Humpday Hall of Shame: 30 Years of CCA

Welcome to The Hump Day Hall of Shame:  Every Wednesday we highlight the private prison industry’s influence on public policy through campaign contributions, lobbying, and the revolving door of public and private corrections.

30 years ago, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) became the first for-profit company to contract with governments to operate correctional facilities.  They are the founders of the industry and, though other companies have joined the prison business, CCA continues to be the largest provider of private corrections in the United States.  As a company they have announced a year-long celebration of their successes and industry leadership.  As an advocacy community opposed to prison privatization we will also be commemorating this anniversary as a call to action to put an end to profiteering from incarceration.

Ten years ago Grassroots Leadership published a comprehensive report on CCA; in the years following, Grassroots Leadership and our partners have continued documenting CCA’s egregious history.  Some of the highlights from our blog and the folks over at Texas Prison Bid’ness are below.

At 30 years old CCA and the private prison industry should be retired.  We will be working with our partners this year to continue exposing the abuses of the private prison industry, their influence on policy-making, and the enormous profits that are derived from locking people up.   With this momentum we want to put an end to private corrections for good.

From the Grassroots Leadership blog:  

  • December 5, 2012: CCA operated Dawson State Jail is exposed by Dallas’ CBS 11 reporter, Ginger Allen, for a rash of preventable deaths inside their walls, including a premature baby born into a toilet who only lived 4 days.
  • November 7, 2012: CCA officers were involved in a high school lockdown in Arizona.  Is CCA branching out into another profit-making realm – criminalizing kids?
  • April 25, 2012: Former Democratic Arizona Senator Dennis DeConcini draws protests for his role on the board of CCA and the company’s role in operating immigration detention centers.
  • April 4, 2012: Despite a long run of horror stories and lawsuits involving private prison corporations, Idaho continues to contract with private prison companies like CCA… perhaps because CCA has donated more than $119,000 in campaign contributions to Idaho politicians since 2002.
  • March 28, 2012: The CCA run Idaho Correctional Center earns reputation as one of the most violent correctional centers in the nation with the name “Gladiator School”.  Courthouse News reported that a man inside claimed CCA prison guards “instigated – and watched – a gang fight that left him brutally beaten and unconscious”.
  • October 20, 2011: A report by the Private Corrections Institute on TN private prisons revealed that despite the fact that two of the three for-profit facilities – all three of which are operated by CCA – are supposed to be minimum security facilities, they consistently had higher incident rates than their publicly-operated counterparts, most of which had higher security designations.
  • October 12, 2011: Former Chief of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Harley Lappin, (who “retired” after a DUI arrest) becomes Chief Correctional Officer for CCA.
  • August 18, 2011: CCA continues to profit off immigrant detention despite increasing incidents of abuse in CCA run immigrant detention centers.

From Texas Prison Bid’ness:

  • Tuesday, January 1, 2013: Our biggest story of the year is the growing campaign to close the Dawson State Jail, the site of recent tragic preventable deaths.
  • Monday, December 31, 2012 – Last year, 48 governors rejected CCA’s proposal for twenty-year contracts to run prisons in their states.
  • Thursday, October 18, 2012 – Ginger Allen at CBS DWF has uncovered multiple deaths at DSJ and brought them into the public eye.
  • Monday, July 16, 2012 - A young woman at DSJ, who had been denied any form of prenatal care, gave birth in solitary confinement when there were no medical personal in the facility.  The baby died four days later in the hospital.
  • Tuesday, July 3, 2012 – A previously healthy 30-year old woman died of penumonia in the DSJ.  She had been denied medical care or antibiotics until near the end of her life.
  • Monday, April 23, 2012 - CCA is fighting a shareholder resolution, submitted by prison rape activist Alex Friedmann, that would require bi-annual reports on sexual assault in its facilities.
  • Saturday, March 10, 2012 – CCA’s proposal to Ohio contained blatant lies about its practices and “successes.”
  • Wednesday, March 7, 2012 – A coalition of Texan and national groups oppose CCA’s bid to purchase a prison in Texas.
  • Tuesday, February 21, 2012 – CCA wrote a letter to 48 governors proposing twenty year prison contracts with 90% guaranteed occupancy rate.
  • Tuesday, November 15, 2011 – After numerous reports of contraband, largely cell phones, CCA sent a placating letter to Governor Perry.
  • Thursday, December 2, 2010 – Lobbyists with close ties to legislators, like Michael Toomey and Lionel Aguirre, are now making thousands working for CCA.
  • Friday, September 3, 2010 – CCA spent nearly a quarter million trying to prevent laws like the Safe Prisons Act from impeding their profits.
  • Friday, August 20, 2010 – The CEO of CCA signed 166,000 stock options over to employees.  He still holds $13 million in company stock.
  • Wednesday, July 7, 2010 – CCA proposed bingo nights and movie screenings as ways to make detention more humane after allegations of sexual abuse.
  • Tuesday, April 13, 2010 – A riot at CCA’s Eden Detention Center raised question about treatment at the facility.
  • Tuesday, July 14, 2009 – A man died of an asthma attack in CCA’s Willacy Unit after being denied the use of his emergency inhaler.
  • Tuesday, May 5, 2009 – A man was hospitalized from an assault at CCA’s Mineral Wells facility.
  • Friday, March 28, 2008 – Suspicious changes without explanation at the Mineral Wells Prison led to worry about treatment inside the facility.
  • Monday, November 26, 2007 – A former warden at the CCA-run Laredo Processing Center sued for wrongful termination because of his race and age.
  • Thursday, May 31, 2007 – Two people escaped from CCA’s Mineral Wells “pre-parole” facility, leading to questions about Texas’s parole system.
  • Wednesday, May 23, 2007 –  An employee at the Hutto Detention Center was fired for “inappropriate contact” with a detained woman.
  • Sunday, May 13, 2007 – A federal court awarded several victories to families who had been detained at Hutto in spite of ICE’s protests.
  • Thursday, May 10, 2007 – ICE denied access into the Hutto Detention Center to a UN expert on protecting migrants from abuse.