understands the Corrections Corporation of America’s financial situation, but its threat to start “winnowing” Colorado inmates out of its facilities in favor of more lucrative out-of-state prisoners is insidious. “I do feel there is some level of extortion involved here,” White said. Buescher, who heads the state’s Joint Budget Committee, said Corrections Corporation of America’s responsibility for such a high percentage of the state’s inmates gives it a troubling level of influence over the state. “When you use private prisons, you become hostage to their setting the rate,” Buescher said. “And we always knew that this issue was out there.” White said if Corrections Corporation of America moves ahead with its plans, the state could find itself scrambling to either cram more inmates into its already overstuffed 22 public prisons, send prisoners outside Colorado or build a new public prison. “We need to find beds for our prisoners,” White said, “and if we lose all of the (Corrections Corporation of America) beds, we’re in trouble.” According to a Joint Budget Committee staff report, Colorado will need 5,100 new prison beds over the next five years. White said building thousands of new public prison beds, without private prisons to help bridge the bedding gap, could run a tab of nearly $1 billion. Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, said another short-term solution could be to encourage more community-based sentences for nonviolent felons. Community corrections programs, he said, are more cost-effective than prisons. Pommer suggested during a Tuesday hearing the state could condemn and take over one of Corrections Corporation of America’s facilities, but said it would not be preferable. He said for the time being, Colorado will have to rely on private- prison beds. “We should have never let this situation get to the way it is,” Pommer said.

March 7, 2007 Denver Post
The nation's largest private-prison company said Tuesday it has helped the state avoid $646 million in construction costs over the past decade. Executives from Corrections Corporation of America, which houses about 20 percent of all inmates sent to prison in Colorado, added that they pay $40 million per year to 900 employees in the state. The company disclosed the financial data during a special hearing by state lawmakers into the costs and benefits of relying on privately owned prisons. While the company touted its economic impact, opponents of private prisons talked about the human cost. Tracy Masuga, whose son was moved from a Colorado-based prison to a CCA facility in Oklahoma in December, said she can no longer visit her son every other week, as she has for the past six years. "We won't be able to see him very often," said Masuga, who choked back tears as she began her testimony, noting that it now costs at least $300 per trip to see her son. As a result of overcrowding in Colorado, hundreds of prisoners are being transferred to facilities in Oklahoma. Masuga said she found out that her son had been moved on the day he was sent to Oklahoma. Ryan Sherman, president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, said private prison operators cut corners to increase profits for their shareholders. He said such practices endanger workers and could result in higher rates of repeat offenses by released inmates. "There's nothing but problems if you are putting profits first," Sherman said. Rep. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, said private-prison operators pay lower salaries than state-run prisons, partly because the companies base their salaries on incomes in depressed rural areas. "It seems like that's contributing to the pay disparity," Carroll said. Josh Brown, senior director of customer relations for CCA, said his company's starting pay for a correctional officer in Colorado is $24,000 to $26,000 per year. The state Department of Corrections pays $32,000 annually. Brown said his company turns over 30 percent to 40 percent of its Colorado workforce a year.

August 24, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
If Colorado took a best-value approach to contracts rather than a low-bid approach, it could save the state millions of dollars in mediocre work that has to be redone, union representatives said Monday. "Using the low-bid process, the winning company has little incentive to do more than marginal work," Gerard Waites, a Washington, D.C., lawyer whose firm represents construction-trades unions, told members of the Interim Committee to Study the State Procurement Process. The committee was formed because of dissatisfaction with end products delivered by private vendors, such as the one that put together the Colorado Benefits Management System, the state's new $200 million system for delivering welfare benefits. Some committee members also are skeptical about whether Colorado's private prisons truly are saving money, when the cost of paying overtime to state employees to quell riots is considered.

June 20, 2005 Rocky Mountain News
The company that runs most of Colorado's much-criticized private prisons showered state lawmakers with campaign cash over the last five years.  Corrections Corp. of America and several of its executives gave at least $43,000 to legislative and gubernatorial candidates, as well as state political parties, campaign-finance records show.  The company's beneficiaries include Gov. Bill Owens; Interim State Treasurer Mark Hillman, who recently resigned his post as Senate minority leader; the former Senate president; two members of the legislature's budget committee, including the chairman; and the House speaker pro tem. A government watchdog group said that CCA's cash still could have been enough to garner influence resulting in lax oversight from the state, as auditors described in a report last week.  Pete Maysmith, of Colorado Common Cause, an advocacy group that has pushed for campaign-finance limits, sees a link between the company's donations and the state's oversight problems. "Let's not pretend otherwise," he said.  "They give large campaign contributions both to win contracts in the state and, one would also presume, to have as much free rein as possible."  Other private prison companies that don't hold Colorado contracts donated nearly $15,000 to state candidates this decade, records show.  Records show no donations from the only company besides CCA to run a Colorado private prison, GRW Corp. of Tennessee.  The company split its Colorado donations among political parties. It gave $17,250 to Democrats, including $750 to members of the Joint Budget Committee, $200 to Speaker Pro Tem Cheri Jahn and $15,000 to a party campaign committee shortly before the 2002 election. It gave Republicans $25,750, including $12,000 to party committees and $500 each to former Senate President John Andrews and former House Speaker Lola Spradley.

Columbia Training Center, Columbia, South Carolina
A federal grand jury Friday awarded more than $3 million to a Charleston teenager who was hog-tied, maced and thrown against a wall by Corrections Corporation of America guards three years ago. The verdict could open the door for 21 other teens who have filled lawsuits against the Tennessee-based CCA. The teens claim that guards at a privately run juvenile prison that CCA operated in Columbia assaulted and improperly punished them. "It's a case where a corporation had a policy of using abuse." said Gaston Fairey, the teens lawyer. The jury decided Thursday that CCA had a corporate policy of using excessive force to control teens sent to its facility on Farrow Road in Northeast Richland. They awarded Pacetti, now 18, $125,000 in "actual damages," compensating him for his pain suffering. Cooper acknowledged in court that the company made "big mistakes," but added, "CCA is not an evil empire." The state decided not to renew the contract after the first year. (Tennessean, Dec. 16, 2000)

Connecticut Legislature
A group of lawmakers and the union representing prison guards alleged Tuesday that the governor's effort to fund more out-of-state placement of inmates is a veiled attempt to steer a contract to a private prison company being represented by one of his longtime friends. The group raised concerns Tuesday hours before the expected approval of a budget implementation bill submitted by the Office of Policy and Management at the request of Gov. John Rowland. The bill authorizes the out-of-state transfer of 1,000 additional inmates. The critics say the contract is in the bag for Corrections Corp. of America because the firm is being represented in Connecticut by Rowland's former chief of staff David O'Leary. The company has been paying O'Leary $4,500 a month plus expenses since January 2003 to lobby on its behalf, state records show. State Rep. Michael Lawlor observed that the state prison population is on the decline and the state does not need to transfer inmates. He said the possibility of giving Corrections Corp. of America a contract bears troubling similarities to the efforts that resulted in the Tomasso Group winning a contract to build the controversial juvenile training school in Middletown. Lawlor, who is a member of the legislative committee investigating whether Rowland should be impeached for taking gifts from state contractors and employees, said the governor should not be allowed to repeat history. (Courant, May 12, 2004)

 A private prison company from Tennessee has told the Department of Correction it plans to bid on housing up to 2,500 prisoners in its facilities.  Connecticut must find a place to put 500 prisoners by October, after Virginia officials canceled a contract to house the state's inmates this week.  Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America has submitted a letter of intent to Connecticut, said company spokesman Steve Owen. He would not reveal any proposed details.  "We certainly are interested and will be submitting a proposal," Owen said.  The state Department of Correction confirmed it received letters of intent but would not say which providers had expressed interest. Private providers and states have until May 3 to submit proposals.  Corrections Corporation of America is the nation's largest private prison operator, holding 55,000 inmates in 64 facilities in 20 states. Company officials said last year their Youngstown, Ohio, facility would be ideal for Connecticut inmates, but Owen said Friday they could be placed in any of the company's 6,800 available beds.  The company also has hired a former a former chief of staff to Gov. John G. Rowland, David O'Leary, to lobby for the company in Connecticut. Rowland is currently enmeshed in a federal investigation into possible bid-rigging in the administration, and a House committee is considering whether to recommend impeachment.  "We are not concerned," Owen said. "He is being retained because of his ability to be kept up to speed with the decision making, like all of our lobbyists around the states. That is why we retain the individual."  Connecticut had been looking for a private or other state provider since the legislature last year authorized out-of-state placements for 2,500 prisoners.  Virginia has said it will not accept Connecticut prisoners past Oct. 22, but it will be flexible in allowing Connecticut to get its inmates out of the state.  Marc Ryan, Rowland's budget chief, said the state would not discuss anything with providers until after the closing date for the proposals. He also said the state was not leaning toward any particular provider, and was considering entering into multiple contracts.  A preliminary survey of the private prison industry showed Connecticut could get rates as low as $10 per prisoner per day, Ryan said. In Connecticut, it costs roughly $80 a day to house prisoners, he said.  The Virginia contract's demise is giving some lawmakers that prison crowding reforms will move through the legislature.  The proposals include building up community based programs and releasing prisoners more quickly when they become eligible for parole. They would also fund the state's jail re-interview program, which assesses whether inmates awaiting sentencing can be released into the community.  "We need a long-term solution to this problem, and it's got to be a Connecticut solution. Not one that's going to be canceled with six months' notice," said Rep. Mike Lawlor, D-East Haven, chair of the legislature's Judiciary Committee.  The proposed reforms do not eliminate the state's ability to send inmates to other states. But backers argue that the reforms will reduce the population enough so that it won't even be a discussion.  "I don't think it's a problem at all creating that room in our system, so we can accept people coming back," said Rep. William Dyson, D-New Haven.  Barbara Fair, an activist with People Against Injustice and the mother of an inmate who was sent to Virginia, said she doubted there would be any substantial change.  "As long as they're trying to fill up cells somewhere else, that's what they're going to do," she said.  (AP, February 28, 2004)

The next batch of inmates that Connecticut prison officials send out of state is likely to end up in a private prison in Ohio.  Correction Commissioner Theresa Lantz told legislators this week that her department has issued a request for proposals seeking a provider with enough beds to hold all the inmates -which could number more than 2,000. But she said Corrections Corp. of America, which operates the Ohio facility, might be the only provider able to accommodate that many.  Lantz assured lawmakers that like Connecticut, many other states are turning to private prisons to address their overcrowding issues.  "Thirty-one states contract with private prisons, so it is not a unique phenomenon," said Lantz. "And I'm not saying that because I am trying to sell you on private prisons."  She told members of the legislature's judiciary and appropriations committees during a joint hearing that she needs to find housing for inmates because the state's contract to house inmates in Virginia expires in 2005. She said the state's prison system does not have the capacity to absorb the 500 inmates currently housed there, even though the state's inmate population has significantly dropped since last year.  As of January 2004, the state's inmate population was 18,523, including 554 inmates being held for the federal authorities. Last year, the figure stood at 19,216, including 368 federal detainees.  John Ferguson, Corrections Corp. of America's chief executive, was quoted in the Tennessean newspaper in October claiming that his company's dormant facility in Youngstown, Ohio, which has 2,016 empty beds, would be an ideal site for Connecticut inmates. The company has roughly 6,800 empty beds in its 64 prisons around the country.  His comments were in response to the legislature's approval last year of the governor's plan to send 2,000 more inmates out of state.  Ferguson's firm is being represented in Connecticut by Gov. John Rowland's former chief of staff David O'Leary. The company has been paying O'Leary $4,500 a month plus expenses since January of last year. Corrections Corp. is the only prison provider with a lobbyist in the state.  Officials with the company said they were looking to break into the Connecticut market and approached O'Leary after learning that he was one of the most effective lobbyists in the state, said Steve Owen, the company's director of marketing and communications.  "It is common for [the company] to retain lobbyists in both states where we currently do business and states where we may be able to do business," said Owen. "This allows us to monitor ongoing public policy discussions in corrections. Additionally, lobbyists provide an avenue by which the company can inform and educate decision-makers on the merits of our industry generally and our company specifically."  Officials with the union that represents the state's correction officers said signs that the state is leaning toward a private provider concern them. They say the decision will eventually cost the state more than it saves.  They say instead of sending inmates out of state, the legislature should be pursuing measures that reduce the state's prison population.  "Council 4 and the corrections employees we represent have consistently and publicly supported viable alternatives to the management of the inmate population, such as diversion for first-time drug offenders and the mentally ill," said Thomas Sellas, a member of the union's executive board.  "We have also strongly advocated making better use of existing Department of Correction resources. It makes no sense to send prisoners out of state when there are open beds right here in Connecticut."  (Courant, February 23, 2004)

Following are highlights of three budget-related bills the Connecticut General Assembly plans to vote on Saturday. The information is from drafts of the bills.  Allow the Department of Correction to send an 2,000 more inmates to out-of-state public or private prisons.  (AP, August 19, 2003)

Correctional Treatment Facility, Washington, DC
Feb. 4, 2013 Washington City Paper

As if being imprisoned wasn't bad enough, a new lawsuit from a former Washington inmate alleges there's another threat lurking in Washington's correctional facilities: the showers. Robert Morris was imprisoned at the Correctional Treatment Facility, a building  located next to the D.C. Jail that's run by the private Corrections Corporation of America, on Sept. 20, 2012. When he got in the shower, he alleged got a surprise: According to his lawsuit, the temperature spiked. "There was a sudden, very rapid, and quite extreme temperature change and it burned him in the genital area," says Geoffrey D. Allen, Morris's attorney. The lawsuit alleges that Corrections Corporation of America employees already knew about the showers' tendency to shoot out scalding water, which Allen likens to the changes in temperature when multiple showers in one house are turned on, but much worse. In a lawsuit filed in Superior Court in January, Morris sued the Corrections Corporation of America for $1 million for the injuries he suffered in the shower. The company declined to comment on the case, saying in a statement that inmate safety at the CTF is a top priority. Allen, who wasn't sure what his client was imprisoned for, says Morris didn't suffer permanent damage from the shower's alleged burst on his most sensitive areas. "It was certainly uncomfortable, as you can imagine," Allen says.

September 20, 2012 The Washington Times
Corrections officers working at a D.C. jail facility worry about their safety on a daily basis due to a lack of adequate staffing after recent layoffs, employees testified Thursday at a D.C. Council hearing on the facility’s management. Corrections Corporation of America has run the District’s Correctional Treatment Facility since it took over operations from the District in 1997, but workers said problems that include faulty radios, inadequate staffing and high levels of contraband found inside the jail have been exacerbated since 77 employees — approximately one-third of the workforce — were laid off in April. “They are putting us in danger as well as the inmates,” said Dana Bushrod, a corrections officer of 10 years and leader with the union that represents employees at the facility. Ms. Bushrod went on to describe how units at the medium security facility, which is run separately from the higher security D.C. Jail that is still overseen by the District, are now commonly staffed with one corrections officer when they should be overseen by two or three officers. “We have a mental health unit that should have three staff members but have had one,” Ms. Bushrod said. “We have had an incident where an officer was attacked because she was by herself and a mental health patient attacked her and another mental health inmate had to help her.” Faulty radios and telephones also often leave officers without a way to communicate with staff in other units, she said. “It’s pretty shocking, and the public should be very worried about some of these instances,” said John Rosser, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Corrections Labor Committee that represents officers at the jail. No representative from CCA attended the hearing before the council’s Committee on the Judiciary on Thursday morning or could be reached for comment. D.C. Council chairman Phil Mendelson, who oversaw the hearing, said that despite CCA’s absence from the hearing he believes officials are listening to their concern. “The value of this hearing is it gives employes a way on the record to voice their concerns,” said Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat, adding that a number of the concerns mentioned had been raised before. “Now the whole world is watching, so the views are out on the table.” Several who attended the hearing spoke out against a continuation of CCA’s contract with the District to oversee operations at the facility. The contract is in force until 2017, according to information provided by Department of Corrections officials. “The FOP union strongly opposed privatizing in the 1990s and nothing has happened in the intervening years to convince us we were wrong,” Mr. Rosser said. “Profit has no place being in the equation. Making money on the incarceration of citizens is ugly business.” Others also raised concern about current conditions inside the jail. A representative from the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital spoke about two deaf inmates who were not provided sign language interpreters. Advocates said some inmates were subject to inhumane treatment, as they were not let outside for months or their pleas for medical attention were ignored. Corrections officers also expressed frustration that management provides written warning of contraband searches before they are conducted, giving inmates time to dispose of or hide weapons or other illegal items before the sweeps.

July 23, 2010 WTOP
Former correctional officer Quincy Hayes was sentenced Friday to 12 months and one day in prison for accepting bribes. At his guilty plea on March 18, 2010, Hayes, 32, of Alexandria admitted that he accepted a $300 cash payment from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for agreeing to smuggle an iPod into the Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF) for an inmate. Hayes also admitted to having smuggled cigarettes into the CTF, located in the District, for another inmate in exchange for a $100 bribe. Hayes will also undergo a two-year period of supervised release following the prison sentence, where he will perform 100 hours of community service. The CTF is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America under contract with the District of Columbia Department of Corrections.

May 27, 2010 Washington Post
Jail is supposed to be no frills, a place where the only the basic amenities of food, clothing and shelter exist. But according to prosecutors, one D.C. jail officer helped an inmate get some creature comforts -- a cell phone, an iPod, and even a charger for the devices. Thomas Ford, 35, of the District, was sentenced Thursday to 12 months and one day in prison on a charge of bribery of a public official, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District announced. Ford admitted in February that he accepted cash payments in exchange for agreeing to smuggle cell phones, an iPod and a charger to a cooperating inmate in the Correctional Treatment Facility, which is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America under contract with the D. C. Department of Corrections. The FBI launched an undercover sting in 2008, after getting a tip that corrections officers were smuggling contraband to inmates. U.S. Attorney Ron Machen said in a statement that as a law enforcement officer, Ford abused the public trust, and he pledged, "“whenever anyone violates the public trust and breaks the law, we will prosecute them vigorously.”

March 11, 2010 AP
D.C. police are searching for an inmate who escaped while being transported to United Medical Center for treatment. The Corrections Corporation of America says 28-year-old Terrence Moore fled when he arrived at the southeast D.C. hospital around 9 a.m. Thursday. The company says after officers opened the vehicle doors, Moore escaped and jumped into a burgundy colored Cadillac and got away with an unknown driver. Officials are investigating how Moore was able to remove his restraints. The CCA runs the Correctional Treatment Facility where Moore, who is from Washington, was a pretrial inmate facing charges of assault with intent to kill. The facility is under lockdown.

February 23, 2010 Courthouse News
Two former inmates of a Corrections Corporation of America prison say CCA employees preyed on them sexually and banished them to solitary lockdown when they complained. One woman claims a CCA guard paid her "sugar daddy" on the outside, then demanded, and received, sex in prison. Jessica Rubio and Serbennia Chase filed separate, $20 million federal lawsuits against the private prison contractor, alleging civil rights violations at the company's Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF) at the District of Columbia Jail. Rubio, who was arrested and sentenced in 2008 for sexual solicitation, says CTF employee "Sgt. Powell" paid her for sex four times when he should have been helping her "turn her life around." Rubio says that in an effort to go straight rather then spending "the rest of her life going in and out of prison," she signed up for a private counseling session with Powell, who ran a group session called "Life Without a Crutch." Rubio says she thought Powell was "uniquely qualified to assist her in dealing with her problems and counsel her on how to become a law abiding and productive member of society." During a private session, she says she told Powell she was a prostitute and drug addict. She said she worked as a prostitute because of a "love of money," and because there was no other job at which she could make "$1,200 to $1,800 a day." After the session, Rubio says, Powell paid $50 to her "sugar daddy" to have sex with her. Rubio says that despite the "receipt" for her services, she did not think Powell would "use her to satisfy his sexual urges because she went to him to turn her life around, not to facilitate the life she had on the streets." She says Powell took her to the prison's "satellite kitchen" four times and had sex with her, each time paying her "sugar daddy" beforehand. Afterward, Rubio says, "She felt cheap, used and abused." "It reminded her of the life she had on the street, that she wanted to put behind her, but it had apparently followed her to CTF," the lawsuit states. After she told investigators about Powell's actions and agreed to testify to a grand jury, Rubio says she was denied phone calls and other privileges, and eventually was moved to another prison, where her attorney had trouble visiting her. She was kept in solitary and kept on near-constant lockdown, she says. In the other complaint, Chase, who was arrested in 2008 for aggravated assault, says she was sexually harassed at least three times by a "Lt. Harris" while incarcerated at CTF. On a number of occasions Harris escorted her to meetings with her attorney. Two times he grabbed her buttocks or her vagina and said, "I'll see you later," according to the complaint. Another time he cornered her in a stairway, grabbed her vagina and said, "When are you going to let me put this dick in you?" Chase says. Chase adds that the 5th District Police Precinct violated her privacy when it videotaped her undressing in an interrogation room. She says the police then circulated a video of her without underwear "exposing her vagina and buttocks." She says she found out about the video when detectives sent a copy to her lawyer. She says she was "shocked, embarrassed and felt shame that her attorneys and other people saw her naked body." After she reported the harassment, Chase says she was transferred to a jail more than 2 hours away and kept in a solitary cell on 24-hour lockdown. Both women sued the District of Columbia, the Office of the Attorney General, and Corrections Corporation of America for civil rights violations. Chase also sued for invasion of privacy. They both seek a jury trial, $10 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. Both are represented by Wendell Robinson. Officials at the Correctional Treatment Facility did not return a phone call requesting comment.

December 2, 2009 Washington Post
Two D.C. corrections officers and a Maryland woman were arrested Tuesday on federal bribery charges on suspicion of accepting cash to smuggle cellphones and iPods to inmates in the District's jail complex. The officers, Thomas Ford, 35, and Quincy Hayes, 32, have been placed on administrative leave and were released on personal recognizance after a brief hearing in the District's federal court. They are officers at the District's Correction Treatment Facility (CTF), which is run by the Corrections Corporation of America. Renee Braxton, 44, a security guard at a museum, was also released on personal recognizance, court records show. Authorities said that an inmate approached the FBI in October 2008 to report that guards were smuggling contraband into the facility. An undercover FBI employee, pretending to be the brother of an inmate, met with Braxton and Ford in 2008 and early this year and gave them several hundred dollars to smuggle a phone, an iPod and a charger to inmates at the CTF. Ford passed the items to the inmates, the FBI said. Hayes is accused of accepting a $300 bribe payment in June 2009 to smuggle in an iPod to a CTF inmate, the FBI said in court papers.

September 28, 2009 Washington Examiner
A D.C. Jail sergeant has been suspended while corrections officials probe allegations that he had sex with an inmate after paying for it through her pimp, according to officials and court documents. The investigation has also led to the forced leave of two other corrections officers, one of whom was later fired over an unrelated issue, officials said. The three were removed from the D.C. Jail property, "after allegations of inappropriate behavior arose with an inmate," according to Walter Fulton, facility program manager at the Correctional Treatment Center. Authorities said they would not further discuss the allegations because of an ongoing law enforcement investigation, but some details were outlined in a lawsuit filed in D.C. federal court this month. Jessica Rubio, 32, who described herself in court documents as a prostitute with a drug problem, was an inmate at the Correctional Treatment Facility, which is an annex of the D.C. Jail. She was in custody on a prostitution charge. She charged in her lawsuit that she had sex with correctional counselor Sgt. Aundra Powell after he paid $50 to her "Sugar Daddy" for her to satisfy his sexual urges. She claims Powell paid for her sexual services on four occasions. The sexual encounters began last year when Rubio received a receipt for the promised sex from her pimp and showed it to Powell after a group counseling session, she charged in the suit. "I see you received it," Powell replied, according to the lawsuit. Rubio's attorney, Wendell Robinson, said he did not know what form the receipt was in and would not comment further than what was in the lawsuit. In order to have sex with Rubio, the lawsuit alleges, Powell removed Rubio from her jail cell during the 2 p.m. "quiet time" and had her follow him to a satellite kitchen. Powell walked her to a window and told her to look outside while he put on a condom and had sex with her, according to the lawsuit. Rubio was released after serving her time, but was rearrested in April and convicted for prostitution in June 2009. It was then, she said, that Department of Corrections detectives questioned her about what happened between her and Powell. Rubio has since been transferred to the Rappahannock Regional Jail in Stafford, Va. Walter Fulton, facility program manager at the Correctional Treatment Center, said Powell and two lieutenants were placed on paid leave as soon as the allegations surfaced. Jail detectives are investigating, he said. Powell and a substance abuse counselor remain on administrative leave. Lt. Ricardo Rich, an assistant shift supervisor, was fired in June for unrelated reasons, Fulton said. The Correctional Treatment Facility, at 19th and E streets Southeast, is managed by the Corrections Corp. of America and is staffed by employees of the District.

December 3, 2008 Washington Post
The mother of a quadriplegic inmate who died in 2004 after suffering breathing problems at the D.C. jail has reached financial settlements with the District government and his care providers, her attorneys disclosed yesterday. The settlements were reached in the controversial death of Jonathan Magbie, a 27-year-old Maryland man who was paralyzed from the neck down and used a mouth-operated wheelchair. Magbie died four days into a 10-day jail sentence for possessing marijuana, which he said he used to ease the discomfort caused by his disability. The jail infirmary, where he was housed for several days, wasn't equipped with the ventilator he needed to breathe at night. His death sparked several government investigations, which exposed major lapses in Magbie's care at the D.C. jail and Greater Southeast Hospital. Attorneys for his mother, Mary R. Scott, declined to provide details of the financial settlement, which she reached with the city, private contractors and the insurance company that covered doctors at the hospital. The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Scott, called the settlement "substantial" in a news release. As part of the settlement, the District government changed the way officials screen and handle inmates with medical problems and disabilities, Scott's attorneys said. "The family's concern was to make certain that, to the extent anyone can prevent it, that this terrible type of event never happens again," said Elizabeth Alexander, an ACLU lawyer who represented Scott. "A series of people dealt with this young man, and every single place where something could go wrong, it did go wrong." Scott declined to comment through her attorneys. She filed a federal lawsuit in 2005 that accused the District government, Greater Southeast, three contractors and more than a dozen corrections officers, doctors and nurses of negligence in Magbie's death. A spokeswoman from the D.C. government said she could not comment until looking into the matter. Greater Southeast is under new ownership and has been renamed United Medical Center. A spokeswoman for Corrections Corporation of America, which runs a portion of the D.C. jail where Magbie was held, declined to comment. Representatives of two other contractors did not return phone messages seeking comment. Magbie's ordeal began Sept. 20, 2004, when D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith E. Retchin sentenced him to jail after he pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana. D.C. police found a gun and marijuana in Magbie's pockets in April 2003 after stopping a vehicle driven by a cousin of his. Magbie admitted buying the marijuana, records show. Magbie's mother was furious that the judge did not give her son probation, the typical punishment for first-time offenders. Magbie, paralyzed since being hit by a drunk driver at age 4, had no criminal record. Retchin told a judicial commission that she sentenced Magbie to jail because he said he would continue to smoke marijuana to alleviate his pain. She also told the commission that she was unaware that he needed a ventilator to breathe at night. The commission cleared Retchin of wrongdoing. Because of his condition, Magbie was supposed to be housed in the jail's infirmary, according to an investigation by the D.C. inspector general. Magbie was taken to a hospital for "respiratory distress" and returned to the jail infirmary, which didn't have a ventilator, the report said. Jail doctors did not perform a follow-up examination and did not always conduct daily rounds to check on patients, including Magbie, the report said. Magbie ate and drank very little during the next few days, the report stated. On Sept. 24, 2004, he was having respiratory problems, and paramedics were called, the report said. They found him to be "unresponsive and very sweaty," and his undergarment was "saturated with urine," the report said. Paramedics told investigators that the trip to the hospital was delayed by about 30 minutes because the jail staff would not allow them to leave without the proper paperwork and without a blood sugar test, the report said. At the hospital, Magbie was "acutely ill," according to the report. He died that night.

February 15, 2008 Washington City Paper
With so many millions of dollars walking out the door in Jimmy Choos, etc., courtesy of the tax scandal, you’d figure D.C. Gov would be totally into recovering millions of other dollars it’s rightfully owed by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). You’d figure that. But you’d be wrong. In a classic case of buck-passing between the Office of Property Management (OPM) and the Department of Corrections (DOC), the utility bill for steam used to heat the Correctional Treatment Facility—located right next to the D.C. Jail and privately operated by the Nashville-based CCA—has gone unpaid for years. What’s owed is up for negotiation. Last March, former OPM director Lars Etzkorn (who has since lost his job over that unfortunate police department relocation fiasco) testified before the Council that OPM was “collecting monies owed.” To wit: “For example, last month OPM presented to the Department of Corrections the analysis for it to recover $5.7 million from the Corrections Corporation of America…” OPM didn’t take over collecting the money, mind you, it presented an analysis of how to collect the money. And this was after At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson figured out in the 2006 budget process that DOC was actually being billed for the steam rather than being paid for it. A year after OPM was informed of that, a year after Etzkorn’s testimony throwing around “$5.7 million,” none of the money has been collected. And $5.7 million could be way underselling it. To be fair to the CCA, the folks in Nashville didn’t know how much steam they were using in D.C. until OPM installed a meter last March; a bill didn’t even go out until a few months later, in June. According to the bill, the meter shows that in six months—from June to December of 2007—the Correctional Treatment Facility used more than $450,000 in steam. When you do the math, and take into account that the CCA, according to its lease, has been responsible for paying utilities on the facility since 1997…. well that’s somewhere around $10 million to $11 million in danger of—poof!—evaporating. The DOC, by nature of its relationship with the the jail, the next-door Correctional Treatment Facility, and the CCA, has been the agency ostensibly in charge of the lease with the CCA. But—and you’ll have to try and follow this alphabet soup—the DOC thinks it’s the OPM’s job to get the CCA on board. Beverly Young, spokesperson for DOC, e-mailed that succinct response to me this week: “The Department of Corrections is not responsible for the collections. The matter is ultimately an issue between OPM and CCA.” Mendelson agrees. The DOC, he says, never should have been in charge of the lease in the first place. “The only agency that should administer a lease is OPM,” he says, and further: “They (OPM) screwed around last year with invoicing and not getting payment….They’re very slow to act and we're talking about millions of public dollars.” At a hearing last Friday, OPM’s interim director Robin-Eve Jasper (after being jousted by Vincent Gray) faced Mendelson on this front: Mendo: “We should get answers without having to think of every angle to ask the question. So I get the bills, but it turns out we’re not getting the payment…” Jasper: “I’m going to have to get back to you. We are billing currently, but the first bill didn’t go out that long ago…and I don’t believe it was as high as $11 million….I will get back to you with a detailed response.” Mendo: “What I was last told at our last hearing on this was that the Office of Property Management was talking to the Department of Corrections. I’m not sure why that makes sense. Why doesn’t the OPM talk to CCA or to the CFO’s office?” Jasper: “I can’t answer that question…I can’t answer why we were in discussion with the DOC rather than sending out a demand note and just proceeding on that basis.” Mendo: “When you get back to me, can you also go into what was going on prior to June 2007?” Jasper: “Yes, I believe we’re trying to establish a baseline of a full year at this point and…establish prior payments.” Mendo: “I’ve yet to receive any evidence that anyone has talked to CCA, so this would all be a surprise to them when we send them a bill. That would kind of help, I think, to talk to them.” Hey, it’s a start. OPM’s spokesman, Bill Rice, did not return three phone calls. Stay tuned!

December 14, 2006 Washington Post
Two former female inmates at the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility sued the District and jail officials last week, claiming that male guards took them to isolated parts of the jail and raped them. The women are suing under the anonymous names Jane Doe and Jane Roe. They say the District and Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), the private contractor the city hired to run the jail, are responsible for the alleged rapes because of their failure to supervise and train guards and properly investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. The suit is also filed against the two jail guards whom the women allege raped them: Elry McKnight and John Gant. The two women are alleging violations of their civil rights, emotional distress and battery, and are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Doe, a Maryland woman in her late 30s, alleges that McKnight raped her twice in April 2002 in a staff bathroom -- first while escorting her alone to her cell as she returned from a court hearing, and next when he pretended that he needed to take her to obtain a new identification badge. She was serving time for selling heroin. Roe, a D.C. resident, alleges that Gant forced her to perform oral sex on him in a jail broom closet in December 2003. Roe said Gant was able to easily separate her from others by asking a female corrections officer to let him speak with Roe privately in the hallway. Roe, who was serving time on drug possession charges, was released in January 2004. Doe, who has seven children and three grandchildren whom she hasn't told about the incident, said in an interview that she struggled over whether to sue the city. She said she worried about having to come forward and revisit an episode that has caused her panic attacks ever since, but decided to do so because her initial complaint was ignored. In the lawsuit, she alleges that she called 911 twice to get a police officer to come to the jail, but no one came. "It's like they want to hide everything that happened," Doe said. "If you hide something, it will happen to a lot of people." Beverly Young, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Corrections, said the city agency and its personnel cannot comment on pending litigation. A spokesman for CCA said the company was not aware of the suit and could not comment. The suit claims that the corrections department and CCA treated the two women poorly in investigating their claims. Doe was taken to see CTF Warden Fred Figueroa, and McKnight was eventually suspended with pay during an investigation, according to the suit. Doe was given no information about the investigation for three months, until she complained in June 2002 to her sentencing judge that she had been raped in the detention facility, the suit alleges. The suit also alleges that McKnight eventually was fired for smuggling contraband to inmates. "I couldn't believe they [paid] no mind to me. They thought I was going to be deported," said Doe, who grew up in the Dominican Republic but is a U.S. citizen. "They just didn't care. They thought I was a criminal. " Doe said she has stayed away from drugs since her release and is trying to get a job as a construction apprentice. She said she knows she was guilty of her crime and had to pay by doing time. "I'm not mad that I was put in jail. But I was so shocked. I didn't know you had to give them sex, too," she said. Roe was not available to be interviewed, but her part of the suit claims that Gant told her she had to do what he said or he could use his power in the records office to lengthen her stay in jail. CTF officers offered to put Roe in a kind of solitary confinement when she asked for protection from Gant, the suit says, but he ultimately resigned from CCA rather than give a statement regarding the alleged rape. Deborah M. Golden, a lawyer with Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, who is a lead attorney on the suit, said the District and CCA had a duty to set up procedures to reduce the risk that inmates at the CTF would be sexually harassed or raped and to take substantive action when inmates made rape allegations. Golden, who is working on the case with pro bono counsel Thomas C. Hill, a partner at the Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman law firm, said the women's claims weren't treated with the seriousness they deserved. "You can't train someone not to be a rapist," Golden said. "But you can set up procedures whereby lone women can't be taken out of their cells by a lone officer. You can stop officers from taking advantage of people who are incarcerated. You can train people to be alert to signs of trauma in the population." The legal team said it hopes to get top-level officials to take action to address sexual exploitation, a problem that has long plagued jails and prisons around the country. "Neither woman disputes their crime," Golden said. "But that doesn't mean rape was part of their sentence."

June 9, 2006 Washington Blade
Two transgender women said they plan to file a discrimination complaint against the District’s Department of Corrections after officials at the D.C. Jail refused to allow them to visit inmates because of their personal appearance. Gigi Thomas, a client advocate for the local group HIPS, which provides services to local sex workers, and Tiffany Everlasting, a HIPS volunteer, said jail officials told them they could not enter the jail because they wore women’s clothes but lacked identification classifying them as biological females. The two women said they appeared separately and at different times on May 30 at the visitor’s reception desk of the Correctional Treatment Facility at 19th and D streets, S.E. The facility, known as the CTF, is operated privately under a Department of Corrections contract with the Corrections Corporation of America, a firm that operates prisons throughout the country. An official with the D.C. Office of Human Rights said the action by the jail appears to violate the city’s Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination against transgender people. The act covers city government agencies as well as the private sector, including private employers. Walter Fulton, program manager at the command center for the Correctional Treatment Facility, said the facility has a dress code policy that prevented “cross-dressers” from being admitted as visitors. He said the policy, which was under review, was based on concerns about how jail employees could conduct a “pat down” search of a transgender person as part of routine searches of all jail visitors. He said the searches were aimed at preventing visitors from bringing contraband, including illegal drugs, into city correctional facilities. “It’s likely that accommodations will be made to allow cross dressers to visit,” he said. Guard convicted of sexual assault. The refusal by CTF officials to allow Thomas and Everlasting visitation rights came less than three months after a D.C. Superior Court jury convicted a guard at the same facility of sexually assaulting a transgender inmate. Court records show that Robert Ali White, 37, was convicted of a single count of first-degree sexual abuse of a ward for allegedly forcing a transgender inmate to perform oral sex on him in December 2004. He was scheduled for sentencing on July 21. D.C. police arrested White on Dec. 29, 2004, at the CTF facility after an inmate reported that the corrections officer allegedly forced the inmate to engage in a sexual act with him, according to court records.

One inmate was killed and a second was wounded in separate stabbings over the weekend at the D.C. jail, just days after another detainee was slain in a similar attack, corrections officials and prisoner advocates said yesterday. The inmate-on-inmate attacks took place over a 70-hour period in different cellblocks. Officials with the D.C. Department of Corrections said they put the jail on an indefinite lockdown after the latest incident Saturday, restricting movements and activities of inmates, while D.C. police and the agency's internal affairs unit investigate. The violence raised new concerns among jail watchdogs about whether the detention center can operate safely above a court-ordered population cap of 1,674 that was lifted in June after 17 years. Yesterday's inmate count was 2,369. (Washington Post,  December 18, 2002)

Four corrections officers at a privately run annex to the D.C. jail have been indicted on charges that they smuggled drugs, pagers and cash to inmates in exchange for bribes offered by undercover FBI agents, prosecutors said yesterday. Three of the four were employees of the Corrections Corp. of America, which runs the Correctional Treatment Facility in Southeast Washington under a contract with the city, when they allegedly took the bribes. The fourth, whom prosecutors described as a former CCA employee at the facility, allegedly served as a go-between for one of the others in his dealings with an FBI agent posing as an inmate's girlfriend. (The Washington Post, November 8, 2002)

Six former D.C. corrections officers pleaded guilty this week to federal bribery charges after an FBI sting operation in which they accepted money in return for smuggling cash and pagers to inmates, prosecutors announced yesterday. The six men were indicted in U.S. District Court last month on charges that they brought cash and pagers to inmates at the District's Correctional Treatment Facility after accepting hundreds of dollars from a man who said he was acting on behalf of inmates. The man turned out to be an undercover FBI agent, prosecutors said. (The Washington Post, June 29, 2001)

A convicted killer, confined to a wheelchair cut through the bars on the window of his eighth-floor cell, tied bedsheets into a rope and climbed out of the prison undetected. The sheets unraveled and he plunged to the pavement below. An unidentified woman picked him up and took him to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead an hour later. (The Washington Post, March 16, 1999)

Corrections Corporation of America, Nashville, Tennessee

CCA Political Activity and Lobbying Report 2012:
CCA Death List: December 09, 2013 Reports_Files\Deaths in CCA Custody
Mitt Romney's Undisclosed Relationship With Private Prisons: August 24, 2012 By karoli, Crooks & Liars. CCA's REIT and Romney.
Immigrants prove big business for prison companies: August 2, 2012 By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ and GARANCE BURKE Associated Press. Must read on immigration $$$.
Correctional Corporation of America Accreditation Report Misses Stark Reality: August 1, 2012, Truth Out. Headline says it all.
Prisons, Privatization, Patronage: by Paul Krugman, The New York Times, June 22, 2012. Over the past few days, The New York Times has published several terrifying reports about New Jersey's system of halfway houses - privately run adjuncts to the regular system of prisons.
Private Prison, Public Problem: June 6, 2012, Jackson Free Press. Excellent piece on how the Adams County CF (MS) prison was built and its and CCA's operations.
An activist fights to make CCA more transparent — by joining the ranks of its stockholders: May 17, 2012, Nashville Scene, by Jonathan Meador. Piece on Alex Friedmann's efforts to get rape resolution passed by CCA.
How the private detention industry courted Crete: May 16, 2012, by Siddhartha Mahanta, American Independent. Exposé on how CCA works small communities
Ex-Con Shareholder Goes After World's Biggest Prison Corporation: May 10, 2012, Mother Jones piece on Alex Friedmann's shareholder's resolution on rape.
Attack of the Prison People: March 27, 2012, NYTimes columnist Paul Krugman won't be intimidated.
Luna v. CCA: March 16, 2012. Former CCA warden sues over firing. While he lost his case, the case provides an inside look at how poorly run Red Rock is.
State gets tougher on private prisons - Operators face fine as leniency disappears under Martinez administration: March 1, 2012, Trip Jennings, The New Mexican: Damning expose on how former DOC Secretary and former Wackenhut warden cost state millions of dollars in un-collected fines against for-profits.
HOW CCA ABUSES PRISONERS, MANIPULATES THE PUBLIC AND DESTROYS COMMUNITIES: January 2012, 37 pages. Report by Corazón de Tucson into CCA. 
Incident Rates at CCA-run Prisons Higher than at Public Prisons in Tennessee: October 18, 2011, Private Corrections Institute. According to an analysis of incidents involving assaults and disturbances at publicly-operated and privately-managed prisons in Tennessee from January 2009 to June 2011, incident rates were consistently higher at the state’s three private prisons.
Bombshell in Conneaut: City police will be burdened with investigating prison crime: October 11, 2011, MARK TODD The Star Beacon. SURPRISE: CCA deal not so good for locals.
Arizona prison businesses are big political contributors: Bob Ortega - September 4, 2011, The Arizona Republic. Ortega connects the dots between the for-profits, the money, and legislators.
Flush With Prison Industry Dollars, Rick Perry Pushed Privatized Prisoner Care: September 1, 2011, Tim Murphy, Mother Jones. Gov Perry's cozy relationship with the for-profits.
Hernando County's takeover of jail brings year of sweeping changes, by John Woodrow Cox and Barbara Behrendt, St Petersburg Times, August 28, 2011. This is a MUST read on CCA.
Top Ten Industry Lies: Cell Out Arizona, August 22, 2011
Prison firm optimistic about Arizona bid despite incidents: August 8, 2011, Bob Ortega, The Arizona Republic. Exposé on CCA
New lobbyists in Ohio have strong Republican ties: July 04, 2011 By Mark Naymik, The Plain Dealer
Business Week A Boom Behind Bars, March 17, 2011 Another great expose.
CCA's Idaho Correctional Center beating video: November 30, 2010, 3:36 min: Damning video piece.
Wall Street and the Criminalization of Immigration: October 6, 2010, 5 pages. Details profit making off immigration by the private prison vendors.
Part 2: NPR expose on for-profits and immigration law Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny
Part 1: NPR expose on for-profits and immigration law
Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law
More from Rachel Maddow http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#38965161
Rachel Maddow stays on it http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/#38700092
Rachel Maddow kicks butt http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/38685023#38685023
AZ Gov Brewer avoids questions about CCA and her administration: July 23, 2010, 5:01 min: Very funny watching Governor Brewer running away from hard questions regarding her staff's relationships with CCA.
CCA Pays Over $22,000 to American Correctional Association to Claim “Stamp of Approval” at Five Private Prisons
Behind the Bars | Kentucky had gaps in monitoring troubled Otter Creek prison July 5, 2010
Behind the Bars | Experts question benefits of private prisons July 5, 2010
Behind the Bars | Prison faced regular complaints about medical care July 5, 2010
Behind the Bars | Secretary Carla Meade's suicide raised questions July 5, 2010
How The Recession Hurts Private Prisons Nancy Cook, Newsweek June 30, 2010
Freedom Forum CEO Tied to For-Profit Prisons An advocate for--and against--freedom of information
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 23, 2014 tennessean.com

Thirteen former and current employees of the nation’s largest private prison operator have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the Nashville-based company has stiffed them on overtime pay. The four-count complaint accuses Corrections Corporation of America of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. The plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount of unpaid back wages and other damages, as well as collective-action status so other current and former employees can choose to join the case. The accusations hinge around the claim that CCA wrongly classified the employees’ positions as exempt from overtime requirements imposed by law. The plaintiffs include former managers, supervisors, investigators and accountants. They regularly worked in excess of 40 hours a week without overtime pay, the lawsuit says. “Through the actions and inactions described in this complaint, CCA has deprived and continues to deprive the named plaintiffs and ... all other similarly situated current and former employees of CCA of their concrete, personal rights under the FLSA,” the complaint reads. In an email to The Tennessean, CCA spokesman Steven Owen said: “While we cannot speak to the specific allegations in the complaint, CCA is committed to ensuring all employees are fairly compensated for the services they provide in accordance with all applicable laws.” CCA employs about 14,000 corrections professionals nationwide, including more than 2,000 in Tennessee. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. It has been assigned to Judge Aleta Trauger.


Oct 21, 2014 sevendaysvt.com

A series of assaults last year inside a Kentucky prison that houses 400 Vermonters stemmed from a culture of drug use that involved prison guards and inmates, officials from the company that runs the prison said today. Representatives from the Corrections Corporation of America made a rare appearance in Vermont, testifying before the Joint Legislative Corrections Oversight Committee. The told the committee  they have made improvements since a series of violent incidents inside Lee Adjustment Center last year alarmed Vermont officials. However, CCA officials faced sharp questions from lawmakers about their staffing levels and security measures. CCA managing director of operations Kevin Myers said that a spate of violent assaults last winter that eventually led to a weeks-long lockdown arose from “culmination of a lot of things coming together at one time.” The prison received two batches of new Vermont inmates in October 2013, Myers said, including, “a lot of people from New York and the Bronx that had been arrested before.”  Those inmates were brought into a prison where a network of buying and selling drugs was already established, Myers said, and only made things worse. “When they got to Lee Adjustment Center, we had a system where people there were dependent on drugs, and those [new] people maximized that opportunity and took advantage of that opportunity," Myers said. Drugs often entered the prison through the mail, Myers said. In response to those troubles, CCA says it replaced Lee Adjustment Center's warden and took other steps that it says have made the prison safer. They added a dozen staffers, so that five more guards could be on duty and monitor individual housing blocks. Previously, Myers said, the prison did not have guards inside individual housing blocks — a guard monitoring control-room video feeds was the only constant presence.  Myers said prison officials are also more vigilant about monitoring inmate phone calls, which have always been recorded, and have curtailed freedom of movement for inmates. Challenges remain. Annual turnover among guards at Lee Adjustment Center is around 25 percent, though some of that is due to "people we terminated because we were finding out they were part of the problem, they were introducing some of the drugs," Myers said. The starting wage for guards there is $8.35 an hour, above Kentucky’s $7.23 minimum wage, CCA officials said under questioning from lawmakers. (Vermont’s minimum wage is $8.73, but is scheduled to rise to $10.50 by 2018.) CCA's testimony, the company's first in Vermont in a decade, comes as state officials are increasingly focused on reducing Vermont's inmate population. The state has 1,600 prison beds but 2,100 inmates, forcing it to spend more than $30 million in the past two years for extra space in CCA's prisons. DOC's most recent two-year contract with CCA expires in July, and DOC is currently soliciting bids for a new contract. Bids are due on Thursday, and it is expected that CCA will apply. Lee Adjustment Center is populated entirely by Vermonters. Florence Correctional Facility, a CCA prison in Arizona, houses 30 Vermonters who have had disciplinary problems at other prisons. Seven Days reported earlier this month that 13 Vermonters in Arizona were placed in solitary confinement for weeks after they smashed equipment and fought with guards who used a "chemical agent" to quell the 30-minute rampage. Some committee members voiced frustration that they had not been notified by CCA or DOC of that incident. DOC Commissioner Andy Pallito apologized. However, none of the lawmakers asked for updates on the situation. In an interview after the hearing, Myers said that CCA has begun moving the inmates placed in solitary confinement and expected them all to return to the general prison population shortly.  Rep. Bill Lippert (D-Hinesburg), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the assaults and CCA's response suggested the company is unwilling to hire enough guards to guarantee safety. Lippert mentioned a $1 million settlement CCA paid Idaho this year to settle allegations that it understaffed a prison and that its employees falsified staffing records to mask security shortcomings.  “Are we getting adequate staffing? It suggests in retrospect maybe the staffing wasn’t adequate," Lippert said. "It does come down to what you contract for. You get what you contract for, I guess.” In an unusual exchange early in the meeting, Myers said that he believed people who hail from other states and are arrested in Vermont cause more problems behind bars than native Vermonters. "There are a lot of challenging things that come through the state from New York, Massachusetts," Myers said. "People that come from out of state, creating problems for you and your state.” In fact, Myers said, it was obvious upon brief interactions which inmates were and weren't from Vermont . Sen. Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) asked Myers how he could differentiate the Vermont natives from the transplants, jokingly wondering if he could tell which lawmakers on the committee were born in Vermont. “As I walk through the facility, a lot of offenders walk up to me and they’re very kind and respectful, that kind of thing," Myers said. "You can tell they’re more of a rural type. Others come out of the Bronx and other types of areas. They’re gangsters. You can tell the ... Vermonters, and those who aren’t.”


Oct 21, 2014 Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - An Idaho State Police investigation into staffing problems at a private prison was handed over to the FBI after police detectives determined their agency could have a conflict of interest in the case, according to public records. Officials didn't offer details of the potential conflict. The records were among hundreds of documents obtained through public records requests by a campaign staffer for A.J. Balukoff, a Democrat who is challenging Republican incumbent Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for the governor's seat. Balukoff's campaign spokesman, Mike Lanza, said Balukoff thought it was important for the public to find out how the state handled the investigation into understaffing at a prison run by Corrections Corporation of America. "People deserve to know what happened here," Lanza said. The Idaho Department of Correction first asked the state police to investigate in 2013 after an Associated Press story revealed that some guards were recorded as working as many as 48 hours straight without a break. The Nashville, Tenn.,-based company later acknowledged it had understaffed Idaho's largest prison by thousands of hours in violation of its $29-million-a-year contract with the state. Though IDOC employees said they believed the criminal investigation was underway for the next year, in January of 2014, the state police acknowledged it had never investigated the case. The state ultimately reached a $1 million civil settlement with CCA to resolve the understaffing claims. A few days later, Gov. Otter ordered the state police to start the criminal probe. One of the records, an internal state police memo describing a weekly investigation meeting dated March 3, states that detectives had begun interviewing people and analyzing evidence. Based on those initial steps, the detectives believed the case qualified as a criminal fraud matter, according to the memo. An internal state police email from Capt. William Gardiner dated March 6 details a meeting that Gardiner had with state police Lt. Jack Catlin and officials at the U.S. Attorney's office. Writing about Catlin, Gardiner said, "He was stuck in a bind because much of the material uncovered was mingled with information that suggested (state police) administration was involved." Gardiner, who confirmed the email, said the conflict of interest was primarily that state police leaders had been involved in IDOC's initial examination of the staffing issue, so state police detectives could find themselves interviewing their own superiors as part of the investigation. That could create the appearance of an impartial investigation, he said. Officials then met with the U.S. Attorney's office, and the FBI took over the investigation. State police spokeswoman Teresa Baker said earlier this year that the FBI was taking over the investigation because it was already handling similar cases, not because of a conflict. Baker said last week it's not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to ask another agency to take over an investigation if there's a chance people think it was being handled impartially. "This doesn't appear, just on the surface, to be a just a run-of-the-mill conflict. There appears to be serious unanswered questions right now," Lanza said. Both an FBI spokesman and U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson declined to comment on the matter because the investigation is still underway.

 

Oct 18, 2014 ktvb.com
BOISE -- There were new revelations Thursday that the governor's staff was involved in creating a settlement with a prison contractor and campaign contributor that violated its contract with the state. Critics say it was a sweetheart deal. But, the governor is stressing that he had nothing to do with it. Right now, the FBI is conducting a multi-state investigation of Corrections Corporation of America, partly over its decade-long operation of Idaho's largest prison south of Boise. It had such a reputation for violence that inmates dubbed it "Gladiator School." Last year, CCA also acknowledged that it had understaffed the Idaho Correctional Center by thousands of hours, and thus, over-billed Idaho. This summer the state took over operation of the prison. In February, CCA settled with the state on the over-billing issue, agreeing to pay $1 million. But now that settlement is under fire. CCA has donated thousands of dollars to Gov. Otter's campaigns over the years. Thursday, it was revealed that high-ranking staff members for Otter were involved in the creation of the settlement. However, that doesn't include members of Otter's campaign staff. Critics, like Otter's opponent in the gubernatorial race, A.J. Balukoff, is calling the settlement a "sweetheart deal." But, the governor stressed in a KTVB debate Tuesday that he himself didn't sign or negotiate the contract, "I purposefully took myself out of the negotiations on that settlement, because I knew that somebody would charge me with a conflict of interest. So, I had nothing to do with it, and I would tell you this, if the FBI audit shows any irregularities, that settlement opens right back up." The governor's spokesman Jon Hanian says, "I can confirm that the governor's staff was kept apprised of the status of the settlement through the course of this process and did encourage lawmakers' support. Staff also sought to ensure that settlement did not preclude any future criminal investigation or criminal charges." KTVB saw the settlement itself, and the governor didn't sign it. Members of the Board and Department of Correction did. But, was the governor's staff involved in the making of the agreement and encouraging lawmakers to support it? Yes. Is that a conflict of interest? KTVB political analyst Dr. Jim Weatherby says, "It depends on who you ask. The governor wasn't involved, but his office was." How it looks to voters might be key, and we'll see about that on election night.

 

Oct 17, 2014 idahostatesman.com

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said in two debates this month that he "had nothing to do with" a settlement between the state of Idaho and Corrections Corp. of America, a private prison contractor whose contract ended amid a federal investigation of fraudulent billing and understaffing at the facility it ran south of Boise. But emails obtained by the Idaho Statesman under the state's open records law show that top members of Otter's staff were involved directly in negotiations with CCA, reviewed the settlement and urged lawmakers to support it prior to its approval. The staff also coordinated public release of the news about the settlement and about the no-action-warranted conclusion of a state investigation into CCA that later was revealed not to have occurred. The FBI now is investigating CCA. Otter's statement that he had recused himself from settlement talks pertained only to himself, not to members his staff, said press secretary Jon Hanian. "The governor (Tuesday) night was not talking about his staff, " said Hanian. "He was talking about his own personal level of involvement regarding the settlement." Asked whether the staff briefed Otter or discussed the negotiations with him, Hanian said: "What we said and what the governor was suggesting ... is that he was not involved in any of the decision-making process regarding the settlement. He did not participate in any discussion, debate or anything else that could possibly be construed as approving or denying the settlement in part or in whole. "Decision-making authority on the settlement itself resided with the (Corrections) Board/Department." Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff has criticized Otter's handling of the CCA contract and scandals, saying the governor overlooked the "defrauding" of taxpayers and failed to insist on accountability in state government. "An out-of-state corporation was apparently stealing from Idaho taxpayers, and Gov. Butch Otter was asleep at the wheel, " Balukoff wrote in an opinion article for the Statesman. In a debate before the Idaho Falls City Club on Oct. 9, Balukoff repeated his criticism, specifically citing Otter's role in the $1 million settlement with CCA. But Otter was adamant that he was not responsible. "I personally did not involve myself in the negotiations of the settlement with CCA because I had received money from CCA for my campaign," Otter said. "So I recused myself and let the professionals make that decision." Otter has received $20,000 from CCA since 2003. Hanian said Otter did not write a "document of recusal on this matter, nor is that required." The Idaho Attorney General's Office refused to answer questions about whether Otter consulted Attorney General Lawrence Wasden about recusing himself or followed state law detailing how an elected official declares a conflict of interest. In a debate Tuesday on KTVB, Otter again said he had "recused" himself from involvement in the CCA dealings: "I had nothing to do with it." In a Feb. 2, 2014, email to legislative leaders, Otter aide Mark Warbis - liaison between Otter's office and the Board of Corrections - outlined the confidential settlement offer of $1 million and CCA's willingness to forgo more than $300,000 that the company said it was still owed. "The governor's office believes the proposal accomplishes our goals of certainty, closure and fairness to taxpayers, " Warbis wrote. "It will help us to move forward with the transition to state control of the (Idaho Correctional Center) in an amicable manner." Later that day, Warbis emailed Corrections Director Brent Reinke asking to see a settlement proposal document that "David, Tom Perry, and I could review as early as possible tomorrow, before the (Corrections) Board meeting please?" The men referenced were David Hensley, Otter's chief of staff, and Tom Perry, Otter's chief counsel. In a Feb. 3 email to CCA Vice President Brad Regens, Warbis wrote: "I would be interested in seeing any indemnifying language that CCA would propose as a part of the agreement, the timing of the payment, etc. - not for the joint statement, but for our and the board's consideration." Warbis sent Reinke an email Feb. 3 asking him to "please convey" three points to the board, including: "The joint statement upon which we have agreed should not be issued until the final agreement is approved. ... The investigation should be closed, the joint statement issued and the KPMG (forensic audit) report released to the public records request we already have received as soon as the final agreement is approved." The agreement was announced Feb. 4. The next day, the Idaho State Police said that it had never investigated understaffing. "No detective was assigned," said Capt. William Gardiner. "There was no investigation." On Feb. 7, Otter denied Wasden's request to launch a criminal investigation, saying that ISP had assessed the case and found no reason to pursue a criminal investigation. But on Feb 18, Otter reversed himself and ordered the investigation. The FBI took over March 7, and continues to investigate. "Conveniently for CCA, state officials agreed to accept $1 million from CCA to settle the overstaffing question - before the results of an investigation are known," Balukoff wrote in his Statesman piece. The monetary settlement ended a dispute over what the state called violations by the Nashville, Tenn., firm contracted to operate the state's largest prison. In 2013, CCA said its employees had falsified staffing records given to the state, violating its $29 million annual contract. In 2010, inmates sued, asking for additional guards and other changes at a prison so violent that it was dubbed "gladiator school." In the gubernatorial debates, Otter said that if the FBI finds anything improper, the settlement "is set aside and then we can go after CCA." Otter is a longtime supporter of privatizing prisons and expressed disappointment when he announced in January that the state would be forced to take over the CCA-run facility. Otter can't separate himself from the work of his staff, Balukoff spokesman Mike Lanza said Wednesday. "For the governor to claim that he was not communicating with CCA about this when his staff clearly was is just being dishonest with the people of Idaho," Lanza said.

Oct 17, 2014 bizjournals.com
Arizona Secretary of State's office has dismissed a complaint lodged against Republican state attorney general candidate Mark Brnovich. The Arizona Democratic Party filed a complaint against Brnovich on Tuesday claiming he worked as a lobbyist for the Corrections Corporation of America in 2006 but had not officially registered as a lobbyist the the state. Arizona Elections Director Christina Estes-Werther notified Democratic Party Director DJ Quinlan today the complaint was being dismissed. Estes-Werther cites a letter from Brnovich's attorney saying he worked for CCA during the time in question but was not an active lobbyist. The ADP complaint stemmed from Brnovich testifying at an Arizona Legislature hearing in 2006 when he was not a registered lobbyist for the private prison company. Brnovich's attorney said the Republican candidate was at the hearing but did not testify until he was asked questions by lawmakers. Brnovich's lobbying for CCA has become a key issue in the race against Democrat Felecia Rotellini. Mike Sunnucks writes about residential and commercial real estate, government, law, sports business and workplace issues.


October 15, 2014 The Associated Press

The Arizona Democratic Party wants an investigation into whether Republican attorney general candidate Mark Brnovich failed to register as a lobbyist in 2006. Brnovich testified before a state Senate committee opposing a proposed law that would have barred private prison companies from accepting violent offenders from outside Arizona. Brnovich testified on behalf of private prison company Corrections Corporation of America but didn’t register as a lobbyist until almost a year later. The Democrats want the secretary of state’s office to investigate and send the case to the attorney general if it finds wrongdoing. Brnovich’s campaign manager didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening. Brnovich is facing Democrat Felecia Rotellini in next month’s general election.

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.jpghttps://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.


Mike Sunnucks

Oct 10, 2014 bizjournals.com

Mark Brnovich has taken on incumbent Arizona Attorney Tom Horne and now is in a tough tussle with Felecia Rotellini to become the state’s top prosecutor. Now, Brnovich is facing another foe along with the campaign road in the contentious race for Arizona attorney general — Quakers. The pacifist, social justice oriented religious group is going after Brnovich for his past lobbying for the private prison industry. Brnovich, a Republican, previously worked as a lobbyist for Corrections Corporation of America. CCA runs private prisons in Arizona and other states. A Philadelphia-based Quaker group, the American Friends Service Committee, does not like Brnovich’s private prison link. The group does not like private prisons at all and opposes their use in Arizona and other states. The Friends group questions whether Brnovich’s CCA ties influenced his work on a state task force put together by Gov. Jan Brewer to look at privatization of government services. The Quaker group also questions whether CCA links influenced Brnovich while he served as a federal prosecutor or as state gaming director under Brewer. AFSC’s Caroline Isaacs also questions whether Brnovich was still on CCA’s payroll in some capacity when he served as a federal prosecutor in 2007. Brnovich spokesman Matthew Benson said the Republican’s tenure as lobbyist for CCA did not overlap with his federal prosecutor job. He provided a letter from CCA dated June 5, 2014, saying Brnovich worked for the private prison group from May 2005 to September 2007. State records show CCA did not officially terminate Brnovich as a lobbyist until December 2007. Benson said any appearance of an overlap stem from when CCA filed the lobbying changes and were recorded by the Arizona Secretary of State's Office. He said there was a similar reporting lag when Rotellini left her job as the state’s lead banking regulator to work for a private law firm. The AFSC worries about the growing prison populations and incarceration rates in Arizona and other states. The U.S. has the highest prison incarceration in the world. “They don’t like prisons period,” said Benson of the Quaker group. Rotellini also has made private prisons a center issue in the campaign. Her campaign is running an advertisement about the 2010 jail break from a private prison in Kingman. The escapees from the Management & Training Corp.-run prison ended up murdering a couple in New Mexico. The Quakers, or Religious Society of Friends, are a quasi-Christian group that dates back to 17th century England.

Oct 6, 2014 azcentral.com

People who live in glass prisons ... During the attorney general candidate debate this past week, Democrat Felecia Rotellini criticized RepublicanMark Brnovich for his time lobbying for the private prison industry as an employee of Corrections Corporation of America. Brnovich responded that at least HE hadn't taken any campaign money from anyone with connections to private prisons.

"I haven't taken any money from private prisons, folks," he said. He mentioned Rotellini's contributions from former U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini and businesswoman and former regent Anne Mariucci, both of whom sat on the board of the Corrections Corporation of America. Campaign records show DeConcini donated $900 to the campaign, and Mariucci $500. But not so fast. A search of Brnovich's campaign records show his donors include Paul Senseman and Jaime Molera, both of whom have lobbied on behalf of Corrections Corporation of America. Senseman gave the campaign $250 two weeks ago, according to campaign records. Molera has given the campaign $1,162. In response to questions about the statement, Brnovich spokesman Matthew Benson tweeted that Brnovich "misspoke" and then went on to call Rotellini a "hypocrite." The Arizona Democratic Party was more blunt in its name calling, declaring Brnovich a "liar."


Oct 1, 2014 sevendaysvt.com

Thirteen Vermont inmates have been in solitary confinement for a month in an Arizona prison after guards used a "chemical agent" to quell their 30-minute rampage, Vermont Department of Corrections officials confirmed to Seven Dayslast week. The group refused to enter their cells when ordered and began smashing televisions, microwaves and other equipment, according to officials. They were frustrated by restrictive rules on their movements inside Arizona's Florence Correctional Center, the DOC said. They were also reportedly upset about being sent out of Vermont, beyond the reach of family and friends. Vermont currently outsources 482 inmates to the Corrections Corporation of America because there aren't enough prison beds to house them in state. Though no one was seriously injured in the August 22 incident, it could renew long-standing concerns about Vermont relying on CCA — a company that has been subject to lawsuits alleging poor supervision and inmate care — and sending inmates thousands of miles from the people who would conceivably support them when they are released back into the general population. Seth Lipschutz, supervising attorney from the Vermont Prisoners' Rights Office, said he had gotten little information about what DOC is calling a "disturbance" — not a "riot." His agency is considering sending investigators to Arizona in response. Coincidentally, a group of advocates who have long been critical of Vermont's reliance on distant private prisons has been preparing to roll out a public-relations campaign in the coming weeks. They're urging lawmakers to reduce the state's prison population, which would eliminate the need to send inmates out of Vermont. Suzi Wizowaty, who runs Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, said the previously unreported Arizona incident heightens her group's concern that the DOC is unable to supervise its inmates when it turns them over to CCA. Wizowaty is a retiring Democratic state representative from Burlington. "If this had happened in Vermont, we would have heard about it," Wizowaty said. "We have concerns about private prisons and people being sent away. It makes it harder for the state to provide the oversight you would want and expect. This is something the state imposes on people, and therefore the state has an obligation to supervise it. That's hard to do when it's a private prison, especially if it's so far away." In a written statement, CCA confirmed the incident and the inmates' subsequent punishment, but did not provide additional details. "CCA correctional officers receive hundreds of hours of initial training, and undergo intensive annual instruction, which includes best practices in diffusing conflict among inmates and the rapid, safe and humane resolution of inmate disturbances," wrote Jonathan Burns, senior manager of public affairs. It has been nearly two decades since the Vermont DOC had room for all inmates that judges send into its custody. Currently, the state has 2,100 inmates who are either awaiting trial or are serving their sentences, but only 1,600 prison beds in the DOC's seven facilities. Vermont is in the final year of a two-year, $34 million contract with CCA to handle the overflow. Roughly 454 Vermonters are housed in CCA's Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville, Ky. Inmates who have committed serious disciplinary infractions at Lee or any of the Vermont facilities are sent to Florence, which has a higher level of security and restricts inmates more than the other prisons. The 28 Vermont inmates in Florence live together in a small wing of the prison, which also houses inmates for the state of California and the U.S. Marshals Service. Both California and the Marshals Service require that CCA keep their inmates separate from others, isolating the Vermonters, according to Richard Byrne, the DOC's out-of-state unit supervisor. That means few inmates have kitchen or outdoor jobs that allow the kind of movement prisoners in Vermont or Kentucky enjoy, Byrne said. He went on: Shortly before noon on August 22, the inmates staged a coordinated resistance and refused to reenter their cells when ordered as part of their routine. Byrne declined to give further details of the incident or describe what "chemical agent" guards used to end the fracas. A CCA investigation revealed that just under half of the Vermonters there participated in the incident. As punishment, 13 were placed in what prison officials call "segregation," confined to individual cells for 23 hours a day. Byrne said it is unclear how long the punishment will last — CCA, not Vermont DOC, is in charge. The latter uses segregation as a disciplinary technique only if inmates are considered a danger to their fellow prisoners, Byrne said. In response to the incident, the DOC flew a team of investigators to Arizona on September 10, inspected the prison and talked to some of the inmates over a two-day period. They found no problems with the facility and took no action, Byrne said. "We knew that population would have limited movement, given the reasons they are out there. We went to make sure it's running effectively and the population is being treated fairly," Byrne said. "[Investigators] reported back that there is limited movement, but [no] glaring issue. It's very well-run." Still, both DOC officials and the agency's critics say that shipping inmates far from Vermont causes hardship on both the inmates and their families. When Bernard Carter was sentenced for an aggravated sexual assault 20 years ago, the Newport resident went to prison in Virginia, where Vermont formerly had a prison contract, and then to Lee Adjustment Center. He spent most of the last 16 years there. His 81-year-old mother, Ruth Carter, says she and her husband could only afford to see him once a year, spending an annual $1,000 to fly to Kentucky for three days. They stayed from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. inside a supervised prison recreation room talking to their son and occasionally buying him a soda or snack from a vending machine. Carter says she would have visited her son every weekend if he had been incarcerated in Vermont. "They need to bring them back because a lot of them have no one," Ruth Carter said. "The families of most prisoners are poor. Most of them can't afford to travel way out there. So who is suffering? The parents, the wives, the children — it's just not right." A few weeks ago, just after the disturbance, Bernard Carter was transferred from Kentucky to Arizona. His mother says she and her husband cannot afford to travel to Arizona and will have to wait until his release, scheduled for 2016, to see their son again. "They need their families," she said of the inmates. "Families need them. It's the only way." DOC says it would prefer to not have to rely on CCA, but that it is a relationship of necessity. While Vermont's crime rate has fallen in the past decade, the inmate population hasn't declined because of a dramatic spike in the late 1990s. Vermont currently has double the number of inmates it had in 1995, owing mostly to tough-on-crime sentencing laws. Based in Nashville, Tenn., CCA has 90,000 prison beds in 53 prisons, representing 95 percent of the country's private prison market. That capacity allows it to offer customers — states such as Vermont — the best prisoner price, and it has enough room to keep all the Vermont inmates together, a key point for the DOC. Two years ago the DOC did not approve a bid from Maine, which would have placed Vermont inmates throughout that state's sprawling prison network. It also was more expensive than CCA's offer of roughly $67 per inmate per day. "They are not without their blemishes, but they've proven to be consistent, in terms of our relationship, and because they're so big, they're always cost competitive," Andrew Pallito, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Corrections, said of CCA. In 2004, inmates rioted inside Lee Adjustment Center after allegations of guard abuse, and lawsuits have been filed across the country concerning lax supervision, including a notable one in 2011: Idaho inmates claimed correctional officers encouraged brawls among inmates and denied them medical care in a game they dubbed "Gladiator School." In January, the warden at Lee Adjustment Center resigned after incidents of violence put 200 Vermont inmates on a three-week lockdown. The state of Kentucky has stopped sending inmates to Lee altogether — in part because correctional reforms have reduced its overall inmate population. Pallito acknowledged that his agency can do little to supervise the Kentucky and Arizona prisons, and that the follow-up inspections may not give DOC investigators an accurate picture of the daily lives of inmates. "Anybody we deal with is going to know we're coming," Pallito said. "It's hard to just show up. I want to get to a point where out-of-state isn't an issue." While awaiting specific proposals, Pallito said, he tentatively supports the goals of Wizowaty's group, which will urge lawmakers to expand options such as pretrial home detention, community service in lieu of jail for minor offenses and treatment programs for nonviolent drug addicts. Pallito also said he hopes to expand transitional housing programs for inmates in the coming years. At any time, the DOC has a handful of inmates who have passed their minimum sentence date but are kept behind bars because there is no supervised home in which they can start serving probation. J