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HRDC comments to Surface Transportation Board re PTS merger - Aug. 2016

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Human Rights Defense Center

Opposing Comment for Docket No. MCF 21067

August 8, 2016

Surface Transportation Board
395 E Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20423-0001

Re: Opposing Comment for Docket No. MCF 21067
Dear Sir or Madam:
This comment is in reference to Docket No. MCF 21067, concerning the proposed merger of
Prisoner Transportation Services, LLC (MC-689407/MC-643115) and U.S. Corrections, LLC
(MC-872586). As set forth below and in the exhibits attached hereto, the Human Rights Defense
Center (HRDC) submits that the merger is not consistent with the public interest.
HRDC has an interest in this proceeding because it advocates for the rights of persons held in
U.S. detention facilities, including those who are transported by Prisoner Transportation Services
(PTS) and U.S. Corrections (U.S.C.) among other private, for-profit transport services.
Initially, we note that on July 12, 2016, U.S. Senator Cory Booker wrote to Attorney General
Loretta Lynch, asking her to “fully investigate the nature and extent of prisoner abuse and
neglect with the private prisoner transport industry.” See Exhibit 1, attached.
Senator Booker’s letter was based on recent news reports concerning abuses, including prisoner
deaths, that have occurred during private prisoner transports, including transports by PTS. Such
incidents involving private transportation companies – including escapes, preventable accidents,
sexual abuse of female prisoners and inadequate medical care for prisoners being transported –
are nothing new, however. HRDC’s monthly publication, Prison Legal News, has been reporting
on such issues involving private transport companies, including PTS, since 1997.
P.O. Box 1151
Lake Worth, FL 33460
Phone: 615.495.6568 Fax: 866.735.7136

Page 2

In 2006 we ran a cover story on the private prison transportation industry, which was the most
comprehensive reporting on that topic at the time. See Exhibit 2, attached. We ran an updated
article on private transport companies in December 2015. See Exhibit 3, attached.
The more recent news reports concerning PTS and other private companies that transport
prisoners, which were the catalyst for Senator Booker’s letter to Attorney General Lynch,
included a July 6, 2016 article published by The New York Times and the Marshall Project. That
article describes a number of failings and problems with private prisoner transport companies,
including the 2012 death of Steven Galack, 46, who died while being transported by PTS. The
article notes that “Since 2012, at least four people, including Galack, have died on private
extradition vans, all of them run by the Tennessee-based Prisoner Transportation Services. In one
case, a Mississippi man complained of pain for a day and a half before dying from an ulcer. In
another, a Kentucky woman suffered a fatal withdrawal from anti-anxiety medication. And in
another, guards mocked a prisoner’s pain before he, too, died from a perforated ulcer.” See
Exhibit 4, attached.
On July 12, 2016, Attorney General Lynch informed the House Judiciary Committee that her
office would investigate lapses in federal oversight of private prisoner transport companies.1

Objections to Merger
HRDC objects to the proposed merger of PTS and U.S.C. because we believe it is not consistent
with the public interest. The Applicant submits that the proposed transaction would have no
significant impact on the adequacy of transportation services to the public. However, the many
problems that PTS has experienced in the past, including escapes, prisoner deaths, accidents and
other issues, certainly have a significant impact on the adequacy of transportation services to
the public – most obviously with respect to escapes from and accidents involving prisoner
transportation vehicles, which directly endanger the public.
While the merger may result in economies of scale for the combined company, and result in
efficiencies related to the combined company’s business model, that simply reflects benefits to
the company, not necessarily to the public. The public has an interest in ensuring that prisoners
are transported humanely and safely, and that escapes and accidents that endanger the public
are minimized. As the proposed merger would considerably increase the size of the combined
company, resulting in more vehicles making more prisoner transports, the opportunity for more
accidents, escapes, abuses and misconduct would correspondingly increase.
The business model of the private prisoner transportation industry provides an incentive for
companies to transport as many prisoners as quickly as possible, and to maximize efficiencies in
terms of picking up and dropping off prisoners by keeping them on the road for extended periods
of time – sometimes weeks – often in cramped, unsanitary conditions.
“One thing that’s clear is that the goal with all these companies is to pick up as many bodies
along the way as they can to squeeze out the most profits,” Margaret Winter, associate director


Page 3

of the ACLU’s National Prison Project, said in a 2009 news article. “We’ve had many reports of
prisoners being taken on weeks-long odysseys and not getting food, water or medical attention.” 2
Prisoners have reported that transport drivers sometimes refuse to stop for restroom breaks,
causing them to urinate or defecate in transport vehicles; fail to provide water or adequate food;
fail to respond to medical emergencies; fail to provide sanitary pads or tampons to female
prisoners who are menstruating; drive in a dangerous manner, including speeding to meet trip
schedules; and fail to ensure that prisoners are secured in seatbelts (sometimes, transport vans
lack any seatbelts). Plus there have been numerous examples and allegations of sexual and
physical abuse involving private prisoner transport guards.
According to a former U.S.C. employee, Fernando Colon:
My prisoners got sick and threw up on each other all the time. They passed out
from heat stroke — the windows barely opened, for security reasons, and the air
conditioning was always broken. It got so hot that they would strip down to their
underwear, and I would have to buy them buckets of ice and water.
They were car sick, dizzy, panicked, and claustrophobic.
Only one of our vans had cushions on the seats. In the rest of the vehicles, they
were just sitting upright on a metal bench, squeezed in tight next to each other,
with no way to lie down to sleep — for up to seven days in a row. Usually they’d
just take off their shoes and sit on those.
Imagine having convicted murderers next to you when you’re a first-time DUI
offender. There were guys who were past due on child support sitting next to a
murderer. That’s crazy — speeding-ticket people next to three-time felons.
Meanwhile, your hands are bound but there ain’t no seatbelts, so if I put on the
brakes or swerve, you get thrown like a pinball across the van and slammed
against the wall, with no way to brace yourself. I would hear them slamming
around back there. 3
In fact, the private prison transportation industry is largely unregulated; while the Department of
Justice (DOJ) is charged with enforcing Jeanna’s Law, 28 C.F.R. § 97, there has been only one
enforcement action against a prisoner transportation firm in the past 15 years.
We submit that the best predictor for a company’s future behavior is its past behavior. With
respect to PTS and U.S.C., the following are incidents involving their transport services, in
addition to the death of Steven Galack during a PTS transport, mentioned above:


An April 2016 accident in Colorado involving a PTS van sent 12 prisoners and two
guards to a hospital. The two-vehicle accident was under investigation. 4

Page 4



In April 2016, two prisoners, Michael Andrew Rotunno and James T. Banks, escaped
from a U.S.C. transport van. They reportedly jumped out of the van shortly after leaving
the Walton County Jail in Florida. 5


In April 2016, the Michigan Department of Corrections canceled its contract with U.S.C.,
stating the company had allowed an escape and often failed to meet transport schedules. 6


In January 2016, prisoner William Culpepper, Jr., 36, died during a PTS transport from
Kentucky to Mississippi after telling guards he was experiencing stomach pains. His
cause of death, according to the coroner, was a “perfectly treatable” perforated ulcer. 7


Prisoner Denise Isaacs, 54, died while being transported by PTS in September 2014;
while she reportedly had displayed symptoms that included drooling, refusing food and
gasping, and was unable to climb into the transport van after a stop, she did not receive
medical treatment. PTS officials reportedly told the transport guards to keep going. 8


Prisoner Lauren Sierra, 21, reported she was sexually assaulted by a guard in July 2014
while being transported by U.S. Corrections, and has filed a lawsuit against the company.
She accuses U.S.C. guard Jorge Vela of improperly groping her breasts, buttocks and
vaginal area. 9


In 2014, prisoner William Weintraub, 47, died of a perforated ulcer during a transport by
PTS. According to news reports, prior to Weintraub’s death, PTS guards had mocked his
complaints of severe stomach pain. 10


In December 2013, a PTS bus carrying federal prisoners crashed on Interstate 64 in
Illinois, injuring four guards and nine prisoners after the driver, Jose D. Fuentes, lost
control of the vehicle. 11


Two prisoners drove off in a transport van on September 2, 2013, after PTS guards
stopped in Wetherford, Oklahoma to deliver one or two prisoners to a hospital; they
left the keys inside with the van running so the remaining eight prisoners could have air
conditioning. Police found the abandoned van about a mile away. Six of the prisoners
were still inside, but two – Lester Burns and Michael Coleman – had fled, leaving behind
a 12-gauge shotgun that was in the vehicle. One of the prisoners in the van called 911 to
report the incident. 12

Page 5

According to a lawsuit filed by Darren Richardson, who was transported by PTS in June
2013, during a 10-day trip he “did not go to the bathroom in any fashion for six days, and
did not eat anything for four days” ... “During the transport trip, guards took debit cards
from inmates and used them at gas stations to purchase cigarettes and other items.” ... “At
one point on the transport a guard entered the cage Darren Richardson was held in, and
forced a shotgun to his head” ... “Mr. Richardson’s legs were purple from the knee down
and his feet were black when he arrived at the Pike County Correctional Facility.” He
also alleged a PTS guard urinated on him. 13


A PTS driver was killed in September 2009 in a crash in southern Mississippi that injured
another guard and several prisoners, two of whom were listed in critical condition. “The
vehicle left the roadway on the right shoulder, collided with a raised embankment and
slid and hit a couple trees before landing on its roof,” said Hattiesburg police spokesman
Synarus Green. 14


In August 2009, two PTS guards and a prisoner were killed in an accident in Greene
County, Georgia. The prisoners were reportedly not wearing seatbelts when the van
crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer. 15


Prisoner Sylvester Mitchell, 33, escaped from a PTS transport vehicle in February 2009
while he was being transported between Florida and Pennsylvania. It was unclear when
or how he escaped. 16


In 2008, a shackled prisoner, Taariq Ali, 43, escaped from a PTS transport guard; Ali
had been convicted of murder and was serving a life sentence. The Delaware Dept. of
Corrections reportedly stopped using PTS to transport state prisoners following Ali’s
escape. 17


In La Crosse, Wisconsin, three prisoners escaped from a PTS transport van on June 6,
2006. One of the company’s guards initially claimed that prisoner Phillip Dunn had used
his eyeglasses to pick the locks on his handcuffs and shackles and to open the van door.
However, an investigation revealed that Dunn had stolen the guard’s key ring, which
contained keys to the van and all of the prisoners’ restraints. Two of the escapees were
soon caught but Dunn remained at large. Two PTS employees were fired. 18

There are many other examples of abuses, escapes, deaths in custody and sexual abuse involving
private prison transportation companies. The above examples only relate to PTS and U.S.C., and
are only a sampling of incidents that were publicly reported. Because PTS and U.S.C. are private
companies they are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act or many state public records
laws, which makes obtaining information about their operations difficult or impossible.


Page 6

Additional Concerns
With respect to U.S.C., the Marshall Project reported in an August 5, 2016 article that U.S.C.
“was formed in 2014 and has apparent ties to another extradition company, Florida-based USG7,
which dissolved in 2014, according to a filing with the Florida Department of State.” The article
further states that the Applicant’s merger application “does not mention USG7, whose operations
supervisor, Ashley Jacques, became director of operations at U.S. Corrections and is also a partowner. Walter Thomas, a former president of USG7, became one of [U.S.C.’s] lawyers.” 19
Additionally, according to the Marshall Project, “Between 2010 and 2014, USG7 vans crashed
at least six times, including one crash that killed a guard. In another case, a prisoner sued for
injuries he sustained when a USG7 van rolled during a thunderstorm. A federal judge ordered a
$100,000 default judgment against the company, but it has not been paid. USG7’s insurance had
also lapsed at the time of the incident, according to court documents and records provided to
reporters by the prisoner’s attorney. USG7 was also found liable last year for a default judgement
[sic] of more than $134,000 after three employees claimed they were not paid their wages. That
has not been paid, a lawyer for the employees said.” 20
HRDC also notes that the Applicant claims the proposed transaction would not have any adverse
competitive effect on any portion of the passenger transportation industry. The Applicant states
that the combined operation of PTS and U.S.C. would constitute less than five percent of the
population being transported.
However, according to PTS’s website, the company describes itself “As one of the very few
nationwide prisoner transport operators in the United States...,” 21 and “the nation’s largest
prisoner extradition company and one of the largest national transporters of detainees.” 22 If PTS
is already the nation’s largest prisoner extradition company, as it publicly advertises, then the
proposed merger with U.S.C. would presumably have an adverse impact on competition within
the industry. Notably, PTS previously acquired another extradition company, U.S. Prisoner
Transport, one of its competitors, in 2015 (Docket No. MCF 21064).
To the extent that PTS’s representations before the Surface Transportation Board regarding the
level of competition in the private prisoner transportation industry, and the scope of its services,
conflicts with statements the company has publicly posted on its website, the Board may want to
request additional information and detail from the Applicant.
In conclusion, we object to the proposed merger as we believe, based upon this comment and the
exhibits attached thereto, that the merger is not consistent with the public interest. Thank you for
your consideration of this comment in reference to Docket No. MCF 21067, and please feel free
to contact us should you require any further information.


Page 7


Alex Friedmann
Associate Director, HRDC
cc: Senator Cory A. Booker
Henry E. Seaton, Esq.

I, Alex Friedmann, Associate Director of the Human Rights Defense Center, verify under penalty
of perjury, under the laws of the United States of America, that all information supplied in
connection with this application is true and correct. Further, I certify that I am qualified and
authorized to file this application or pleading. I know that willful misstatements or omissions of
material facts constitute Federal criminal violations punishable under 18 U.S.C. 1001 by
imprisonment up to five years and fines up to $10,000 for each offense. Additionally, these
misstatements are punishable as perjury under 18 U.S.C. 1621, which provides for fines up to
$2,000 or imprisonment up to five years for each offense.

Alex Friedmann


I certify that a copy of this comment has been concurrently sent via courier delivery and email to
Henry E. Seaton, Esq., Law Office of Seaton & Husk, L.P., 2240 Gallows Road, Vienna, VA
22182, on August 8, 2016, before 5:00pm EST.

Alex Friedmann



P R I S O N

Legal News
VOL. 17 No. 9

Dedicated to Protecting Human Rights

ISSN 1075-7678

For-Profit Transportation Companies:
Taking Prisoners, and the Public, for a Ride

September 2006


by Alex Friedmann


ccording to the latest report from
the U.S. Department of Justice,
Bureau of Justice Statistics, as of June
2005 approximately 2.2 million people
were incarcerated in prisons and jails
nationwide – not including immigration
detention centers and juvenile facilities.
This enormous imprisoned population
is not static; prisoners are moved both
intrastate and interstate on a regular basis
for a variety of reasons, including court
appearances, medical visits, detainer extraditions, Interstate Compact transfers
and bail bond remands. A mobile, constantly-shifting “prison on wheels” is an
apt analogy.



From the Editor


Texas Jail Corruption


Pro Se Tips and Tactics


Control Unit Publication Ban Upheld


CSC Settles Abuse Suits


Hawaii CCA Transfers


BOP Settles 9-11 Detainee Suit


Prisoner Labor Abuse


PLN Settles WA DOC Censorship Suit


Texas Prisoner Rape Suit


Supreme Court Rules on Grievance Suit 40
News in Brief

Prison Legal News


While there are no firm statistics for
the total number of prisoners transferred
and extradited annually, the U.S. Marshals Service, which is responsible for the
transportation of prisoners and immigration detainees in federal custody, receives
around 1,000 transport requests per day
and moves nearly 300,000 prisoners each
year through its Justice Prisoner and Alien
Transportation System (JPATS).
On the state and local level, individual
jurisdictions are responsible for their own
prisoner transportation needs. Although
almost all sheriff’s offices and state Departments of Correction maintain their
own prisoner transport services, they
also rely heavily on privately-operated
companies, especially for interstate trips.
The reasons for using such for-profit
transport services boil down to cost and
convenience, both related to staffing
concerns. At least one and often two or
more guards must be used to transport
prisoners; for intrastate trips this can be
an all-day undertaking while interstate
extraditions often take multiple days.
Consequently, staff shortages occur when
county or state guards are used to transport prisoners, expenses such as gas and
meals are incurred, and overtime pay may
result. It is often logistically simpler and
less expensive to pay a private company
to provide such services.

Private Prisoner Transportation
as Big Business
Private prisoner transport services
operate pursuant to the Extradition
Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the
Extradition Act, which gives them the


same authority as public agencies that
move prisoners. Private transportation
guards – called “agents” in the industry
– can take custody of, move and house
prisoners while en route to their destination; they are allowed to carry weapons
and use deadly force, but are not considered sworn law enforcement officers.
While there are numerous prisoner
transport services, most are relatively
small operations. At the top of the industry are multi-million dollar corporations
such as TransCor, the undisputed market
leader. Most private transportation companies share similar characteristics – they
own their own fleet of vehicles, move
prisoners by both ground and air (the latter being booked on commercial flights),
and provide transport services on a feeper-mile basis similar to the commercial
trucking industry. Many use GPS tracking
technology. Currently, the major prisoner
transportation companies include:
• TransCor America, LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Corrections
Corporation of America (CCA). The
Nashville, Tennessee-based company was
founded in 1990 and acquired by CCA in
1994; it has approximately 300 employees
and 80 vehicles, and moved more than
25,000 prisoners in 2005. The company
says it maintains $50 million in insurance
coverage and boasts that it can save public
agencies between 30-40% on interstate
prisoner transportation costs. TransCor
also claims it’s the only company with the
ability to perform mass transfers, stating
that in 2002 it transported 795 prisoners
between three states within 26 hours. Such
mass prisoner moves are usually to pri-

September 2006

Rollin Wright
Paul Wright
Alex Friedmann
Donald W. Miniken Jr.
Mumia Abu Jamal, Denise
Johnston, Daniel E. Manville,
Kent Russell

Matthew Clarke, John Dannenberg,
Gary Hunter, David Reutter,
Mike Rigby, Sam Rutherford,
Roger Smith, Silja J.A. Talvi,
Bob Williams & Mark Wilson


Lance Scott/Catalytic

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Please do not mail PLN paperwork for an
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Prison Legal News

For-profit Companies (cont.)
vately-operated prisons, such as the ones
operated by its parent company CCA.
TransCor’s finances are consolidated
with those of CCA, its parent company, so
precise financial data is difficult to obtain.
But according to CCA’s Form 10-K 2005
Annual Report, TransCor took in gross
revenue of $14.6 million in 2005, $19.1
million in 2004 and $18.9 million in 2003.
The company has apparently been losing
money for years, however – TransCor’s
2005 expenses were $21 million, for a net
loss of $6.5 million. CCA chief financial
officer Irving Lingo, commenting on
the company’s poor performance, stated
in a November 3, 2004 conference call
that they “clearly desire to make a profit
from TransCor at some point.” TransCor
controls an estimated 85% of the private
transport market.
• PTS of America, LLC (formerly
Prisoner Transportation Services, Inc.) is
also located in Nashville. The company
was founded in 2001 by Thor Catalogne,
who previously worked for TransCor.
• Con-Link Transportation Corp.,
which began business in 2001, is based in
Memphis, Tennessee and run by Randy L.
Cagle. The company uses unarmed guards
and favors diesel vehicles – which Cagle
says are safer in case of fires resulting
from accidents (diesels also tend to get
better gas mileage, which reduces operating costs).
• U.S. Extraditions, Inc., located in
Palm Bay, Florida, started in mid-2004
and primarily offers intrastate transportation services. The company has twelve
full-time employees and operates five
vehicles. According to company vicepresident Robert Downs, who formerly
worked for Mid Florida Extraditions,
Inc., another private transport service,
the prisoner transportation industry is
“a big market.”
• Security Transport Services is headquartered in Topeka, Kansas and was
formed in 1995. The company maintains a
staff of 40 drivers and transports no more
than five prisoners at a time.
• Court Services, Inc., founded in
January 2002 and based in Riverside,
California, focuses on bail enforcement
extradition services. Court Services is run
by Eric Kindley and proudly states it has
had no losses due to accidents “to date.”
There are also a number of smaller
companies, such as Affordable Extradi-


tion Service, Inc., located in Woodbury,
Tennessee; First Transit, Inc.’s Secure
Transportation Services in New York;
and Prisoner Transportation Services,
LLC, based in Mesa, Arizona. Due to
economies of scale it’s hard for smaller
prisoner transport companies to compete
with the larger corporations; some go out
of business while others are bought out.
In December 2002, for example, TransCor
acquired Tri-County Extradition, Inc.,
a privately-held prisoner transportation
service in California with annual revenue
of $2 million. Other companies, including
Federal Extradition Agency (formerly of
Memphis), Extraditions International
(Colorado) and State Extraditions (Florida) are no longer in operation.
Wackenhut Corp., the private security
juggernaut, entered the prisoner transportation market in 2003 with its Prisoner
Transport and Extradition Services, which
was managed under the company’s Special
Police Division. Wackenhut’s transport
division proved to be problematic; one
company employee, who did not want to
be named, referred to the fee-per-mile rates
commonly used in the industry as “hit and
miss” and “a crapshoot.” He stated that
Wackenhut’s prisoner transportation
service, which shut down in May 2006,
had approximately $4 million in annual
contracts on paper but was earning only
half that amount in actual revenue. The
company also had problems meeting some
of its contractual obligations. On February 26, 2006, the Board of Commissioners
in Bernalillo County, New Mexico voted
to cancel its contract with Wackenhut
because the company was “late extraditing 26 out of 50 transport prisoners from
holding facilities and has continued to
have difficulties meeting scheduled court
ordered pick-ups.” Wackenhut continues
to offer prisoner transport services but
now does so on an hourly-rate basis.
Typically, public agencies that need to
arrange prisoner transportation can call
a company’s toll-free number and coordinate pick-ups, drop-offs and payments
over the phone or on the Internet. Larger
departments such as state prison systems
usually enter into longer-term statewide
contracts. For overnight and multi-day
trips, private transport services house
their imprisoned passengers at local jails
or correctional facilities along the way,
sometimes for a fee and sometimes gratis
as a courtesy.
Prisoner transportation fees range
from approximately $.80 to $1.50 per

September 2006

For-profit Companies (cont.)
mile, with $1.00 per mile being the industry average. Additional costs may apply
for transporting juveniles and prisoners
with medical needs, and some companies
impose a fuel surcharge. These fees add
up. TransCor studied Montana’s prisoner
transportation system in 1993, concluded
the state spent approximately $1 million
each year, and said it could provide the
same services for around $650,000. From
2000 to 2006, State Extraditions billed Orange County, Florida about $1 million for
transport services (mostly through no-bid
contracts; the company’s co-founder, Dennis Warren, happens to be employed with
the county’s Corrections Department).
And according to separate fixed-cost
contracts between the state of Nevada,
TransCor and PTS, over a two-year period
from March 2005 through February 2007
the companies will receive payments of up
to $2 million. Each.
Additionally, the prisoner transportation industry has attracted ancillary
businesses that cater to its specialized
services, including companies that manufacture or modify secure transport vehicles,
produce various types of restraint systems
(including the “black boxes” that prevent
handcuffs from being unlocked), and
make brightly-colored clothing for prisoners to wear while they’re in transit.
Some of the larger companies that
sell security vehicles include Motor
Coach Industries and Blue Bird, which
produce heavy-duty prisoner transport
buses, and Mavron, Inc. and American
Custom Coach, which make specialty
prisoner transport vans (Mavron also
makes animal transport vehicles). Several
private transportation companies, such
as PTS, do their own vehicle security

The History of (and Troubles With)
Privatized Transport Services
Prisoner transportation companies
expanded both in number and scope during the 1990’s as the U.S. prison and jail
population nearly doubled over a ten-year
period, largely due to tough-on-crime laws
that resulted in a surge of convictions and
longer sentences. The greater number of
prisoners meant a greater need for prisoner transfers and extraditions, and a
full-fledged industry was born.
Initially, most such services were
“mom and pop” operations, sometimes

September 2006

literally two-person businesses. At first
there also was little regulation of privatized prisoner transportation companies
– no regulatory oversight, no standards,
no minimum security requirements or
enforcement mechanisms to ensure that
transport services were safe or provided
humane treatment for the prisoners
in their custody. While there were federal regulations for moving livestock and
safety requirements for commercial truck
drivers, few guidelines were in place for
transporting prisoners. Companies were
self-policed and set their own policies. As
U.S. Rep. Bill McCollum put it, “Anyone
with a vehicle and a driver’s license can
engage in this business and with very little
accountability when things go wrong.”
Further, private companies, by their
nature, are primarily concerned with making a profit. PTS, for example, states it
strives to be “number one” in the industry
– not necessarily the largest, but the best
in terms of “… safety, quality and profitability.” To this extent problems within
the prisoner transportation industry mirror those that exist in other areas where
correctional services have been privatized:
The inherent profit motivation of private
transport companies, with a corresponding need to lower costs and increase
revenue, has resulted in escapes, deaths,
injuries and mistreatment of prisoners.
The greatest expenses for private
transportation companies are those related to its employees – wages, benefits,
staffing levels and training. In the 1990’s
private transport services had fairly low
training requirements; e.g., prior to 1999,
TransCor required only 40 hours of inhouse training for its employees. Further,
transportation companies weren’t always picky about the people they hired,
sometimes failing to conduct adequate
background checks, and their drivers were
often held to demanding travel schedules
to ensure the company maximized its
profit on each trip.
As a result, prisoners who were
extradited by private transportation
services raised repeated complaints, such
as transport guards speeding, driving
recklessly and staying behind the wheel
for lengthy periods of time – even to the
point of falling asleep while on the road.
Prisoners were sometimes held in full
restraints with no stops for food, water
or restroom breaks for over 12 hours at
a time. Prisoners with serious medical
needs were neglected; others were held in
hand and leg restraints so tight that they


caused injuries. Some prisoners claimed
they received just one or two meals a day,
typically from fast food restaurants, with
guards pocketing the remaining allotment for food costs. “There is virtually no
government regulation of the conditions
prisoners live in while they are shackled
all day long without sanitary facilities
in these cramped transport vans,” said
Mark Silverstein, legal director of the
Colorado ACLU, in 1999. There is even an
Internet forum page devoted to criticisms
of TransCor, the largest of the private
transportation services, titled “TransCor
Private transport services have also
been condemned for taking their imprisoned passengers on unnecessarily
meandering routes across the country, collecting and delivering as many prisoners as
possible in order to increase their revenue.
Such “diesel therapy,” in which prisoners
may be on the road for a week or more,
can be physically and mentally debilitating
as well as dangerous. The longer period of
time prisoners are in transit, the greater
the possibility of an accident; also, the
more times that a transport vehicle stops
for food or fuel, the greater the risk of
an escape.
According to TransCor, the average
time that prisoners spend in transit is
between four and five days. Apparently,
however, this is not always the case. William Minnix was extradited from Ohio
to Colorado on a parole violation in July
1997. He was transported by TransCor on
a 20-day trip that took him to New York,
Michigan, Maryland, Kentucky, Wisconsin, South Dakota and several more
passes through Ohio as other prisoners
were picked up and dropped off along
the way. TransCor executive vice president
Chuck Kupferer, quoted in a December
18, 1997 article in Westword magazine, was
more candid. “If a guy wrote to you and
said he was on the road for fifteen days, I
have no doubt in my mind that he was,” he
said. “It’s not rare, but it’s not usual.” Nor
have things changed much since then. On
February 14, 2004, Rick Hollon, a veteran
charged with failure to pay child support,
was extradited by TransCor to Nevada
from Kansas. He passed through Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico
over a 17-day period, which was confirmed
by a company spokesperson. Hollon reportedly lost 30 pounds while taking the
scenic route in TransCor’s custody.
The cost cutting measures employed
by private transport companies, which let

Prison Legal News

them offer substantial savings to public
agencies, also appear to contribute to
the numerous problems experienced by
the industry. Former TransCor president
John G. Zierdt, Jr., who resigned in 2000,
insisted the company did not cut corners
in dangerous ways. “When we have an
escape, it hurts our stock price,” he explained, apparently referring to the stock
price of CCA, which owns TransCor.
However, there is no evidence that the
stock market acts – or indeed should act
– as a regulatory force for privatized prisoner transportation services, especially
when public safety is at risk.
Private transportation companies
that are more concerned with their profit
margins than the public good also tend
to avoid costly security precautions used
by public prisoner transport services.
Jim Cashell, president of the Montana
Sheriff’s and Peace Officer’s Association,
said it was not unusual for deputies to use
a back-up “chase car” for prisoner transports. Chase cars, which provide an added
level of security, aren’t favored by private
transportation services due to the additional vehicle and employee expenses.
Another example of cost cutting
is the use of 15-passenger vans. Several transportation companies, including
Con-Link, U.S. Extraditions, Court
Services and PTS, use 15-passenger vans
– which hold more prisoners and thus
make extradition trips more profitable.
However, these higher-capacity vehicles
also have a higher chance of rollover
and lower safety ratings. The National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) has repeatedly issued warnings
about 15-passenger vans, including three
consumer advisories since 2001. NHTSA
found that 74% of 15-passenger vans had
improperly inflated tires, which greatly
increases the chance of an accident.
NHTSA also determined that when such
vehicles are loaded with 10 or more passengers, the rollover rate is almost three
times higher than when they have fewer
than five occupants.
In fact, federal law prohibits the
sale or lease of new 15-passenger vans
to schools for transporting primary
through high-school age children unless
such vehicles meet federal school bus
safety standards. Apparently, though,
15-passenger vans are considered safe
enough to transport prisoners. Further,
according to NHTSA data for 2006
model year vehicles, the Ford E350 XLT
passenger van received a two-out-of-five-

Prison Legal News

star safety rating and was found to have
a 30% chance of rollover. The E350 is
the “primary transport vehicle” for PTS
according to the company’s website, and
E350 vans are also used by TransCor, U.S.
Extraditions and Con-Link for prisoner
As a result of the initial lack of regulation of private transport companies, and
the negative impact on safety and security
caused by their for-profit motives, prisoner transportation services experienced
a plethora of accidents and escapes, and
their employees extradited prisoners
under dangerous, inhumane and abusive
conditions with frightening frequency.
The details of these incidents read like a
comedy of errors – except there is nothing funny about negligence, preventable
accidents, sexual abuse and escapes that
endanger the public.

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Problems in the Past: Reflections in
the Rear-View Mirror
A prime example of the hazards faced
by smaller prisoner transport services in
the earlier days of the industry occurred
on August 28, 1996, when Rick Carter
and Sue Smith, a husband-and-wife team
who ran R & S Prisoner Transport, were
overpowered by six convicts when they
stopped at a Texas rest area. The unarmed
couple was held hostage during an escape
attempt that ended in a high-speed police
chase. When Carter and Smith had arrived
at an Iowa prison to pick up the prisoners,
five of whom had murder convictions, the
warden reportedly said, “You’ve got to be
kidding me.” However, when told R & S
had an extradition contract he released
them into the company’s custody.
Larger prisoner transport services,
including the top names in the business,
didn’t fare much better. According to the
Palm Beach Post, a convicted felon being
transported through West Palm Beach,
Florida by Federal Extradition Agency
in June 1997 was left alone behind a gas
station to urinate, and promptly escaped.
A month later, on July 30, 1997, Dennis
Glick, a convicted rapist, took a gun from
a Federal Extradition Agency guard who
had fallen asleep in the transport van when
they stopped in Colorado. Glick took seven prisoners, a guard and a local rancher
hostage, stole two more vehicles, and was
caught the next day while attempting to
escape on a stolen horse. Federal Extradition Agency was billed more than $17,000
for the cost of the search, but an official
with the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office


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September 2006

For-profit Companies (cont.)
said at the time that his agency “hasn’t
heard a word” from the company. On
October 23, 1997, four prisoners escaped
from a Federal Extradition Agency van
near Swanton, Ohio, taking a shotgun and
four rounds of ammunition; the private
transport guards had left the vehicle unattended with the engine running. And two
Federal Extradition Agency guards were
arrested in Dalton, Georgia on December
27, 1997 after drinking and fighting with
each other while transporting nine prisoners. They were charged with DUI and
reckless conduct.
TransCor had a bad year in 1997, too.
Three of eleven prisoners being extradited
by the company escaped on December 4,
1997 after they removed their restraints,
threw a rookie guard out of the van and
drove away while another guard was buying meals at a Burger King in Owatonna,
Minnesota. One of the escapees, Homer
Land, kidnapped a married couple and
held them captive for 15 hours. Ironically, the same TransCor van used in the
Owatonna escape had been involved in
another escape attempt just four days
earlier. On November 30, 1997, Whatley
Roylene removed his handcuffs and took
a shotgun from a sleeping TransCor
guard when their van stopped at a gas
station in Sterling, Colorado; the other
guard was outside the vehicle at the time.
Police officers surrounded the van, and
the resulting standoff reportedly ended
when other prisoners convinced Roylene
to give himself up.
A succession of accidents and escapes
occurred over the following years. Evelio
Escalante, an alleged gang leader, escaped
from TranCor guards in Waterbury, Connecticut on October 27, 2000; they had
failed to shackle him or handcuff him behind his back. And when an Extraditions
International van stopped for a restroom
break in Canyon Country, California on
January 23, 2000, the guards carelessly left
the keys in the ignition. Two of the nine
prisoners they were transporting, Geoffrey Johnson and Nevada state prisoner
Billy Freeman, jumped into the front seat
and drove off, reaching speeds of 90mph
before crashing. A company spokesman
said the escape resulted from “an error
in judgment.”
After two more Nevada prisoners fled
from an Extraditions International vehicle
at a California rest stop on March 25,

September 2006

2000, state officials decided to discontinue
the company’s services. James Prestridge
and John Doran had overpowered one
of the guards, taken his gun, and then
relieved another sleeping guard of his
weapon. “As soon as I heard about it, I
stopped using them,” said then Nevada
prison director Bob Bayer. “When we have
two problems in that short space in time,
we can’t afford not to.”
On May 24, 2000, a van operated by
Extraditions International was involved
in a fatal accident in Great Barrington,
Massachusetts. One guard, Scott Lee
Bellon, was killed and a second guard and
a prisoner were injured when the vehicle
failed to navigate a curve and crashed
into a stone wall. In another accident,
Patrick R. Dalka and Jason Szydlek,
among other prisoners and two guards,
sustained injuries when a TransCor van
rear-ended another vehicle in Tennessee
on July 13, 2000. The next day Szydlek
signed a release form in which he agreed
not to hold the company liable in exchange for $1,000. TransCor issued him
a check, which he didn’t cash. Instead,
in a subsequent lawsuit filed in federal
court, Szydlek said he felt “threatened,
intimidated and coerced” into signing the
release, and stated in an affidavit that he
had been deprived of food and sleep for almost 24 hours following the accident and
was threatened by TransCor employees.
The case was closed on March 30, 2004
following a confidential settlement. See:
Dalka v. Sublett, USDC WD TN, Case
No. 01-2485-V. See also 2002 WL 1482532
and 2002 WL 1483877.
On November 20, 2000, thirty-nine
Wisconsin prisoners filed suit in U.S.
District Court against TransCor and
other defendants. They claimed that
during a 30-hour bus ride from a state
prison to a CCA-operated facility in
Sayre, Oklahoma on January 25, 2000,
the TransCor vehicle had no heat, no
working toilet and an inoperable muffler
that let exhaust fumes inside the vehicle.
According to court documents the prisoners were splashed with waste from the
overflowing toilet and vomited on each
other due to the terrible stench. They
were denied meals and medication. Wearing only jumpsuits in sub-zero weather,
some reportedly arrived in Sayre with
frostbite and hypothermia. In a December 27, 2000 order, a federal judge found
the prisoners had “alleged facts sufficient
to support an Eighth Amendment claim
as well as state law claims of assault and


battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.” The case
was settled confidentially in November,
2002. See: Wine v. Dept. of Corrections,
USDC, WD WI, Case No. 00-C-704-C
(2000 WL 34229819).
But the above incidents, while illustrative of the shortcomings of private
transportation services, pale in comparison
to the most devastating incident to befall
the industry to date. On April 3, 1997, six
prisoners were burned alive when the van
extraditing them caught fire on the side
of an interstate near Dickson, Tennessee.
One of the two guards burned his hands
while attempting to release the shackled
prisoners, who were locked in a wire cage
in the back of the vehicle. They were being transported for parole and probation
violations by the Federal Extradition
Agency, which, despite its official-sounding name, was a private company operated
by former bounty hunter Clyde J. Gunter.
The prisoners who died in the blaze were
Richard King, Monty Crain, John Cannon, Steven Hicks, James Catalano and
David Speakman.
A female prisoner who was dropped
off just before the accident said the van
had been making “knocking noises,” and
according to news reports the vehicle
was vibrating badly during a trip that
went from Memphis to Iowa, Wisconsin,
Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and then
back to Memphis before leaving again for
Mississippi and Arkansas. Prior to the
fatal accident the van had been driven
almost non-stop for 24 hours. Court
records indicate that when the transport
guards stopped in Memphis they informed the company’s main office about
the problem, but were told to continue.
The van’s drive shaft apparently came
loose, bounced off the road and punctured the gas tank; the 1995 Ford E150
had logged more than 240,000 miles in
two years and the universal joint failed
due to excessive wear.
In initial court filings Federal Extradition Agency stated the fire was “an
unavoidable accident.” Less than two
months later, on May 22, 1997, another
transport vehicle operated by the company crashed near Collyer, Kansas, injuring
four prisoners and killing a guard.
On February 28, 2001, a federal jury
in Nashville awarded $10.5 million to the
10-year-old daughter of James Catalano,
one of the prisoners killed in the van fire,
on civil rights and negligence claims. The
jury apportioned 100% of the fault to

Prison Legal News

Federal Extradition Agency; a separate
confidential settlement was reached with
Ford Motor Company. The reported jury
award was $10.5 million, but according to
court documents the award was reduced
to $7 million. See: Catalano v. Federal
Extradition, USDC MD TN, Case No.
3:97-cv-00790. A second federal jury
awarded $20 million in compensatory and
punitive damages to the estate of John
Cannon, another prisoner who died in
the accident, on December 20, 2001. The
jury in that case found Federal Extradition
Agency had violated Cannon’s civil rights
and had ignored known mechanical problems. The reported jury award was $20
million, but according to court documents
the award was $17.5 million. See: Cannon
v. Federal Extradition Agency, USDC,
MD TN, Case No.3:97-1183. Additional
lawsuits filed against the company following the van fire were resolved through
confidential settlements.
James R. Omer, Sr., an attorney with
the law firm that litigated both the Cannon and Catalano lawsuits, said Federal
Extradition Agency’s insurance carrier
paid the damage awards to the limit of the
company’s policy. The remaining amount
could not be collected because Federal
Extradition Agency had no assets and had
gone out of business.
Escapes and accidents, even serious
ones, while often preventable, are at least
understandable in an industry that moves
thousands of prisoners across the country
on a continual basis. More troubling are
the rapes and sexual abuse of female prisoners by male guards employed by private
transport companies.
TransCor guard Jack ter Linden was
accused of fondling and sexually assaulting two female prisoners, Beverly Hirsch
and Joann Gwynn, in separate incidents
during extraditions to Colorado in 1993.
The women claimed that ter Linden also
skimmed money from the prisoners’ food
allowances, falsified trip logs and placed
them in the driver’s cab in violation of

company policy. Gwynn related that during a six-day trip through seven states she
was repeatedly raped by ter Linden, and
another guard failed to report the sexual
abuse. A TransCor official stated at the
time that male guards transporting female
prisoners “had no impact on prisoner
safety.” Gwynn and Hirsch sued TransCor
and reached undisclosed settlements with
the company in March 1999. See: Hirsch
v. Zavaras, USDC CO, Case No. 1:93-cv01917 (see 920 F.Supp. 148 (D.Co. 1996));
Gwynn v. TransCor, USDC CO, Case No.
On October 8, 1994, Arnold H. Faulhaber and Joseph Jackson, co-founders of
Fugitive One Transport Company, were
arrested on charges of raping a female
prisoner they were transporting.
Cheryl Nichols and other prisoners
were being extradited by two TransCor
guards on October 25, 1997. Nichols accused one of the guards, Angel Rivera,
of raping her in a gas station bathroom
in Louisiana; Rivera admitted they had
had sexual contact but claimed it was
consensual. TransCor fired him, and on
Aug. 6, 1998, Nichols filed a state court
lawsuit in Tennessee, claiming the company was negligent in hiring, training
and supervising Rivera. TransCor settled
the case for a confidential amount. See:
Nichols v. TransCor, Circuit Court for
Davidson Co., Tenn. (see appellate ruling,
2002 WL 1364059
In October, 1999, Cheryl Schoenfeld
was sexually assaulted by two TransCor employees while being transported
through Texas. TransCor guards Michael
Jerome Edwards and David Jackson forced
her to expose her breasts and perform oral
sex, and penetrated her vaginally with a
flashlight and a gun barrel. Three prisoners testified that at one point Edwards
pulled over and threatened to shoot them,
saying he would claim they were trying
to escape. Edwards previously had been
accused of sexually assaulting a female
prisoner he transported in New Mexico

a month earlier.
Both Edwards and Jackson were
charged with sexual assault. Jackson plead
guilty while Edwards was convicted, based
partly on DNA evidence, and sentenced
to ten years plus a $5,000 fine. Schoenfeld
and Annette Jones, another prisoner who
said she had been mistreated by Edwards,
filed suit against TransCor on February
24, 2000. The company agreed to settle
the case in April 2002 for $5 million, $4
million of which was paid by its insurance carrier. See: Schoenfeld v. TransCor,
USDC WD TX, Case No. 5:00-cv-00248.
Tim Maloney, Schoenfeld’s attorney, criticized TransCor for its “absolute and total
disregard for … prisoners’ rights, welfare
and safety,” blaming the company’s apparent belief that “the most important thing
is the bottom line.”
In another sexual assault case involving TransCor, 43-year-old Catherine
Jamison, a married mother of four children, was repeatedly raped over a five-day
period in March 1998 while in the custody
of TransCor guards who extradited her
from Texas to Colorado. She was threatened with retaliation if she reported the
abuse. On March 1, 1999 the Colorado
chapter of the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit against the company on her behalf.
“It is time for TransCor to take full responsibility for the safety and treatment
of prisoners that the government entrusts
to its care,” said ACLU Legal Director
Mark Silverstein. The ACLU announced
on April 24, 2002 that it had obtained
a “substantial settlement” for Jamison,
although the amount was not disclosed.
See: Jamison v. TransCor, USDC CO,
Case No. 1:99-cv-00390.
But it was not the repeated rapes of
female prisoners, nor the six convicts who
were roasted alive while locked inside a
van in rural Tennessee, both due in part to

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Prison Legal News


September 2006

For-profit Companies (cont.)
the lack of governmental oversight of the
private transport industry, that resulted in
much-needed regulatory reform. Rather,
it was yet another escape.
On October 13, 1999, Kyle Bell was
one of a dozen prisoners aboard a Greyhound-type TransCor bus that stopped
to refuel near Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
Bell, a notorious criminal from North
Dakota, was serving a life sentence for
molesting and killing 11-year-old Jeanna
North. While two TransCor guards were
asleep on the bus and two others were
occupied outside the vehicle, Bell used
a handcuff key, which had not been detected during a strip search, to remove his
wrist and leg restraints. He then crawled
through a ceiling ventilation hatch and
slipped to the ground unnoticed as the
bus pulled away. He was wearing civilian clothes that didn’t identify him as a
prisoner. Despite stopping at two jails
after Bell had escaped, the TransCor
guards didn’t notice he was missing until
nine hours later when they were rolling
through Arizona. They then delayed
notifying law enforcement authorities for
another two hours.
Bell’s escape resulted in a nationwide manhunt and widespread outrage.
TransCor went into full public relations
mode, admitting that “several procedural
violations … occurred involving security
policies.” Then-TransCor president John
Zierdt, Jr. offered a corporate mea culpa,
stating “We are embarrassed by this
incident and are reviewing all standing
policies and procedures.” The four guards
who had transported Bell were fired; one
had been the company’s employee of the
year in 1997. Regardless, TransCor was
sharply criticized by public officials and
lambasted by the media.
North Dakota suspended using
TransCor for prisoner transportation
services. According to a November, 2000
report by the state’s legislative Criminal
Justice Committee, an internal review
indicated that TransCor had failed to
follow its own policies related to the
number of guards that should have been
present, the awakening of guards during
stops, prisoner headcounts, the use of
chains linking prisoners together, and the
positioning of guards on the bus during
stops. It was revealed that the TransCor
employees had received only one week of
training; in comparison, officers with the

September 2006

U.S. Marshals Service receive a comprehensive 16-week training course.
TransCor attempted to lay some of
the blame on North Dakota officials, stating the paperwork they had received only
indicated Bell was serving a life sentence,
not that he was an escape risk. Apparently
it didn’t occur to the company that all
prisoners, particularly those serving life
sentences, might be escape risks. North
Dakota Governor Ed Schafer, commenting on TransCor’s gross security lapses,
noted sarcastically that “These people
present themselves as experts in transporting prisoners.”
Bell evaded authorities for almost
three months and appeared on America’s
Most Wanted twice before being captured
in Texas on January 9, 2000. He had
changed his appearance, was working
part-time jobs and was living with a woman who had five young children. Governor
Schafer stated he would seek to have the
cost of the manhunt for Bell reimbursed
by TransCor. During subsequent negotiations, however, the state settled with the
company for $50,000 despite having incurring expenses of over $102,000. Incredibly,
as part of the settlement North Dakota
agreed to rehire TransCor for future prisoner extradition services.
But Bell’s escape resulted in far more
than bad press, scrutiny by lawmakers
and sharp criticism of TransCor – it
accomplished what more than a decade
of deaths, accidents, sexual assaults and
numerous other escapes had not: Comprehensive federal regulation of the prisoner
transportation industry.

Finally, Federal Intervention
In 1999, U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota introduced a bill
containing a broad range of regulatory
measures for private prisoner transport
services. Entitled the Interstate Transportation of Dangerous Criminals Act, it was
more commonly referred to as “Jeanna’s
Law” after Jeanna North, the child whom
Kyle Bell had murdered. The legislation
was co-sponsored by Senator Patrick
Leahy and then-Senator John Ashcroft.
In announcing his proposed legislation, Sen. Dorgan stated, “No family
that pulls into a gas station should have
to worry that the van next to them might
contain violent criminals and untrained
guards more attentive to their next nap
or cheeseburger than to the safety of
the rest of us.” Sen. Leahy, then ranking
member on the Senate Judiciary Com-


mittee, further noted that there had been
“an alarming number of traffic accidents
in which prisoners were seriously injured
or killed because drivers were tired, inattentive or poorly trained. Privatization
of prisons and prisoner transportation
services may seem cost efficient, but public
safety must come first.”
Jeanna’s Law received support from
a broad range of corrections-related and
victims’ rights organizations, including the
National Sheriff’s Association, National
Association of Police Organizations,
Fraternal Order of Police, California
Correctional Peace Officers Association,
New York Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association and National
Organization of Parents of Murdered
Children, among others. Sen. Dorgan
argued that regulatory legislation was
necessary, noting that “A company hauling hazardous waste, cattle, or even circus
animals has to meet certain minimum
standards. Yet there are no requirements
for hauling violent criminals around the
country.” His proposed bill included the
following provisions:
• Minimum standards for background
checks and pre-employment drug tests for
prospective employees of private transportation companies.
• Minimum standards for the length
and type of training that employees must
receive before they are allowed to transport prisoners, not to exceed 100 hours of
pre-service training. Such training must
include the use of restraints, searches,
use of force, use of firearms, CPR, map
reading and defensive driving.
• Limitations on the number of hours
that employees can be on duty during a
specific time period, with such limitations
not being greater than those set forth
under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety
• Minimum standards for the number
of employees necessary to supervise violent prisoners.
• Minimum standards for employee
uniforms and identification that clearly
identify employees as transportation officers.
• Standards requiring certain violent
prisoners to wear brightly colored clothes
while being transported that identify them
as prisoners.
• Minimum requirements for the use
of restraints when transporting violent
• A requirement that when transporting violent prisoners, private transport

Prison Legal News

companies must notify local law enforcement officials 24 hours before any
scheduled stops in their jurisdiction.
• A requirement that in the event of
an escape by a violent prisoner, private
transportation services must immediately
notify law enforcement officials in the jurisdiction where the escape took place, as
well as the agency that contracted with the
company for transporting the prisoner.
Jeanna’s Law further included penalties for prisoner transport companies
that fail to comply with the regulatory
standards, including fines of up to $10,000
per violation, the cost of prosecution for
such violations, and restitution to public
agencies that incur expenses for recapturing prisoners who escape from private
transport services.
Still, some prisoners’ rights advocates
argued the proposed regulations didn’t go
far enough. Stephen Raher, Co-Coordinator of the Colorado Criminal Justice
Reform Coalition, said in a January 28,
2002 letter that more stringent standards
were needed, including: 1) requiring
private transport guards to obtain a
commercial drivers license; 2) stricter
guard-to-prisoner ratios, as one guard
for every six prisoners is insufficient in
some cases; 3) ensuring that prisoners
be allowed to sleep at a secure facility,
such as a jail, for at least eight hours for
every two days spent in transit; 4) requiring companies to phase-in GPS tracking
technology for their vehicles (a provision
the U.S. Dept. of Justice declined to
adopt, apparently because it would place
a financial burden on private transport
services); 5) requiring vehicle maintenance
schedules comparable to schedules used
by the U.S. Marshals Service and other
public prisoner transportation agencies;
and 6) requiring private transport companies to report use-of-force and medical
Sen. Dorgan’s bill was passed by
Congress and signed into law by President
Clinton on December 21, 2000; however,
the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) failed to formulate regulations to enforce the law’s
provisions until more than a year after
the 180-day deadline for doing so. The
regulations, codified at 28 C.F.R. § 97,
were not approved until December 2002.
“Tragically, incidents Jeanna’s Law was
designed to prevent have occurred since
the regulations were supposed to be in
place,” stated Sen. Dorgan.
Those incidents included the escape
of David R. Puckett, 17, who fled from a

Prison Legal News

TransCor guard at a Wisconsin airport on ments for employee sexual harassment
June 19, 2001. The transport guard, who training, female guards being available to
was arranging a rental car at the time, had escort certain female prisoners, and polifailed to handcuff the teenager. Puckett cies against sexual misconduct – another
stole several vehicles and stabbed a police egregious incident involving sexual abuse
officer before being caught in Texas six occurred.
days later. TransCor vice-president Chuck
During a four-day van trip beginning
Goggin said, “We do the very best we can May 13, 2001, two male guards employed
to keep screw-ups to a minimum,” but the by Extraditions International transported
company acknowledged that their em- Robin Darbyshire, 41, a pretrial detainee,
ployee, who was subsequently fired, had and a number of male prisoners from
Nevada to Colorado. A lengthy article
not followed proper procedures.
Another escape occurred on Sep- published in 2002 in Westword magatember 28, 2001, when Christopher Paul zine detailed Darbyshire’s sordid tale of
Savage hijacked a TransCor van at a gas harassment, sexual assault, ignored comstation in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Sav- plaints and death threats by the company’s
age pretended he was sick and convinced employees.
One of the transport guards, Richard
the guards to stop; after his handcuffs
were removed he overpowered both Almendarez, made crude sexual comguards and left in the van with eight other ments to Darbyshire, fondled himself, and
prisoners. A clerk at the gas station said a asked her to sit on his lap. Almendarez,
TransCor guard ran into the store shout- who was armed, also threatened to take
ing, “Call the cops – they just escaped!” Darbyshire out into the desert, shoot her,
The van contained a pump shotgun and and claim she had tried to escape. When
five shells, which Savage took with him they reached a rest area Almendarez esafter abandoning the vehicle nearby. The corted her into a bathroom. He removed
other prisoners were quickly caught but, her restraints, ordered her to lie down, and
despite a manhunt involving seven police made her expose her breasts and raise her
agencies, Savage remained at large for skirt. Almendarez, who weighed over 300
almost six weeks before being captured pounds, then stood on her hand to keep
in Georgia.
her pinned to the floor, masturbated and
Six prisoners and a TransCor guard ejaculated on her.
were treated for minor injuries after their
After the van stopped at Extraditions
van was involved in an interstate acci- International’s headquarters in Commerce
dent in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania City, Colorado, Darbyshire’s complaints
on April 8, 2002. Further, Extraditions were ignored and she was placed back
International lost a van transporting a in the same van to continue the trip.
dozen prisoners on September 11, 2001 Another prisoner who was extradited by
when the vehicle stopped at a McDonald’s Almendarez recalled that he had said, “I
in Mentor, Ohio.
One of the prisoners, Lawrence
Tutt, overpowered
a female guard and
drove away while
a second guard
was ordering food.
“We’ve had prob�CRIMINAL APPEALS
l e m s l i ke eve r y
transport company
has,” stated Capt.
K.V. Schilling, an
Extraditions Inter�SHU
national employee.
“We all have escapes
Charles Carbone, Esq.
or problems.”
PMB 212 - 3128 16th St.
Also while the
San Francisco, CA 94103
DOJ regulations for
Jeanna’s Law were
(Please write for approval to call collect)
pending – which or
included require-


September 2006

For-profit Companies (cont.)
should have taken the bitch out in the
field and raped her and blew her fucking
brains out.”
Darbyshire’s testimony resulted in
investigations by law enforcement agencies in Colorado and New Mexico, and
prompted a lawsuit filed by the ACLU’s
National Prison Project in the U.S. District Court for Colorado on April 11,
2002. The suit claimed that Extraditions
International had failed to properly train
and supervise its employees and had been
deliberately indifferent to Darbyshire’s
complaints. According to court documents, besides the sexual abuse claims,
Darbyshire and the other prisoners were
continuously shackled during the fourday van ride, were only allowed to use
restrooms every 10-12 hours, were not
provided with sufficient food and water,
and were transported in a reckless manner.
It was also learned that Extraditions International knew Almendarez previously had
been fired from the Texas prison system
for abusing a prisoner.
The owner of Extraditions International, Jim Cure, a former Colorado
state trooper, said Darbyshire was lying
– despite statements from other prisoners
who rode in the same van and corroborated her claims. Cure admitted that he
didn’t “know what these officers do half
the time.” He also acknowledged that
sometimes problems occur with private
transportation employees. “You can give
them all types of training, but you can’t
build in the human factor,” he said. “You
may get the occasional pervert who slips
in.” However, Cure defended Almendarez,
saying, “He could go back to work for us
today if he wanted to.”
On March 14, 2003, the ACLU announced that Extraditions International
had agreed to settle Darbyshire’s lawsuit
for an undisclosed sum. While the lawsuit
was pending, Extraditions International
had unsuccessfully tried to avoid liability
by transferring its assets and claiming it
had been bought out by a different company called American Extraditions, Inc.
“This case provides an excellent example
of why contracting with private for-profit
companies to conduct correctional functions can be dangerous to prisoners and
the public,” said the ACLU’s National
Prison Project staff attorney David C.
Fathi. See: Darbyshire v. Extraditions International, Inc. USDC CO, Case Number:

September 2006

The DOJ regulations that were eventually implemented for Jeanna’s Law
contained specific standards intended to
remedy the accidents, escapes, abuse and
related problems among private transportation services. A minimum of 100 hours
of training was required before private
guards could transport violent (but not
non-violent) prisoners. The maximum
driving time for transport guards was
made the same as for commercial motor
vehicle operators under Dept. of Transportation (DOT) rules. In general, drivers
cannot exceed 11 cumulative hours or 14
non-cumulative hours of driving following
10 consecutive hours off duty, with certain
other limitations. Although the one-to-six
guard-to-prisoner ratio was preserved,
public agencies that contract with private
transport companies can require lower
ratios. In case of escapes, law enforcement
officials must be notified within 15 minutes
absent extenuating circumstances.
Standards to ensure the safety of
prisoners, though less precise, were also
set forth, such as a vague provision that
transport vehicles be “safe and well-maintained” (vehicle maintenance is a matter
of particular concern; U.S. Extraditions
vice-president Robert Downs stated his
company put an average of 15,000 miles
on their vans every month). Also included
was a requirement that companies establish policies “to prohibit the mistreatment
of prisoners, including prohibitions
against covering a prisoner’s mouth with
tape, the use of excessive force, and sexual
misconduct.” Further, juvenile prisoners
are required to be separated from adults
and female prisoners separated from
males, “where practicable.” Female guards
are to be present when female violent
prisoners are transported, also “where
practicable” (a double loophole, since this
provision doesn’t apply to non-violent female prisoners). Another regulation states
that private transport companies “are responsible for taking reasonable measures
to insure the well being of the prisoners
in their custody including, but not limited
to, necessary stops for restroom use and
meals, proper heating and ventilation of
the transport vehicle … and prohibitions
on the use of tobacco….” No minimum
schedule for rest stops or meals was
specified, however. The regulations also
included civil penalties of up to $10,000
for each regulatory violation, liability for
the cost of prosecution, and payments
to public agencies for expenses incurred


due to escapes from private transport
Notably absent from the DOJ regulations were requirements related to seatbelts
or other safety restraints for imprisoned
passengers. TransCor, for example, doesn’t
provide seatbelts for prisoners – despite a
July 15, 2003 Pennsylvania court verdict
against the company in a case in which
a female prisoner was thrown into a
metal screen separating the passenger
area from the driver’s compartment when
the TransCor van she was riding in came
to a sudden stop. She suffered back and
knee injuries, and received a $166,323
judgment against the company. TransCor
had claimed that seatbelts could be used
as weapons and posed a danger to its
employees, an argument that was rejected
by the court. Not mentioned was the probability that retrofitting prisoner transport
vans with seatbelts might be too costly for
the profit-minded company. See: Maggiolini v. TransCor, Penn. State Court, Case
No. 01-11-307.
According to data from the NHTSA,
nationwide from 1990 to 2003 nearly 80
percent of the people who died in rollover
accidents in 15-passenger vans – which,
as noted previously, are used by at least
four private transport services – were not
wearing seatbelts. And seatbelts can make
a huge difference. When a Con-Link van
slammed into an 18-wheeler that had been
traveling the wrong way on an interstate in
Tennessee on May 9, 2006, although two
guards and three prisoners were injured
there were no fatalities. Everyone in the
van was wearing a seatbelt.
Also missing from Jeanna’s Law were
heightened liability insurance requirements for prisoner transport companies.
Most private transportation services are
subject to minimum amounts of insurance
mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration (FMCSA), which
requires at least $1.5 million in public liability coverage for commercial vehicles
in interstate transit – generally, for-hire
vehicles that carry 15 or fewer passengers, including the driver. Such minimal
coverage may be insufficient for prisoner
transport services; consider that lawsuits
following the Federal Extradition Agency
van fire resulted in jury awards in excess
of $24 million.
Despite these omissions, Senator Dorgan said his legislation was “[A] common
sense law that will do much to protect the
safety of the American people if and when
state and local governments use private

Prison Legal News

companies to transport violent criminals.”
Senator Leahy, remarking on the civil penalties for violations of Jeanna’s Law, stated
“This should create a healthy incentive
for companies to abide by the regulations
and operate responsibly.” Unfortunately,
it appears their hopeful sentiments were
overly optimistic.

Effective Regulation – Are We There
Yet? Are We There Yet?
Notwithstanding the regulatory
provisions of Jeanna’s Law and its civil
penalties, accidents, escapes and abuses
continue to occur among private transport
companies – often resulting from the same
security lapses and problems that predated
the new regulations. This may be because
although the rules have changed, the profit
motivation of these companies has not.
So long as prisoner transportation services are primarily concerned with making
money, not ensuring public safety or the
safety of their employees and the prisoners in their custody, such incidents will
persist. And although the disincentives set
forth in Jeanna’s Law – up to $10,000 per
violation – may seem substantial, consider
that the larger prisoner transportation
companies, including TransCor, take in
millions of dollars in revenue each year.
Also, while the larger private transport corporations say they are in full
compliance with Jeanna’s Law, including
TransCor, Con-Link and Court Services,
Inc., several of the smaller transportation
companies are not. When asked how such
non-compliant services remain in business, Randy Cagle, owner of Con-Link,
says that some public agencies only “look
at the dollar amount” and don’t do background checks. Thus, it’s little surprise that
escapes and accidents, as well as allegations of sexual assault, continue to plague
the prisoner transportation industry.
TransCor, for example, continued to
experience a fairly high number of escapes
and other incidents. Floyd W. Stolin, Jr.
escaped from a TransCor van in Brighton,
Colorado on August 4, 2004, fleeing from
the vehicle when it made a traffic stop.
Several months later, on October 24, 2004,
a TransCor guard was fired after David
Randal Moser, who was being extradited
to face sex charges involving a minor,
escaped from a transport van in Oxford,
Mississippi after the vehicle stopped at a
Wendy’s. TransCor officials declined to
comment on the exact policy violations
committed by their employee, but stated
there was “some sort of breakdown, or a

Prison Legal News

series of breakdowns.” Stephanie Castle,
a relative of the victim whom Moser was
charged with sexually assaulting, also
commented on the company’s security
lapse, saying, “I can’t believe these extradition people have a web site saying they
are high security.” TransCor paid the local police department for overtime costs
incurred in searching for Moser, who was
captured several days later.
In yet another high-profile sexual
assault case involving TransCor, Denna

Ann Jensen, 34, was being extradited from
California to Nevada on September 2,
2003, when TransCor guard Jason Duane
Parker pulled behind a remote, abandoned
truck stop. Parker, who had been making
suggestive comments during the trip, removed Jensen’s restraints, donned a pair
of latex gloves, forced her to perform
oral sex, and digitally penetrated her. He
then raped her while wearing a condom.
After being dropped off at the Esmeralda
County jail in Goldfield, Nevada, Jensen

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September 2006

For-profit Companies (cont.)
told one of the jail staff about the sexual
assault. Deputies returned to the truck
stop, where they found the condom and
Parker was arrested and charged with
three felony counts of sexual assault and
three counts of having sex with a prisoner.
At trial he claimed the encounter had been
consensual, though his testimony was
contradicted by medical reports detailing
Jensen’s injuries, which were consistent
with rape. Jensen also showed the jury her
Aryan tattoo and stated she would never
have willingly had sex with Parker, who
was black. Parker was convicted of four
of the charges. On September 29, 2003
Jensen sued TransCor in federal court.
Asked why Jensen had been transported
alone by a male guard in violation of
company policy, an attorney representing
TransCor said, “that’s the big question,
isn’t it?” One possible answer is because it
would have been more expensive to pay a
female guard to accompany them. Denna
Jensen’s lawsuit was settled in January
2004 under undisclosed terms. See: Jensen
v. TransCor, USDC NV, Case No. 2:03cv-01359.
On September 2, 2004, four maximum
security Montana prisoners removed their
wrist, leg and waist restraints, pried a
screen from the back window of a TransCor van, and escaped while the vehicle
was stopped at a Burger King in Helena.
A trainee guard had stayed with the van
while a more experienced guard went
inside to get food – which, according to
a TransCor official, did not violate the
company’s safety policies. Although the
prisoners were quickly apprehended, one
had tried to hijack a truck.
Montana officials quickly suspended
the state’s $308,000 annual contract with
TransCor and demanded changes in the
company’s policies – including providing sack lunches or only making stops
at secure facilities, providing chase cars
when transporting dangerous prisoners,
maintaining data sheets and photos for
prisoners being transported, and notifying local authorities of any stops. Further,
the state demanded that the company’s
guards wear their guns and be provided
with radios that are carried at all times.
TransCor complied and the contract was
reinstated; the company also agreed to
pay the costs of recapturing the escapees,
which totaled $23,516.

September 2006

Other private transportation companies have also experienced recent escapes
and security-related problems. On November 18, 2003, a Tennessee prisoner
being transported by Con-Link ran away
while still in handcuffs during a stop at
a Subway store in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Robert L. South remained at large
for five days before being captured.
The Orlando Sentinel reported on
January 27, 2004 that a female murder
suspect being transported by State Extraditions claimed she had been raped
by a male guard while they were en route
to Florida in late December 2003. According to a report from the Orange Co.
Sheriff’s Dept., Dixie Kennedy said the
guard, Cecil Ormond, stopped at a motel
in Alabama and told her they would be
sharing a room. Once inside he allegedly
ordered her to bathe and then sexually
assaulted her. Company officials declined
to comment on the incident. Although
Alabama investigators confirmed that
Ormond had stayed with Kennedy at a
Days Inn instead of housing her overnight at a jail, no charges were filed after
Kennedy said she didn’t want to pursue
the matter.
Florida prisoner Dominic Reddick, charged with trying to murder an
Orlando police officer, escaped from
State Extraditions after the company’s
transport van broke down in Florida on
December 5, 2005. Reddick reportedly
complained that his leg shackles were
hurting him, and one of the guards
obliged by taking them off. He ran away
while the transport guards were occupied with other prisoners, still wearing
handcuffs and prison clothes. “All they
could tell us was ‘He went that way,’”
Sumter County Sheriff’s Captain Gary
Brannen said of State Extraditions’
employees. Reddick was captured five
days later following a massive search
involving 200 officers from ten agencies,
dogs, a helicopter and thermal imaging cameras. The Sheriff’s office said it
would bill the company for the cost of
the search. “It’s a big operation, and a
whole lot of taxpayer money is being
spent,” said Chief Deputy Jack Jordan.
According to Jordon, as of June 2006,
State Extraditions had not reimbursed
the sheriff’s department and the matter
had been referred to the county’s legal
An appropriately-named prisoner
being extradited from Mississippi to Texas used a refueling stop to escape from a


Guardrite Security vehicle on May 8, 2006.
The unarmed private transport guards
reportedly left James Bond unattended
when they went inside the gas station. After
Bond had escaped they failed to promptly
contact law enforcement authorities and
instead tried to search for him themselves.
Bond stole a car, led authorities on a high
speed chase and eluded capture for more
than 20 hours. “We are looking at if we
can bill Guardrite Security for the cost of
this because this was totally uncalled for,”
said Sheriff James Haywood. “It’s not impossible for prisoners to escape, but when
one escapes like this, someone has to bear
Most recently, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, three prisoners escaped from a PTS
transport van on June 6, 2006. One of the
company’s guards initially claimed that
prisoner Phillip Dunn had used his eyeglasses to pick the locks on his handcuffs
and shackles and to open the van door.
However, an investigation by PTS revealed
that Dunn had stolen the guard’s key ring,
which contained keys to the van and all of
the prisoners’ restraints. Two of the escapees were soon caught but Dunn remained at
large. Two PTS employees were fired.

Public Transport Services Imperfect
Publicly-operated prisoner transportation services are not immune to escapes,
accidents and other problems, of course,
both in the past and more recently. For
example, in Connecticut in August 1999,
four male prisoners being transported in
a Sheriff’s Department van by two deputies broke down a metal gate separating
them from a female prisoner and sexually
assaulted her.
And in a bizarre incident in November 2005, a Florida state prison van
crashed through a parking garage wall at
a medical center in North Miami Beach
and plummeted four stories. The driver
and a prisoner inside the vehicle survived
the fall. That same month a Texas state
prisoner escaped from a prison transport
van by slipping out of his wrist and ankle
restraints, leaving them locked on the floor
behind him, and squeezing through a small
rear window unseen by the two guards in
the front seat. Carlos Kidd, the prisoner
who accomplished the Houdini-like escape,
was captured later that same day.
In Montana on January 11, 2006, murder suspect Dueston Haggard unlocked his
restraints using a hidden key and escaped
from a sheriff’s transport van through an
improperly welded hatch on the vehicle’s

Prison Legal News

roof. He had not been strip searched
before boarding the van and his absence
wasn’t noticed by the deputies until they
arrived at their destination.
And on April 11, 2006 in downtown
Hilo, Hawaii, a jail guard shot and killed
a prisoner who was attempting to escape.
Thane K. Leialoha had removed his
handcuffs, fled from a jail transport van
and scuffled with the guard before running across a busy street. He was shot in
the back of the head. The shooting was
cleared by the Dept. of Public Safety,
which found that the guard, who was not
named, had followed state law and prison
policies related to use of force.
However, compared with their privatized counterparts, government-run
prisoner transport services don’t appear to
suffer from a similar number of escapes,
accidents and abuses. This may be because
public law enforcement agencies aren’t
intent on making a profit, and thus are
willing to invest in more costly security
and safety measures such as chase cars
and additional guards. They also tend to
employ more experienced, professional
and better-trained staff who take their
public-service jobs more seriously.
In fairness, it should be noted that
while comprehensive information can
be obtained from government agencies,
similar data is not readily available from
private transport companies, which makes
accurate comparisons difficult. But this
illustrates another problematic aspect
of the prisoner transportation industry
– a lack of transparency and public accountability. While documents can be
requested from federal, state and local
agencies through public records laws or
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
requests, including transportation log
books, vehicle maintenance reports, employee training records, etc., such is not
the case with private companies which are,
in general, under no duty to disclose such
documentation. As stated by Thor Catalogne, founder of PTS, upon cutting short
an interview, his company doesn’t usually “give anyone any information.” Two
other companies, Prisoner Transportation
Services, LLC and Security Transport
Services, when contacted, refused to comment for this article.
Consider that Court Services Inc.
has been transporting prisoners using
unmodified 12- and 15-passenger vans
and SUV’s that the company rents from
Budget Rentals and Capps Van and Car
Rental. From September 6, 2005 to March

Prison Legal News

16, 2006, Court Services rented such
vehicles at least 11 times in Kansas City,
Missouri alone. Unmodified vehicles that
lack security features, particularly a barrier between the guards and the prisoners
being transported, pose greater safety
risks than using secure transport vehicles.
They are, however, less expensive for the
company. Such unsafe practices are hard
to detect due to the secretive nature of private prisoner transportation companies.
But some hard data, particularly
concerning escapes, which are usually
reported, is available. According to an
exposé on private transport services
published in Mother Jones magazine,
from 1994 to 2000 TransCor experienced
25 escapes while other transportation
companies had 12 escapes. Over the same
period of time the U.S. Marshals Service,
which moves an estimated twice as many
prisoners each year as the entire private
prisoner transport industry combined,
had zero escapes. None.

A Roadmap for the Future: Where to
Go From Here
Although federal regulation is beneficial, it apparently isn’t sufficient in its
present form to cure the on-going problems among prisoner transport companies
that result from the industry’s inherent
profit motivation. What, then, is an effective solution?
While Jeanna’s Law provides numerous rules and standards, as noted above
it doesn’t go far enough. Through its
power to regulate interstate commerce,
which includes the interstate transport of
prisoners, Congress should impose further
restraints on the private transportation
industry that address: 1) higher minimum
insurance requirements; 2) the types of
vehicles permissible for transporting
prisoners, with 15-passenger vans being excluded; 3) specific rules governing
maintenance and inspection of prisoner
transport vehicles; 4) mandatory seatbelt
or other safety restraint requirements
for prisoners being transported; and 5)
increased civil penalties for regulatory
violations that take into consideration a
company’s size or annual revenue. Further,
federal law should require that all escapes,
accidents and other incidents that endanger public safety during interstate prisoner
extraditions be reported to a central government agency, such as the FMCSA, and
made available to the public.
Even absent further regulation on the
federal level, state and local authorities


can impose their own rules and regulations on prisoner transportation services.
The provisions of Jeanna’s Law specifically “do not pre-empt any applicable
federal, state, or local law that may impose
additional obligations on private prisoner
transport companies or otherwise regulate
the transportation of violent prisoners.…
The regulations in this part in no way preempt, displace, or affect the authority of
states, local governments, or other federal
agencies to address these issues.”
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, in a May 24, 2001
opinion regarding the impact of Jeanna’s
Law on state regulations related to prisoner transport services, determined that
state officials were “free to enact laws
that supplement, but do not conflict
with, the federal acts and implementing
regulations.” Supplemental state and local regulations can address such issues
as licensing requirements for prisoner
transportation companies, in-state employee training requirements (including
firearms training and certification), and
standards for licensing and inspection of
transport vehicles.
On a more basic level, law enforcement
agencies that utilize private transportation

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September 2006

For-profit Companies (cont.)
services should insist on contractual provisions that enhance public safety. Contracts
can specify that chase vehicles be used
during particular prisoner transports,
that private transportation companies
maintain a specific guard-to-prisoner
ratio according to the number and type
of prisoners being moved, that their
transport vehicles not stop at non-secure
locations for meal or refueling breaks, etc.
Contracts also need to specify financial
penalties to be imposed for violations,
escapes, negligence, etc.
Public law enforcement agencies
should further conduct comprehensive
background checks before using private
transportation companies, including proof
of insurance and verification of FMCSA
interstate operating authority when applicable, even for one-time transport
services. During the ACLU’s litigation
against Extraditions International in the
Darbyshire case, it was discovered that the
company had operated illegally without
proper licenses and insurance. And when
Evelio Escalante escaped from TransCor
guards in Connecticut in October 2000,
it was revealed that the company wasn’t
licensed to do business in the state and,
according to state officials, had failed to
obtain a license for the previous two years
despite being told to do so.
Private transport services that do
not, or cannot, meet more stringent
governmental regulations or contractual
requirements should not be used by public agencies. Terminating or suspending
business with prisoner transportation
companies has proven necessary in the
past. In November 2000, then Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland ordered state
officials to stop using TransCor after Escalante’s escape. North Dakota suspended
use of TransCor’s services when Kyle Bell
fled from one of company’s transport
buses in Oct. 1999. The Nevada Dept. of
Correction stopped using Extraditions International in 2000 following two escapes,
instead contracting with other services.
And Montana prison officials planned to
resume control over prisoner transportation services after the state’s contract with
TransCor expires on June 30, 2006, partly
due to the escape of four maximum security prisoners from one of the company’s
vans in September 2004.
When a business begins to lose customers – and thus market share – it will

September 2006

make necessary changes to ensure its
continued profitability, even at greater
cost to its bottom line. Only those prisoner transport companies that provide
safe and effective services in compliance
with government rules, regulations and
expectations will survive. One that didn’t,
State Extraditions, apparently went out
of business earlier this year following a
high-profile escape and concerns over
security violations, including loaded
weapons being left in unsecured vehicles
when transporting prisoners to and from
Florida jails. State Extraditions co-founder Dennis Warren refused to comment on
the company’s closure.
One promising upstart in the industry
is Show-Me Correctional Services, Inc.,
based in Slater, Missouri and founded
in March 2006 by Heather Sheridan, a
former Court Services, Inc. employee.
Show-Me is the only woman-owned
prisoner transportation service in the
U.S. According to Sheridan, who also is
a Licensed Practical Nurse with experience in corrections, her company does
not use 15-passenger vans, requires seat
belts for prisoners being transported,
and has a no-exception policy for female
guards to accompany female prisoners.
The company’s website explicitly acknowledges the many problems experienced by
other private transportation services, and
uses the motto, “A New Way In Thinking
About Prisoner Extradition.” Although
Show-Me’s rates are slightly above the
industry average, Sheridan claims her
company’s profit margin is actually lower
– and says she is willing to sacrifice higher
returns for enhanced safety and quality
of service.
Ultimately, for-profit companies will
only respond to measures that affect their
bottom lines. And given the fairly paltry
financial disincentives provided for under
Jeanna’s Law, especially in relation to
multi-million dollar companies like TransCor, existing penalties are inadequate.
Instead, litigation has been the impetus
behind forcing private transport services
to change their operating policies, or forcing them out of business.
Federal Extradition Agency shut
down in 1998 following the van fire in
which six prisoners died; jury awards
from the resulting lawsuits totaled over
$24 million. Extraditions International
folded in January 2002 following an undisclosed settlement in a suit filed by the
ACLU on behalf of Robin Darbyshire,
who was sexually assaulted by one of


the company’s employees. And lawsuits
against TransCor by female prisoners
who were raped by the company’s guards
have resulted in a number of settlements
– one for $5 million – which serve as an
incentive for the company to adopt safer
policies and practices related to employee
hiring, training and supervision.
Thus, litigation also plays an important role in regulating the private
transportation industry, so long as prisoners who have legitimate claims are able
to obtain effective legal representation.
TransCor has been named in almost 200
federal lawsuits since the early 1990’s,
ranging from claims of injuries resulting from accidents to allegations that
prisoners were denied insulin and HIV
medication by the company’s guards.
However, the vast majority of these suits
are filed by pro se prisoners who are
unable to match the legal resources and
abilities of corporate defense lawyers;
consequently, their cases are routinely
dismissed. Further, when attorneys do
represent prisoners in lawsuits against
private transportation companies, in
order to serve as an effective deterrent
to the rest of the industry it’s important
not to agree that settlements remain
It will only be through additional state
and local regulations, stricter contractual
requirements and continued litigation, in
conjunction with vigorous enforcement
and expansion of Jeanna’s Law, that the
private transportation industry will be
held accountable for the mistakes and
misdeeds that have historically resulted
from its need to generate profit. Government agencies must also be willing to
pay higher fees for safer and more secure
prisoner transport services; alternately,
public officials may prefer to invest such
funds in their own prisoner transportation agencies and avoid contracting with
private companies altogether.
“We’ve got to make sure that we are
not exposing the public to any risk,” said
then Nevada Prisons Director Bob Bayer
in April 2000, after two prisoners, one
a convicted murderer, escaped from a
TranCor van. “The question is can they do
the job as well as we can do the job.” The
question is not whether privatized prisoner transport services can simply turn a
profit at the expense of public safety. That
question has already been answered.
A footnoted version of this article is available on PLN’s website.

Prison Legal News
Privatized Prisoner Transportation Service Poses Problems
by David Reutter
published in Prison Legal News December, 2015, page 60
Several lawsuits against the self-proclaimed “nation’s largest prisoner extradition
company and one of the largest international transporters of detainees” have cast a harsh
light on a contractor hired to fulfill the traditional government role of transporting
prisoners from place to place. Critics say it’s an example of what can happen when public
agencies turn to private-sector, profit-driven companies in an effort to trim budgets.
In a lawsuit filed on May 29, 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of
Pennsylvania, former prisoner Darren Richardson claims he was the victim of
“outrageous conduct” at the hands of Nashville, Tennessee-based Prisoner Transportation
Services of America, LLC (PTS). The suit alleges violations of his Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights, as well as negligence, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. Richardson says he suffered possibly permanent damage as a result of
the transport company’s failure to provide humane treatment and medical care.
According to his complaint, Richardson was arrested in his home state of Florida in May
2013 for failing to pay $250 to the Court of Common Pleas in Pike County, Pennsylvania
after completing probation in that state. He was held in a Florida jail until PTS picked
him up to be extradited to Pennsylvania.
Over the course of the approximately 10-day trip, Richardson “did not go to the bathroom
in any fashion for six days, and did not eat anything for four days,” the complaint states.
“At one point, Mr. Richardson was given an empty food bag. Upon entering the transport
bus, Plaintiff was asked by the Sergeant for his jewelry in return for a pleasant ride.
Plaintiff refused to give up his jewelry, and in turn was given no food.”
Richardson claims that one guard held a shotgun to his head and others verbally abused
him and other prisoners on the bus. The suit says he witnessed PTS guards taking debit
cards from prisoners and using them at gas stations to buy cigarettes and other items. The
guards also hassled an older prisoner for his Social Security money in order to purchase
cigarettes. At one point, the complaint alleges, a guard urinated on Richardson.
The lawsuit claims that as a result of his treatment and restraints, Richardson was unable
to walk or stand, and that his legs were purple from the knees down and his feet were
black when he finally arrived at the Pike County Correctional Facility.
“Defendants made conscious decisions to either act or fail to act causing ... Richardson to
suffer great physical pain and anguish, a severe shock to the nervous system, humiliation
and embarrassment, severe emotional distress, permanent disability and lost future
income and ultimately Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” the lawsuit states.
On October 27, 2015, a federal magistrate judge recommended that the defendants’
motion to dismiss be granted in part and denied in part. The case remains pending. See:

Richardson v. Prisoner Transportation Services of America, U.S.D.C. (M.D. Penn.), Case
No. 3:15-cv-01061-ARC-JFS.
While Richardson’s lawsuit may be one of the more recent filed against PTS, it does not
raise the most serious claims against the company. Denise Isaacs, 54, died during a
September 2014 PTS transport from Kentucky to South Florida on a probation violation;
she suffered from mental health problems and was experiencing hallucinations and
refusing to eat prior to the trip, and died crammed into a van with 10 other prisoners.
When PTS guards discovered she was unresponsive, they first called the company’s
headquarters before calling 911.
Another lawsuit filed against PTS on July 10, 2014 also alleged mistreatment. According
to the complaint, Texas prisoner Stephanie Luna “was handcuffed and shackled and
placed in a small sectioned off area of the van which had no air conditioning vents. She
suffered leg cramps and knee pains as a result of being in a restricted area for an extended
period of time.”
Guards in the van provided water to Luna and two other prisoners only once during the
two-day trip in the sweltering Texas heat. “During the entire transport in the van, plaintiff
was offered sodas and juice only, not water. Plaintiff was so dehydrated that she suffered
nose bleeding.... There were bottled waters in the van but plaintiff was denied access to
them even after requesting water.” The suit also alleged PTS guards ignored repeated
requests to open a window and turn air vents towards the prisoners being transported. The
case settled in April 2015 under confidential terms. See: Luna v. PTS of America,
U.S.D.C. (N.D. Tex.), Case No. 4:14-cv-00812-A.
Then there was the escape attempt by prisoners who were left alone in a PTS van on
September 2, 2013. Two PTS guards stopped in Wetherford, Oklahoma to deliver one or
two sick prisoners to a hospital; they left the keys inside with the van running so the
remaining eight prisoners could have air conditioning. With the guards in the hospital,
two of the unsupervised prisoners kicked out a partition and drove off.
Police found the abandoned van about a mile away. Six of the prisoners were still inside,
but two – Lester Burns and Michael Coleman – had fled, leaving behind a 12-gauge
shotgun that was in the vehicle. Coleman, who faced assault charges, and Burns, charged
with failure to pay child support, were later apprehended without incident. [See: PLN,
May 2014, p.56].
“This is an example of what happens when we privatize functions that belong to the
government,” said Richard Allen Smith, a spokesman for the non-profit public policy
group In the Public Interest. “We lose two things: transparency and accountability.”
On its website, PTS boasts of its efficiency: “We can move your prisoner at less cost than
if you did it yourself. Our agents are highly trained professionals. Most have military
and/or criminal justice backgrounds and have worked as transportation agents for
multiple years. We stress safety and on-time delivery/pickup.” The company doesn’t
mention its history of escapes and accidents, or the fact that it has been sued over 40
times in federal court.
Sources: Miami Herald, Associated Press,,,,

Private Prisoner Vans’ Long Road of Neglect
New York Times
JULY 6, 2016
In July 2012, Steven Galack, the former owner of a home remodeling business, was living in Florida
when he was arrested on an out-of-state warrant for failing to pay child support. Mr. Galack, 46, had
come to the end of a long downward spiral, overcoming a painkiller addiction only to struggle with
crippling anxiety. Now, he was to be driven more than a thousand miles to Butler County, Ohio, where
his ex-wife and three children lived, to face a judge.
Like dozens of states and countless localities, Butler County outsources the long-distance transport of
suspects and fugitives. Mr. Galack was loaded into a van run by Prisoner Transportation Services of
America, the nation’s largest for-profit extradition company.
Crammed around him were 10 other people, both men and women, all handcuffed and shackled at the
waist and ankles. They sat tightly packed on seats inside a cage, with no way to lie down to sleep. The
air conditioning faltered amid 90-degree heat. Mr. Galack soon grew delusional, keeping everyone
awake with a barrage of chatter and odd behavior. On the third day, the van stopped in Georgia, and one
of two guards onboard gave a directive to the prisoners. “Only body shots,” one prisoner said she heard
the guard say. The others began to stomp on Mr. Galack, two prisoners said.
The guards said later in depositions that they had first noticed Mr. Galack’s slumped, bloodied body
more than 70 miles later, in Tennessee. A homicide investigation lasted less than a day, and the van
continued on its journey. The cause of death was later found to be undetermined.
“This is someone’s brother, father, and it’s like nobody even cared,” said Mr. Galack’s ex-wife, Kristin
Every year, tens of thousands of fugitives and suspects — many of whom have not been convicted of a
crime — are entrusted to a handful of small private companies that specialize in state and local
A Marshall Project review of thousands of court documents, federal records and local news articles and
interviews with more than 50 current or former guards and executives reveals a pattern of prisoner abuse
and neglect in an industry that operates with almost no oversight.

Since 2012, at least four people, including Mr. Galack, have died on private extradition vans, all of them
run by the Tennessee-based Prisoner Transportation Services. In one case, a Mississippi man
complained of pain for a day and a half before dying from an ulcer. In another, a Kentucky woman
suffered a fatal withdrawal from anti-anxiety medication. And in another, guards mocked a prisoner’s
pain before he, too, died from a perforated ulcer.
Robert Downs, the chief operating officer of P.T.S., declined to comment on the deaths. He said guards
were instructed to contact local officials when a serious medical emergency arises. “Unless it’s life or
death, we can’t open the cage on the vehicle,” Mr. Downs said. “We don’t know if they’re setting us up
for something.” This concern was echoed by guards at several companies, who said prisoners often
feigned illnesses and injuries.
Training for guards, many of whom are military veterans, is often limited to a tutorial on handcuffs and
pepper spray and a review of policies and paperwork, leaving them unprepared for the hazards of
driving a van full of prisoners. At least 60 prisoners have escaped from private extradition vehicles since
2000, including one who later stabbed a police officer and another who was accused of sexual assault on
a minor and is still missing.
The companies are usually paid per prisoner per mile, giving them incentive to pack the vans and take as
few breaks as possible. Crashes have killed a dozen prisoners and guards.
Operating primarily across the South and Midwest, guards travel up to weeks at a time along circuitous
routes, typically picking up and dropping off prisoners in 15-passenger vans or sometimes minivans
retrofitted with interior caging and darkened windows.
These vans do not have prisoner beds, toilets or medical services. Violent felons are mixed with firsttime suspects. A plexiglass divider is usually the only thing separating women from men.
At least 14 women have alleged in criminal or civil court since 2000 that they were sexually assaulted
by guards while being transported by these companies.
“Just stay in jail. It’s better,” said Lauren Sierra, 21, who said she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a
guard in 2014 while being transported by U.S. Corrections, a rapidly growing company registered in
North Carolina.
Ms. Sierra, who is suing the company, was taken into custody after she faced charges, later dropped, that
she used someone else’s Bed, Bath & Beyond gift card. Dustin Baldwin, the executive director of U.S.
Corrections, declined to comment beyond saying that the accusations had not been proved.
Because the vans cross state lines, accountability falls into a gray zone. Jurisdictions that hire the
companies often disavow responsibility for prisoners not under their direct custody, and federal
regulators have largely ignored the industry.
“It’s like the airport shuttle from hell,” said Zachary Raines, a former P.T.S. guard.

Strained Jails and Budgets
At a time when a swollen United States prison and jail population has strained law enforcement budgets,
transport companies offer a significantly cheaper alternative to traditional extradition, in which local
deputies are sent miles out of state for one person.
“Some agencies take huge advantage of the taxpayers’ money by sending deputies ‘on vacation’ to
extradite an inmate,” said Mr. Baldwin of U.S. Corrections, and pay them “a considerable amount of
overtime” for doing so. They also have to cover fuel costs or plane tickets and, often, hotel rooms.
Private vans can save considerably by picking up and dropping off other prisoners along the way,
charging 75 cents to $1.50 a mile per prisoner.
Corrections departments in 26 states, law enforcement in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta and Las Vegas,
and local agencies nationwide use extradition companies. Although about two dozen private prisoner
transport companies have registered with the Department of Transportation, only seven have state-level
extradition contracts, with P.T.S. having the most by far.
But maintaining tight profit margins depends on relentlessly shaving time and costs on the road, industry
veterans said.
“You route the prisoner like a package, but miss a single deadline, and you lose money,” said Kent
Bradford, a former director of operations for TransCor America, a subsidiary of Corrections Corporation
of America, the largest private prison company in the United States. TransCor stopped performing
extraditions in 2008 because of liability and cost concerns, but still moves prisoners between C.C.A.
Guards — who earn about $150 to $250 per 24-hour shift, and who rotate driving duty — are generally
paid only while on the road. Because they often have to pay out-of-pocket for a hotel room, most said
they rarely chose to stop.
Bunking overnight also requires finding a jail willing to offer beds and showers to prisoners, which is
difficult because jails do not always want to house unknown prisoners from other jurisdictions.
“I’d have an exhaust fan installed in the hall to get that smell out,” said David Osborne, who runs the
Daviess County Detention Center in Kentucky, which used to be a P.T.S. hub for transferring and
housing prisoners en route.
To keep up with demand, vans drive across as many as a dozen states on a single trip. “The bosses
would be on the phone, saying, ‘What, you can’t do it? You can’t push it, you can’t make it to the next
jail?’ ” said Fernando Colon, who worked as a guard for two years, first for a company that is now
defunct and then for U.S. Corrections.
On most trips, every meal for days is a fast-food sandwich. Water is rationed and bathroom stops
limited. Prisoners who cannot wait often urinate in bottles or on themselves, and sometimes defecate on
the floor of the van, according to guards and lawsuits.

“People were screaming, complaining, passing out. I threw up,” said Roberta Blake, 37, who spent two
weeks in 2014 being transported by P.T.S. from California to Alabama, including a week in a stifling
Lacking both privacy and sanitary napkins, she had to use a cup in front of the male guards and
prisoners when she began menstruating. After another prisoner ripped off her shirt, she spent the rest of
the trip in a sports bra. Ms. Blake, whose account was confirmed by two other prisoners in the van, had
been arrested on a warrant issued after she failed to return a rental car on time.
Medical Skills Not Required
For some prisoners, the ride ends in serious injury, or even death.
Michael Dykes, who has diabetes, had both of his legs amputated after three days in an Inmate Services
Corporation van in July 2012. Mr. Dykes, who was facing theft and fraud charges stemming from a
dispute over a construction project, said he had already been in declining health when he got into the van
after spending nearly three weeks in a South Carolina jail with poor medical care. But once in transport
to Missouri, his condition worsened, he said.
Black sores on his toes were exacerbated by pressure from ankle shackles, a lawsuit alleges, and his
repeated requests for medical care were ignored. His insulin, which must be kept cold, was stored on the
dashboard in the sun, Mr. Dykes said.
Randy Cagle Jr., the president of the Arkansas-based Inmate Services Corporation, denied the
accusations. “We always follow protocol and get medical information when we pick an inmate up,” he
wrote in an email. “I am confident that we will be vindicated.”
Mr. Cagle said in a brief phone interview that some prisoners lied or sued frivolously. “You are not
going to get through this business without hurting people’s feelings,” he said. “You just have to
remember to treat people fair.”
When suspects are arrested on a warrant, they often spend considerable time in a local jail before being
picked up for extradition. About a dozen guards from several transport companies said jails provided
substandard medical care and little information about prisoners’ health status or prescribed medications,
which the guards are expected to dispense en route. Guards are not required by law to have any medical
experience other than training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
“They did an hourlong class on their policies, taught us to put on handcuffs, gave us our uniforms and
put us on the road. And then we’re expected to deal with this stuff,” said Kenneth Adams, one of two
guards aboard a P.T.S. van in which Denise Isaacs, 54, died in Miami in 2014.
Like Mr. Galack, Ms. Isaacs began experiencing bizarre symptoms while on board: muttering, drooling
and gasping. When she was unable to climb back into the van after a stop, the guards phoned P.T.S.
headquarters. But their supervisors said to keep going, Mr. Adams told investigators with the MiamiDade Police Department.

“I would have taken her to the hospital,” the other guard, Kirk Westbrooks, said in an interview with
The Marshall Project. “I wanted to.”
Ms. Isaacs, who had been arrested on charges of violating probation on a theft conviction, died a few
hours later in a Taco Bell parking lot. An autopsy later found that she had been experiencing delirium
tremens caused by withdrawal from diazepam, an anti-anxiety medication that P.T.S. staff members said
they were never informed she was taking.
The Miami-Dade police closed the investigation after determining that the death was from natural
In January of this year, P.T.S. guards transporting William Culpepper Jr., 36, from Kentucky to
Mississippi told officials at a stop at a company jail hub in Missouri that they believed he was faking
stomach pains, according to a sheriff’s report. Mr. Culpepper, who was wanted for a parole violation,
died minutes later from what the coroner handling his case called a “perfectly treatable” perforated
It was the second time in two years that a P.T.S. prisoner had died from a perforated ulcer. In 2014,
William Weintraub, 47, a former physics professor charged with threatening a South Carolina
newspaper over an article he disputed, was found blue and covered in urine in the back of a P.T.S. van
when it reached Georgia. Investigators there determined that P.T.S. guards had mocked Mr. Weintraub’s
complaints of severe stomach pain. The investigation was closed.
Attempts at Reform
Kyle Bell was no ordinary prisoner.
In 1993, he molested and murdered his 11-year-old North Dakota neighbor, Jeanna North. Six years
later, he escaped from a private transport van. His absence was not noticed for nine hours, and guards
did not notify the police for another two hours. The escape warranted a segment on “America’s Most
After the episode, Byron Dorgan, then a Democratic United States senator from North Dakota,
introduced a measure to impose controls on the industry. “My colleagues and I were all shocked that a
guy and his wife with an S.U.V. could start a business to haul violent offenders around with no
requirements,” Mr. Dorgan said. The law, commonly known as Jeanna’s Act, passed in 2000.
Jeanna’s Act mandates that extradition companies must notify local law enforcement immediately after
an escape, dress violent prisoners in brightly colored clothing and maintain a ratio of one guard for every
six prisoners. It also sets broad standards for training and background checks of guards, and for
treatment of prisoners.
But the federal law is almost never enforced. The Justice Department could identify just one instance: In
2011, a suspect accused of child molestation escaped from an unlocked van in North Dakota, a few
hours from where Jeanna had been murdered. Local farmers cleared a cornfield to flush him out. The
company, Extradition Transport of America, was fined $80,000 and went out of business.

“Well, it’s regulated by the Department of Justice, but I’ve never seen anybody come out to actually
check on us,” said Mr. Downs, the chief operating officer of P.T.S. “We’re just supposed to follow the
Extradition companies are not required to report escapes to federal regulators, and there is no centralized
tracking. But a review of dozens of local news accounts shows that since Jeanna’s Act was passed, at
least 56 prisoners were reported to have escaped from for-profit extradition vehicles. At least 16 were
reported to have committed new crimes while on the run.
By comparison, the prison systems of California, Florida and Texas — which together transport more
than 800,000 inmates every year, most of them in-state — have each had just one prisoner escape from
transport vehicles over the same period.
“We thought we’d closed the door on this,” Mr. Dorgan said in reference to the widespread use of small
extradition companies and the escapes that have occurred.
While the Department of Transportation has no role in responding to escapes or prisoner mistreatment, it
is responsible for monitoring vehicle and driver safety, including whether guards get enough downtime
away from the wheel, under the same regulations that govern all passenger carriers.
A Marshall Project review of Department of Transportation records shows that the agency’s monitoring
is infrequent, and companies are typically given advance notice of an audit. Between 2000 and 2015,
records indicate, the department issued fines 20 times, most below $10,000.
While P.T.S. has been registered with the department since at least 2005, the agency did not audit the
company until 2009, records show. U.S. Corrections, which was founded in 2014, was audited for the
first time in March.
Because passenger carriers are not required to specify to the Transportation Department what kinds of
people they move around, a department spokesman said he could not comment on specifics about the
prisoner transport industry.
Local news reports and court records show that there have been more than 50 crashes involving private
extradition vehicles since 2000. In almost every instance, the prisoners were shackled but not wearing
seatbelts, leaving them unable to brace themselves.
In addition to the dozen deaths, a dozen prisoners have suffered injuries to their necks, skulls or spines,
according to lawsuits, hospital reports and accident reports obtained from state and local agencies.
Fatigue seems to have played a role in many of the accidents. Of 26 accidents for which a time could be
determined, 14 occurred between midnight and 6 a.m.
Mr. Downs, who took over operations at P.T.S. after it merged last year with one of its biggest
competitors, the Florida-based U.S. Prisoner Transport, said he had taken steps to make the company
safer. The company had already installed sleeper berths for guards in its vans.

Mr. Downs said its agents were now required to stay in a company-paid hotel room every 36 hours,
although he said that was not always possible because of scheduling pressures. The company also has
three full-size buses and has bought four larger shuttle buses, all with bathrooms on board, in addition to
its fleet of nearly 30 vans. Guards are monitored by GPS, and their pay has been increased, Mr. Downs
“It’s a tough industry,” he said. “The profit margins aren’t as good as you would think they are.” He
declined to answer a list of written questions about specific occurrences in the company’s vans.
Security Transport Services, which is based in Topeka, Kan., and has been in the business since 1990,
says it puts all prisoners in seatbelts and requires agents to stay in a hotel every night. A Kansas sheriff
said the company had also partly reimbursed his department for the cost of a manhunt after a 2012
escape, which is required by law in cases of negligence but rarely occurs, according to a survey of law
enforcement officials in jurisdictions where escapes occurred.
But the company charges about 30 percent more than its competitors, said Tom Rork, its vice president.
Security Transport Services has contracts with three state corrections departments, compared with nearly
20 held by P.T.S., and it recently lost its Pennsylvania contract to U.S. Corrections.
P.T.S. says in federal filings that it has “contracts or relationships” with about 800 agencies. It is also
poised to acquire U.S. Corrections, one of its main competitors, next month, according to a filing with
the national Surface Transportation Board.
Answers Are Elusive
After Mr. Galack’s death, his brother, Robert, made repeated calls to the Tennessee authorities, trying to
determine what had happened. “I mean, he was fully in shackles and ended up dead?” he said.
It was hard to find answers. Only one prisoner in the van, Chelsie Hogsett, told investigators that Mr.
Galack had been beaten. Another, Joseph Allen, did not confirm the account until a later civil suit.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation decided within eight hours of arriving at the scene that if a crime
had occurred, it had happened in Georgia. It sent the van on its way. The Georgia Bureau of
Investigation declined to follow up, records show.
The medical examiner noted Mr. Galack’s injuries — a broken rib, bruises on his head, torso, arms and
legs, a broken tooth and cuts around his nose and eyes — but did not believe they had led to his death.
The investigation was determined to be “as thorough as the circumstances warranted,” said Josh
DeVine, a spokesman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Anthony Dwyer, the chief deputy of the sheriff’s office in Butler County, Ohio, said he had been told
only that a prisoner had died en route, not that a beating might have been involved. “It wasn’t really our
responsibility,” he said. He said he monitored P.T.S.’s performance by speaking to prisoners when they

Darnell Ball, one of the guards in the van that transported Mr. Galack, declined to comment, citing a
confidentiality agreement. The other, Leroy Creese, did not respond to two attempts to contact him at an
address believed to be his home. A P.T.S. official said in a deposition taken in a civil lawsuit that Mr.
Galack had sustained the injuries in a fall in the van.
This spring, Mr. Galack’s family won a confidential settlement against P.T.S. But Mr. Galack’s son,
Jordan, found it paltry consolation. Now 20, he had talked to his father every day on the phone and lost
30 pounds after his father’s death.
Kristin Galack said she had never had any idea what her ex-husband would face when he was arrested.
“Steve and the other people on these vans, they’ve made mistakes,” Ms. Galack said. “But that doesn’t
mean he couldn’t come back from it. People do.”
Three months after Mr. Galack was found in the back of the van, P.T.S. sent Butler County a bill for
$1,061 — the cost of the 752 miles he was transported before dying.
This article was produced in collaboration with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization
that focuses on criminal justice issues.



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