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Private Prisons?

Today, many jail and prison facilities, including many prison facilities in Indiana, are run by private, for-profit companies and contractors. Proponents of privatization believe that the use of private contractors can save money. But this is done at what cost? The Seventh Circuit recently and candidly acknowledged, “[i]t is also generally cheaper to provide substandard care than it is to provide adequate care.” Shields v. Illinois Dep't of Corr., 746 F.3d 782, 794 (7th Cir. 2014). Just like other private, for-profit businesses, private prisons and private prison medical facilities “are subject to market pressures” that incentivize employees to save money “at the expense of inmates’ well-being and constitutional rights.” Id. The results of the current legal approach are increased profits for the corporation and substandard services both for prisoners and the public. Id.

The next natural question to ask is, if Indiana uses these private facilities, how does its use of private prison contractors affect the liability of those contractors and their responsibilities to incarcerated inmates? The Indiana Court of Appeals recently addressed this issue and found that private contractors are custodians who are required to exercise reasonable care to preserve life, health, and safety of the person in custody. Kader v. State, Dep't of Correction, 1 N.E.3d 717, 728 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013). The private contractor must take reasonable steps under the circumstances to protect the life, health, and safety of a detainee. Id. The steps to be taken will necessarily vary according to the facts and circumstances presented in each case. Id. As Indiana and federal law continues to develop to address these important issues, it is important for incarcerated individuals and their families to understand the constitutional and state law rights of inmates; and the obligations of those companies charged with preserving the life, health, and safety of those individuals inside their prisons.

Contact us today if you have questions or believe your constitutional or criminal rights have been violated. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized case. Act now and contact us today at 1-800-NOT-GUILTY or (317) 857-0160.