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Incident Rates at CCA-run Prisons Higher than at Public Prisons in Tennessee, Private Corrections Institute, 2011

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PRESS RELEASE
Incident Rates at CCA-run Prisons Higher than at Public Prisons in Tennessee
Private Corrections Institute
October 18, 2011
For Immediate Release
Nashville, TN – According to an analysis of incidents involving assaults and disturbances at
publicly-operated and privately-managed prisons in Tennessee from January 2009 to June 2011,
incident rates were consistently higher at the state’s three private prisons.
Data obtained from the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) recorded incidents in 11
categories related to assaults on inmates, assaults on employees and institutional disturbances.
Data was reported for the state’s 11 prisons operated by the TDOC, as well as three facilities that
house state prisoners run by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
The three CCA prisons (South Central Correctional Facility, Hardeman County Correctional
Facility and Whiteville Correctional Facility) held between 25 and 27 percent of the state’s
prison population between January 2009 and June 2011 – slightly over 5,000 inmates.
While the average number of incidents per month per facility was 17.29 at the state-run prisons
in 2009, the average number per month was 31.56 at each CCA facility. In 2010, the average
number of incidents per month at each state prison was 19.58, and the average number was 31.69
at each CCA prison. During the first six months of 2011, the average number of incidents per
month at state facilities was 20.38, while the average number per month at the CCA prisons was
29.56.
In terms of rates per 1,000 prisoner population, the privately-operated prisons had notably higher
incident rates. For 2009, the average rate of incidents at the 11 state-run prisons was 13.92 per
1,000 population, while the average rate at the three CCA facilities was 18.68 – 34% higher than
at TDOC prisons. The 2010 average rate of incidents at TDOC facilities was 14.51 per 1,000
population and the average rate at the CCA prisons was 18.68 – 28.7% higher than at the stateoperated facilities. During the first six months of 2011, the average rate of incidents at TDOC
prisons was 15.0 per 1,000 population while the average rate at the CCA facilities was 17.44 –
16.2% higher than at the TDOC prisons.
According to the TDOC’s website, the 11 state-operated prison complexes all are rated either
close or maximum security (not including minimum-security annexes), while two of the three
CCA prisons are rated medium (a lower security designation) and one is rated close. Thus, even
though more higher-security prisoners – close and maximum – were housed in state prisons, the
CCA facilities still had higher average numbers of incidents per facility per month and higher
average incident rates over the time period examined. In fact, during the 30-month period from
January 2009 through June 2011, the average rate of incidents at TDOC prisons exceeded the
rate at the privately-operated facilities only twice – in December 2009 and March 2011.

“This research confirms what other studies over the years have found – that privately-operated
prisons have higher rates of assaults and other violent incidents than their public counterparts,”
said Alex Friedmann, president of the Private Corrections Institute (PCI), who conducted the
Tennessee research. “For example, according to an Associated Press report earlier this month,
a CCA facility in Idaho had more assaults than all other Idaho state prisons combined, based
on 2010 data,” Friedmann stated. CCA settled a class-action lawsuit involving the Idaho
Correctional Center in September 2011, agreeing to make changes to reduce the high levels
of violence at that facility.
“CCA will likely complain about the messenger, as the Private Corrections Institute is opposed
to prison privatization,” said Friedmann, a former prisoner who served time at a CCA-operated
prison in the 1990s. “But the message, which is based on data reported by the state’s Department
of Correction for both public and private facilities, is very clear: privately-operated prisons
in Tennessee have higher average numbers and rates of assaults and disturbances than public
prisons, even though TDOC facilities house more prisoners with higher security levels. This
indicates a serious problem with private prison management and also signifies a problem with
the state’s oversight of the CCA-operated facilities.”
A copy of the statistical analysis is attached and the source data obtained from the TDOC is
available upon request. While the higher rate of incidents at private prisons has been decreasing
(from 34.2% higher in 2009 to 16.2% higher in June 2011), this seems to have more to do with a
rise in incidents at state prisons rather than significantly fewer incidents at CCA facilities.
PCI’s Tennessee research mirrors other studies that have shown private prisons have higher rates
of violence than their publicly-operated counterparts. According to a 2001 Bureau of Justice
Assistance report, for example, private prisons had 65.8% more inmate assaults and 48.7% more
assaults on staff than public prisons per 1,000 prisoner population. Further, a Tennessee study
conducted by the Select Oversight Committee on Corrections in 1995 found that the CCAoperated South Central Correctional Facility “reported significantly more injuries to prisoners
and staff,” with 214 injuries reported over a 15-month period compared with 21 and 51 injuries
reported at two comparable state prisons.
__________________________

The Private Corrections Institute (PCI) is a non-profit citizen watchdog organization that works
to educate the public about the significant dangers and pitfalls associated with the privatization
of correctional services. PCI maintains an online collection of news reports and other resources
related to the private prison industry, and holds the position that for-profit prisons have no place
in a free and democratic society. www.privateci.org.
For further information, please contact:
Alex Friedmann, President
Private Corrections Institute
(615) 495-6568
afriedmann@prisonlegalnews.org

Ken Kopczynski, Executive Director
Private Corrections Institute
(850) 980-0887
kenk@privateci.org

TDOC INCIDENTS REPORTED, JANUARY 2009 THROUGH JUNE 2011
2009

Total
Public
Private
Total Prison
Private
% Private
Public rate Private rate
Incidents Prisons
Prisons
Population
Population
Population
per 1000
per 1000
January
2009
278
188
90
19147
5079
0.2653
13.3637
17.7200
Feb
2009
267
188
79
19184
5073
0.2644
13.3229
15.5726
March
2009
306
204
102
19240
5076
0.2638
14.4027
20.0946
April
2009
278
182
96
19245
5073
0.2636
12.8422
18.9237
May
2009
268
168
100
19227
5077
0.2641
11.8728
19.6967
June **
2009
300
205
95
19153
5081
0.2653
14.5679
18.6971
July
2009
292
198
94
19156
5069
0.2646
14.0555
18.5441
August
2009
309
216
93
19306
5074
0.2628
15.1771
18.3287
Sept
2009
279
173
106
19416
5055
0.2604
12.0465
20.9693
Oct
2009
329
224
105
19564
5057
0.2585
15.4408
20.7633
Nov
2009
278
183
95
19724
5040
0.2555
12.4625
18.8492
5063
0.2562
17.4830
15.9984
Dec
2009
338
257
81
19763
TOTAL
3522
2386
1136
13.9198
18.6798
Average
AVG # / MONTH
293.5 198.8333 94.66667
Average
AVG # / FACILITY *
20.24138 17.28986 31.55556
* Based on 11.5 state prisons and 3 private prisons, per month
** Brushy Mt. state prison phased out in June 2009; number of state facilities for 2009 is calculated at 11.5
1.3420 Higher rate of incidents in private prisons (private rate / public rate)

2010

Total
Public
Private
Total Prison
Private
Incidents Prisons
Prisons
Population
Population
January
2010
297
205
92
19800
5046
Feb
2010
266
189
77
19949
5062
March
2010
303
220
83
20020
5074
April
2010
282
202
80
20032
5073
May
2010
337
228
109
19907
5106
June
2010
339
239
100
19855
5085
July
2010
350
232
118
19920
5089
August
2010
345
235
110
19945
5089
Sept
2010
296
202
94
19893
5087
Oct
2010
347
242
105
19961
5090
Nov
2010
294
197
97
20016
5081
Dec
2010
269
195
74
19903
5079
TOTAL
3725
2586
1139
AVG # / MONTH
310.4167
215.5 94.91667
AVG # / FACILITY *
22.17262 19.59091 31.63889
* Based on 11 state prisons and 3 private prisons, per month

% Private
Public rate Private rate
Population
per 1000
per 1000
0.2548
13.8945
18.2323
0.2537
12.6956
15.2114
0.2534
14.7197
16.3579
0.2532
13.5036
15.7698
0.2565
15.4044
21.3474
0.2561
16.1814
19.6657
0.2555
15.6429
23.1873
0.2552
15.8185
21.6152
0.2557
13.6431
18.4785
0.2550
16.2733
20.6287
19.0907
0.2538
13.1905
0.2552
13.1543
14.5698
14.5102
18.6796
Average
Average

1.287343 Higher rate of incidents in private prisons (private rate / public rate)
2011

Total
Public
Private
Total Prison
Private
Incidents Prisons
Prisons
Population
Population
January
2011
267
178
89
19838
5072
Feb
2011
295
219
76
19894
5071
March
2011
294
221
73
19915
5078
April
2011
313
213
100
20135
5094
May
2011
371
277
94
20132
5093
June
2011
337
237
100
20176
5098
TOTAL
1877
1345
532
AVG # / MONTH
312.8333 224.1667 88.66667
AVG # / FACILITY *
22.34524 20.37879 29.55556
* Based on 11 state prisons and 3 private prisons, per month
1.16208 Higher rate of incidents in private prisons (private rate / public rate)

% Private
Public rate Private rate
Population
per 1000
per 1000
0.2557
12.0547
17.5473
0.2549
14.7743
14.9872
0.2550
14.8952
14.3757
0.2530
14.1613
19.6309
0.2530
18.4188
18.4567
0.2527
15.7183
19.6155
15.0038
17.4356
Average
Average

 

 

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