Started by a group of Kentucky Fried Chicken investors in the early 1980s, CCA quickly grew into the largest private prison operator in the world.


Colorado’s For-Profit Prisons a Bad Bet, Says Ex-Employee Turned Author

Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 8:26 a.m.

By Alan Prendergast

After it was taken over by a private-prison operator in 1996, the Bent County Correctional Facility soon doubled its capacity — and then doubled it again, to more than 1,400 inmates.

Sue Binder’s quarrel with the private-prison giant Corrections Corporation of America began shortly after she started to work at one of CCA’s cut-rate hoosegows in southeastern Colorado. It continued for thirteen years, right up until Binder resigned in 2015 from her job as a mental-health coordinator at the Bent County Correctional Facility — and got shorted on her last paycheck in a dispute over medical leave.

Started by a group of Kentucky Fried Chicken investors in the early 1980s, CCA quickly grew into the largest private prison operator in the world. But it’s also been dogged by bad press about poorly trained staff, inadequate medical care, outbursts of violence and riots, and studies that indicate turning to the private sector to manage inmate populations doesn’t really save money. The company recently changed its name to CoreCivic as part of a rebranding effort.

But whatever it calls itself now, it’s safe to say that working for CCA made an indelible impression on Binder, who became convinced that management at the Bent County lockup was more interested in keeping the place as full —and profitable — as possible than in helping inmates prepare for release or treating staff fairly. She decided to write a book that would encompass not just her experiences, but how the private corrections industry works. The result is Bodies in Beds: Why Business Should Stay Out of Prisons (Algora).

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“The longer I was there, especially the last four or five years, the more I became disillusioned,” says Binder, who now works at a community mental-health center in Lamar. “I can’t say I was burned out, but I was becoming more aware of what was happening behind the scenes at the company I worked for. At first I thought I would just do my personal story, but then I began researching more and more. It kind of ballooned on me.”

Part memoir, part overview, Bodies in Beds offers unsettling glimpses into what it’s like to work at a private prison — not just as a turnkey, but as someone who’s supposed to offer actual services to inmates. For a while, Binder managed to rationalize her position to herself, figuring that maybe she could make a difference to some of the mentally ill prisoners she saw. But as CCA’s cost-containment strategies kept multiplying the duties and thinning the staff, Binder found herself not only having to screen every new inmate, but divide with just one other mental-health specialist a caseload of more than 400 inmates diagnosed with some degree of mental illness. At the same time, she was asked to meticulously document every action she took — a request that was supposed to help her get more staff, but was actually used to justify the status quo. On a good day, she was lucky to spend a few minutes each with maybe ten or twelve inmates between mounds of paperwork.

“I felt like I’m not helping these guys very much,” she says. “We were pushing these inmates through like cattle. What could have been thirty or forty minutes with them, trying to help them, I saw that not happening. Some of them have opportunities and should be out of prison — but we need to give them help.”

After a 2004 riot at CCA’s badly understaffed Crowley County Correctional Facility, the Colorado Department of Corrections stepped up its monitoring of private-prison operators. But whistleblowers like Binder are not all that numerous; most staffers at the company’s facilities live in remote areas, with few economic opportunities, and need to hold on to their jobs. Once Binder realized that her job was more about providing the appearance of mental-health services rather than the services themselves, she began to prepare an exit strategy.

In her current position as a behavioral-health specialist at the High Plains Community Health Center, Binder occasionally runs across former Bent County inmates. “About half my caseload are people on probation, so I continue to work in the system,” she says. “Now and then you see somebody where you think, maybe you made a little difference. That makes it worthwhile.”

CONTINUE READING…

Written by: Roxanne Greschner RE: Prison System


Written By Roxanne Davenport Greschner M.A. 707-568-1082
THE DYNAMICS OF INCARCERATION

Written By Roxanne Davenport Greschner M.A. 707-568-1082

We can create a better more efficient prison system by demilitarizing the system that we have.

We need to disable the power of the guards union and to stop the development of organized crime linked with that power. The creation of the supermax or military social control model of incarceration has disabled the prisoner population, by creating an oppressive abusive violent environment that harms the prisoner population in many ways, impacts profoundly the communities where family members live, and hinders the folks who become advocates for the prisoners. This is done as retaliation against the fight for the freedom of the prisoners with the intent to abuse and to weaken the support system of people who are invested in protecting the rights of their loved ones and friends.
After all, the power of intimidation reaches only the quiet individuals who are not drawn towards crime and has no effect on the hardened ones who need to be softened (Albert Camus 1961).
Some examples of the retaliation that is done to many prisoners and their wives are the separation of those prisoners from their families.
Often the women who marry men in prison who are famous, or are deemed by the system to have political power within that system, are separated within their own communities to isolated areas, housed with people who are in collusion with the prison system. The women are interrogated by folks whose only purpose is to obtain information from them about the criminal activities of their newly wedded husbands or like in my case the intention of their husband in an up and coming trial.
Albert Camus (1961) reminds us, “police states have never been suspected of opening schools of law in the cellars where they interrogate their subjects.” At times the women are shuffled around from prison to prison constantly harassed by the guards and some of the other wives of the prisoners who have affiliations that are different especially when there are rival gang members involved. Arson is committed to create homelessness for those women who take up the banner of freedom for their husbands and other prisoners, to oppress the fight for freedom, and maintain a sense of struggle within this poverty stricken class of women.
Albert Camus (1961) reminds us that ‘freedom is the concern of the oppressed, and her natural protectors have always come among the oppressed.” Even when a prisoners’ family lives close to a prison, the community in which the prison is located also is home to many correctional officers who for the most part have lived in the community all of their lives. The communities are usually poverty stricken, small with very little or no employment opportunities for the ladies who relocate to visit their loved ones at the prison.
The family members of the correctional officers who were raised in the prison town also have many of the belief systems of their sisters and brother or cousins who work in the prison and all of them know what goes on in the town. The women and their children are treated by some of the families of the correctional officers like criminals because of their association with the prisoner population by marriage and by other members of the community with distance and detachment until they become part of the community, which actually takes a couple of years. All the while the women are poverty stricken because of the lack of work that will effectively help them better their economic situations. Because the women are vulnerable they often become the targets for the correctional community.
Especially when that community is corrupt and has correctional officers who are criminals in their own right.
I have witnessed many occurrences of sexual harassment as well as manipulation for privilege, which amounts to exploitation, perpetrated by correctional officers. While living near the Substance Abuse treatment Facility (SATF) located in Corcoran California, some of the wives of the lifer population were harassed or bribed into making my life miserable because of the history of my political activities, and my husband who is a prisoner has been denied his basic rights under their own policies i.e. the right to work, attend programs, to further his goal of parole.
This manipulation is usually done to weaken the solidarity the women should have to survive being the wives of the lifers. An example of this manipulation is when a young correctional officer approaches a young wife of a lifer and he bribes her into organized criminal behavior along with other women who are bringing in drugs, to burglarizing the home of the targeted prisoner’s wife.
Some of the wives who participate are allowed to bring in drugs and their husbands are rewarded by getting jobs working in the prison, if they co-operate with the correctional officers who are corrupt, harming the wife or family member of a prisoner whom they do not like or who has the goods on that guard.
After all “the society of money and exploitation has never been charged, so far as I know, with assuring the triumph of freedom and justice.” (Camus, 1961)
The correctional officers will send their own family members under the guise of checking up on some of the prisoners wives to case their homes for valuables, rob and terrorize those women who try to have their husbands released from prison. Many women have to leave the area because to stay would be counter productive for their husbands freedom further separating them from their husbands by distances and support. Once targeted by this corrupt organization of people who work for the State of California, the individual’s life becomes a disaster. Their personal possessions are stolen and they are told that they have no rights, and that they have to prove that they own their possessions, all of this harassment is just that, harassment, and means nothing, especially when the targeted couple have the power to go to a higher authority, and puts a stop to the violence.
Reporting the criminal activities puts the wives and their husbands in a precarious situation, because most of the time the reports are ignored by local law enforcement that receive kick backs for the crimes such as the jewelry belonging to the prisoners wives. All of these activities can be considered organized criminal behaviors and are perpetrated by the very people who are supposed to be rehabilitating the prisoner population and protecting their community members, the pseudo-wannabe peace officers that work at the prison and the local police.
This happens when we live in a “Military State.”
The women are forced to depend upon the Federal Government, Aid to Dependant Children, members of the local social system who are not equipped to deal with the expansion of violence the people of our society have slowly witnessed and experienced since the 1970’s because of the introduction of the supermax (military social control) model of incarceration that began in the mid 1960’s. Since the introduction of the supermax model of incarceration our society has created laws to accommodate the expansion of the prison system.
To further create a military class of people who are trained in military social control, not only to control the prison system, but also to control the crime free citizens, who are connected to that system by marriage and family relationships.