Posts Tagged ‘Private Prisons’

This is a true story about a friend of mine that was killed in a private prison.  Around the year 1996, Washington, DC started sending some of its inmates to a private prison in Youngstown, Ohio (CCA Ohio).  The agreement was that DC was to send low and medium security inmates to this prison. Rather than stick to this agreement they sent majority of maximum security inmates there. Mixed in with those inmates were inmates that had lower and medium security status.

Some of these lower and medium security inmates had never been around max custody inmates, therefore, they were easy victims. Most of them were assaulted, robbed, and harmed in other ways. For the max inmates it was the first time, for many of them, they were not caged in cells 23 hours a day. I had some friends that were in max (The Wall) years before being sent to this open population prison.

So, it goes without saying that most of them did not know how to respond to this new found sense of freedom. They were allowed to roam and mix and mingle with other people. They were able to hold and touch their loved ones on visits. Sadly, some of these privileges were abused and delinquency was pretty much rampant.

I was still in Lorton at the time that they were opening up this prison. I knew many people that were sent there. I was supposed to transfer there but I got into some trouble and was sent to the hole. Prior to going to the hole a friend of mine, I will not mention his name, was assaulted and sent to the hole. He stayed in the hole for about 30 days before being sent to Ohio. Due to the nature of what happened to him they had to separate him from quite a few people.

About 6 months after he was sent there I ended up in the hole. The second day I was in the hole a guy yelled down the tier to me. He says that a guy just got killed in Ohio. That it was in the papers and he was sending the paper down the tier for me to read. While he was yelling this out to me I had this feeling that it was my friend. I don’t know what it is but I seem to have a keen sense of things when they are not right. 90% of the time I am right.

Later that night the paper reached me and sure enough it was my friend. I knew his real name and there is was in black and white. Dead from multiple stab wounds.

One thing I found out when they began sending DC prisoners to CCA Ohio is that CCA was a company where one can openly trade and buy stocks. That used to be the talk of the prison. How in the hell can they send us to a joint where there is no telling who has invested stocks in the place??? So, for the sake of having something to do and talk about, I would get the papers and follow the company CCA.  How they traded, the price of stocks etc.

After this killing the company pulled from the market.  They were no longer listed in the papers.  I wondered about this for some time. I knew that it had something to do with the killing but did not know the facts.

About a year after this event I was sent to CCA Arizona. It was here that I met the guys that were shipped from CCA Ohio. They ended up closing the prison to DC prisoners, but they could not just opt out of the contract they had with DC.  So they just split the guys up.  Some ended up in Arizona, New Mexico, and Tennessee.  I just happen to be shipped to Arizona with some of the guys that were present when this killing happened.  The guys that did it got life on top of the life sentences they already had.  One happened to be there with me.  Actually he and I were cell-mates for about 6 months.

I will not go into the details of all that happened.  I will say that one of the guys that killed him was also in the hole for killing a guy in open population.  So, he caught two murders in the same prison.  The first one over a cassette tape, and the one in the hole in defense of his friend.  The guy I was in the cell with.

What happened was a tragedy because actually my friend had stabbed one of the guys first.  He almost killed him. That was because he was being assaulted and robbed.  He just happened to have a weapon on him and stabbed one of the guys during the course of the incident.  For that he was sent to the hole and the other guy went to the hospital.

When the guy got back from the hospital he plotted on my friend and when the time was right he killed him.  He ended up pleading guilty to killing him.  But, it did not make a difference because he was already serving a life sentence for killing a guy in another prison.  So here you have a guy, my friend, that had a 5 year sentence (this is why I call it a tragedy) and 2 years left on it before going home, killed by a guy that was already guilty of killing another guy in another prison.  Who was also serving life for the killing. The tragedy is that this guy started out with a 5 year sentence and was put in a situation where he was involved with the death of another inmate.  So, the killer and the killed both started out with 5 year sentences.

What was the response of the prison?  To lock it down and tear the prison up.  The had the roof of the buildings designed so they could open the top vents and drop gas in from the ceiling.  After the gas fills up the unit they repelled down into the units in ninja outfits and beat the inmates.  Inmates who were not involved in what took place in the hole.  They beat them savagely.  So bad that the inmates actually filed and won a class action lawsuit against CCA.  That was the cause of them taking the company off of the market.

The investors were not willing to take the risk of investing in a prison where the prisoners were uncontrollable.  Where assaults and murder were rampant.  This was not supposed to happen with lower and medium security inmates.  This is when it became apparent that these were max custody inmates being housed in a medium security prison.

This is a sad story for all involved.  For the killer and the killed.  For the families of both of them.  For the prisoners that were beat and assaulted at the hands of inmates that they should have never shared the yard with.  For the inmates that were beat at the hands of the police.  For the inmates that lost property and pictures during the aftermath and response to what took place.  It is really unfortunate to think that at the end of the day there was money to be gained.   That peoples lives were/are put at risk for a dollar.  What makes that different from any other crime that is committed in society?

It is not the private sector that is to govern crime and punishment.  It is the job of the government.  But, today you have more private prisons opening up all across America.  No prison is considered a place of peace and sanctuary, but there has to be some accountability on those that oversee them.  Due to this lack of proper oversight a friend of mine lost his life.  What a tragedy.

Advertisements

I spent a few years in one of the biggest private prisons in America, Correction Corporation of America (CCA). It was an experience unlike any other. It is a unique experience to say the least. To be incarcerated in a prison system where stocks are openly traded, daily. To know that there are many people who are involved in the Criminal Justice System hold stocks and shares in CCA. I once, during a conversation, heard a college professor admit that even he had shares in private prisons.

Ultimately, incarceration is the burden of the government. Not the public. In the case of private prisons it has become a thing where private companies bid on contracts. The bid is not who can provide the most work related skills program or substance program. Rather, who can feed them, cloth them and provide medical attention to the for the lowest price.

Whatever company wins the bid now must set up the services needed. They often use other private companies to provide those services. So they bid out the the lowest bidder.

Aramark is a private food company that service CCA facilities. They have the worst food ever. The rations are low and the quality of the food is poor. Often carbohydrate induced and processed meats are served with every meal. Vegetables and fruits are hardly served, if ever. When they are served they are often of the lowest quality and grade.

The clothes that are provided are no more than a pair of scrubs. Two piece outfit. A short sleeve shirt, regardless of the weather, with one pocket. And, a pair of pull up pants with no pockets. This outfit saves money on tailoring expenses and other accessories needed to wear pants, such as a belt. Which cost more money.

This is just a small glimpse of what it was like to be in a private prison. The list of what is often wrong with these prisons can go on and on.

Privatization of the US Prison System
The US Private Prison System
Privatization of the US Prison System. An Infographic from ArrestRecords.com