U.S. Congressman John Culbertson said in a budget hearing that Texas has had a "very successful prison industry."
Culbertson also opined that that Texas has had "Great success...using private contractors" and that those contractors "operate at a significant savings to taxpayers." He also claimed that private facilities provided better food and services overall, and are liable for any issues that may arise.
Texas Prison Bidness, however, has reported several counter-examples of the "great success" portrayed in the recent BOP budget hearing:
The Corrections Corporation of America's witholding information regarding deaths at the Dawson State Jail, where a baby girl died prematurely after no medical personnel were assigned to oversee her mother's care;
The repeated sexual abuse and unsanitary living conditions reported at the Texas Youth Commission's Coke County Juvenile Justice Center, run the the GEO Group;
and the lawsuit filed against Reeves County, the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the GEO Group following medical neglect that lead to the death of Jesus Manuel Galindo.
These are only three counter-examples among many that suggest that the "great success" of the private prison industry in Texas is merely a mirage.
The video of the Bureau of Prisons budget hearing is embedded below. The comments in question begin at 49:34.
The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has sheduled a first-quarter earnings call for May 8, according to Marketwatch ("CCA Announces 2014 First Quarter Earnings and Conference Call Dates," 4/23/14).
The conference call will take place at 10:00 am central time (11:00 am eastern) on Thursday, May 8, 2014. The call can be accessed through the CCA website. An online replay will be available following the live conference call, beginning at 1:00 pm central time (2:00 pm eastern) and will be available until the same time on May 16.
To access the telephonic replay, dial dial 888-203-1112 in the U.S. and Canada. International callers must dial +719-457-0820 and enter the passcode 2158209.
On March 19, a Travis County, Texas court has declared the the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) a governmental body, according to Prison Legal News ("Texas Court holds CCA is a governmental body in PLN public records suit 2014"). According to the Texas Public Information Act, CCA, as a governmental body, is required to disclose information to the public.
This ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by Prison Legal News (PLN), a monthly publication housed within the Human Rights Defense Center that focuses on criminal justice issues. PLN filed a lawsuit against CCA in May 2013 after the for-profit prison corporation refused to disclose information, such as audits and other investigations regarding the troubled Dawson State Jail, which Grassroots Leadership helped close that same year. The records in question would have been public had Dawson not been operated by a private company. CCA operated nine facilities in Texas, four of which are used to incarcerate state prisoners.
PLN managing director Alex Friedmann commented on CCA's secrecy:
This is one of the many failings of private prisons... By contracting with private companies, corrections officials interfere with the public’s right to know what is happening in prisons and jails, even though the contracts are funded with taxpayer money. This lack of transparency contributes to abuses and misconduct by for-profit companies like CCA, which prefer secrecy over public accountability.
PLN argued that CCA can be defined as a "governmental body" because the company performs duties that are also performed by the government. CCA rebutted, claiming that not all funds from Texas are allocated for Texas facilities, but are instead used to "to support CCA’s corporate allocations throughout the United States." PLN's has won a lawsuit against CCA in Tennessee and another is pending in Vermont.
Brian McGiverin of the Texas Civil Rights Project, who represented PLN along with Cindy Saiter Connolly, calls the ruling against CCA a "victory":
The conditions of Texas prisons have been the focus of intense public scrutiny for nearly 40 years... Today’s ruling is a victory for transparency and responsible government. Texans have a right to know what their government is doing, even when a private company is hired to do it.
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.
Despite the facility's permanent closure on July 30, 2013, Parker County grand juries have continued to press charges in the last few months regarding contraband violations that have occurred over the last few years.