U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., is pairing up with two 2020 presidential hopefuls to raise questions about private companies transporting prisoners.
Deutch teamed up with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to write Joel Brasfield, the president of Prisoner Transportation Services, LLC (PTS), this week. According to Deutch’s office on Thursday, PTS is “a private prisoner transport company that contracts with state and local law enforcement agencies and correctional facilities to transport pretrial arrestees and prisoners across interstate or intrastate jurisdictional lines.”
“PTS and its subsidiaries have come under scrutiny following reports published in the Marshall Project and the New York Times of inhumane and unsafe conditions in their vehicles, including reports of unsanitary practices, gross negligence, physical and sexual abuse, and inattentiveness to basic and urgent medical needs of prisoners, many of whom have not been convicted of a crime. Since 2012, at least five individuals have died while in PTS’s custody,” the South Florida congressman’s office noted.
“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,” Deutch and the senators wrote. “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.”
This is not a new issue for Deutch who asked the U.S. Bureau of Prisons “to investigate reports of deaths and abuse of prisoners on for-profit transport vehicles” back in April 2017.
“In 2000, Congress passed the Interstate Transportation of Dangerous Criminals Act, which established minimum safety and security standards for the transport of violent prisoners and included requirements regarding prisoners’ health and wellbeing, as well as standards to ensure the safety of the general public. However, since then, the private prisoner transportation industry has been the subject of very little oversight and has received almost no scrutiny from Congress,” Deutch’s office noted. “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 13, 2019.”
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.