Did CCA Scam a Nursing Home Into Accepting Violent Prisoners?

Corrections Corporation of America (“CCA”), is a private prison operator that houses California inmates at its facility in Sayre, Oklahoma.  When CCA lost control of the facility during a riot in October 2011, it transferred four violent criminals who were injured to a residential nursing home in Midwest City, OK to live alongside elderly residents – all without the permission of Oklahoma, and with actual knowledge that the one of the inmates it transferred had a “reported history of gang retaliation.”

CCA subjected the citizens of Oklahoma to the obvious public safety and policy implications of this scenario under highly suspicious and questionable circumstances.  As previously reported here, CCA transferred several California inmates injured in the riot to Buena Vista Care and Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home located in a residential section of Midwest City, Oklahoma less than half a mile from Sooner Rose elementary school.  The extreme danger created by CCA is detailed more fully in a survey report prepared by the State of Oklahoma.  A full version of that report is available here.

One of the more startling findings by the State involved CCA’s knowledge that an inmate CCA transferred to the nursing home had a reported history of gang retaliation. CCA acknowledged that gang members could attack the facility if they discovered the presence of this particular inmate, and it posted a guard to roam the perimeter of the nursing home because of the “possibility [that] an inmate’s friend may try to ‘bust them out'” and that guards expressed a concern “‘about a gang drive-by (shooting) if the information got out that the guys (the inmates) were here.'”

CCA clearly understood that placing this inmate at the nursing home subjected the residents and staff to an increased risk of substantial harm or death from elements outside the facility itself.  In other words, CCA concluded that placing the residents and staff of an Oklahoma nursing home in the middle of a potential firefight to free a California inmate was an acceptable gamble.  The substantial risk involved with housing this inmate at nursing home suggests that CCA’s corporate office was involved in the decision.  In fact, there is evidence in the report that CCA based its housing decision on the preference of a third party insurance company.

Page 35 of the report details an interview with the RN Regional Director of Health Services for CCA who admitted that CCA turned over placement of the inmates to CCA’s medical insurer.  Despite the obvious danger presented by the inmates’ presence, the Regional Director of Health Services for CCA stated that there was “no problem from the corrections side of the arrangement until she received a phone call from a nurse affiliated with [the nursing home].”  The nursing home told CCA that the inmates “couldn’t be there” and that it needed to relocate the inmates, but CCA refused, apparently citing a Medicare provision that makes it difficult for a nursing home to involuntary discharge “a resident,” thereby placing the onus on the nursing home to determine the risk of accepting the patient.

In this case, the report noted that the nursing home did try to search criminal databases to determine the background of the inmates to evaluate the risk that they might pose.  The nursing home found no criminal background on the inmates after searching the Oklahoma databases, and based on the lack of any  information in the database, the nursing home approved the admission. When asked whether it knew that the inmates were from California, the nursing home stated that it was not made aware of that fact.

If the nursing home is believed, then CCA failed to disclose that it was presenting California inmates for admission.  This conclusion is supported by apparent attempts by the nursing home to locate criminal background for the inmates by searching Oklahoma databases that do not include California offenders.  If CCA deliberately withheld information regarding the inmates’ charges, or the fact that they were California inmates, it suggests that CCA presented the inmates for admission under false pretenses and believed that the facility would not accept the prisoners if it knew the full extent of the threat they presented to the other residents.

The brazen attitude exhibited by CCA in placing violent criminals among the elderly residents of a nursing home, just half a mile from an elementary school, calls into question the judgment and decision-making skills of CCA as an organization.