VIRGINIA
 HALL OF SHAME


If you find our website useful, please consider sending us a contribution!!!

PCWG, 1114 Brandt Drive, Tallahassee FL 32308

 


Arlington County Detention Center
Arlington, Virginia
Correctional Medical Services

March 1, 2006 DC Examiner
The cost of medical services for inmates in the Arlington County Detention Facility has gone up, staff turnover is high and service is lacking, according to an audit released this week by the Criminal Justice Institute. A 43 percent rise in operating costs was due to skyrocketing health care expenses, a higher influx of inmates with acute medical conditions and the rising prices of drugs prescribed for mental illness, said Susie Doyel, the facility's administrative director. Doyel said the report, which outlines a number of problems in the service provided by contractor Correctional Medical Services, is a positive thing for the facility. A number of criteria that were not specified in the contract with CMS led to inefficiencies and costly procedures. CMS's contract ends Oct. 31. In April, the detention facility plans to send out a request for new contracts that includes the majority of the auditor's recommended changes in operations, including allowing inmates to take drugs like Tylenol or antibiotics without the assistance of a nurse - freeing nurses for more pressing duties. But high turnover also contributed. Nurses were leaving, said the report, because of "high costs for parking, transportation issues and higher-paying positions in the vicinity with free parking."

Fairfax Connector
Fairfax, Virginia
Aramark

July 9, 2008 Washington Post
Fares for the Fairfax Connector bus come in $1 at a time, and that's how they left, police said. There was an elaborate system to thwart bus-fare bandits. Somehow, police said, a night-shift worker found a way to open the fare boxes and make off with plastic bags full of $1 bills. A lot of $1 bills. Fairfax County officials said $200,000 to $300,000 was taken from Fairfax Connector cash boxes in the thefts, which started last year. Fairfax police put the total at $326,000. Thong Khoune Sisaath of Sterling, who cleaned and fueled buses at the Herndon depot and handled cash boxes, was arrested July 2 and charged with grand larceny and possession of burglary tools in the case, according to police and court documents. A Fairfax man was also arrested. An investigation is continuing, police said. The cash boxes on Fairfax Connector's 197 buses have electronic safeguards. The boxes are scanned before they are removed to provide a record of how much money the boxes hold. The locked boxes are placed in a vault, where the cash is put into containers. The containers are closed by a self-sealing mechanism and are collected the next day by an armored-car service, said Rollo Axton, Fairfax's chief of transit services. Police said Sisaath found a way around the security measures. "Anytime you get the human factor and greed, you have the possibility of somebody trying to steal," said Kathy Ichter, director of the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. Police said Sisaath would bypass the usual area where cash boxes were scanned and emptied. Instead, she would take the buses to another area at the Herndon depot and use a key to unlock the cash boxes. She would fill the bags with the money and drop the bags, along with the contents of her pockets, into her car, police said. "As she did this she looked around in a suspicious manner attempting to insure she was not observed," according to court documents. Fairfax officials said the county did not lose money because of a contract provision with the private firm that runs the buses guaranteeing that the county receives the amount recorded when the cash boxes are scanned. "The county will not end up absorbing any of the losses on this," said Mike Setzer, vice president of Veolia Transportation in Oak Brook, Ill. Fairfax transportation officials first noticed a problem last fall. The scanned totals from the cash boxes stopped matching the totals on the bank deposits. According to industry standards, the two figures should be within 1 percent of each other, Axton said. "We were getting anywhere from 20 to 30 percent on some days, and that obviously raised the red flag," Axton said. The installation of SmarTrip card readers, which allow cash-less travel, throughout the Fairfax Connector system starting last year made it hard to tell if the discrepancy was a problem with the new technology or a sign of theft, officials said. Audits were begun. On nights when supervisors were present, the cash discrepancy disappeared. When supervisors were not at the depot, money was missing, officials said. Many questions remain, Setzer said, among them: "who got the key and how they got the key and how the system allowed that to happen." A Veolia employee also was arrested in connection with the thefts, according to court documents and police. Carl Rich of Fairfax was arrested July 3 and charged with embezzlement, possession of burglary tools, and conspiracy to commit grand larceny. Setzer said he did not have information on Rich's status. "Some of the people who are involved in this are relatively low-ranking people who shouldn't have had access to any kind of key, so we're still a little puzzled as to how that happened," Setzer said. "Someone else had to help them get access to the key, whether that's our person or someone else." Sisaath worked for a subcontractor, Aramark, which provides staffing for prisons, jails, airports and other sensitive jobs. Sisaath no longer works for the firm, company spokeswoman Sarah Jarvis said. "The behavior you've described is unacceptable and is not tolerated by this company," Jarvis said.

Fairfax County Adult Detention Facility
Fairfax, Virginia
Aramark

July 25, 2007 The Examiner
Fairfax County Sheriff Stan Barry accepted $1,000 in food for a campaign event from a company the county pays to feed its inmates – a contribution one state senator blasted as an attempt to “buy friendship” from the sheriff. Barry, a Democrat who is unopposed in the November election, denied any impropriety in accepting the donation from Aramark Corp. at a Fairfax City fundraiser on June 7. State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, however, on Tuesday called the contribution a “cause for cynicism.” “They’re giving him money because their gravy train depends on his position to continue their food contract,” said Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax. “They’re just trying to buy friendship.” The Philadelphia-based company provides food, uniforms and other services to scores of institutions throughout the country, and won a two-year contract in July 2006 to feed inmates and staff of the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. The Sheriff’s Office operates the facility. Exactly how much the county has paid to Aramark since the company started providing meals Sept. 1 was not available Tuesday. Based on estimates in the county’s budget, the company served 1.47 million meals in fiscal 2007, an average of 4,050 a day costing about $1 each. Aramark was the only company to bid on the jail food-service contract, according to Cathy Muse, director of the Department of Purchasing and Supply Management, which oversees the county’s contracting. The Sheriff’s Office reviewed the bid and recommended the county approve it, after which Muse signed off on the contract. Barry said he had no input in that process. “If I was overseeing the contract or [was] instrumental in who got the contract, then I can see where there would be conflict,” he said. “But I’m not involved in those negotiations at all.” He said the fundraiser took place before it was clear no opponents would emerge in the election. The food, he said, included Swedish meatballs, lunch meat and chicken wings. An Aramark spokeswoman said she was unable to find details of the donation by early Tuesday evening and otherwise declined comment.

Genesis Treatment Center
Newport News, Virginia
Correctional Services Corporation
May 14, 2005 Daily Press
The former operations director of a treatment center for troubled youth has filed suit against the companies that ran the now-defunct center, alleging he was discriminated against because of his race and fired in retaliation for his complaints. In the suit, filed last week in Newport News Circuit Court, James E. Graves of Hampton seeks $1.85 million in lost wages and damages as a result of losing his job at the Genesis Treatment Center. The suit names center operator Youth Services International and parent company Correctional Services Corp. as well as the center's former facility administrator as defendants. The treatment center, which operated out of the old Newport News General Hospital on Marshall Avenue, treated boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 21 for severe emotional disorders and sexual delinquency. It closed in October 2003 because of financial problems, although former employees questioned whether internal problems there had something to do with it. At the time the center closed, at least five employees had reportedly filed discrimination complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. At least one of those complaints was settled, Graves said, while the EEOC gave him the green light to sue.

October 10, 2003
A treatment center for troubled youths will close Friday, about two years after community activists protested the center's opening in Newport News' East End.  The Genesis Treatment Center treats boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 21 for severe emotional disorders and sexual delinquency.  "It was one of those kind of programs that we didn't need in the community," said activist Lawrence Atkins.  The 51-bed center had 16 patients when officials notified the state's mental health agency of the pending closing. A state spokeswoman said two patients remained at the center Wednesday. Others were transferred elsewhere.  Youth Services International, a subsidiary of Florida-based Correctional Services Corp., operates the center. The company runs 19 treatment centers nationwide, treating about 2,500 youths.  "The reason for closing is purely an economic issue," said senior vice president Woodie Harper.  Harper said Genesis struggled to increase the number of patients it served in the past nine to 10 months, mirroring a widespread industry trend.  In August, president James Slattery attributed a $5.6-million drop in second quarter profits compared to the previous year to "lower than expected occupancy rates in our juvenile division due to systemwide budget cuts."  Some former employees wonder whether internal problems at Genesis also contributed to its closing.  State inspectors investigated two incidents - one in December and one in January - of Genesis staff members improperly restraining patients. One patient suffered a broken arm and another a broken nose. In response, the center fired two employees and gave other employees more training.  Also, at least five to seven former employees have filed discrimination complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to several people who filed complaints.  Harper said company investigations are under way. He declined to say more. Julia Cudjoe, former special education coordinator at Genesis, attributes the center's low occupancy rate to high turnover among employees. This raised questions about the center's quality of care at social services departments making patient referrals.  (Daily Press)

April 21, 2003
State inspectors said two patients suffered broken bones at a treatment center for young men with severe emotional disorders after they were improperly restrained by staff members.  One patient at the 51-bed Genesis Treatment Center suffered a broken arm, the other a broken nose.  The center has fired the two staff members responsible and agreed to offer more training and draft new policies for staff.  But inspectors are also include alleged sexual misconduct between a staff member and a patient, staff members allegedly assaulting patients, and patients not receiving proper care.  A patient's mother has complained of insults, poor food quality and excessive force.  Youth Services International operates the treatment center for young men between the ages of 12 and 21 in the former Newport News General Hospital.  (AP)

Grayson County Prison
GEO Group
March 2, 2005 Galax Gazette
A state senator who is pushing for a state prison in Grayson County accepted gifts totaling $3,762 in 2004 from one of three companies that have submitted proposals to build the facility. Kellogg, Brown & Root Inc. is a subsidiary of Halliburton. KBR, Commonwealth Corrections Solutions, a consortium based in Fairfax and the Florida-based GEO Group have submitted proposals to build the prison under the state's Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act. State Sen. William C. Wampler Jr., R-Bristol, reported gifts from 10 sources. KBR is the only prison firm to give a gift to Wampler. Wampler is the only legislator in the state to receive a donation of any kind from KBR in 2004. Wampler represents the 40th District, which includes the western part of Grayson, Bristol, Lee County, Norton, Scott County, part of Smyth County, Washington County and part of Wise County. He did not respond to phone calls and an e-mail request for comment made during more than a week's time.

Hampton Roads Regional Jail
Prison Health Services
June 20, 2004
Three inmates at Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth who suffer from mental illnesses say the jail's medical staff failed to prescribe drugs that effectively treat their conditions.  For months they were wracked with feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, sleeplessness and delusional thoughts, they say. Sometimes they even wanted to harm themselves.  The men didn't get the medicine they requested until the end of May, after repeated calls to the press and to an advocacy group for the mentally ill. Since then, they say they're feeling better.  Hampton Roads Regional Jail holds about 1,060 inmates from Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Portsmouth. Of those, about 260 inmates are treated for mental illness by Prison Health Services, Inc., a private company that provides health care to inmates in 400 jails and prisons in 35 states. The quality of medical care for mentally ill inmates treated by private companies has been the subject of investigations and lawsuits throughout the country in recent years. In Virginia, officials are examining the quality of mental health care at jails and prisons to see if mentally ill inmates are receiving the proper medications. The issue boils down to this: Mental health advocates say these private companies often care more about their bottom lines than about the well-being of inmates. They say these companies are reluctant to prescribe expensive drugs, even if they provide the most effective treatment.  Prison health care companies typically devise their own pre-approved lists of drugs that often don't include more expensive, proven drugs, said Valerie Marsh, director of the Alliance. They can prescribe drugs not on the list, Phelps said, but they may be reluctant to do it.  (Dailypress.com)

King Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Prison Health Services
August 2, 2004
The top contributor to Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore’s gubernatorial campaign is a retired Tennessee millionaire whose former pharmaceutical company is under federal investigation over how it set prices on drugs for government health programs.  John M. Gregory, of Bristol, Tenn., has contributed $325,000 to Kilgore through personal donations and gifts from an investment company he owns.  The reason for Gregory’s generosity toward Kilgore is unclear, but the businessman has a history of giving to Republicans, particularly those who have publicly identified themselves as conservative Christians.  Gregory has credited his own religious conversion for his success in starting King Pharmaceuticals Inc. The company thrived until last year, when the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified the firm that officials are looking into whether King followed federal rules requiring it to offer its cheapest prices on drugs for the government-operated Medicaid insurance program.  Gregory also is being sued in federal court by investors who accuse him and other former King executives of artificially inflating sales to enrich themselves, a scheme those stockholders say has cost them millions of dollars. King officials notified their investors that the SEC is looking at rebates on Altace that King gave to Prison Health Services, a Tennessee company that provides health care to prison and jail inmates.  A spokesman for Prison Health Services said he knew nothing about the investigation. He said the company’s Virginia clients include the Virginia Department of Corrections, the Hampton Roads Regional Jail and the Portsmouth city jail. A contract with the Norfolk city jail ended last month.  DOC officials said the agency began doing business with the health company in February 2001, long after Kilgore had left his previous position as the state’s secretary of public safety. The health company provides medical and dental services at prison clinics. Officials estimated the annual contract at $33 million.  (The Virginian-Pilot)

Lawrenceville Correctional Center
Lawrenceville, Virginia
GEO Group (formerly run by CCA)

June 13, 2012 Times-Dispatch
The Lawrenceville Correctional Center remains on lockdown after the death of an inmate last week following an attack. Dwayne M. Mckoy, 36, died "from apparent unnatural causes" in a suspected inmate-on-inmate attack in a cell about 2:45 p.m. Thursday, said Pablo E. Paez, a spokesman for The Geo Group Inc., which operates Lawrenceville. Paez said Mckoy was pronounced dead in the prison's medical unit. Lawrenceville is Virginia's only privately operated correctional facility. Paez said no correctional officers or employees were injured. "The incident is under investigation, with the facility operating under lockdown status at this time," he said. According to the Virginia Department of Corrections, the prison holds about 1,500 medium-security inmates.

August 22, 2008 Times-Dispatch
A former officer at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center was sentenced yesterday to six months behind bars for taking a $2,000 bribe from an inmate. Harold Douglas Jr., 30, a former lieutenant at the privately run state prison, took a cashier's check from inmate David E. Davis, 39, in 2006 in exchange for not reporting the inmate had been caught with marijuana. Davis claimed Douglas extorted the money from him and triggered the investigation by showing authorities the canceled check he wrote Douglas. But Davis, too, was convicted of bribery, and got three years added to the 13 years 11 months he is already serving. Yesterday, Brunswick County Commonwealth's Attorney Lezlie S. Green, who asked that Davis be sentenced to six years, told Judge W. Allan Sharrett she believed she needed to seek no less for Douglas. She said inmates from area prisons are often prosecuted for drug and other offenses. "Certainly, we must hold the officers to at least [the same], if not higher standards." she argued. Douglas testified that he was the single parent of a 9-year-old son and took the money because he got in financial difficulty. "I needed the money to try and get ahead of my bills," he told the judge. Sharrett told Douglas that he "committed a crime which has struck at the heart of the integrity of our justice system." Sharrett said he often has to balance the testimony of corrections officers with those of inmates in court cases. Nevertheless, Sharrett noted among other things that Douglas, unlike Davis, was not already a felon and that he was making an attempt to raise his son, though not doing as good a job as Douglas's own parents had done with him. Sharrett then sentenced Douglas to five years in prison with four years and six months suspended. The law makes it a crime for public officials to take or solicit a bribe or for someone to make one. Each man was facing a maximum of 10 years in prison. Davis told investigators in late 2006 that on April 14 of that year he bought a marijuana joint from another inmate in a chow hall and that Douglas saw the exchange. Davis said Douglas did not charge him, saying they would talk later. A few days after the incident, Davis said Douglas demanded $2,000 or Davis would be prosecuted. Davis claimed he told Douglas that it was too late to charge him. So Douglas, alleged Davis, responded he would falsely accuse Davis of assaulting him. Lawrenceville, with 1,500, medium-security inmates, is Virginia's only privately run prison.

February 7, 2008 Richmond Times-Dispatch
Female officers may now frisk male prisoners as the number of women working for the Virginia Department of Corrections grows. The move was prompted by cell phones and other contraband getting into the hands of inmates at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center, the state's only private prison, where two-thirds of the staff are women and all 1,500 inmates are men. An independent study last year found that the relative shortage of male officers there meant an inadequate number of searches were being conducted. The change in the Virginia Department of Corrections' long-standing policy took effect Jan. 1. At least four other states, Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan and Colorado and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons also allow such searches. But at least one expert believes it is a change in the wrong direction. Larry Traylor, the department spokesman, says only staff of the same sex are still allowed to conduct -- or be present during -- strip searches of inmates unless there is an emergency situation. Also, he said, male staff are still barred from searching female inmates. "We deem it inappropriate and not within professional boundaries," said Traylor. Traylor said the department made the change, "in order to ensure good facility security and adjust our operations to meet the changing gender makeup of our employees." Statewide, more than 38 percent of Virginia's 6,473 corrections officers are women and 92.5 percent of the inmates are men. Ten years earlier the staff was 35 percent female. According to federal figures, women now constitute roughly a third of prison and jail staff across the country. The phenomenon is leading to new rules and sometimes difficult situations -- if not trouble -- for staff and inmates.

December 27, 2007 Times-Dispatch
A surprise shakedown this month at Virginia's only private prison turned up a half-dozen cell phones. Larry Traylor, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, could not provide details yesterday but confirmed the phones were discovered during an unannounced search by state officials at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center on Dec. 7. An independent study released in September found the prison had a problem with cell phones, drugs, other contraband and high staff turnover, but the study noted it was difficult to compare the scope of problems there with those in state-run prisons. Nevertheless, members of the Virginia State Crime Commission, which met at the Lawrenceville prison in September, were assured by officials with the Geo Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., that steps were being taken to improve security there. Geo runs the 1,500-inmate, medium-security prison under a five-year, $95 million contract. More than 40 other correctional facilities in the state are run by the Virginia Department of Corrections. In March, The Times-Dispatch, using state figures, reported that last year one in five cell phones confiscated in all state prisons were seized at Lawrenceville and that a highly disproportionate number of inmates were caught with drugs there. However, authorities later said those figures were incomplete and gave a misleading picture of the contraband problem at Lawrenceville. Complete figures for cell phone, drug and other seizures in state prisons were not made available by prison officials. Among other things, the independent study found that Lawrenceville had been targeting inmates suspected of using drugs for drug testing to a larger extent than in state prisons, where there is more of an emphasis on random testing. The study found that in 2006, Lawrenceville inmates tested positive for drugs more than 19 percent of the time, four times the highest rate in six nearby state-run prisons and more than 20 times higher than at the state's Brunswick Correctional Center next door. A Lawrenceville inmate, Eric L. Williams, 45, wrote in a Dec. 11 letter to The Times-Dispatch that a state strike team composed of officers from other prisons entered Lawrenceville Correctional Center around 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 7. Inmates were ordered to report to the gymnasium where they were searched, Williams said. He said the operation was conducted without the prior knowledge of Lawrenceville officers. Geo spokesman Pablo E. Paez declined to comment, referring questions to Traylor. Williams, serving almost 45 years on robbery, escape and drug convictions in Arlington, said the prison had been searched recently by Lawrenceville officers. He said that on Dec. 7, each inmate had to sit in a metal-detecting chair, and he claimed there also were strip and body-cavity searches. He said that as many as 40 inmates who had contraband or were deemed uncooperative were transferred to other prisons the next day. Traylor would not confirm if any inmates had been transferred but wrote in an e-mail that "inmates that are caught concealing contraband may be subject to disciplinary procedures including criminal prosecution and transfer to a higher security prison facility." Brunswick County Commonwealth's Attorney Lezlie Green could not be reached for comment yesterday. Traylor said yesterday that the department now has several dogs trained to detect cell phones. "We will be utilizing these dogs on a regular basis at all facilities for the purpose of finding cell phones and other contraband," he said. Earlier this year, two former Lawrenceville officers caught with 14.6 grams of cocaine pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to deliver drugs to inmates, and a former lieutenant is facing a bribery charge after being accused of taking $2,000 from an inmate there.

September 12, 2007 Times-Dispatch
An independent study released yesterday found the state's only private prison has problems with drugs, cell phones and high staff turnover. It was not possible, however, to compare the extent to which drugs are getting into the Lawrenceville Correctional Center with prisons run by the Virginia Department of Corrections because the testing at Lawrenceville was not conducted according to state requirements. The Virginia State Crime Commission met inside the prison yesterday for a briefing on a report written by MGT of America Inc. for the Department of Corrections. The report found that Lawrenceville, despite its contraband problems, overall was a well-run, clean and safe facility and noted that any prison can have serious security breaches. "In this case those breaches resulted in the high incidence of drugs and cell phones being introduced inside the prison," the report said. In March, The Times-Dispatch, using state figures, reported that more than twice as many inmates were caught with drugs at Lawrenceville as in all other Virginia prisons combined, and that one in five cell phones confiscated in prisons in Virginia were seized there. Later, however, the Department of Corrections said those figures were incomplete and gave a misleading picture of the contraband problem at Lawrenceville. This year, two former Lawrenceville officers caught with 14.6 grams of cocaine pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to deliver drugs to inmates, and a former lieutenant is facing a bribery charge for allegedly taking $2,000 from an inmate there. Lawrenceville is operated by GEO Group Inc. under a five-year, $95 million state contract. The medium-security prison holds more than 1,576 male inmates. Yesterday, Kenneth McGinnis of MGT told the crime commission that the number of inmates testing positive for drugs at Lawrenceville could not be properly compared with figures from state prisons. That is because until December, Lawrenceville had been targeting inmates suspected of using drugs for testing to a larger extent than in state prisons, where there is more of an emphasis on random testing. MGT found that in 2006, Lawrenceville inmates tested positive for drugs more than 19 percent of the time, four times the highest rate in six nearby state-run prisons and more than 20 times higher than at the state's Brunswick Correctional Center next door. Also, Lawrenceville had not been conducting as many tests as required under its contract. It should have been randomly testing 5 percent of the inmate population each month, but in 2006, it tested an average of 2.9 percent. State Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle, R-Virginia Beach and vice chairman of the commission, said adequate random testing is needed to determine the extent of a prison's contraband problem. John M. Hurley, a GEO vice president, agreed and conceded that "we let our guard down. . . . We weren't complying." Officials said that in March, after more extensive random testing began, of 107 inmates tested, just two were positive. No figures on cell-phone seizures at Lawrenceville or state prisons were available in the 34-page report. However, the report said prison investigators said that some inmates who got cell phones inside the prison rented them to other inmates. The report offered 50 recommendations for improving security. MGT also said there were staffing problems at the private prison, where the employees are paid less than their state counterparts. In 2006, 112 staff members at Lawrenceville resigned or were fired out of 341 positions. At the time of the study, the security staff had a 15 percent vacancy rate and nearly 30 percent of the security staff had less than a year of experience. "Given the present problems of contraband within the institution, the present number of vacancies with the security staff . . . contributes to the present security problem," said the MGT report. The most frequently cited reasons former employees gave for leaving Lawrenceville included the pay and benefits. It was noted that the Geo Group Inc. authorized a $1 an hour pay increase for security staff in Lawrenceville in April.

May 23, 2007 Times-Dispatch
The Virginia State Crime Commission wants a satisfactory explanation for contraband seizures reported at the state's only private prison, or it may conduct its own investigation. "Something's not right, and we need to make sure that we have an understanding of what this problem is," state Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, the commission chairman, said yesterday. Citing figures from the Virginia Department of Corrections, The Times-Dispatch reported in March that last year there were twice as many drug seizures at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center than in all the other prisons combined. Also, one in five cell phones seized from inmates was seized at Lawrenceville during that same period. However, at yesterday's crime commission meeting, Gene Johnson, director of the Virginia Department of Corrections, said the figures reported in the newspaper and cited by Stolle were incomplete because of the way prisons around the state report them to Richmond. The result was a misleadingly bleak picture, he said. "It's not twice as many at Lawrenceville than at our other facilities," Johnson said. "They may have been higher . . . but it was not the large difference that appeared," he said. Johnson promised to get the correct figures to the commission as soon as possible. He also disclosed yesterday that the department has hired an outside consultant to review security at the 1,500-inmate medium-security prison operated by GEO Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., since 2003. "We should be getting that report pretty shortly," said Johnson, adding that his department and GEO will follow any recommendations that may be made. Earlier this year, the department said 28 of the 41 cases of inmate drug seizures in the prison system in 2006 occurred at Lawrenceville. Also, the department said 14 cell phones were taken from Lawrenceville inmates, while 40 were found in all other prisons. GEO did not dispute the figures when asked about them by The Times-Dispatch. However, Johnson said yesterday that while Lawrenceville reports all of its incidents to department headquarters, investigators at the state-run prisons may refer some of them directly to the local commonwealth's attorney rather than to Richmond. Lawrenceville has had contraband problems. This year, two former Lawrenceville officers caught by the FBI with 14.6 grams of crack cocaine pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to deliver drugs to inmates there. A former lieutenant at Lawrenceville is facing a charge of bribery stemming from allegations he took $2,000 from David E. Davis, a former inmate there. Davis, now at another prison, claims the lieutenant extorted the money, though Davis is also facing a bribery charge. Current and former employees and inmates at Lawrenceville say they do not believe Davis was an extortion victim. They said they believe he lost the money in a drug deal gone bad. State Del. Kenneth R. Melvin, D-Portsmouth, a crime commission member, said Johnson's explanation about the numbers may be correct, "but I get a feeling that it is not." The explanation, he said, "doesn't sit right with me. It doesn't smell right." "If we allow the Department Of Corrections to handle this in sort of a lazy way . . . I think we are letting down the people of Virginia," he said. He said he believed the crime commission has a responsibility to make sure the prisons are being run properly. Stolle said, "It's not something that we can ignore or that we'd want to ignore." He asked Johnson to send the commission the correct figures and the results of the outside study. "Then I think the committee needs to sit down and see if we're satisfied with it, and if we're not satisfied with it, then I think the committee has the authority and the ability to do an independent investigation to what's going on in Lawrenceville," he said. Stolle added, "Unless there's a wholesale failure of the [department] to keep statistics or reports, I think there's enough evidence to warrant at least a thorough examination of how Lawrenceville is conducting security."

March 23, 2007 Times-Dispatch
An inmate who alleged an officer at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center extorted money from him has himself been charged. A tentative trial date of April 19 has been set for David E. Davis, 38, on one count of bribery alleged to have occurred April 26 -- the same date on a $2,000 check he says he had written to former prison Lt. Harold Douglas Jr. Davis, 38, was indicted Feb. 27, less than three weeks after a story about the extortion allegation appeared in The Times-Dispatch and several months after he claimed he reported it to authorities and showed them the canceled check. The Department of Corrections acknowledged that an investigation had been conducted and the results forwarded to the prosecutor. Court records show Harold Douglas Jr. of Brodnax was also indicted on a bribery charge on Feb. 27 concerning an offense that occurred April 26, 2006. But as of yesterday, he had not been served, according to the Brunswick County Circuit Court clerk's office. Davis and Douglas are alleged to have violated a law against public officials taking or soliciting a bribe or for someone to make one. Court records show Davis appeared in court March 15 when the trial date was set. In a letter to The Times-Dispatch dated March 20, Davis wrote, "I did not 'bribery' anyone. I was extorted." He claimed the charge is an attempt by the Virginia Department of Corrections to cover up the extortion. Lawrenceville, operated by The GEO Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., is the state's only private prison. GEO has said it cannot comment on the matter because it is under investigation. Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor also said yesterday that he could not comment. Douglas, reached by telephone this month, denied wrongdoing and said he was not aware of any indictment. Meanwhile, the Department of Corrections yesterday confirmed that a physician was assaulted at Lawrenceville, the state's only private prison, around 1 p.m. on Wednesday during a scheduled mental-health visit. Traylor, the spokesman, confirmed in an e-mail that, "The doctor was admitted to VCU Medical Center. I don't know the extent of his injuries, however, it is my understanding that he may be released as early as today." Traylor could not provide the physician's name or other details because the incident is under investigation. "Our investigation will be referred to the commonwealth's attorney." A spokeswoman for the medical center said she could not confirm or release any information without a name. More than twice as many drug interdictions were made at Lawrenceville last year than in all of the state's other prisons combined. A disproportionate number of cell phones were also seized from inmates at the prison.

March 18, 2007 Richmond Times-Dispatch
Last year, more than twice as many inmates were caught with drugs at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center as in all other Virginia prisons combined. State officials also said that more than one in five cell phones confiscated in prisons during the year came from Lawrenceville, the state's only privately operated prison, run by GEO Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla., since 2003. And in an unusual case, two former Lawrenceville officers caught by the FBI with 14.6 grams of crack cocaine pleaded guilty last month to charges of conspiring to deliver drugs to inmates there. The state disclosures and federal convictions support former Lawrenceville inmate David Eugene Davis' claims that marijuana, cocaine and cell phones were smuggled in by staff and readily available to Lawrenceville inmates for a price. "It's crazy over there. It's just unbelievable . . . it's wide open," he said in interview in January. "You can buy a cell phone for $150." State officials have confirmed they are investigating Davis' claim that a former lieutenant extorted $2,000 from him at the 1,536-inmate, medium-security facility in April. Davis has since been moved to an adjacent state prison. The Virginia Courts Case Infor- mation Web site shows that Harold Douglas Jr. of Brodnax was indicted on a bribery charge under a state law that makes it illegal for a public official to accept money in exchange for special favors. The alleged incident occurred April 26, 2006. Davis said the man who extorted the money from him was former Lt. Harold Douglas Jr. A copy of a cashier's check shows it was made payable to Douglas and was dated April 26, 2006. Brunswick County officials will not confirm that the Douglas who was indicted is the former Lawrenceville correctional officer because the indictment is sealed and the accused has not been served with the papers. Reached last month by phone, the former officer, who lives in Brodnax, denied any wrongdoing and said he quit the job of his own volition. This month, he denied knowledge of any indictment. Larry Traylor, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, wrote in an e-mail that "the department has been working diligently with GEO and the management of Lawrenceville to ensure that prudent and effective measures are implemented to address the frequency of both drugs and cell phones." Traylor said cell phones can be used by inmates to plot escapes, intimidate people and conduct other criminal activities. He said technological advances enabling smaller cell phones with minimal metal components are making detection more difficult. "Consequently, cell phones are becoming more easily smuggled into institutional environments. Cell phones are usually discovered during routine visitation and security searches," he wrote. GEO spokesman Pablo Paez, responding to questions by e-mail, said that in October the management at Lawrenceville "began a concentrated effort to reduce the interdiction of contraband and specifically illegal drugs into the institution." According to the Department of Corrections, 28 of the 41 cases of inmate drug seizures in the prison system in 2006 occurred at Lawrenceville. Also, the department said that 14 cell phones were taken from Lawrenceville inmates, while 40 were found in all other prisons. Asked if the large amount of contraband prompted the crackdown, or if the large amount of contraband was a result of the crackdown, Paez replied that Lawrenceville officials monitor inmates' drug-screening results. An increase was noted, he said, and steps were taken to fix the problem. "These interdiction efforts and the requirement to test offenders who show positive results more frequently may be a reason the number of positive drug screens at Lawrenceville were higher than those reported by [state] facilities." Paez also said, without providing specific details, that "earlier in 2006 the company was piloting a device that was touted as being able to detect cell phones. Lawrenceville was chosen as one of the pilot sites." "For a period of time additional staff, some not usually involved in these kinds of searches, participated in the detection of cell phones. This might account for some of the increased numbers of cell phones detected," he said. "GEO shares this problem with every other correctional entity in the country," Paez said. "The battle in the interdiction of contraband into a correctional facility is ongoing and ever-changing." Lawrenceville is a state prison operated by GEO under a five-year, $95 million contract that began in 2003. GEO -- then called Wackenhut Corrections Corp. won the contract from the Corrections Corporation of America, which opened the prison in 1997. Paez added that 34 inmates were caught by drug screenings and that officials also increased the searching of staff, visitors and vehicles, and increased the use of information gathered during investigations. According to Paez, the number of positive drug screens increased in October, November and December "but have shown a marked decrease during the period between January 1 and March 8, 2007." Two former Lawrenceville Correctional officers -- Theresa Hall Marrow, 48, of Victoria and Tiffany Nicole Goodrich, 23, of Lawrenceville -- pleaded guilty Feb. 26 to charges of possession with the intent to distribute more than 5 grams of crack cocaine and with conspiracy to distribute, according to the U.S. attorney's office. They were caught with the cocaine in December. The FBI witnessed a drug transaction in which Marrow and Goodrich received about half an ounce of cocaine base and $300 as payment to smuggle it into the prison. Authorities said they were arrested in Colonial Heights after they were paid to smuggle the cocaine but before they could do so. They are set to be sentenced May 25 and are facing five to 40 years in prison. Davis said inmates receive cash from visitors or others from outside the prison and use it to pay the officers, whom he said are underpaid. "The guards make $18,000 a year and the inmates are walking around with a thousand dollars in cash on them," he said. Paez said that a starting correctional officer at Lawrenceville is paid $8.65 an hour, which would be about $18,000 a year for 52 standard, 40-hour work weeks. Paez said that after their training period is over, officers make $9.70 an hour, which would be $20,176 for a standard work year. Traylor said that after the probationary period, a new state officer makes $2,445 a month, which would be an annual salary of $29,340, more than $9,000 a year more than their GEO counterparts. Paez said GEO has not had trouble recruiting staff, but he would not say what the turnover rate is at Lawrenceville or how many vacancies there are at the prison, citing security reasons. The prison is authorized to have a staff of 168 officers, Paez said.

February 7, 2007 Richmond Times-Dispatch
David Eugene Davis claims he was roused from his cell in the middle of the night by officers at the Lawrenceville Correctional Center last April. He was escorted to a small office and left there alone with the shift commander. The officer, Davis claims, demanded $2,000. Davis said the officer threatened to falsely charge him with assault if he did not pay. If he paid, the officer said Davis would be protected as long as he was at Lawrenceville, the state's only privately run prison. Davis said he paid. Then in September, Davis alleges, the officer -- who has since left the prison -- wanted $10,000 more. Davis said he refused. Days later, Davis reported being attacked by three inmates and robbed of cigarettes, according to a prison incident report. Davis decided to file a complaint, and he said authorities now have a copy of the $2,000 cashier's check from the Virginia Heartland Bank in Fredericksburg. A purported copy Davis gave the Richmond Times-Dispatch was made payable to and apparently cashed by the former officer on April 28. It was dated April 26, and beside the word "purpose" was written: "DAVID E DAVIS." Larry Traylor, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, would not discuss the details of any particular investigation or the names of any individuals involved. However, he confirmed there is an investigation into allegations an officer extorted $2,000 at Lawrenceville. No Virginia Department of Corrections employee is believed to have ever been convicted of such an offense, Traylor said in an e-mail. The Lawrenceville Correctional Center is operated by The GEO Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla. GEO has a five-year contract to operate the 1,536-inmate, medium-security prison. The officer in question was a GEO employee, not a Department of Corrections employee. He is not being identified because he has not been charged in connection with Davis' allegations.

November 3, 2005 Free Lance-Star
A state prison inmate from Spotsylvania County was captured yesterday after a violent escape and car chase in Emporia, in southern Virginia. Jeffrey Bruce Shortal, 37, had been taken under guard to an Emporia medical center to receive physical therapy, Emporia Police Chief Keith Carr said. One correctional officer was struck on the head with a hand weight and robbed of his pistol, Carr said. Another was robbed at gunpoint. A short time later, a man approached two people at a senior citizens center about a half-block away. He tried, at gunpoint, to get their car keys, the Emporia chief said. When he wasn't successful, Carr said, the man went to a nearby furniture store. He confronted the manager in her office, where she was with customers. She was robbed of the keys to her Ford Explorer, Carr said. Officers in two Emporia police cars chased the Explorer east on U.S. 58, reaching speeds of 110 mph, Carr said. Shortly after the Explorer and police cars entered Southampton County, deputies there deployed "stop sticks," spikes that stick in a vehicle's tires and deflate them. The Explorer crashed, Carr said, and the driver exited unarmed and ran. He was captured "within about 30 seconds," Carr said.

March 22, 2003
NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW - News) announced today that it has received notification from the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Corrections that it has decided to assume operations of the 1,500-bed medium-security Lawrenceville Correctional Center, located in Lawrenceville, Virginia, upon the expiration of the Company's existing contract on March 22, 2003. The Commonwealth of Virginia has requested that the transfer of operations to the Department of Corrections become effective at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, March 23, 2003. In addition, the Company has been notified that Virginia intends to award the contract to another private operator. The Company does not expect this termination to have a material impact on our financial results.  (Corrections Corporation)

March 3, 2003
Three high-ranking state officials have withdrawn from the selection of a private company to operate the Lawrenceville Correctional Center.  Secretary of Public Safety John W. Marshall, Corrections Director Gene M.  Johnson and Deputy Director John Jabe have recused themselves from handling the five-year, roughly $100 million contract - one of the largest involving the Virginia Department of Corrections.  Marshall's brother, Thurgood Marshall Jr., is on the board of directors of the Corrections Corporation of America, CCA, which currently holds the contract.  Johnson and Jabe backed out well into the selection process.  But while attending an American Correctional Association meeting last month, Johnson and Jabe met one of Jabe's former colleagues as the three were waiting for a ride to dinner, said Larry Traylor, a state Corrections Department spokesman.  The former colleague is a warden for Wackenhut Corrections Corp., one of the Lawrenceville bidders. Traylor said the warden was not involved in the procurement process, nor did the three discuss Lawrenceville.  Jabe introduced the warden, whom Traylor did not name, to two CCA employees as they waited for their ride. Johnson, Jabe and the warden then left for the dinner together.  On Jan. 21, a CCA representative questioned the propriety of Jabe dining with the Wackenhut employee. Jabe, and then Johnson, decided it was appropriate that they step out of the process because the question had been raised, said Traylor.  The contract to operate the prison expires March 22. The recusals further muddy the waters surrounding the bidding for the contract.  Sealed proposals were received by the department Dec. 11. Proposals were submitted by CCA, Wackenhut, Cornell Corrections Corp. and Correctional Services Corp.  In a Jan. 10 letter to the bidders, the department said that: "No contact with the director and the two deputy directors should be made by any offeror apart from this presentation until after the contract has been entered into with the successful offeror."  On Jan. 17, however, Russell Borass, private prison administrator for the department, wrote to bidders that a decision would not be announced until the week after the oral presentations.  On Feb. 3, Borass announced that the department would negotiate with Wackenhut for the contract. Wackenhut issued a news release saying so on Feb. 5.  But it appears the Corrections Department had ignored its own rules. The department quickly announced it would negotiate with two firms - Wackenhut and CCA. The department's request for proposals in October stated it would negotiate with two bidders.  Further complicating the issue is a requirement in the state appropriations act that Gov. Mark R. Warner compare the best bid with the Correction Department's estimate of what it would cost to do the job. The comparison would then be shared with two key legislators - the chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees.  Traylor said the department still expects to have a contract awarded by March 22. If not, the department could run the facility or there could be a short-term contract with a private firm.  (The Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Portsmouth City Jail
Portsmouth, Virginia
Prison Health Services

October 7, 2010 Virginia-Pilot
A Circuit Court jury awarded $25,000 in damages to a former Prison Health Services nurse who filed a defamation suit against Sheriff Bill Watson. The civil jury found that Adrienne West was defamed by Watson in comments he made in a story that ran in The Virginian-Pilot in June 2007. The story, about an investigation into drugs being brought into the jail, reported that Watson suspected a nurse, who he said at the time had since resigned. The nurse was not named, but West had resigned after being questioned during the investigation, according to testimony that came out during the three-day trial. She felt Watson's statements identified her as the nurse referenced in the story. Watson testified that he told the reporter "contractors" were suspected and did not specify a nurse. Watson's attorneys argued that the statement attributed to Watson was not a direct quotation. To prove defamation, they said the plaintiff had to show that Watson had used the exact words in the story.

December 15, 2009 The Virginia-Pilot
Former medical providers for the City Jail will pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the widow of a mentally ill man who died of pneumonia and dehydration six days after he was jailed on a misdemeanor charge. Joseph Combs, a 57-year-old Vietnam veteran and shipyard worker, was in the midst of a bipolar episode in June 2006 when he was put in jail because authorities couldn't find a bed for him in a mental facility. A deputy found the man dead, naked and lying in the feces he had repeatedly smeared on himself and the cells he was housed in. In 2007 Combs' widow, Granada, filed a lawsuit against Prison Health Services, the jail's medical provider at the time, other medical professionals, Sheriff Bill Watson and other individuals. Last month, the suit against Watson resulted in a mistrial. Jurors could not come to a unanimous verdict on whether the sheriff was negligent in Combs' death. On Monday, Judge Thomas Shadrick approved the settlement between Combs' estate and Prison Health Services; two of its employees, Dr. Shawne R. Bryant and Emma Floyd; and Dr. Luis F. Ignacio. Pat Nolan, a spokesman for the Nashville, Tenn.-based Prison Health Services, said they had no comment. Ignacio could not be reached Monday. The settlement order says only the defendants have offered together to pay the $1.5 million. The largest part of the settlement - $600,000 - will go to attorneys who represented the Combs family from the law firms of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen and Bricker Anderson. Another $192,711.21 will cover the costs and expenses incurred. Combs' widow will receive $424,373.27, and his four adult children will each receive $70,728.88. Granada Combs testified that during the days leading up to her husband's incarceration he had stopped eating and taking care of himself. At some point, he told her to leave the house or he might hurt her. She sought help and eventually called 911. Officer Richard Overstreet testified that he responded to the call and was going into the apartment with her when he saw Combs inside with a knife. He said he appeared to be coming toward his wife. The officer said Combs continued to make angry comments about his wife and he considered him a risk to her. He said after mental health workers could not find a hospital that would take the man, a police sergeant told him to secure a warrant for a misdemeanor charge of threatening bodily harm. Combs died of pneumonia and dehydration. The medical examiner testified during the civil trial last month that people suffering from bipolar disorder will sometimes ignore thirst. Deputies and officers in the sheriff's office testified about Combs' bizarre behavior and how they had helped him shower and moved him to a clean cell after finding smeared feces everywhere. They also testified about asking doctors, nurses and a worker from the city's Behavioral Health Services Department to examine him. Lawyers for the sheriff contend that it was Prison Health Services and the medical providers who were responsible for making decisions related to an inmate's health care. The case between the sheriff and Combs' estate is scheduled to be tried again in early May.

June 20, 2008 The Virginian-Pilot
A woman who worked as a nurse for a health care contractor at the city jail has sued Sheriff Bill Watson, charging that he defamed her in comments that were published in The Virginian-Pilot. Adrienne West sued in Portsmouth Circuit Court earlier this month, naming Watson and the Portsmouth Sheriff's Office as defendants. She is represented by attorney Jason C. Roper. In an interview, Watson called West's suit "frivolous" and said she had "nothing to stand on here." He said he had never mentioned the woman by name. West's suit says that when she reported to work on June 2, 2007, she was met by police detectives investigating illegal drugs in the jail. The suit says she cooperated with them because she had "nothing to hide." She was searched and questioned, and she agreed to take a polygraph exam. She was "extremely nervous" and the result was inconclusive; the test was given again and she passed. She consistently denied bringing drugs into the jail, her suit says. Her complaint says that the detectives were satisfied. Watson told her as she left he knew the results and "not to worry about it," her suit says. Watson said Thursday he didn't recall ever meeting West. West felt singled out and decided she no longer wanted the job and resigned, her suit says. Weeks later, the Pilot published two articles that contained statements attributed to Watson, now attached as exhibits to her suit. One reported that an inmate had told Watson that contractors were bringing drugs into the jail, and that Watson suspected two former employees, including a Prison Health Services nurse who had resigned. The other article reported the sheriff said two contractors he suspected of bringing drugs to the jail no longer worked there. West was not identified by name. Her suit says her identity was clear to people who knew her. It says people asked her about the articles and asked if she was a drug dealer. She says Watson's statements were defamatory. West seeks $3 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.

June 14, 2007 The Virginian-Pilot
Concerned that there might be drugs inside the city's jail, Sheriff Bill Watson used dogs earlier this month to search some inmates and deputies inside the facility. Though none of the roughly 35 deputies and inmates on duty was found to have drugs during the June 1 search, the dogs detected narcotic scents on two deputies, Watson said. Officers can pick up drug scents on their clothes during the course of duty, he said. However, later that night in an unrelated incident, one of Watson's deputies was arrested on charges of drug possession in Norfolk. The search, Watson said, was the first time he has brought in dogs to look for drugs on inmates and deputies at the jail since he took over as sheriff more than 18 months ago. Random searches will occur from now on, Watson said. Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe's office provided two K-9 dogs as a courtesy that night. They looked for evidence of drugs at the jail for about five hours, said Bonita Harris, a spokeswoman for McCabe's office. A small amount of contraband, ranging from cell phones to drugs, has made its way into the jail for years, Watson said. The investigation began nearly a month ago, after Watson received a tip from an inmate. The inmate told Watson that some contractors working inside the jail were bringing small amounts of marijuana and crack cocaine into the facility. Watson said he suspected that one of the contractors was a nurse who worked for Prison Health Services. She has resigned, he said. The other contractor worked for the food service company that supplies the jail, Watson said. He no longer works there, he said. Neither contractor has been charged.

December 1, 2006 The Virginian-Pilot
Joseph Combs was sent to the City Jail in June and died there six days later. Combs, 57 , died of severe dehydration and acute pneumonia, with bipolar disorder contributing, according to the medical examiner. Earlier this week, Portsmouth City Attorney Tim Oksman requested a federal civil rights investigation into Combs’ death. He wrote a letter to representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation , asking that they “determine whether any civil or criminal investigation is called for by either of your agencies.” Norfolk FBI spokesman Phil Mann said the department has received the letter and is reviewing it to determine whether to open an investigation. Oksman began to look into the case after being contacted by Combs’ widow, Granada Combs . She said in an interview last week that she sought medical attention for her husband after he was taken into custody on June 22. “This should not have happened,” she said. “His death could have been avoided had they taken him to a hospital.” In the past, her husband, who worked as a painter at Norfolk Naval Shipyard , had repeatedly been hospitalized for mental health treatment for weeks at a time, she said. Police and the city are conducting separate investigations into his death. The City Jail is run by Sheriff Bill Watson , whom Oksman copied on his letter to federal authorities. After several calls to Watson’s office for comment, Lt. Col. John Gomokey returned a phone call. He said the sheriff said to contact Prison Health Services Inc. , the jail’s medical contractor. “His position right now is that PHS needs to handle that,” Gomokey said. “It was their thing.” Emma Floyd , director of nursing for Prison Health Services at Portsmouth City Jail , said: “I don’t know why he would ask you to contact me.” Asked about Combs, Floyd said she remembered the case. But she declined to comment further and said to contact Prison Health Services’ corporate office in Tennessee . “Our mission is to provide quality health care to all the patients we serve,” company spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern wrote in an e-mail, responding to Oksman’s letter. “Anytime a patient dies, we are deeply saddened, and extend our heartfelt sympathy to the patient’s family and friends.” She added that, because of confidentiality laws, Prison Health Services can’t talk about details of the care provided to a patient. But she said the company would cooperate fully if there is an investigation.

South Hampton
Centex

April 24, 2003
Developers proposing to build two 1,024-bed prisons in Virginia are considering Southampton County as a site for one of them.  The plan submitted to the Virginia Department of Corrections also includes options to expand the Deerfield Correctional Center in Southampton and St. Brides Correctional Center in Chesapeake.  The state's prison population, currently 30,950, is expected to rise in coming years, due to longer sentences imposed since the abolition of parole in the mid-1990s.  Corrections officials predict they will need 2,000 to 3,000 new prison beds by 2006.  However, declining tax collections have strained the state budget and delayed efforts to raise the estimated $334 million needed for new construction.  The development team making the proposal comes from Centex, a Texas-based Fortune 500 company with an affiliate headquartered in Fairfax, and investment bankers Lehman Brothers and Morgan Keegan.  The companies are not releasing details about their plans to finance the projects.  However, the businesses are building three prisons in North Carolina that will be leased back to the state for 20 years before the structures would become publicly owned.  The North Carolina work is highlighted in the proposal the companies have submitted to Virginia.  Prison officials are giving competing developers until May 8 to submit plans before reviewing the proposal.  Southampton County already has three state prisons.  Southampton Correctional Center, which houses about 650 inmates, was nearly mothballed last year as a cost-saving measure, but state leaders backed down when the community rallied to save prison jobs.  Corrections officials connected then that the prisons would be needed a few years.  An adjacent but separate "reception center" for new inmates holds another 180 inmates.  The remaining prison, Deerfield, is home to about 500 geriatric inmates.  Developers have listed Southampton as one of six counties where a new prison would be feasible.  Reggie W. Gilliam, chairman of the Southampton Board of Supervisors, said he would welcome the 600-bed expansion at Deerfield included in the plan.  He said county officials know little about other parts of the proposal, but they will be briefed by prison officials on April 28.  The St. Brides expansion is identified by developers as an optional addition to their plan.  The state is scheduled to finish a 352-bed addition next spring, but has no funding to achieve its plans for demolishing the original 19963 prison and replacing it with modern dormitories and a multipurpose building that could include a gym and music room.  The capacity is now 575.  State plans call for expanding it to between 1,000 and 1,2000 beds.  North Carolina's prison-building program has attracted some criticism from a former state treasurer and consumer groups, who argued that the deal was too expensive and that it was being used to increase public debt without a voter referendum.  State officials created a nonprofit corporation to issue $225 million in bonds for the projects.  North Carolina is expected to pay $370 million over the next 20 years through a lease agreement.  State officials concluded that they are saving money because prisoners are being built faster.  Legislators are now considering a proposal for Centex to build another three prisons.  Virginia pays a private company to manage one of its prisons, located in Lawrenceville.  However, the state has never built a prison under a lease-to-own arrangement.  State leaders passed a law last year to encourage developers to submit proposals for constructing government buildings under lease-to-own and similar types of public-private partnerships.  The law helps developers qualify for tax incentives that make the projects more attractive to the private sector.  In response, Centex and another Texas developer, Lincoln Property Co., have submitted proposals for renovating and building new state government offices in and around Capitol Square in Richmond.  Some local governments also are taking advantage of the new law.  Falls Church and Stafford County are considering proposals to build schools through public-private partnerships.  (The Virginian-Pilot)

Virginia Beach Jail
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Conmed Health Management (formerly run by Correctional Medical Services)

August 18, 2011 The Virginian-Pilot
The family of a man who died at the Virginia Beach jail has filed a wrongful death suit against the sheriff and the jail medical staff. The case alleges shoddy medical care, accusations similar to those raised by the family of another deceased jail inmate, Jacquelynn Diane Schwartz. Douglas P. Poole entered the jail Oct. 29, 2010, to serve a 10-day sentence for driving with a suspended driver's license. Five days later he was rushed to the hospital, where he died. He was 54. When he arrived in the jail, he told a nurse that he suffered from diabetes and hypertension and that he required certain medications, according to the suit. It says he didn't receive any meds for four days, and he was given insulin but nothing to control his hypertension. The afternoon of Nov. 3, Poole reported to jail staff that he was had severe pain in an eye. He was unsteady on his feet and sweating. He then collapsed and struck his head on a table, the suit says. He was taken to the infirmary, where the medical staff inferred "that he was malingering," the lawsuit states. When he was taken back to his cell, a deputy, a doctor and nurses told other inmates that Poole was "faking blindness," it says. Poole later reported that he felt nauseated and he again fainted and remained unconscious for 15 minutes. When he tried to rise, he struck his head on a toilet and lost consciousness again, the suit says. "The inmates in his cell block began frantically banging on the window and the deputies only then removed him from the block," the lawsuit says. At the infirmary, Poole's blood pressure was recorded as 197 over 90, which is high. Jail staff called 911, and Poole was taken to the nearby emergency room in handcuffs. He was transferred to Virginia Beach General Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage. He was declared brain-dead Nov. 4 and pronounced dead Nov. 7, according to the lawsuit and his obituary that appeared in The Pilot. The lawsuit, which seeks $5 million, alleges "deliberate indifference" to Poole's condition by the medical and jail staff. His family is suing in federal court under the Eighth and 14th amendments, which prohibit cruel and unusual punishment and deprivation of life and liberty, respectively. The suit, filed by Poole's sister, Evelyn Sawyer of Norfolk, names as defendants Sheriff Ken Stolle; Conmed Healthcare Management, which runs the jail's medical facility; and several members of the medical staff.

November 21, 2010 The Virginia-Pilot
Paul Lanteigne got right to work for his new company. Within days of stepping down as Virginia Beach sheriff in December, he began exchanging e-mails and documents with former subordinates about a multi million-dollar contract that would soon be up for grabs. Some of the information high-ranking officials in the Sheriff's Office passed onto their former boss was available to anyone. But some was not, such as drafts of bid specifications for the contract, which Lanteigne received weeks before other competitors, e-mails and other documents obtained by The Virginian-Pilot show. Lanteigne's exchanges - friendly, familiar and informative - were with the same officials who would ultimately write and award the contract. At stake was the jail's most lucrative private work: providing medical services for inmates. Five companies submitted bids for the job. Lanteigne's company, Conmed Healthcare Management Inc., and Correctional Medical Services were short-listed as finalists. In September, with Lanteigne on board as a senior director for governmental affairs, Conmed prevailed, landing the Beach's $3.5 million-per-year contract. Conmed is a publicly traded company operating in seven states and expanding in Virginia. In 2008, it won an $18 million contract in Chesapeake. Conmed recently bid on the Norfolk jail medical contract but didn't get it. St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services is privately owned and has contracts in 19 states. The company had the contract for the Beach jail 25 years, including the 10 years Lanteigne was sheriff. Current Sheriff Kenneth Stolle, elected to the post last year with Lanteigne's support, said he didn't know the former sheriff was getting the information about the contract from department staffers but that no laws were broken. He said he did not get involved in the decision because of his long time friendship with Lanteigne. "I'm not happy about what took place," Stolle said. "It allows the perception that there was inside information or a stream of information that Paul was getting that was not available to everybody else." Conmed, using many former Correctional Medical Services' staffers, took over in Virginia Beach on Oct. 1. The three-year contract could be worth up to $17.5 million if two years of optional extensions are granted. In late October, after The Pilot started asking questions about the information Lanteigne received, Stolle changed the department's policy to make the sheriff the single point of contact while bid documents are being developed. He said in practice that means all information shared with one potential bidder would be shared with others. Procurement experts interviewed by The Pilot agreed that providing early bid specifications to one company doesn't violate Virginia law but said it's not consistent with industry standards and discouraged the practice because it could provide competitive advantage.

September 10, 2010 The Virginia-Pilot
Less than a year after stepping down as sheriff, Paul Lanteigne helped land a $9 million contract to provide health care for inmates in the jail he used to run. The company the former sheriff works for was selected for the contract, even though its bid was slightly more than the proposal of the company that currently provides the services. Before stepping down as sheriff at the end of last year, Lanteigne lined up a job with Conmed Health Management, a health services provider that had tried unsuccessfully to do business with Virginia Beach in the past. Lanteigne became a senior director of governmental affairs for Conmed and helped prepare the bid, which resulted in the approximately $9 million, three-year contract to provide health care for the city's 1,350 inmates. The company was recommended by a panel appointed by Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle, said John McCon-nell, city procurement services coordinator. Stolle and Lanteigne have long been political allies and friends. Correctional Medical Services Inc., the current provider, has worked in the Beach jail for 25 years. That company was the low bidder for the new contract by about $20,000 a year, Stolle said. Conmed was deemed the better applicant, Stolle said. "To be completely candid, Paul had a huge advantage," Stolle said. "He knew exactly what we needed." Had Lanteigne been a city employee, he would've been prohibited by city ordinance for one year from accepting a job with a company that does business with the city. Because he was sheriff, a constitutional officer in Virginia, the rule doesn't apply, Deputy City Attorney Roderick Ingram said. Lanteigne sought a legal opinion from the city attorney's office in June 2009 before taking the job with Conmed. Lanteigne, who was sheriff for 10 years, said he applied his understanding of the Virginia Beach jail to help Conmed prepare the bid. "I certainly can't take the knowledge I have and erase the slate," he said. "I certainly used that knowledge." Lanteigne said he works for Conmed full time from home. He wouldn't disclose his salary other than to call it "a very fair wage." He made about $150,000 a year as sheriff. He did some paid consulting in Louisiana for Conmed after July 1, 2009, while still in office. Stolle, a former state senator elected sheriff in November, said he didn't take part in the bid-review process because he and Lanteigne are friends. "I didn't want there to be any impression that I was trying to steer the contract to Paul," he said. " I didn't want there to be appearance of collusion between us." Lanteigne supported Stolle in his run for sheriff, giving him $10,000 in campaign contributions, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks money in politics. Conmed gave $2,000 to Stolle. Stolle hired Lanteigne's daughter, Ashley, who had previously been his legislative aide, as a public information officer. Her salary is $53,500. Stolle said the contract went to Conmed even though the company wasn't the low bidder partially because Conmed offered extra psychiatric services that eventually will make the company the cheaper option. He also said Conmed is more experienced with the upcoming switch to electronic medical records, which is part of the contract. The city is not obligated to go with the lowest bid. Other factors, including predicted quality of service, are taken into account, Deputy City Attorney Ingram said.

Virginia Department of Corrections
GEO Group, Prison Health Services (formerly run by Correctional Medical Services)
Mar 15, 2013 necn.com

Virginia has rejected unsolicited bids by two companies to operate a state facility that detains violent sex offenders for treatment after their sentences are completed. Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that state officials who evaluated the proposals concluded that GEO Group, a private prisons operator based in Boca Raton, Fla., focused too much on incarceration and not enough on treatment. Liberty Healthcare Corp. of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., scored better on treatment but would have charged the state $2.4 million a year more than it is spending to run the facility itself. Therapy is a key issue because courts have ruled that the indefinite commitment of sex offenders after they have served their prison time is constitutional as long as the goal is treatment, not punishment. The state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services received the GEO and Liberty proposals in 2011 under a 2002 Virginia law authorizing public-private partnerships. "Following the thorough evaluation that was conducted of the unsolicited bids, DBHS found the existing operation is comparable to or better than the proposals and there was not a long-term financial advantage to the Commonwealth," department spokeswoman Meghan McGuire said in an email. She said that while officials appreciated the bids, they concluded that privatization of the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Burkeville at this time "is not the best direction for Virginia." The treatment center was originally built to house 300 patients in private rooms, but the 2011 General Assembly ordered the department to double-bunk half the rooms to expand capacity to 450. McGuire said the center now houses 327 and is projected to exceed capacity by 2016. The department informed the companies of the decision in January, but the development went unnoticed by opponents of the privatization proposals. Carla Peterson, executive director of the inmate advocacy group Virginia CURE, said she was "pleasantly surprised." "We always think it's a good thing when they don't privatize a prison, and that's what this is — a prison — no matter what they say," Peterson said in a telephone interview. "Our members felt that if a for-profit organization runs it, nobody's ever going to get out of there. I'm pleased to hear it's not going to happen." Mary Davey Devoy, an advocate for reform of Virginia's sex offender laws, said she was especially pleased to hear that GEO's bid was rejected. Some inmates at a facility in Florida have complained they are not getting proper care, which prompted protests when GEO recently acquired naming rights for the football stadium at Florida Atlantic University. "They are a business through and through," Devoy said. "They are not about rehabilitation. If they don't have bodies in the beds, they don't have a business." GEO did not respond to a message seeking comment. Kenneth Carabello, vice president of Liberty, said the company appreciated the opportunity to bid but understood the state's decision. "There were some pricing structure impediments we kind of ran into, and we certainly understand the budgetary situation and the state's need to be as efficient as possible," said Carabello, who added that Liberty would be open to trying again but has no immediate plans to do so. Letters to the companies by James W. Stewart III, commissioner of Virginia's behavioral health department, informing them of the department's decision did not specify why the bids were rejected. However, written evaluations of the proposals obtained by the AP showed Liberty's proposal was too costly and GEO's was too corrections-oriented. "Lack of emphasis on rehab treatment program," the analysis of GEO's proposal said of the only other civil commitment program for sex offenders operated by the company. Another notation said the program was "more correctional than therapy related." The department's comments on Liberty's proposal were generally more positive, noting that the company has 14 years of relevant experience and that most of its executives have a clinical background. "Evidence of skills necessary to operate facility," the report says. Officials noted in the documents that the weakness in Liberty's proposal was cost. It would have charged $29.7 million each year to run the facility, even though Virginia spends less — $27.3 million. GEO's bid was about $22.9 million. The department has no plans to solicit bids for operating the Burkeville facility, McGuire said.

July 27, 2012 AP
Eleven organizations sent a letter to Virginia’s governor Monday opposing offers by two companies to operate a state facility that detains violent sex offenders for treatment after their sentences are completed. State officials are considering privatization as a way to control costs of the rapidly expanding civil commitment program at the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Burkeville. The state spends about $97,000 annually to treat each offender at the 300-bed facility — more than quadruple the cost of housing a prisoner. The program’s budget has increased tenfold since it started in 2004. A report late last year by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, the General Assembly’s investigative arm, projected the number of committed offenders could reach 600 by 2016 unless something is done to slow the program’s growth. The facility now houses 289, and preparations for double-bunking are under way. “What is currently an overcrowded situation at VCBR could become dramatically worse if run by a company that increases its profits at the expense of programs and operations, including security, in the facility,” the coalition of civil rights, labor, criminal justice reform and religious organizations said in its letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell. The organizations said the companies that have submitted proposals have had problems running some facilities elsewhere. “DBHDS is taking a comprehensive look at the two private companies who proposed to run VCBR, including their successes and challenges, to determine whether privatization of the program is the right fit for Virginia,” department spokeswoman Meghan McGuire said in an email. The department received the unsolicited proposals under the state’s Public-Private Education and Infrastructure Act, which does not impose any deadline for making a decision. McGuire said that if the agency decides to proceed, its recommendation goes the Public-Private Partnership Advisory Commission. Virginia’s civil commitment program began its drastic growth spurt in 2006, when lawmakers expanded from four to 28 the number of crimes that would make an offender eligible. At the same time, the state began using a risk assessment questionnaire to measure the likelihood that offenders will commit another sex crime. Since then, the number of those determined eligible for commitment jumped from about 7 percent of all sex offenders being released from prison to about 25 percent, according to the JLARC report. The report said Virginia’s process is so flawed that some offenders could needlessly spend years locked up while others who tell officials they are likely to offend again are released. Tracy Velazquez, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute, said Virginia officials should examine their policies rather than just turn the facility over to a private operator. “There are certainly better and less expensive ways to protect public safety than the questionable practice of civil commitment,” Velazquez said. “Locking people up forever and letting people make money off of it is not a solution.”

April 30, 2012 The Washington Times
Virginia is considering privatizing its sole facility fully devoted to treating sexually violent predators, but the two companies in the running have a history of multimillion-dollar legal settlements and illicit behavior that includes a charge of "deliberate indifference" to sexual misconduct between staff and youths at a facility. The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is evaluating proposals from private prison-operating companies GEO Care Inc. and Liberty Healthcare Corp. to take over the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Burkeville because of an increase in the number of offenders and concerns about costs. GEO, a subsidiary of the Boca Raton, Fla.-based GEO Group Inc., last year sent the state an unsolicited proposal to consider privatization of the center, a psychiatric treatment facility for sex offenders who have served their prison sentences. Liberty, based in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., submitted one after the state began reviewing the GEO proposal. Meghan McGuire, a spokeswoman with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, said Virginia is "taking a comprehensive look at the private companies who proposed to run [the rehabilitation center] as we determine whether privatization of the program is the right fit for Virginia." Despite a long history of operating such facilities, the two companies have dubious records in other states. The U.S. Department of Justice in March released a scathing report after an inquiry into the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi, previously run by GEO. The state recently announced that it is seeking new management for Walnut Grove, as well as two other private prisons run by GEO. The Justice Department report concluded that the state was violating the rights of the youths incarcerated in the facility and found "deliberate indifference" to high incidences of sexual misconduct between youths and staff. A consent decree entered in March removed everyone younger than 17 from the facility and stipulated that no youths could be placed in solitary confinement in the state. Pablo Paez, a spokesman for GEO, declined to comment on the investigation into the facility but pointed out that GEO did not assume management of it until late 2010 and has since made "significant improvements." Mental health and medical staffs at the facility are employed by contract and are not GEO or state employees. Troubled histories -- GEO settled for $3 million in 2010 after a class-action lawsuit was filed in 2008 alleging unconstitutional strip searches at a Pennsylvania jail. The family of an inmate beaten to death at a GEO-run facility in Texas sued in 2006, and was awarded about $50 million by a jury, though the case ultimately was settled out of court. "They understaff, they underpay, there's high turnover," said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of the Private Corrections Working Group, which serves to provide information about problems of prison privatization. "It's a business model - they expect a certain amount of suits, they expect a certain amount of fines." GEO operates Virginia's one private prison - the 1,500-bed Lawrenceville Correctional Center. Liberty has had ignominious incidents of its own. A massive investigation and report from Florida's Department of Children and Families office of inspector general uncovered an incident at the Florida Civil Commitment Center - then run by Liberty - in 2004. A whistleblower investigation found that the facility's safety director and safety manager erased or destroyed video evidence after a resident - placed in solitary confinement after threatening to burn a female worker - was then inexplicably allowed to roam the building, after which he climbed onto the roof and jumped off. In 2006, Florida chose GEO to take the reins away from Liberty, and the company opened a 720-bed facility in 2009. But the state has consistently had to subsidize the company because the number of residents hasn't increased as quickly as projected because of changes in the state's civil commitment process. Officials with GEO Group and Liberty said it was not their policy to comment on ongoing procurement processes or proposals they submit before they become a matter of public record. All told, between 2004 and 2010, GEO contributed more than $100,000 to state politicians and groups in Virginia, including more than $30,000 to Gov. Bob McDonnell's gubernatorial and attorney general campaigns. Liberty contributed a total of $5,500 to various politicians in 2002. Ms. McGuire said the department is examining the pluses and minuses of the two companies. "We are looking into their successes and problems in other states as well as scrutinizing their responses to the very thorough request for submission we developed," she said. Mixed bag -- Despite their issues, the companies are still accredited, and may be able to help Virginia ameliorate its looming overcrowding issues. Savings for the state from fully privatizing the facility, if any, are yet to be determined, Ms. McGuire said, adding that the agency cannot comment on the proposals until negotiations are finished. Both companies claim they can double the 300-bed capacity at the facility at no additional capital cost to the state. The population at the center, currently around 280, is expected to hit 450 by 2014, and it costs the state about $91,000 per prisoner a year. Florida staff has reported that privatizing the facility has made its program more cost-effective. It costs the state about $38,300 per patient annually at the GEO-run facility. Virginia expects its cost per patient to decline to about $62,000 by 2015 as its population jumps as a result of a plan to house two occupants instead of one to a room, called double-bunking. The Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation is retrofitting the facility to prepare for potential double-bunking. Some residents have sent letters to Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II saying they will sue the state if they are double-bunked. GEO has delivered sex-offender treatment consistent with Practice Standards and Guidelines for the Treatment of Adult Male Sexual Abusers of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, according to the unsolicited proposal it sent to Virginia. Liberty told Virginia officials in its proposal that it is planning to partner with Gilbane Development Co. and the McLean-based Davis Carter Scott architectural firm to improve the facility. Gilbane developed the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation, and Davis Carter Scott designed it. But any potential gaps, loopholes or cost increases when housing the most violent of sexual predators is a tough sell to the public, Mr. Kopczynski said. "It's a standard business model - you get away with what you can get away with," he said. "They're there to make a profit. John and Jane Q. Public don't care about inmates."

May 22, 2006 Washington Post
COMPANIES THAT provide for-profit medical care to prison inmates have grown enormously in the past couple of decades, spurred by booming prison and jail populations that have strained the ability of states and cities to cope. The medical treatment they provide is generally shielded from outside scrutiny, and inmate patients are a largely powerless and voiceless constituency. That gives rise to the potential for abuse and substandard treatment without meaningful redress. Prison Health Services, the nation's largest private supplier of inmate health services, provides care and treatment to about a third of Virginia's 31,000 inmates. The company has been the target of many lawsuits, in Virginia and in other states and municipalities. In Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and a number of large cities, the firm has been accused by inmates' families, courts, and local, state and federal officials of providing shoddy, neglectful and at times harmful treatment. Last year, in a series of articles, the New York Times documented repeated instances in which treatment provided by Prison Health Services was substandard and, in some cases, led to unnecessary deaths in New York jails and prisons. In a recent report focusing on Virginia, the Associated Press quoted several inmates who said that the treatment they have received -- or failed to receive despite repeated requests -- was life-threatening. One of the inmates interviewed by the AP, Marguerite Brown, is at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women in Troy, Va., home to more than half the state's female inmates. Ms. Brown, 51, said she told prison nurses repeatedly that she was bleeding from fibroid tumors, but she was given nothing more than vitamins for anemia. Eventually she was rushed to the emergency room for a blood transfusion, she said. At the heart of some of the criticism leveled at Prison Health Services has been the charge that its pursuit of profit has led it to scrimp on the provision of decent health care. The company has denied that. But the breadth of its problems suggests that the company would benefit from ongoing and intensive monitoring to ensure that it provides adequate treatment. In a number of states, Prison Health Services and other for-profit prison health providers are under the scrutiny of a court-appointed monitor or a state agency legislatively established for that purpose. But in Virginia, Prison Health Services is watched over only by the state Corrections Department's own health services operation. That is insufficient, especially given the well-publicized problems elsewhere. Inmates may lack broad public sympathy, but they are nonetheless entitled to a decent level of medical attention. To ensure that is provided consistently over time, Virginia needs to intensify its vigilance.

May 19, 2006 The Roanoke Times
A medical contractor's nationwide track record should prod Virginia to examine such services. When we, the people of Virginia, lock up people convicted of crimes, we are responsible for their humane treatment. To ignore that responsibility is to risk doing worse to inmates in our prisons and jails than many of these convicted criminals have ever done to others. If we are indifferent to the well-being of those under our power and control, we erode principles of justice, diminish our capacity for mercy and become a more brutal society. Virginians should keep that in mind in light of a news report that 330 state prisoners filed medical grievances in 2004 against a health care contractor that provides medical services to about a third of the state's 31,000 inmates. Prison Health Services has a troublesome record of substandard care in several other states, The Associated Press reported. Virginia's Department of Corrections knows how many grievances were filed against the company here, a spokesman told AP, but it does not track how many of the complaints were found to be justified. It should. How else can the department -- and all Virginians -- judge the company's performance? Is the public not expected to care? A company spokeswoman noted that the practice of medicine everywhere "is fraught with exposure to lawsuits, and a disproportionately high number of lawsuits originate in prisons and jails." Undoubtedly. Yet it also is true that prisoners present uncommon security concerns that can affect medical judgments and lead to poor treatment. Because inmates are so generally despised by and isolated from the society outside their prison walls, inadequate care might pass unnoticed. Law-abiding citizens surely do not want to pamper lawbreakers. But prisoners writing to the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia complain that their serious medical issues are routinely neglected. Thoughtful people will not accept such pleas without question. But neither should they automatically dismiss inmate complaints as troublemaking by ne'er-do-wells with too much time on their hands. The quality of medical care in Virginia prisons bears scrutiny.

May 14, 2006 AP
A prison health care company that has come under fire nationally for what some call shoddy medical care is under contract with the Virginia Department of Corrections and stirring similar complaints here. Prison Health Services, the largest U.S. provider of health care to inmates, has been the target of lawsuits and allegations of poor medical care and neglect in other states and now provides care to about one-third of Virginia's 31,270 inmates. In 2004, 330 medical grievances were filed by inmates at the prisons using the Brentwood, Tenn., company, Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said. The department does not track how many of those grievances were deemed justified, he said. Inmates, however, in dozens of complaints shared with The Associated Press, say the care is so bad, some fear for their lives. "I know we're in prison, and I know things won't operate how they do out there--but we are not sent here to die," said Aimee Mootz, a former inmate medical aid in the infirmary at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women. Prisoners regularly received substandard care at the infirmary _ including one seriously ill inmate, Mootz said, who was often left alone by medical staff to sleep in a pool of her own vomit. PHS and the Department of Corrections argue they are unable to defend themselves against complaints because of patient confidentiality laws. A spokeswoman for the contractor would not disclose how many lawsuits have been brought against the company, but said 96 percent of such cases are dismissed before trial. "It's worth noting that the practice of medicine is fraught with exposure to lawsuits, and a disproportionately high number of lawsuits originate in prisons and jails," PHS spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern wrote in an e-mailed response to questions from the AP. "We have an excellent team of medical professionals in Virginia, and they work hard every day to provide quality medical care." Fluvanna inmate Marguerite Brown, 51, said the prison's nurses repeatedly ignored her pleas for help after she told them she'd been bleeding heavily from fibroid tumors. Brown said the nurses sent her away with vitamins for anemia. She said she eventually had to be rushed to the emergency room for a blood transfusion. "It's been rough--real rough," said Brown, serving a 13-year sentence on a variety of fraud and credit card theft charges. "If it weren't for God, I probably wouldn't know which way to go." Inmates from every prison in Virginia that uses PHS have lodged medical complaints with the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, executive director Kent Willis said. The ACLU received 167 inmate health care complaints in 2005, he said. In letters to the ACLU that were shared with the AP, inmates from PHS-run facilities complained about a variety of problems, including chronic medication shortages and constant neglect of serious medical issues. "This place is killing me," wrote Greensville Correctional Center inmate Larry AsBury, who said more than half the inmates he knows at Greensville are covered in rashes that go untreated. AsBury, who said he also suffers from tuberculosis, wrote he once waited months for a doctor to remove a cast from his broken wrist, finally becoming so frustrated he used a pair of fingernail clippers to remove the cast. Willis acknowledged that garnering public sympathy for inmates is a tough task. "You combine that with the fact that the whole process is so isolated (and) it's difficult for information critical of the services to surface," Willis said.

June 27, 2005 Times Dispatch
Medical care for a growing number of Virginia prisoners is in the hands of a company that investigators in other states say has a dubious, if not alarming, record. Independent reviews of Prison Health Services' performance in Alabama and New York found instances of improper or substandard care, in some cases involving inmates who died. Unlike in those states, there is no outside oversight of inmate medical care in Virginia, and much about the subject, including inmate medical records, is kept secret. The Virginia Department of Corrections is satisfied with the job Prison Health Services -- PHS -- is doing here, a spokesman said. As of last month, PHS, which touts itself as the largest private health-care provider for prisons and jails in the U.S., served 270,000 male, female and juvenile inmates at 384 sites in 38 states. Tennessee-based PHS now provides health services at 10 Virginia correctional facilities, including two prisons with infirmaries: the Greensville Correctional Center -- the state's largest prison -- and the Powhatan Correctional Center. In the five years that ended last June 30, Virginia spent nearly half a billion dollars on health care for its 31,000 prison inmates. The system has about 375,000 "inmate visits" for medical care each year. The company's five-year contract is worth nearly $160 million. The amount paid to PHS rose from nothing in 2000 to more than 42 percent of the department's inmate health-care budget in 2004. That concerns Jean Auldridge, executive director of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants of Virginia. She charges that inmates needlessly suffer and ailments can go untreated because of poor health care from PHS and the Department of Corrections. Inmates and their families have complained to The Times-Dispatch of a host of medical-care grievances, including instances of prescribed medication not given to inmates; unduly long waits to see doctors; rude and indifferent care; and physician referrals to specialists being cancelled by higher-ranking PHS physicians. Susan Morgenstern, a spokeswoman for PHS, said that patient confidentiality prohibits the company from discussing details of any individual's case. "Unfortunately, that means we can't defend ourselves when people make false accusations," she said. "I assure you that we have processes in place to ensure all our patients receive quality care. That's our mission, and that's what we provide in Virginia," Morgenstern said. Willis Keith, a 68-year-old inmate with chronic health problems, disagrees. He said he was sent to the Greensville Correctional Center where the medical care was supposed to be better. "Out of the approximately 3,000 inmates here, most will agree with me [that] . . . it is difficult to get an appointment with a doctor; [it] usually takes three weeks or more," he said in a June 16 letter. In Virginia, PHS is overseen by the Department of Corrections' office of health services, said Larry Traylor, spokesman for the department. Internal auditors with the department's inspector general's office also review health-care operations, he said. Traylor provided a May 11, 2004, internal audit report of the job the Office of Health Services was doing monitoring two PHS medical units and one run by the Department of Corrections. The audit found that in general there were adequate controls of the health services being provided. However, the audit also found that there needed to be better oversight of the distribution of medicine to inmates; assurances that inmates are following prescribed diets; and adequate documentation of medical procedures in inmate medical records. Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, said "our information is anecdotal, but prison health care in Virginia does not seem to have improved since the ACLU conducted a study of it in 2003." The study, which took six months and cost $20,000, reported that the Department of Corrections produces no public reports monitoring or assessing the quality of inmate medical care. "We were concerned then about PHS' expanding role in offering medical care in Virginia's prisons," Willis said. Noting criticism of PHS in other states, Willis said: "There's no reason to believe it is doing any better in Virginia." One of the ACLU's recommendations was for independent oversight of inmate health care. Serious shortcomings have been found in other states where there is more independent oversight. In April, an expert in correctional health care who monitors Alabama prisons as part of a federal court settlement, reviewed the medical charts of 22 inmate patients at a women's prison where health care is provided by PHS and found serious problems with 19 of them. Dr. Michael Puisis also faulted the records kept for all three woman who died at the prison in 2004. Gretchen N. Rohr is an Atlanta lawyer working with the Southern Poverty Law Center, a party in the suit at the Alabama women's prison. She said there is cause for concern in any state where inmate health care is being provided by a for-profit company. Rohr said that states that handle inmate medical care directly are more successful at meeting minimal standards of care. In states where there are private health-care providers, "there has to be a tremendous amount of transparency and oversight." The New York State Commission of Correction in recent years has strongly criticized PHS for errors in handling the cases of roughly two dozen inmates who died in city and state jails. James E. Lawrence, director of operations for the commission, said investigations into deaths of inmates under the care of PHS found that "some of the problems had more to do with business practices rather than simple, medical mistakes, or simple negligence." "The nature of the problems are different than you typically find in health-care lapses," he said. The problems "relate more to business practices rather than simple medical mistakes, errors and negligence." In some cases, it was found that health-care personnel, such as nurses, were routinely asked to deliver care for which they were not qualified or licensed. In such cases the nurse would earn less than the person who would be qualified to deliver the service, he said. Lawrence said cost-cutting by PHS when hiring staff has led to care-cutting for the inmates. In February, The New York Times ran a three-day series of stories about problems with PHS' performance in jails in New York and in jails and prisons in other states. "The company's performance around the nation has provoked criticism from judges and sheriffs, lawsuits from inmates' families and whistle-blowers, and condemnations by federal, state and local authorities. The company has paid millions of dollars in fines and settlements," the lead article stated. PHS referred questions to Morgenstern, with the public-relations firm of Dye, Van Mol & Lawrence in Nashville, Tenn. Morgenstern said part of the reason the company has been the subject of negative media coverage is because inmates have generally poor health and that the health care must sometimes be provided in difficult circumstances. "When they enter the correctional setting and become our patients, they are much less healthy than the general public," she said. "They may not have had access to health care, and have undiagnosed/untreated chronic conditions. There are high levels of HIV, hepatitis, diabetes, hypertension, respiratory problems." "As you know, anyone can make an allegation about care, but that does not mean it's true," she said. "We are in the position of being unable to discuss the topic . . . because of patient confidentiality." Morgenstern said the premise that PHS puts business interests ahead of patient care is false. PHS, she said, has never denied necessary medical care because that would be wrong "and a violation of the company's values and mission. Secondarily, it would also be a bad business practice" Morgenstern said that charges by New York officials about PHS performance there "are subjective, without basis of fact and political in nature." She said Lawrence is opposed to the privatization of health care in jails and prisons. Beginning in the fall of 2001, PHS has requested to meet with the New York State Commission Of Correction to respond to allegations, Morgenstern said. "All requests, both written and verbal, have been denied. Specific denial in writing by the [commission's] general counsel was received in May 2003," she said. But a spokeswoman for the Commission of Correction said PHS has never sought meetings between its clinical leadership or physician-executives and the commission's Medical Review Board to discuss PHS' performance in specific cases. "The commission has only been approached by PHS' business agents, corporate officers, attorneys and lobbyists in attempts to influence agency policy," Jessica Scaperotti said. Scaperotti said that when the commission's Medical Review Board "seeks interaction with PHS on specific cases, it encounters only attorneys. In fact, PHS unsuccessfully sued the commission to suppress Medical Review Board reports in 2002, not an auspicious approach to establishing the dialogue it claims to seek." Traylor said that last year Virginia inmates filed 1,037 inmate medical grievances. The number of such grievances filed against PHS -- 31 percent -- was roughly proportionate to the percentage of Virginia inmates under PHS care. Traylor could not say how many of those complaints were deemed justified by the department's Office of Health Services. He said that the Department of Corrections does not pay PHS for positions that are not filled. Those assessments against PHS have averaged roughly $40,000 per institution per year over the past four years. Morgenstern contends the assessments -- which have totaled $1,622,437 -- are the result of normal turnover. The positions remain unfilled while replacements are found and cleared to work in prisons, a process that can take 30 days. According to company records, the assessments have dropped from almost $600,000 in 2002 to $309, 901 last year. Traylor said the primary reason the department sought a private medical-care contractor is because they are better able to recruit medical staff for the prisons with better salaries, more flexible schedules and recruitment bonuses that the department cannot match. Traylor said the department is not concerned about the job PHS is performing in spite of negative reports elsewhere.

November 21, 2003
Legal action over the stun-gun death of an inmate has led to a third settlement, this one involving the company that once provided medical care at Virginia's supermax prisons.  Correctional Medical Services of St. Louis recently agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of Larry Frazier. The Connecticut inmate died three years ago after being shocked repeatedly with a stun gun during a struggle with guards in the infirmary of Wallens Ridge State Prison.  An order dismissing the case was filed this week in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.  John Fishwick, a Roanoke attorney who represents Frazier's family, said the amount was confidential as part of the settlement.  Although CMS employees did not handle the stun gun, the lawsuit accused them of nonetheless contributing to Frazier's death.  Shortly before Frazier was shocked, Dr. Larry Howard told guards that the inmate's actions were behavioral, not medical, according to an investigation by state officials. Had the case gone to trial, Fishwick would have argued that Howard's comments amounted to an authorization of use of force at a time when Frazier's legitimate medical needs were being ignored.  Also, the lawsuit claimed that CMS officials did not use a defibrillator that might have saved Frazier's life after he suffered heart failure. Howard did not know the medical device was in a nearby office; a nurse knew it was there but had not been trained to use it, according to court records.  As for CMS, a state audit conducted in 2000 found the company had been assessed more than $900,000 in penalties for not complying with standards in its contract. CMS no longer provides health care at Wallens Ridge or Red Onion.  (Roanoke.com)

October 24, 2003
The state of Virginia has settled its part in a $204 million lawsuit filed by the family of an inmate from Connecticut who died after being shocked repeatedly with a stun gun.  The agreement, made public Thursday in U.S. District Court, allows Virginia to avoid a trial that would have examined the use of force at Wallens Ridge State Prison. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.  The Virginia Department of Corrections has denied that excessive force led to Larry Frazier's death about three years ago. And in the agreement, it acknowledged no wrongdoing, said Larry Traylor, a state prisons spokesman. The lawsuit's defendants had included a group of state prison administrators and employees.  David Fathi, an attorney for the National Prison Project, said he was not surprised by the news. "I think the department was wise to settle," he said. "Based on everything I know about the facts, they had substantial liability."  Still remaining as defendants in the lawsuit are Correctional Medical Services, which provided health care at Wallens Ridge, and a doctor and nurse formerly employed by the St. Louis company. The trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 17.  "We are looking forward to trying the case against the three remaining defendants," said John Fishwick, a Roanoke attorney representing Frazier's family.  Frazier, a 50-year-old convicted rapist who suffered from diabetes and other health problems, was one of 500 prisoners from Connecticut being held in Virginia prisons under a state contract.  He was taken to the Wallens Ridge infirmary on June 29, 2000. When he began to thrash about on his gurney and kick correctional officers, he was shocked several times with the stun gun, prison officials said. He was discovered unconscious some minutes later.  He died five days later at a Richmond hospital.  After Frazier's death, Virginia correctional officials hired an outside consultant to review the incident. The consultant found that Frazier died from "chronic medical conditions" complicated by his struggle with guards. Use of the stun gun played no role in the inmate's death, the consultant found.  However, an autopsy the following year found the stun gun might have played a role in Frazier's death, prompting the Department of Corrections to suspend use of the device.  After filing the lawsuit last year, Fishwick discovered that Larry Howard, the Correctional Medical Services doctor involved in Frazier's care, was fired after saying the stun gun appeared to have killed the inmate. In addition, a medical device that might have saved Frazier was never used after he suffered heart failure.  The state of Connecticut already has agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle a separate lawsuit with the inmate's family. The family has said that Frazier's medical condition made him unsuitable for the maximum security prison in Wise County.  (AP)

September 9, 2003
Several suppliers to state prison commissaries are suing the Department of Corrections to end a privatization plan they say is hurting Virginia businesses.  In a lawsuit filed in Richmond Circuit Court, three Virginia-based vendors claim the corrections department is breaking the law by allowing a private company, Keefe Supply Co. of St. Louis, to use inmate labor in the prison commissaries Keefe Supply is operating.  "You can't provide inmate labor to a private enterprise as a subsidy," said Ian J. Wilson, a lawyer for the Richmond firm Hirschler Fleischer PC, which is representing the plaintiffs.  A spokesman for the Department of Corrections declined to comment on the lawsuit filed last week.  Traditionally, prison officials have managed commissaries, where inmates can buy toiletries, snacks, paper and other items. Officials at each prison have chosen their own vendors through competitive bidding.  That began to change in 2002 when the agency started to privatize commissaries. The state contracted with Keefe Supply to take over the management of five commissaries in a pilot program. Keefe Supply's contract has since been expanded to include 28 more prisons, according to the suit.  The corrections department has said the privatization will save the state $1.2 million a year. Ten other prison commissaries are run by the agency.  The three plaintiffs are Highland Beef Farms Inc., a Reston-based supplier of packaged meats and cheeses; Ashland-based Virginia Snacks Inc., a supplier of snack foods; and Roanoke-based Lee Hartman & Sons Inc., which supplies electronics such as radios.  They argue that the privatization is hurting Virginia businesses by essentially granting a monopoly to a company based in another state.  The owner of Virginia Snacks said the loss of commissary sales would put him out of business.  Jay Hersch, owner of Highland Beef Farms, said he will lose about $200,000 a year in sales because several commissaries he once supplied have come under Keefe Supply's management. The company has its own supply chain.  "What I want to do is stop the privatization," Hersch said. "I want it to be open so it is competitive, so companies like mine have a shot."  Keefe Supply pays the department a monthly commission of 6.5 percent on all sales. Inmates work in the commissaries, and Keefe Supply reimburses the state for the labor. Inmates are typically paid 35 to 45 cents an hour.  The lawsuit claims that violates state law, which allows the department to provide inmate labor only for government, nonprofit or civic organizations.  Wilson said corrections department documents show that the privatization plan "always envisioned that the state would allow access to inmate labor, at a very low cost."  "We think that the privatization program is founded on the use of inmate labor, which is inconsistent with the statute governing the department of corrections," he said. "If that falls, it really taints the program."  (Times-Dispatch)

Virginia Tech University
CCA

February 3, 2006 Collegiate Times
For the Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc., social responsibility is not on the radar when investing its endowment. “Why should it be?” asked Raymond Smoot, the chief operating officer of the foundation. The foundation invests $5.1 million of it's $728 million in total assets and managed funds in Farallon Capital Management LLC, one of the world's largest hedge funds. Smoot reported that the Foundation began the investment with Farallon in 2000. Farallon, a hedge fund favorite among several university-affiliated institutions, including Duke University, the University of Richmond and Yale, has raised concerns among students and alumni. Phoebe Rounds, a Yale undergrad, explained that Yale was the first to pioneer the investments in hedge funds and continued the practice because of the high monetary return. In order to receive the money, she explained that Yale ignored some social issues involved with Farallon. “(Yale) got returns in the double digits, but wasn't thinking about the context of the entire world,” she said. Rounds, the spokesperson for UnFairallon, a coalition of activist students seeking to publicize Farallon's investments, explained that Yale students became suspicious of the company's investment in the Corrections Corporation of America, the largest prison company in America. CCA has been condemned by Amnesty International for human rights violations. UnFairallon has accused the hedge fund for investing in companies that do not adhere to environmental regulations. “I think a lot of people are looking the other way and that's why it's so important to step up and start investigating these investments,” she said.

Wallens Ridge Prison
Big Stone Gap, Virginia
Virginia Department of Corrections

October 13, 2003
A medical device that could have saved Larry Frazier's life went unused as he lapsed into a coma after being shocked repeatedly with a stun gun in a prison infirmary, lawyers for the inmate's family say.  The allegation, made in motion filed last week in federal court, adds a new layer to a $204 million lawsuit that raises questions about conditions at Wallens Ridge State Prison.  When it was filed last year, the lawsuit claimed that Frazier's death was the result of excessive force by stun gun-wielding guards and inadequate medical care by Correctional Medical Services, a private company that provided health care to inmates at the supermax prison.  The latest claim, which attorneys for Frazier's family say they only recently discovered, is that an automatic external defibrillator that would have saved the inmate's life was not used to revive him. Frazier suffered heart failure on June 29, 2000, after being shocked with an Ultron II, a stun gun that releases 50,000 volts of electricity.  A CMS doctor who treated Frazier did not know the defibrillator was available, and a nurse for the company knew it was at the prison but had not been trained to use it, according to a motion filed by John Fishwick, a Roanoke attorney who represents Frazier's family.  Despite knowing since 1998 the value of a defibrillator, which shocks the heart into beating again, CMS failed to promptly provide the devices to staff members in all the prisons it served, the motion states.  (The Roanoke Times)

August 15, 2003
A prison doctor was fired after concluding that electric shocks from a guard's stun gun killed an inmate, according to papers filed in federal court.  The private company that provided medical services at Wallens Ridge State Prison said it dismissed Dr. Larry Eugene Howard because the state Department of Corrections barred him from the Wise County prison.  A $204 million lawsuit accuses guards of killing Wallens Ridge inmate Larry Frazier with the Ultron II electroshock device in July 2000. Frazier was one of a number of prisoners from Connecticut being held in Virginia prisons under a state contract.  Documents filed Thursday allege that Correctional Medical Services Inc. terminated its contract with Howard almost immediately after he told his employer and state corrections officials that he believed Frazier died as a result of the repeated shocks.  Howard's opinion contradicted a state medical examiner's report that Frazier, 50, died because of a heart problem ``due to stress while being restrained following stunning with Ultron II device.'' The examiner determined the death was ``natural.''  The corrections department nevertheless has suspended use of the Ultron II device.  Howard was the physician on call June 29, 2000, the day Frazier struggled with Wallens Ridge guards and was zapped with 50,000 volts of electricity as guards pinned him to a gurney. He lapsed into a coma and died five days later.  Asked at a July 10, 2000, meeting in Richmond for his opinion on the cause of Frazier's death, Howard recalled saying, ``I think it was a result of him being stunned,'' according to his deposition. He said a company representative called him on his cell phone to fire him as he drove back to Big Stone Gap after the meeting.  (AP)

March 15, 2002
Connecticut has agreed to pay nearly $2 million to settle lawsuits involving the deaths of two inmates it sent to a controversial supermax prison in Wise County . According to an attorney involved in the case, the Department of Correction will pay $1.1 million to the estate of Lawrence Frazier, who died after guards shocked him repeatedly with a stun gun at Wallens Ridge State Prison. Another $750,000 will go to the estate of David Tracy, a mentally ill 20-year-old who had less than a year left to serve when he committed suicide at Wallens Ridge, a prison designed for hard-core inmates with little hope of release. Antonio Ponvert, a Bridgeport , Conn. , attorney who represented the inmates' families, said prison officials never should have transferred 500 of the state's inmates to Wallens Ridge in 1999, considering the prison's reputation. (The Roanoke Times)

May 31, 2001
Seventy-two inmates from Wyoming are the latest out-of-state prisoners at a Virginia supermax.  The inmates were transferred last week from the Wyoming State Penitentiary to Wallens Ridge State Prison in Wise County.  The highly restrictive prison, designed to hold the "worst of the worst" inmates, was just what Wyoming officials had in mind for the transfer.  The inmates made the 1,300-mile trip Friday on a jet operated by the U.S. Marshals Service.  In addition to the Wyoming inmates, there are 139 prisoners from Connecticut, 40 from New Mexico, one from Washington, D.C., and one from Hawaii.  Statewide, Virginia prisons are holding 3,376 out-of-state prisoners as the result of a massive prison-building campaign that left the state with more cells than inmates.  (The Roanoke Times)

A Connecticut inmate, Lawrence Frazier, said he nearly died because he was not given his insulin during a 22-hour trip to Virginia. After arriving at the facility, he continued to have problems getting insulin and medical care.  Frazier died July 4 after being shocked several times by a stun gun.  An investigation into his death and that of David Tracy has begun by the U.S. Justice Department and the F.B.I. 

July 2000
Two deaths of inmates from Connecticut and charges of abuse plague this for-profit public prison. (AP, July 19, 2000)

February 27, 2003
Wackenhut Corrections Corporation (NYSE: WHC - News), announced on February 5, 2003 that it had been selected to negotiate with the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) and Department of Correctional Education (DCE) to operate the Lawrenceville Correctional Center, a 1,536-bed medium security, adult male prison in Lawrenceville, Virginia.  WCC has recently been informed that the DOC has determined that it must negotiate with two bidders, rather than one bidder, prior to awarding the contract to operate the Lawrenceville facility. Accordingly, both WCC and Corrections Corporation of America are currently in negotiations with the DOC and the DCE for the contract to operate the Lawrenceville facility. A decision as to which party will be awarded the contract is expected shortly.  (Yahoo Finance)

February 7, 2003
A rival of Corrections Corporation of America yesterday said it was selected to negotiate with Virginia to operate a prison now run by CCA. Pending a final agreement, Wackenhut Corrections Corp. said it expects on March 23 to begin operating the 1,536-bed prison in Lawrenceville , Va. ''This is a pretty rare event,'' said James Macdonald, an analyst with First Analysis in Chicago , about a prison firm losing a contract up for rebidding. If Wackenhut takes over the contract, it would mean an annual after-tax loss of 3 to 4 cents a share for CCA, Macdonald said. (Tennessean.com)

February 5, 2003
Wackenhut Corrections Corporation has been selected to negotiate with the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Corrections and Department of Correctional Education to operate the Lawrenceville Correctional Center, a 1,536-bed medium security, adult male prison in Lawrenceville, Virginia.  (Yahoo Finance)