When Corrections Meets Communities
Honest Answers to Common Questions about Partnership Corrections
With more than three decades of experience in designing, building and operating correctional facilities, we know some of the questions residents may have when a new correctional facility enters a community.
Families and communities expect and deserve honest, straightforward answers to their questions. That is what you’ll find here – answers about careers and jobs, community outreach, design and construction, economic benefits, inmate programs, correctional partnerships, and safety and security. We hope this helps you better understand just what happens when CCA meets communities, large and small.
Question: What kind of employees work in a correctional facility? Are most of them guards?
Answer: A correctional facility resembles a small town. It takes a diverse staff of qualified, well-trained professionals to keep it operational and safe. With about 300 employees working in each of our facilities, our employees specialize in security, administration, management, health services, maintenance, human resources, education, social services, faith-based services, rehabilitation programs, addictions treatment, quality assurance, training, and more. They are disciplined correctional officers, encouraging teachers, dedicated counselors, professional maintenance experts, seasoned managers and administrators, caring nurses and medical assistants, and much more.
In fact, we don’t employ “guards.” Rather, we hire highly trained security professionals, who comprise the majority of our employee base and serve in many roles, such as correctional officers, unit managers, correctional counselors and chiefs of security.
Question: Does CCA mostly provide full-time jobs, or are a lot of them part-time, contractual or seasonal positions?
Answer: Corrections is a “24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year” industry. The vast majority of facility jobs are permanent, full-time positions. Additionally, when we’re constructing a new facility, CCA often hires hundreds of local skilled tradespersons. While these jobs last only until construction is complete, it is a welcome economic boost to communities, families, suppliers and local businesses.
Question: How many people are typically hired from the local area?
Answer: CCA typically hires 70 to 80 percent of its facility staff locally. In fact, we strive to hire as many staff from the community as possible. The exceptions to this – because we always put safety and security first and ensure the highest operational standards – are the critical top management positions (warden, assistant warden and potentially other departmental supervisors). These are usually filled by those who are experienced in corrections and with CCA. As a national company, CCA promotes career development for our 17,000 employees, and the opportunity to work in a new CCA facility is always attractive to career-minded CCA professionals. Similarly, residents who become employed at a CCA facility are also given opportunities to promote from within and relocate to the other 64 CCA facilities.
Question: What kind of training do CCA employees receive?
Answer: Our training meets or exceeds all established standards by the American Correctional Association (ACA), the nationally respected, leading correctional organization, requirements outlined in customer contracts, and our own high standards.
New full-time CCA facility employees undergo 40 hours of pre-service orientation and one week of on-the-job training. Plus, all security personnel receive an additional 160 hours of correctional training during their first year of employment. All facility staff members also participate in 40 hours of in-service training every year. This training is specific to their professional specialty while emphasizing the latest in safety and security strategies.
Question: What kind of salaries and benefits do CCA employees receive?
Answer: CCA employees enjoy competitive salaries and solid benefits that include comprehensive health coverage, a 401(k) retirement savings plan, a 529 college savings plan for their children, paid time off, flexible spending accounts, long-term and short-term disability coverage and more.
When CCA is operating a facility on behalf of a state or local government, our wages for non-exempt employees are determined by local market wages. Our employees are promoted from within, and our salaries are typically higher than salaries offered within public corrections systems.
When our company operates a prison with a direct contract from the federal government, our employees are paid according to federal wage guidelines.
Additionally, as a growth company with a nationwide footprint, our employees can benefit from geographic mobility and cross-training possibilities that allow them to progress through the ranks and up the career ladder.
Question: Why would someone choose to work for the private sector rather than the publicly-managed local county jail or state prison?
Answer: Our national company offers career opportunities, attractive salaries and solid benefits - all of which are bolstered by intensive, ongoing training and professional development prospects. At CCA, corrections is more than just a job – it’s a career. That philosophy has led to the advancement of many of our wardens, facility managers and company leaders who joined the company at the frontline security level. In fact, CCA’s very own president and CEO, Damon Hininger, began his career as a correctional officer at our Leavenworth Detention Center.
Question: How does CCA invest in the professional development of its employees?
Answer: CCA professionals perform a needed public service while enjoying satisfying careers. We require pre-service and annual in-service training of our employees, and we offer continuous opportunities for employees to increase their development in specialized areas, such as health services and rehabilitation programs.
We consistently introduce new development programs and refine existing professional development offerings. With our partnerships with institutions of higher education, such as Eastern Kentucky University, and organizations like the American Correctional Association (ACA), we provide pathways for our employees to earn professional certifications and credit hours toward undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Through our CCA-developed Samberg Frontline Leadership Program and Foundations Leadership Program, we groom intermediate and senior-level correctional professionals, providing them with high-level training on ethics, correctional best practices, leadership and management and more. Additionally, through our American Correctional Association Certified Correctional Professionals Program, we offer employees at every level – provided they have at least one year of CCA experience – with company-paid opportunities to earn professional correctional credentials, which are recognized nationwide and sometimes accepted as credit hours at select colleges and universities.
One of our proudest success stories is our own president and chief executive officer, Damon Hininger. He joined CCA directly out of college in Kansas and began a CCA career as a correctional officer. He worked his way up in CCA facilities and moved to our headquarters in Nashville, where he worked in Operations and Business Development. In 2009, he was named to his current role, going from a CO (correctional officer) to a CEO. This remarkable accomplishment is a testament to our commitment to professionally develop and promote our staff from within.
Question: What does CCA bring to communities in terms of financial benefits to the local economy?
Answer: CCA brings competitive-paying jobs, valuable property tax revenue, utility payments, construction-related jobs and work for sub-contractors, enhanced infrastructure surrounding the facility site location and strong community support, including a long history of volunteerism and community activism.
Question: How much of an impact do CCA’s tax contributions make to communities?
Answer: CCA’s entrance into a community brings a critical infusion of capital that makes a real difference in local communities and neighborhoods. When CCA owns the property on which a correctional facility is built, we pay property taxes to the local community. Public corrections systems do not pay any property taxes. These taxes can average from half a million to a million dollars annually. The utility payments are often about the same amount on a yearly basis.
Additionally, there may be one-time construction impact fees, or taxes, that are assessed upon CCA at the outset of a project – funds that are provided to the local county.
In Pinal County, Arizona, where we operate six correctional centers, CCA pays approximately $7 million in annual property taxes. In that community, our annual payroll is estimated to exceed $120 million and we contribute more than $8 million in yearly utilities.
While CCA’s presence in communities is typically on a smaller scale than in Arizona, the payments the company provides through property taxes – when the facility is company-owned – sales taxes, utility payments and annual payroll are significant and provide a needed stimulus to the local economy. Such contributions may be used to build new schools, improve roads or otherwise enhance life for hardworking residents.
Question: How do businesses located near correctional facilities fare?
Answer: Business located near CCA facilities often thrive, as many employees patronize local business for goods and services. Additionally, other businesses are typically established within the footprint of our facilities, especially in the dining and hospitality services industries.
Question: What impact do correctional facilities have on neighboring property values?
Answer: CCA correctional centers enhance the economic health of communities by creating jobs. But in addition to employing hundreds of people from the surrounding communities, CCA facilities increase demand for housing and other services that enhance local property values and stimulate business growth. According to a 10-year analysis on the impact of a CCA facility on a community, the City of Shelby, Mont. (where we operate Crossroads Correctional Center), found that property values have not been negatively impacted. Property adjacent to the facility grew in value and now benefits from the provision of public utilities, including water, sewer, gas and electricity adjacent to the land.
Question: What economic impact does the construction of the facility bring?
Answer: A prototypical CCA facility brings about 300 immediate construction-related jobs to the local area. CCA’s general contractors strive to hire as many qualified sub-contractors as possible from the local area, often comprised of between 50-70 percent local sub-contractors. Additionally, CCA and our contractors ensure that all materials that can be purchased in the community are, in fact, locally purchased. And, of course, CCA pays applicable sales taxes on these materials.
Question: What other economic impacts will there be besides jobs and taxes?
Answer: Providing jobs and contributing to the tax base are important, but CCA facilities stimulate economic activities in a number of other ways. For instance, a community with a CCA correctional facility can see added revenues in specialized fields like medical specialists and hospitals. The need for specialized medical services generally leads to enhancing or expanding the availability of specialists and medical services within a community. For example, a heart specialist that sees added business from facility referrals may then turn around and expand staff (more doctors and nurses) and equipment/facilities, which creates greater availability to the community for such services that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
Americans have the right to demand that the government makes the most of every tax dollar – and spends as little as possible. By partnering with experienced, effective businesses like CCA, governments can provide high-quality service at a better cost than the government alone could offer. This gives communities more resources and flexibility to meet other public needs, like more schools, better roads, more advanced hospitals, new libraries, modernized parks and other compelling public needs.
Question: I keep hearing about how CCA is a community partner. How is this so?
Answer: We are committed to maintaining our deserved reputation as an active corporate citizen. That means we take pride in building strong relationships and alliances with community and civic leaders, local elected officials, nonprofit organizations, churches, residents and others. We proactively educate the media, the community and others about our industry and our company through regular meetings with our Community Relations Committees, which are active at each facility, and participating in local events. These committee members are neighbors, civic and business leaders, media representatives and elected officials in each CCA community.
Our employees are known for their goodwill. From volunteering at the local fair and donating school supplies to area students to sponsoring events and contributing time to worthy causes, CCA employees are guided by The CCA Way – our companywide values and principles that make giving back a priority.
Question: Can you provide examples of the types of nonprofit agencies you support or otherwise engage?
Answer: Each CCA facility contributes to local community organizations on an annual basis, at its discretion. Many facilities not only offer monetary contributions to worthwhile organizations, but also give of their time or talents to improve facilities and enhance resources.
On a corporate level, with our headquarters based in Nashville, Tenn., CCA regularly contributes to organizations in the Middle Tennessee area. We are particularly proud with our alliances with organizations dedicated to working with offenders and families affected by incarceration. We believe in turning lives around and providing second chances. Our charitable contributions reflect our philosophy.
Question: What demands on local services, such as ambulance services, sheriff’s departments, hospitals, fire departments, or other local departments can a community anticipate with a CCA prison?
Unlike a public prison, a partnership correctional facility pays taxes for local services, such as police and fire. In other words, the company pays for these services.
The use of local hospitals and related medical services can actually benefit the community as a source of revenue. Because inmates may require services from specialists like cardiologists or podiatrists, it’s not uncommon for local medical specialists to expand their operations, resulting in greater access to specialized health care that previously was not as readily available.
Other communities have noted that the presence of hundreds of trained corrections professionals is a complement to existing law enforcement personnel, resulting in an even safer community. CCA has supported local emergency response services in other communities, including hosting training that enhances overall preparedness of emergency responders.
Question: Do local taxpayers assume the responsibility of paying for inmate medical care in a CCA facility?
The financial responsibility for inmate medical care is between CCA and the contracting agency of jurisdiction, not with local government or taxpayers.
Question: What is the usual visitation schedule for inmate families, and how does it affect traffic flow in and around the city?
Visitation hours vary depending on the policies of the contracting agency of jurisdiction. We are not aware of any traffic-related problems ever being reported in communities where we operate facilities.
Question: When I think of a correctional facility, I envision lots of barbed wire and industrial-looking buildings. Is that what a CCA facility looks like?
Answer: Our real estate, design and construction professionals are committed to building state-of-the-art facilities and well-outfitted correctional campuses. The prototypical CCA facility design represents an innovative approach to correctional facility site development, building construction systems and operational methods. See what we mean in this facility image.
Residents are welcome to tour our facilities once they open. They typically find that the facilities are well-lit and spotlessly clean with bright interiors. Housing units are large, with 28-foot ceilings, including a mezzanine area for sleeping cells and day rooms with tables. Classrooms and vocational training areas look just like typical school classrooms, with white boards, computers, desks, wall maps and posters. Dining halls resemble school cafeterias. Indoor or outdoor gymnasiums also look like standard school recreation areas. CCA facilities are not like your average state-run facility. They are new, modern, safe and secure.
Question: How is the lighting around CCA facilities? Considering the nature of the business, I would expect the lighting to be very bright.
Answer: At CCA facilities, exterior site lighting is designed to minimize light pollution. This is especially true with the newest CCA facilities. This enables us to maintain high security and direct surface illumination, with incredibly low visibility. This type of illumination uses some of the most advanced technology available. In fact, you’ll find that little league ballparks in neighborhoods have lighting that is brighter than lighting used in our most up-to-date correctional facilities. View an example of ground-level lighting, and a bird's eye view.
Question: Are CCA facilities close to roadways?
Answer: Some of our facilities are located in very remote areas and others are in close proximity to residential areas. Under all circumstances, CCA facilities have an open channel of communications with citizens and local authorities, which ensures a high level of communication, safety and collaboration.
Question: How can we be confident that your facilities are safe and secure?
Answer: Safety and security is our primary mission at CCA. In fact, it’s the highest responsibility in corrections. It’s why we exceed official government standards in each of our state prisons. It’s why we encourage professional oversight 24/7. And it’s why we exceed strict guidelines in what we do and how we do it. We operate according to our own high operational standards as well as those of our government partners and national accreditation standards set by the American Correctional Association (ACA). Our strict guidelines often include additional requirements and an ongoing monitoring process that may even exceed partnering operational requirements. These factors create a rigorous expectation of safety and security at CCA facilities.
Question: Does CCA experience higher rates of assaults and escapes?
Answer: Historical and statistical data shows that performance at public and partnership prisons is comparable, while CCA’s escape rate is significantly lower than that of government facilities.
Question: What kind of safety training does your facility staff receive?
Answer: CCA training makes our staff of correctional professionals among the best prepared in the nation. We provide our employees with the knowledge, tools and confidence to maintain safety and security effectively at all times – for the community and within the facility. Our training includes:
¥ Pre-Service Training, which features 40 hours of training for all facility employees, along with one week of on-the-job training, and an additional 160 hours of training for security staff. ¥ In-Service Training, including 40 hours on an annual basis for all facility employees; training is a refresher on security practices as well as specialized sessions on particular professional subject areas. CCA also provides training for specialized critical response teams and incident management.
Question: How do you prepare to work with local authorities in the event of an emergency? What is the impact on local emergency responder and medical resources?
Answer: CCA facilities do not place a burden on local authorities. CCA typically secures a Memorandum of Understanding from local law enforcement that establishes responsibilities and protocol if law enforcement services are needed at the facility. CCA often agrees to reimburse local law enforcement for reasonable actual costs should local law enforcement respond to an incident at the facility and request such reimbursement.
CCA facilities are equipped and staffed to handle any incidents that arise. Rather than exclusively relying on local emergency responders, CCA facilities contribute internal resources to incident and emergency management.
In rare instances when local emergency responders are needed, the company has a track record of working with agencies to mitigate cost impacts, such as overtime and equipment replacement, when an agency requests them. We are not aware of any other community that has had to increase law enforcement staffing as a direct result of demands from responding to incidents.
Question: CCA is proud of its rehabilitation and educational programs for inmates. Exactly what kinds of programs do you provide?
Answer: Studies show that inmates are less likely to commit new crimes if they’ve participated in rehabilitation programs. CCA is proud to offer a diverse range of programs and classes that prepare offenders to live successfully when they’re released. Our experts in academic and vocational education, addictions treatment, counseling services, faith-based programming and other specialties work to ensure that inmates are given the training and education that will allow them to make better choices when they rejoin society.
We offer innovative and effective rehabilitation programs in many trades, such as carpentry, construction trades, masonry, computer skills and more; GED preparation and testing, post-secondary educational opportunities, life skills (budgeting, interpersonal communication, time management, etc.), faith-based services, recreational activities and more. Many of our inmates leave with an educational credential and the skills to perform a needed job. They are also provided with strategies to overcome their addictions. You may read about CCA offender programs from published news articles.
Question: How can a private company be in the business of “profiting” from prisons? Is this in conflict with the public interest?
Answer: These days, most people agree the government should be more effective and spend our tax dollars more wisely. And most of us also agree that private businesses need some regulation and oversight to ensure they operate honestly and properly.
Public-private partnerships harness the advantages of both entities – and reduce the liabilities. They combine the efficiency and effectiveness of private business with the standards, regulation and oversight of government. They use the power of the marketplace to get the best deals and make the most progress. But with that come public review, professional oversight and strict guidelines that the government demands.
What that means for hardworking taxpayers is the best of both worlds. Public-private partnerships create the opportunity for innovative solutions that replace the government-only failures of the past with smarter, more effective solutions for the future.
Question: Do private companies like CCA work behind the scenes to support legislation that leads to longer, tougher sentencing?
Answer: We do not participate in or lobby for stricter sentencing. Our company is not in the business of legislating, but rather the business of efficiently operating safe, secure correctional centers that offer meaningful rehabilitation programs and services for inmates.
Question: Does CCA have the same standards as public facilities?
Answer: Partnership prisons are held accountable for their economic, safety and human performance. They have to perform equal to or better than government-run prisons – or they could lose their ability to operate the prisons.
In fact, security is why we exceed official government standards in every one of our prisons. That’s why we encourage professional oversight 24/7. That’s why we exceed strict guidelines in what we do and how we do it. Security is our number one responsibility, and it is our number one commitment.
All three federal corrections agencies – the Bureau of Prisons, the United States Marshal’s Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement – increasingly partner with CCA to manage inmate and detainee populations.
Nearly 90 percent of CCA facilities are accredited by the American Correctional Association, which represents the nation’s highest correctional standards, with an average score of 99.3%. These accredited facilities meet nearly 500 professional standards in all areas of facility operations.
Question: What level of health care do inmates at your facilities receive?
Answer: We offer inmates high-quality health care with preventative and emergency medical and dental treatment. CCA adheres to standards outlined in customer contracts and guidelines established by the American Correctional Association (ACA). Some CCA facilities are also nationally accredited by the respected National Commission of Correctional Health Care (NCCHC). In some instances, inmates have access to quality care for the first time at CCA facilities. Those with a pre-existing condition are sometimes first diagnosed at a CCA facility, with our nurses and physicians educating them about how to manage their conditions and live a healthier lifestyle.
Question: There are Web sites and blogs that are adamantly opposed to your company and industry, and they provide negative information about you. Why?
Answer: CCA and all corrections companies recognize the ongoing efforts of local, loosely formed grassroots groups and national, well-funded associations that jointly oppose the establishment of partnership prisons, many for self-serving reasons. Such groups go to great lengths to attack, criticize and misrepresent the entire industry. They make false allegations and often rely on hearsay and unreliable sources. Regrettably, these biased groups often resort to misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric to turn isolated incidents into broad generalizations about the corrections industry as a whole.
Opposition efforts do a disservice to the national discussion of the merits of public-private partnership in corrections. A healthy dialogue on correctional partnerships should focus on the facts – not half truths, Internet chatter and blatant lies.
When these groups criticize CCA, they are, by extension, criticizing governments that have carefully chosen to manage a portion of their corrections system in this manner.