Cory Booker Raises Questions About Neglect and Fatal Prison Transfers
Every year, tens of thousands of fugitives and suspects -- many of whom have not been convicted of a crime -- are entrusted to a handful of small private companies that specialize in state and local extraditions. Prisoner Transportation Services of America (PTS) is the nation’s largest for-profit extradition company. A recent review of court documents, federal records, local news articles, and interviews with more than 50 current or former guards and executives reveals a pattern of prisoner abuse, neglect, and death in an industry that operates with almost no oversight. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) want to change that. The pair, joined by Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), sent a letter to President of PTS Joel Brasfield. "A steady stream of troubling media reports and lawsuits have raised numerous questions about the safety and security of PTS's private prisoner transport services and the company's compliance with Department of Justice regulations," wrote the lawmakers. "These reports and allegations raise serious questions about your company's conduct and its ability to ensure the safety and well-being of the individuals law enforcement agencies have entrusted to your custody." According to reports, on one ride, there were more than 20 prisoners shackled and packed tightly on a privately operated bus as it zig-zagged from Wisconsin to Georgia. The men and women were being extradited to faraway jurisdictions where they had open arrest warrants or pending criminal cases, and some had been traveling for more than 10 days as the bus picked up and dropped off prisoners. Bathroom stops were infrequent, so the passengers urinated in bottles and defecated on the floor. The heat failed, and they huddled together for warmth as temperatures dropped to freezing. To ensure that PTS is meeting appropriate safety and security standards and federal regulations, the lawmakers requested answers to a series of questions about PTS's policies and procedures no later than March 13th. Read the full letter here.