Wednesday, December 1, 2010

More on Prisons

Via Radley Balko:

Earlier, I discussed the Supreme Court case Schwarzenegger v. Plata, which charges that due to overcrowding, conditions in California's prisons have become unconstitutional.

Now, let's talk about how bad things are in Idaho...

The AP has released video of prison guards watching idly as an inmate is beaten into a coma. Even as the assailant takes a rest before returning to stomp his victim, the guards fail to intervene in any fashion.

The prison is privately run by the Corrections Corporation of America (America's largest private prison company), and is a key piece of evidence in allegations that they use the threat of inmate on inmate violence as a means to coerce prisoners into becoming informants.

Other issues raised with this august company and there are many:
  • Lawsuits from inmates contend the company denies prisoners medical treatment as a way of covering up the assaults. They have dubbed the Idaho lockup "gladiator school" because it is so violent.
  • A year ago, CCA and another company, Dominion Correctional Services LLC, agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle a lawsuit in which the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission claimed male officers at a prison in Colorado forced female workers to perform sex acts to keep their jobs.
  • In January, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear ordered some 400 female inmates transferred to a state-run prison after more than a dozen reports of sexual misconduct by male guards employed by CCA. Similar accusations were made in March at a CCA-run prison in Hawaii, and in May, agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement placed CCA on probation and launched an investigation of whether a guard at a central Texas detention facility sexually assaulted women on their way to being deported.
  • Inmate Todd Butters said in his lawsuit he was denied X-rays after he was severely beaten by gang members on his cellblock for refusing to pay $5 a week in "rent."
  • In another attack, inmate Daniel Dixon said he was denied X-rays and a doctor's visit after he claimed other inmates beat him until he had broken ribs and facial bones and other injuries
  • A review of hundreds of public records by AP found in 2008 that ICC had a violence rate three times as high as other Idaho prisons
In case you're curious, CCA's response to this is as follows:

CCA, the nation's largest private prison company, said it was "highly disappointed and deeply concerned" over AP's decision to release the videos.

Heaven forbid anyone should know what's going on!

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