NEW ORLEANS (AP) - In a stinging report, the Justice Department accused guards at a privately run juvenile prison of violating inmates' rights by habitually using excessive force and allowing brutal fights over such basic items as food, clothing and shoes.
The report about the facility in Jena was submitted to a federal judge overseeing Louisiana's juvenile prisons.
``Jena fails to provide reasonable safety, improperly uses chemical restraints, and provides inadequate mental health, medical and dental care for the approximately 276 adolescent boys,'' said the report made public Wednesday by U.S. Judge Frank Polozola.
The prison, owned and operated by Wackenhut Corrections Corp., opened in December 1998 and is one of two privately run juvenile prisons in the state. A Wackenhut spokesman said the report exaggerated the prison's problems and ignored efforts to resolve them.
The state's other private prison, the Tallulah Correctional Center for Youth, was taken over by the state last year after Justice Department reports highlighted similar conditions.
Justice Department experts who visited the Jena prison said they found evidence that guards use excessive force routinely and abuse, mistreat and humiliate the young prisoners.
The report noted ``remarkable similarities in the alleged manner in which security officers forced compliance by tripping youth, twisting their arms, legs, or ankles, slamming them into cell walls or doors, or taking them violently to the ground.''
It was difficult for inmates to report their claims, the report said. Some telephones for reporting abuse to a hot line were broken or had the wrong number listed above the phones.
Dr. Nancy Ray, one of the experts, found prisoners who had no clean clothing and were ``huddled under a sheet or blanket.'' She described a shoe shortage at the prison as ``pervasive.''
``At least in some areas, the problems seemed to be linked to the reluctance of Wackenhut Corrections Corporation to spend adequate funds for the care of the youth,'' Ray wrote.
Some inmates repeatedly mutilated themselves so they will be transferred to the prison's medical unit and avoid being pressured for food or sex by other prisoners, the report said.
The report blamed the problems on high staff turnover, poor guard training and the prison's remote location - the same problems Justice Department experts found at the Tallulah prison.
``The question that comes screaming out of this report is, `Where was the state?''' said David Utter, director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. ``It's pathetic we treat kids like this.''
Corrections Secretary Richard Stalder did not return a telephone message seeking comment on the report.
Wackenhut spokesman Patrick Cannan said state officials recently met with company officials and agreed that the company is doing a good job improving prison conditions.
``Many of the problems in the report are already being addressed, and we strongly disagree with some of the accusations in the report,'' Cannan said in a statement. ``The offenders housed in the facility are being properly clothed, fed and educated.''
Well McPrison,...thas probably good news, cuz the good news for the last two years all it has done is drive the stock lower...(smiles).. This is a defensive stock much like grocery chains, food stocks, utilities, etc. The worst the economy gets the more crime, and guess what..the bad guys have to have a place to go to, and guess what the local units of governement and the feds are not building any more cuz the cost of money is going north, and so is the inmate population, someone has to do the dirty work, of protecting society and guess what the unions are not it...(smiles). So put that in your thinking cap old buddy.
Once again, all I did was post a couple atricles which, although negative, may be of some use to some of us in deciding what to do. There was no editorial in my post.
All I did was post a news story I found. If you don't want the info, fine. Don't read it. But as I have said many times, I would much rather have the ENTIRE picture (at least as much as I can get) of a company than just the "fluff" that comes out of Cannan's (sp) mouth.
I've followed your posts. You seem to be pretty sharp. I don't recall you ever saying only send me the good news boys!
If the company has problems that could affect the price or future contracts, I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT. If you were to stumble across some info, pertainent info, concerning the company, I would hope you would share it with us.
A\while back you were in a debate with someone on this board concerning CRN. I spoke up at that time to inform that misguided person of Cornell's true roots. I don't recall you attacking me then for providing info. Why start now?
I have yet to read a "fluff" posting by mcprison. He seems to be one of few people who post messages of substance on this board. No one doubts the growing industry strength of WHC, but the "bad news" postings are about particular management practices in the institutions, not aggregate trends in corrections. The more real info affecting WHC that hits this board the better. We're not all chasing rainbows here.