Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Whoa! Private prison company raids school for drugs

Who on earth thinks it's a good idea for a private prison company to raid a school?

The Center for Media and Democracy tells us that for-profit corrections officers participated in a drug sweep in an Arizona high school on Oct. 31.

At 9 a.m., about 1,700 students at Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande were starting their day. Then the principal ordered everyone locked in the room they were in.

The principal explained:
Everybody is locked in, and then they bring the dogs in, and they are teamed with an administrator and go in and out of classrooms. They go to a classroom and they have the kids come out and line up against a wall. The dog goes in and they close the door behind, and then the dog does its thing, and if it gets a hit, it sits on a bag and won't move.
Three students were arrested for possession of marijuana. (Bet they wish they lived in Washington or Colorado.)

Participating in the raid were the Casa Grande Police Department, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Gila River Indian Community Police Department and Corrections Corporation of America, the private prison company.

Yup, Corrections Corporation of America. CCA has a vested interest in filling prisons with inmates, so it's a clear conflict for its employees to be trawling for more in a high school.

It's also against the law. CMD explains:
...Arizona Administrative Code provides that, in order for any individual to engage in the duties of a "peace officer," that individual must obtain certification from the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board. 
And, Arizona Administrative Code is very clear on this point: "a person who is not certified by the Board or whose certified status is inactive shall not function as a peace officer or be assigned the duties of a peace officer by an agency . . . "
The CCA corrections officers were not certified by the board.

Caroline Isaacs, member of the American Friends Service Committee, put it best:
To invite for-profit prison guards to conduct law enforcement actions in a high school is perhaps the most direct expression of the 'schools-to-prison pipeline' I've ever seen ... All the research shows that CCA doesn't properly train its staff to do the jobs they actually have. They most certainly do not have anywhere near the training and experience--to say nothing of the legal authority--to conduct a drug raid on a high school... It is chilling to think that any school official would be willing to put vulnerable students at risk this way.