Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Posts Tagged ‘ccpoa

Florida Law Enforcement Organization Sues to Block Privatization of 30 Prisons

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Here’s an interesting lawsuit: The Florida Police Benevolent Association has filed suit to enjoin Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to privatize 30 prisons across South Florida. Those prisons currently hold about 20% of the state prison population. The Florida Legislature mandated the switch in the 2011-12 state budget as a cost-cutting measure (it’s actually not clear that private prisons cost less, BTW), with the Corrections Department under orders to have vendors in place by the first of January 2012. The Miami Herald reports:

The PBA suit, filed in Leon County Circuit Court in Tallahassee, says the state has not conducted a cost study to determine whether privatization would save money.

It also says that the state failed to comply with a law requiring an agency to conduct a “business case” to justify any outsourcing in excess of $10 million.

Separate from its lawsuit, the correctional officers’ union has requested extensive public records from the prison system, including a list of every factor the state uses to determine the cost of running a prison.

Some context: First, according to a recent analysis by finance blogger Mike Konczal at Rortybomb, Florida is not currently a high user of private prisons relative to other states, with under 10% of its prisoners in private facilities. But Konczal hypothesizes that “once a state flips to using private contractors, they use them a lot” — so the Florida PBA is probably not wrong to worry that flipping 30 prisons could be the harbinger of more privatization to come.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by sara

July 21, 2011 at 8:17 am

California’s Pelican Bay Supermax on Lockdown after Inmate Attack on Guards

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As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

Pelican Bay State Prison was placed on indefinite lockdown Tuesday after at least two inmates, both convicted of crimes in Los Angeles, allegedly attacked three prison guards with homemade weapons, state corrections officials said.

The union representing the state’s 31,000 prison guards said two officers required dozens of stitches after suffering deep slash wounds on their faces. Another officer sustained multiple stab wounds, including one cut through his collarbone. …

Union officials said the prison was designed to house 2,280 inmates, but because of the state’s inmate overcrowding crisis, the prison houses 3,461 inmates.

The California prison guards’ union (CCPOA) gets a lot of bad press — not all of it undeserved — but it’s worth keeping in mind that CCPOA has been a vocal opponent of the appalling levels of overcrowding in California’s prisons. CCPOA intervened in Plata v. Schwarzenegger — on the side of the plaintiff prisoners. In other words, CCPOA filed a brief before the Supreme Court asking the Nine to uphold the prisoner release order. From the CCPOA brief, which is available via SCOTUSblog here (PDF):

During the course of this litigation, the State of California has not disputed that its correctional facilities have long failed to provide these minimal levels of mental health and medical care to the 160,000 inmates being held within them. Nor does the State dispute that overcrowding contributes significantly to these failures.

CCPOA’s members play an integral role in nearly every facet of prison health services. … [D]espite their best efforts, CCPOA’s members cannot adequately perform these duties given the current state of overcrowding. Based on its members’ experience with the day-to-day realities of overcrowding and the resulting medical deficiencies in California’s prisons, CCPOA took the extraordinary step of intervening in the three-judge court remedial proceedings on the same side as the plaintiffs.

It’s unusual for prisoners’ rights lawyers to sit at the counsel table next to lawyers for the prison guards’ union, but there you have it: That’s how it’s been throughout the Plata v. Schwarzenegger litigation. Overcrowded prisons are not just unsafe for inmates. They’re also unsafe for guards.

A Tale of Two Lawsuits

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The other day my Google Reader brought me news of two new lawsuits filed this week against, respectively, the federal and California state prison systems. In the first, the Center for Constitutional Rights — which has coordinated much of the legal work on behalf of Guantanamo detainees — is challenging the federal Bureau of Prisons policy of moving certain inmates into isolated cells known as “Communications Management Units,” without any advance notice or meaningful review of their transfer. These inmates face very stringent limits on their communications with their family and with the outside world, and CCR alleges that the policy is an effort to create “a stateside Guantanamo” for prisoners with unpopular political beliefs. (Two-thirds of the inmates in these special prison units are Muslim.) In the second, Crime Victims United — the California organization well-known for receiving much of its funding from the state prison guards’ union, and for its staunch support of “tough-on-crime” legislation — is suing to block enforcement of a new law that would have the effect of releasing a relatively small number of the lowest-risk offenders. Says a San Diego citizen whose son was murdered, “The victims are being ignored.”

Though filed in the same week, these two lawsuits seem on the surface to be as different as could be. Read the rest of this entry »

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