An undeniable fact and characteristic of being human is our desire for money. Some citizens believe hard work will have its rewards while others look for easier methods of making monetary gains. Such is the story I will tell you with this blog post. The material for this article is taken from a November 22, 2022, story by Jolie McCullough in the Texas Tribune Newspaper. Unfortunately, the article only specifies the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) as the victim of the alleged fraud. It is without doubt that these methods are also applied to the Texas Civil Commitment Center and covered by the Director of the Civil Commitment Office. It is to her benefit to sanction the operator and keep the money withheld to server her own purposes.
I have often written about the monetary abuses projected on those who have dealings with Management and Training Corp. (MTC). At the Texas Civil Commitment Center, the residents are charged with a 25 percent fee deemed recovery cost. This cost is paid by the loved ones and families of the resident. Only a spouse may add $100 a month to a trust fund without a fee, and depending on the tier level of the resident, send a care package once a quarter (every three months). Should the spouse send more money or an extra care package or anyone else sending anything to the resident then a receipt proving what was spent must be included in the package along with a money order for 25 percent of the total amount of the receipt. Should the money order not be included in the package it will be held hostage until the amount is paid. This money is above and beyond the amount that MTC receives from the State of Texas and the Texas Civil Commitment Office (TCCO) for the operation and maintenance of the facility.
Because the Administration in conjunction with MTC keep staff shortages for their monetary gain, the residents must make do with less than minimal care. Medical care and the provision to provide needed medicines are almost non-existent. TCCO has not covered the cost to the local medical providers and a number of residents have received bills for their medical care, especially during the Covid pandemic. The quality of the dietary meals is less than adequate for adult males. For over-the-counter medicines such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen, allergy tablets or vitamins, the resident must get approval to have his outside support provide a medical care package and be sure to include the fee. The residents have suffered especially during the pandemic with lack of court ordered mental therapist, support groups, and case managers. With this shortage comes the impossibility of completing the work necessary to move up in tier levels or make progress toward being able to be released on conditional release. This staff shortage also combines with a shortage of security officers causing a unit lockdown should there not be enough officers to cover the minimum posts.
Before being released on parole, most Texas prisoners must complete treatment programs like life skills or addiction therapy. Private prison operator Management & Training Corporation allegedly stopped providing the services, but kept taking the money.
Before being released on parole, most Texas prisoners must complete treatment programs like life skills or addiction therapy. Private prison operator Management & Training Corporation allegedly stopped providing the services but kept taking the money.
One of the country’s largest private prison companies has defrauded Texas by collecting millions of dollars for in-prison therapeutic programming it hasn’t provided during the pandemic, a new complaint filed with the state auditor claims.
With sick staff and prisoners, Texas prisons largely kept men and women confined to their cells or dorms, and people inside told The Texas Tribune in 2020 that much of the required programming wasn’t occurring. On Monday, prison rights advocacy group LatinoJustice alleged that despite the lack of services, Management & Training Corporation continued charging the state for the programs and forced prisoners to falsify documents stating they had received treatment.
“Instead of providing group therapy sessions and one-on-one counseling with people enrolled in the rehabilitation programs, MTC employees simply gave people paperwork to do on their own time,” LatinoJustice senior counsel Andrew Case wrote in a letter to the auditor presenting the complaint.
“MTC then forced people to fill out timesheets stating that they had received treatment from MTC counselors that MTC had not provided,” Case continued. “People were instructed by MTC staff that if they did not fill out the false timesheets, they would be disciplined or lose their parole and be forced to return to prison.”
The complaint, citing state contracts, program reports and dozens of interviews with incarcerated men and women, claims the fraudulent practices are still occurring.
MTC spokesperson David Martinson declined to answer questions Monday, referring the Tribune to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. TDCJ spokesperson Robert Hurst sent a statement saying the prison system would fully cooperate with the state auditor’s investigation into the complaint, as well as launch its own internal investigation.
“As a result of [COVID-19] protocols, alternative treatment plans were implemented to ensure that inmates remained in treatment and that proper treatment in group sessions would take place with social distancing requirements,” the statement read.
The agency said compliance with treatment programs was ensured with random site visits.
This isn’t the first time MTC, a private prison operator which also contracts with state prisons for rehabilitation programming, has faced fraud allegations. Just last week, Mississippi’s state auditor demanded MTC pay nearly $2 million for improperly billing the state for thousands of unmanned prison guard shifts, after an investigation by The Marshall Project. MTC said it had already paid back penalty fees for not having enough workers under the terms of the contract.
LatinoJustice’s complaint focuses primarily on three Texas prisons that contract with MTC for prerelease programming on substance and alcohol abuse, which combined made the company more than $5 million from March 2020 through this January. The advocacy group noted MTC overall holds 17 active contracts with TDCJ, worth more than $100 million.
Contracts between MTC and TDCJ require the company to provide a minimum amount of group therapy, individual therapy and other services. The requirements are also enshrined in state law. The programs are meant to help prisoners transition into the free world, often with programming related to their prison sentence.
For Joshua Ladd, that meant he had to undergo a substance abuse treatment program before he could be released on parole for a methamphetamine-related conviction. But the 48-year-old said he didn’t get any help from MTC to stay clean on the outside when he was transferred to the Gist State Jail for treatment in April 2020.
Instead of group or individual counseling, Ladd told the Tribune, prisoners were handed work packets to fill out. And despite being required to fill out forms indicating they received daily treatment, they mostly just sat around and waited to go home.
“Maybe once every other week, a counselor would come in for an hour,” he said when employees finally began entering the dorm filled with about 60 men. “One counselor just sat there and said ‘I’m going to just give you the floor.’ … She just sat there and read her book.”
He said a sample timesheet was taped on one of the dorm windows, telling them to mark off 20 hours of direct treatment when all they’d received was paperwork.
“It was just a joke, a complete joke the whole way through,” Ladd said. “And it’s just so disgusting that they get away with this stuff. ’Just sign here so we can get paid.’”
Ladd and several other inmates imprisoned in 2020 wrote affidavits to pair with LatinoJustice’s complaint. But the allegations don’t only apply to dropped programming during the height of the pandemic. One woman who is currently enrolled in an MTC behavioral prerelease program at the Halbert State Jail said the practice has continued.
Kathryn Theune, 32, said there is group programming, but it is led by prisoners, not MTC employees. She said she has not received any individual therapy since she was enrolled in September.
“In addition, we are often brough[sic] to the day room early in the morning to have an hour of ‘programming’ in which no counselor is present,” Theune said in an affidavit last month. “We are not allowed to leave the day room during this hour, and instead we sit in silence for an hour after documenting that we were present.”
The advocacy group argues MTC did not stop providing programming to prevent further spread of the coronavirus within prisons, but because it “realized it could make more money that way.”
LatinoJustice said it’s unclear how much TDCJ knew about the reduction in services because the agency has battled in court against the release of documents surrounding the programs and the pandemic. The group argued such documents could “reveal the extent to which TDCJ was aware of the fraud that MTC was committing.”
“For example, if these communications show that TDCJ was aware of MTC’s cuts in services, but that it did not demand a reduction in what it had to pay, then TDCJ bears responsibility for the fact that MTC charged for services never provided,” Case wrote along with LatinoJustice attorney Norma Esquivel.
The Texas auditor will review the complaint, as it does for all fraud allegations involving state funds, but it’s unclear when and what will happen next.
The staff shortages among therapist and security officers still exist at the Texas Civil Commitment Center to this day. The most recent Chief of Therapy and a few therapists have resigned because they were told to impede the progress of the residents. Their job was to prevent residents from moving up a tier level because some of them would qualify for conditional release. Because of the flaws in the commitment center program. resident progress is slowed and less than honest employees of the Center and the Texas Civil Commitment Office find it easy to bilk the naïve or deliberately blind State of Texas. It is not only the State who is paying for the errors in the program but the unknowing citizens of the State.
How long will the citizens of the State of Texas and the other 19 states continue to allow unscrupulous persons to take advantage of those who cannot protest or resist what is happening to them?
Ask yourself, why are there only 20 states using this program if it is such a great way to lock away people without due process.
What does it take to become inflamed over the injustice done by one set of humans classified as experts to a set of humans classified as the “worst of the worst”?
The “worst of the worst” have families, friends, and loved ones exemplified by those on the outside who try to support and take care of the resident. These men could be your father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin or friend. If you think that your family could never have a sex offender related to you, you are living in a fantasy world. It takes very little to convicted or accused of a sexual offense today.
If you are someone who cares about this injustice, then show this story to others and start the ball rolling to stop what has happened and is a growing problem. Change begins here and begins now.
Education is the key to prevent sexual abuse by offenders and lives destroyed by the assault. Offenders are endowed by the constitution for a second chance. That chance is supposed to be the serving of a prison sentence then set free. This is not the case for civilly committed sexual offenders. If the victim is granted mental health treatment, should the offender not receive the same treatment to make of them a productive law-abiding citizen? The prison released them, and they were free men who are now deemed to serve an indefinite term (life) in desolate, depressing housing and surroundings with few if any visitors.
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