All photos, courtesy Mark Bartlett
July 6, 2016 (San Diego) The community is fed up, about mass incarceration and the consequences of it. But they are also fed up that the County has placed two facilities within walking distance of schools and churches. They are also now fed up that the company that owns these facilities is no longer even local, but one of the largest private prison owners in the United States. This is Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), that currently has the contract and runs two reentry facilities in South East San Diego. They run a third in Otay Mesa.
According to activist (and records) “The CCA is the largest for profit prison industry in America and they currently operate three Correctional Facilities across San Diego County. Two out of the three facilities are located in the heart of Southeast San Diego and Barrio Logan. Both centers are located in residential neighborhoods within close proximity of homes, churches, schools, and businesses. CCA is looking to capitalize through alternative services in order to boost their revenue by purchasing reentry/detention centers across the country.”
This is a problem, just from where it is placed. But also since it is no longer run by a local person, but a company who’s interest is only keeping the beds full. CCA really has no interest in the well being of their clients, but rather in the well being of their stock holders. So treatment is not truly high in their priorities, the activist do allege. There is data that supports those allegations, since recidivism rates are quite high.
A new study finds that inmates in private prisons are likely to serve as many as two to three more months behind bars than those assigned to public prisons and are equally likely to commit more crimes after release, despite industry claims to lower recidivism rates through high-quality and innovative rehabilitation programs.
The 5 billion industry houses 10 percent of inmates nation wide.
So what are the demands made by activists? Here they are.
- Terminate partnership with CCA and return the building back to the community
- Justice Involved Individuals will be provided with quality REENTRY services that are not run by for profit prison corporations
- End low staffing levels which puts staff and residents at risk
- End the high use and possession of narcotics in the facilities (Not conducive for individuals with addictive behaviors to transition successfully into the community).
- End the CoEd facility which is not conducive for certain individuals to transition back into their communities. For example: some women have been sexually assaulted or abused by their partners and putting them in an environment around men does not help them overcome their trauma.
- Poor sanitation of the facility
- Activists allege there is tampering and forging of County/Federal documents
- Lack of resources, computers, and programs for Justice Involved Individuals
- Poor nutritional meals for residents
- Overcrowding that breaches their contract stipulations which causes disruption
- Misuse and improper handling of the distribution of prescribed medication (Staff members are REENTRY services that are not run by for profit prison corporations.
- Community Leaders also demand that all agencies at the local, state, and federal level terminate their contracts with CCA and all agencies at the local, state, and federal level terminate their contracts with CCA
Thorough Investigation into the following items:
- Staff not trained or qualified to distribute medication. Medication has also come up missing at many occasions)
- High volume of emergency response calls (#2 behind Sea World in 2014 apparently)
- Absence of medical staff on site
- Improper training and lack of personal safety equipment for staff.
- Sex Offenders at the facility are not indicated on the Megan’s Law website map but they are listed in the database. The community deserves to know especially since the facility is within close proximity of homes, churches, and schools.
- That the San Diego Police Department along with the San Diego Fire Department/EMT relinquish all documented complaints from the community and a record of dispatch calls they have received from the facility where they had responded to a situation at the center.
- Request the Federal Bureau of Prisons to release their full monitoring audit documents for both facilities from 2015 to the public.
- More outreach from community organizations to facilitate programming and distribute resources
- Incentives for the population for good behavior
- A/C units in all dorms functionally correctly
- Need a prerelease center for all justice involved individuals
- Stop taking 25 percent of federal residents gross income from their paycheck’s
- Lack of incentives for good behavior.
- There are no recreational activities to stay busy.
- Inoperable GPS electronic devices.
- Overcrowding causes tension and disruption.
- Low staffing levels
Any of these issues on their own is serious, All of these are very serious
.On a far more big picture item, they do reflect the attitudes that we as a country have developed. There was a time when we were concerned about rehabilitation. Over the last two generations the prison system has become a system of social control of the underclass. Among other writers, Michelle Alexander has pointed to this in The New Jim Crow,
This is is also part of the neoliberal ideology that believes that private corporations can do everything better. But as the study we referenced above, prisoners serve longer sentences, due to better income for the investors.
For the moment activists have started a hunger strike, in order to draw attention to this issue.