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

    Arkansas 3

    There is so much more violence and drug use since they took away cigarettes
    that it can sometimes take up to four officers to break up a fight and that is
    with the male officers. They have recently removed male officers from our
    facility, and that weakens the security. There are officers that have been
    caught red-handed bringing in tobacco and other contraband, yet they go
    unpunished because Wackenhut can't go without officers."
    McPherson also is contending with several problems, including clothing
    issues and plumbing dilemmas that no one seems interested in repairing,
    Parker said. "It was not where I expected it to be."
    Inmates there are having trouble just getting underwear and the correct
    number of uniforms, she said.
    One inmate writes:
    "We can't get [clothes]. We are allowed three uniforms. Out of my three
    uniforms, I have two that the crotch has rotted out of them and I had to sew
    one pair up just to be able to have two uniforms that I can wear. But if I get
    caught with pants sewn by my own hand, then I could get a disciplinary for
    altering state property."
    Parker said she has repeatedly asked about clothing problems and has
    been told that everything from the unit's detergent to the water to the dryers is
    to blame.
    This is a good example of how Wackenhut seems to typically handle
    difficulties, she said, offering reasons but failing to fix things.
    The same was true for the electronic panel at one of the units, she said.
    When the portion that unlocks and opens gates broke, it took much longer
    than it should have to get the control board repaired, Parker said.
    "The problems have been identified, but the response to fixing them has
    been slow," Parker said.
    But she and other board members have repeatedly said they still believe
    Wackenhut is a good company with solid management practices.
    The problem, Parker says, is that private companies cuts costs to make a
    profit, which means they don't always meet state standards.
    That's why Newport guards have been hopeful that the state will take over
    operations at the units. They stand to get an automatic pay raise if that
    happens.
    Wackenhut salaries start at $8 an hour. By comparison, guards working for
    the state are making a minimum of $10.11 and they get hazardous-duty pay
    and better benefits.
    Calabrese told the board in October that poor salaries were one of two
    reasons he was asking to renew Wackenhut's contract. Raises, he said, are
    desperately needed to help attract more guards and alleviate staff shortages.
    Also needed, Calabrese added, is extra funding to offset what Calabrese
    described as astronomical expenses at McPherson. Women inmates, he said,
    typically cost more when it comes to prison health care.
    Since the October meeting, Wackenhut has brought in high-ranking
    correctional officers from other states, installed a new warden and made a
    genuine effort to bring conditions at the units up to par, Parker said.
    But that may not be enough.
    "Th

 
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