Humpday Hall of Shame: Is CCA running prisons or fraternities?

For many who are incarcerated and detained, visitation is a lifeline to the community that awaits them in the free world.  The ability to see visitors, which is highly regulated in most carceral facilities, is so powerful that it is generally utilized as a tool to incentivize “good” behavior and compliance with the rules and the culture of prison.  Making visits to prisons, jails and detention centers can be arduous for family and friends who often travel long distances, draw on financial resources, and wait in long lines to connect with the people that they love and care about.  Peoples’ commitment to make these visits is an important public service for helping to ensure community ties and support networks when prisoners are released; factors well-known to have positive impacts on recidivism rates.     

We are appalled to learn of CCA’s recent humiliation of a female visitor, a regular, to one of their Tennessee facilities where she was forced by guards to expose her genitals to prove that she was menstruating.  According to a federal lawsuit filed this week, despite already being cleared through one security checkpoint and offering to relinquish the sanitary napkin that prompted the scrutiny, she was not free to leave the facility without being searched.

The suit claims such practices, which are apparently standard procedure at this facility, are unconstitutional and asks that the policy be banned.  We view such a violent act as sexist harassment and dehumanization aimed at deterring loved ones from making visits, thereby also harassing the prisoners who receive them because of the high value placed on visitation by those who are incarcerated.  What’s more, it is our opinion, based on decades of tracking this company, that similar types of harassment and denigration are commonplace practice in CCA facilities around the country.  

Beyond this particular incident, what’s especially concerning to us is the fact that CCA is also the company running the Dilley family detention camp in South Texas which is slated to house 2,400 women and children who have come to the Texas-Mexico border seeking asylum. The last time CCA operated a family detention center, the facility became a national shame over the human rights abuses of immigrant parents and children inside.  If female visitors to CCA-run facilities are treated with such inhumanity, we have to wonder how women and children under CCA supervision are treated.

Shame on you, CCA.  Holding a woman against her will and forcing her to expose herself sounds more like a fraternity party than a routine security screening.