Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Posts Tagged ‘the geo group

Supreme Court Blocks Federal Lawsuit against Private Prison Employees

leave a comment »

Earlier this week the Supreme Court threw out a federal prisoner’s federal lawsuit against employees of the GEO Group, saying the inmate should have pursued his claims in state court. (Which he’s now missed the deadline to do.) As Jess Bravin explains:

Under high-court precedents, inmates in federal institutions can file federal lawsuits against prison employees for mistreatment that violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments.”

By an 8-1 vote, however, the court refused to extend that right to inmates held in private prisons operated under contract to the U.S. government. In an opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer, the court observed that in contrast to federal employees, whom prisoners generally can’t sue in state court, employees of the private company enjoy no such immunity.

The AP has these details about the suit:

[Inmate Richard Lee] Pollard wanted to sue for his treatment after he fell and fractured both of his elbows at the privately run Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, Calif.

Pollard said GEO officials put him in a metal restraint that caused him pain, and refused to provide him with a splint, making his injuries worse and causing permanent impairment. He sued in federal court for money, claiming GEO officials had violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the sole dissenter, writing, “Were Pollard incarcerated in a federal- or state-operated facility, she would have a federal remedy for the Eighth Amendment violation he alleges. I would not deny the same character of relief to Pollard, a prisoner placed by federal contact in a privately operated prison.”

The case is Minneci v. Pollard; you can read the full opinion as well as lots of commentary over at SCOTUSblog.

Lawsuit Alleges “Barbaric Conditions” at Mississippi’s Privately-run Youth Prison

with one comment

The private prison company GEO Group will face a lawsuit over conditions at Mississippi’s Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, and Mississippi lawyer Robert McDuff representing the plaintiffs. Walnut Grove was already under investigation by the federal Department of Justice. The Clarion-Ledger reports:

Some prison staff exploit youth by selling drugs inside the facility and engaging in sexual relationships with youth in their care, the suit alleges. Many youth have suffered physical injuries, some permanent as a result of dangerously deficient security policies. …

In 2007, Dennis Earl Holmes died after a lawsuit claimed he was denied adequate medical care. He suffered from treatable diabetes, according to a lawsuit his family filed on Oct. 29 in federal court. …

Michael McIntosh of Hazlehurst alleges that because of the abuse his 21-year-old son suffered in the Walnut Grove prison, “he will live with permanent brain damage for the rest of his life.”

More information, including the full complaint, available here from SPLC.

Dan Rather on Private Prisons

leave a comment »

Though I doubt anyone will catch this post in time, I just noticed that tonight’s episode of “Dan Rather Reports” on HDNet focuses on the private prison industry. The episode will re-air at 8 PM PST/11 PM EST, and then be available for purchase via the website or iTunes. Not having seen the show, I can’t vouch for its quality, of course, but thought I’d let readers know about it. From the HDNet press release:

The focus of Rather’s investigation is the case of a 32-year-old illegal immigrant named Jesus Galindo, who died in December 2008 of an epileptic seizure while in solitary confinement at the Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, Texas. Reeves is a low-security facility run by the private prison giant The GEO Group. Galindo was a federal inmate whose death sparked a series of riots with prisoners demanding better medical care. The case and riots drew the interest of human rights advocates. Was the death of Jesus Galindo due to a lack of medical attention? Why had inmates at a detention center receiving millions of federal dollars every year complained of medical neglect?  And will the full story of what’s happening at this prison, and others like it, ever be known?

The answer, according to David Shapiro, an attorney at the ACLU National Prison Project, is no, unless federal law is changed. He says that’s because private prisons are immune from one of the most powerful tools for the American public to learn what is being done in its name. “They’re not subject to the Freedom of Information Act like other federal prisons,” Shapiro said. “And the Freedom of Information Act is an information lifeline that lets us know what’s going on behind the prison walls.”

%d bloggers like this: