Between now and that date there will be a loud and clear message sent to county, state and federal elected and appointed officials that a transfer of inmates to Jail #2 run by Corrections Corporation of America is not an option. In fact, any expansion of CCA/Jail #2 should not be considered. Quite simply, CCA should not be rewarded with additional Marion County taxpayers' money given the substantial problems it has running Jail #2, problems CCA refuses to acknowledge or address. Our elected officials need to demand that CCA comply with the law and their privatization contract or suffer the consequences of not receiving additional tax money.
As a conservative, law-and-order Republican, dealing with the problems of jail privatization does not come naturally to me. I am generally in favor of privatization. I am certainly not a fan of people who commit crimes (albeit I would point out that most of the people in Jail #2 have not yet been convicted.) What it took for me to be active on this issue was, once I got into this, seeing never ending shocking-to-the-conscience revelations regarding what is going on at Jail #2 and, to a lesser degree, other privatized facilities. Here are a few of the problems that have been alleged in court and/or confirmed by scores and scores of former CCA/Jail #2 nurses, security guards, other employees, as well as inmates:
- Inmates' medication not being started for weeks if not months after arriving at the facility
- Inmates' medication being discontinued or changed to a cheaper alternative when they come in the facility, a violation of Indiana Jail Regulations
- Inmates being given the wrong medication
- Inmates being given expired medication to save money
- Inmates being given other inmates' medication to save money
- Inmates dying or being injured because they were not given medication or medical treatment
- The CCA/Jail #2 doctor cutting out a round of medication for the inmates at Jail #2 because CCA did not want to replace staff that had previously passed out the medication
- CCA refusing to properly staff Jail #2 as required by the privatization contract it has with the Marion County Sheriff
- CCA requiring unarmed, untrained Nurses to escort inmates throughout Jail #2 (except during audits when the practice was temporarily stopped); Nurses were accused of a "work stoppage" when they expressed concerns over their safety
- Numerous TV monitors at Jail #2 not working which was reported to the corporate office in Tennessee; nothing was done
- Radios not working; again reported to the corporate office and no action was taken
- Nurses being told to go see inmates without security
- Inmates being examined in the presence of other inmates, a violation of HIPAA
- Nurses and other employees being told to alter incident reports and other documents
- Nurses being told to alter medication error reports
- Failure to report medication errors as required by Indiana law
- Medical intake numbers grossly inflated by CCA supervisors (it is unclear whether there might be additional compensation paid to CCA based on those inflated numbers)
- CCA supervisors instructing employees to write incident reports in such a way that CCA employees won't be able to claim workers' compensation for injuries they suffered
- Retaliation against nurses and other employees who dare report problems at the facility
- CCA employees tearing up inmate grievances, throwing them away, losing them, refusing to process the forms or not making the forms available in the first place
- CCA refusing to allow inmates to complete the required grievance process so CCA's attorneys can seek dismissal should those inmates sue the company
- CCA paying several thousand dollars for a pro-correctional privatization group the American Correctional Association (ACA) to audit the Jail #2 facility (the audit in essentially a procedures and not a performance audit) which CCA could then spin to the public as proof Jail #2 is being run properly. During the 2005 audit of Jail #2, ACA supposedly talked with over 100 inmates, yet I have not been able to find any inmate who was personally interviewed or knows of anyone who was interviewed by ACA. Nurses and other CCA/Jail #2 staff who were clamoring to talk to ACA auditors about the above-mentioned problems at Jail #2 during the 2005 audit were not provided that opportunity. Not surprisingly, ACA found that CCA, which pays them hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars for audits at CCA facilities nationwide, was doing a swell job at Jail #2.
- Though being notified of all these problems, CCA's corporate office in Tennessee has done nothing to address any of them and has left the same warden, health services administrator and doctor (who is not even an M.D.) at Jail #2. However, CCA employees at Jail #2 who dared speak out about the problems and the need to fix them were pushed out the door.
These allegations, believe it or not, are only a small sampling of the problems at the Jail #2 facility. And the above allegations do not even begin to touch upon the substantial racial problems at Jail #2 alleged by numerous former CCA African-American employees at Jail #2.
Corporate arrogance is not a pretty sight. If CCA were to acknowledge problems with its running of Jail #2 and pledge to take remedial action to correct the problems, that would be one thing. CCA does nothing of the sort though. Instead the company pays a big law firm (Barnes & Thornburg, who else?) to aggressively go after anyone who dares challenge the company or attempts to expose what is going on in court. One would think that it would be cheaper to actually fix some of the problems at the jail so the company would not get sued so often. But, alas, that is not the CCA way.
Over the course of the next few months, the Indianapolis City County Council, Sheriff Frank Anderson, Mayor Greg Ballard, Public Safety Director Scott Newman, Congressman Andre Carson and other elected and appointed officials are going to get an earful about exactly what is going on with CCA's operation of Jail #2. They need to decide whether they really want more taxpayer money going to a company that steadfastly refuses to address problems at the facility, including those allegations outlined above. When the decision comes down to where to place the Annex inmates, rewarding CCA with more taxpayer dollars by sending those inmates to Jail #2 should not be an option. Taxpayers deserve better than the privatized jail service CCA has provided in its operation of Jail #2. It is time for CCA to be accountable to the public.