Commentary

08.29.14

What happened when hundreds of prisoners in Youngstown staged a 14-hour uprising?

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Well, since it happened at a private prison, it’s hard to know – privately-run prisons lack the transparency required at state-run facilities. During the incident and the days following the uprising, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the for-profit company that runs the prison, kept its lips sealed.

Defying its agreement with the city, CCA did not notify Youngstown officials of the situation at Northeast Ohio Correctional Center (NEOCC). When news media caught wind and asked for more details, CCA wouldn’t budge, except to release a short statement that didn’t answer many questions. When state and local officials wanted answers, they didn’t get much further. When prisoners’ relatives called, they only received vague assurances that their loved ones were safe.

Finally, after several days, CCA staff met with officials to discuss what happened. Although CCA kept the outside world in the dark about the uprising, it’s clear why it happened: inadequate food, healthcare, and staffing. Prisoners and prison employees alike have said they fear for their safety.

You don’t have to go far to find similar problems at other CCA facilities. At Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut, violence, drug contraband, and other dangerous conditions have skyrocketed since CCA purchased it in 2011.

The current situation at NEOCC is more of the same. When for-profit corporations are put in charge of prisons, it puts prisoners, prison staff, and communities in danger.

CCA’s contract to house immigration prisoners at NEOCC expires in 2015. Tell the Federal Bureau of Prisons not to renew.

 

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