A Private Hell in Idaho

The ACLU in Idaho, along with the national ACLU has filed a federal class action lawsuit against a private prison in Idaho run by CCA (Corrections Corp of America) as a result "epidemic violence" to which prison officials have "turned a blind eye."

"In my 39 years of suing prisons and jails, I have never confronted a more disgraceful, revolting and inexcusable case of mass abuse and federal rights violations than this one,” said Stephen Pevar, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU. “The level of unnecessary human suffering is appalling. Prison officials have utterly failed to uphold their constitutional obligation to protect prisoners from being violently harmed and we must seek court intervention."

The complaint is here. [More...]

As to CCA:

CCA, which boasts of being the largest owner and operator of private correctional and detention facilities in the U.S. with 63 facilities in 20 states housing approximately 76,000 prisoners, has faced hundreds of lawsuits in recent years, including two ACLU lawsuits challenging overcrowding and unconstitutional medical care at the San Diego Correctional Facility, an immigration detention facility in San Diego.

Among the gory details:

The cases of prisoner-on-prisoner violence highlighted in the lawsuit include a prisoner who was hit in his ear so hard that it partially detached from the side of his head, a prisoner who, in anticipation of being brutally assaulted, removed his eyeglasses to protect them prior to receiving a pummeling, a prisoner who was beaten so badly that his teeth were pushed through his lower lip causing effusive bleeding that took an officer more than two hours to clean up, a prisoner who required eight screws to put his jaw back into place after being savagely beaten in the face and a prisoner whose requests for X-rays on the heels of being beaten were met by laughter from a prison guard who callously informed him there was no need for x-rays since his nose was so obviously broken.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Private prisons... (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 09:24:13 AM EST
    how do we get rid of them and make 'em all public again?  Or is it too far gone?

    It just turns my stomach in so many ways...we send human beings right into CCA's clutches, all done in our name, on our dime...right down to their high-priced defense team for the class action lawsuit.  Yuck.

    Where are the criminal charges?  No one at DOJ care?    

    Meanwhile, CCA is being sued re (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:09:05 AM EST
    wages and hours.  Sounds like Starbucks.  link

    What a lovely... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:24:03 AM EST
    organization that CCA...though screws gettin' screwed is a little far down my outrage list...lie down with dogs come up with fleas.

    Per CCA website, correctional officer (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:26:43 AM EST
    position requires high school diploma or GED and ability to complete training.

    They need to update... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:28:50 AM EST
    they forgot lack of a functioning conscience:)

    Luzerne County Pa (none / 0) (#7)
    by jondee on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 11:01:04 AM EST
    And the wonders of privatization.

    On a related note, has TL been following the case of Pa "Child Care", covered in Capitalism: A Love Story, and the two judge/racketeers whose sweet deal involved shipping out to a juvenile facility they had a financial stake in, as many young people as the place could handle?


    Yes... (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 11:06:15 AM EST
    we discussed and comiserated over that tragedy several times I believe.

    I missed that one (none / 0) (#11)
    by jondee on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 11:07:56 AM EST
    Prison Unions are very powerful (none / 0) (#6)
    by MKS on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 10:57:02 AM EST
    Perhaps even more so than Police Unions...and with the explosion in prison population, the Prison Unions are against anything that would lower prison populations and thus threaten their jobs....

    If I am not mistaken, California, now for the first time, spends more on prisons than on education.  That is due in part to the budget cuts to education but also due to the very long sentences for almost everything.


    Are there any laws (none / 0) (#9)
    by jondee on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 11:06:41 AM EST
    relating to the possibility of judges and prosecutors having financial stakes-investments in private prisons?

    I anxiously await... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 11:07:15 AM EST
    the Dept. of Ed and the Dept. of Corrections being merged into one beuracracy...we're almost there.

    And under the umbrella (5.00 / 0) (#14)
    by jondee on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 11:11:09 AM EST
    of one corporation. Get in on the ground floor now.

    Im sure the Heritage Foundation has a plan drawn up somewhere.


    Get out of school and (none / 0) (#13)
    by Zorba on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 11:09:08 AM EST
    then go directly to jail?

    I was thinking... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 11:15:23 AM EST
    since schools are starting to look and feel a little like prisons, just hold classes on the ground floor and put the cages in the basement.

    It'll save the next 12 year old we lock up from the indignity of a perp walk.


    CCPOA is very much opposed to CA (none / 0) (#16)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 11:18:00 AM EST
    housing inmates at private institutions.

    Of course they are... (none / 0) (#18)
    by kdog on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 11:28:45 AM EST
    public sector workers get better wages and benefits.

    You're right, Kdog (none / 0) (#12)
    by Zorba on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 11:08:09 AM EST
    Get rid of privately-run prisons.  I think having for-profit entities running prisons (or, for that matter, acting as mercenaries during war, like Blackwater or Xe or whatever it's called now) is incompatible with a functioning democracy.  (And we could spend all day arguing just how "functioning" a democracy we are right now, but leave that for another time...).  I realize that there were and are abuses in publicly-run prisons, but I think that private prisons receive less oversight and may  be less accountable than government-run prisons.

    Where are we going? (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by mmc9431 on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 03:04:52 PM EST
    Reading story like this make me sick. Another great example of privatizing everything because the private sector does such a better job.

    Unfortunately too many Americans have bought into the tough on crime mentality and think prisoners don't deserve any rights at all.

    You're right (5.00 / 0) (#24)
    by Lora on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 03:27:15 PM EST
    Our society is full of insane contradictions.  We're supposedly for law and order but throw out the rule of law when it comes to helpless populations that the smug comfortable classes and the frightened falling middle classes wish would just go away.

    SCOTUS ruled private prison (none / 0) (#17)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 11:20:09 AM EST
    correctional officers may not be sued under a Bivens theory of liability.  link  Wonder if this freedom from the threat of 42 U.S.C. section 1983 litigation has any effect on employees of CCA?

    And it appears the Supreme Court (none / 0) (#19)
    by MKS on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 12:38:13 PM EST
    is fine with private prisoners suing the private prisons for simple negligence....making the private facilities more at risk of litigation....unless they have some kind of statutory immunity....  

    But benefit of federal civil rights cause (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 01:01:38 PM EST
    of action to plaintiffs is attorney fees.  

    True, dat (none / 0) (#25)
    by MKS on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 04:06:23 PM EST
    If they can't be sued (none / 0) (#23)
    by Lora on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 03:23:54 PM EST
    How about criminally charged?

    They can be sued. Just not under 42 (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 04:31:00 PM EST
    U.S.C. section 1983.

    aclu link is not working (none / 0) (#21)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 02:35:40 PM EST

    prisoner on prisoner violence (none / 0) (#27)
    by diogenes on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 07:08:11 PM EST
    Of course, it might be hard to successfully prosecute prisoners in a culture of "do not snitch", especially when defense attorneys believe that it is their ethical imperative to provide the best defense possible for prisoners who beat other prisoners and are brought to trial.
    Hey, let the courts appoint someone to monitor a badly run private prison.  There are enough courts monitoring PUBLIC prisons with consent decrees in this country.

    Hundreds of lawsuits..? (none / 0) (#28)
    by jondee on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 08:22:31 PM EST
    Here's an idea, how about revoking the corporate charter of those misery parasites?

    And then maybe doing an in-depth study of the money trail involved in that 2.7 million they've spent lobbying for stricter sentencing guidelines to insure their supply of raw materials.