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The GEO Group, Inc. Message Board

  • mcprison mcprison Feb 15, 2001 1:15 PM Flag

    Arkansas, 2

    Calabrese told the board he was unaware such problems existed and
    asked for time to correct them. "If they're not fixed, heads will roll. Including
    mine," he said.
    Board members gave him until today to fix the problems.
    Administrators from the Correction Department also shared their
    observations with the board at the October meeting, where they said their
    biggest concern is that inmates at Grimes and McPherson don't ever seem to
    work. Instead, they loiter around unclean barracks in equally dirty clothes.
    The "inmate idleness" at the Newport prisons stems from a serious staff
    shortage, said Larry Norris, director of the department. Because there aren't
    enough guards to supervise work crews, inmates spend most of their time in
    living areas, making them not only unproductive but more likely to get bored
    and into trouble, Norris said. "You have got to get them out of there."
    Max Mobley, the department's deputy director for health and correctional
    programs, told board members that substance-abuse programs at the
    Newport units were lacking and devoid of security measures.
    He first became worried about McPherson's female inmates two years ago,
    when he learned that 70 percent of the women there were taking some type
    of psychotropic medication, drugs designed for those with mental problems or
    conditions.
    By comparison, when the state was housing women at the Tucker unit, only
    7 to 9 percent were ever on these types of medication at any time, Mobley
    said. "That's not good practice to put that many inmates on mind-altering
    drugs."
    Charles Allen, head of the prison system's school district, said his teachers
    and principals were often afraid because of a lack of security. There just
    aren't enough guards, he added.
    Even inmates have complained about the staff shortage. In letters to the
    Democrat-Gazette, one writes:
    "All I know is we never have law and order, its total confusion and [chaos]
    in here. The guards ask us where inmates are, ask us what to do. I've never
    seen anything like it here, no organization whatsoever."
    While conditions at Grimes have improved "substantially," McPherson is
    still struggling to fix several problems, Parker said, describing what she saw
    on Jan. 19 visit to both facilities.
    Guards at the Grimes Unit seemed to have much better morale than
    witnessed in previous visits, Parker said.
    "I saw inmates working to clean that unit up. I saw more effort than in
    previous visits. I will not tell you that all their problems are solved, but I saw
    progress there. It felt better. It felt like the inmates had a sense that there was
    management there. And they did not know that we were coming."
    But little had changed at the McPherson Unit, Parker said.
    "No one was working. And there were no women cleaning that unit. There
    was very little programming going on. They were pretty much sitting on their
    bunks with a 'Well, we're here and we don't care,' kind of feel," Parker said.
    One inmate who wrote to the Democrat-Gazette says this is the norm.