A riot broke out at a Tennessee prison operated by CoreCivic on Sunday night. According to news reports, 3 inmates were assaulted by others at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility. You can access the article here.
Despite the number of involved inmates, CoreCivic insisted on referring to the incident as a “disturbance” and not a riot. CoreCivic used the same public relations terminology in September 2015 following a large-scale riot at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, Oklahoma that resulted in the deaths of 4 inmates, the single largest loss of life in the history of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
Contrary to CoreCivic’s use of the term “disturbance”, Oklahoma state law defined the incident as a “riot.” It is not clear whether CoreCivic has ever acknowledged that the Oklahoma incident qualified as a full-blown riot.
The cause of the Sunday riot in Tennessee is currently unknown, however, opponents of private prison operators have been critical of CoreCivic generally, and the Hardeman facility in particular, for practices that include chronic understaffing.
As the single largest cost, staffing represents the most effective way for CoreCivic to increase profit margins. This is especially true where the state fails to enforce contractual terms with CoreCivic that mandate minimum staffing requirements.
In the litigation arising from the Oklahoma riot, a regional manager for CoreCivic testified that some states allow a standard variance from the contract staffing requirement in perpetuity, which effectively gifts away a percentage of the contract price to CoreCivic for literally violating the contract terms it agreed to.
By failing to live up to the terms of the contractual staffing requirements, not only does CoreCivic unjustly profit off the backs of taxpayers, understaffing prevents adequate supervision, which increases the security risk to the inmates and employees at the facility.
By profiteering off practices that expose inmates and staff to a substantial risk of serious harm, CoreCivic is placing profits over people solely for the benefit of its shareholders.
If you have questions about CoreCivic or the practices of the private prison industry, contact the attorneys at Bryan and Terrill, 918-935-2777 or in Colorado, 970-736-7171.