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PLN assoc. editor's CCA shareholder resolution fails to pass

Nashville Scene, Jan. 1, 2012.
PLN assoc. editor's CCA shareholder resolution fails to pass - Nashville Scene 2012

CCA Board Votes Down Resolution on Reporting Rape, Sexual Abuse Statistics

Posted by Jonathan Meador on Thu, May 10, 2012 at 3:33 PM
Nashville Scene

Outside Corrections Corporation of America's Green Hills headquarters, a group of predominantly Christian activists gathered to protest the private prison's raison d'etre (to incarcerate human beings for profit) and to support a shareholder resolution that would force the company to publicly release information regarding instances of rape and sexual abuse at CCA facilities.

That resolution was proposed by Alex Friedmann, a former CCA inmate turned associate editor of Prison Legal News and anti-prison-privatization activist on behalf of the Human Rights Defense Center. It would mandate that the company report transparently on its efforts to crack down on instances of sexual abuse and rape at its facilities, which CCA claims it is already doing, as well as provide statistics of sexual crimes across its 67 prisons nationwide.

The shareholders and board of directors voted down Friedmann's measure, and broke with tradition by not releasing the vote tallies. But according to Friedmann, they did approve a $4.1 million annual salary for CCA's chief executive officer.

Read Friedmann's remarks to the board after the jump:

In support of this resolution, let me first say that it is very meaningful to me, as a former prisoner who served time at a CCA facility, to present this resolution. I, fortunately, was not raped or sexually abused during my time at a CCA prison. As many of the company’s officers and board members here today know, however, other prisoners have not been so fortunate.

In fact, as just one example, both Kentucky and Hawaii removed all of their female prisoners from the CCA-operated Otter Creek facility in Kentucky due to a sex abuse scandal involving CCA employees. This is an inglorious distinction, as there is no other example in this nation’s history of a state removing all of its inmates from a prison due to the prison staff’s inability, or unwillingness, to prevent inmates from being sexually abused.

Shareholder resolutions are often framed in terms of risk, and indeed there are risks if CCA fails to reduce prisoner rape and sexual abuse, which include liability, adverse publicity and loss of business. There is also the human cost to prisoners who are sexually assaulted at CCA facilities. Some may think this resolution was submitted to embarrass the company. That is incorrect. The embarrassment is that CCA employees rape or sexually abuse inmates on a recurring basis.

But rather than support this resolution, which only requires CCA to report on its efforts to reduce rape and sexual abuse, and to report data regarding such incidents to gauge the effectiveness of the company’s efforts, CCA instead petitioned the SEC for a no-action letter. And when that failed, the company’s board of directors unanimously advised shareholders to vote against the resolution and included a 5-page opposition statement in CCA’s proxy materials. Then, after ISS Governance recommended a vote FOR this resolution, CCA took the deliberate step of issuing supplemental proxy materials, again urging shareholders to vote against the resolution.

This is shameful. It is an affront not only to the reputation of this company and its employees and board members, but also to prisoners who have been sexually assaulted at CCA facilities. CCA’s government contracting partners, and shareholders, and the inmates housed in CCA prisons, deserve better from this company and its board. Therefore, even though this is a pro forma statement because all proxy votes have already been cast, I formally present and move the resolution, and ask stockholders to vote their shares FOR this resolution.

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