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  • mcprison mcprison Feb 16, 2001 12:15 PM Flag

    Ark update, 2

    Calabrese referred to an instance at the McPherson women's prison
    where one
    inmate's medical care had cost Wackenhut between $300,000 and $500,000.


    "The financial burdens have just been too much," he said.

    The change comes at the end of a 90-day probation period during which

    Wackenhut was ordered by the state to make drastic improvements at the
    two
    prisons.

    "We wanted them to tighten up a little bit," said Correction
    Department
    spokeswoman Dina Tyler. "We wanted inmates to be working and we wanted
    the
    facilities to be cleaner."

    Tyler said Wackenhut had made improvements over the 90 days and that
    it was
    now time to review the progress.

    The Grimes unit houses about 600 male inmates. McPherson is Arkansas'
    only
    all-female facility and holds 685 inmates.

    Wackenhut won the contracts in February 1996 when Arkansas decided to

    experiment with private prison operations.

    Last year, state prison officials began questioning how the prisons
    were
    managed. Their concerns grew when a number of complaints about clothing
    and
    sanitation from inmates proved credible after surprise visits.

    Barbara Townsend of El Dorado, who has a son incarcerated at Grimes,
    son,
    attended Thursday meeting and was hopeful the state would take over the
    unit.
    She said her son, convicted of burglary, had been threatened after not
    joining
    an inmate gang.

    "He had to fight to keep these guys away from him," Townsend said.
    "And his
    grievances with Wackenhut were ignored."

    Townsend said she called the DOC and within days, her son was moved
    to a new
    cell. In another instance, she says her son was refused treatment for
    asthma.
    Another call to the DOC solved that problem, Townsend said.

    She, too, complained, there was little for inmates to do.

    "If you take a lot of young men and give them nothing to do, it's
    like a time
    bomb," she said.

    Wackenhut spokeswoman Margaret Pearson said she has been in contact
    with the
    Grimes' warden regarding Townsend's son and that prison officials have
    routinely
    gone out of their way to help. Pearson said the warden speaks with
    Townsend at
    least once a week and has relocated her son to a special job
    assignment.

 
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