A former guard who worked at an Ocean View re-entry facility (one of two San Diego halfway homes operated by Corrections Corporation of America), is leading a hunger strike to protest the deplorable conditions in those homes, reported Madison Pauly in Mother Jones magazine.
Both halfway houses were purchased for $36 million in 2013 by CCA and kept under their original title and reputable name, “Correction Alternatives,” said Pauly.
A former guard of the facility, Mark Bartlett, said the change has degraded the conditions of the homes. “The transition was ridiculous,” said Bartlett. “Whether it’s with cutting staff on payroll, cutting food, the lack of nutrition, cutting programming.”
Bartlett and a group of activists, along with some inmates, are calling for San Diego County and state and federal government end contracts with CCA. Bartlett is refusing to eat until those demands are met, reported Pauly.
After Bartlett began making complaints to CCA of forged documents, of searches and falsifying hours on time cards the situation became so complicated, Bartlett took a stress leave due to his PTSD being elevated, wrote Pauly.
Because Bartlett was without documentation to support his claim, he is demanding auditing records from the federal Bureau of Prisons’ Ocean View facility, any complaints filed against the facility with the San Diego police and fire departments and any emergency calls. He also demanded official records of staffing levels, use of narcotics, sanitation and medical records to substantiate his complaint.
San Diego facilities are “appropriately staffed,” and their staffing patterns are approved by public agencies, says Jonathan Burns, CCA’s spokesperson.
Catherine Mendonca, an activist who is protesting with Bartlett for failure of CCA to fulfill its obligations to help inmates re-enter into society, said, “If they’re getting proper nutrition, if they’re getting opportunities to actually get a job—all of these are actually questionable. Is this actual rehabilitation? Or is this something to profit off the backs of those incarcerated?”
CCA, the second-largest private prison operating in the country, leases Ocean View to local, state and federal jails to house inmates. CCA is also the owner of the Boston Avenue federal re-entry facility and the Otay Mesa Detention Facility in San Diego, a 1,500-bed immigration detention center.
CCA owns and operates 25 halfway houses where inmates are typically housed who are nearing the end of their term. Some are allowed to go outside of the facility to work, and others are enrolled in employment and vocational training.