Grassroots Leadership Blog

Action in Arizona: CCA, GO AWAY!

On May 1st, we announced a series of protests and informational events that are taking place around the country in opposition of for-profit incarceration and Corrections Corporation of America’s celebrations of their 30th anniversary this year.  Collectively, organizers across the nation are sending a message to CCA  that thirty years of profiting from pain is nothing to celebrate! 


The first event took place on Tuesday in Washington, DC where civil rights leaders, people of faith, criminal justice reform groups, and immigrant rights organizations protested outside CCA’s Correctional Treatment Facility. In preparation for the event, Seema Sadanandan, ACLU organizer in DC, gave three reasons why everyone should join the Public Safety and Justice Campaign, citing the deaths of Juan Villanueva and Catlin Carithers in CCA’s Adams County Correctional Center in Mississippi.  


Adding Insult to Injury: CCA "honors" Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

After two puzzling celebrations -- Black History Month and Women's History Month -- CCA is back at it, this time with Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  We have our own ideas about CCA's treatment of people of color and, after the jump, a special message from Kat Brady, our ally in Hawai'i and longtime activist for criminal justice in her state.

Not surprisingly, Hawai'i incarcerates the largest proportion of Asian American and Asian Pacific Islander (API) individuals, and more than 1,700 people from Hawai'i are incarcerated in CCA facilities on the mainland.  As a result, Asian/API men are disproportionately represented in CCA facilities relative to state-operated facilities.  In state-operated facilities, Asian/API men represent 63% of the total population, whereas in out-of-state CCA facilities Asian/API men represent 69% of the total population.  These facts make CCA's latest public relations exploit of people of color particularly nauseating.  It's Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and you-know-who is "honoring" it!  In his commemorative blog post, CCA CEO Damon Hininger writes,

"Last year, I visited Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, Calif. I was inspired by the preservation of history and values in the midst of other cultural influences in L.A. The fact that it remains a close-knit community is evidence that we all carry the strength to keep traditions alive and uphold standards set before us at CCA."

We had no idea that CCA holds up the preservation of history, traditions and culture and standards for their company!  We decided to reach out to our new friend in Hawai'i, Kat Brady, to see what she knows about Hawai'i's incarcerated population in CCA facilities.  


Humpday Repeat Offender: Idaho

Something is rotten in the state of Idaho.

We have two troubling developments to report on: first, that the state is once again sending people to prison beds in other states; secondly, that Corrections Corporation of America's Idaho Correctional Center continues to put thousands of incarcerated people in danger every day due to negligence.


Humpday Hall of Shame: Terry Stewart Strikes Back

A year and a half after his induction, Terry Stewart is making a return appearance on the Humpday Hall of Shame.  Stewart has a checkered past in corrections, dating back to his time as the Arizona Department of Corrections director from 1995 to 2002 and, most recently, in a questionable deal between Arizona and private prison health care provider Corizon.

Since he left his post as ADOC director, Stewart has made a healthy career in the prison industrial complex.  In 2003, he started his own prison privatization consulting firm, Advanced Correctional Management, and began hawking for-profit private prisons to his own former co-workers as a consultant for companies like MTC (Management and Training Corporation) and Corizon Correctional Healthcare.


GEO Group Stadium is no more!

Instead of our usual Humpday Hall of Shame post, we have good news to report this week: yesterday, GEO Group announced that it would no longer be buying the naming rights to Florida Atlantic University’s new football stadium.  In February, we covered an arranement between GEO Group and FAU in which GEO would pay six million dollars over twelve years in exchange for its logo emblazoned across the stadium.  University president Mary Jane Saunders faced immediate backlash from her own students, as well as organizations and individuals across the country.  Over 70,000 people signed petitions online and Grassroots Leadership helped organize 60 organizations to sign on to a public letter to Saunders and the FAU Board of Trustees (circulated by Grassroots Leadership).  Even FAU's faculty senate condemned the deal.


Colorado at a Crossroads

Colorado has a great opportunity to close some of their prisons.  The state’s incarcerated population is decreasing even faster than anticipated, which, at just over 20,000 total incarcerated persons, is down to what officials expected to see in two and a half years.  Serious crime is down by a third since 2002; restructured sentencing is sending fewer and fewer people back to prison for parole violations.  All in all, the state has 7,500 fewer people behind bars [node:read-more:link]