Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where Indianapolis Can Get Money for Crime Surveillance Cameras: Enforce Indemnity Provisions in Private Correctional Contracts

The Indianapolis Star editorializes this morning about the City's decision to move surveillance cameras from certain high crime, inner city street corners to the Monon Trail. The reputation of the Monon has been hurt by some highly-publicized muggings on the public trail. The cameras cost $30,000 apiece, certainly not a prohibitive sum if they work as advertised to combat crime. Unfortunately when council Democrats asked for a crime data analysis of the areas, Republican Ryan Vaughn, chairman of the Council Public Safety Committee, said they were trying to "micromanage" the police. Ryan knows better than that. If the situation were reversed, the Dems had the Mayor's Office, Republicans would not hesitate to ask for that information, and rightfully so. You should know basic information like that as it affects funding requests.

But I digress. I know the perfect funding source for surveillance cameras, plenty of them in fact, and it will not cost the taxpayers a dime. The Marion County Sheriff contracts with the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) to run Marion County Jail #2 on East Washington Street. The Sheriff contracts with Community Education Centers (CEC) to run Liberty Hall a women's jail also on East Washington Street. The Sheriff contracts with Health and Hospital Corporation which then turns around and contracts with Correctional Medical Services (CMS) which provides medical services at all the other Marion County jails.

The Sheriff is responsible for making sure these private companies follow their contracts and the law, and even appoints a "contract monitor" supposedly for the purpose of making sure they do. To say the Sheriff and his monitor has been AWOL on the subject of contract compliance is a charitable statement. Those companies, in particular CCA, are constantly getting sued for cutting corners on medical care to make more profits. The result is that inmates often do not get their medciation or have health conditions treated, which often result in inmates getting injured or, in several cases, dying. The problem for taxpayers is that when CCA, CMS and CEC get sued, the Sheriff also gets sued for failing to do his job in making sure they comply with their contracts and the law. Because of CCA's mismanagement of Jail #2 alone, the Sheriff has become embroiled in scores of lawsuits.

When the Sheriff gets sued he has two options: use City Legal at taxpayer expense or use the private law firm, the formerly named Locke Reynolds. Given City Legal's attorneys lack of experience, I do not necessarily begrudge the Sheriff for wanting to use a private law firm (although I would point out that the firm is supposedly a big political contributor to the Sheriff) in what could be complex litigation. But the Sheriff paid Locke Reynolds using jail commissary funds. Indiana law requires that his use of commissary funds for a purpose outside of what is allowed in the code (and paying an attorney for legal defense is not one of those purposes listed in the statute) would have had be approved by the fiscal body in the county, the City County Council. I am not sure if the Council approved the use of commissary funds to pay the Sheriff's private attorneys.

Now here's the catch: inside each of those privatization contracts is an indemnity provision in which the private company agrees, should the Sheriff (or other government entity) gets sued for the private company's screwups, the Sheriff can seek to be indemnified from the private company not only for all attorney's fees and expenses, but also for any judgments against the Sheriff. Like all the other provisions of the privatization contracts, the Sheriff makes no discernible attempt to enforce the indemnity provisions and recoup taxpayer money. Further his dipping into his commissary fund to pay for attorneys could be avoided completely if he simply enforced the indemnity provisions. The commissary fund could be put to much better use (like paying for surveillance cameras) than to pay a private law firm for legal representation.

There you have it: the perfect funding source for the surveillance cameras. Let's see if the Sheriff will make the private correctional companies pay back the money they owe to taxpayers per their contracts. Don't count on it.


Leslie Sourwine said...

Mr. Ogden
History of Indianapolis jails and their supervision has reared its ugly head time and time again. Sheriff Anderson, Mayor Ballard and the Warden of CCA have received numerous complaints against that facility for violation of inmate rights concerning medical care. Just recently The Police Complaint Center received yet another complaint from an inmate who alleges he received the wrong medication. He couldn’t tell until after the medication was ingested that the medication was wrong because according to the complaint, the jail employee, Ms. Thomas gave the inmate the medication crushed. It doesn’t take an Eisenstein to understand that the reason for crushing the pills is so the inmates don’t know they are taking the wrong or someone else’s medications.

What a perfect cover-up! Unfortunately the inmate had adverse reaction to receiving the wrong medication and was put on 24 hour watch because he was vomiting blood. I received another letter from the above mentioned inmate and he advises me that after his contact with us he is having problems with employees of the jail. Retaliation is yet another violation of inmate’s right to make complaints against their treatment by jail personnel.

The name of the game is cover-up! Sheriff Anderson not enforcing CCA contract should make everyone wonder what his kick back is. Just how much money if any does CCA fork over to the sheriff every year to look the other way while inmates at CCA are denied sometimes critical medical care? Elected officials are bought and paid for all the time by big corporations so it’s hard to be shocked that the elected sheriff of Indianapolis may have been paid off. What I don’t understand is the personal ethics of the warden and assistant wardens who operate the jail. How much of a kick back or bonus does it take for an individual to forget his/her personal ethics and continue to support a corporation who is clearly interested only in making a profit? Profit I remind you that comes from taxpayer money. The individual employees are another example. Ms. Thomas’s name comes up time and time again in the complaints our organization receives. There are others, not mentioned here but will eventfully make it to the web site in documentaries our volunteers are working on. Every time an employee violates the rights of an inmate they are breaking civil rights laws. The remedy for those criminals is to make sure the United States Justice Department receives the names as well. I have to tell you that we are contacting every family member of the inmates who filed complaints with us to encourage them to file their own lawsuits against the corporation, CCA, Sheriff Anderson, the City of Indianapolis, and the individual employees and seek whatever compensation allowed by law. Unlike your lawsuit which is only asking the court to force CCA to obey the law the inmate family lawsuit should seek as much money for the pain and suffering of their loved ones as possible. Maybe then Mayor Ballard will take steps to revoke the contract that CCA is not living up to.

Leslie Sourwine
The Police Complaint Center

Anonymous said...

Mr. Ogden if you're going to offer an opinion at least do us the courtesy of making it an informed one. Do you really think I tried to keep the information from the Democrats or did you just pull that piece of information from the equally uninformed Star editorial?
If you want to see what really happened I suggest you watch the committee hearing that took place on Nov. 19th. At that committee you'll hear me request that IMPD provide that information to the members of the committee. If that's doesn't satisfy your interest watch the public meeting on Dec. 8 where the information is provided to the Council - literally two hours after I received it via e-mail. If you’re still not satisfied watch the committee hearing I ran on Dec. 10 wherein we discussed the placing of the cameras, the policy behind moving the cameras and the cost of doing so for over an hour.
I did criticize Councillor D. Mahern’s suggestion that every movement of the cameras should be voted on by the Council. That’s simply not practical. Its takes in excess of a month to move anything through our procedures. Crime is much more dynamic than government and the Council should not be hindering Public Safety efforts by micromanaging in this way.
I've notice a common practice in your post, at least as they relate to my actions. So let me once again extend to you an invitation to call me before you decide to publish "opinions" concerning my actions. In case you've lost my number its 437-7701.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Well, Ryan, actually I did call you. As I remember, you never called me back. If I had the information wrong about what you said, I certainly apologize. Obviously what you are saying is directly contrary to what the Star reported. The Star occasionally gets things wrong though, and I do as well.

I would be interested in finding out when you are going to start recusing yourself on all the Barnes & Thornburg clients that have business before the Public Safety Committee. Givn how many B&T clients have business before that committee, that will be extremely difficult.

Ryan, a lot of my friends used to speak very positively of you, but not so much any more. Let's be honest. You received your job at Barnes & Thornburg because you chair a critical committee to several clients they represent. Before you took that job you were an up and coming politician in this city, the ideal person to stand up for a reenergized Marion County Republican Party and against people like Bob Grand, Joe Loftus and the corrupting influence of B&T that is destroying our Republican Party, any chance the mayor has for re-election.

I actually sympathize greatly for the position you were in as a young attorney. The legal job market is crap and has been for 20 plus years. When you get offered a high paying job, it's hard to say "No." But the price is that Bpb Grand bought your soul and neutered you politically. Don't think that was an accident, Ryan. I've been around Bob Grand long enough to know the games he plays.

By the way, my suggestion about paying for surveillance cameras by enforcing the indemenity provisions of the private jail contract stands as an excellent idea. Again, here is the problem. Forcing CCA to comply with its contract, including the indemnity provision, falls squarely within the jurisidciton of your committee. But you have a huge conflict. CCA is a million dollar client of Barnes & Thornburg.

CCA is constntly getting sued for violating the law and the contract it has with the Sheriff. I get calls virtually every day from inmates who didn't get their medication or medical treatment at CCA, and to a lesser degree CMS. Many inmates have gotten hurt. Somtimes it is a widow or mother calling because their loved on died.

I am as much of a law and order, conservative Republican as they come and I find what is going on in Jail #2 to be utterly reprehensible. Inmates are getting hurt and dying because CCA is cutting corners to make more profit. CCA employees who attempt to blow the whistle on problems are forced out. And Sheriff Anderson, who has primary responsibility for overseeing the contract, won't even lift a finger to investigate what is going on over there nomatter how much information you give him regarding the problems.

In every CCA case that goes to court, and there are many of them, it is your law firm acting the shill for CCA, spinning the tale that CCA is doing a fabulous job running Jail #2. And your committee with oversight responsibilities over CCA/Jail #2.

You would think that at some point, CCA would figure out it is actually cheaper to fix some of the problems and avoid paying your firm millions of dolars to defend the company. But alas this hasn't occurred yet to CCA.


P.S. I might have some time to look at the video tomorrow. If I'm wrong, I apologize profusely. My information came from the Star story on the subject and if they are wrong, I am wrong. Obviously I don't have time to sit through hours of video to make sure the Star gets their stories straight.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I would add, Ryan, not only do I understand why you took the job at B&T, if I was 20 years younger, and up and comping pol like you were, I almost certaily would have done the exact saem thing. When you get to be my age though, other things become more important. And one of those things is having the freedom to stand up for what is right, with your integrity and beliefs intact.

Ryan Vaughn, CCC D-3 said...


I love how you continue to pontificate on my life as if you somehow know me personally, professionally or politically. This will be the last time I respond / post on this blog as it has become painfully obvious that you are much more interested in promoting the interest of YOUR CLIENTS (the people suing CCA) under the guise of a political blog than you are of actually moving the city forward through meaningful discussion. As evidenced by the fact that you turn every post into a “closing argument” for your clients interest. Anyway, in the limited time I have to be a Councillor, a lawyer and a husband, I can no longer afford to waste time correcting your record.

To begin, I received an offer to come to Barnes and Thornburg months before I assumed office for my first term. Obviously that offer came long before leadership was voted on or committee chairs and assignments were made. I did not come to Barnes and Thornburg because of the pay. In fact, I didn’t even negotiate my pay when I came over. In reality, I spent the first 4 years of my professional life (1 as an intern, 3 as a lawyer) as a Deputy Prosecutor. I loved that job. I left to become a more well-rounded attorney. I went to a mid-sized firm in town to practice civil litigation. I loved the people, but I hated the work. As I’m sure you are painfully aware, civil litigation is 90% discovery and 10% settlement and trial. The practice literally bored me to the point where I was doubting practicing law. In fact, during the year and half I was practicing civil litigation I turned down three other jobs with larger firms doing the same work. Barnes and Thornburg’s Government Services Team offered me that change.

As for the recusals, again, watch the meetings / check the records. Just last meeting I recused myself from two votes. One vote was to pay legal fees for the Coroner. I asked if B and T was due any portion of those fees and it turns out they are, so I recused myself. The second vote was to use money to pay for food and medicine for inmates pursuant to the CCA contract. I maintain that there is no direct conflict here as the contract is with the Sheriff and enforced by the Sheriff; however, because the proposal was so narrowly tailed to deal specifically with the CCA contract (despite the fact that it had nothing to do with legal fees) I recused myself to avoid the appearance of a conflict. So to answer your questions as to when I will “start” recusing myself if there is a conflict, the answer is “awhile ago.”

As to the idea that Bob Grand “bought my soul and neutered me politically,” get a grip. Do I look like any less of an advocate during these meetings? When was the last time you saw me sit quietly through anything? Perhaps you missed the last meeting where I lost an amendment within my own caucus to reduce the Township Assessors salary. Perhaps you also missed me defending the COIT reduction that I introduced. In fact, I challenge you to pick a full Council meeting that has taken place since I was elected in which I wasn’t the lead advocate or the lead opposition for a proposal affecting our city. Just because I don’t routinely advocate for the issues you self-servingly identify as primary doesn’t mean I’ve been “neutered.”

Lastly, I do recognize that you are probably about 15-20 years older than I am. I also recognize that certain degrees of wisdom do come with age and experience, but spare me the condescending patriarchal lecture about “having the freedom to do what is right.” I wake up everyday knowing that no matter what happens that day I get to go home to the same woman that has loved me and only me for 15 years. The rest of this life is just icing on the cake. That’s real freedom and that is what allows me to me, everyday.

Paul K. Ogden said...


If you think this is all about my promoting the interests of my clients and my personally profitting, I should show you my bank account some time. It's your law firm that's making a ton of money, not me. I do though think if you would have seen what I've seen at Jail #2, it would have deeply affected you every bit as much as it has me. You can't be human and turn your back seeing the outrage that is going on ove there.

Of course you have a conflict. The Public Safety Committee has secondary oversight over the jails, including CCA/Jail #2 and the council appropriates money to pay Jail #2, CCA, your law firm's client.

As far as that $225K resolution the council passed to pay CCA for inmate meals and an inflation adjustment, pursuant to the CCA/Sheriff Contract, I have read that contract and "the contractual obligations" are simply not there. At some point, I think people on the council need to take a close look at why Sheriff Anderson would be encouraging the council, on a false claim of "contractual obligation," to pay a private company nearly ta quarter of a million dollars of our tax money.

Leslie Sourwine said...

Councilor Ryan Vaughn

You stated "The second vote was to use money to pay for food and medicine for inmates pursuant to the CCA contract."

Will the inmates now receive non-fruit fly infested food as well as proper medications and medical care? I realize you don't know me so let me introduce myself. My name is Leslie Sourwine and I am the Administrative Services Director of The Police Complaint Center. For the past year I personally responded to and investigated complaints by inmates inside your CCA facility. What I found was that inmates were denied critical life sustaining medical care. They are allowed to suffer in pain without so much as an ibuprofen to ease that suffering.
Employees retaliate against inmates who attempt to file complaints, inmates attack other inmates and burn holes in the windows to smuggle drugs into the facility. All is not rosy inside Marion County Jail II(CCA)!

Maybe you can tell me why Anderson, the City of Indianapolis and your committee do not force CCA to honor their contract with the city? Everything I’ve read states the private facilities must provide the same level of care as the public facilities. Yet I’ve seen time and time again an inmate will be incarcerated at CCA for months, needing serious medical care, be denied until they are transferred to another facility.
One man according to his complaint was denied heart medication as well as antibiotics for an infection he developed after receiving a hair cut at CCA. Lucky for him when he transferred he arrived at a facility ran by the state. Within a week he was given all the previous CCA denied medications along with antibiotics to clear up the infection on his scalp.

Another man’s complaint stated he needed surgery on his knee which was badly infected. In spite of the non-facility doctor orders that this wound be cleansed and bandaged several times a day employees at CCA just simply ignored the doctor’s orders and let the wound fester unattended or made the inmate attend to his own wound. Surgery did not happen until after he was transferred to another facility.

The CCA physician, Dr. Quack discontinued a whole round of medications supposedly because CCA was short on staff. Men with high blood pressure became seriously ill. Others with mental health problems suffered set backs. All this at the hands of a corporation who is suppose to follow Indiana Codes and Department of Correction rules. Yet time and time again CCA blatantly does what it wants in the area of inmate care and those who are responsible for making sure they honor the contract with the city look the other way. What kind of a payoff does it take for those in a position of authority and oversight to look the other way while human beings are treated worse than animals?

The Police Complaint Center has not received a dime from the complainants who contacted our organization for help. Mr. Ogden’s law suit is not asking for money but that CCA be made to follow the law.
Our interest in CCA is purely human interest and a desire to see that justice is served. Can you or your committee along with Sheriff Anderson and Mayor Ballard say the same?