Prison Reform


High court upholds jails’ strip searches

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court ruled Monday that jailers may subject people arrested for minor offenses to invasive strip searches, siding with security needs over privacy rights.

By a 5-4 vote, the court ruled against a New Jersey man who complained that strip searches in two county jails violated his civil rights.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion for the court’s conservative justices that when people are going to be put into the general jail population, “courts must defer to the judgment of correctional officials unless the record contains substantial evidence showing their policies are an unnecessary or unjustified response to problems of jail security.”

In a dissenting opinion joined by the court’s liberals, Justice Stephen Breyer said strip searches improperly “subject those arrested for minor offenses to serious invasions of their personal privacy.” Breyer said jailers ought to have a reasonable suspicion someone may be hiding something before conducting a strip search.

Albert Florence was forced to undress and submit to strip searches following his arrest on a warrant for an unpaid fine, though the fine actually had been paid. Even if the warrant had been valid, failure to pay a fine is not a crime in New Jersey.

But Kennedy focused on the fact that Florence was held with other inmates in the general population. In concurring opinions, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito said the decision left open the possibility of an exception to the rule and might not apply to someone held apart from other inmates.

The first strip search of Florence took place in the Burlington County Jail in southern New Jersey. Six days later, Florence had not received a hearing and remained in custody. Transferred to another county jail in Newark, he was strip-searched again.

The next day, a judge dismissed all charges. Florence’s lawsuit soon followed.

He may still pursue other claims, including that he never should have been arrested.

Florence’s problems arose in March 2005, as he was heading to dinner at his mother-in-law’s house with his pregnant wife and 4-year-old child. His wife, April, was driving when a state trooper stopped the family SUV on a New Jersey highway.

Florence identified himself as the vehicle’s owner and the trooper, checking records, found an outstanding warrant for an unpaid fine. Florence, who is African-American, had been stopped several times before, and he carried a letter to the effect that the fine, for fleeing a traffic stop several years earlier, had been paid.

His protest was in vain, however, and the trooper handcuffed him and hauled him off to jail. At the time, the State Police were operating under a court order, spawned by allegations of past racial discrimination, that provided federal monitors to assess state police stops of minority drivers. But the propriety of the stop is not at issue, and Florence is not alleging racial discrimination.

Kennedy gave three reasons to justify routine searches — detecting lice and contagious infections, looking for tattoos and other evidence of gang membership and preventing smuggling of drugs and weapons.

Kennedy also said people arrested for minor offenses can turn out to be “the most devious and dangerous criminals.” Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh initially was stopped by a state trooper who noticed McVeigh was driving without a license plate, Kennedy said.

In his dissent, Breyer said inmates in the two New Jersey jails already have to submit to pat-down searches, pass through metal detectors, shower with delousing agents and have their clothing searched.

Many jails, several states and associations of corrections officials say strip searches should only be done when there is reasonable suspicion, which could include arrest on drug charges or for violent crimes, Breyer said.

In 1979, the Supreme Court upheld a blanket policy of conducting body cavity searches of prisoners who had had contact with visitors on the basis that the interaction with outsiders created the possibility that some prisoners got hold of something they shouldn’t have.

For the next 30 or so years, appeals courts applying the high court ruling held uniformly that strip searches without suspicion violated the Constitution.

But since 2008 — and in the first appellate rulings on the issue since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — appeals courts in Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Francisco decided that authorities’ need to maintain security justified a wide-ranging search policy, no matter the reason for someone’s detention.

The high court upheld the ruling from the Philadelphia court, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case is Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, 10-945.

Private prisons in the United States

[edit] Early history of prison privatization in the United States

The privatization movement can be traced to the contracting out of confinement and care of prisoners after the American Revolution. Deprived of the ability to ship criminals and undesirables to the Colonies, Great Britain began placing them on hulks moored in English ports.[4]

The partial transfer of San Quentin prison administration from private to public did not mark the end of privatization. The next phase began with the Reconstruction Period (1865–1876) in the south, after the end of the Civil War. Farmers and businessmen needed to find replacements for the labor force once their slaves had been freed. Beginning in 1868, convict leases were issued to private parties to supplement their workforce.[5][6] This system remained in place until the early 20th century.

[edit] Development of private prisons in the United States

Federal and state government has a long history of contracting out specific services to private firms, including medical services, food preparation, vocational training, and inmate transportation. The 1980s, though, ushered in a new era of prison privatization. With a burgeoning prison population resulting from the War on Drugs and increased use of incarceration, prison overcrowding and rising costs became increasingly problematic for local, state, and federal governments. In response to this expanding criminal justice system, private business interests saw an opportunity for expansion, and consequently, private-sector involvement in prisons moved from the simple contracting of services to contracting for the complete management and operation of entire prisons.[7]

The modern private prison business first emerged and established itself publicly in 1984 when the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) was awarded a contract to take over a facility in Hamilton County, Tennessee. This marked the first time that any government in the country had contracted out the complete operation of a jail to a private operator.[8] The following year, CCA gained further public attention when it offered to take over the entire state prison system of Tennessee for $200 million. The bid was ultimately defeated due to strong opposition from public employees and the skepticism of the state legislature.[9] Despite that initial defeat, CCA since then has successfully expanded, as have other for-profit prison companies. As of December 2000, there were 153 private correctional facilities (prisons, jails and detention centers) operating in the United States with a capacity of over 119,000.[10]

[edit] Private prisons in the United States today

Private companies in the United States operate 264 correctional facilities, housing almost 99,000 adult convicts.[11] Companies operating such facilities include the Corrections Corporation of America, the GEO Group, Inc, and Community Education Centers. The GEO Group was formerly known as Wackenhut Securities.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has a capacity of more than 80,000 beds in 65 correctional facilities. The GEO Group operates 61 facilities with a capacity of 49,000 offender beds,[12]

Most privately run facilities are located in the southern and western portions of the United States and include both state and federal offenders.[11]

[edit] Cost/Benefit analysis

Industry-funded studies often conclude that states can save money by using private prisons. However, state-funded studies have found that private prisons keep only low-cost inmates and send others back to state-run prisons.[13]

Others have suggested that cost savings come at the expense of security. In the wake of the escape of three murderers from the minimum/medium security Kingman Prison, Arizona operated by Management and Training Corporation (MTC) attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Terry Goddard said “I believe a big part of our problem is that the very violent inmates, like the three that escaped, ended up getting reclassified [as a lower risk] quickly and sent to private prisons that were just not up to the job.”[14]The private prison had inadequate patrols and prisoner movement, excessive false alarms, a lax culture, and inconsistencies in visitor screening procedures.[15]

One escapee was also involved in a Colorado shootout, where he was captured by a deputy and police in Rifle Colorado. Though he still “owed” Arizona 32 years on his sentence, he was sentenced to sixty years to be served first in Colorado.

The state of Arizona, as well as Dominion, an Edmunds, Oklahoma corporation that spec-built the prison, and MTC that managed it, are being sued for $40 million [16] by the family of Gary and Linda Haas, retirees who were murdered in New Mexico by the fugitives.[17] The remaining two escapees and their accomplice are being held on federal murder charges in New Mexico. The three were first convicted of hijackings, kidnappings and robberies in Arizona and charged with the same in New Mexico. The ringleader and his accomplice also committed a robbery in Arkansas. [18]

[edit] Criticisms

Many organizations have called for a moratorium on construction of private prisons, or for their outright abolition.[19] The religious denominations Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and United Methodist Church have also joined the call, as well as the Catholic Bishops of the South organization.[20]

Proponents of privately run prisons contend that cost-savings and efficiency of operation place private prisons at an advantage over public prisons and support the argument for privatization, but some research casts doubt on the validity of these arguments, as evidence has shown that private prisons are neither demonstrably more cost-effective, nor more efficient than public prisons.[7] An evaluation of 24 different studies on cost-effectiveness revealed that, at best, results of the question are inconclusive and, at worst, there is no difference in cost-effectiveness.[21]

A study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the cost-savings promised by private prisons “have simply not materialized.”[22] Some research has concluded that for-profit prisons cost more than public prisons.[23] Furthermore, cost estimates from privatization advocates may be misleading, because private facilities often refuse to accept inmates that cost the most to house. A 2001 study concluded that a pattern of sending less expensive inmates to privately-run facilities artificially inflated cost savings.[24] A 2005 study found that Arizona’s public facilities were seven times more likely to house violent offenders and three times more likely to house those convicted of more serious offenses.[25]

Evidence suggests that lower staff levels and training at private facilities may lead to increases in incidences of violence and escapes. A nationwide study found that assaults on guards by inmates were 49 percent more frequent in private prisons than in government-run prisons. The same study revealed that assaults on fellow inmates were 65 percent more frequent in private prisons.[26]

CCA is and formerly The GEO Group have been major contributors to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a Washington, D.C. based public policy organization that develops model legislation that advances tough-on-crime legislation and free-market principles such as privatization.

Under their Criminal Justice Task Force, ALEC has developed and helped to successfully implement in many states “tough on crime” initiatives including “Truth in Sentencing” and “Three Strikes” laws. Corporations provide most of the funding for ALEC’s operating budget and influence its political agenda through participation in policy task forces. ALEC’s corporate funders include CCA and The GEO Group. In 1999, CCA made the President’s List for contributions to ALEC’s States and National Policy Summit; Wackenhut (predecessor to GEO Group) also sponsored the conference. Past cochairs of the Criminal Justice Task Force have included Brad Wiggins, then Director of Business Development at CCA and now a Senior Director of Site Acquisition, and John Rees, a former CCA vice president. On November 11th, 2010, GEO’s outgoing COO Wayne Calabrese, told a large community gathering at a middle school in Bangor, Pennsylvania, that GEO had withdrawn from ALEC years earlier because of the obvious conflict of interest involved in creating legislation that insured an increased supply of prisoners. CCA and GEO have both engaged in state initiatives to increase sentences for offenders and to create new crimes, including, CCA helping to finance Proposition 6 in California in 2008 and GEO lobbying for Jessica’s Law[27] in Kansas in 2006.

By funding and participating in ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Forces, critics argue, private prison companies directly influence legislation for tougher, longer sentences.[28] The legal system may also be manipulated more directly: in the Kids for cash scandal, Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp, a private prison company was found guilty of paying two judges[29] $2.6m to send 2000 children to their prisons.[30][31]

Legislation passed with links to private prisons, reported in the media: [32] [33] [34] [35]

[edit] Attempts to limit privatization and increase oversight

Some U.S. states have imposed bans, population limits, and strict operational guidelines on private prisons:

  • Banning privatization of state and local facilitiesIllinois in 1990 (Private Correctional Facility Moratorium Act), and New York in 2000, enacted laws that ban the privatization of prisons, correctional facilities and any services related to their operation. Louisiana enacted a moratorium on private prisons in 2001.
  • Banning speculative private prison construction—For-profit prison companies have built new prisons before they were awarded privatization contracts in order to lure state contract approval. In 2001, Wisconsin’s joint budget committee recommended language to ban all future speculative prison construction in the state. Such anticipatory building dates back to at least 1997, when Corrections Corporation of America built a 2,000-bed facility in California at a cost of $80–100 million with no contract from the California Department of Corrections; a CCA official was quoted as saying, “If we build it, they will come“.[36]
  • Banning exportation and importation of prisoners—To ensure that the state retains control over the quality and security of correctional facilities, North Dakota passed a bill in 2001 that banned the export of Class A and AA felons outside the state. Similarly, Oregon allowed an existing exportation law to sunset in 2001, effectively banning the export of prisoners. Several states have considered banning the importation of prisoners to private facilities.
  • Requiring standards comparable to state prisonsNew Mexico enacted legislation that transfers supervision of private prisons to the state Secretary of Corrections, ensuring that private prisons meet the same standards as public facilities. In 2001, Nebraska legislation that requires private prisons to meet public prison standards was overwhelmingly approved by the legislature, but pocket-vetoed by the governor. Oklahoma passed a law in 2005 that requires private prisons to have emergency plans in place and mandates state notification of any safety incidents.

**I AM GOING TO ADD A LINK SECTION THAT WILL GUIDE YOU TO VARIOUS PRISON ISSUES.  IT IS A VERY IMPORTANT TOPIC THAT NEEDS A MEANS TO AN END NOW…..NOT LATER.  THIS IS NOT “FOR THE GREATER GOOD OF THE PEOPLE”….IT IS FOR THE GREATER GOOD OF THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX….FOLLOW THE MONEY.

HERE IS ONE GOOD LINK I WILL POST HERE WHICH SHOWS HOW “EVERYBODY” THAT IS A FAMILY MEMBER OF AN INCARCERATED INDIVIDUAL MUST “PAY” ….. LITERALLY….

THE (WARREN COUNTY, KENTUCKY) BOWLING GREEN JAIL COMMISSARY FOR INMATES – THIS IS WHERE YOU CAN LEGALLY PURCHASE ITEMS FOR YOUR LOVED ONES INCARCERATED.  NOPE. YOU CANT GO TO WALMART AND GET WHAT THEY NEED – YOU MUST BUY FROM THEIR PRICE GOUGED COMMISSARY  – SO THAT THEY KNOW ITS SAFE PRODUCTS, LOL. HAVE A LOOK AND SEE HOW MUCH YOU CAN AFFORD TO BUY FOR YOUR LOVED ONE….

WARREN COUNTY KENTUCKY JAIL           (just one example of many)

WARREN COUNTY JAIL TOUR

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