Prison News Round-up for Oct. 28, 2014

There are far too many stories out there that I want to write about, but I just don’t have the time to fully cover them. So occasionally I’ll be posting a collection of important stories from around the country with some thoughts and notes where appropriate.

This week:

1. Vermont Lawmakers Quiz the State’s Private Prison Company
2. Lawsuit accuses Aurora private prison of paying immigrants $1 a day
3. Meet the controversial private prison corporation, Geo Care, that may run Terrell State Hospital
4. Prison panel suggests broader menu, more recreation for inmates at Ohio facility
5. Pope Francis blasts life sentences as ‘hidden death penalty’
6. 19-year-old dies naked on cell floor of gangrene; lawsuits target deaths in Madison County jail
7. Senators ‘Deeply Concerned’ by Plans to Detain More Immigrant Women and Children
8. Virginia prison system faces $45 million shortfall in inmate health care
9. 10-Year-Old Murder Defendant Shows Failure of U.S. Juvenile Justice System

Here’s my take on these stories… Continue reading

Arizona Attorney General Debate

CCA is on Both Sides of the Arizona Attorney General Race

I knew Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) had a strong presence in Arizona, but until last night’s Attorney General debate, I didn’t know the extent to which it was involved in this year’s election:

The candidates also sparred over [Republican Mark] Brnovich’s lobbying on behalf of private prisons. [Democrat Felicia] Rotellini cited his efforts to kill legislation that would ban companies from bringing violent criminals into Arizona from other states.

“Mr. Brnovich can’t get around the fact that his judgment was such that for a profit, for his own economic profit, he thought it was better to kill a piece of legislation that would (block) killers, rapists, into the state of Arizona,” she said.

Brnovich defended private prisons, saying they free up state prison construction money for other uses.

“I have spent most of my career putting people in prison, and yes I’ve worked for the Corrections Corporation of American to keep people there,” he said. This isn’t a partisan issue. Both Democratic and Republican governors have used private prisons in order to incarcerate individuals.”

He attacked Rotellini for taking contributions from Dennis DeConcini, who was on Corrections Corporations’ board until May.

“She’s comfortable taking money from the private prisons but now she wants to criticize Arizona for using them,” he said.

“That’s making a big assumption, that simply because I get a contribution from somebody that means I’m somehow going to be beholden to them,” Rotellini said while noting that she has thousands of contributors.

You can watch the debate from Arizona’s PBS affiliate. Continue reading

Out of state prison transfers

Vermont Spent $50,000 This Year Sending Prison Officials to Visit Inmates in Private Facilities Out-of-State

It turns out that transferring prisoners to private institutions in other states doesn’t just enrich the industry and interfere with rehabilitation.

Vermont’s Burlington Free Press reports that private transfers — a policy meant to save the state money and reduce prison overcrowding — are costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars a year so corrections staff can attempt to do their jobs from 3,000 miles away. Continue reading

Arizona Death Row Inmate Given Lethal Injection 15 Times During 2 Hour Execution

The AP has another horrific botched execution story — the third one this year — this time out of Arizona. Records show that executioners “injected Joseph Rudolph Wood with a lethal combination of drugs 15 times during the nearly two hours it took for him to die.”

Arizona execution protocol states that prisoners are to be injected with 50 milligrams of hydromorphone and 50 milligrams of midazolam. Wood was injected with 750 milligrams of each drug. Wood was only the 2nd inmate to be executed using this drug combination. The first died after 25 excruciating minutes in an Ohio execution chair.

Continue reading