Prison Firm, Citing Growth, Calls Critics Biased


A liberal activist group has accused the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) of operating prisons under substandard conditions. The company rejects the charges, saying they are promoted by a group with an agenda.

The Associated Press says that Grassroots Leadership, group based in Charlotte, N.C., says that the Nashville-based compnay has failed to deliver on its promise to remake the corrections industry. “Rather than taking the industry by storm, it still manages only about 3 percent of prison and jail beds in the United States, and its global aspirations had to be abandoned,” the says a report issued by the group last week.

Though it offers a lengthy list of reported escapes and other problems at CCA facilities, along with lawsuits against the company, the study makes no comparison between the frequency of CCA problems and those at other private prisons or public prisons in general.

CCA spokesman Steve Owen said the company’s growth – from management of 650 beds in 1983 to 59,000 currently – speaks for its success. “You don’t grow to that size unless you are doing something right,” Owen said. “This company will stand on its merits and track record. We’re proud of service we have provided.”

Among incidents cited since 2000 are at least a dozen mistaken releases from a CCA-run jail in Tulsa, Okla., and the release earlier this year in Tennessee of a man indicted on child rape.

The AP says that since nearly going bankrupt in 2000, CCA has restructured and fired a top executive who was a company founders. After bottoming out at $2 a share in 2000, CCA’s stock price is now over $27, up nearly 70 percent over one year ago.


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