Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is the largest for-profit prison company in the U.S.. In May 2013, CCA boasted that they are the “clear leader of private prisons, controlling approximately 44% of the private corrections and detention beds in the United States.” CCA operates 69 correctional and detention facilities, including 49 that it owns, in 20 States and the District of Columbia.
CCA is responsible for repeated violations of human rights.
On July 16th, 2008 in Tennessee Plaintiff Frank D. Horton had a history of psychiatric treatment and was considered a special needs inmate when he arrived in 2005 at the Metro Davidson County Detention Facility, a prison operated by CCA.
Because of behavioral problems, he was placed in the segregation unit, where he was isolated from most of the prison population.
Officer Patrick Perry from the detention facility noticed something was wrong with Mr. Horton. His cell was filthy with food trays on the floor, bacteria growing in the toilet, and Mr. Horton himself dirty and speaking ‘gibberish’.
Perry read the reports when he realized Mr. Horton had not left his cell for nine months; he immediately took copies of the records and photos to the facility’s quality assurance manager. Subsequently when Perry realized nothing was done he brought the records to the County Health Department and the next day he was fired.
Mr. Horton was transferred to a Special Needs Facility, diagnosed with schizophrenia and is now in a mental health facility. “[His conservator Mary] Braswell filed her complaint on July 16, 2008, alleging that CCA violated Horton’s Eighth Amendment rights by failing to provide him with mental health care, subjecting him to inhumane conditions of confinement, and failing to protect him from other inmates and CCA employees.”[i] The district court granted CCA’s motion for summary judgment, but the 6th Circuit reversed that decision. The case is still active.
Corazon de Tucson, a campaign partner, in its report, The Corrections Corporation of America, How CCA abuses prisoners, manipulates the public and destroys communities[ii] and the ACLU in its report, Banking on Bondage document the abuses of prisoners by CCA. Some of the findings include:
- “CCA has exposed untold numbers of inmates to extreme and dangerous violations of their most basic rights. Prisoners routinely experience physical abuse, sexual violence, medical negligence and poor conditions and overcrowding.
- CCA expends hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to exert its political will through lobbying, campaign donations and partnering with the American Legislative Exchange Council. CCA’s political activities amount to shameless profiteering designed to secure new revenue for the company regardless of the cost to society.
- CCA has damaged the health of communities wherever it operates, with a particularly negative impact in Arizona. The Eloy Detention Center and SB 1070 are two examples of the profound ways in which CCA facilities and political interventions negatively impact community, family and individual health.“[iii]
Both reports document egregious abuses of prisoners, including the following examples of what the ACLU terms a “culture of brutality”, caused in part by CCA’s failure to provide adequate staffing in its facilities and to take action against the employees who perpetrated abuse. Below are two examples from the reports:
Idaho Correctional Center in Boise: this prison became so violent that both prisoners and guards referred to it as “Gladiator School”. Guards exposed prisoners to beatings by other prisoners as a disciplinary action and then denied them medical care.
Torrance County Detention Facility: The Bureau of Justice Statistics, in a 2007 survey, found that it had the highest rate of sexual violence in the country, estimating that 13.4 percent of prisoners suffered from sexual assault, compared to 3.2 percent of prisoners held in local jails. In the years since this study, CCA has failed to rein in its employees. In one case a CCA staff person abused a prisoner in her cell while her infant slept in a nearby crib.
A July 2012 report by Truthout details the work done by detainees in private detention facilities at the rate of $1 per day.[iv] Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) terms this “voluntary” and the payment an “allowance.” People who are denied the right to work on the outside are employed in detention facilities as manual laborers, in the kitchens and libraries. The money they “earn” is paid into their commissary account and used, for the most part, to buy food, phone cards and personal care items (soap, shampoo, toothbrushes). This money, provided by ICE, makes its way back into the pockets of the owners of the prison.
[i] Braswell v. CCA, 419 F. App’x 622, 623-24 (6th Cir. 2011); see also David Reutter, Summary Judgment for CCA Reversed in Filthy Jail Conditions Case, Prison Legal News, Nov. 11, at 18-19, available at https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/(S(mhpqbarjly5jcz455uifs155))/includes/_public/_issues/pln_2011/11pln11.pdf.
[ii] The Corrections Corporation of America How CCA Abuses Prisoners, Manipulates the Public and Destroys Communities. Rep. Corazon De Tucson, Jan. 2012. Web. <http://www.privateci.org/private_pics/corazon-cca-report.pdf>.
[iv] Kunichoff, Yana. “”Voluntary” Work Program Run in Private Detention Centers Pays Detained Immigrants $1 a Day.” Truthout. N.p., 27 July 2012. Web. <http://truth-out.org/news/item/10548-voluntary-work-program-run-in-private-detention-centers-pays-detained-immigrants-1-a-day>.