Monday, February 4, 2013

Prisoners poop in plastic bags at private OH prison

Oh this is lovely. Prisoners have to poop in plastic bags at the Lake Erie Correctional Institute, which is now owned and run by Corrections Corporation of America.

The Huffington Post reports:
A September state audit found that inmates being disciplined in segregation at the prison were using plastic containers and bags as a makeshift restroom, in the absence of working toilets and running water.
But that's not the half of it:
Over the past year, the state of Ohio has assessed almost $500,000 in penalties on CCA related to the Lake Erie prison, deducting $318,000 for staff vacancies and an additional $181,000 in damages for not adhering to its contract. Staffing was a persistent problem at the facility, according to state records.
(In Idaho, Corrections Corporation of America was recently accused of falsifying records to hide chronic understaffing.  We suspect it's not the only state where that's a problem.)

This is what happens with understaffing:
...a major uptick in crime near the private prison has burdened the small town of Conneaut, Ohio, with police there making a series of recent arrests related to attempts to smuggle drugs and alcohol into the facility. Officers responded to 229 calls related to the prison last year, nearly four times as many as the previous five years combined, according to the city's crime data.
Truthout observes that for-profit prison operators view themselves as real estate companies. That may be why they suck so much at running correctional facilities.
In July 2012, the GEO Group - the nation's second-largest private prison operator behind Corrections Corporation of America - sent a letter to the IRS requesting a conversion from a typical "class-c" corporation to a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).
Corrections Corporation is waiting on the IRS for approval of the same change.

Truthout argues that the conversion of for-profit prison companies to real estate investment trusts blurs the distinction between people (the inmates) and property.