Prison Riots: More Problems for Privately-Managed Prisons. Bob Donley Reports

LBN’s Bob Donley reports that another prison riot has made the news, this one at a privately operated prison in Oklahoma. Donley wonders if there is a pattern to the prison riots that have erupted in the last year or so.

The latest riot occurred at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, Oklahoma. It took Corrections Corp. of America, operator of the prison, some forty minutes to control the riot in which four inmates were killed and many more were left seriously injured. The cause of the riot is still under investigation. However, there are concerns that the prison is being operated with a smaller staff than is required to do the job right. Too few guards and too many inmates will lead to trouble.

The Cimarron facility had another riot a few months ago, and that one left several prisoners injured. Donley says that “poor levels of staffing was found to be a contributing problem.” Arizona has had its own prison riot at a privately operated prison. In July, 2015, there was a riot at the Kingman facility, operated by Management and Training Corp. Racial tensions were a significant cause of the riot. Investigation revealed that the problems included too few prison guards and inadequate training of the guards the prison had. The problem was serious enough that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey severed ties with the prison contractor.

Privately run prisons are relatively new in this country (see previous LBN reports on private prisons). The businesses really started about thirty years ago. Private companies now run about ten percent of the country’s prisons. Proponents say that private companies can do the job for less than a state government. Opponents are saying that there are hidden costs to these operations, including prison riots.

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