“Whistleblower” originates from the whistle used by a referee to call an illegal or foul play. The term also has referred to an individual who has exposed illegal, dishonest, or fraudulent conduct within an organization or company ( private or public). The whistleblower’s information can vary from violations of the companies rules and procedures to acts that are illegal.
Numerous state and federal prisons are managed under contract by private companies for the state or federal government. The main difference between government run prisons and prisons managed by private companies is defined by one word—Profit. For private prison companies, more inmates and cutting costs means greater profit. The downside of private prisons was exemplified at the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, in Ohio, which was controlled by Corrections Corporation of America.
Ohio state audits revealed inadequate staffing, poor medical care, and deplorable living conditions. The inmates used cups and bags for toilets since none of the toilets worked. Staff ignored standard procedures for chronically ill patients. Inmates were triple bunked in small cells. Insufficient staffing levels caused security concerns for employees who worked at the prison. Corrections Corporation of America had assumed control of the 1,700-bed prison in 2011. By 2012, Ohio state audits revealed the unsafe conditions at the prison. In other words, CCA had breached its contractual obligations with the state of Ohio
Unfortunately, there are private prisons with unsafe conditions that are not audited effectively or are overlooked by the government. In those situations, employees or former employees, under the appropriate False Claims Act, can report the illegal and/or fraudulent acts by the private prison company to the appropriate government entity. Under the False Claims Act, the whistleblower, who has inside information about the fraudulent acts of the private company, can receive a percentage of what the government recovers from the private company. In 2014, Idaho recovered one million from CCA for under-staffing.
Whistleblowing by an employee or former employee can be an effective weapon against the fraudulent acts of private prison companies and a just economic award for the whistleblower.
By: Brian Mahany
Brian Mahany is a former corrections officer / sheriff’s deputy with the Somerset County (Maine) Sheriff’s Office and a lawyer for 30+ years. As a lawyer, Brian specializes in representing whistleblowers. To date, he has helped his whistleblower clients collect over $100 million in award monies from the Justice Department. Brian can be reached through his firm’s website, http://mahanyertl.com.