Corrections Corporation of America has signed new contracts with Colorado and Hawaii which,
for the first time, include the possibility of the states imposing liquidated damages if CCA fails
to provide the contracted services. The provisions resulted from a lengthy interruption of
services to female prisoners at a private womens prison in Brush, Colorado. The prison, which
was not run by CCA, held Hawaiian and Colorado prisoners. The interruption followed allegations
of sexual misconduct by staff with prisoners. As reported in the Oct. 2005 PLN, the ensuing
scandal resulted in guards resigning or being fired and a Colorado Department of Corrections'
Conditions of confinement of prisoners in private prisons is of special interest to Hawaiian
officials. Half of Hawaiis state prisoners--a total of about 1,850--are incarcerated in private
prisons in Arizona, Kentucky, Mississippi and Oklahoma. The new CCA contract with Hawaii,
which was signed in October, 2005, has CCA keeping 120 Hawaiian women prisoners at the
Otter Creek Correctional Facility in Wheelwright, Kentucky. According to Frank Lopez, acting
assistant Director of the Hawaiian Department of Public Safety, the Otter Creek contract is to
serve as a model for all future Hawaiian contracts with private prisons. It calls for Hawaii to pay
CCA $51.90 per prisoner per day. This compares with an estimated per day cost of $105 on
average to incarcerate a Hawaiian prisoner at a state prison in the islands. The Otter Creek
contract allows Hawaii to impose liquidated damages should CCA fail to have the required
number of drug treatment beds. It also allows Hawaii to impose fines if CCA does not maintain
the number of guards, education employees or treatment providers called for in the contract.
Our problem before was that we weren't able to address the failure to deliver certain services in
the past, said Lopez. It wasnt specific enough. Our contract wasn't tight enough.
In September 2005, the Colorado Department of Corrections signed new contracts with CCA
requiring reforms at the four CCA-run private prisons in Colorado. The problems in CCA's
management of the prisons surfaced after a major riot by approximately 300 prisoners at the
CCA-run Crowley County Correctional Facility. [PLN, Jan 2005, pp. 26, 31]. The new contracting
requirements will also be imposed on two private prisons in Brush and Colorado Springs not run
by CCA. The contracts require increased staffing levels, improved emergency preparedness and
staff training, additional medical and mental health services for prisoners, better food standards
and state control of prisoners trust funds. Some of those issues--especially understaffing and
poor training and emergency response--were direct causes of the Crowley riot.
Colorado houses around 3,300 of its approximately 21,000 prisoners in the four CCA prisons.
However, staffing shortages remain a problem for CCA, which pays its guards only about two-
thirds of what a Colorado state-employee prison guard makes. This results in a large turnover
and causes difficulty in maintaining contracted staffing levels.
The new contracts call for liquidated damages if CCA is non-compliant. It allows the DOC to
withhold funds if CCA is found in violation. However, only thirteen Colorado DOC staffers will
monitor the contract. They are required to monitor compliance at least 20 hours per week. It
remains to be seen whether either state will adequately monitor or enforce the new contracts. At
first blush, monitoring efforts seem woefully inadequate.
Sources: Honolulu Advertiser, Rocky Mountain News.
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