private prison

West Virginia Poised to Join Shameful Trend of Shipping Prisoners Out-of-State

In October we caught wind that West Virginia Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein is looking to transfer and house up to 400 prisoners out-of-state in attempts to alleviate prison overcrowding at home.  

According to the West Virginia Gazette, representatives from two private prison companies — Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and Community Education Centers (CEC) — attended a mandatory pre-bid conference and were able to submit bids for the contract on November 5th.  The conference was open to other state departments interested in bidding on the deal, but only the two private contractors attended to express interest.  The opening of those bids has been postponed twice. They are now set for December 5th.    

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A Double Dose of Privatization Pitfalls

A prison physician – Dr. Mark E. Walden - has been accused of sexually abusing at least 25 men incarcerated at two separate private prisons in New Mexico.  Alleged abuses began in 2010 and include excessive and inappropriate digital anal penetration and probing during examinations, according to lawsuits.  

The allegations against Walden point to a double dose of privatization gone amuck.  [node:read-more:link]

Privatized Mental Health Services is Bad Medicine

Last week we began a conversation about the privatization of services within correctional facilities, highlighting Ohio Governor John Kasich’s move to privatize food service throughout the state’s prison system, including juvenile detention facilities.  Today we want to examine another vital service that has been increasingly seized by private providers – health care, specifically mental health services, within correctional facilities.  

The high prevalence of mental illness among incarcerated populations is given little public attention.  In 2005, more than half of our country’s incarcerated population, a total of more than 1.2 million people, had a diagnosed mental health condition.  This fact should give us pause and raise national concerns about how mental health care is addressed in correctional settings.  Perhaps this crisis would seem more compelling if people knew that incarcerated persons with mental health issues have lower rates of employment, high rates of substance dependence or abuse, high rates of homelessness, and high prevalence of violent offenses – all of which have far reaching, negative effects.  It’s clear that mental illness among incarcerated populations is a serious, systemic issue with dire consequences for all of us. 

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