Jul 272011

The last weapon against tyranny in prisons

By Beth Connors-Manke

On July 1, a mass hunger strike began in California prisons. The 21-day hunger strike was sparked by the conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison’s security housing unit (SHU), which like the now-defunct Lexington High Security Unit, subjects prisoners to prolonged isolation and psychological torture. Over the course of the strike, thousands of prisoners took part in the resistance movement.

Aerial shot of Pelican Bay State Prison. Photo by Jelson25.

The organizers’ list of demands included the end to select administrative policies such as group punishment and “gang management” in Pelican Bay; the end to long-term solitary confinement; and the end to using food coercively. The strikers also wanted more “constructive programming and privileges for indefinite SHU status inmates.” Continue reading »

Feb 282010

An update on the dangerous Corrections Corporation of America

One of our concerns here at NoC has been prison conditions in Kentucky for inmates and immigrant detainees. We’ve been paying attention—and you should, too, because we’re sending prisoners to places where procedure and profit trump humane treatment.

Last June, NoC ran a piece on the death of Ana Romero. To be honest, by the time we wrote on Romero’s story it was old news, but questions and concerns regarding immigrant detention were still a very live issue—and they continue to be. A 44 year-old cleaning woman from El Salvador, Romero was arrested on Jan. 14, 2008. Police had come knocking on her door, looking for someone else, and took her into custody. More than seven months and several jails later, she pleaded guilty on Aug. 7, 2008 to using fake identification documents and was ready to be deported. She would return to her mother in El Salvador. On Aug. 21 she hanged herself in her jail cell. Romero’s name has been absent from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) list of people who have died while in the agency’s custody. Continue reading »

Jan 122010

Women inmates in a Corrections Corp. of America world

By Beth Connors-Manke

The situation at Otter Creek Correctional Center in Floyd County, KY at once reminds us of the sordid history of female incarceration as well as presents us with a startling glimpse of its present state of affairs.

The Herald-Leader reported on January 8 that Gov. Beshear ordered the removal of some 400 female inmates from the prison due to “widespread allegations of sexual misconduct” by guards at the institution, which is operated by Corrections Corporation of America. This order came after Hawaii pulled 165 of its female inmates from the prison in July and after the Kentucky Department of Corrections had finished an investigation of 18 alleged cases of sexual misconduct by prison guards.

Part of the continuing privatization of U.S. prisons, Otter Creek is an all-female minimum/medium security facility owned by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) since 1998. CCA calls itself “the nation’s industry leader of privately-managed corrections solutions for federal, state and local government” and claims to have founded the private corrections industry. Continue reading »