Corrections Corporation of America Nixes Shareholder's Request to Provide More Funding for Reentry Programs and Services
Date:  01-16-2015

Former CCA prisoner, now shareholder, thinks CCA can afford five percent increase to fund reentry programs
Alex Friedmann did it again, and the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) isn’t happy. Friedmann, who was formerly incarcerated in a CCA-run prison became a “rogue shareholder” of CCA and has used that position to try to bring about meaningful changes in CCA’s prison policies. The Nashville Scene reports, Friedmann has used his position as a stockholder in the past in an attempt to get CCA to release information of sexual abuse, including rape, occurring at CCA prisons, and to reduce the cost of prison phone calls between people in prison and their loved ones. Friedmann who is the managing editor of Prison Legal News and the associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) submitted another resolution that would require CCA to spend five percent of its net income on reducing recidivism.

HRDC sent out the following pres release concerning Friedmann's reslolution and CCA's objection to it:

For Immediate Release January 12, 2015

Nation’s Largest Private Prison Firm Objects to Resolution to Fund Rehabilitative, Reentry Programs

Nashville, TN – Last Friday, Corrections Corporation of America (NYSE: CXW), the nation’s largest for-profit prison firm, formally objected to a shareholder resolution that would require the company to spend just 5% of its net income “on programs and services designed to reduce recidivism rates for offenders.”

The resolution was submitted by Alex Friedmann, associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center and managing editor of HRDC’s monthly publication, Prison Legal News. An activist shareholder, Friedmann owns a small amount of CCA stock; in the 1990s he served six years at a CCA-operated prison in Clifton, Tennessee prior to his release in 1999.

“As a former prisoner, I know firsthand the importance of providing rehabilitative programs and reentry services,” Friedmann stated. “I also know firsthand the incentive of private prisons to cut costs – including expenses associated with rehabilitative programs – in order to increase their profit margins.” Citing data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the resolution notes that “Recidivism rates for prisoners released from correctional facilities are extremely high, with almost 77% of offenders being re-arrested within five years of release.” Further, “[t]he need to reduce recidivism rates for offenders held in [CCA’s] facilities is of particular importance, as two recent studies concluded that prisoners housed at privately-operated facilities have higher average recidivism rates.”

The shareholder resolution states that it “provides an opportunity for CCA to do more to reduce the recidivism rates of offenders released from the Company’s facilities, and thus reduce crime and victimization in our communities.”

CCA filed a formal objection with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), seeking to exclude the resolution from its 2015 proxy materials distributed to shareholders. In its objection, CCA argued that the resolution relates to “ordinary business operations,” comparing it to other shareholder resolutions that have, for example, sought to require companies to “test and install showerheads that use limited amounts of water.”

In a press release issued by CCA last year, the company announced “a series of commitments” to rehabilitative programming, stating it would “play a larger role in helping reduce the nation’s high recidivism rate.” At the time, CCA CEO Damon Hininger claimed that “Reentry programs and reducing recidivism are 100 percent aligned with our business model.” “CCA’s objection to a shareholder resolution that would require the company to spend just 5% of its net income on rehabilitative and reentry programs demonstrates the lack of the company’s sincerity when it claims to care about reducing recidivism,” stated HRDC executive director Paul Wright. “Evidently, retaining 95% of its profits isn’t enough for CCA – which isn’t surprising, because as a for-profit company CCA is only concerned about its bottom line, not what is best for members of the public, including those victimized by crime.”

“If CCA was serious about investing in rehabilitation and reentry programs for prisoners who will be released from the company’s for-profit facilities, then it would not have objected to this resolution,” Friedmann added. “But it did, so we can draw our own conclusions.”

The Human Rights Defense Center, founded in 1990 and based in Lake Worth, Florida, is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human rights in U.S. detention facilities. HRDC publishes Prison Legal News (PLN), a monthly magazine that includes reports, reviews and analysis of court rulings and news related to prisoners’ rights and criminal justice issues. PLN has around 9,000 subscribers nationwide and operates a website (www.prisonlegalnews.org) that includes a comprehensive database of prison and jail-related articles, news reports, court rulings, verdicts, settlements and related documents. For further information, contact:

Alex Friedmann: Associate Director, Human Rights Defense Center (615) 495-6568 afriedmann@prisonlegalnews.org

Paul Wright: Executive Director, Human Rights Defense Center (561) 360-2523 pwright@prisonlegalnews.org

Read CCA’s response as published in The Tennessean here.