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PLN managing editor quoted re CCA annual meeting and death of CCA employee

Clarion Ledger, Jan. 1, 2013.
PLN managing editor quoted re CCA annual meeting and death of CCA employee - Clarion Ledger 2013

Activist says CCA refused to honor slain prison guard with moment of silence

May 17, 2013 5:30 PM

The Corrections Corporation of America board chairman reportedly denied a request at Thursday’s annual stockholders meeting for a moment of silence in memory of murdered prison guard Catlin Carithers.

Monday will mark one year since Carithers was killed after being called in on his day off to help quell a prison riot at the CCA-owned Adams County Correctional Center facility near Natchez. Thursday was the first stockholders meeting since the May 20 riot.

Stockholder Alex Friedmann said when he asked for the moment of silence, CCA Board Chairman John D. Ferguson refused to honor the request, saying CCA had honored Carithers in other ways.

The meeting was at CCA headquarters in Nashville, where approximately 30 people stood outside, some with signs, protesting the privately-run prison company. The meeting inside was formal and businesslike, Friedman said, as only stockholders, executives and staff are allowed to attend.

Friedman, who said he owns CCA stock in order to communicate issues with executives, previously served a six year sentence at a CCA prison and is president of a watchdog nonprofit group that opposes private prisons called Private Corrections Institute.

“In that one meeting CCA would not give 30 seconds of respect (for Carithers),” Friedman said. “It speaks volumes how the company thinks of its employees and how it treats them.”

CCA spokesman Steve Owen said in an emailed response that Friedman “would stop at nothing” to disparage CCA and its employees.

“Yesterday, professional corrections critic Alex Friedman shamefully attempted to exploit the tragic death of Catlin for his own personal agenda,” Owens said. “These antics do not honor his memory.”

Friedman said a number of other “activist stockholders” attended Thursday’s meeting, including members of the Jesuits religious order and other religious groups.

Owens said CCA has “honored his memory in a number of ways, both at the Adams County Correctional Facility and throughout the company.”

The family of Carithers filed a lawsuit this month in connection with the May 20 riot saying CCA was negligent in Carithers’ death. The lawsuit cites information from an informant predicting the riot and suggesting Carithers was on a “hit list.”

Friedman said he attended a CCA stockholders meeting in 2008 when the board honored someone’s memory with a moment of silence, but he believed the board had a different chairman at the time.

“This is the only time, at the annual meeting, that shareholders could recognize Mr. Carithers,” Friedman said.

Owen said CCA takes the safety and well-being of the staff very seriously, and the entire CCA family has been “deeply saddened” by Carithers’ loss.

A federal judge recently rescheduled the trial of an inmate who is accused of being the first person to attack Carithers during the riot, in which 20 others were injured, for Aug. 19.

In other CCA news, The Natchez Democrat reports that a new company will take over operations of a facility in Wilkinson County, which is currently run by CCA, in July.

Management and Training Corporation, a Utah-based private corrections company, reportedly received a five-year contract with the Mississippi Department of Corrections to operate the facility.



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