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Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2016/11/steps-michigan-can-take-to-make-prisoner-transportation-more-secure/
29 November 2016
The Michigan Department of Corrections’ contract with Prisoner Transportation Services of America, or PTS, says security officers in the vehicles, commonly known as agents, can carry weapons though they are not law enforcement officers. The agents also must must meet other criteria, including:
More coverage: State sheds little light on troubled prison transport firm
In Michigan, prisoner transportation companies are required to set standards for the care and safety of prisoners and the public. But how companies meet those standards is generally left to each vendor’s discretion. State prison officials refuse to share how these standards are met or enforced. The standards relate to:
In the event of delays from bad weather or vehicle breakdowns, the company must bear all costs including food and lodging costs of the contractor’s personnel and prisoners/offenders.
The company also must provide three meals every 24 hours for prisoners – at the company’s expense – during transport. Each meal must satisfy the nutritional and caloric recommendations approved by the National Research Council. The MDOC caloric requirements are 2,600 calories for males and 2,200 calories for females per day. The MDOC contract says that fast food meals are acceptable.
The state pays for all medical costs, including pharmaceuticals for prisoners and the cost of transportation to or from any medical facility.
The MDOC manual and the MDOC contract with its prison transport provider require that any vehicle transporting prisoners be equipped with restroom facilities or the vehicle “may make unscheduled stops” for “authorized bathroom breaks.”
But the rules do not specifically say how often the vehicles need to stop for bathroom breaks or which types of public facilities are acceptable for stops. Critics and prisoners have complained that prisoners are often forced to go without sanitary napkins or to urinate or defecate on themselves because agents, driven by a profit motive to move more prisoners in less time, do not want to stop.
The Human Rights Defense Center, a Florida-based nonprofit prisoner rights advocacy group, has investigated violations by and lawsuits against private prisoner transport companies. Alex Friedmann, managing editor for its publication, Prison Legal News, suggests the federal government and states make the following changes when dealing with private vendors: