The latest entry in the ever-popular “worst private prison operation in the country” sweepstakes comes to us from Meridian, Miss. — a fur piece from here, as Static’s uncle used to say, but hang on, because you’ll recognize a familiar name.
The East Mississippi Correctional Facility is a prison for men with severe psychiatric disabilities, and if allegations in a recently filed federal lawsuit are correct, the treatment they receive at the prison probably made their disabilities worse, not better. The Management and Training Corporation of Utah operates the prison.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed the suit on behalf of the prisoners against the top officials at the Mississippi Department of Corrections. An ACLU press release describes the facility as “hyper-violent, grotesquely filthy, and dangerous” and operating “in a perpetual state of crisis” where prisoners are at “grave risk of death and loss of limbs.”
Many of the prisoners are in long-term solitary confinement where, according to the ACLU, they lack basic medical and mental healthcare.
Management and Training Corp., which isn’t named in the suit, took over operation of the prison in July 2012, and a spokesperson said conditions have improved since then.
The lawsuit is directed at conditions allowed to develop under the previous operator — yes, you guessed it, the GEO Group, whose terrible record in Texas includes the beating of prisoners by guards and sexual abuse of young men and women detainees, as well as generally squalid conditions.
After a scathing 2011 report by the U.S. Justice Department about GEO’s mistreatment of prisoners at another detention facility in Mississippi, GEO chose not to try to renew its contracts in that state. Management and Training Corp. spokespersons say inmate violence at the East Mississippi facility has dropped dramatically in the last year, but the ACLU said conditions are no better. According to the lawsuit, “rapes, stabbings, and beatings and other acts of violence are rampant.”
Remind us again: Why were private prisons supposed to be a good idea?
So Long, Julie
Chesapeake Energy Corp. spokeswoman Julie Wilson, who was adept at spinning industry news and stonewalling reporters, is leaving the company on Friday. Wilson, vice president of urban development, had been a public face for Chesapeake in the North Texas region since 2006. During the Barnett Shale’s early boom years, Wilson attended neighborhood meetings and painted a rosy picture of drilling. Even after residents became less gullible, Wilson never strayed from her message that drilling is environmentally safe, highly regulated, and a good fit in an urban setting.
Chesapeake’s website says the company welcomes inquiries from the news media. Wilson, however, didn’t respond to an interview request for this article — why change her tactics now? A former Chesapeake employee said Wilson’s departure was expected after company co-founder Aubrey McClendon left the company in April amid accusations of financial malfeasance.
“The strong feeling among people at Chesapeake is that once Aubrey McClendon left, she wouldn’t be around for long,” said the former employee, who asked for anonymity.
The Fort Worth Business Press once described Wilson as “arguably the most powerful woman in the area’s natural gas industry.” The Dallas Business Journal has listed her as one of the “Most Influential Leaders in the Metroplex,” and Fort Worth Magazine listed her among the “Women Who Run Fort Worth.”
The ex-employee described Wilson as an “in-your-face” manager who aggravated and “ran off” employees. Gas drilling critics, some of whom were personally savaged by Wilson, had even harsher words.
Those folks put her at the top of another list. Let’s be charitable and call it “Miss Un-Congeniality.”