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January 2014

Corrections Corp. of America schedules quarterly investor conference call for February 13

Corrections Corporation of America has scheduled its 2013 4th quarter investor conference call Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 10am CT.  The investor calls are accessible through CCA's investor website and webcasts are generally made available in the days following the call.  

These calls are often important gauges of where the industry thinks its future lies, whether its in expanded immigration detention contracts, out-of-state transfers from states like California, or increased state contracts.  It will also be interesting to see if the loss of CCA contracts to operate the Dawson State Jail and Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility - together more than 4,000 prison beds - will impact the company's annual bottom-line.   

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Top 10 Prison Industry Lobbyists in the Lonestar State, 2013 edition

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Last January, Piper revealed the top 5 private prison industry lobbyists in Texas in 2012: Lionel Aguirre, Michael Toomey, Frank R. Santos, Lara Laneri Keel, and Dean McWilliams. 

According to the Texas Ethics Commission's records for 2013, several of the aforementioned legislators have continued to lobby for the private prison industry, and several more names have come across our radar as well. 

1. Lionel Aguirre  

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Texas Public Policy Foundation Report Shows Wide Support for Prison Alternatives

According to 1200 News Radio, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, has found that 79 percent of Texans support alternatives to incarceration for drug offenders. 

TPPF President Chuck DeVore stated that current Texas laws encourage incarceration rather than the use of effective alternatives: 

If a local judge sends an offender to the state prison system, that offender accrues no cost to your county system, that offender becomes a state cost and state responsibility. But if the judge sends the offenders to rehabilitation, the local county has to pay for that, and that's unpopular among county leaders

The TPPF study also indicates that the rate at which Texas is incarcerating people is proving to be unsustainable as the state's population grows. DeVore claims that alternatives to detention can only be implemented if people know that crime rates are actually decreasing. Seventy five percent of those who responded to the survey think that the crime rate is holding steady or increasing, but FBI statistics indicate otherwise. 

According to the study, the expansion of alternatives to incarceration could save Texas $2 billion in prison costs. 

These developments, while laudable, bear further scrutiny. According to the Texas Observer, the TPPF has received $15,000 in donations from the GEO Group, a private prison corporation. GEO is also invested in alternatives to detention, primarily electronic monitoring devices that "monitor offenders as they live and work in the community" (GEO).

Gov. Chris Christie a long-time supporter of CEC, which runs the Polk County Detention Center

Salon Media reports today that New Jersey governor Chris Christie promotes Community Education Centers (CEC), a for-profit prison company. The facility is used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain immigrant men who are seeking asylum in the United States ("Chris Christie's Texas Horror: Meet the Scandalous Prison Company he's Long Promoted," 1/24/14). 

Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, visited Polk in 2012 and 2013 with other activists. Libal claims that "I've visited a bunch of detention facilities in Texas, and that's by far the worst." Libal's sentiments are reflected in a report released by the Detention Watch Network, a coalition comprised of the ACLU, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Grassroots Leadership, and others. The report alleges that those incarcerated at Polk receive inadequate medical care, poor nutrition, are neglected, and do not have access to legal services. An ICE spokesperson claims that these allegations, as well as similar ones reported during Grassroots Leadership's and Texans United for Families' visit to Polk in 2013, are based on "unsubstantiated allegations." 

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New York Times: Fix Immigration System, Detention Unnecessary

The Editorial Board at the New York Times denounced The House passing a trillion-dollar budget allocating $16 billion of those funds to immigration enforcement.

According to the opinion piece, House Republicans tout this sum as one that "will allow for the highest operational force levels in history" for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The bill also calls for 2,000 additional CBP officers at border ports and requires that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fill no fewer than 34,000 detention beds per day until September 30, 2014. 

The Editorial Board has this to say about the mandatory detention of immigrants: 

Take the irrational obligation to fill all those detention beds, at the cost of about $122 per day. Why make the people who run a vast and expensive law-enforcement apparatus responsible for keeping prison beds warm rather than communities safe--especially when there are low-cost alternatives to detention that don't involve fattening the bottom lines of for-profit prison corporations? 

The authors further denounce the Obama administration, which they claim has used its enforcement powers to deport roughly 400,000 people annually. Immigrants mandatorily detained in for-profit prisons continue to suffer at great cost to taxpayers. 

 

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Bribery Charges Filed Against Former Officers, Inmates of Mineral Wells

According to CNHI News Service, a Parker Country grand jury has pressed charges against two former corrections officers, 11 former inmates and five other individuals for possible involvement in bribery and the intent to provide contraband to an incarcerated person in February 2013. 

Carl James Guittard, 36 and Terrie Elaine Glover, 49, who are both former employees of the Mineral Wells facility, are charged with bribery and intending to provide an incarcerated individual with tobacco. The charges allege that 10 people offered or gave money to both Guittard and Glover with a prepaid debit card. Information regarding the charges reached investigators at the beginning of the year. 

Mark Mullin, a special prosecutor, said it is uncommon for state prosecutors to seek this type of case with the number of defendants involved.

"This is a lot of folks," Mullin said. "You know we've seen it before but we don't deal with it very often and not this many of them." Mullin also stated that, though there have been a lot of contraband cases, none involve as many people as the one in question.

The Democrat was unable to reach the corporate spokeswoman for the Corrections Corporation of America, which operated the Mineral Wells Facility.  

The facility has a troubled history with contraband issues, which is reportedly a reason for the facility's closure in 2013. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice elected to close Mineral Wells for safety reasons, as well as the problems with contraband and capacity. CCA's contract with TDCJ was thus terminated.