Human Traffic: An update on prisoner transportation policies nationwide

Some states provided invoices, others have yet to even acknowledge the request, Hawaii gave us a bill

Written by Beryl Lipton
Edited by JPat Brown

This summer, MuckRock submitted requests to all 50 state Departments of Correction for their materials related to the transportation of inmates. Following up on a stunning story by The Marshall Project on privately-operated prisoner transport, the requests, worded broadly, sought the policies and contracts that are being employed across the country. Two months in, here’s what we’ve found so far.

Hawaii’s $270 bill

With its offshore location, it’s not too surprising that Hawaii would have enough materials to warrant a fee. Unfortunately, the three-digit price tag is a bit too hefty to lift at this point - it covers search, redaction, and copies of 200-hundred pages.

Policies

A number of states, such as Michigan, have already provided their state guidelines regarding their prisoner transportation. However, this hasn’t translated into contracts or other agreements where agencies or their state partners conduct transfers themselves. We’ll be following up in these counties.

Contracts

The most common state-level transportation providers are Prisoner Transportation Services and U.S. Corrections. According to the materials so far, U.S. Corrections appears to typically charge $300 a transfer. New Mexico, under this arrangement, spent over $65,000 last year on prisoner transport.

New Hampshire, which employs PTS, doesn’t have a contract with the company, because bids aren’t necessary for contracts below a certain threshold.

However, it seems as though they consistently pay over that amount each year in individual trips.

Nothing

A full fifth of states have not yet acknowledged our requests. Kansas withheld its materials for security reasons. And, as per usual, Alabama has asked for $25 before it can begin processing at all.

MuckRock will continue to follow up on these requests and the incidents and complaints that take place during the process.

Have tips or suggestions? Let us know at info@muckrock.com.


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