This year, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest for-profit prison company, held its annual shareholder meeting on May 12, 2016. The meeting took place at CCA’s swank corporate office near the upscale Green Hills area of Nashville, Tennessee; the firm has a modern office with a large fountain in the middle of a circular driveway in front of the building.
Around 40 protestors showed up to demonstrate against CCA’s profit-driven business model, including activists with the Nashville Peace and Justice Center and a radical LGBTQ group. They chanted, carried signs that read “Invest in People not Prisons” and “Prison Profiteers are the Real Criminals,” shouted at shareholders arriving for the meeting, tried to stop vehicles from entering the area, and confronted security guards and police officers.
“Divest from this company!” one protestor yelled. “You’re making money off of people’s suffering! How can you sleep at night?”
There were no arrests.
Meanwhile, inside the shareholder meeting it was business as usual – and business for CCA was good. The company reported $1.79 billion in gross revenue in 2015 with net income of around $220 million, and CCA executives congratulated themselves on accomplishments during the past year, including the acquisition of Avalon Correctional Services, which operates community corrections facilities. CCA officials also announced that John Ferguson, the company’s board president and former CEO, was stepping down from the board, though he will continue to be involved in an advisory capacity.
PLN managing editor Alex Friedmann, who own a small amount of CCA stock, attended the meeting to pose questions to the board members. A former prisoner who served six years at a CCA-operated facility in Tennessee in the 1990s, Friedmann addressed issues related to medical treatment for prisoners with hepatitis C.
“Based on my own records requests submitted to the Tennessee Department of Correction, the number of Tennessee prisoners receiving treatment for hepatitis C at facilities operated by CCA can be counted on the fingers of one hand,” he said, noting that “inmates who have hepatitis C and do not receive treatment take it home with them once they are released, leading to the spread of the disease to their families and in their communities.”
Friedmann also files shareholder resolutions each year; in 2015 he submitted a resolution related to “proxy access,” which would allow certain long-term shareholders to nominate members to CCA’s board of directors. The company agreed to implement the resolution and amended its bylaws accordingly, thus it was not addressed during the meeting.
Speakers at the protest outside included Jeannie Alexander, a former prison chaplain and founder of the No Exceptions Prison Collective; Vanderbilt professor Lisa Guenther; and Ndume Olatushani, a former death row prisoner who served 27 years before he was exonerated and released. Another speaker, Monte McCoin, who owns one share of CCA stock, questioned CCA officials about the company’s South Texas Family Residential Facility in Dilley, Texas – an immigration detention center that houses women and young children. She encouraged activists and prisoners’ family members to purchase a share of the company’s stock so they can attend shareholder meetings.
“Get a Scottrade account, buy a share, it’s $33 a share right now,” she said.
After the meeting concluded, it was noticed that the fountain outside CCA’s office building had been turned off, as someone had colored the water red. Also, the company’s corporate flag and the U.S. flag, which had been flying on flagpoles near the entrance to CCA’s headquarters, had mysteriously disappeared.
Sources: Nashville Scene, Tennessean, www.wsmv.com
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