Skip to main content

Profits Over Kids, Part I

This is the first of a 3-part series.

In my previous blog I wrote that: “The development of private prisons represents a world where money rules and profit is the name of the game. The well-being of society, the rehabilitation of prisoners and savings to taxpayers are only minor concerns by comparison.” I also noted one of the most outrageous examples was the two juvenile court judges in Pennsylvania who received kickbacks for sending kids to privately operated juvenile facilities. Mid Atlantic Youth Services Corpownedand operated them.

Now we have a new report published in a two-part series in the Huffington Post called “Private Prison Empire Rises Despite Startling Record Of Juvenile Abuse.” In this case it is an example of what I call “nothing succeeds like failure.” I say that simply because in spite of the fact that the company involved in this abuse, Youth Services International (YSI), has been repeatedly cited for “offenses ranging from condoning abuse of inmates to plying politicians with undisclosed gifts while seeking to secure state contracts” by not only the Department of Justice but also New York, Florida, Maryland, Nevada and Texas. I am personally informed about the case in Nevada, of which I will comment on in Part II.

According to their mission statement, YSI aims to “Develop and provide holistic programs for adjudicated and non-adjudicated youth. Demonstrate, through objective measurements, the positive impact YSI has on the youth entrusted to its care. Develop and maintain the most highly qualified staff in the industry. Demonstrate, through our daily actions, our unrelenting commitment to public safety, youth development and employee welfare.” It currently operates 14 facilities in five states (Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota).

The founder of YSI, James F. Slattery, started out by founding Esmor Corporation in 1989. He and his partner, Morris Horn had purchased a number of old hotels in Manhattan. For one, called LeMarquis, they proposed leasing out floors to serve as a re-entry housing facility for newly released federal inmates. Soon federal inspectors found significant problems, such as “low-paid, untrained employees, poor building conditions, from vermin and leaky plumbing to exposed electrical wires and other fire hazards, and inadequate, barely edible food.” In one lawsuit four women housed in the facility charged that “they had been raped and assaulted by Esmor’s ‘resident advocate’ – the employee who was supposed to protect inmates by handling their grievances.” Slattery and his partner were qualified to engage in “property management” and little else. Maybe in a way they were qualified to get involved in running programs for offenders. After all, to Slattery and people like him, offenders are little more than “property.”

In 1994 there was a riot at one of their facilities, a federal immigration detention center in New Jersey. An investigation found that Esmor was negligent in many areas of operation and that the official corporate policy was Keep the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) “in the dark as much as possible about any problems or incidents which occurred.” The INS also found a lack of training of the staff and there was “a continuing cycle of contract violations” and a “general failure to follow sound management practices.” Despite this, the INS did not cancel the contract and instead allowed Esmor to sell the facility to Corrections Corporation of America for $6 million! Nothing succeeds like failure.

After this Slattery decided to change the name of the company to Correctional Services Corp. and move to Florida where he would receive new contracts to open up several facilities for juveniles. His problems continued. This will be continued in Part II.

 

 

Keywords: Juvenile justice, privatization, Randall Shelden

Posted in Blog, Correctional Institutions

California Stentencing Institute screenshot

California Sentencing
Institute (CASI)

Explore how California’s 58 counties send their residents to correctional institutions with interactive maps, charts, and downloadable data.

Connect with us

      YouTube

Contribute to CJCJ

Make a difference to youth and adults trying to get their lives back on track.

Join our mailing list

Get regular updates and news delivered to your inbox. We won’t share your information with anyone else.