6 thoughts on “United States prison violence

  1. ACLU sues over violence at Idaho Correctional Center

    By REBECCA BOONE – Associated Press Writer

    Published: 03/11/10

    BOISE, Idaho — The American Civil Liberties Union sued state prison officials and a private company Thursday, claiming violence is so rampant at the Idaho Correctional Center that it’s known as “gladiator school” among inmates.

    The ACLU filed the lawsuit against Nashville, Tenn.-based Corrections Corporation of America in U.S. District Court in Boise.

    The lawsuit says Idaho’s only private prison is extraordinarily violent, with guards deliberately exposing inmates to brutal beatings from other prisoners as a management tool.

    The group contends the prison then denies injured inmates medical care to save money and hide the extent of injuries.

    Steve Owen, Corrections Corporation of America’s director of public affairs, said the company would respond to the lawsuit through court filings. He said state officials have unfettered access to the prison and provide strong oversight at the facility, including daily on-site monitoring.

    “For the past decade, CCA has safely and securely managed the Idaho Corrections Center on behalf of our government partner, the Idaho Department of Corrections,” Owen said in a prepared statement. “Our hardworking, professional staff and management team are held accountable to high standards by our government partner, to include those of the American Correctional Association – the highest professional standards in the country for correctional management.”

    Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke said he had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not immediately comment.

    Stephen Pevar, senior attorney for the ACLU, said he has sued at least 100 jails and prisons, but none came close to the level of violence at Idaho Correctional Center.

    “Our country should be ashamed to send human beings to that facility,” he said.

    The ACLU is asking for class-action status and $155 million in punitive damages – the entire net profit reported by the company in 2009.

    The ACLU said the money should go to lead plaintiff Marlin Riggs, who sustained permanent facial deformities and other medical problems after he was savagely beaten in his cell.

    Guards use violence to control prisoner behavior, forcing inmates to “snitch” on other inmates under the threat of moving them to the most violent sections of the prison, ACLU-Idaho Executive Director Monica Hopkins said.

    Hopkins said inmates will be beaten by fellow inmates if they become known as a snitch. If they refuse to give up names, the guards will have them beaten anyway, she said.

    “It doesn’t do us any good as a society to put people in there where they have to turn to other gangs and become gang members to protect themselves,” Hopkins said. “The thing is, there’s a constitutional duty to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners.”

    The lawsuit also refers to an investigation by The Associated Press based on public records requests that found the level of violence at the prison was three times higher than at other Idaho prisons, and that Idaho Department of Correction officials believed violence was also dramatically underreported by Corrections Corporation of America and inmates.

    At the time of that report, Steven Conry, CCA’s vice president of facility operations, maintained the prison was safe and well-run.

    The Idaho Correctional Center houses about 2,000 prisoners. The ACLU contends it is understaffed, with sometimes only two guards on duty to control prison wings with as many as 350 inmates.

    The ACLU lawsuit details the inmate-on-inmate attacks of about two dozen men, all of whom said they told guards they were in danger of being assaulted, had been assaulted or needed medical care after an assault.

    In all the cases, the ACLU contends the men were summarily denied help.

    Riggs, the lead plaintiff in the case, claimed members of a violent gang on his cell block told him in May 2008 that he’d be beaten unless he started paying “rent” to the gang.

    He said in the lawsuit that he told correctional officers about the threat and begged to be transferred to another cellblock, but the guards refused. That same day, Riggs says he was beaten by inmates, knocked down and kicked repeatedly in the face and torso. Blood was spattered on the ceiling of Riggs’ cell and pooled on the floor, the ACLU said.

    Guards eventually took Riggs to an infirmary where a doctor told him his nose was broken and tried to reset it. However, the doctor refused to take X-rays and ignored several other broken bones in his face, the lawsuit claims.

    Riggs was denied medical care for six months before being taken to an ear, nose and throat specialist who said he needed immediate surgery, according to the lawsuit.

    He ended up with a plate in his cheek and a permanent dent on the side of his face, and he still suffers from blurry vision, headaches, pain, discomfort and mental trauma, Hopkins said.

    Corrections Corporation of America has faced numerous lawsuits from employees and inmates at the Idaho prison and elsewhere, but class-action lawsuits against the company appear to be rare.

    In 1999, the company settled for $1.6 million in a class-action lawsuit brought by inmates at a private prison in Youngstown, Ohio, who said they’d been subjected to excessive force from guards. The company also has paid out millions of dollars to settle dozens of individual lawsuits brought by inmates, family members of prisoners and employees.


  2. Jail guards fire at crowd of inmates

    United States: Prison guards shot into a crowd of 200 rioting inmates at California’s Folsom State Prison on Friday night, wounding five.

    Another two inmates were injured by other prisoners during the rampage, which began at about 7pm in the main exercise yard and ended after 30 minutes.

    The prison, made famous in the Johnny Cash song “Folsom Prison Blues,” could remain on lockdown for the next several weeks during an investigation. Inmates won’t be allowed to have visitors, use the exercise yard or attend work training.



  3. Jailed man cleared after 30 years

    UNITED STATES: A man who has spent the last 30 years in prison for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon prepared to walk free today after DNA test results proved his innocence.

    If the conviction is overturned as expected, Cornelius Dupree will have the distinction of being the longest-serving DNA exoneree in Texas, which has freed 41 wrongly convicted inmates through DNA tests since 2001.



  4. Dear Friend,

    Why is Florida Representative and current chairperson of the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz siding with the Corrections Corporation of America and not her constituents? 98% of her constituents in Southwest Ranches DO NOT want a new for-profit immigrant detention center being built in the district. Yet, she has endorsed the plan even against her constituents’ outspoken will.

    Tell Debbie to listen to 98% of her constituents and say NO to CCA!

    Corrections Corporation of America is the largest private immigrant detention operator in the country. For every immigrant detained they turn a nightly profit. Their greed knows no boundaries – as they hijack our local and state officials with false promises and contributions. It is time to give the power back where it belongs, to our local communities and its constituents.

    Empower the local community of Southwest Ranches and post this petition on your Facebook wall – we need more signatures today!

    Together we can change the course.

    Robert Greenwald, Axel Caballero and the Cuéntame team.

    I invite you to join Cuéntame on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


  5. Pingback: Private prisons in the USA update | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Still United States private prisons | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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